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.

Registration and Call for Papers – Claiming Sovereignty: Theological Perspectives

EVENT_CUSTOM_HEADER v1389320765Jointly organised by the University of Divinity, Whitley College, the Centre for Theology and Ministry, and the Commission for Mission of the UCA
In a context where Indigenous claims remain unresolved, the rights of asylum seekers are contested, and global economic forces are making new demands on nation states, the theme of sovereignty demands closer examination. Beginning with discussion of settler colonialism, this conference brings together people from a range of disciplines to reflect on discourses of sovereignty in the Australian context.


Call for papers

Presentations are invited on any topic related to the theme of the conference, e.g., settler colonialism, treaties with Indigenous peoples, the rise and decline of nation states, claims to state sovereignty in debates about asylum seekers and border protection, and ideas of sovereignty in the Bible. The range of relevant disciplines would include: history, law, politics, systematic theology, ministry, biblical studies, public health and social policy.

Deadline: Paper proposals should be sent by 30th April 2014

Go here for registration and to offer a paper proposal.

Accordance 20th Anniversary Sale (20% Off)

ImageThe good people over at Accordance are celebrating 20 years of producing the best bible software available. Those who already have Accordance (and perhaps those who are tempted to take the plunge) should know that there is a 20% discount on all products until April 9th (scroll down the page to find the coupon). My collection of biblical and other primary sources is pretty up to date, but I have taken the opportunity to purchase Accordance’s electronic edition of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Works in English series for $359.99.


Used and Abused: Bonhoeffer for All Causes (10th Annual Bonhoeffer Conference, 31st July – 1st August 2014)

I have posted details of this conference before. But today I sent off the details of the paper that I will be giving.

‘Present-ing’ the Word: The Use and Abuse of Bonhoeffer on the Bible

Recent Bonhoeffer scholarship has shown a welcome concern for the significance of the Bible and biblical interpretation for any understanding of Bonhoeffer’s theology. In particular, Bonhoeffer’s name is now often associated with the call for a form of theological hermeneutics marked by the relativization of—and sometimes outright hostility to—more obviously historically orientated modes of exegesis.

Building on earlier studies of Bonhoeffer’s early and late reflections on biblical interpretation, this paper looks in detail at the material that emerges from Bonhoeffer’s time as Director at Finkenwalde (DBWE 14) as it relates to these issues. Bonhoeffer’s well known lecture on the ‘Present-ation’ (Vergegenwärtigung) of New Testament Texts will be the focus of enquiry. In exploring this material I will pay special attention to the way in which Bonhoeffer describes the work of the interpreter in relation to the biblical text and the contemporary context. In contrast to studies that use Bonhoeffer in support of models of interpretation that downplay the work of interpretation, I argue that Bonhoeffer, like Barth before him, affirms the human work of the interpreter as a part of what it means to make the New Testament ‘present’ to the world today.

The paper closes with some reflections on how Bonhoeffer’s understanding of the work of interpretation helps us to think through important questions about biblical interpretation in the church and the academy today.

Things to Watch (if you are interested in the New Testament)

More and more good material in New Testament scholarship is appearing in the form of online video. Here are some:

Richard Hays on Canon and Creed

Francis Watson on his important book Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective

You might also take a look at the collected videos from the George W. Truett Seminary at Baylor, from their Winter Pastors School. Richard Hays again, plus Walter Brueggemann and others.


Bonhoeffer Bits and Pieces

A small constellation of Bonhoeffer related information has gathered over the past few weeks and months.

1. First, and foremost (and the prompt for posting) the wonderful people over at Accordance Bible Software have managed to negotiate with Fortress press to secure electronic rights to the complete Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in English series; all 16 volumes. This fantastic and fantastically annoying for those of us who have collected the print volumes as they have appeared. The key benefit is, of course, that of full searchability. Perhaps it will persuade some systematic theologians to buy Accordance. That would be a very good thing. It may well be attractive enough to persuade me to double up on my DBWE editions. There is a special introductory price of $399.99 over at the Accordance Store now, so check it out.

2. Jim Gordon has a useful and helpful initial review of the controversial new book on Bonhoeffer’s (non)participation in the German resistance, Bonhoeffer the Assassin.

3. Two Bonhoeffer intensive courses are running here in Melbourne within a few weeks and a few hundred yards of each other. Keith Clements will be teaching at Whitley College (note, the link is to a .pdf) from 10–21 February and Stephen Plant will join Mark Lindsay and others to teach Bonhoeffer at the UFT in March (again, its a .pdf link). Maybe next time we can work out how to join forces and have a Bonhoeffer mega-intensive.

4. Later this year (31 July–1 August) the annual Newcastle Bonhoeffer Conference (again a .pdf link) will have the theme ‘Used and Abused: Bonhoeffer for all Causes’. The title should probably have a question mark at the end. I am giving a paper on the use and abuse of Bonhoeffer on the Bible.

5. Finally, Australasian Bonhoeffer scholarship goes from strength to strength and last saw saw the launch of the Australasian Journal of Bonhoeffer Studies. The first volume (no .pdf this time) has a range of excellent articles including one by me on ‘Bonhoeffer and Biblical Interpretation: The Early Years’.