According to John: Remember My Words

Tonight’s study on According to John, based on Chapter 14 of Dr. Herold Weiss’s book Meditations on According to John, will have me going far afield from the gospel of John into a discussion of individual and community memory and the importance of a message transmitted by and shaped by a community. I will argue that rather than seeing this type of transmission as a weakness, it is, in fact a great strength and should be embraced.

What does it mean today to hear Jesus saying “Remember” (John 15:20) today? What is the role of the Holy Spirit in all this?

Who Are the Homeless?

9781631991271sI want to keep everyone thinking about social justice. In my view, if more people become more aware about what is going on and take action, whatever action they believe is best, we’ll be better off. Discussing this and related issues can only help.

We have multiple Energion authors who have a variety of views and are addressing these in their own way. The video below is by Renee Crosby, author of The Fringe (and Soup Kitchen for the Soul). The Fringe (a eucatastrophe press title)  tells about homelessness in the form of fiction. So take Renee’s challenge seriously. Educate yourself!

Yet Again Hebrews Authorship

9781938434730sIn September of 2013 I published a book titled The Authorship of Hebrews: The Case for Paul by David Alan Black. It has been interesting to read material on this topic since. I would note that while I believe Dave’s case is well presented, and was convinced by it to give more room to the idea of Pauline authorship, I have not been convinced to abandon my agnosticism on the authorship of Hebrews.

Today my attention was drawn to two more posts. The first is by Dave Black, which I copied to the Topical Line Drives site to create a permanent link (Dave’s blog doesn’t support this). It’s a short comment, but makes clear Dave’s view that Hebrews is not so anonymous as one might think.

The second post is by Kyle O’Neill (HT: Thomas Hudgins), who favors Apollos or Aquilla and Priscilla.

There is a broad consensus among scholars that Paul did not write the book of Hebrews. There is no similar consensus about who did write the book. There’s an easy explanation, however, for the difference between these positions. It’s simply the view of the authors in question of the external evidence. Is the testimony of the early church fathers reliable on matters of authorship? While there are some disagreements about precisely what each church father said (Dave Black provides his own translations of many of these references in his book), in general if one is prepared to accept the testimony of the early church fathers, one is likely to accept Paul as the author of Hebrews.

On the other hand, if one favors internal evidence over this external testimony, one likely will not favor Paul. Note that I do not mean here a simple differentiation between how one favors internal over external evidence, such as one might have in textual criticism. In this case, we’re looking at specific testimony with specific issues. How much could each witness have known? To what extent are they reporting hearsay? To what extent might they be trying to shore up the claim of Hebrews to be scripture? So one can have a general position favoring external evidence on many other topics, but nonetheless not have the same emphasis with regard to authorship.

In my view, if we did not have the testimony of the early church fathers, nobody (or almost nobody) would assign Hebrews to Paul based on the internal evidence. But I also believe that if you don’t accept the testimony of the early church fathers on this point, there is no basis to claim any particular author for the book. The problem with determining authorship based on internal evidence is that you must have a body of material with known authorship with which to compare the book. Of the proposed authors of the book of Hebrews, only three have a significant body of written material, Luke, Paul, and Clement. For others, such as Apollos or Aquilla and Priscilla, we have no written material, and precious little biographical information. It is always possible that one of these many candidates wrote the book, but the evidence just isn’t there.

That’s why, having decided that there is enough internal evidence in the book to question Paul’s authorship, I do not propose an alternative. I don’t know who wrote it. I realize there are answers to the difficulties with Pauline authorship, but in my view it seems that there’s just a bit too much to explain away. It could be Paul, but then again, not so much.

It’s interesting how strong the consensus against Pauline authorship has become. I would think that there would be a greater body of argument in favor of the testimony of the early church fathers. A very slight swing in favor of that testimony would probably shake the consensus quite substantially.

Tomorrow Night: Pentecost and Your Ministry

You can find all the details on the Energion Publications news page.


The Bible and Social Justice

hushbeck-kindle-social-I’m going to shamelessly link to a post by Allan Bevere in order to publicize a hangout I’ll be hosting next month. Allan’s post is Once Again, The Civil Religion of the Religious Right AND the Religious Left, and I’m interested because I think Allan might well dispute both of my guests.

We tried for this hangout this past Tuesday, so it has now been rescheduled to June 9. My two guests will be Elgin Hushbeck, Jr., author of What is Wrong with Social Justice, and Steve Kindle, author of Stewardship: God’s way of recreating the world. (Note that the two books are not written in response to each other; they are just typical books by each author.)

I will try to be neutral in hosting, but I do have opinions on the topic. Most importantly, I think Christians, as a community, would do well to step away from prescribing the means by which individual members should accomplish social goals. Despite what Allan notes regarding the words of the prophets being addressed to Israel as a theocracy, I think they do express principles on which I should act.

How those principles apply to my current faith community and the country of which I’m a citizen is more debatable, and it is that debate that I think is good. For example, the principle that laborers should be treated well is a principle expressed by the prophets. Exploitation of laborers draws some strong words. What should be debated is how this can be accomplished. Does a minimum wage improve working conditions, or does it just increase unemployment? What is the net effect of social welfare payments from the government?

I know that people of good will can disagree on these points, and I think people of good will should always be willing to discuss, to work together where possible, and to compromise when that seems indicated. The church, while upholding the principles expressed by the prophets, should, I think, be a safe place to work out the “how” on an ongoing basis. That means I don’t think this is a debate that will—or should—end.

That’s why I was so delighted to host the beginning of the debate, in turn disappointed that audio problems prevented us from continuing, and again delighted that both authors were available for a June 9 rescheduled hangout. They were both vigorously and courteously discussing the definition of justice and what social justice is, and I plan to ask them some questions based on what I’ve said above.

The Politics of WitnessNote that Allan Bevere has a book that relates to this topic and expands on what he says in his post: The Politics of Witness.

So put June 9, 2015 on your calendar and join us.

According to John: It Is Not by Measure that God Gives the Spirit

I failed to post on this earlier, but in about 20 minutes I’ll be starting this study. Of course, there’s always the option to watch it later (or not!).

YouTube viewer:

Hangout on Social Justice

Update: We had audio problems. This hangout has been rescheduled to June 9, 2015.

I’m hosting tonight’s Energion Hangout which is Social Justice: Good or Bad?. I’ll be interviewing Energion authors Elgin Hushbeck, Jr. (What Is Wrong with Social Justice, Preserving Democracy) discusses the impact and value of social justice with Rev. Steve Kindle (Stewardship: God’s Way of Recreating the World, I’m Right and You’re Wrong: Why we disagree about the Bible and what to do about it).


Interviewing Thomas Hudgins for According to John

You can go to the event for more information or watch using the embedded YouTube below. I’ll be talking to Thomas about the text of John and textual criticism in general for about half the time and then talking about John 17 in the second half with some discussion of rhetorical criticism.

According to John: I Have Overcome the World

I will resume my study of According to John tonight with chapter 12 of Herold Weiss’s book Meditations on According to John, I Have Overcome the World. We’re going to look at the meaning(s) of “world” in John and what it means to overcome it. You can either watch via the Google+ event or with the YouTube embedded below.

According to John: Interview with C. Drew Smith

I know it’s very late, but I’ve had an extremely hectic week. Here’s the link for tonight’s hangout. I’ll be interviewing Dr. C. Drew Smith, author of Reframing a Relevant Faith.

According to John: Interview with Drew Smith

And the YouTube: