Sunday, July 11, 2010

On the Eve of Return

So here I am, sitting at the home of Pat and Kitty Brittenden in Oxford, last day in Europe 2010. What a blast! The last ten or so days have been spent in Cambridge writing and attending conferences. This year I attended the Biblical Theology Study Group and presented a paper on Christos in Paul. The prevailing view is that in Paul, Christos has become just a name for Paul and no longer carries messianic notions. I find this argument weak despite it being the consensus of all scholars except N.T. Wright. Wright argues that Christos carries the whole weight of Messiah and that when Paul uses it, he means Jesus Messiah. He goes as far as saying it should be translated 'Messiah.' I argued that in Philippians he has a case. Christos in Philippians is the centre of the letter, especially Phil 2:6-8. The Christ-pattern flows through the letter in his life, other examples and then into Phil 3. I also argued that in Romans and Galatians it carries the same sort of strength.

There were other great papers on Messiah in Zechariah, the Minor Prophets, typological use of Joseph in the Gospels, and more. Richard Bauckham gave an interesting paper on Mark. He continues with his Jesus and the Eye-Witnesses theme. He responded to some of Hengel's ideas. I also connected up with some great scholars I had not met and refreshed some others. Laidlaw College were well represented this year at Tyndale with Miriam Bier, myself, Phil Church and Sarah Harris all there. That was great!

For me, I am more and more concerned about the theological gulf as I call it. That is, the gap between scholarship and the people. Scholars are forced to play the game of the academy. They have to write at such a level with such use of primary and secondary sources that almost all that they write and discuss is of absolutely no relevance to anyone who does not have technical expertise. They are under pressure to continue to produce scholarship at that level. At the same time the people in the pews are cut out of the academic world. They can't understand it, and get turned off completely when they brush up against it. I want to see a whole movement of writers and thinkers who are world-class academics, bringing quality thinking to the masses. There is a place for an academy, but if we are not connecting, are we really doing our job? I wonder if the anti-intellectualism is indeed more the fault of the academy than the people?

Scholars like N.T. Wright, Alistair McGrath and others show us the way. They get criticised in the Academy for being too lightweight and simplistic. However, they bridge the gap. I think we need more and of different types. We need books that are even simpler, but invested with depth. We need scholars to dare to come off the fence and not be too worried about all the detail and apply. We need to make biblical languages accessible through transliteration and teaching people how to use electronic resources. There is so much more we could do.

On another note, Cambridge is a stunning place in Summer. Lovely greens, old wonderful buildings, great shopping, lovely river, and a sense of summer fun. I am now in Oxford for my last day and it is much the same. The whole area of England I have been in is rather beautiful in fact. Rolling meadows etc.

So it is back to NZ tomorrow to hit the ground running for Semester Two. I have had a 2 1/2 month intensive of World History and especially the classical period. Exciting to hit the classroom with all this revolving around.

And, go the All Blacks.


Anonymous said...

" We need scholars to dare to come off the fence and not be too worried about all the detail and apply."

Amen mate, as someone who has started a lot more books than he has finished I can relate to that statement.

Dr Mark K said...

I agree. Most books scholars write die a death of a thousand qualifications and footnotes. And say it with some feeling, humour and reality I say!

Anonymous said...

I wonder why you want books, when there are already blogs and podcasts with audiences higher in a week than most books about the Bible get altogether.
My 5 Minute Bible E100 podcasts for example are getting about 200 listeners daily, and the other (old) podcasts are getting between them all another 200 or so downlaods a day. That's more than any book you or I are likely to write :)

Dr Mark K said...

Hey Tim. Yes! I should have talked about other resources. Fantastic. Keep up the good work. Can you email me all the links to your stuff. Cheers. Mark.