writing things down…

Archive for November, 2007

New Releases from Cascade Books

Receive a limited-time 40% discount on or request review or exam copies of these new releases, which made their debut at the recent AAR/SBL conference in San Diego.


Jesus and the Miracle Tradition
Paul J. Achtemeier
ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-364-6 / 274 pp. / $30.00 / paper

Exodus: Let My People Go
Daniel Berrigan
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-105-1 / 182 pp. / $20.00 / paper

Risking Proclamation, Respecting Difference: Christian Faith, Imperialistic Discourse, and Abraham
Chris Boesel
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-523-3 / 306 pp. / $33.00 / paper

Divine Revelation and Human Practice: Responsive and Imaginative Participation
Tony Clark
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-516-5 / 244 pp. / $27.00 / paper

The Life of a Galilean Shaman: Jesus of Nazareth in Anthropological-Historical Perspective
MATRIX: The Bible in Mediterranean Context
Pieter F. Craffert
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-085-6 / 470 pp. / $52.00 / paper

Barrenness and Blessing: Abraham, Sarah, and the Journey of Faith
Hemchand Gossai
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-292-8 / 136 pp. / $17.00 / paper

Wisdom and Spiritual Transcendence at Corinth: Studies in First Corinthians
Richard Horsley
ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-844-3 / 182 pp. / $21.00 / paper

Theology and Culture: A Guide to the Discussion
Cascade Companions
D. Stephen Long
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-052-8 / 124 pp. / $17.00/ paper

Awakening Youth Discipleship: Christian Resistance in a Consumer Culture
Brian J. Mahan, Michael Warren, and David F. White
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-136-5 / 138 pp. / $17.00 / paper

Jesus and the Peasants
MATRIX: The Bible in Mediterranean Context
Douglas E. Oakman
ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-275-5 / 348 pp. / $38.00 / paper

Language, Hermeneutic, and History: Theology after Barth and Bultmann
James M. Robinson
ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-881-8 / 260 pp. / $29.00 / paper

God Gardened East: A Gardener’s Meditation on the Dynamics of Genesis
Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr.
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-434-2 / 184 pp. / $21.00 / paper

Green Witness: Ecology, Ethics, and the Kingdom of God
Laura Ruth Yordy
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-335-2 / 190 pp. / $22.00 / paper

Purchase any of these Cascade titles on our Web site by November 25, 2007 and receive a 40% discount off the retail price by using the code below.

Enter coupon code CB0708 at checkout



San Diego

This is my first year to do the conference season as an editor at Wipf & Stock.  Yesterday we finished up the ETS at Town & Country Resort and moved to AAR/SBL at the Convention Center.  We’re staying at the Omni–much different aesthetic than Town & Country.  The Gaslamp District is exciting.  The weather is superb.  All in all, San Diego is the best convention spot I’ve ever seen!  However, I am dead tired and the AAR/SBL has yet to begin.  Got to go get ready for my first day of it.  If anyone is in San Diego reading this during the convention, stop by the Wipf & Stock booth (#707) and say hello.

The Questions of ETS

I’m browsing through the program for the upcoming meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society and I am struck by the number of papers with questions as their titles.  I don’t recall seeing quite so many questions in programs for the Society of Biblical Literature or the American Academy of Religion.  In 22 pages of the listings for session papers, over 75 presentations have questions for or as part of their titles.  I know, I am a little weird for counting them, but I couldn’t help it.   I wonder why questions are so popular.

Personally, I am not a fan of question-titles, but the ones that particularly bug me are the Yes/No or Either/Or questions (e.g., “Is Yahweh a Moral Monster?”; “Was Samuel Rutherford a Scottish Mystic?”; “Two or Three Tragedies in Job?” “Harmonization: Help or Hindrance?” “Are Disciples Born or Made?” [real titles from this year’s program!]).

I am frequently reminding my students that Yes/No and Either/Or research questions are stifling.  In theory, they could be answered with one word and thus halt discussion.  If the answer to Is Yahweh a Moral Monster? is No and the rest of the paper is an explanation about why the answer is No, why not just begin with “Why Yahweh is not a Moral Monster.”  That’s really what the paper is about, isn’t it?

Am I being too persnickety?  Questions in titles: helpful or stifling?

10 Quick takes on Ephesians 1:3-14

In the spirit of an earlier post on Ephesians 5:21-33, I offer some quick comments on 1:3-14.

  • These 12 verses are one long and complicated sentence, focused on the actions of God, specifically God’s blessings to the author and his audience. The kernel of the sentence is at the beginning with “Blessed be God…, who….” The rest of the sentence expands on that “who.” For more on a three part structure demarcated by the three aorist participles (blessed, decided beforehand, and made known) see this older post.
  • The author is not primarily concerned with developing a full-blown theology of predestination in the beginning of his letter. In looking at things as they stand, the author cannot help but see these blessings having been established beforehand. It’s easier to hold to the notion of predestination in retrospect. The strong initial predestination language serves an epistolary purpose more than anything else. The big question is not, “What is the understanding of predestination?” but “Why is predestination important to the point Ephesians is making?” Still, predestination/foreknowledge/etc. is and will be an important theme in Ephesians. We will have to wrestle with explicit predestination language like “elect/choose” (eklegomai), “before the foundation of the world” (pro kataboles kosmou), “destine/decide beforehand” (proorizo), “set forth/purpose” (protithemi), and “choose” (kleroo) together with the language of God’s will (thelema) and purpose (eudokia).
  • Predestination is not the only theme introduced in this opening sentence. Notice also, and sometimes even more importantly, the following. (For more on the of themes introduced in 1:3-14, see this older post. A few words on some of these themes also below.)
    • God’s blessings, love, grace, riches, which are freely bestowed to, and lavished upon us.
    • in Christ
    • holy and blameless lives lived for the praise of God’s glory/glorious grace
    • redemption, forgiveness, salvation
    • mystery
    • unity of all things
    • promised Holy Spirit, guarantee, inheritance
  • “in love” of v. 4? – Are the recipients selected before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless in love? Or, is it in love that God decided beforehand to adopt the readers as sons and daughters? I’m inclined toward the latter.  It makes for a nice bookend to the short section—”in love” God decided beforehand (v. 4)…God graced us “in the beloved” (v. 6).  But, I do not see a need to choose one over the other. It could very well be placed in the ambiguous position on purpose.
  • “in all wisdom and knowledge” of v. 8? – Did God provide the riches of God’s grace “in all wisdom and knowledge” or did God make known the mystery “in all wisdom and knowledge”?  I am inclined toward the latter for the simple reason that it parallels my inclination for “in love” previously.  But again, I am not convinced that we are faced with an either/or decision.
  • “in Christ” is everywhere – this term is so ubiquitous in this passage as to infuse the entire book with the mantra.  Readers should not be able to get it out of their heads as they read the rest of the epistle.
  • Aside from the grand themes introduced here, the sentence gives the book a universal scope (“unite all things…in heaven and on earth”), a particular import (“you, who have heard the word of truth,…were sealed”), and a unifying purpose (“unite all things…”; “we who first…you also…we…”). The author, though possibly speaking to a fairly particular audience (for reflections on author and audience see here) or at least to people of an identifiable region, has in mind the whole catholic church.
  • The climax of the sentence is in v. 10. God, who is blessed and who has blessed, destined, and made known, has a plan for God’s house (oikonomian), a plan which was set forth “in him [Christ]” (of course)—to bring together (what to make of anakephalaiosasthai?) all things “in Christ” (of course).
  • This sentence, though not formally a synopsis of the whole letter, encapsulates the general direction of the letter: God has blessed us in Christ and in the scheme of bringing all things in Christ, God has mysteriously saved us from a former life and brought together into a new body formerly irreconcilable peoples.  It sets up the dizzying mixture of mystery and knowledge, Jews and Gentiles, individual and corporate newness, theoretical reflections and practical living, local and universal.  No node in one of these dyads is understood apart from its partnering, and seemingly opposite, node.
  • I’m not a fan of forcing trinitarian structure onto NT passages, but throughout Ephesians, and especially here, the three persons of the Trinity are hard to miss: starts with God and finds God working and doing things throughout, ends with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit, and paints the whole passage with the “in Christ” theme.

WordPress 2.3

I’ve just upgraded to WordPress 2.3. I like the integrated tagging feature, but I now have some cleaning up to do. Remnants of the old plug-in Ultimate Tagging Warrior have caused havoc in lots of places, especially when it comes to loading anything but the main page.  I know next to nothing about how to make this all work.  I’ll try to fix things as time and know-how allows.

I’m also trying a theme that is supposed to be compatible with 2.3.  I may change the theme from time to time until I find one I like. I’d like to get my header image back up somehow.

Reading Paul

New from Cascade Books
An Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers

Reading Paul
by Michael J. Gorman

“This splendid introduction to the Apostle Paul is the best book of its kind. . . . [It is] thoroughly clear and readable. . . . I will assign this as required reading for students in my introductory New Testament course and put it in the hands of as many pastors and laypeople as possible.”
—Richard B. Hays, The Divinity School, Duke University

“As someone who has gotten to know Paul by deeply immersing himself in Paul’s writings for many years, Michael can be the mutual friend who orients you and helps you relax in the presence of a truly awe-inspiring person.”
—Brian McLaren, author of A Generous Orthodoxy

ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-195-2 / 206 pp / $22 Retail / Paper

Read Complete Description and Endorsements

Read Excerpts (includes Table of Contents)

Request Review or Exam Copy