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God's Wonder and Mystery
German theologian, Klaus Schwarzwäller reclaims Christ's cross and resurrection as God's wonder and mystery. He connects with art, history, contemporary culture, and especially scripture in presenting a trenchant analysis of the modes of power and production that have undergirded both society and the church since the Enlightenment.
The church in the present era comes under the power of the Enlightenment's quest for truth in the measurable, reproducible, and rational. The proof of the Spirit’s power thus comes to depend on the criteria of reason and theory, rather than on the Spirit’s work in the reality of daily life.
When the church and theology operate in this way, the cross and resurrection become something that requires our management, manipulation, or expert interpretation. Thus, the church and theology wind up existing for their own ends, and freedom and faith are replaced with brutal indifference and control.
The truth of the gospel is that on the cross Christ bore the brunt of power and production that could not bear his utter devotion to God and care for the powerless. The cross excludes our control and the power of the resurrection ensures that the negativity of human life borne on the cross will be overcome.
Schwarzwäller calls the church and theologians to relinquish both their conformity to society and the indifference that power and production create and instead focus on tending to God’s word so that the cross and resurrection are again revealed as God’s wonder and mystery.
Fathers, sons, and mothers take center stage in the Bible’s grand narratives, Amy Kalmanofsky observes. Sisters and sisterhood receive less attention in scholarship but, she argues, play an important role in narratives, revealing anxieties related to desire, agency, and solidarity among women playing out (and playing against) their roles in a patrilineal society. Most often, she shows, sisters are destabilizing figures in narratives about family crisis, where property, patrimony, and the resilience of community boundaries are at risk. Kalmanofsky demonstrates that the particular role of sisters had important narrative effects, revealing previously underappreciated dynamics in Israelite society.
Azazel and Satanael in Early Jewish Demonology
Discusses the two most important figures in early Jewish mythologies of evil, the fallen angels Azazel and Satanael. Dark Mirrors is a wide-ranging study of two central figures in early Jewish demonology—the fallen angels Azazel and Satanael. Andrei A. Orlov explores the mediating role of these paradigmatic celestial rebels in the development of Jewish demonological traditions from Second Temple apocalypticism to later Jewish mysticism, such as that of the Hekhalot and Shi>ur Qomah materials. Throughout, Orlov makes use of Jewish pseudepigraphical materials in Slavonic that are not widely known. Orlov traces the origins of Azazel and Satanael to different and competing mythologies of evil, one to the Fall in the Garden of Eden, the other to the revolt of angels in the antediluvian period. Although Azazel and Satanael are initially representatives of rival etiologies of corruption, in later Jewish and Christian demonological lore each is able to enter the other’s stories in new conceptual capacities. Dark Mirrors also examines the symmetrical patterns of early Jewish demonology that are often manifested in these fallen angels’ imitation of the attributes of various heavenly beings, including principal angels and even God himself.
An Introductory Exposition
In Dialectical Theology and Jacques Ellul, Jacob E. Van Vleet argues that the work of Jacques Ellul is frequently—and deleteriously—misread on account of inattention to the theological underpinning that governs Ellul’s thought. In a penetrating analysis, the first of its kind, Van Vleet provides a substantive account of the theological structure of Ellul’s work and demonstrates the determinative role that theology, especially dialectical theology, plays in a proper understanding of Ellul.
Van Vleet offers a major introduction to Ellul’s thought, his contribution to theology and philosophy, and how his philosophy of technology is both theologically informed and culturally relevant. As well, this work situates Ellul’s theological and philosophical thought within an important genetic context, from Kierkegaard to the dialectical theologians of the twentieth century.
The Prayer Jesus Taught in Its Historical Setting
Christians around the world recite the “Lord’s Prayer” daily, but what exactly are they praying for—and what relationship does it have with Jesus’ own context? Jeffrey B. Gibson reviews scholarship that derives the so-called Lord’s Prayer from Jewish synagogal prayers and refutes it. The genre of the prayer, he shows, is petitionary, and understanding its intent requires understanding Jesus’ purpose in calling disciples as witnesses against “this generation.” Jesus did not mean to teach a unique understanding of God; the prayer had its roots in first-century Jewish movements of protest. In context, Gibson shows (pace Schweitzer, Lohmeyer, Davies, Allison, and a host of other scholars) that the prayer had little to do with “calling down” into the present realities of “the age to come.” Rather, it was meant to protect disciples from the temptations of their age and, thus, to strengthen their countercultural testimony. Gibson’s conclusions offer new insights into the historical Jesus and the movement he sought to establish.
Contending for Christian Faith in Today's Academic Setting
Disputed Issues is a collection of essays reflecting Professor Steven Davis’s thinking—developed over a long and illustrious career—on a host of widely-contested issues essential to Christian philosophy, theology, and belief. These thoughtful and highly readable essays explore a range of topics, from those central to basic Christian belief (such as issues about resurrection and the survival of death), to others focused on more specific questions (such as whether Mark copied Homer and whether exegesis should be presuppositionless). Intended as a useful, instructive resource for believers and unbelievers alike, Disputed Issues is essential to understanding what a thoughtful orthodox Christian believes—and why.
Rethinking Scripture and History through Gregory of Nazianazus and Hans Frei
Key to a theology of scripture and how theology functions in relation to the interpretation of Christianity's religious texts is the important issue of faith and history. Seeking to address a critical problem in theology and the interpretation of scripture raised by modern historical consciousness, Ben Fulford argues for a densely historical and theological reading of scripture centered in a Christological rubric. The argument herein uncovers a pattern of triune action and presence in the rhetorical use of Christian sacred texts, one which draws readers into fuller participation in the shaping of history in Christ. Tracing the problem through the modern theological heritage, the author turns to a comparative account of theologically patterned reading represented by patristic theology in Gregory of Nazianzus and postliberal theology in its pivotal founder, Hans Frei. The book addresses the challenge of historicity and historical consciousness, argues for the relevance of pre-modern approaches to scripture, and offers a fresh and extensive account of two salient figures from the early and contemporary tradition, thus enacting a theology of retrieval as a resource on a present issue of vital importance.
Scott Shauf compares the portrayal of the divine in Acts with portrayals of the divine in other ancient historiographical writings, the latter including Jewish and wider Greco-Roman historiographical traditions. The divine may be represented as a single deity (in Judaism) or many (in Greek and Roman traditions) and also includes representations of angels, God’s spirit, Jesus as a divine figure, or forces with divine status such as fate, chance, and providence. Shauf’s particular interest is in how the divine is represented as involved in history, through themes including the nature of divine retribution, the partiality or impartiality of the divine toward different sets of people, and the portrayal of divine control over seemingly purely natural and human events. Acts is shown to be engaging historiographical traditions of the author’s own day but also contributing unique historiographical perspectives. The way history is written in Acts and in the other writings is shown to be intimately tied to the understanding of the role of the divine in history.
Paul's Lament-Midrash in Romans 9-11
God chooses Israel (salvation “first to the Jew and then the gentile”), but without showing favoritism? Paul genuinely grieves for Israel as one speaking “in” Christ, yet prays to be cursed, cut off from Christ? Romans 9–11 remains one of the most difficult and contested biblical texts in scholarship today. Theological discussions often limit the focus of this passage to God’s sovereignty, emphasizing that God’s mind is not known, or to Paul’s defense of God’s faithfulness, insisting that Israel has failed. Less attention has been devoted to Paul’s unique form and style, which, rightly understood, resolve significant issues, revealing the merciful and wise character of God in his choice of Jacob, the lesser son.
David R. Wallace demonstrates how Paul weaves two distinct Jewish literary forms together––lament and midrash—into a logical narrative concerning Israel’s salvation. Attention is given to Paul’s poetical structures, key literary terms, and use of Old Testament contexts. The result is new insight into the meaning of the letter, and into the theology of Paul.