Joy: A paper by John posted under Other Papers
‘Rejoice in the Lord’, Paul says (Philippians 4:4). How does that work?
In the Scriptures there is:
Joy when God has done great things
Joy and celebration over everyday things
Joy in serving the Lord
Joy when things have been grim
Joy when you know you went wrong
The Oxford Interfaith Study Group had a session on the Messiah in
Christianity and in Judaism. John’s Christian version is posted under Theology.
Israel is a prominent topic in the Jewish and Christian Scriptures,
though it was not prominent in Christian theological reflection until
the aftermath of the Holocaust. Actually, over the centuries and in
the contemporary world there have been many Israels, and similar
theological issues repeatedly arise through the Scriptures and outside
them in connection with Israel. This article deals with these issues
as a set of recurrent questions in connection with the broad question:
What is the theological significance of Israel? See paper under Theology.
InterVarsity recently published:
Hans Boersma, Five Things Theologians Wish Biblical Scholars Knew
Scot McKnight, Five Things Biblical Scholars Wish Theologians Knew
John’s review article on the two books is under Biblical Interpretation
Check out Kathleen’s Creative Story Theory. Kathleen’s approach to Scripture is to engage through creative writing. Posts include creative writing examples, workshops, and academic papers.
Introducing the Psalms: Something John has done for a Study Bible, on the origin and
background of the Psalms and the different types of psalm. It’s posted
under the Writings tab.
John recently completed a paper on “Violence, Justice, Advocacy, and
Intercession in the Psalms,” which you can find under the Writings
Notes from John: As I have taught online at the Asia Graduate School of Theology in
Kathmandu and have simultaneously been writing a commentary on Joshua,
I have wondered what happens when we put Joshua and Nepal together.
What would happen if Joshua went to Kathmandu? How might he reflect?
See the paper on “Joshua Goes to Kathmandu” posted under the “Prophets” tab.
During recent decades, the Book of Joshua came to trouble people. More recently, it seems that hardly a month goes by without the publication of another volume on violence in the Scriptures or another conference or research project on the subject. In reading Joshua, one of my convictions is that we won’t get to understand the book unless we set its accounts of war-making in the context of the book as a whole. In addition, thinking more broadly about the nature of migration and settlement provides some illumination on the story Joshua tells. And if we can stand aside from our preoccupation with violence for a moment, we can discover a lot about what the Book of Joshua meant for Israel and how it works as a story and how thoughtfully it discusses tricky issues and what it emphasizes about God . . . .
The paper on “Reading Joshua” is posted under “Prophets.”
I’m involved with four other people in a book project discussing “Five Views on Christ in the Old Testament,” which should come out from Zondervan next year. My paper is posted under “Biblical Interpretation.” I’m now reading the other people’s papers and commenting on them. Here’s a parable it’s provoked.
Kathleen and I once went on a walk from our home on the edge of Oxford to get to a country pub. The walk was more adventurous than we expected. We had to cross a stream by a rickety bridge and climb over a five-barred gate just before we reached our destination, and Katheen (who once lived in Arizona) was pretty worried about possible snakes in the grass. Then this past Friday we walked to the same destination, now knowing not only where we were going but how to get there, and the walk was quite straightforward.
Even on the first occasion, the destination was clear and we could trust that everything on the way was leading to the destination, but as we stood at the rickety bridge from which we could not see the destination we could not have said that the bridge pointed that way. The bridge and the gate existed for their own sake, not for the sake of our journey. They were not designed to lead towards the place where we were going, and they bore no signposts. Their own importance did not lie there. But they were on our route to the destination, so that they came to have that significance for us.
Our first walk corresponds better to the story of Israel than the second one. God had a wide-ranging perspective (a drone’s perspective?) concerning Israel’s journey. He knew about the rickety bridges and five-barred gates (the parable is not an allegory, but I am tempted: is the rickety bridge the exile, and is the five-barred gate the Torah, and the snakes . . . ?). But they were not designed to lead towards Jesus, and they bore no signposts. There was no more indication that the exodus pointed to Jesus than that the bridge or gate pointed to our destination.
We don’t get to understand the meaning of the exodus or Sinai or the exile or the Second Temple by thinking too much about Jesus. The First Testament can help us understand Jesus, but it’s also worth understanding in its own right without thinking too much about Jesus. That way, it does help us understand God and us.