Latest Australian Biblical Review

ABR63coverI am back at my desk and pleased to see the arrival of the latest issue of the Australian Biblical Review (volume 63), where I have an article and book review. The article is entitled ‘”Obedient to Death”: Revisiting the Rhetorical Function of Philippians 2:6–11’ and the absstract is as follows:

Despite its significance for the study of the development of early christology, Philippians 2.6–11 sits uneasily in its epistolary context. Recent scholarship shows a welcome reluctance to separate the section from the parenetic material in 2:1–5 and 2:12–18, but has underestimated the extent to which this surrounding material deals with apparently conflicting themes. 2:1–4 appears to be an exhortation to ecclesial unity marked by humility and other regard. 2:5 is best read as a call for the Philippians’ participation in what Michael Gorman has called the pattern of ‘cruciformity’. 2:12–18 is an appeal for continued obedience to and support of Paul. For which of these motifs does the poetic material of 2:6–11 provide exemplary support? In this paper I argue that scholars have misunderstood the nature of 2:1­–5 and have thereby underestimated the function of the text as a call for humility in the service of obedience. Just as Christ is obedient to God in such a way as to receive vindication, so the Philippians are to be obedient to Paul as Christ’s emissary, thus making possible Paul’s and their own vindication on the day of Christ. Paul is to be the focus of the Philippians’ other regard and this rhetorical concern is consistent with the overall purpose of Philippians.

The book review is of JOHN RICHES (ed.)The New Cambridge History of the Bible, Volume 4: From 1750 to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015). Pp. xviii + 851. Hardback. £125.00 and you can read it here.

SBL Debrief

Photo on 1-12-2015 at 7.28 amAs is usually the case, I return from the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature with a stack of new books (see picture for details), an entirely disoriented body clock, and an overall sense of gratitude for the opportunity to spend time with colleagues and friends (some of whom occupy both categories of significance). Rather than specify in details the schedule of papers, meetings, conversations, receptions and chance encounters that filled up the weekend, I offer just a few random comments on aspects of the conference that struck me: some entirely obvious, and others entirely random.

  • 25 minutes is not enough time for serious academic presentations and responses. Over the last several SBLs I have been involved in this has been the default ‘slot’ for paper presentation, and while it has its value in terms of (a) getting a paper written, (b) getting the argument and evidence into clear enough focus to be able to present it in 20 mins or so, and (c) being able to present your material to peers, the lack of sustained time for interaction and, where appropriate, critique continues to be frustrating. Of course, the shorter time slot maximises the chances for participation but it mitigates against the kind of scholarly conversation and interaction which I, for one, need. I know that the short time allocations are not ubiquitous across the sections, but if I had my way each 2 and a half hour slot would have no more than 4 papers.
  • there is delicate balance to be struck between presentation as speed-reading and presentation as ‘a chat about what you are working on’. The former mode of delivery predominates, but the latter is equally frustrating. In the session in which I presented, it was a pleasure to witness one paper in particular whose delivery was as interesting and, frankly, brilliantly executed as its content (and no, I don’t mean mine).
  • Atlanta is not a great venue: my own preference would be for AAR/SBL to be in San Diego every year, but if that isn’t possible, then I would be happy not to have to wander across a skybridge from one hotel to another ever again.
  • The exchange rate is a killer: coming from Australia, the weak $AUS against the $US meant that this was an expensive conference all round.
  • Baylor University Press are producing the best quality/price ratio books in the whole book display. I spent more time drooling at their stand than anywhere else and Carey Newman is to be congratulated on building a fascinating and high quality list of titles.
  • Walking around the Wipf and Stock stand caused me the same sense of ennui as walking the corridors of the Marriott hotel: the scale is impressive, but I could rarely actually find the book I wanted.
  • Mai Thai’s are bloody delicious, especially when combined with pork ribs.
  • Friends and conversation are more important than anything: so a big thank you to those I spent more than a passing ‘hello’ with: Michael Golding, Brad, Lazetta and Kharis Braxton, Robyn Whitaker and Peter French, David Horrell, Jenn Strawbridge, The Chester Crew and associates, James Crossley, James Harding, Andrew McGowan, Catherine Playoust,  Catrin Williams, Helen Bond, Anthony Rees, Richard Burridge, Hugh Pyper, Tiffany Wesbter, Michelle Fletcher plus several others that I have forgotten. In so far as the scholarly vocation is a call to collegiality (a non-negotiable in my view), I am grateful that the weird and sometimes wonderful world of biblical studies is full of such good colleagues.

Children, Mission and Education Symposium

My colleague Chris Barnett has asked me to spread the word about a forthcoming Symposium coming up next month.

Children & Spirituality Symposium, Friday September 11, Parkville, Melbourne

A unique event on the Australian ministry calendar, the Children & Spirituality Symposium  is a wonderful opportunity for theologically engaged practitioners (including chaplains, RE teachers, Christian educators, ministers/pastors and children & families ministry leaders), those who are currently undertaking research around ministry with children and families and those who have previously completed such research, to gather, engage and explore together.

This year’s Symposium explores the topic of Child, Mission and Education. Drawing together three significant thinkers, writers and leaders in their respective fields, this Symposium offers the prospect of challenging in-put, fascinating conversation and robust group engagement. The 2015 presenters are…

Rev. Dr. John Flett                  Co-ordinator of Studies (Missiology),  Pilgrim Theological College
Dr. Larissa McLean Davies   Deputy Director of Learning and Teaching, Graduate School of Education (University of Melbourne)
Beth Barnett                             Learning and Theological Engagement, Victorian Council of Christian Education

…and this will be a great day for anyone willing to be stretched in both their undergirding theological understanding and actual practice of ministry engagement with children and their families.

Child, Mission and Education Symposium
Friday September 11
9.45am to 3.30pm
$40 (includes lunch)
Centre for Theology and Ministry (29 College Cres, Parkville, Melbourne)

More Information: Child, Mission and Education Symposium
Registration: Children & Spirituality Symposium 2015

Daniel Kirk in Melbourne: Seminar, Tuesday 11th August at 12.45 pm.

The fi2015 Daniel Kirk Lecture - FINALrst lunchtime Research Seminar at Pilgrim Theological College will take place next Tuesday, 11th August at 12.45 p.m. – 1.45 p.m.

It is great that New Testament Scholar Daniel Kirk, who is visiting Australia, will be able to join us to present a summary of his recent work on the human Jesus of the Synoptic gospels. All are welcome to join us at the Centre for Theology and Ministry, 29 College Crescent, Parkville, 3052. Please spread the word.

Book Notice: Suffering in Romans by Siu Fung Wu

http://pull01.wipf.netdna-cdn.com/media/catalog/product/hres.9781498208734.jpgI have just received notice that one of my former PhD students, Siu Fung Wu, now has his thesis, Suffering in Romans, published with Wipf and Stock.

You can find the details here.

Along with several others, I wrote an endorsement for the book, and Todd Still has written a nice Foreword. (you can see them all on the website). This is what I wrote:

“Exegetical rigor meets existential reality in this important study of the theme of suffering in Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome. Wu highlights the ways that Paul explores the theme of suffering in the light of his gospel of hope. But his focus on the audience of Romans also reminds us that Paul’s gospel is no abstract reflection but a transformative message–for the first audience and for today.”

Call for Papers: ANZATS Conference 2016 in Melbourne

Along with colleagues at Trinity College Theological School and the University of Divinity, Pilgrim Theological College will be hosting the 2016 ANZATS Conference next July. The keynote speaker is Serene Jones from Union Theological Seminary and the Conference theme is the Atonement.

The Call for Papers has just been issued. See below (click on the image to go through to the full .pdf)2016-ANZATS-Conference-flyer-_Page_1