A Not-So-Silent Night

29 12 2009

This is a bit late for Christmas, but will be useful for next year.

I was sent a copy of his new book, A Not-So-Silent Night: The Unheard Story of Christmas and Why it Matters, by my friend, and Zondervan senior editor, Verlyn Verbrugge.

Verlyn explores the ‘dark side’ of Christmas, setting the events of Jesus’ birth in their historical, scriptural, and cultural contexts. While there is of course much to celebrate at Christmastime, Verlyn argues that there is also much for sombre reflection. He likens Christmas to Good Friday: it’s good in a bad way.

It’s a great read. Some of the highlights include the exploration of the shame culture in which Mary suffered, being pregnant out of wedlock, the connections to the cross in the birth narratives, the debunking of the notorious “no room at the inn” story, and the many allusions to the beginning of a celestial war marked by Jesus’ birth.

The book is pitched at a popular level, so it’s short (98 pages) and easy to read (I read it in about 80 minutes). But it’s one of those books that, while being easy to read, is full of provocative (and in many cases, new) ideas.

I will definitely be dipping into this book for future Christmas sermons.

Posted by Con Campbell

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Introverts in the Church

21 12 2009

I picked up this new book, by Adam S. McHugh, at the SBL conference in New Orleans. When I bought it at the IVP stand, the woman serving me said, ‘So, you’re an introvert, huh?’ To which I replied, ‘Isn’t everybody at SBL?’.

At a conference for Bible geeks, there is no doubt a high proportion of introverts. But introverts are certainly not on home turf in many of our churches.

I recently read the book and recommend it for any introverted Christian, AND all extroverted pastors.

It’s helpful for introverts to alleviate the guilt that our extroverted evangelical culture sometimes causes. The book offers understanding that some introverts may not yet have about themselves, and provides lots of helpful hints and tips for being an introvert in ministry. It lets introverts off the hook at times, and challenges us at other times.

It’s helpful for extroverted pastors to help them to understand 50% of their congregations, and to be able to have effective team ministry with introverts. The book describes some ways in which extroverts and introverts can work together powerfully for good.

Probably the chapter I found most helpful was on introverts in leadership. There is a lot of helpful advice here for introverts who find themselves leading ministry teams, and how to lead as introverts, rather than pretending to be extroverts.

There are a few things in the book that I found a bit odd, arising out of the author’s apparently slightly-mystical version of evangelicalism. Extolling the virtues of some monastic practices was one of those things, but there’s still food for thought there.

If you’re an introvert, read it. If you’re an extroverted pastor, read it.

Posted by Con Campbell





Morality Not an End in Itself

13 12 2009
C. S.
Image via Wikipedia

C. S. Lewis once said:

“I think all Christians would agree with me if I said that thought Christianity seems at first to be all about morality, all about duties and rules and guilt and virtue, yet it leads you on, out of all that, into something beyond. One has a glimpse of a country where they do not talk of those things, except perhaps as a joke. Everyone there is filled full with what we should call goodness as a mirror is filed with light. But they are too busy looking at the source from which it comes. But this is near the stage where the road passes over the rim of our world. No one’s eyes can see very far beyond that: lots of people’s eyes can see further than mine.”

Posted by Bruce Lowe

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“Pursue Academic Responsibility”

9 12 2009
Master (Cap and Gown)
Image by Naked_Eyes via Flickr

Recently I came across this quote from and old book: “Letter’s Along the Way” (Carson and Woodbridge). I thought it was worth posting:

“Pursue academic responsibility and trust God to work out the details of who hears you and what influence you have. Responsible scholarship has far more potential for discovering and buttressing truth and for winning people’s minds than mere respectability anyway. If instead you take the lower road and pursue mere academic respectability, you may gain more plaudits from the world, but it is far more doubtful that you will have the approbation of Heaven. Once in a while there have been scholars who have gained both; it is doubtful if they have ever done so by pursuing respectability.” (p176)

Posted by Bruce Lowe

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Reading Granville Sharp’s Canon and Its Kin, by Daniel B. Wallace

7 12 2009

I’ve been asked by Themelios to review Dan Wallace‘s new book in the Studies in Biblical Greek series, called Granville Sharp’s Canon and Its Kin: Semantics and Significance.

I read about a third (120+ pp) of the book today and thought I’d share what I think so far.

First, who would have thought that a book about one function of one element of the Greek language (the article) would be so enthralling! Wallace demonstrates from the outset that the exegetical and theological significance of the TSKS construction (article-substantive-καί-substantive) is of utmost importance, applying to NT christological texts that (if Sharp’s rule is correct) explicitly call Jesus God. The book is exciting, and well written.

Second, Wallace is thorough, possibly to the extreme. An example of this is the mini-biography of Granville Sharp that is offered in the historical section of the book. I would argue this is not really needed, and will probably not significantly affect the thesis of the book (in spite of Wallace’s claim to the contrary), but it is so interesting that the reader will quickly forgive this indulgence.

Third, the historical survey is very useful, as it answers one question that I’ve held for some time: if Granville Sharp’s rule is both correct and important, why has it been so neglected in Greek grammars and NT commentaries? Wallace convincingly argues that it is basically Georg Winer’s fault. As the preeminent Greek scholar of the nineteenth century, his almost off-hand (and theologically prejudiced) comments on Titus 2:13 set a pattern of neglect of Sharp’s rule through to the present day.

There’s more to be said about what I’ve read so far, but I will save it for the formal review in Themelios.

More to come in one or two future posts.

Posted by Con Campbell





Stephen C. Carlson was right: Archaic Mark is a fake

7 12 2009

The contentious document known as Archaic Mark has been proven a forgery.

This confirms the arguments of Stephen C. Carlson (who I heard making his case as last year’s SBL in Boston). Some of his interlocutors on that occasion were not convinced (and one in particular was quite rude about it!).

Read about it at the University of Chicago site, and at the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog.

Posted by Con Campbell