BA Books & Authors on the Web – November 14, 2014

Cover ArtByron Borger, at Hearts & Minds Books, praised Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth.

“It may be that the just released A New Heaven and a New Earth…is the most important book in its field, a magnificent, innovative, lasting contribution to the field of Biblical studies. I can hardly overstate just how significant this new book is.”

Graham Twelftree’s Paul and the Miraculous was reviewed by Brian LePort, who also reflected on Twelftree’s discussion of the Pseudepigraphal Paul.

At Lonely Vocations, Matthew Forrest Lowe reviewed Galatians and Christian Theology, edited by Mark Elliott, Scott Hafemann, N. T. Wright, and John Frederick.

At Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight ‘s post Teaching Discipleship to Youth continued his series on Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker.

CHOICE recommended Beginning with the Word by Roger Lundin, and Who’s Afraid of Relativism? by James K.A. Smith. You can read the respective reviews here and here.

At Shared Justice, Becca Mcbride reflected on Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Journey toward Justice.

And finally, James K.A. Smith responded to a common critique of Who’s Afraid of Relativism?

“When one is committed to a representationalist picture of the world—indeed, when one has basically drunk in such a picture with mother’s milk—it is virtually impossible to see things otherwise: This is how things are! Questioning representation and correspondence would be akin to questioning reality itself. Indeed, not only are alternatives not entertained; they cannot even be understood.”

BA Books & Authors on the Web – September 19, 2014

Cover ArtAt The Englewood Review of Books, Jeanne Lehninger reviewed Roger Lundin’s Beginning with the Word.

“Lundin is a wonderful teacher who explicates clearly why contemporary thought regarding language and literature is what it is and what the implications are for the church. Not merely an academic treatise, Beginning with the Word both begins and ends in delight and wisdom. Best of all, Lundin answers the question of why it matters that words are more than symbols. That they are reflections of the Word made flesh makes them bearers of truth and grace.”

Also, Roger Lundin was interviewed about Beginning with the Word on the Christian Humanist Podcast.

At the Strong Towns Podcast, Charles Marohn interviewed Eric Jacobson, author of The Space Between.

Wyatt Graham, at Writings and Reviews, reviewed Stephen Hildebrand’s Basil of Caesarea.

Michael Allen, author of Justification and the Gospel, wrote “The Desire and Joy of the Gospel” for Good News.

At Philonica et Neotestamentica, Torrey Seland quoted from Jesus against the Scribal Elite, by Chris Keith.

Finally, Graham Twelftree, author of Paul and the Miraculous, gave a lecture entitled “The Historian and the Miraculous“.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – March 28, 2014

Cover ArtThe End of Apologetics by Myron Penner was reviewed by Thomas D. Tatterfield for the Englewood Review of Books.

“Modern apologetic reliance upon OUNCE [the ‘objective-universal-neutral complex’] is most evident in its vociferous attacks aimed toward postmodernism. To embrace the postmodern critique of modernism would be nothing less than to undermine the nature of Christian truth. It is this model of apologetics Penner is determined to renounce and it is from the very problems inherent within this approach that he seeks to launch a proposal for a postmodern solution.”

Joey Cochran shared a quote from R. Michael Allen’s  Justification and the Gospel.

Brain LePort started reading Graham Twelftree’s Paul and the Miraculous.

John Poirier reviewed Graham Twelftree’s  In the Name of Jesus for The Pneuma Review.

Video: Graham Twelftree on Paul and the Miraculous

A Fresh Look at Paul

Why Did You Write Paul and the Miraculous?

The Historical Jesus and the Historical Paul

Cover ArtAbout the Book:

In Paul and the Miraculous, New Testament scholar Graham Twelftree shows that there is often-overlooked material in Paul’s letters and aspects of the New Testament data that call for a more historically sensitive approach to Paul.

He argues that Paul is only adequately understood if the miraculous is permitted the place it had in his national life and history, his sectarian allegiance as a Pharisee, his synagogue experience, his traditions inherited from followers of Jesus, his conversion, his experiences in answer to prayer, his theological enterprise, and his experience as a missionary and pastor.

Challenging the view that Paul was primarily a thinker, Twelftree reimagines him as an apostle of Jesus for whom the miraculous was of fundamental importance..

For more information on Paul and the Miraculous, click here.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – December 13, 2013

Congratulations to Myron Penner (The End of Apologetics), Scott Sunquist (Understanding Christian Mission), and Steven Boyer and Christopher Hall (The Mystery of God) on being winners in the 2014 Christianity Today Book Awards!

At Englewood Review of Books, Andy Hassler reviewed The Rebirth of the Church, by Eddie Gibbs.

David Johnson reviewed Graham Twelftree’s Paul and the Miraculous, for Renewal Dynamics.

At Freedom in Orthodoxy, Johnny Walker interviewed Chris Keith about his forthcoming work, Jesus Against the Scribal Elite.

Matthew Montonini, at New Testament Perspectives, is looking forward to Rodney Decker’s Reading Koine Greek.

Noah Berlatsky reflected on War and the American Difference, by Stanley Hauerwas.

At The Gospel Coalition, Matt Smethurst lists Thomas Schreiner’s The King in His Beauty as a one of the best books of 2013.

Tim Challies recommended the Song of Songs volume by Richard Hess in the Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms.

And Matthew Dowling at Desposyni included With the Grain of the Universe, by Stanley Hauerwas; Christian Theology 3rd edition, by Millard Erickson; and Justification and the Gospel, by R. Michael Allen, in his “Theologian’s Guide to Christmas Gifting”.

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Through Thursday, December 19, the eBook of Proclaiming the Scandal of the Cross by Mark Baker is available for $3.99 (82% off) at participating retailers, including:

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on Paul and the Miraculous, Part 2 of our Interview with Graham Twelftree

This is the second half of our interview with Graham Twelftree, author of Paul and the Miraculous: A Historical Reconstruction To read Part 1, click here.

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In what ways is studying the historical Paul similar (or dissimilar) to studying the historical Jesus?

Both Paul and Jesus come to us from another time, another culture, another region of the globe, and other languages than those of us in the Western world. Whatever we read of or by them, or find related to them, comes to us across these great gulfs of potential misunderstanding. Hermeneutical skill and the most careful use of historical tools are needed to bridge these divides between us and both Jesus and Paul.

Cover ArtThen, just as we have a number of Gospels and their underlying traditions that propose to shed light on Jesus, so we have a number of sources in the New Testament that help us recover the historical Paul. Most obviously, we have his letters. There is also the Acts of the Apostles which, used with care, can help us reconstruct the historical Paul. However, there are also letters in the New Testament thought to be written by followers of Paul, including perhaps the Pastoral Epistles.

Jesus and Paul are also both of central importance to Christianity. This means that what is established about them by historical inquiry is of great interest to Christians. Indeed, there is usually considerable resistance to taking up conclusions different from those traditionally accepted.

Over against these similarities, the great difference between these two figures is that while we have letters Paul wrote, Jesus apparently left no written records of his own. Another difference in the study of these two individuals is that our major sources for the recovery of the historical Jesus are in narrative form, the Gospels. Our primary source of information about Paul is in the form of occasional letters, which by their nature don’t give a complete picture of the writer.

Which passages are key to your understanding of Paul’s relation to the miraculous?

A remarkable number of places in his letters refer to the miraculous in his life and thought, though much depends on what is meant by miraculous. The key passages include his discussion of the charismata (esp. 1 Cor. 14:6, 18; cf. 2 Cor. 13:3) where we see the breadth of his notion of miracles and that his experience of the miraculous included tongues, prophecy, teaching, and probably wisdom. We should include passages that tell us of his experience of conversion and call (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8; Gal. 1:13–16; Phil. 3:4–11) and visions and revelations (1 Cor. 2:13; 7:40; 2 Cor. 5:13; 12:1–4, 7; Gal. 2:2). The paragraph about the “thorn in the flesh” appears to relate a new understanding of miracles for him (1 Cor. 12:1–10; cf. Gal. 4:13–14). Understandably, the mention of the rescue from afflictions in Asia (2 Cor. 1:8–11) and the recovery of Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:26–27) also tell us about his views relating to the miraculous. However, he also saw sickness and death as miracles of punishment (1 Cor. 11:30).

The key passages that tell us about the miraculous in his ministry include Romans 15:18–19; 1 Corinthians 2:1–5; 4:19–20; 12–14; 2 Corinthians 6:6–7; 12:11–12; Galatians 3:1–5; and 1 Thessalonians 1:5.

What do you hope this book accomplishes?

Perhaps too much! But I very much hope those who read this book will see not simply that Paul was deeply and very often involved in the miraculous. I hope readers will instead see a more rounded view of Paul: an innovative thinker and theologian, a pastor, and a missionary, through whose life and work was threaded the importance and practical involvement in the miraculous. I hope readers see that Paul saw himself involved in the miraculous not as a man of power but as a man of weakness through whom the power of God worked. I also hope that readers are able to share my surprise in discovering that, as I say near the end of the book, for Paul no more could the gospel be proclaimed without words than it could come or be experienced without miracles. From Paul’s perspective, without the miraculous, there was no gospel, only preaching. Yet the greater surprise for me, which I hope the book conveys, is that Paul did not see himself as a miracle-worker. Rather, he saw himself as proclaiming a message that, by the accompanying presence of the Spirit, was realized in the miraculous and thereby became the gospel.

Graham H. TwelftreeGraham H. Twelftree (PhD, University of Nottingham) is the Charles L. Holman Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity and the director of the PhD program in the School of Divinity at Regent University, Virginia. In addition to many scholarly articles and reviews, he is the author of a number of books, including In the Name of Jesus: Exorcism among Early Christians and People of the Spirit: Exploring Luke’s View of the Church.

For more information on Paul and the Miraculous, click here.

on Paul and the Miraculous, Part 1 of our Interview with Graham Twelftree

This is the first half of our interview with Graham Twelftree, author of Paul and the Miraculous: A Historical Reconstruction

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Why did you write Paul and the Miraculous?

Years ago I was asked to write an article on miracles in Paul and found very little work had been done in the field. Since then a few things have appeared, but there was still the need for more to tackle the problems. The main problem is how to explain the high profile of miracles in the Jesus traditions, while Paul, who claimed to be his apostle, appears to say little to nothing on the topic. Furthermore, our reading of Paul is complicated by Luke attributing considerable miracle-working to Paul. I also wanted to test what seems increasingly obvious: the miraculous was more important in early Christianity than is generally reflected in the scholarly literature.

Cover ArtHow can reclaiming the role of miracles in Paul’s ministry change the way we read his letters?

Although it’s acknowledged that the letters tell us little about Paul, their theological creativity and highly complex and persuasive content has almost inevitably led to the view that Paul was primarily a theologian. A more careful reading of these letters broadens our assessment of him. He was not simply a theologian writing letters, nor was he just a preacher. He was an apostle promoting a gospel that had a richness that generally escapes both the academy and the church.

You point out that many studies of Paul give little or no space to his involvement with the miraculous. Why might that be?

It could be, as some have argued, because Paul was hardly, if at all, involved in the miraculous. However, as seen in this book, a reasonable case can be made that the miraculous was very important in Paul’s life, thought, and work.

We’ve not seen the importance of the miraculous for Paul probably because we still live in the shadow—or glow!—of the Reformation and the Enlightenment. Pauline studies remains preoccupied with Luther’s Paul and his view of the law. For generations now, great swathes of the church, along with its scholars, have read Paul almost exclusively through the lens of the “saved by grace not works” shibboleth. This has meant that little attention has been paid to the breadth of Paul’s life experience, or his thought and work practices, including involvement in the miraculous. The Enlightenment, prioritizing the rational and the mundane over tradition and the superstitious—famously captured in Hume’s essay—has also contributed to marginalizing the miraculous in scholarly debate. Of course, the result is that Paul and the Christianity of his time have been made much more amenable to our “disenchanted” Western sensibilities.

Graham H. TwelftreeGraham H. Twelftree (PhD, University of Nottingham) is the Charles L. Holman Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity and the director of the PhD program in the School of Divinity at Regent University, Virginia. In addition to many scholarly articles and reviews, he is the author of a number of books, including In the Name of Jesus: Exorcism among Early Christians and People of the Spirit: Exploring Luke’s View of the Church.

For more information on Paul and the Miraculous, click here.

New Release: Paul and the Miraculous, by Graham Twelftree

Cover ArtIn Paul and the Miraculous, New Testament scholar Graham Twelftree shows that there is often-overlooked material in Paul’s letters and aspects of the New Testament data that call for a more historically sensitive approach to Paul. He argues that the historical Paul is only adequately understood if the miraculous is permitted the place it had in his national life and history, his sectarian allegiance as a Pharisee, his probable synagogue experience, his traditions inherited from followers of Jesus, his conversion, his experiences in answer to prayer, his theological enterprise, and his experience as a missionary and pastor.

Challenging the view that Paul was primarily a thinker, Twelftree reimagines him as an apostle of Jesus for whom the miraculous was of fundamental importance.

“Modern Western biblical interpreters tend to view Paul primarily as an academic–a theologian and writer. Twelftree reminds us that he was far more than a writer, and his religious world was not only philosophical but also experiential. Twelftree collects and examines occasions where the historical Paul mentions and experiences the miraculous. Perhaps most valuable of all, this book attempts to explain how one might integrate Paul’s theology of weakness with his experience of the empowering Spirit. Well researched, fresh, engaging, and appropriately cautious about drawing tempered conclusions, this examination allows a neglected area of New Testament study to be brought into the forefront. While the reader may not agree with every part of Twelftree’s historical reconstruction of Paul, it is nearly impossible to reject his main hypothesis that the miraculous played an important role in Paul’s ministry and theology.” – Nijay Gupta, Northeastern Seminary

“Twelftree’s new book is a welcome contribution to the growing momentum in the quest for the historical Paul. His focus on the miraculous locates Paul even closer to his Galilean master, and the often-assumed divide between Jesus and Paul is bridged from a rather unexpected angle. The book serves as a healthy reminder that ‘transempirical realities’ are an indispensable part of the experiential basis and theological fabric of the earliest followers of Jesus. It also shows how expectations and experiences of the miraculous formed a shared religious language across the Jewish and pagan contexts of early Christianity. That the miracle traditions are regularly ignored or downplayed has more to do with the potential embarrassment they might cause to the portrait of Paul as an intellectual master theologian than with pure exegesis. Twelftree succeeds in reminding us that ‘the full range of the miraculous’ did not disappear with Jesus but continued in an even more widely ‘democratized’ form as one of the results of the ministry of Paul.” – Roland Deines, University of Nottingham

Graham H. TwelftreeGraham H. Twelftree (PhD, University of Nottingham) is the Charles L. Holman Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity and the director of the PhD program in the School of Divinity at Regent University, Virginia. In addition to many scholarly articles and reviews, he is the author of a number of books, including In the Name of Jesus: Exorcism among Early Christians and People of the Spirit: Exploring Luke’s View of the Church.

For more information on Paul and the Miraculous, click here.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – September 6, 2013

Cover ArtAt Christianbook.com Academics, Matthew Miller reviewed The World of the New Testament, edited by Joel Green and Lee McDonald.

“A local guide is the best resource for gaining intimate knowledge of a place; its mores, assumptions, beliefs, culture, social struggles, sacred objects, and literature. No one can tell you the story about your destination better than a person who has lived there. In The World of the New Testament this is precisely what you receive. More than 30 scholars–each of whom has spent decades studying their respective areas of expertise–lead you on a tour of the most decisive cultural influences that impacted the New Testament’s authors.”

In a discussion at Crux Sola, Nijay Gupta quoted David Instone-Brewer’s article on the Temple from The World of the New Testament.

Matthew Montonini, at New Testament Perspectives, featured an excerpt from Graham Twelftree’s Paul and the Miraculous.

Writing for Schaeffer’s Ghost, Kendrick Kuo reviewed Athanasius by Peter Leithart.

Dale Kuehne, author of Sex and the iWorld, will appear on Moody Radio’s Up for Debate this Saturday, September 7, at 8:00 a.m. CT.

Myron Penner, author of The End of Apologetics, recorded an interview with The Anglican Review. It aired this Tuesday and Thursday, and will be aired again Saturday (9/7) at noon, 7:30 p.m. and midnight (MST), and will be posted to iTunes by 9/9/13.