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The Bible

The Bible

Ed L. Miller on the Freedom of the Text

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Certainly for anyone who thinks that Biblical teaching is at least in some ways normative, or that the Bible is in some sense authoritative, or who merely claims to take the Bible seriously, it should be a fundamental principle that the Bible must be allowed to say exactly what it wants to say irrespective of the consequences. We may then freely reject what it says as being foolish, inconvenient, embarrassing, or offensive. But no good is served by acting dishonestly with Biblical texts, that is, turning or twisting or otherwise manipulating and forcing them in the direction of what we want them to say. To be sure, we do not often do this in a deliberate or even conscious way, though this renders the problem even more insidious than it might otherwise be.

Eric Reitan on Grasping God Through Cultural Filters

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I believe in a transcendent creator whose self-disclosure is difficult for humanity to grasp and understand properly given the cultural filters through which that revelation is received. As such, any historical report of revelation will be a distortion, and the task of historical religion is to attempt to work through the distortion by gradually evolving in the light of critical conversation about experience.

Seriously Dangerous Religion

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The Old Testament is often maligned as an outmoded and even dangerous text. Best-selling authors like Richard Dawkins, Karen Armstrong, and Derrick Jensen are prime examples of those who find the Old Testament to be problematic to modern sensibilities. Iain Provan counters that such easy and popular readings misunderstand the Old Testament. He opposes modern misconceptions of the Old Testament by addressing ten fundamental questions that the biblical text should–and according to Provan does–answer: questions such as “Who is God?” and “Why do evil and suffering mark the world?” By focusing on Genesis and drawing on other Old Testament and extra-biblical sources, Seriously Dangerous Religionconstructs a more plausible reading. As it turns out, Provan argues, the Old Testament is far more dangerous than modern critics even suppose. Its dangers are the bold claims it makes upon its readers.

Questioning the Bible

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Can a thoughtful person today seriously believe that God wrote a book? There are an unprecedented number of sophisticated attacks on the origin, credibility, and reliability of the Bible. It can be difficult to know what to say when skepticism and secularism take over so many conversations. Additionally, confusion and doubt about the Bible being God’s Word are becoming as common inside the church as they are in the broader culture. The purpose of this book is to respond to these challenges, sound bites, and slogans…and give people confidence that the Bible can be trusted and that it matters for our lives because God really has spoken.

Can We Still Believe the Bible?

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Challenges to the reliability of Scripture are perennial and have frequently been addressed. However, some of these challenges are noticeably more common today, and the topic is currently of particular interest among evangelicals. In this volume, highly regarded biblical scholar Craig Blomberg offers an accessible and nuanced argument for the Bible’s reliability in response to the extreme views about Scripture and its authority articulated by both sides of the debate. He believes that a careful analysis of the relevant evidence shows we have reason to be more confident in the Bible than ever before. As he traces his own academic and spiritual journey, Blomberg sketches out the case for confidence in the Bible in spite of various challenges to the trustworthiness of Scripture, offering a positive, informed, and defensible approach. ~ Publisher’s Description

How We Got the New Testament

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A recognized expert in New Testament Greek offers a historical understanding of the writing, transmission, and translation of the New Testament and provides cutting-edge insights into how we got the New Testament in its ancient Greek and modern English forms. In part responding to those who question the New Testament’s reliability, Stanley Porter rigorously defends the traditional goals of textual criticism: to establish the original text. He reveals fascinating details about the earliest New Testament manuscripts and shows that the textual evidence supports an early date for the New Testament’s formation. He also explores the vital role translation plays in biblical understanding and evaluates various translation theories. The book offers a student-level summary of a vast amount of historical and textual information. ~ Product Description

The Question of Canon

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The regnant view of NT canon formation in academic circles holds that the canon is a late ecclesiastical creation, and one that is far removed from the mindset of Jesus, his apostles and even the church for at least the first century and a half of its existence. Kruger takes five major planks on which this view is built, subjects them to historical scrutiny, and, where there are any solid splinters of truth left after inspection, shows how they may be incorporated into a better empirical foundation for canon studies. This important study argues that an ‘intrinsic’ model for canon, which recognizes the canon as the product of internal forces evolving out of the historical essence of Christianity, is superior to the ‘extrinsic’ model that has dominated canon studies for too long. ~ Charles E. Hill

God Behaving Badly

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God has a bad reputation. Many think of God as wrathful and angry, smiting people right and left for no apparent reason. The Old Testament in particular seems at times to portray God as capricious and malevolent, wiping out armies and nations, punishing enemies with extreme prejudice. But wait. The story is more complicated than that. Alongside troubling passages of God’s punishment and judgment are pictures of God’s love, forgiveness, goodness and slowness to anger. How do we make sense of the seeming contradiction? Can God be trusted or not? David Lamb unpacks the complexity of the Old Testament to explore the character of God. He provides historical and cultural background to shed light on problematic passages and to bring underlying themes to the fore. Without minimizing the sometimes harsh realities of the biblical record, Lamb assembles an overall portrait that gives coherence to our understanding of God in both the Old and New Testaments. ~ Product Description

Scripture and the Authority of God

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But what does scripture say?” That question has echoed through a thousand debates in the life of the worldwide church. All churches have officially endorsed strong statements about the centrality of scripture and its authority in their mission, life, doctrine, and discipline. But there is no agreement on what this might mean or how it might work in practice. Individuals and churches struggle with how to respond to issues such as war, homosexuality, and abortion, and especially how to interpret biblical passages that discuss these topics. These disagreements often serve to undermine our confidence in the authority of the Bible. Bishop and Bible scholar N. T. Wright delivers a new model for how to understand the place of scripture and God’s authority in the midst of religious confusion. Wright gives new life to the old, tattered doctrine of the authority of scripture, delivering a fresh, helpful, and concise statement on how to read the Bible today, restoring scripture as a place to find God’s voice. In this revised and expanded edition of the previously titled book The Last Word, Wright provides two case studies that delve into what it means to keep Sabbath and how Christians can defend marital monogamy. These studies offer not only bold biblical insights but also showcase Wright’s new model for how to interpret scripture and restore its role as the church’s main resource for teaching and guidance. Removing the baggage that the last 100 years of controversy and confusion have placed on this doctrine, Wright renews our confidence in the Bible and shows how it can once again serve as the living Word of God for our lives. ~ Product Description

Captive to the Word of God

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Captive to the Word of God: Engaging the Scriptures for Contemporary Theological Reflection is a collection of six of Volf’s essays written over the last sixteen years that show this systematic theologian’s understanding of the role of the Bible for Christians in the twenty-first century. The only essay written for this text is the first: “Reading the Bible Theologically,” which explains how Volf engages Scripture in the other essays and in general. He describes the essays as “theological readings of biblical texts” (p.4) that are not dependent on a single method, but rather build upon the “return of biblical scholars to the theological reading of the Scriptures, and the return of systematic theologians to sustained engagement with the scriptural texts” (p.14) with “hermeneutic of respect” (p.34) that balances its “historicality” (p.16) with an understanding that the text speaks today (p.18). Rather than crafting a new method or defending an existing method of engaging Scripture, readers from many theological perspectives will be enriched through an encounter with a non-methodological dependent exploration of multiple texts. Thoughtful and thought provoking, this theologically moderate and modern text is an invitation to experience Volf’s work while also using it to refine one’s own way of engaging the biblical text. ~ Greg Smith at Amazon.com

Disturbing Divine Behavior

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How should we understand biblical texts where God is depicted as acting irrationally, violently, or destructively? If we distance ourselves from disturbing portrayals of God, how should we understand the authority of Scripture? How does the often wrathful God portrayed in the Old Testament relate to the God of love proclaimed in the New Testament? Is that contrast even accurate? Disturbing Divine Behavior addresses these perennially vexing questions for the student of the Bible. Eric A. Seibert calls for an engaged and discerning reading of the Old Testament that distinguishes the particular literary and theological goals achieved through narrative characterizations of God from the rich understanding of the divine to which the Old Testament as a whole points. Providing illuminating reflections on theological reading as well, this book will be a welcome resource for any readers who puzzle over disturbing representations of God in the Bible. ~ Synopsis

The Lost World of Genesis One

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Here is a book that calls out to be read and discussed-widely and thoughtfully-by serious-minded Christians, inquiring scientists, high school science teachers and students. Those entrenched on either side of the creation/evolution debate owe it to themselves and others to read and consider carefully John Walton’s evidence, arguments, insights and remarkable conclusions. • “This book presents a profoundly important new analysis of the meaning of Genesis. Digging deeply into the original Hebrew language and the culture of the people of Israel in Old Testament times, respected scholar John Walton argues convincingly that Genesis was intended to describe the creation of the functions of the cosmos, not its material nature. In the process, he elevates Scripture to a new level of respectful understanding, and eliminates any conflict between scientific and scriptural descriptions of origins.” ~ Francis S. Collins

Eric Reitan on Finding God in the Bible

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I happen to think we can discover in the Bible a God worthy of worship — the God of radically universal love attested to by Martin Luther King, Jr. But we can’t discover this God if we think of the Bible as a monolithic treatise written by God himself. When the Bible is read in that way, we don’t derive a picture of a God worthy of unfettered devotion. What we get is a picture of a capricious deity, sometimes merciful and loving, at other times jealous and tyrannical. If this way of reading the Bible is the only legitimate one, then the proper conclusion to draw — given God’s essential goodness — is that the biblical god is not God. ¶ But there are other ways to read the Bible. We can read it as a human testament to the encounter with God, one that evolves as human misconceptions crash up against a divine reality that transcends our understanding. In short, we can treat it as a rich historical archive unified by a common struggle: the struggle of flawed human beings to understand and respond to the divine, and to live as the people of God. We can see this struggle as ongoing, and the voices recorded in the Bible as participants in an enduring conversation that we ourselves have every right to participate in — rather than as a blunt authority intended to silence conversation.

Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters

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From Abelard to Zwingli, the history of Christian biblical interpretation has been shaped by great thinkers who delved deeply into the structure and meaning of Christianity’s sacred texts. With over two hundred in-depth articles, the Dictionary of Major Biblical Interpreters introduces readers to the principal players in that history: their historical and intellectual contexts, their primary works, their interpretive principles and their broader historical significance. In addition, six major essays offer an overview of the history of biblical interpretation from the second century to the present. This one-volume reference by Donald K. McKim, a revised and vastly expanded edition of IVP Academic’s Historical Handbook of Major Biblical Interpreters, will serve as an invaluable tool for any serious student of the Bible and the history of biblical interpretation. "The articles are full enough to be informative but not so detailed or technical as to be beyond the reach of the undergraduate reader. Together with the survey articles on specific periods, this collection of over two hundred articles on individual scholars offers an unrivaled overview of the history of biblical scholarship in all of its developments and vicissitudes. It is not only a valuable resource for the student; it is also intensely interesting." ~ I. Howard Marshall

The Da Vinci Code: A Novel.

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The most important word in this entire book is the noun in the subtitle; this is a "novel"-a work of fiction. That is important to remember, especially after the statements on page 1, which move the work slightly into the arena of historical fiction, but only slightly. It is true that there are such organizations as the Priory of Sion and Opus Dei. It is true that the author has worked hard to describe accurately the contemporary European locations, including city layouts, buildings, and artwork, in which the plot is set. The statement that "all descriptions of… documents… in this novel are accurate" is, however, highly inaccurate!

The Bible in History

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No one can doubt that the Bible has exerted a tremendous influence on Western civilisation since the dawn of Christianity. But few of us have considered the precise nature of that influence in particular historical contexts. In this book, David Kling traces the fascinating story of how specific biblical texts have at different times emerged to be the inspiration of movements and collective responses that have changed the course of history. Each of the seminal texts Kling considers has been understood very differently (and perhaps more correctly) at different times in history. Each of the historical episodes he examines — from the rise of the Papacy to the emergence of pentecostalism — is evident of the dynamic interplay between scripture and the social and cultural context in which it is interpreted. Kling’s innovative study of this process sheds important new light on the ways in which sacred texts continue to shape our history as well as our lives. ~ Product Description

Dallas Willard on the Reliability of the Bible

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On the human side, I assume that [the Bible] was produced and preserved by competent human beings who were at least as intelligent and devout as we are today. I assume that they were quite capable of accurately interpreting their own experience and of objectively presenting what they heard and experienced in the language of their historical community, which we today can understand with due diligence. ¶ On the divine side, I assume that God has been willing and competent to arrange for the Bible, including its record of Jesus, to emerge and be preserved in ways that will secure his purposes for it among human beings worldwide. Those who actually believe in God will be untroubled by this. I assume that he did not and would not leave his message to humankind in a form that can only be understood by a handful of late-twentieth-century professional scholars, who cannot even agree among themselves on the theories that they assume to determine what the message is. ¶ The Bible is, after all, God’s gift to the world through the Church, not to the scholars. It comes through the life of his people and nourishes that life. Its purpose is practical, not academic. An intelligent, careful, intensive but straightforward reading — that is, one not governed by obscure and faddish theories or by a mindless orthodoxy — is what it requires to direct us into life in God’s kingdom. any other approach is to the Bible, I believe, conflicts with the picture of the God that, all agree, emerges from Jesus and his tradition. To what extent this belief of mine is or is not harmfully circular, I leave the philosophically minded reader to ponder.

Jesus Under Fire

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Are the traditional answers to these questions still to be trusted? Did the early church and tradition "Christianize" Jesus? Was Christianity built on clever conceptions of the church, or on the character and actions of an actual person? These and similar questions have come under scrutiny by a forum of biblical scholars called the Jesus Seminar. Their conclusions have been widely publicized in magazines such as Time and Newsweek. Jesus Under Fire challenges the methodology and findings of the Jesus Seminar, which generally clash with the biblical records. It examines the authenticity of the words, actions, miracles, and resurrection of Jesus, and presents compelling evidence for the traditional biblical teachings. Combining accessibility with scholarly depth, Jesus Under Fire helps readers judge for themselves whether the Jesus of the Bible is the Jesus of history, and whether the Gospel’s claim is valid that he is the only way to God. ~ From the Publisher

The Moral Vision of the New Testamant

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This is an amazing book — solid scholarship and well thought-out interpretation delivered with a sense of urgency and sincerity. If you are at all interested in Ethics or the state of New Testament scholarship, this book is an absolute necessity. Hays sees distinct (though overlapping) tasks in the process of “doing ethics” and is able to explain and apply them clearly. His emphasis on seeing ethical questions through the “focal lenses” of Cross, Community and New Creation is a wonderful guidepost for anyone concerned with faithful, Spirit-driven scholarship. He stresses that an “integrative act of the imagination” is required to be able to apply the Scripture to our world and suggests methods for achieving it. Hays analyzes five theologian/ethicists in light of his approach (including Barth, Hauerwas, and Schussler-Fiorenza) and, in doing so, further clarifies how his approach can be used by others. The final section of the book applies Hays’ approach to contemporary issues. Partly because of his obvious authority in Greek and New Testament scholarship, and partly because of his honest, passionate approach, his conclusions are bold and very persuasive.

David James Duncan on Christianity

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Personally I’m not sure just who or what Christ is. I still pray to him in a pinch, but I talk to myself in a pinch too — and I’m getting less and less sure there’s a difference. I used to wish somebody would just tell me what to think about Him. Then along came Elder Babcock, telling and telling, acting like Christ was running for President of the World, and he was His campaign manager, and whoever didn’t get out and vote for the lord at the polls we call churches by casting the votes we call tithes and offerings into the ballot boxes we call offering plates was a wretched turd of a sinner voting for Satan by default. Mama tried to clear up all the confusion by saying that Christ is exactly what the Bible says He is. But what does the Bible say He is? On one page He’s a Word, on the next a bridegroom, then He’s a boy, then a scapegoat, then a thief in the night; read on and he’s the messiah, then oops, he’s a rabbi, and then a fraction — a third of a Trinity — then a fisherman, then a broken loaf of bread. I guess even God, when He’s human, has trouble deciding just what He is.

David James Duncan on Christianity and Darwin

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Much as she dislikes baseball, Grandawma likes the Bible even less. This is because her hero, Charles Darwin, discovered evolution before God even mentioned it, proved scientifically that men are just apes at heart, and got the Christians all worked up because none of this was in the Bible. That’s what Everett and Peter say anyway. Late one night when we were sitting around yapping, Peter said to Everett that if the Christian had any horse sense they’d just sit down and write themselves a new Bible, sticking some evolution in there this time. He said the biblical creation story was a dud anyhow, especially if you were a girl, since God made everything in the Universe, claimed He saw it was good, and then when the First Lady went out naked for a walk to enjoy all this so-called goodness, a completely evil Devil in snake’s clothing came down out of a tree, lied his head off to her, got her thrown out of Paradise and cursed into having it hurt like hell to have babies, and she was still such a nice person that she didn’t go back with a stick and kill that damned snake. Whose fault was all this? Peter wanted to know. Who claimed it was “good” in spite of the snake, then tried to cover Their tracks with a lot of cockamamie hoodoo about Forbidden Fruit and Trees of Knowledge and Eve’s wicked curiosity? And what harm could a little Darwinian evolution possibly do to a mess of a story like that?

David James Duncan on the Bible

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Everett told Peter it’d be a snowy day in hell before the Christians wrote themselves a new Bible. Too many bugs in the plan, he said. In the first place, who do you ask to do the writing? An Adventist? A Catholic? A Baptist? If you picked just one, he said, the others would kill you. And if you picked one of each they’d kill each other. In the second place, he said, most Christians would refuse to rewrite the Bible anyway, because they’d want God to do it for them, because most of them think it was God who sat down and wrote the one they’ve got.

The Seventy-Four “Scholars”

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A major new work of scholarship is raising eyebrows in many quarters: The Five Gospels: What Did Jesus Really Say?1 This is the product of six years of extensive consultation by a group of scholars known as the Jesus Seminar (hereafter JS), who have set out to determine the authentic words of Jesus. The result is a book that (1) provides a fresh, colloquial, and at times racy translation of the five gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, and the noncanonical Gospel of Thomas); (2) colors every saying attributed to Jesus in these Gospels as either red, pink, gray, or black (red means Jesus said it; pink means it’s close to what He said; gray means He didn’t say it in this form but there are echoes of His teaching in it; and black means the saying didn’t come from Him at all); and (3) provides passage-by-passage commentary explaining the JS’s rationale for its decisions. As the book jacket and popular press releases emphasize, only 20 percent of all the sayings of Jesus are colored red or pink and a good number of these come from Thomas!

The Canon of Scripture

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Winner of two 1990 Christianity Today Awards: Readers’ Choice (1st place; theology & doctrine) and Critics’ Choice (1st place; theology & doctrine). A 1989 ECPA Gold Medallion Award winner! How did the books of the Bible come to be recognized as Holy Scripture? Who decided what shape the canon should take? What criteria influenced these decisions? After nearly nineteen centuries the canon of Scripture still remains an issue of debate. Protestants, Catholics and the Orthodox all have slightly differing collections of documents in their Bibles. Martin Luther, one of the early leaders of the Reformation, questioned the inclusion of the book of James in the canon. And many Christians today, while confessing the authority of all of Scripture, tend to rely on only a few books and particular themes while ignoring the rest. Scholars have raised many other questions as well. Research into second-century Gnostic texts have led some to argue that politics played a significant role in the formation of the Christian canon. Assessing the influence of ancient communities and a variety of disputes on the final shaping of the canon call for ongoing study. In this significant historical study, F. F. Bruce brings the wisdom of a lifetime of reflection and biblical interpretation to bear in answering the questions and clearing away the confusion surrounding the Christian canon of Scripture. Adept in both Old and New Testament studies, he brings a rare comprehensive perspective to his task. Though some issues have shifted since the original publication of this book, it still remains a significant landmark and touchstone for further studies. ~ Book Description

The Rationality of Belief in Inerrancy

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In recent years, scholars arguing against a conservative understanding of biblical inerrancy have appealed to a wide range of issues. It has been argued, for example, that belief in inerrancy should be abandoned or redefined because inerrancy is not taught by the Bible and it was not the view of many leaders in the history of the church. Others argue that the concept of inerrancy is not adequate to capture the nature of the Bible as revelation. As important as these and related issues are, one suspects that Donald Dayton put his finger on the central reason why some scholars feel a need to abandon or redefine inerrancy: "For many, the old intellectual paradigms [including inerrancy] are dead, and the search is on in neglected traditions and new sources for more adequate models of biblical authority." Simply put, many no longer think that it is rational to believe that inerrancy is true. What are we to make of this objection?