New Perspectives on Paul and Judaism: Lecture Event in Melbourne, 2nd August 2015

I will be speaking to the Victorian branch of the Council for Christians and Jews early next month on the topic ‘”To the Jew First?” New Perspectives on Paul and Judaism’. Here is the blurb:

The period from the 1970s-2000 saw a fundamental shift take place in the discipline of Pauline Studies. The ‘New Perspective on Paul’ has succeeded, in many ways, in placing Paul back firmly into a plausible Jewish context and articulating the ways in which his theology constitutes a reworking of basic Jewish convictions. Since 2000, however, new emphases in Pauline studies challenge the view that Paul’s theology was intended ‘for the Jew first’ in ways suggested by the New Perspective. In this presentation I will give an overview of three such developments: Paul and apocalyptic; Paul and empire; Paul and contemporary philosophy, and argue that in each case Paul’s theology remains firmly Jewish, even as it extends the covenant promises made to Israel to the whole of humanity.

Sunday August 2nd 3.00pm

Shira Hadasha Synagogue

222 Balaclava Rd Caulfield North 3161

$10.00 members $12.00 non-members

If possible please advise attendance by ringing the CCJ office 326 Church Street Richmond 3121,

Tel 9429 5212, Email

Poster here

J. Louis Martyn: A Tribute

indexNews has come through, via Facebook and Twitter, of the death of Lou Martyn. I never met Martyn, even though I attended the 2012 Princeton Conference on Romans 5–8 for which he was something of a ‘patron saint’ (John Barclay’s phrase from memory).

Martyn had the rare distinction (shared above all with Bultmann) of setting a scholarly agenda both in Johannine and Pauline studies. Many are of the opinion that his own particular solutions to the historical and theological issues raised by the Fourth Gospel and Paul’s letters are crucially misguided (again, Bultmann comes to mind as the nearest equivalent). My own view is more sanguine about his legacy but this is partly due to the fact that reading History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel as an undergraduate and Theological Issues in the Letters of Paul as a postgraduate were both transformative experiences. In both cases Martyn’s scholarship changed the way I read the relevant texts in relation to their purported historical context and, most importantly of all, theological Sache.

Perhaps the lesson I have learned above all from Martyn is that historical, exegetical, critical engagement with the New Testament texts can be generative of theological exegesis of the most profound kind. That is not the only way that biblical scholarship can or ought to be done, but it is the way I try and want to exercise my vocation as a biblical scholar.

So as a tribute, here is a quotation from the essay that opened up, for me a least, a new perspective (pun intended), on Paul’s theology.

Paul writes [Galatians]…confident that by hearing it the Galatians would once again be seized by that apocalypse, will once again be known by God (4. 9). So known, they will once again know what time it is, thereby coming once again to live in the real world. For, knowing what time it is, they will perceive that they are in fact former Gentiles who, in Christ, are united with former Jews. They will know that although they are united in Christ, the advent of the Spirit has caused the world in which they are living to be the scene of antinomous warfare on a cosmic scale. They will learn once again where the front line of that cosmic warfare actually lies. And they will be summoned back to their place on that battle front, perceiving experientially the pairs of opposites, the apocalyptic antimonies that are its hallmark…In the first instance such soldiers do not need exhortation about choosing the better of two ways. They need once again to be seized by the apocalypse of Jesus Christ, that invasive disclosure of the antinomous structure of the New Creation. Paul writes a letter, therefore, that is designed to function as a witness to the dawn of a New Creation, and, specifically, as a witness of the apocalyptic antinomies by which the battles of that New Creation are both perceived and won.

J. Louis Martyn, ‘Apocalyptic Antinomies in Galatians’, NTS 31 (1985), 421.

Hermeneutics Conference in Melbourne

News has come through of an important looking conference in Melbourne later this month.

Contemporary Questions in Philosophical and Theological Hermeneutics

The Institute for Religion and Critical Enquiry (Australian Catholic University) and Catholic Theological College (University of Divinity) present a 2 day colloquium titled Contemporary Questions in Philosophical and Theological Hermeneutics on 19 & 20 June in Melbourne

Though originally restricted to interpreting legal and biblical texts, hermeneutics now makes a distinctive contribution across the full extent of both philosophy and theology.  This colloquium opens up a wide range of questions in which hermeneutics is engaged, drawing together important scholars from France and across Australia.

The colloquium will feature leading international academics Professor Claude Romano (University of Paris-Sorbonne & ACU), Professor Jean-Luc Marion (University of Chicago Divinity School and Immortel, Academie Francaise) and Professor Kevin Hart (University of Virginia and ACU) as well as renowned local philosophers and theologians.

Access the colloquium program

Lunch will be provided to participants on the Friday.

You can register via the website here.

University of Divinity Research Day

cropped-pilgrim-and-ud-for-email1.jpgWe are holding our annual Faculty/Research Student Research Day next Wednesday, June 3rd.

Students and Faculty from Pilgrim Theological College will be well represented, including:

John Flett,
‘Human Rights and Contextualization: An Area of Contest?’

Kerrie Handasyde,
‘Pilgrims in Palestine: A Land Twice Imagined’

Geoff Thompson,
‘A God Worth Talking About for a Life Worth Living: The Accidental ‘Public Theology’ of Terry Eagleton’

Fotini Toso,
‘The Eschatological Psychomachia in Old English Poetry’

I am giving a paper entitled ‘Defending or Building?: 2 Corinthians 12:19 and the Purpose of 2 Corinthians’. The abstract is as follows:

In 2 Corinthians 12:19 Paul writes: ‘Have you been thinking all along that we have been defending ourselves before you? We are speaking in Christ before God. Everything we do, beloved, is for the sake of building you up.’ Commentators who read 2 Corinthians as a sustained exercise in apostolic apology or self-defense struggle to interpret this verse. This paper surveys a number of scholarly strategies designed to get the exegete, or Paul, out of this conundrum. I propose that the preferable strategy is to take Paul at his own word, and offer reasons why 2 Cor. 12:19 supports the view that the epistolary purpose of 2 Corinthians is that of ‘building’ up the Corinthians rather than ‘defending’ Paul and his apostolic co-workers.

Other New Testament papers include:

Mary Coloe, “Are you greater than our father Jacob” (John 4:12)? Jacob’s role within John 4.

Brendan Byrne,‘One has died for all; therefore all have died” (2 Cor 5:14)’

Rosemary Canavan,‘Exploring a Rhetoric of Peace in Colossians’

Joe Capuana, ‘Rethinking the Western Non-interpolations: Evidence for Luke Re-editing His Gospel’

Terry Falla, ‘Gathering Earth’s Daughters: Recovering the Meanings of Syriac Words for Future Volumes of A Key to the Peshitta Gospels’

Australasian Journal of Bonhoeffer Studies Volume 2/2 (2014)

My copy of the latest issue of The Bonhoeffer Legacy: Australasian Journal of Bonhoeffer Studies 2.2 (2014) arrrived by .pdf today. Here is the table of contents:

Re-Writing the Icon: Exploring and Exploiting the Bonhoeffer Legacy, Mark Lindsay 1
‘Present-ing’ the Word: The Use and Abuse of Bonhoeffer on the Bible, Sean Winter 19
Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Struggle for Jewish Emancipation in Nazi Germany, John A Moses 37
Dietrich Bonhoeffer and War: His Challenge to German Christianity, Derek McDougall 59
Standing on the Promises, Standing in the Middle: Certainty and Ambiguity in Luther and Bonhoeffer, Christopher Dodson 71
The ‘Unbroken Course’: Finding the Unity of Bonhoeffer’s Religious Ethics, James Mortensen 93

My article is a slightly edited version of a conference paper given in July past year. Its the third piece I have published on Bonhoeffer and biblical interpretation, part of a larger project that I hope to complete ‘some day’.

John Flett appointed to the Faculty of Pilgrim Theological College


I am delighted that John Flett will be joining the Faculty of Pilgrim Theological College from the start of 2015 (see link above for formal press statement). I was heavily involved in the appointment process and was hugely impressed by John’s scholarly reputation, commitment to teaching, research and formation, and enthusiasm for the role. Some will be aware that his book, The Witness of God is widely held by missiologists and systematic theologians alike, to be a remarkable work of historical and theological exposition, combined with important constructive theological and missiological proposals. John’s just completed Habilitationsschrift on the notion of apostolicity will hopefully see the light of day very soon. His appointment is an important part of the emerging Pilgrim Theological College, and will make a substantial contribution to the life of the University of Divinity.

United Faculty of Theology Announcement

UFT to Close at end of 2014
Two New Colleges Approved for 2015 by University of Divinity

On Wednesday May 7. 2014, the Council of the University of Divinity agreed to welcome two new member Colleges into the University, in place of the United Faculty of Theology which is to close at the end of 2014.

Trinity College Theological School and Pilgrim Theological College (the newly named College of the Uniting Church) will begin formal operations at the start of the 2015 academic year. Further information about the curricula, faculties and facilities of the two new Colleges will be provided in the near future.

From 2015 Jesuit Theological College will cease to be a theological institute in its own right and the current partnership with UCTC and TCTC will come to an end. Some of its faculty will, however, continue as recognised University of Divinity teachers in association with one or other of the new colleges.

All students currently enrolled with UFT will have the option of choosing to continue or complete their studies with either of the new Colleges and the 2014 UFT academic timetable will be completed in full. The UFT will provide full support to all students to enable an effective and clear transition to their new College and will take steps to ensure that all students are able to complete the awards for which they are enrolled. All prospective 2015 students will be able to enrol with one of the two new Colleges.

The internationally renowned Dalton McCaughey Library will continue to support the ongoing venture of high quality theological education.

The UFT Council are planning appropriate ways to mark the ending of the UFT and celebrate the ecumenical partnership in theological education that it has represented for over forty years. UFT Students enrolling in Semester 2 2014 will still enrol with the UFT

The Vice Chancellor, Professor Peter Sherlock commended the UFT for the central role it has played within the MCD and the University of Divinity. “The UFT has rightly been proud of its track record in theological scholarship and ecumenical adventure, and Colleges of the University expressed their sadness at the ending of the UFT. However, the two new colleges offer new hope and augur well for the University’s future and the future of theological education more generally.”

Contact person at Pilgrim Theological College:
Assoc Prof Sean Winter

Contact person at Trinity College Theological School: ​
Prof Dorothy Lee

Contact person at UFT: ​Dr Don Saines

Postdoctoral Positions in New Testament at Australian Catholic University

Jamie McLaren at ACU notified me last night to the fact that there are two 5 year postdoctoral appointments in New Testament currently available.

Joining a team of accomplished, nationally and internationally recognised researchers, the Postdoctoral Research Fellows will conduct research relating to the Project: The Origin, Purpose and Reception of the New Testament Writings.

To be successful in the role you will have completed a PhD or equivalent in Biblical Studies within the preceding eight years and demonstrate an emerging international standing and research reputation.

For more details go here

SBL San Diego: Law and Love in Galatians

My paper proposal for the Biblical Ethics unit at the Society for Biblical Literature meeting in San Diego in November this year has been accepted. The focus of the seminar this year is on the twin themes of Justice and Mercy and Law and Love. My paper will be on Galatians:

Paul’s Ethics and Paul’s Experience: Law and Love in Galatians

Paul’s assertion in Gal 5.14 that love of neighbour is the fulfilment of the law is rightly explored in relation to his subsequent proposal that mutual bearing of burdens ‘fulfils the law of Christ’ (Gal 6.2). This paper explores the relationship between law and love in Galatians, taking into account statements in Paul’s other letters (Rom 13.8–10; 1 Cor 9.21) as well as Jewish and Greco-Roman evidence for the collocation of the terms. I argue that law, love, and their implied relationship are, for Paul, recast under the pressure of Paul’s christology, but also in the light of Paul’s own experience. Scholarship on Paul’s ethics has not given sufficient attention to the ways in which Paul’s account of his own experience of Christ’s love and his consequent re-negotiation of relationship to law affect his ethical instruction to the Galatians. In particular, I shall propose that Paul’s language in Gal 2.20–21 (‘death to the law’; ‘living by Christ’s faithfulness’; Christ’s self-giving love) provides a strong basis for Paul’s later statements about law and love in the letter and illuminates the possible connotations of the phrase ‘the law of Christ’.

Pre-SBL Conference on Paul and Apocalyptic Imagination

An interesting event is planned for Friday 21st Nov before SBL gets properly underway. The following g from the good people over at Dunelm Road.

Plan to arrive at SBL a day early this year. On Friday 21st November starting at 12:30 some of the world’s top Pauline scholars will gather to discuss ‘Paul and the Apocalyptic Imagination’. This special session, being organised by my co-bloggers Ben and John and myself, includes presentations from N.T. Wright, Martinus de Boer, Loren Stuckenbruck, Philip Ziegler, Michael Gorman, Edith Humphrey, Douglas Campbell, Beverly Gaventa, and John Barclay.

Here is the description:

Across various branches of biblical and theological study, there is a renewed interest in ‘apocalyptic’. This development is seen particularly in the study of Paul’s theology, where it is now widely agreed that Paul promotes an ‘apocalyptic theology’. However, there is little agreement on what this means. Scholars from different perspectives have, as a result, continued to talk past each other. This special session provides an opportunity for leading Pauline scholars from different perspectives to engage in discussion about the meaning of Paul as an apocalyptic thinker. Indeed, one of the strengths and aims of this event is that different and opposing views are set next to each other. The session will hopefully bring greater clarity to the ‘apocalyptic’ reading of Paul by providing much needed definition to central terms and interpretive approaches and by highlighting both their strengths and weaknesses.

The only issue is that Friday is usually my recovery and shopping day. But this looks pretty unmissable.