Posted by: chuckbumgardner | March 7, 2014

Jesus’ teenaged disciples?

In reading through Craig Keener’s article on the Gospel of John in the new (2nd) edition of IVP’s Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, I find a interesting reference when Keener is defending the possibility of Johannine authorship. He makes the point that John could very well have been alive, in his 80′s, in the last decade of the first century. After all, “disciples typically were in their teens” (427). That’s an intriguing thought, and though a bit jarring to my twenty-first century American mind, not implausible. Can anyone point me to further studies that would support this assertion?

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | February 21, 2014

Academic Resources on the Gospel of Mark

I’ve been doing some work on the Gospel of Mark, and wanted to highlight some non-commentary resources I’ve come across.

Product Details

William R. Telford, Writing on the Gospel of Mark, Guides to Advanced Biblical Research (Blandford Forum, UK: Deo, 2009). This appears to be the first, and presently the only, volume in this new series. I hope it will not be the last! Telford provides an exceedingly thorough section on the state of research (5 divisions, with numerous subdivisions and sub-subdivisions and sub-sub-subdivisions), 44 pages long. This is followed by 160 pages of “sample exegeses and readings” (historical/social-scientific, literary, theological, ideological/ethical approaches), and then–I kid you not–325 pages of (largely) annotated bibliography, again, thoroughly organized and subdivided. A short 13-page essay on “the future of research” and indices close out the volume. One can only imagine the amount of work this tome took.

Bruce Chilton, Darrell Bock, Daniel M. Gurtner, Jacob Neusner, Lawrence H. Schiffman, and Daniel Oden, eds., A Comparative Handbook to the Gospel of Mark: Comparisons with Pseudepigrapha, the Qumran Scrolls, and Rabbinic Literature, The New Testament Gospels in their Judaic Contexts 1 (Leiden: Brill, 2010). At over $200, you’ll want to get this from a library!



Rodney Decker, “Markan Idiolect in the Study of the Greek of the New Testament,” in The Language of the New Testament: Context, History, and Development, ed. Stanley E. Porter and Andrew W. Pitts, Early Christianity in Its Hellenistic Context 3, Linguistic Biblical Studies 6 (Leiden: Brill, 2013), 43-66. Christopher Skinner talks about this article here.

J. F. Williams, Mark, Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2014). Not out yet, but soon! This is the series which Murray Harris started some years ago, producing a single volume on Colossians and Philemon; B&H has recently picked up and restarted the series.


Posted by: chuckbumgardner | February 20, 2014

Klinker-De Klerck against “bourgeois Christianity” in the PE

I’ve posted a “summary of a summary” of Klinker-De Klerck’s dissertation over at

I’ll be posting now and again over at Ray Van Neste’s blog on the Pastoral Epistles.  The first one is up today: Abraham Malherbe and the Pastoral Epistles.

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | January 8, 2014

1 Timothy and 1 Corinthians

It is a truism in NT studies, broadly speaking, that the Epistles to Timothy and Titus are their own little corpus. I suspect that even in conservative circles, they are often examined apart from Paul’s other epistles, interrelated with each other but not so much with Paul’s other writings. There is a level at which this is appropriate: certain similarities among the three letters (recipient is an apostolic delegate; “faithful sayings”; and so forth) point to a similar context of authorship. All the same, it seems important–especially for those who champion Pauline authorship of the epistles–to consistently connect this cluster of letters to Paul’s other writings.

In this vein, I’ve appreciated the work of Luke Timothy Johnson, one of the foremost advocates for Pauline authorship in broader scholarly circles. I’m reading a 1999 article of his, and he very instructively notes over a dozen parallels between the situations in 1 Timothy (written to Timothy in Ephesus) and 1 Corinthians (arguably written from Ephesus; cf. 1 Cor 15:32), which I here merely list; most are nearly verbatim from the article.

  • Paul uses his delegate Timothy as his representative to remind the community of his teaching and his “ways” (1 Cor 4:17; 16:10-11 // 1 Tim 1:3; 4:11-14).
  • Paul tries to establish boundaries by “handing over to Satan” those upsetting the community (1 Cor 5:1-5 // 1 Tim 1:20).
  • Each community contains a certain number of wealthy persons who can disrupt worship by the display of social status (1 Cor 11:17-22 // 1 Tim 2:9-10) . . .
  • . . . and whose ownership of slaves occasions questions concerning the relationship of Christian identity to social class (1 Cor 1:11; 7:21-23 // 1 Tim 6:1-2).
  • In each church, heads of households are recommended as leaders (1 Cor 16:15-18 // 1 Tim 3:4, 12).
  • In each letter, the image of the “house of God” is applied to the church (theou oikodome in 1 Cor 3:9-11 // oikos theou in 1 Tim 3:15).
  • Each letter also presents a remarkably similar set of behavioral issues. Some in the community consider themselves possessed of a superior wisdom or knowledge (gnosis; 1 Cor 1:17; 3:18-19; 8:1 // 1 Tim 1:7; 6:20-21).
  • There are problems with charges being made or lawsuits being instituted (1 Cor 6:1-5 // 1 Tim 5:19-20).
  • There are problems revolving around sexuality: in each case, the statement must be made that women can or should have a husband (1 Cor 7:2 // 1 Tim 5:14) . . .
  • . . . and that marrying is not a sin (1 Cor 7:36 // 1 Tim 4:3).
  • In each church as well, the precise place of widows is uncertain (1 Cor 7:8, 39 // 1 Tim 5:3-16).
  • The place of women in the assembly arises in both churches, revolving in part around what women should wear (1 Cor 11:2-16 // 1 Tim 2:8-10) . . .
  • . . . and in part around whether they should speak or keep silent–in this last case, both letters have Paul respond by an appeal to Torah (1 Cor 14:33-36 // 1 Tim 2.11-15).
  • Both communities have internal disputes over the eating of certain foods (1 Cor 8-10 // 1 Tim 4:3).
  • In each church, the issue of financial support for ministers is raised (1 Cor 9:1-12 // 1 Tim 5:17-18).

I found the parallels intriguing. Some are stronger than others, of course, and some hinge on a particular exegetical understanding of just what is going on in a given passage.  All the same, aside for implications for Pauline authorship of Timothy and Titus, Johnson’s work here points up the helpfulness of making inquiry of 1 Corinthians when studying 1 Timothy, in perhaps a similar way to looking at Colossians and Ephesians together.

The essay referenced is Luke Timothy Johnson, “Oikonomia Theou: The Theological Voice of 1 Timothy from the Perspective of Pauline Authorship,” Horizons in Biblical Theology 21 (1999): 87-104 (the excerpted section is from pp. 94-95).

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | December 30, 2013

2013 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 41,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 15 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | September 10, 2013

Andrew Fuller and Tolerance

ImageI’m reading Peter Morden’s Offering Christ to the World: Andrew Fuller and the Revival of Eighteenth Century Particular Baptist Life. May not sound tremendously interesting until you understand that Fuller was the British theologian that most directly undergirded the movement resulting in William Carey traveling to India. Indeed, Fuller was arguably the key figure in creating, sustaining, and defending the missionary society that sent and supported Carey (the “Particular Baptist Society for Propagating the Gospel Among the Heathen”!).

At any rate, a pamphlet with “intemperate” language about Islam had been inadequately vetted by Carey and his colleagues before it went to press and began to be distributed in India. The reaction alarmed British traders, who feared for their pecuniary interests. One particular writer, Thomas Twining (tea aficionados will rightly recognize the last name!) produced a pamphlet protesting the activities of the British missionaries in India, arguing that their efforts actually contradicted the “mild and tolerant spirit of Christianity.”

In response, Fuller produced an apology for the efforts of Carey and his colleagues, and his argument needs to be heard today in the face of forced “tolerance” of intolerable positions. Fuller argued that “toleration was a legal permission not only to enjoy your own principles unmolested, but to make use of all the fair means of persuasion to recommend them to others” (Morden 144). Morden rightly avers that Fuller “turned the tables” on Twining, arguing that it was actually Twining that was demonstrating intolerance by insisting on a non-proselyting stance by the missionaries.

What struck me about this incident — which happened just over 200 years ago! — is how it resonates with the redefinition of “tolerance” in our own age and culture. Elsewhere in his apology (which was addressed to the chairman of the East India trading company, hence the “sir” of direct address), Fuller notes,

I have observed with pain, sir, [in recent] years, a notion of toleration, entertained even by some who would be thought its firmest advocates, which tends not only to abridge, but to subvert it. They have no objection to Christians of any denomination enjoying their own opinions, and, it may be, their own worship; but they must not be allowed to make proselytes. . . . Sir, I need not say to you that this is not toleration, but persecution.

Perhaps we have moved even a bit further in adjusting “tolerance” to the spirit of the age: Fuller noted that it was considered by men such as Twining to be acceptable for Christians to hold their own opinions, so long as they eschewed proselytization. In our own day, even the right to hold one’s own opinions seems to be under attack — or at least the right to air them openly.

(See further on this general topic, D. A. Carson, The Intolerance of Tolerance. Fuller’s apology is formally titled “An Apology for the Late Christian Missions to India.”)

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | September 8, 2013

The Healings of Naaman and the Centurion’s Servant (2 Kgs 5; Luke 7)

Several have drawn parallels between the healing of the centurion’s servant in Luke 7 and the account of Naaman in 2 Kings 5:1-27. In his excellent commentary on Luke, David Garland sets forth both comparisons and contrasts between the two accounts.


  • “Both accounts involve a highly respected Gentile officer regarded as worthy”
  • Both accounts involve a Jew who is able to work miracles
  • In both accounts, a Gentile’s request to the miracle-worker involves appeal to influential Israelite go-betweens
  • Both accounts involve healing without the afflicted person coming into direct contact with the healer
  • Luke Timothy Johnson notes, “A Gentile soldier seeking help from an Israelite prophet reminds us of Naaman the Syrian general who sought help from Elisha.” (The Gospel of Luke [Sacra Pagina; Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1991], 117)

Contrasts (“the differences, however, are striking and highlight this centurion’s humility and faith”):

  • “Naaman had commanded army raids against Israel; the centurion did things demonstrating his love for Israel”
  • “Naaman comes to Elisha’s doorstep with ‘horses and chariots’ (2 Kgs 5:9); the centurion humbly sends intermediaries to Jesus”
  • “Elisha sends a message with instructions to Naaman (2 Kgs 5:10); Jesus leaves to go to the centurion”
  • “Naaman storms off in a pout when Elisha fails to meet his expectations, and he must be coaxed to obey Elisha’s instructions (2 Kgs 5:11-14); the centurion’s attitude is not one of entitlement and demand, and he sends messengers saying he is unworthy for Jesus to come under his roof”

(David E. Garland, Luke [ZECNT; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011], 295-96)


Posted by: chuckbumgardner | September 3, 2013

No man can come. Come!

ImageI’m taking a class on Andrew Fuller this semester. He was a British Baptist theologian of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. He was raised in a “high-Calvinist” (“hyper-Calvinist”) milieu, in which pastors did not make public, “indiscriminate” invitations to their congregations to trust Christ. Great debates (often with Fuller at their center!) were ongoing in that day as to a sinner’s ability to trust in Christ. Was he completely unable in any way? Did he have a natural ability, but a moral inability? Does God grant a special grace to all people to enable them to believe? That’s its own discussion, and I mention it only to set forth a bit of background for what follows here.

In my reading I came across a great quote by Asahel Nettleton, a Calvinistic evangelist (yes, you read that right!) who is speaking here in light of the aforementioned debate. 

There are many who think they see a great inconsistency in the preaching of ministers.  “Ministers,” they say, “contradict themselves—they say and unsay—they tell us to do, and then tell us we cannot do—they call upon sinners to believe and repent, and then tell them that faith and repentance are the gift of God—they call on them to come to Christ, and then tell them that they cannot come.”


That some do preach in this manner, cannot be denied.  I well recollect an instance.  A celebrated preacher, in one of his discourses used this language: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” In another discourse, this same preacher said: “No man can come unto me except the Father which hath sent me draw him.” Now what think you, my hearers, of such preaching, and of such a preacher? What would you have said had you been present and heard Him? Would you have charged Him with contradicting himself? This preacher, you will remember, was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ! And, I have no doubt, that many ministers have followed His example, and been guilty of the same self-contradiction, if you call it such.”


(Quoted in Gerald L. Priest, “Andrew Fuller, Hyper-Calvinism, and the ‘Modern Question’,” in “At the Pure Fountain of Thy Word”: Andrew Fuller as an Apologist (ed. Michael A. G. Haykin; Studies in Baptist History and Thought 6; Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2004), 70-71.)

Indeed, it was precisely through reading the Gospels that Andrew Fuller repudiated the High Calvinism that was his heritage, and embraced what is often termed an “evangelical Calvinism.” He saw that Jesus extended invitations “indiscriminately.”

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | May 22, 2013

Zechariah’s Doubt, Mary’s Faith

Our family began reading through Luke the other day. I hadn’t planned it this way, but we are now moving through Luke, having just finished Acts. I always was rather backward! One advantage I anticipate is that we will now be reading Luke in the light of Acts, instead of Acts in the light of Luke, and I hope to see more connections between the two books because of that.

In this morning’s reading, we looked at Luke 1:39-45. My daughter noticed (rightly!) the contrast between Mary’s faith and Zechariah’s doubt. Have you seen that? In 1:11-20, Gabriel appears to Zechariah, a priest who was righteous and blameless (1:5-6). All the same, when it came down to it, Zechariah was hard pressed to believe (pisteuw, 1:20) that Gabriel’s words would be fulfilled (plerow, 1:20).

Immediately after the account of Zachariah and Elizabeth, we see an account of Gabriel appearing to Mary–what has become known as the Annunciation. When Mary travels to see Elizabeth (and with Zachariah still mute!), Elizabeth is filled with the Spirit and blesses Mary: “Blessed is she who believed (pisteuw, 1:45), for there will be a fulfillment (teleiwsis, 1:45) of those things which were told her from the Lord.

“Fulfill” (1:20) and “fulfillment” (1:45) are not lexical cognates, but they are conceptually related. And in the bigger picture of the narrative accounts, the contrast seems clear: both Zachariah and Mary are visited by Gabriel, in both cases a miraculous conception is announced, but where Zachariah (as pious as he is) doubts, Mary responds in faith. “The contrast with Zechariah could scarcely be more stark.” (Joel B. Green, The Gospel of Luke, 96)

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