canon sense

"every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

Month: June, 2013

Dialogue and Interpretation

Robert Alter, The Art of Biblical Narrative, p. 182:

“Everything in the world of biblical narrative ultimately gravitates towards dialogue.  Quantitatively, a remarkably large part of the narrative burden is carried by dialogue, the transactions between characters typically unfolding through the words they exchange, with only the most minimal intervention of the narrator.”

In other words, good interpretation requires careful overhearing.

Aquinas’ prayer before study

Creator of all things, true source of light and wisdom, lofty origin of all being, graciously let a ray of your brilliance penetrate into the darkness of my understanding and take from me the double darkness in which I have been born, an obscurity of both sin and ignorance. Give me a sharp sense of understanding, a retentive memory, and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally. Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations, and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm. Point out the beginning, direct the progress, and help in completion; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

True Freedom

True freedom arises, not in our loud assertion of individual independence, but in our being linked to a true story…

—Stanley Hauerwas

Robert Jenson: Creed, Scripture and their Modern Alienation

Very excited to watch this.

David Bentley Hart on Robert Jenson:

“A year ago, I was interviewed by a small theological journal concerning a book of mine that had appeared a few months earlier. Near the end of the conversation, my interlocutor asked me if there was any modern American theologian whose thinking I thought especially fascinating, to which I answered Robert Jenson; he then asked if there was any American theologian with whose thought I myself found it especially profitable to struggle, to which I again answered, without a moment’s hesitation, Robert Jenson. At this, my interviewer smiled abashedly and admitted that he had never read any of Jenson’s work. I doubt the severest critic could have found fault with my extravagant show of alarm: How very extraordinary it was, I told him, that an American graduate student of systematic theology should be unacquainted with ‘our’ systematic theologian, and what dereliction it suggested on the part of his teachers, and what a very great pity it all seemed.”

HT: Michael Bird

Similarities in Wright and Ridderbos on the Kingdom of God

In my studies on Psalm 2 and Messiansim within in early Judaism I noticed several similarities between Tom Wright’s and Herman Ridderbos’ understanding of the kingdom of God. Both recognize that within the literature of the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Judaism, that while Messianism is one piece of the pie when it comes to Israelite hope, it is the kingdom of God that is the pie crust.

For Wright, Messianism features as just one aspect of the much wider and far reaching hope that God would vindicate his people, reverse the current state of affairs and become in reality what they believed he was by faith, namely the king of the universe.[1] Most famous of Wright’s articulations of the kingdom of God is the idea that the new covenant is the end of exile and the dawn of the new age.[2] As well, Wright understands that when historically and theologically considered, the kingdom of God “is a slogan whose basic meaning is the hope that Israel’s god [sic] is going to rule Israel (and the whole world), and that Caesar, or Herod, or anyone else of their ilk, is not.  It means that Torah will be fulfilled at last, that the Temple will be rebuilt and the Land cleansed.”[3]

Whether one agrees with Wright’s continued exile motif or not, no one can doubt that Wright’s conception of the kingdom of God on being about “How God Became King” is central to the bibles overall message.

For example, the Psalms are replete with Divine kingship, which refers either to his kingship over his creation or kingship over his people (Ps. 5, 10, 24, 29, 44, 47, 68, 74, 84, 89, 95, 98, 145, 149) The kingly rule of God always stood behind the Davidic king, as there was ultimately no king but God.  The king of Israel was to image God to the people.

Onto Ridderbos, who says, the “idea of the coming kingdom is pre-eminently the idea of the kingly self-assertion of God, of his coming to the world in order to reveal his royal majesty, power and right… [T]his absolutely theocentric idea of the kingdom of heaven should always be borne in mind, if we want to have a correct insight into the general purport of Jesus’ preaching.”[4]

Again Ridderbos says, “It is not in the first place the heathen who are called to repent, but it is Israel.  It is the glory of God, not the pre-eminence of the people, which is placed in the center both at the beginning and during the progress of the preaching of the kingdom.”[5]

Now getting into their differences, which are many, is a whole other subject. One which any responsible reader is sure to see.  But the similarites are worth pondering, especially for the fighting type.


[1] New Testament and the People of God, 300.

[2] Ibid., 301.

[3] Ibid., 302.

[4] Coming of the Kingdom, 19.

[5] Ibid., 20.