While I was in NY last month, I was able to take time on a Friday night to see the musical entitled Amazing Grace. Unlike the film (and book) of the same name, this production focuses not on William Wilberforce but rather on the life story of John Newton, including the story of his romance and finally his marriage to his childhood sweetheart. Along the way, you get the tale of his being involved in the slave trade, being shipwrecked… Read more

By now the formula is clear, after several dozen episodes, opening tease and monologue of sorts, usually involving political satire (see above), inventive segments like ‘Get Up in Your Faith’, cool jazz by Jon Batiste and Stay Human, 2 somewhat snarky and almost always funny interviews with over eager Presidential candidates, scientists, actors and actresses, basketball stars etc. (a regular parade of who’s who) and of course, the show ends with a musical guest ranging from Willie Nelson to Don… Read more

Of the many churches in Manhattan, and of the many on or near Fifth Avenue, perhaps two stand out as the most celebrated and beautiful— St. Patrick’s Cathedral, recently sandblasted and refurbished just in time for the Pope’s visit Sept. 25th, and Marble Collegiate Church, made famous by Norman Vincent Peale who spent an amazing 50+ as the pastor of that church. It is not pastored by a good friend of mine, Michael Brown. We were ordained together in the… Read more

BEN: Let’s talk about the semantic range and nuances of the language of gift or grace in the NT and elsewhere, as you do in your fine Appendix to ‘Paul and the Gift’. One of the things that seems clear enough to me is that some NT scholars want to unnecessarily limit the meaning of the term ‘charis’ and its OT counterparts because of the enormous theological implications of the word in various contexts. For example, take the OT term… Read more

By 1978, Ellis Peters was well and truly into writing her now classic series of medieval thrillers featuring Brother Cadfael. How then would she end her previous series involving the Felse family. One way to round off a series is of course to tie up all loose ends. Were that to be the case in this novel with the double entendre title (Rainbow being the name of the man murdered in this novel) we would have expected to hear about… Read more

Tom Hanks, over the last couple of decades, has played many roles, and many have suggested he, like Jimmy Stewart before him, has been playing ‘everyman’ in all these roles. There is considerable truth in this assessment, and when he teams up with Mr. Spielberg, then we are really off to the races when it comes to ‘everyman’ movies. Those going to Bridge of Spies, expecting another Saving Private Ryan, will be disappointed, in the sense that this is not… Read more

Ben: The Greek term ‘charis’ does indeed have as a basic meaning gift, though the term can also be used to refer to the response of ‘gratitude’ to the gift. One linguistic question arises— can a response to a charis (gift) really be seen as a ‘gift’, since it’s not initiated without prior stimulus or conditions? Or should we say that ‘charis’ at least when predicated of humans responding to God has a different sense than it does when it… Read more

(published August 2015, Eerdmans, 656 pages). There are only a few landmark or seminal books in one scholar’s lifetime, that are written in his field. When it comes to Paul and my scholarly career, one can easily mention E.P. Sanders Paul and Palestinian Judaism (1977), and Wayne Meeks, The First Urban Christians (2 editions, 2nd edition 2003). It is too early to assess the impact of John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift, for various reasons, not the least is that… Read more

The Felse series of novels first appeared in the 60s and 70s, then there were new editions by Headline in the 80s and 90s, the latter partly prompted, no doubt, by the enormous success of the Cadfael novels which began in 1977 and ran into the 90s. The Twelfth novel in the Felse series, which emerged for the first time in 1973, is once more all about George the Inspector (with cameo appearances by Bunty), and not about Dominic or… Read more

Eerdmans has published a very important collection of essays, which were originally papers given at a conference in Jerusalem in January 2008. The papers have been collected and put together by my fellow N.C. Methodist NT scholar, Jim Charlesworth, and the book is entitled ‘The Tomb of Jesus and His Family? Exploring Ancient Jewish Tombs Near Jerusalem’s Walls (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013. Pp. xx + 585. Paper.$48.00. ISBN 9780802867452. The book has recently been reviewed by Jodi Magness of UNC… Read more

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