The Infancy Narratives– Part Five

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If we were hoping for some comments from the Pope on the 2nd century Infancy Gospels (of Thomas, or the Protevangelium of James for example) we were hoping in vain. He does make a passing comment that he things somethings in them may go back to 'family tradition', but he says no more. Instead the last full chapter of his little study focuses on the famous Magi story, and the Epilogue on Jesus in the Temple at 12 (Lk. 2.41-52). In other words, he has basically been proceeding through these … [Read more...]

The Infancy Narratives— Part Four

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Of late we have heard in the news about a discovery of a town near Nazareth called Bethlehem, and not unexpectedly, some archaeologists are suggesting that this is more likely to be the birthplace of Jesus, than the 'city of David'. Whatever the merits of this view, it is not what either the Lukan or Matthean birth narratives say or suggest, and the reference to Bethlehem as the birth place is one of the most salient facts that Mt.1-2 and Lk. 1-2 share in common.The third chapter of the … [Read more...]

The Infancy Narratives– Part Three

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The lengthy second chapter (pp. 14-57) covers a great deal of ground including the annunciations stories, and the discussions of the virginal conception. Along the way we discover something of who are the Pope's regular exegetical discussion partners, namely familiar to those of us who have read Continental scholarship on the Gospels (and the OT prophecies referred to in the Birth Narratives)-- O. Kaiser (on Isaiah), J. Gnilka, R. Laurentin E. Peterson, H. Schurmann, even P. Stuhlmacher on the … [Read more...]

The Infancy Narratives—- Part Two

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It is safe to say that some of the most debated material in all of the birth narratives are the genealogies, not least because of their many differences and few similarities. Technically speaking, the Lukan genealogy in fact introduces the ministry narrative rather than the birth narrative as we find in Mt. 1. The pope does not shy away from the debate or the differences in the accounts. In fact, at one point he says this: "A further striking difference is that Matthew and Luke agree on only a … [Read more...]

MLK and the Asbury Connection

On the surface of things, one might think that there could be no connection between Asbury Theological Seminary, and Martin Luther King Jr. To my knowledge Dr. King never visited Wilmore Kentucky, and he did his own seminary work in upstate New York (Colgate-Rochester). But books have influences in the same way people and places do, and there was indeed a book written by an Asbury man, E. Stanley Jones (for whom our Mission school has long been named) that helped shape King's whole belief … [Read more...]

The Infancy Narratives– the Pope on Jesus’ Origins, Part One

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We have already previously reviewed on this blog Pope Benedict's two very substantial books on Jesus of Nazareth (see the archives for 2011). Now on the wheels of those two books comes a very slender but substantive treatment of the 'infancy narratives'. Though it is only 144 pages, it is far from insubstantial, and has become a best seller since it came out in November. As I have said before Josef Ratzinger is a classically trained theologian and exegete. He is perhaps unique in all of papal … [Read more...]

Sola Scriptura Redux–What Does it Really Mean?

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(This is a reposting of a blog post I wrote some years ago for Beliefnet).One of the battle cries of the Reformation, responding to, among other things, all sorts of Catholic traditions which are not seen as Scriptural in character, was ‘sola Scriptura’— Scripture alone. It was often coupled with sola gratia and sola fide— only by grace, and only by faith. The latter two are separate issues from Sola Scriptura however, and this post is only about the latter.Let us start by noting the hi … [Read more...]

Struck from Behind— a Pastor’s Reflections on Ministry

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James Howell has been a good friend of mine for decades. We are both clergy ordained in the western N.C. conference of the UMC and he has been my family's pastor at Myers Park UMC for many years. Now, as he reaches the zenith of his ministerial career, he has taken time to reflect about life and ministry in Struck from Behind. My Memories of God (Cascade, 2012). 1)First of all I loved this personal memoir, and it is well written, often eloquent. How much writing and rewriting was … [Read more...]

Manhunt!—- Zero Dark Thirty

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Black Hawk, black ops, black night, black deeds. The cover of darkness. The color of darkness. The character of death.Zero Dark Thirty is without question most of the riveting manhunt movies ever made. It has the sort of gritty reality character we have become accustomed to with films like Saving Private Ryan. And full marks to Kathyrn Bigelow who does not race through the painstaking intelligence and detective work in order to arrive at the foreknown and foreordained conclusion. … [Read more...]


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