Good Things Come In Threes

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So I would encourage you to…

download John Webster's lecture on Thomas Torrances' view of Scripture or failing that take a look at Jason's summary.

buy the forthcoming posthumous theological work by Dan Hardy, Attracted by God's Light: A Parting Theology, discussed by Andy here.

read this summary of Rene Girard's notion of mimetic desire.  In the words of Andrew Gallix, who does an excellent job: "You can always trust a Frenchman to view the world as a ménage à trois."

Some Good Things While I Have Been Away

I am now back in Melbourne after a good trip back to the UK seeing friends and family.  I am back at my desk on Monday, but for now, here are some of the good things that came in to my Google Reader while I was away:

Especially pertinent for my present work situation (where all sorts of stuff is being reviewed) is Ben's post, incorporating comments from Geoff Thompson, on the importance of research in a Theology Faculty.

Ben also draws attention to a new volume on the theological dimensions of Bonhoeffer's poetry.  Note also that the latest volume in the DBW series by Fortress is now published, it covers the years that Bonhoeffer spent in Berlin as Lecturer in the Faculty there.  That will be coming home in my SBL suitcase.

Jason summarizes and contributes to a thread on the relationship between baptism and ordination.

Loren gives a lengthy review of Campbell's The Deliverance of God.  My own reviewing of the book will continue after next week.

Mary Beard's account of a recent debate over the 'value' of humanities research offers a glimpse into the current state of research funding in the UK tertiary system.  It can be read as a useful backdrop to the recent decision at the University of Sheffield to cut undergraduate teaching in Biblical Studies (on which more next week when I have had a chance to write a letter to the Vice Chancellor), but for now see the Website.

A forthcoming book on Paul authored by…wait for it…Milbank, Pickstock, Zizek (can't be bothered to find the accents) and Davis.

A wonderful prayer by Martin Wroe which confirms what I always suspected, namely that the story of Elijah in the cave nowhere states that God is in the still, small, voice, and that the sermons that use it to support that idea are mistaken (Elijah has to come out of the cave before God speaks). (HT Geoff Colmer, who has good things to say about atonal music).

Stuff That Caught My Eye

The Inaugural volume of the Journal of the Thomas F. Torrance Theological Fellowship: Participatio

Notification of the publication of  Christopher Rowland and Christopher Morray-Jones, The Mystery of God: Early Jewish Mysticism and the New Testament (Leiden: Brill, 2009).  I was studying in Oxford when much of the groundwork for this book was being out in place and it is great to see it finally out (HT: April deConick)

Blogging through Timothy Ward's new book Words of Life: Scripture as the Living and Active Word of God: Kyle Strobel is taking this on over at Theology Forum: see Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 Part 4, Part 5

The Current Issue of the Australian Electronic Journal of Theology is now available with lots of good things.

Red Toryism hits Melbourne: with a visit from Phillip Blond later this year.

Finally a cartoon from Doug who got it from here that explains, partially at least, why I never have as much time for writing as I want.

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Odds and Sods

In an attempt to break the silence:

The Hekhalot Rabbati, a weird and wonderful text central to the Merkabah mystical movement is now available in translation online.  Go here.  When I was in Oxford in the early 90's there was some considerable interest in these texts, the Merkabah tradition and the possibilty of influence and/or parallels with some New Testament material.  I remember a paper by Jarl Fossum at the research seminar, and Chris Rowland, Chris Morray-Jones and Paula Gooder were all working on this stuff.  There was even a short lived seminar in which we tried to read the texts in Hebrew.  Anyway, if you have't encountered this fascinating material before, go and have a read. (HT Jim Davila)

Mary Beard has some helpful advice for those who review books

An interview with Eugene Peterson on the pastoral vocation that should be essential reading for all of our students here and elsewhere. Part 1 and Part 2

Andy has a helpful review of the recent volume, Baptist Sacramentalism 2: he states that 'Suddenly we are all trinitarians, or so it would seem' wrote Colin
Gunton at the beginning of the preface to 2nd edition of his book The
Promise of Trinitarian Theology. It does not seem out of place to
suggest 'Suddenly all Baptists are sacramentalists, or so it would
seem'. … if only it were true Andy.

Mike Bird and Craig Keener's SBL Forum article on  the case for 'generalists' in NT Scholarship has caused something of a stir and not a little support.  See comments by Mark, Pat,  and Nijay .  As Mark notes, I had something to say about this a long time ago (it was one of my first ever blog posts, following on from one about the kind of tea that N. T. Wright likes to drink) and is now not available.  However, the point still seems to me to be pertinent, I guess the only additional comment I would make concerns the ways in which the political and commercial dimensions of academia extert huge pressure towards a state whereby people say more and more about less and less.  The kind of scholarship that Mark describes (that manages, via imaginative intellectual attention to the key texts and questions, to alter consensus or perceptions) may be enduring, but may also be long-time coming: is it the kind of research that generates research funding in adequate amounts?

Oliver O'Donovan's lecture on Scripture and the Church is well worth a read.

And finally, a parable from Ben.

Odds and Sods

Various bits and pieces that have been tucked away for a rainy day:

Calvin 09 – Reading through the Institutes in a year:  a nice looking resource from Princeton, in which you can read or listen to a different section every day.  Don't worry if like me you are late starting, we are still only in Book 1.

What did Paul Really Write in Philippians 1.11?: see the discussion over at Evangelical Textual Criticism, especially in the comments.  I am still of the view that Paul could well have written here, 'for the glory of God and my praise / honour" – but most commentaries dismiss it.  Perhaps I should get a Short Note together summarizing the arguments in favour of the harder reading.

On John Updike:  I have always been haunted by the opening scenes of In the Beauty of the Lilies, in which Clarence Wilmot loses his faith just like that.  As usual, Ben offers an insightful pointer to Updike's role as a theological novelist including this great quotation, directed to a ministerial colleague, from Rabbit, Run:

“Do you think this is your job, to meddle in these people’s lives? I
know what they teach you at seminary now: this psychology and that. But
I don’t agree with it. You think now your job is to be an unpaid
doctor, to run around and plug up holes and make everything smooth. I
don’t think that. I don’t think that’s your job…. I say you don’t know
what your role is or you’d be home locked in prayer…. In running back
and forth you run away from the duty given you by God, to make your
faith powerful…. When on Sunday morning, then, when you go out before
their faces, we must walk up not worn out with misery but full of
Christ, hot with Christ, on fire: burn them with the
force of our belief. This is why they come; why else would they pay us?
Anything else we can do and say anyone can do and say. They have
doctors and lawyers for that…. Make no mistake. Now I’m serious. Make
no mistake. There is nothing but Christ for us. All the rest, all this
decency and busyness, is nothing. It is Devil’s work.”

What is Theological Commentary?: Halden offers his usual provocative thoughts, which I read having just done some work with Joseph Fitzmyer's new commentary on 1 Corinthians which, in many ways, felt rather outdated.  The thesis I am unsure about in Halden's list is no.6:

"Theological commentary is an offering to the church for
consideration, dissection, correction, and edification. It is to be
done in the mode of gifting, not in the mode of confrontation. Unlike
the role of the preacher who is called to confront the church with the
Word of God, theological commentary is a humble attempt to engage with
the Word of God, not knowing how such engagement will turn out. It is
prior to and grounds the practice of proclamation."

I am not sure that this distinction is as clear cut as Halden's formulation suggests.

Ten Virtues for Theological Students: from Ben, who will no doubt be trying to encourage the formation of such virtues in his students, as i will in mine, as a new academic year begins.

Around and About

The remaining desperate strategy of the blogger … post a few links to stuff out there that you have come across and found interesting, in the unlikely hope that others may share your enthusiasms…

Marilynne Robinson's new novel, Home, arrived yesterday, alongside a book on how to use Moodle (one of my more interesting Amazon combinations).  Given my belief that Gilead is one of the greatest novels of our era, I am eager to make a start to the latest work. For those who don't know what all the fuss is about, you may like to read the following article from TLS here, and an interview re-posted by Jason Goroncy here

Here is what Josiah Barlett would say to Barack Obama: warning, this will only make sense to you if you watched the West Wing, and if so, it will make you wish once again that Bartlett was (a) real and (b) back on our screens.

I had picked up from one or two sources that my soon-to-be Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd was a practising Christian and a student of Bonhoeffer.  Now Mike Bird has provided the link to an essay by Rudd on Bonhoeffer which repays careful reading. Imagine: a political leader who understands theology!