Q. To what extent is it fair to say Paul was a deliberate agent provocateur at points in ministry, and this got him into trouble, sometimes unnecessary trouble? A. I think Paul knew perfectly well that he was often treading on the toes of the authorities. His refusal to go quietly away from Philippi in Acts 16, and his teasing of the Pharisees and Sadducees in Acts 23 (not to mention his riposte to the High Priest), shows him as… Read more

Q. I was pleased you emphasized that Paul was a difficult person to get along with in some ways. He was argumentative, had a temper, sometimes seemed to make snap judgments and later regret them, and yet at the same time he was passionate in a good way, loving and sacrificing for his converts. One never needed to say to him— ‘Tell me how you really feel Paul’. He wears his heart on his sleeve, and people keep stepping on… Read more

Q. This work eschewed footnotes, except for the bare minimum of Scripture and classics references, which suggests that the primary audience for this work is the educated laity and perhaps Christian college and seminary students, and pastors. In that regard, it’s rather different than the two books Jerome Murphy O’Connor wrote on Paul and his life and letters. Would you do anything differently if you had set about to write a detailed scholarly account of Paul’s life with lots of… Read more

Q. I would say that the last enduring life of Paul from our general neighborhood was F.F. Bruce’s Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free (American title). Bruce focuses far more on the historical particularly and context, but your biography of Paul, while not neglecting the essential historical framework and particulars, in some ways is a much more theological biography than Bruce’s. Were you consciously striving for a more theological approach to his life and work, perhaps with one eye… Read more

First of all, there is a lot of profanity in this movie. It’s R rated. But as a morality play, it’s probably the movie of the year. And it deals with fundamental issues anger, even righteous anger, and also, but to a lesser degree love and compassion and forgiveness. Anger drives the action in the movie and there are few characters that you find really very likable. Nevertheless, like watching King Lear or even Othello, this is a movie well… Read more

In this and following posts we will be dialoguing with N.T. Wright about his new biography of Paul which will emerge in a few days. We will start with Q+A and then move on to the review itself. Enjoy! (BW3) Q: It’s been a long while since someone from our end of Protestantism has attempted a reasonably complete Bios on Paul. What was it that prompted you to take on this particular daunting task? A. Two things. First, lots of… Read more

This painting, ‘woman with a balance’, is one of our Russian daughter Yuliya’s favorites. As we have noted previously there is a moral quality to many of Vermeer’s paintings, this one with a woman who is weighing important matters in her life. Notice the painting in the background of the Last Judgment, the ultimate weighing of human actions. The woman in the foreground has an empty balance, she is not weighing coins or the like, she is weighing things on… Read more

The woman with the lute has just received a love letter, while playing her instrument. Her maid hands it to her, but she has not opened it yet. One of the things about Vermeer paintings is that you feel like you are intruding or an voyeur, glancing in at a private scene you shouldn’t be seeing, someone’s private moment and private life. There was much curiosity about what well to do women did during the day, because they were often… Read more

Most of these paintings have single figures in them but this one, A Woman writing a letter with her Maid has two. Notice again the window which provides the light source and angle. This painting, like all of Vermeer’s tells a story, this one, if you look carefully involves various things on the floor– a crumbled piece of paper, a broken wax seal, and a wax stick. The woman has received a letter she didn’t care for and is writing… Read more

Two of Vermeer’s most famous paintings, and the only two with men as the subject, involve some allegorical elements— a focus on someone who studies heaven or the heavens, and someone who studies earth. Hence the former is a painting of an astronomer with his tools of the trade, and the latter is of the geographer with his tools of the trade. It is obvious Vermeer had admiration for science and scientist, and the person who sat for both these… Read more

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