Sunday, August 17, 2014

Gordon Fee Lectures on the Kingdom of God ca.1983

One of my heroes of NT scholarship, Gordon Fee, has two three videos now available of him on the YWAM channel of YouTube from 1983, where he lectures on the Kingdom of God. Each video is roughly an hour, and took place in Lausanne, Switzerland according to the opening tag preceding the video.

These videos are a treasure as they show Fee at the age of 48/49 speaking with his characteristic passion.

Here is Part I: "The Nature of the Kingdom"

Here is Part II: "The Mystery of the Kingdom"


Here is Part IV: "The Ethics of the Kingdom"

N.T. Wright's Essay: "Messiahship in Galatians?"

This September, Baker Academic will release Galatians and Christian Theology, a book that contains a stellar list of contributors such as John Barclay, Beverly R. Gaventa, Richard Hays, Todd Still, and bright newcomers, Timothy Gombis, Matthew Novenson, and Mariam Kamell.

Leading off the new volume though, is the contribution of N.T. Wright, whose essay, "Messiahship in Galatians?" can be accessed here.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Raymond Brown Site's First Anniversary

A year ago, August 8th to be exact , I launched a website in honor of the fifteenth anniversary of Fr. Raymond E. Brown's untimely passing. It was Fr. Brown's Death of the Messiah that catapulted me into NT scholarship and I decided that I wanted to do something that would honor his impact on my life and no doubt, countless others. This site has been a joy to put together and will continue to expand its content as time and contributions allow.  Many thanks to everyone who has visited the site and even more so, those who have taken time out of their challengingly busy schedules to contribute to the site. Here's to many more years of honoring the enduring legacy of Fr. Raymond E. Brown.
Fr. Raymond  E. Brown, ca. 1980, from the private collection of Beverly R. Gaventa

Saturday, August 9, 2014

David deSilva and Galatians

David A. deSilva
For some time now, I have been eagerly anticipating my friend and mentor, David deSilva's work on Galatians.

First, he has already published a commentary from a Sri Lankan perspective with Wipf & Stock, entitled Global Readings: A Sri Lankan Commentary on Paul's Letter to the Galatians.
In some sense, this commentary is a precursor to deSilva's highly anticipated replacement of Ronald Y.K. Fung's The Epistle to the Galatians in the NICNT series. While this volume is a ways off, deSilva continues to build towards this large scale commentary with the Baylor Handbook Galatians, due out in November (just in time for SBL).

deSilva's work, whether dealing with the Apocrypha, Hebrews, Revelation, and now Galatians is always top-notch and worthy of attention and praise. On a personal note, I must also mention that he was the single biggest reason I began my seminary education, and consider it an honor and a tremendous blessing to call him a teacher, mentor, and friend.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Quote of the Day: Paul Anderson on the Legacy of Bultmann's John Commentary

Paul Anderson, Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies at George Fox University, and editor of the new Johannine Monograph Series (Cascade), has written a superb foreword to the first release of the aforementioned series to Rudolf Bultmann's famous commentary, The Gospel of John. Anderson is masterful in elucidating the legacy Bultmann's John has had on Johannine studies past and present.
Paul Anderson
 Anderson's conclusion is worth quoting in full and thus makes my quote of the day.

If Johannine studies overall have largely emerged from the proverbial shade of the Bultmannian oak tree, the question remains as to the enduring value of Bultmann’s commentary. Is it simply a relic of the golden era of historical-critical methodologies, or does it still command exegetical purchase among interpreters of later generations? A telling note as to its abiding contribution is the claim by Ramsey Michaels, in his recent thoughtful-yet-traditional New International Commentary on John, that the most helpful single resource in writing his commentary was that of Rudolf Bultmann. While future interpreters might not follow particular aspects of Bultmann’s overall composition scheme, his theological insights, combined with exegetical sensitivity to detail and comparative-religions awareness, make this commentary an indispensable resource for synchronic and diachronic interpreters alike. As one might take different approaches to addressing the Johannine riddles, Bultmann’s commentary remains unsurpassed in its throwing them into sharp relief and propounding reasoned attempts to interpret them, with critical ingenuity and verve. Therefore, the enduring value of Bultmann’s approach to John lies not merely in the answers it poses but the questions it asks. For this contribution all readers of the Fourth Gospel are in his debt, and dialectically so (Foreword, xxiii-xxiv).

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Big Fall for the Corinthian Correspondence

A cluster of worthwhile commentaries on the Corinthian correspondence are due out this fall, headlined by Gordon Fee's revision of his classic 1 Corinthians commentary (NICNT).

Fee's preface to this updated edition can be read in its entirety here.

Also slated is the work of George Guthrie, known for his work in Hebrews primarily, as he tackles 2 Corinthians for the BECNT series. Guthrie's analysis will make a contribution on this most difficult of Paul's letters as he utilizes discourse analysis as a model from which to read the letter. Guthrie's commentary will not be due until the Spring of 2015.

Another volume to keep an eye out for is Mark Seifrid's contribution of Second Corinthians in the Pillar series.

Seifrid reads 2 Corinthians as a unified whole and believes that the main issue that Paul addresses in the letter is the
"'practical atheism' of the Corinthian church — the hidden heresy that assumes God's saving work in the world may be measured by outward standards of success and achievement."

Seifrid's volume is due out at the end of September. For all of those attending SBL Annual, it will be worth making room on your bookshelves for these volumes.

I would be remiss not to mention the excellent commentary by Raymond Collins (Paideia) that debuted early last summer. I am planning on an interview with him about this volume soon.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Francis Moloney's Latest Book

Late last summer when I had the honor of a visit from my friend and mentor, Frank Moloney, he had told me that he was in the stages of producing a book for Baker Academic that would be a guide on how he believes the NT should be read in the church.

Well, I am happy to say, that this volume now has a release date and will be available in April of next year.

Here are the particulars:

Internationally respected scholar Francis Moloney offers a Catholic introduction to the New Testament that shows how to read it both faithfully and critically. The opening chapter and an epilogue directly address the theological requirements of, and historical challenges for, ecclesial reading. The remaining chapters give exemplary readings of the figure of Jesus and of the various divisions of the New Testament canon. Conceived as a resource for religious educators, deacons, and other ministers in the Catholic Church, this book will serve Catholics and others as an ideal supplement to a conventional New Testament introduction or as a companion to reading the New Testament itself. 

 1. Catholic and Critical: The Challenge of Scripture in the Catholic Tradition
 2. Historical Context: The New Testament World and Our World
 3. The Origins of the New Testament: Its Creation and Reception
 4. Jesus of Nazareth: A Biographical Sketch
 5. Paul: The First Christian Author
 6. The Four Gospels: Stories of Jesus
 7. The Acts of the Apostles: Telling God's Story to the End of the Earth
 8. Later Writings of the New Testament: Letters from Apostles and a Homily
 9. The Revelation to John: Apocalypse Now
 ISBN: 9780801049804
 Price: $22.99
 Pages: 240

Monday, July 21, 2014

Exciting New Resource on Mark's Gospel

My good friend, Michael Halcomb and Professor of New Testament at Asbury Seminary, Fred Long, have co-produced an exciting, illustrated volume of Mark's Gospel in both Greek and English. This work is produced by the co-founded publishing company by the aforementioned duo under GlossaHouse Publishing.

I am very enthused about this project. Simply put, there is nothing else quite like it out there. Halcomb and Long even produced their very own English translation for this volume. I can see this becoming a great pedagogical tool, which will aid both in learning the Greek text, but will also facilitate memorization as well. The illustrations are outstanding, as they enable the reader to understand the narrative flow of the story.

I am looking forward to getting a copy of this and utilizing it in my own studies. Best of all, Halcomb and Long intend to produce more just like this volume. You can order it here on Amazon.

Below you can view some of the sample pages in order to get a feel for what this volume offers.

Kudos to both Michael and Fred for producing such an exciting work!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Francis Moloney on Bill Lane's Mark

During the recent online tributes in which I partnered with EerdWord to recognize the fortieth anniversary of the great Bill Lane's publication of his commentary on Mark (NICNT), my friend and mentor, Frank Moloney, author of the first narrative-critical focused commentary on Mark, shared these words of tribute on my FaceBook wall:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

IVP Academic Week Part I: Donald Macleod's Christ Crucified

I can characterize the past week or so as my "IVP Academic Week." The reason for this characterization is simple: Three books were sent my way along with a catalog and the IVP Academic Alert. Many thanks to Adrianna Wright, Online Publicist and good friend for sending these publications along, especially during my birthday week.

Donald Macleod
I will mention these publications in separate posts, but today I begin with Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement, by theologian, Donald Macleod. Macleod, former principal as well as professor and chair of systematic theology at the Free Church of Scotland College in Edinburgh, offers up a full-scale treatment on the doctrine of the atonement.

Taking my preliminary and tentative observations into account as I have yet to read more than some bits of this volume, I can state confidently that if one were to surmise that this is just another systematic, synthetic analysis of the atonement doctrine, one would be pleasantly surprised at Macleod's approach. It is thoroughly Biblical and Theological in the best sense of both descriptors. First, Macleod examines the entirety of the New Testament in order to explicate what the Gospels, Letters, and the Apocalypse have to say regarding the atonement. One item I appreciate here is Macleod's insistence on the centrality of the cross. He writes:

...the cross is not in the first instance a doctrine, but a fact, and no interpretation of the fact can make the suffering of Christ more or less awful than it actually was. Whether we speak of the cross as penal, piacular, expiatory, propitiatory, vicarious, substitutionary, exemplary, liberating or conquering makes no difference to what Jesus had to endure. The cross remains a fact. With this fact the church, and indeed the whole world, has to reckon; and with this fact all our thinking about the atonement must begin (15).
I am also delighted in the observations Macleod makes when he discusses the "slow motion" the Gospels undertake when they encounter Good Friday (22-23). The remainder of the Gospel's narratives skip much of Jesus' earthly life and ministry, but "when it comes to the crucifixion we have the sequence frame by frame..." (22) Macleod goes on to compare this to the creation accounts in Genesis 1, where the "account covers the events of billions of years in twenty-five verses, ...but when it comes to the creation of the human species, the pace instantly changes" (23).
Then Macleod draws a thought-provoking comparison the Gospels concern for the events of Good Friday with the concern of the creation of human beings in Genesis. He writes:

The reason is simple enough. Humankind is the centre of the story, and the account of the preceding six 'days' serves merely to set the scene for the history of the redemption of our species. It is for the same reason that the crucifixion narrative goes into slow motion. It is the pivot on which the world's redemption turns, and it involves such a sequence of separate events that we assume, instinctively, that they must have occupied several days. Instead we find to our astonishment that they all occurred on one day; and the events of that one single day are reported in meticulous detail (23).

In closing, I am anxious to read more of Macleod's insightful analyses. I am especially looking forward to see how Macleod tackles a recent interpretive trend that states that the punishment of the Son, Jesus, is akin to divine child abuse on the part of God the Father. More anon.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Raymond Brown site Update

Beverly R. Gaventa, Distinguished Professor of New Testament, Baylor University, was kind enough to share a photo of Fr. Raymond E. Brown from her personal collection. The picture depicts Fr. Brown lecturing at Colgate Rochester Divinity School ca. 1980. The picture can now be seen on the Raymond Brown site here.

Many thanks to Beverly for sharing such a wonderful picture of Fr. Brown. It was well worth the wait!

Monday, June 23, 2014

More C.F.D. Moule audio

C.F.D. Moule (1908-2007)
Visitors to this blog know that I have posted some audio lectures of one of the leading British New Testament scholars of the 20th century, C.F.D. ("Charlie") Moule. You can access those here.

Recently, I came across some oral history interviews where Charlie discusses his deanship of Clare College, Cambridge (1944-1951), before he became the Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity until his retirement in 1976.

Presented here are three extracts from this oral history interview:

Extract 1 - Moule discusses topics such as his time as Dean at Clare, World War 2 and Cambridge, alterations to the interior of the chapel and chapel furniture in the 1950s-60s, structure of chapel administration and staff (14.00) 

 Extract 2 - Admission of female students in the 1970s, increase in the number of Fellows at Clare, organisation of College governance in the 1950s-60s, how the role of the Master changed over time, the foundation of Clare Hall (10.33) 

 Extract 3 - Cambridge College chapels as peculiars, worshipping in chapel, organising interviews for potential incumbents of the College livings (7.45)

Personal highlights for me in listening to these recordings is one gets a keen sense of Charlie's humility. For instance, he praises his successor, another famous NT scholar, John A.T. Robinson, for having a superior deanship vis-a-vis his own. Another item that stood out was Charlie gave this interview at the age of 92. It is remarkable how sharp and witty he is in this rapid-fire exchange. Also, one gets to hear Charlie speak of his first book, An Idiom Book of New Testament Greek, and how pleasantly surprised he was that it was still in print.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Ramsey Michaels' "Remembering Bill Lane"

As promised, Ramsey Michaels' tribute to Bill Lane is now up on the EerdWord blog. Many thanks to Ramsey for his tribute and the picture he provided of himself with Lane and Glenn Barker when they received their Harvard Divinty Th.D.'s in 1962, which I include in this post below.
From Left to Right: Bill Lane, Glenn Barker, Ramsey Michaels

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ramsey Michaels on William Lane

J. Ramsey Michaels
J. Ramsey Michaels, Th.D. Harvard, and author of many fine commentaries, including the outstanding replacement of Leon Morris' The Gospel of John in the NICNT series, recently agreed to write up some reflections on his longtime friend and colleague, the late William L. Lane. These reflections will appear on the EerdWord Blog tomorrow (6/18) in conjunction the fortieth anniversary of Lane's The Gospel of Mark (NICNT).

In a recent email correspondence (6/14/14), Ramsey shared some additional thoughts on Lane and his Mark commentary that he did not include in his tribute. I quote him with his permission:

One very intriguing feature of Bill’s Mark commentary (that I didn’t have the space to include) is his view that the uses of Son of Man in Mark 2:10 and 28 are comments of the evangelist, not intended as words of Jesus. This has two implications: first, that Son of Man does not occur only on the lips of Jesus, but is used as well by Gospel writers; second, that according to Mark, Jesus did not use this term until the first passion prediction, Mark 8:31. I’m not at all sure that I agree, but I find it quite provocative, especially coming from an evangelical in the 1970s.
 Once again, I'd like to thank the good folks at Eerdmans, particularly Rachel Bomberger, Eerdword editor for partnering with me on this tribute. I will post a link to Ramsey's tribute tomorrow.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

“William Lane’s The Gospel of Mark, a Benchmark Commentary: A Tribute” by Ardel B. Caneday

As promised, my good friend, Ardel Caneday, shares his thoughts on the personal impact Bill Lane's The Gospel of Mark (NICNT) made upon him over at the EerdWord blog. Many thanks to Rachel Bomberger of EerdWord editor at Eerdmans for partnering with me to make this tribute possible. Click here to read the post.

William Lane’s Mark: Celebrating Forty Years

“Lane is to be commended for his splendid work. It is the best English commentary on Mark today, and will be a standard for years to come.” –Harold W. Hoehner, The Gospel According to Mark: A Review ; Bibliotheca Sacra, 133 no 531 Jl-S 1976, p 266-267; here 267.

William L. Lane
 It was Mark Twain who famously stated that a “classic” is “…a book which people praise and don't read.” What Twain states above is probably true for most of us who own even the very best of commentaries in both the Old and New Testaments. Commentaries are consulted and cherry-picked, but are rarely read cover to cover by most. I am guilty of this charge as well. This is not to say that one needs to read a commentary cover to cover in order to pronounce a judgment over it, but in order to give a commentary the honorific adjective, “classic,” that commentary must have proved itself to be of the highest quality and also make a significant contribution to the state of scholarship during its time and beyond. The timeless quality of a piece of writing can only be determined, ironically, with the passage of time. William L. Lane’s commentary on the Gospel of Mark (NICNT), has persevered over a significant passage of time, forty years to be exact, and remains the last in this series to be replaced (eventually by Rikk Watts). For some perspective, eight Presidential administrations have been conducted since Lane’s The Gospel According to Mark, has been published. Lane’s commentary is to be celebrated not only for its longevity, but also for his insistence that Mark’s narrative be read as a literary whole, and the distinctive theological contribution of the evangelist was to take pride of place in his approach. This allowed Lane to place a strong emphasis on the literary structure of Mark's Gospel, eventually opening the doors to the approach of literary and narrative-critical studies that are prominent today in Markan scholarship.

My own interest in showing appreciation to Lane’s contribution stirred me to contact a couple of friends and colleagues, one Ardel Caneday, Professor of New Testament Studies and Biblical Theology at the University of Northwestern, St. Paul and J. Ramsey Michaels, professor emeritus of religious studies at Missouri State University, Springfield, Missouri, and adjunct professor of New Testament at Bangor Theological Seminary, Portland, Maine, to offer some reflections on Lane’s commentary on Mark. Both men are in a good position to do so, as Caneday has taught Mark’s Gospel for over twenty five years and considers Lane’s contribution to be the most formative in his understanding of the second Gospel, and Michaels, was a lifelong friend and colleague of Lane’s, sharing much of their education and teaching experience together, as well as being connected in publishing venues. Over the next couple of weeks, their reflections will be posted on the EerdWord blog, and this blog will provide links to those reflections.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Entering the Fray: An Interview with Michael Halcomb

My good friend, Dr. Michael Halcomb, has written a truly unique book that fills an immense lacuna in NT scholarship vis-à-vis  the church. If one thinks that this a biased overstatement from one friend on behalf of another, I simply ask you to pick up a copy of Entering the Fray: A Primer on New Testament Issues and the Academy (W&S) and judge for yourself. There is simply no other book remotely like this one. Still need convinced? Check out some of the endorsements for this volume:

"New Testament studies are often a beehive of contentious debates. Halcomb surveys several of these debates and guides his readers away from the killer bees of confusion and takes them to the honeycomb of understanding. If you want to get a grip on some hot-potato topics in biblical studies without frying your figurative fingers, then Halcomb does a sterling job of introducing readers to several big debates and showing what the various interpretative options are. Great for students!" —Michael Bird, Highland Theological College 

 "Navigating New Testament scholarship can be daunting. In Entering the Fray, Halcomb proves to be a reliable guide. This thorough-yet-succinct presentation introduces the major issues and players of the last four hundred years. With a personal touch, Halcomb demonstrates what scholars do and why the church needs scholarship. This book is for anyone who ever wondered about New Testament scholarship and what impact it has on their faith and life." —John Byron, Ashland Theological Seminary

 "Entering the Fray offers non-specialists an easily accessible path into scholars' conversations on key concerns, such as the nature of the New Testament canon, the relationship between the Gospels, and the historical accuracy of Acts. In all twelve chapters, Halcomb explains why the scholars' discussions should matter to the church." —Lynn H. Cohick, Wheaton College

"Halcomb does the church and academy a great service by answering the big question of why the church needs academic studies . . . This is a good book for all who want to seek the truth behind the text. Whomever 'enters the fray' will come out on the other side a better and more learned student of the Bible." —Sam Tsang, Hong Kong Baptist Theological Seminary 

"The work of New Testament scholars can be both fascinating and important, but also quite technical. Halcomb has written an accessible and engaging account of several of the key issues discussed among New Testament scholars today. I recommend this book for the clear and succinct ways in which it explains some interesting debates among biblical scholars, debates that have real significance within the life of the church." —David F. Watson, United Theological Seminary

 "The church and the academy, no less than the prodigal son and his older brother, have had a rocky history. Like the proverbial father, Halcomb is devoted to both and hopes to bring them together into a peaceable and even amicable relationship. Entering the Fray provides a sympathetic introduction to hot topics and prominent figures of New Testament scholarship for Christians who find themselves unsure what all the fuss is about." —Rafael Rodríguez, Johnson University

Backed by these endorsements and now mine, I would highly recommend this volume for NT Intro courses, adult Sunday school classes, and anyone interested in the relationship between the church and the academy, an often bifurcated alliance at best. Recently, I had the good fortune of interviewing Mike who recently was awarded his PhD in NT from Asbury Seminary. On to the interview.

1. Talk a bit about your motivation for writing this book. 

 Sure, Matt, but first let me say “Thank You!” for not only reading this book but really coming away from it with a desire to encourage others to dig into it; I am very grateful for that. And let me just say, your blog has become a great online stop for resources related to biblical studies, especially those in the field of New Testament studies, and I’m honored to interview with you here on NTP about Entering the Fray. To get back to your question, the motivation for writing this book stemmed from two places really: 1) My deep and abiding love for the church; and 2) My desire to make the most of the months of preparation leading up to my doctoral comprehensive exams. I’ll briefly say a word about both of those. With regard to point number 1, I should note that I have either been teaching or preaching within a church context for the last decade. I have pastored and taught in inner-city churches, suburban mega-churches, church plants, and old-time rural churches. In the midst of such opportunities, I have consistently encountered a suspicion of Bible scholars. In one congregation I had a woman who felt like it was her job to remind me, almost on a weekly basis, to not let seminary destroy my faith. I grew so weary of hearing this and a desire was kindling within me to address it in some positive and helpful way. I wanted to show Christians, especially evangelical Christians, that there was no need to be afraid of Bible scholars and since that is the case, there is no need to be afraid of the things those scholars talk about. In fact, every Christian stands to benefit from knowing what issues are being talked about and who some of the persons involved in the conversations. Why is this? Because it is the scholars who teach in the seminaries that train the pastors and it is the scholars who write the books and commentaries that pastors use. Thus, scholars influence pastors. In turn, pastors influence congregants. Congregants shape the church. The church should help shape communities and societies. So as you can see, a lot of this comes back to scholars and the issues they address. When I started preparing for my comprehensive exams during my Ph.D. studies, I decided that I would take that time and parse out these major issues in a real down-to-earth, user-friendly type of way. That’s what I aimed to do (and hope I accomplished) in Entering the Fray. Basically, I was able to kill two birds with one stone—prepare for my exams and use that preparation to create a helpful resource. And again, I hope this resource will be beneficial for both laity and college/university/seminary students. I think it would make a great Sunday School study but it could also be a great resource for classes related to the New Testament.

 2. I imagine that narrowing down the most essential topics in New Testament studies was challenging. How did you decide what topics should be discussed?

 Yes, it absolutely was! The way that I really started to narrow the topics down was to ask: 1) What major issues have shaped the field of New Testament over the last 400-500 years? And 2) Across the New Testament canon, what issues have been game-changers. Now, those two answers are pretty closely related but they are different in that one deals with the “field” of NT studies while the other is focused on issues pertaining to the whole of the NT canon. Another aspect of this was, to bring it up once again, my comp exams. I found myself thinking: “What could my committee possibly ask me on those exams?” Anticipating and thinking through that also helped me come up with some of the topics and related questions.

 3. In addition to the volume itself, you have designed an interactive website for the book. Discuss some of the ways readers of your work can benefit from the website.

Right! The major part of the interactive website is a user-friendly timeline that includes a picture and brief biographical sketch of every New Testament scholar mentioned by name in the book. But there are also some short videos and a link to by an audiobook version of Entering the Fray. So, readers can benefit from the site by finding out some things about NT scholars, getting chapter video previews, and if they so desire, picking up an audiobook copy of the work. Within the book, at the front of each chapter there are QR codes that folks can point their mobile devices at and automatically be taken to the site if they’ve got an internet connection. I should probably also mention that there is also a helpful timeline in the back of the book.

 4. One of the features of this work that I find so valuable are the call-out boxes that provide the reader with essential biographical information of scholars past and present. In what ways does the feature help the reader understand the history of scholarship?

 That’s great! I’m definitely glad to hear you say that. I worked really hard on those “Scholarly Sketches” (the “call-out boxes” you’re referring to). One of the biggest aims of these “Sketches” was to humanize Bible scholars. This is why I mention specific names, dates, spouse names, children names, accomplishments, struggles, and the like. I wanted readers to know and be reminded that, like everyone, those who identify as Bible scholars are humans just like everyone else. It is really easy to demonize someone like Bultmann and just forget his context and forget that he was a human. Now, this is not to say that these scholars are always right and never wrong, that’s just not the case. But when you begin to really get to know someone, it often means that it becomes a lot less easy to demonize them and much easier to understand where they’re coming from. When things like this are accomplished, especially for the lay person or the seminary student, I feel like something quite significant has happened. Knowing who we are and where we have come from is important for where we are going. Yet, it is also important in helping formulate our own ideas and identities. The fact is, the church-goer just has not tapped into the rich history of New Testament studies. Part of the reason for this is that pastors have not helped them do so. But part of this comes from professors not equipping them. So, if Bible scholars want church-goers to get out of the downward spiral into biblical illiteracy, then they must do something about it. This means not only working through this issues with them and introducing them to various voices discussing these issues, but also equipping them to address these matters with laity.

 5. One of the challenges of a book such as this is to make palatable complicated discussions such as the so-called Synoptic problem (57-68). As a scholar and writer, how did you narrow down the ‘so what?’ for the person in the pew? 

You’ve hit the nail on the head there, Matt. The way that I really tried narrowing down the “So What?” aspect for the person in the pew was just to tap into some of my own reservations I experienced when confronted with these types of topics for the first time. I think it’s quite easy for those who’ve gone through various degree programs, especially Ph.D. programs, to forget that these scholar issues do directly affect the average layperson or seminary student…sometimes in very deep and profound ways. Put differently, it is easy for scholars to talk to other scholars and in doing so to talk past those who are not yet at that place/level. In addition, I worked really hard to trace out the pastoral implications of every single topic addressed in this book, from the formation of the canon, to the Synoptic Problem, to archaeological finds, and beyond. These matters are not relegated to the scholarly realm only and never will be, despite the fact that some scholars may wish that were the case. And believe me, I’m not at all anti-scholarship. I value the fact that some scholars write for other scholars and have, as their main focus, engaging other scholars. That’s needed in certain circumstances. But for me personally, that’s not the case. While I obviously engage other scholars, as I said before, I have a deep and abiding passion for God’s church. I want to help bridge that gap between these two realms and chart a path for generating fruitful discussion on important issues.

 6. One of the impressive attributes of this volume is the amount of information packed into a volume of this size. How much research did this require? 

What were some things that you learned along the journey? Thanks you for those kind words. I really worked hard to make this volume at one and the same time academically robust and easy to access. It certainly required a lot of research but it’s quite hard to quantify it. As you know, the book goes through the NT canon addressing major issues and to be fair to all sides (I’m not functioning as an author with an agenda of apologetics in this book), it really took a lot of work. Hmmm…what were some of the biggest takeaways I had along the journey? Well, one was that, in creating the biographical snippets (Scholarly Sketches), the resultant effect on me was just a greater appreciation of significant NT scholars over the course of the last several hundred years. An added bonus was just a great appreciation for an ecumenical spirit in this field. I really enjoyed writing the chapter on the historicity of Acts and learned quite a bit. I would really encourage folks to dig into that research, it is really rich. The chapter on major archaeological finds was also good for me. In the course of writing that chapter I came to some good conclusions about how to engage archaeology responsibly, especially with regard to exegetical and theological claims. Gaining such a wide overview of NT issues really positioned me well for my comprehensive exams. That was one of the places I scored with High Pass. That might not have ever happened had I not been focused on this book throughout the course of those months of study. I would like to think that this volume would be a very nice overview/review for other students who will be faced with questions about the NT and NT studies on their tests too. It truly was a joy writing this book and I’m glad I get to share my findings with others.

 7. What impact would like to see your Entering the Fray make in both the church and the academy?

 You know, Matt, I’d love to see this book used widely in both churches and classrooms. It would make, as I said, a great Sunday school study or even a small group study. It would fit very well into NT Intro courses too. I’m thankful that folks like yourself are helping get the word out about it. I’m also grateful that it’s been mentioned on a few blogs/websites and in several academic journals, including JSNT (Journal for the Study of the New Testament). I know it’s slated to be reviewed in several other journals too, and I look forward to those. Most of all, my desire, my ministry, is to really help folks love God with all their mind and a few folks who've read this have contacted me explaining that this has happened for them. As the author of this book, there could be no greater accomplishment. It is such a privilege to have a writing ministry that reaches folks in this way. I’m so grateful to be able to do this. I hope that this book can continued to be used for God’s glory and that his people will be blessed and strengthened by it. Having said that, let me also wrap things up here by saying “Thank you!” again, Matt, for taking the time to read this book and share about it on your site. I hope that any who read this interview and in turn, read the book, are both blessed and challenged by it. Keep doing good work, Matt; your blog has become a unique and trusted resource for those interested in NT studies.