New Testament

Review: Bible and Ethics in the Christian Life: A New Conversation by Bruce C. Birch, Jacqueline E. Lapsley, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, and Larry Rasmussen

[1] This book is not simply a third edition of the foundational text used in many college and seminary classrooms over the years (including by this author) to study the use of Scripture as a source for doing Christian Ethics. (Bible and Ethics in the Christian Life, by Birch and Rasmussen, 1978, 1989) Instead, it […]

Might the Lutheran Paul Aim to Keep the Law?

Peter Tomson reckoned Paul’s theology of justification able to coexist with his Law (Torah) observance. Recent exegetical work based on the view that Paul remained within Judaism make reconsideration of Tomson’s position timely. Olson examines five theological criteria in Stephen Westerholm’s Lutheran Paul, arguing that Paul so defined might also consistently observe the Jewish Sabbath and dietary laws. If so, the ‘Third Use’ of the Law is relevant for all Christians.

Response to “Might the Lutheran Paul Aim to Keep the Law?” by Jon C. Olson

Olson’s concern with the last twenty-five years of critical work on Paul’s identity as a Christ-believing hellenistic, diasporan Jew is its potential to shift the Lutheran paradigm of the proper boundaries of Christian praxis for Jews. Olson notes that this desire was expressed in the papers of the 2014 Helsinki consultation on “Continuity in the Body of the Messiah”. Christ-believing Jews wish “to express election and covenant-based Torah practice in the church” as part of their Christian witnesss. Such commitment to God’s earlier and continuing covenant is not foreign to Paul’s thinking about Jews, “… to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the worship and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah (Rom 9:4-5)”. Thus, Mattison explores the question of would or could the Pharisaic, diasporan Paul have kept the Law while an apostle to the Gentiles? What would be the criterion for keeping the Law?

Review: Joel Green, Editor. The New Testament and Ethics: A Book by Book Survey. Ada, MI: Baker Academic, 2013, paperback, 176 pages, $19.99.

[1] Joel B. Green offers a second distillation of his landmark Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics. The New Testament and Ethics comes on the heels of the Old Testament survey. Green offers twenty six entries on the books and genres of the New Testament plus an assortment of articles on selected topics helpful for current […]

Review: Edward Adams’, Parallel Lives of Jesus: A Guide to the Four Gospels

[1] Edward Adams has written an excellent introduction to the canonical Gospels. His introduction is at once easy to understand and yet sophisticated in its methodology. Building upon the emerging scholarly consensus that the Gospels, in terms of genre, are best understood as ancient biographies, similar to Plutarch’s Parallel Lives of Greeks and Romans, Adams […]

Blessed are the Undocumented? A Reflection on Matthew 5:1-12

[1] When preaching on the Beatitudes it’s easy to default to two common interpretations. The first is to individualize the statements, making them into a scheme for securing God’s blessing. Such an approach assumes that if we adhere to the qualities outlined by Jesus, God will be more apt to bless and love us. [2] […]

Editor’s Comments – Liturgical Ethics

[1] Melinda Quivik poses the question to us in her essay: How do we know what to do? Christians look to the liturgy, the work of its people, to find the answers. Confession, praise, prayer, Word, sacrament, and blessing form us even as we decide what musical setting to use and choose (or do not […]

Mark’s Gospel, Social Outcasts, and Modern Slavery

[1] Poverty entraps people by ensnaring and entangling them in intricate and inescapable webs of slavery. I use “slavery” not as a metaphor, but as an apt description of what life is like for between twelve and twenty-seven million people today.1 That there are more slaves today than at any other time in history should […]

The Use of Scripture in the “Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality”

[1] My assignment is to evaluate how Scripture is used in the “Draft Social Statement on Human Sexuality” published in March of 2008. I will for the most part limit my focus to that single topic. All references to the document are by line number. Use of the Bible [2] By design, I start with […]

The Kenosis of Christ in the Politics of Paul

“As she listened her tears ran and her body was melted, as the snow melts along the high places of the mountains when the West Wind has piled it there, but the South Wind melts it, and as it melts the rivers run full flood…” (Homer, Odyssey, 19.204-207) “… he emptied himself…” (Philippians 2:6) “… […]