In order to celebrate the beginning of the new semester as well as my forgetfulness in buying duplicate books, I offered a brand new copy of N. T. Wright’s Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978-2013 (Fortress, 2013) back on January 12. All you had to do to win was leave me your name and mention your favorite Pauline scholar. I noticed James Dunn and John Barclay did quite well in this informal poll, but the winner said N. T. Wright was his favorite.
I put all forty two comments (after deleting a couple duplicates) into a spreadsheet and randomly sorted them. I think used random.org to generate a a number. The winner of the N. T. Wright book is:
Jared made his saving throw and succeeds in adding this book to his library. Get in touch with me and I will get you this book ASAP. I will have one more book to give away this semester, to be sure to check that out tomorrow, or follow me on twitter @plong42.
The winner of the Robert Gundry book never contacted me: Charles, if you are out there, contact me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or twitter so I can get you this book. If I do not hear from you in a couple of days I will give it to someone else.
Amazon has a great deal on the four published volumes in the Discovering Biblical Texts from Eerdmans. Each volume of the series provides an excellent introduction to the exegetical problems a particular books as well as an example of a commentary from the perspective of Reception History.
When I reviewed the Romans volume by Anthony Thiselton I said:
Discovering Romans is an excellent handbook and guide to the story of Romans. It will make an excellent textbook for the seminary classroom, but will be of great assistance to anyone who wants to keep up with recent developments in the study of Romans. More than this, Thiselton’s goal of reading Romans along with writers in different periods of Church history provides the modern reader with important perspectives which are often overlooked or intentionally ignored. Despite the brevity of the commentary, it is rich with details pointing interested readers to commentaries and monographs to dig deeper into this most important book of the New Testament.
If you read books on a Kindle (or Kindle App), Amazon has the first four volumes of this series on sale for 99 cents each. That is four serious books for your library for the price of a cup of coffee (at least a fancy cup of coffee). I much prefer a real book to the Kindle version, but the price is right for these excellent volumes. If you have an iPad (or other tablet), use the Kindle App to read these books.
Click the title to read my review of the book and then the Amazon link to add the book to your Kindle Library.
I have a brand new copy of N. T. Wright’s Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978-2013 (Fortress, 2013). This 620-page book is the companion volume to Paul and the Faithfulness of God and collects Wright’s most articles on Paul over the last 35 years. Several are previously unpublished exegetical essays on Paul’s theology. These thirty-three articles are essential reading for students of Paul whether you think Wright is a friend or a foe. Ben Witherington III blurbs the book:
“Pauline Perspectives gathers into one convenient place the multitudinous essays and lectures on Paul and his thought world that have come forth from the prolific pen of N. T. Wright during the course of the last 35 years. Here you can see the development of seminal ideas, major themes, and the relentless pursuit of understanding important trajectories in Paul’s thought, ranging from justification to the righteousness of God to atonement to much more. Reading a book like this is like going to a great feast put on by a master chef and discovering there were no ephemeral starters but all meat, and none of it half-baked either, but well worth chewing over and always nourishing. Bon appetit!”
The book is $70 retail (but who pays retail?) I ended up with two copies, so I will celebrate a new academic semester by sending this book to a randomly selected person who leaves a comment below with their name and and the name of their favorite Pauline Scholar.
I will pick the winner on January 23. Be sure to check back to see if the odds were in your favor. If no one wins, I will send the copy to Jim West since he is a huge N. T. Wright fan.
It is time to give a few books way to celebrate the New Year. I happen to have an extra copy of Robert Gundry, Peter: False Disciple and Apostate according to Saint Matthew (Eerdmans 2015). The book is new, but the cover has some damage (possibly heat on rippled the finish). If you look at it in the right light, it looks perfect.
This short study by Robert Gundry makes the surprising claim that Matthew considered Peter to be a “false disciple and apostate.” In the introduction to the book Gundry makes his motivations clear: this is not an anti-Catholic book nor is he interested in subverting any traditions about Peter. He not particularly interested in the “historical Peter,” assuming a history of Peter’s life could be written. Gundry’s project is strictly limited to the presentation of Peter in Matthew’s gospel only.
In order to reach this conclusion, Gundry analyzes every appearance of Peter in the Gospel of Matthew using redaction criticism in order to show Matthew edited Mark’s narrative to present Peter as an example of a disciple who was very close to Jesus but ultimately failed to follow through on his commitment to Jesus. In the end, Peter is left “outside in the darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Gundry’s use of redaction criticism is well-known from his commentaries on Matthew and Mark, therefore many will pre-judge some of his comments based on his method alone.
I reviewed the book in August 2015and I cannot recall another book review which generated so many responses (both for and against Gundry’s thesis). So read the review, stay for the comments and then enter to win the book.
To have a chance to win the book, leave a comment on this post and I will pick a random winner Friday, January 12, 2018.
Witherington III, Ben. New Testament Theology and Ethics, Volumes 1 & 2. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2016. 856 pgs.; Pb.; $40.00 Link to InterVarsity
When InterVarsity Press sent me a copy of this massive book my initial thought was that Witherington had simply written another massive book on New Testament Theology. But this is not the case, these two new paperback volumes were previously published as The Indelible Image: The Theological and Ethical World of the New Testament. Volume one was subtitled “The Individual Witnesses” and volume two was subtitled “The Collective Witness.”
As Witherington wrote in the preface to the original publication of this work, there is a need to write yet another New Testament theology for several reasons. First, Witherington observes that the connection between theology and ethics is seldom explored. There are few New Testament theologies with attempt to write on the ethics of the New Testament writers and typical books on New Testament ethics fail to take into account the theology of the various New Testament witnesses. Second, this is a problem since, as Witherington says, many New Testament theological terms are also ethical terms. He refers to John’s idea of love, for example. Third, Witherington thinks the reason for this disconnect is the Reformation emphasis on doctrine/theology. This had the effect of overlooking the ethics in the New Testament since it sound a little too much like “works righteousness.” Witherington thinks this overemphasis on forensic justification and imputed righteousness has done an injustice to New Testament theology and ethics.
His goal in these two volumes is to address this disconnection of theology and ethics. In order to achieve the goal, the first volume surveys the New Testament witnesses in chronological order. He begins with historical Jesus, although he does not worry too much about this terminology. The second witness is Paul since most of his letters are the earliest Christian writings available. Witherington calls Paul a “paradigm setter,” but he wants to avoid drawing a sharp contrast between Jesus and Paul. Pau believed the teaching of Jesus had an application beyond the original setting and Paul also believed he had a prophetic office with interpreted the teaching of Jesus by applying it to new situations (272). With respect to ethics, both Jesus and Paul would agree with James’s statement that “faith without works is dead.”
James, Jude and Peter are the topic of the third section of the book. The dating for the letters of Jude and James is important since they may pre-date Paul’s earliest letters. Witherington uses this chapter to outline a Jewish Christianity which in some ways stands in contrast to Pauline theology. The fourth chapter deals with Hebrews, a book often associated with Jewish Christianity, but Witherington draws parallels to Pauline theology. The Johannine literature in defined as the Gospel of John and the three epistles, Revelation is separated out to the final chapter of the book. The Gospel of John was also intended for a Jewish Christian audience but describes Jesus as a sage (a point Witherington has argued in Jesus the Sage (Fortress, revised edition 2000). Placing the sixth chapter on the synoptic Gospels may indicate they were written after the Gospel of John, but Witherington merely wants to trace the development of Christology in the Gospels in a single chapter. Perhaps the inclusion of Acts in this chapter is a methodological mistake, but the problem of the genre of Acts and its relationship to Luke is always a difficult problem. Despite having written a major commentary on Acts, Witherington only has a few pages on Acts in this chapter and then only focusing on Acts 2. The final chapter on Revelation and 2 Peter deals with the ethics of the persecuted as well as a brief introduction to the beginnings of the New Testament canon.
The second volume begins with a methodological discussion, is a New Testament “theology or ethics” even possible? Witherington’s main dialogue partner in this introduction is Joel Green’s Seized by Truth (Abingdon, 2007). This book argued for an ecclesiastical approach to Scripture, really what is now called theological interpretation. In this approach meaning is found behind, in and in front of the text. This approach takes into account how people have read Scripture in the past (how they have “received” the text within a faith community) as well as the text itself. Witherington is more cautious, pointing out that background and reception of a text cannot be the meaning of the actual text (2:25). His approach will focus on the meaning of the text in the final form and taking into consideration the cultural embeddedness of the text while attempting to apply the text to transformed lives in faith communities.
To achieve this, he offers two chapters on the symbolic and narrative world of the New Testament writers. These wide ranging chapters attempt to locate the New Testament writers in the overarching story of the Bible. The following chapters survey consensus views on Christology, Discipleship, the Holy Spirit, Eschatology and ethics (two chapters).
Witherington devotes three chapters to ethical teaching for Jewish Christians (everyone except Paul, Mark, Luke and 2 Peter), Pauline ethical teaching and ethical teaching for Gentiles (Mark, Luke and 2 Peter). The first volume explains why Witherington has divided the material as he has, especially his (correct) decision to place Matthew among the Jewish Christian writers as well as placing Mark among the Gentiles.
The result of this lengthy survey is what Witherington calls a “matrix of meanings” (chapter 13). By sticking to the overall narrative of the canon of Scripture, he observes that the thought world of both the Old and New Testaments blend with other (non-canonical) ethical sources to provide an ethical foundation for “going beyond the Bible.” Witherington interacts with I. Howard Marshall’s small book by this title in order to suggest all academic sub-disciplines ought to work together develop ethical teaching from the biblical foundation in order to meet the needs of the world today.
There are a few minor differences with respect to formatting. For example, the table of contents in the new volume is far more detailed. Several chapter titles were change to avoid some confusion. Chapter 3 was originally entitled “The Kinsmen and their Redeemer and Peter and his Principles,” the new volume has the more sensible “Jude, James and Peter: Bridging the Ministry of Jesus and the Apostolic Church.” Chapter four was originally “the Famous Anonymous Preacher” but now is “Hebrews: Looking unto Jesus in the Pauline Tradition.” The title of the sixth chapter was changed from the ambiguous “One-Eyed Gospels” to “Matthew Mark and Luke-Acts: Retrospective Portraits of Jesus and His Gospel” and chapter seven was change from “The End of All Things and the Beginning of the Canon” to “Revelation and 2 Peter: Transitioning to a Postapostolic Church.” If there are other adjustments in the body of the text, they are minor and do not effect page numbering between the two volumes.
This new publication makes these massive volumes available in less expensive paperback binding. The reduced cost is of course welcome, but since both volumes are well over 800 pages, I am concerned about the long-term durability of the binding.
NB: Thanks to Intervarsity Press for kindly providing me with a review copy of Volume One of New Testament Theology and Ethics; I previously purchased both volumes of The Indelible Image. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.