This academic year has seen some movement in Biblical studies at Princeton. Beverly Gaventa and Ross Wagner both switched institutions – the former to Baylor, the latter to Duke. That left some folks wondering -what will come of NT Studies at PTS? Well, with folks Black and Parsenios there, it was still expected to be quite strong in any case. However, the news just became official that Dale Allison will join their ranks in the fall – not a bad deal for a Presbyterian to end up at Princeton! This is good news indeed for Princeton, which will have strength in Gospels studies, and a bit less emphasis on Paul, I suppose.
I have read a few books by Allison in recent years and I have been thoroughly impressed. You can find the official news from Princeton here. My understanding is that they will also be announcing soon a hire at the assistant level.
HT: Mark Goodacre.
“Sleeping with the Enemy: Recent Scholarship on Sexuality
in the Book of Judges” (Serge Frolov)
“Summaries of Israel’s Story: Reviewing a Compositional” (Jason B. Hood and Matthew Y. Emerson)
“Peter and Paul in Acts and the Construction of Early Christian
Identity: A Review of Historical and Literary Approaches” (Coleman A. Baker)
“Alternative Perspectives beyond the Perspectives: A Summary
of Pauline Studies that has Nothing to Do with Piper or Wright” (Bruce Worthington)
“Recent Study of Greek Religion in the Archaic through
Hellenistic Periods” (F.S. Naiden)
Here is a word of extraordinarily high praise from Sam Well regarding Tom Wright’s soon-coming Paul and the Faithfulness of God:
“With magisterial vision, energetic scholarship, and lucid illustration, N. T. Wright unveils the mysteries of Paul’s theological imagination. This compellingly argued and absorbing study takes us beyond the bifurcation of salvation and participation that has long pervaded Pauline studies. Combining the passion of Augustine with the ambition of Barth, Wright’s Christian Origins series has inscribed itself into the canon of scripturally soaked theology, where it will remain for generations to come.”
Vicar, Saint Martin-in-the-Fields, London
J. Ross Wagner, formerly at Princeton Theological Seminary, has been recently appointed associate professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School. Ross did his PhD at Duke, so he definitely knows his way around those halls. This is a huge loss for Princeton as many PTS students have told me how much they appreciated him. You can read the Duke announcement here.
I have been admiring, as of late, the scholarly work of David Scholer. Today I found particularly interesting his comment, made in a 1988 article, on how times had changed for how he taught NT courses to seminary students. As a bit of background to this article, before getting to a key quote, Scholer was reflecting on his journey of defending women in ministry as a legitimate Christian perspective. Scholer came to understand, over several decades of Biblical interpretation, that just hashing out viewpoints and potential historical background of debated texts was not going to settle the matter or provide serious traction in the debate. He came to realize that seminary students need training in, not only the backgrounds and grammatical study of Scripture, but also the philosophy of interpretation and hermeneutics. Here is what Scholer writes (again, over two decades ago)
Twenty years ago when I started teaching my course on women in ministry in the New Testament I thought my whole responsibility was to do exegesis. Today when I teach my course, I know that I need to talk deeply about hermeneutics, about the history of the Church, about the character of God and about human sexuality before it is possible to do anything resembling exegesis on the question of men and women in the Church. That is what I think I have learned in twenty years. I may not have always learned it well, I may not always be able to communicate it well, but it seems to me that all of us need to be able to admit, to recognize and to name ‘out loud’ these issues of hermeneutics, history, God and sexuality both in the academy and in the Church, so that together we may work for the equal partnership of men and women in the ministry of the Church to which we have all been called through the biblical witness. (p. 107-108)
D.M. Scholer, “Participation in the Issues of Women and Ministry in the New Testament,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 15.2 (1988): 101-108.
This is a helpful reminder that we Biblical scholars and seminary professors who follow after Scholer (who died in 2008) must work beyond our grammars, our discourse analysis charts, our color-coded inductive analyses, and archaeological finds (though these are all helpful). I feel compelled, in almost every course, to begin with the question: What IS Scripture, what is it for? How does it relate to God? How does it relate to us? Where does its truth and authority come from? [NT Wright, Luke Timothy Johnson, Joel Green, John Goldingay, Clayton Croy, and John Webster have been immensely for me in this regard]
Scholer is asking and expecting us to be better at our jobs. To read and know more. Not to burn us out, but to better equip our students for handling Scripture properly. Was it Barth who said that we should read the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other? I think Scholer would add - and sit in front of a mirror while you are reading!
This fall I am excited to be teaching an exegesis course on the Gospel of Matthew (my first time on this book!). I have been beefing up my Synoptics literature and getting acquainted with the best commentaries (just bought ICC and Talbert’s Paideia). But I was particularly excited to see that the Story of God Bible Commentary series (Zondervan) will release its first two volumes this fall – the Sermon on the Mount (Scot McKnight) and Philippians (Lynn Cohick). Editors for the series are McKnight and Tremper Longman. I think both inaugural volumes will be out in time for SBL.
Here are some other future authors slated for the series
Mike Bird on Romans
Love Sechrest on 2 Corinthians
Joel Willitts on Galatians
John Dickson on James
Mark D. Roberts on Ephesians
Justin Hardin on 1 Corinthians
John Byron on 1 & 2 Thessalonians
Paul S Evans on 1 & 2 Samuel
Dennis R Edwards on 1 Peter
Beth M. Stovell on Minor Prophets
David T Lamb on 1 & 2 Kings
Perhaps this has been available for a while, but I just came across three words of high praise for Tom Wright’s soon coming Paul and the Faithfulness of God, endorsement statements from highly respected scholars.
“N. T. Wright’s long-awaited full-length study of St. Paul will not in any way disappoint. From the very first sentence, it holds the attention, arguing a strong, persuasive, coherent, and fresh case supported by immense scholarship and comprehensive theological intelligence. It is a worthy successor to his earlier magisterial studies, laying out again very plainly the ways in which the faith of the New Testament is focused on God’s purpose to re-create, through the fact of Jesus crucified and risen, our entire understanding of authority and social identity.” –Rowan Williams, Magdalene College, Cambridge
“Only once in every other generation or so does a project approaching the size, scope, and significance of Paul and the Faithfulness of God appear. Paul’s world, worldview, controlling stories, and theology spring to life through N. T. Wright’s brilliant scholarship and spirited writing. Arguing for narrative and theological coherence in Paul’s thought, Wright seeks to overcome numerous dichotomies that have characterized recent Pauline scholarship. Readers will be richly rewarded and challenged at every turn—even when they do not fully agree. Each chapter reveals something profound about the surprising faithfulness of the God freshly revealed in Jesus the Messiah and conveyed to Paul’s communities, and to us, by the Spirit.” –Michael J. Gorman, St. Mary’s Seminary & University, Baltimore, Maryland
“Breath-taking, mind-expanding, ground-breaking, and more—it is easy to run out of adjectives to describe what N. T. Wright has already accomplished in his multi-volume account of New Testament history and theology. This fourth volume in the series is likewise a game-changer, above all for its adventurous presentation of Paul’s ‘mindset’ and theology, so thoroughly contextualized at the confluence of the apostle’s Jewish, Roman, and Greek worlds. This is Wright at his best—part historian, part exegete, part theologian, part pedagogue.” –Joel B. Green, Fuller Theological Seminary, California