Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Handling the Intertestamental Period in the Biblical Story

One of the relatively unique features of The Drama of Scripture is the fact that it devotes an entire chapter to the intertestamental period. Reading this made me wonder how to best treat this 400 year "gap" in the biblical storyline as presented in Scripture. What elements are necessary to mention in order to help people recognize that nearly 400 years of history and hope transpire between the last chapter of Malachi and the first one of Matthew? And how does one do this succinctly and yet competently?

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Recommended Resource: The Story of a Kingdom

I have just been notified of another excellent website that seeks to explain the Bible by walking through the storyline; it's called The Story of a Kingdom. The niche of this particular site is its orientation towards a simple and understandable presentation of the Biblical storyline with a view in particular towards those who have English as a second language. Available on the site are three resources available for pdf download: (1) The Story of a Kingdom, a study guide that walks through the Biblical story including questions, diagrams, etc. useful for group of personal study; (2) The Story of a Kingdom book, a shortened version of the study guide written to read more like a book; and (3) a Powerpoint presentation that overviews the entire curriculum.

Although I have not read the materials extensively, my initial examination reveals an excellent resource. The author is Jonathan Gibson, one of the editors of the Beginning with Moses website I have previously mentioned. I look forward to digging deeper into this resource and trust it will be helpful to others as well. I have now added a link to this site on the sidebar to the right.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Essentials in the Biblical Storyline Part 3 - Promise (Gen 4 - Mal 4)

In some ways this might be the most difficult chapter of the biblical storyline to condense neatly and succinctly since it covers the time from the fall to the advent of Christ. The OT is filled with significant promises, covenants, events, etc. that ar important for the biblical storyline, but as you think of the big picture which one are especially crucial for understanding the storyline?

Think in terms of promises, covenants, specific figures, events, etc.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Essentials in the Biblical Storyline Part 2 - Rebellion (Gen 3)

Continuing in our series of walking through the main sections of the biblical storyline, today I want to focus on the Fall in Genesis 3. What elements of this passage are crucial for understanding the biblical story? Again, think in terms of what we learn about God, humanity, the world, etc.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Essentials in the Biblical Storyline Part 1 - Creation (Genesis 1-2)

Recently I 've been reflecting on the essentials of the biblical storyline as I prepare to teach an biblical interpretation and communication for a parachurch organization this summer. In order to faciliate my thinking, I've begun working through the key movements and asking myself the question: "What does a person need to grasp from this particular chapter in the biblical story to ensure they understand the rest of the story and themselves properly?"

In light of that, I'm beginning with the Creation account in Genesis 1-2. What aspects of these chapters would you regard as essential for a person to understand the story of Scripture and the story of their own lives? In particular I am thinking about truths about God, human beings, the world, etc. that emerge from Genesis 1-2. So what would you highlight?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Gospel Pattern of Practice Rooted in Doctrine

Tonight in my weekly Bible study we'll be looking at 1 Peter 2:18-25. As I've studied this passage this week, I've been struck again by how often the NT authors explicitly root their ethical instruction in specific aspects of the gospel. For example, here in 2:18-20 Peter exhorts servants to be submissive to their masters, even if it means suffering unjustly. Then in 2:21-25 Peter roots this endurance of unjust affliction in the example of Christ, leading him to make six statements about Christ did or did not do:

1. Commited no sin
2. No deceit found in his mouth
3. Despite being reviled did not revile in return
4. Despite suffering did not threaten
5. Entrusted himself to the one who judges justly
6. Bore our sins on the cross

This leads then in 2:24 to a purpose statement: so that having died to sin you might live to righteousness.

So note the gospel pattern here: (1) exhortation to specific actions; (2) foundation in some aspect of the gospel. I think this pattern underlies all of the ethical instruction of the NT, even where the gospel foundation is not explicitly stated. In those cases, though, I believe we are required to make the connection in order to truly understand how to live out the commands of Scripture.

And as one final note, I have once again been struck by oour amazing Savior, who did all of this. Who among us can be sinless for even one day, or perhaps even one hour? Who among us never deceives with our speeh? Who among us does not return insult for insult? Who among us does not offer threats? Yet Jesus perfectly embodied these impossible traits. How can our hearts be cold towards one who is so amazing in his sinless perfection?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Help for a Classical Music Neophyte

Although I enjoy classical music, I am woefully ignorant about it. At this point, my knowledge and exposure is pretty limited to Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, Tchaikovsky and Bach, but even my exposure to them is rather rudimentary. So I am turning to others to assist me in expanding my classical music horizons. The recent gift of a 60GB video IPod as a graduation gift has fueled my desire to expand my classical music library, so what suggestions do those of you who have more knowledge than me ( = just about anybody) for where to begin adding to my collection?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Role of Faith in Politics & Society

Andrew Sullivan writes an interesting piece on the intersection between Christianity and political involvement. In light of our recent post on 1 Peter 2:13-17 (see below) and the God-ordained role of government to restrain/punish evil and praise the good, how do you evaluate Sullivan's argument?

NOTE: I would be particularly interested in the perspective of our readers who are outside of the U.S., as I am guessing they might have some particularly helpful observations that Americans at times may be blind to.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Blogging Hiatus

This weekend is graduation for me here at Wheaton, and with all of the family and friends in town to celebrate, I will be unable to post anything again until at least Monday. I will, however, occasionally check in and see what's going on, so please feel free to continue posting comments. Have a blessed weekend.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Drama of Scripture: Act 2 - Rebellion in the Kingdom

This morning I read Act 2 - Rebellion in the Kingdom in Drama of Scripture. Given the title of the chapter I expected to find rebellion against God as the central motif in the chapter, but was surprised that the word rebellion did not occur anywhere in the chapter. To be sure, the term mutiny is used. But the central term that emerges is autonomy, defined as "choosing oneself as the source for determining what is right and wrong, rather than relying on God's word for direction" (43).

While not in any way denying that autonomy is an excellent way of expressing Adam and Eve's sin, I guess I was anticipating more discussion of the fall in terms of God's vice-regents / stewards rebelling against their commission from Gen 1:26-31 and instead asserting their own authority to rule as they saw fit (which is certainly an expression of autonomy.

This relates to a second observation. Great emphasis is placed on the horizontal dimensions of sin, and although the vertical dimensions of sin are mentioned (and even described as fundamental), the amount of discussion of the horizontal effects of sin has the subtle of effect of making them seem more important. Related to this is the very brief and almost in passing reference to God's judgment on Adam, Eve, the serpent, and the ground, something I would have liked to see more discussion of. One of the things that Gen 3 clearly highlights is that as his creation we are responsible / accountable to God, and I think establishing that fact as early in the story as possible is very important.

Final observation - given the importance of this act for the entire storyline I was a little surprised that it only received four pages; I would have expected and hoped for more.

Of course, I should mark these comments as provisional, subject to revision as I continue through the book. Perhaps these are lines developed as the book progresses, and I am aware that one cannot do everything in a book this size. But I wanted to get some initial thoughts out there. So what think you, esteemed readers?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

1 Peter 2:13-17

In the weekly Bible study that I lead, I am teaching through 1 Peter. This week I will teach through 2:13-17, a section that speaks about the Christian's obligation to submit to government authorities and the place of government within God's created order. One of the things that I always seek to do is trace the biblical-theological roots of the (or one of the) major themes in the passage. So with respect to tracing the biblical theological roots of the obligation to submit to government authorities and the role of government, what key passages would you draw upon and how would you trace them out? The obvious parallel is Rom 13:1-7 (though there are some differences between the two passages), but I'm thinking primarily of the OT and canonical roots.

I've already taken my stab at it, but I want to see your efforts before I share mine at some point. So, readers, how would you trace the biblical theological roots of submission to government authority?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

The Drama of Scripture

A friend of mine was kind enough to purchase for me a copy of The Drama of Scripture by Craig Bartholomew & Michael Goheen. He has asked me to read and evaluate it. So in the next couple of weeks I hope to make some posts on aspects of the book I find interesting. But in the meantime, have any of you read it? What was your take? What things should I be looking for as I read?

Monday, May 01, 2006

Wheaton Ph.D. Program

Several of you have asked me to post on the Wheaton Ph.D. program that I am on the brink of finishing, and now seems like an appropriate time. The program itself is only 4 years old, and I will be the 3rd graduate from the program. It is designed as a hybrid between the standard North American program in which one does two full years of coursework and then a dissertation and the British model in which you move straight to dissertation work. The result is a requirement of about 1/2 to 1/3 the amount of coursework of a NA program, but an emphasis on beginning dissertation work immediately. The intention is for students to finish in 3-4 years.

Strengths - The quality of the mentors is top notch, as a glance at the website will show. The small size of the program (only 6 admitted each year; typically 2 each in OT, NT, & systematics) means focused attention from your mentor and a close knit community within the program. It also enables Wheaton to fully fund your tuition and offer an $8,000/yr stipend in return for about 8 hrs/wk of work for a professor. On that front, it may be the best deal in evangelicalism. There is a strong emphasis on integration across the disciplines, and in the admissions process they look for dissertation ideas that focus in one area but significantly interact with other disciplines as well. In particular this program is establishing a reputation for doing work on the use of the OT in the NT.

Potential Drawbacks - In addition to it being difficult to get in, the attempt to be hybrid between NA and British models can result in feeling a bit squeezed at times. They are still working through some of these issues, and because it is a new program they are still working through various issues in the program. The stipend is guaranteed for only three years, though there is the possibility of getting it extended for a fourth year. Something else to consider is that since the program is almost brand new, it is hard to know how a Ph.D. from Wheaton is perceived within the academy when searching for a job. I have yet to hear anything negative, butw who knows what is said behind closed doors.

Advice - If you are interested in learning more about studying at Wheaton, feel free to ask questions here or email me. I would recommend making contact with the particular professor you might be interested in studying under here at Wheaton and discussing potential dissertation topics to see what catches their interest.

In sum, I think Wheaton is one of the premiere Ph.D. programs within evangelicalism, and if you are interested in doing doctoral work, this is a place you need to consider.