The most recent issue of Themelios (April 2021) contains an article and several book reviews that I think will interest readers of this site.
For those interested in the subject of honor and shame, my friend Daniel Eng has an article titled “‘I Call You Friends’: Jesus as Patron in John 15.” Here is the abstract for the article.
This article proposes that John 15:13–16 draws on the language of Roman patronage, which impacts the understanding of Jesus’s sayings regarding friends. We will suggest that φίλος conveys a regent obedient to a royal patron. Thus, the role of Jesus’s friend is one of subordination, not equality.
After an introduction to patronage, this article makes the case that Jesus portrays himself as the greatest patron. First, John’s farewell discourse points to the disciples being subordinates. Second, Jesus makes a contrast between slaves and friends, which is consistent with many patronal relationships. Third, Jesus describes himself as a broker, mediating benefit from the Father. Fourth, inscriptions and provincial coinage contained terms like ΦΙΛΟΚΑΙΣΑΡ (friend of Caesar), referring to regents of the emperor. Patronage best explains the saying, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends (15:13).” Jesus’s ultimate sacrifice for subordinates makes his patronage greater than Caesar’s.
As I’ve explained previously, patronage is one of the most overlooked aspects of a theology that takes serious honor and shame. For more on the subject, including a link to recordings from the Lebanon symposium on patronage, click here. Daniel does a good job highlighting the way that the concept of patronage shapes the Gospel of John.
Mission & Culture Book Reviews
Multiple book reviews are especially worth noting as well. Here are books reviewed in the Themelios Mission and Culture section. The links below take you to the respective review itself.
World Mission: Theology, Strategy, and Current Issues (edited by Scott Callaham and Will Brooks)
Honor, Shame, and the Gospel: Reframing Our Message and Ministry (edited by Werner Mischke and Chris Flanders)
The Symphony of Mission: Playing Your Part in God’s Work in the World (by Jim Mullins and Michael Goheen)
A Concise Guide to the Qur’an: Answering Thirty Critical Questions (by Ayman Ibrahim)
The Unsaved Christian: Reaching Cultural Christianity with the Gospel (by Dean Inserra)
The Simplest Way to Change the World: Biblical Hospitality as a Way of Life (by Dustin Willis and Brandon Clements)
Fashion Theology (by Robert Covolo)