One of the things that has made maths and science so successful in explaining the world and finding useful applications of that knowledge is the ability to simplify complex problems. One such approach is generalisation. Instead of trying to solve for each particular instance or aspect of a complex phenomenon to make sense of the entire thing, you simplify things by extrapolating from special or limited cases to create a useful approximation of what the general case will be like. So with generalisations there are always exceptions however their strength is that for most circumstances they do work.
For Christians recognising generalisations is important because a similar approach is sometimes used by New Testament authors in addressing certain complex issues. The trouble is generalisations can be confused with absolute statements, which significantly affects how we understand scripture. This is often because they make authoritative statements about how things generally are. However, the difference with absolute statements is there can be no exceptions. With generalisations there are exceptions but they are often implicitly assumed which is why they can be wrongly assumed to be absolute. The more you understand scripture you recognise the importance of such nuances. They often have major theological implications. Continue reading “Theological Generalisations”
New Testament scholar Gregory K. Beale in his insightful book The Temple and the Church’s Mission traces a biblical theology of the temple through the Old Testament and into the New Testament. This is very important because the temple is a unifying motif that helps makes sense of the story of the Bible. Here is a very helpful and informative summary of the book by Dr. Beale himself which you can download here. In the summary he focuses on temple language in the Hebrew Bible and the challenge of understanding how the New Testament interprets the temple prophecies in the Hebrew Bible as being fulfilled. Continue reading “Temple Theology”
Christocentric readings of the Bible have been around for a very long time but they have fairly recently come in vogue among theologically erudite Christians. Now there are different understandings of what it is but it literally means seeing Christ at the centre of whatever you read in the Bible. While I have appreciated the sincere sentiment behind it I have always been suspicious of it. Continue reading “The Problem with Christocentric Readings”
Any attentive reader of the New Testament will notice how it quotes the Old Testament is often pretty weird. Sometimes it seems pretty arbitrary and other times it looks like it is misquoted. If you have ever wondered about this and how the New uses the Old in general, the following interview of New Testament scholar Seth Ehorn certainly helps address these questions. The interview, which is for Deeper Waters Podcast, is centred on his two-volume series he co-edited with Sean Adams Composite Citations in Antiquity (Vol. 1 2015, Vol. 2 2018, T&T Clark.)
Continue reading “Composite Quotations”
In Evolution and the Historical Fall, a very insightful article by biblical scholar J. Richard Middleton, he makes the astute observation of an unnoticed but significant omission that traditional readings of Genesis gloss over.
Continue reading “Paradise Unattained”