Cambridge New Testament Seminar, Michaelmas Term 2014

The new academic year is upon us, and the schedule for the New Testament Seminar at Cambridge has just been posted. We will be hosting three visiting scholars as well as one of our own. The lineup is as follows:

October 14: John BarclayScreen shot 2014-10-06 at 8.53.10 PM

Title:Koinonia and the Social Dynamics of Paul’s Letter to Philemon”

Professor Barclay is the Lightfoot Professor of Divinity in the Department of Theology and Religion at Durham University (the one in the UK, not the one located in Durham, North Carolina!). He specializes in the NT letters of Paul and has written far too many things to list here.

October 28: Matthew NovensonScreen shot 2014-10-06 at 8.56.27 PM

Title: “The Self-Styled Jew of Romans 2 and the Actual Jews of Romans 9–11″

Dr. Novenson is Lecturer in New Testament and Christian Origins at the University of Edinburgh, where he is also the program director for their Th.M. program. He previously taught at Duke University (in the other Durham). He has a particular interest in Jewish and Christian concepts of the messiah as well as the Pauline letters.

November 11: Simon GathercoleGathercole

Title: “Locating Christ and Israel in Romans 9–11”

Dr. Gathercole is Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies at the University of Cambridge. He previously taught at the University of Aberdeen. He specializes in a variety of subjects, including Paul, synoptic gospels, doctrine of atonement, Gospel of Thomas, Christology, and non-canonical literature.

December 2: David HorrellScreen shot 2014-10-06 at 9.10.04 PM

Title: “Candid Reflections on Commentary-Writing: What are We Doing and for Whom?”

Professor Horrell is Professor of New Testament Studies at the University of Exeter, where he is also Director of the Centre for Biblical Studies. His primary research interests include 1 Peter, environmental ethics, and the intersection of religion and race in the NT.


Prior Cambridge NT Seminar schedules are posted here:

Connecting to the pew

Two of these topics (Novenson and Gathercole) have to do with rightly understanding the “Judaism” that Paul appears to be reacting to in many of his letters. This issue has launched a war of spilled ink in recent decades, and the debates continue. As a layperson, the upshot of this debate is pretty simple: when I read in Galatians or Romans or in other letters of Paul about “Judaizers” or “the circumcision party” or “works of law”—against which Paul emphatically contrasts his own teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ—what does that really mean? While we do not need to be experts in 1st century Judaism to understand the gospel, we do want to make sure we do not caricature Judaism as Paul (and Jesus) understood it and how they set themselves in both continuity and discontinuity with it. I look forward to finding out more in these sessions.

The fourth also looks quite interesting. Many of us as small group leaders will grab a commentary or two in order to prepare a lesson. But not all commentaries are created equal: they differ in theological persuasion, level of use of the original languages, technical details, pastoral application, and so forth. Moreover, there are TONS of commentaries out there for every single biblical book. What are we to make of this avalanche of literature, and how should we pick wisely? Prof. Horrell may not cover all this, of course, but I’ll be curious to see where he takes it.


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