Among scholars and laypersons alike, it is often though that Jesus was simply a human prophet or even failed apocalypticist. Maybe the Messiah of Israel, too. The idea that he is fully divine came into the picture later, as numerous Greek or other pagan influences infiltrated the church. Such is the thesis behind, say, Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God. The culmination of this process, so the theory goes, is the Council of Nicaea (325AD), which produced the Nicene Creed affirming the full deity of Jesus.
But are there reasons to question this paradigm? I would argue quite strongly “YES!” The idea that the full divinity of Jesus didn’t just evolve at Nicaea but is found throughout the NT documents (and the OT as well) was central to my doctoral work and other research/teaching. In this short video that is part of RTS’s #WisdomWednesday series, I articulate a few of the reasons why.
Though I finished the dissertation version almost two years ago, it has taken a while (longer than I expected) to navigate the publication process. I’m excited to note that the release date is just a couple weeks away.
A few weeks ago I participated in an engaging and far-reaching discussion on the gospels and early Christology with Travis Lowe, the college and career pastor at Bay Life Church (and current RTS-Orlando student).
While we were in the UK, I had the privilege of sitting near Dr. Osvaldo Padilla at the Tyndale House when he was there on sabbatical. Osvaldo teaches NT at Beeson Divinity School (from which RTS-O just hosted Timothy George for our Spring lecture series). Our families go to know one another during their stay—their son was our daughters’ “boy-friend,” as they would say. We were sad to see them depart after their short stay.
In the newly-released October 2016 edition of Currents in Biblical Research, I have written a longish summary and analysis of the research done in the past century or so on the Parable of the Wicked Tenants.
This parable has fascinated me since my MDiv days, when I wrote a paper on it in my Gospels class dealing with the conclusion, where Jesus quotes from Psalm 118:22 (see here). The parable also forms the foundation of one of the chapters of my dissertation, so I have been hiking around in the vineyard for quite some time.
At long last, the dissertation is complete! It has morphed in seemingly innumerable ways since I began in 2013, such that it is completely unrecognizable with regard to the original research proposal I submitted to Cambridge aeons ago. But it is ready to mail in all its tree-killing glory.
A few months ago I posted some reflections on work I was doing on one of the earliest extant papyrus fragments of the NT (P.Oxy. 4404, or 𝕻104 in NT parlance). This endeavor eventually turned into an article dealing with whether this particular fragment supports the possibility that Matthew 21:44, which occurs at the end of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, is original to Matthew or was “interpolated”by a scribe at some relatively early date from the same verse in Luke 20:18 (a process called scribal “assimilation”). The article also involves quantitative analysis I conducted in other “assimilations”/”interpolations” elsewhere in the Synoptic gospels as well as some discussion of the various arguments for or against the theory with respect to this verse.
Earlier this year, Dr. Wesley Hill (Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at the Trinity School for Ministry) published his Durham dissertation with Eerdmans, entitled Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters. It argues a straightforward thesis that, within Pauline studies, is fairly revolutionary (but which, within the Reformed circles in which Wes and I respectively run, is, of course, “no big deal”): namely, that trinitarian categories that are often seen by scholars to be late and post-Pauline—and, thus, should be excluded from the discussion—can and should be brought to the table in exegesis of Paul’s letters.
The most recent issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature (134/3) includes an article I wrote on a peculiar translation issue in the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek translation called the Septuagint (see my intro here). The passages in question contain a word (tsemach) that is usually translated in English Bibles (ESV, NIV, KJV, etc.) as “Righteous Branch” or just “Branch.” The Greek word used in the LXX translation of these passages (anatole) is rather peculiar and has generated a lot of debate. It also happens to play a major role in one of the chapters of my dissertation, so this article was a side-branch (pun intended) off the main line of my research as I explored the various issues related to this translation. I was pleased to have it accepted by JBL. Many thanks to Chris Fresch for providing comments on the draft of the article before submission.
Earlier this week there was quite a bit of buzz in the media regarding claims that a first century fragment of the gospel of Mark had been discovered among papyri used in Egyptian burial masks. There’s been much smoke with not so much light relating to this news item, as is helpfully summarized in a few places (1, 2, 3). At present it has become a “wait and see” kind of situation.