October 22, 2019

BEN: I like your discussion of lived theology, though traditionally theology is about indicatives, and ethics is about imperatives. I also like your emphasis on the interconnectedness of the whole of Rom. 1-16, making clear that Rom. 1-8, or 1-11 is not abstract theologizing but rather provides foundations for what is going to be said later. Rom. 12-16 is no appendix, or ‘oh by the way’. On the other hand, Paul is dealing largely with a group of Gentiles in… Read more

October 21, 2019

Ben Witherington III Priscilla: The Life of an Early Christian Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic Available at IVP and Koorong By Laura Thierry A particularly joy-inducing trend in biblical scholarship at present is that of the biblical scholar turned novelist. In response to the reality that we are narrative animals wired for story, this inclination to teach through historical novels seems a delightfully fitting and humane move that promotes rich Scripture-vibed imaginations. It is from within this growing movement that… Read more

October 21, 2019

BEN: You say that Romans is about deconstructing privilege and power, but Rom. 13 looks like anything but such a project. To the contrary it appears to be an endorsement of the proper role of Roman authorities in governing the Empire, and various officials including tax collectors properly doing their job—administering justice. How does Rom. 13 fit into your paradigm of interpretation? Paul simply assumes a hierarchy of government that in fact was ordained by God. Furthermore, he assumes a… Read more

October 20, 2019

BEN: I think you are correct that the ethnic tensions are at the root of the divisions in Roman Christianity, but it’s not clear to me this is about higher and lower status issues. After all, Priscilla and Aquila are the one’s said to have a house, and Herodion and Aristobolus were higher status Jews, as was Paul the Roman citizen. Say more as to why you think an underlying issue here is status and the power that comes with… Read more

October 19, 2019

FALL FORWARD The weak autumn sun Not warming the air, Climbed up the sky, Not seeming to try. Ascendancy now In the hands of the wind That would dictate the day That would blow things away. The leaves had surrendered And swirled to the ground Not clinging to trees, Obeying the breeze. The grass was all frosted Like icing on cake Which crumbled when crushed Which gave up and hushed. Perhaps Nature’s memory Stored up of Spring Allowed it to… Read more

October 19, 2019

BEN: Your analysis of weak and strong in Chapter 3 is helpful, and I agree— the weak seem to be the same folk as in 1 Corinthians, namely mostly Jewish with too many scruples, whereas the strong are primarily Gentiles who rightly say keeping Torah laws about food, sabbaths, etc. is not required to be a Christ follower. The interesting new observation is what you say about dunatoi and adunatoi suggesting this is about power and privilege not just about… Read more

October 18, 2019

BEN: On p. 16 you say “the church was the body of Christ that expanded Israel’s borders to include gentiles in the one true family of God under the one true Lord, King Jesus.” The first part of this suggestion is severely problematic since in Rom. 9-11 Paul clearly distinguishes Israel, by which he means non-Christian Jews, from the body of Christ, which is Jew and Gentile united not in Israel but in the ekklesia of God. Your configuration sounds… Read more

October 17, 2019

BEN: One of the really odd things about the greetings in Rom. 16 is the second person exhortations for one group of Christians in Rome to greet with every show of affection another group of individuals Paul mentions by name. This is not a normal way of doing greetings even in Paul’s creative letters. It seems to me that this shows: 1) the Christians are not all meeting together, and 2) the Jewish Christian minority like Priscilla and Aquila are… Read more

October 16, 2019

BEN: You begin your book by properly introducing us to Phoebe the deacon. I find your presentation right on target, but if you are correct, then an awful lot of the readers, modern and ancient of what the Pastoral Epistles say about deacons simply being males, husbands of one wife etc., must surely be wrong, at least in terms of exclusivity. Explain why you think diakonos has a technical and religious sense in Rom. 16, and how would you reconcile… Read more

October 15, 2019

BEN: Throughout the book you call Romans an exercise in pastoral theology (presumably as opposed to abstract theologizing on interesting topics). Does this simply mean you see it as addressing specific situations in Rome, where Paul had never visited? Explain what you mean by calling Romans pastoral theology. SCOT: First, Yes I does mean addressing specifics in Rome, and Yes, he’s not been there. But he knows (so I think) plenty of people there and perhaps most of the significant… Read more

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