I was pleased to read a good little piece by Larry Hurtado about accurately representing the views of others, most specifically those with whom one disagrees. I received this instruction in no uncertain terms during my master’s work, most specifically from Kevin Bauder. He taught me very simply (but with no doubt as to the importance of the matter) that if I were to present someone’s views, that person should be able to agree wholeheartedly that I had presented them accurately.

This is significant in all of life, of course, but is of signal importance in academia. Anyone in academic circles has seen examples of published interchanges between scholars (presentation-response-rejoinder-surrejoinder) in which the constant refrain is how one scholar in the interchange is not accurately portraying the argument of the other.

I have been involved in editing a theological journal for a few years now, and (as would be expected) have seen a spectrum as to how well this is done. At times, an author’s presentation of an opponent’s position will strike me as a caricature at best, if not inaccurate. When I have dug down into the opponent’s position to check my niggling suspicions, I sometimes find that some level of misrepresentation is occurring—whether intentional or not (and I charitably assume “not”!). Here’s where it gets sticky: Is the author simply not reading carefully? Is the opponent’s position set forth at a level which the author is not comprehending, and so is being too simplistically rebutted? Has the author merely read a portion of the opponent’s full argument, and the resulting lack of holistic and contextual understanding has brought about a misrepresentation? Is the author actually purposefully distorting someone’s position?

An author’s natural inclination to support his own position can easily bring that author to subconsciously (or consciously!) misrepresent the position of his opponent. As Hurtado said, “the temptation to exaggerate or caricature views that you disagree with is very real, and no one is immune to it.” This does not mean that an author has no chance of representing an opponent’s position fairly—but it does mean that the author has to work at it.

I entirely agree with Hurtado’s practice of sending one’s work to the person one is reviewing or with whom one is interacting. I wouldn’t call such a practice essential, but I do think it wise. I have done that with one of my own reviews, and the very determination to do that shaped how I wrote the review, pushing me toward more scrupulous accuracy, and changing the ways in which I stated my critiques.

The Golden Rule could be applied this way in academia: portray your opponent’s arguments with the accuracy and evenhandedness with which you would want your own work portrayed. Represent others’ ideas as you would have others represent yours.


Posted by: chuckbumgardner | May 28, 2017

Bibfeldt review

Franz BibfeldtI was so glad to have been introduced to the erstwhile theologian Franz Bibfeldt in my M.Div. work, and have been known to include his works in bibliographies of various papers I have written. In my Th.M. thesis on 2 Thess 3:6-15, for instance, I tucked in the following bibliographic entry:

Bibfeldt, Franz. “Disorderly Idol-ness: Worshipping Our Leisure.” Journal of Ambiguity in Biblical Studies 18 or 19 (1956): 23-45.

Imagine, then, how gratified I was tonight to stumble across one of Bibfeldt’s later book reviews (complete with his own inimitable musings) on Zondervan Academic’s blog — dateline April 1, 2015! I commend it to your perusal:

Franz Bibfeldt, “New Voices for Theology: Taylor Ruiz-Jones’s ‘From Siesta to Sabbath.'”

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | April 23, 2017

BTCP 1-2 Timothy & Titus is coming!

IMG_20170423_074419510 (1)During the course of the time that I served as research assistant to my Doktorvater Andreas Köstenberger, part of my work involved assisting in the preparation of his commentary on 1-2 Timothy & Titus in the new Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series published by B&H. Tom Schreiner produced the inaugural volume on Hebrews in 2015, and this is the second volume to come out in the series.  Amazon is not releasing the title until May 1, but I was privileged to get a physical copy a little early.

I recently published a literature review on 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus, and made the following comments on this volume:

Forthcoming in 2017 is Köstenberger’s contribution to the new Biblical Theology for Christian Proclamation series (B&H). The volume consists of a thorough but concise introductory section (each letter also has its own introduction), an exegetical section, and a section on biblical-theological themes in the letters (about two thirds the length of the exegetical section); each section is thoroughly cross-referenced to the others. Köstenberger defends authenticity, dating the letters to c. AD 62–66. He self-consciously designates the letters as “the Letters to Timothy and Titus” over against “Pastoral Epistles” (à la Towner) and emphasizes the need to avoid undue corpus reading, treating the letters as a cluster: related, but distinct. Other important discussions in the introductory material cover Pauline chronology and the social setting of the letters. The introduction to Titus is particularly well-done (including a comparison between Paul’s approach in this epistle and his missionary strategy in Athens), given that the letter often receives short shrift in treatments of the LTT. Of note is the commentary’s very thorough engagement with secondary literature, especially given its size—it is what one would expect from a much larger technical commentary—and students of the letters will find significant help for further research in the footnotes and bibliography. As is common among conservative students of the LTT, Köstenberger rejects the “bourgeois Christianity” (bürgerliches Christentum) reading of the letters popularized by Dibelius and Conzelmann and instead finds an underlying mission motivation driving the paraenesis. The biblical-theological treatment is surprisingly thorough and is longer than Francis Young’s standalone Theology of the Pastoral Letters (which treats the letters pseudonymously), making it one of the lengthiest treatments of the theology of the LTT available and the most robust treatment of the LTT’s themes (as a collection) I have seen. Here, I simply give the themes and subthemes treated:

1. Mission (the Pauline mission, apostolic authority and suffering, apostolic delegates, Paul’s larger mission theology and strategy and the LTT)

2. Teaching (healthy teaching, the truth, the faith, the Word of God, the deposit, trustworthy sayings, Scripture)

3. God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, and salvation (God, Christ, God and Christ as Savior, the Holy Spirit, salvation [need, provision, recipients, nature, reception, results, preservation of believers])

4. The church (church as household of God [order and authority, responsibilities: older and younger men, older and younger women, widows, slaves, the wealthy], church as pillar and foundation of the truth, church and its ministry [tasks: ministry of the word, ministry of caring, ministry of prayer; officers: elders/overseers, deacons; goals of ministry])

5. The Christian life (Christian virtues [love, faith/faithfulness, godliness, self-control], good works [witness, labor/striving, endurance/suffering], good citizenship)

6. The last days (Satan/demons/angels, false teachers and the tribulation of the last days, virtues/vices, need for perseverance, resurrection of believers, appearing of Christ in final judgment and salvation)

7. The LTT and the canon (OT [pattern of . . . apostolic mission, righteous apostolic suffering, apostolic succession, human relationships], Pauline writings [need for balance, congruence with the Pauline mission, similarities and differences], Acts, non-Pauline NT letters)

The value of this work is immediately evident. Each of these treatments is the sort of thing that would comprise an excursus in a typical commentary, or a brief essay in a journal. Here, however, they are an interrelated body of work which also connects with the previous exposition of the letters. The sections on mission and Scripture are particularly robust, but each section is valuable in its discussion of a particular theme in the LTT along with its larger biblical-theological connections.

Although Dr. Köstenberger is doubtless better known for his work as a Johannine scholar, his commentary is the culmination of a good bit of work that he has done on these letters over time, in addition to the focused research in hundreds of sources which fed directly into this tome. I give here (as I am wont to do!) his previous published work in these letters (listed chronologically):

“Gender Passages in the NT: Hermeneutical Fallacies Critiqued.” Westminster Theological Journal 56 (1994): 259–83. [engages 1 Tim 2:9-15 at a number of points]

“A Complex Sentence Structure in 1 Timothy 2:12.” Pages 81–103 in Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9–15. Edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger, Thomas R. Schreiner, and H. Scott Baldwin. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1995.

“Syntactical Background Studies to 1 Timothy 2:12 in the New Testament and Extrabiblical Greek Literature.” Pages 156–79 in Discourse Analysis and Other Topics in Biblical Greek. Edited by Stanley E. Porter and Donald A. Carson. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1995.

“Ascertaining Women’s God-Ordained Roles: An Interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:15.” BBR 7 (1997): 107–44.

“The Crux of the Matter: Paul’s Pastoral Pronouncements Regarding Women’s Roles in 1 Timothy 2:9-15.” Faith and Mission 14.1 (1997): 24-48. Repr., pages 233-60 in Studies in John and Gender: A Decade of Scholarship. Studies in Biblical Literature 38. New York: Peter Lang, 2001.

Review of Jerome Quinn and William Wacker, The First and Second Letters to Timothy, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 44 (2001): 549–50.

Review of I. Howard Marshall, Pastoral Epistles, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 44 (2001): 550–53.

Review of J. M. Holmes, Text in a Whirlwind, Review of Biblical Literature (2001), http://www.bookreviews.org/Reviews/184127127.html.

“Women in the Church: A Response to Kevin Giles.” Evangelical Quarterly 73 (2001): 205–24.

Review of William Mounce, The Pastoral Epistles, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 45 (2002): 365–66.

“Hermeneutical and Exegetical Challenges in Interpreting the Pastoral Epistles.” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 7.3 (2003): 4–17.

“A Complex Sentence: The Syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12.” Pages 53–84 in Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:12.  2nd ed. Edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005.

“‘Teaching and Usurping Authority: I Timothy 2:11–15’ by Linda L. Belleville.” Journal of Biblical Manhood & Womanhood 10.1 (Spring 2005): 43–54.

“1 & 2 Timothy, Titus.” Pages 467–625 in vol. 12 of The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006.

“The Use of Scripture in the Pastoral and General Epistles and the Book of Revelation.” Pages 230–54 in Hearing the Old Testament in the New Testament. Edited by Stanley E. Porter. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006.

“The Syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12: A Rejoinder to Philip B. Payne.” Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 14 (2009): 37–40.

“Hermeneutical and Exegetical Challenges in Interpreting the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 1-27 in Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles. Edited by Andreas J Köstenberger and Terry L. Wilder. Nashville: B&H: 2010.

“A Complex Sentence: The Syntax of 1 Timothy 2:12.” Pages 117–61 in Women in the Church: An Interpretation and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9–15. 3rd ed. Edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Thomas R. Schreiner. Wheaton: Crossway, 2016.



Posted by: chuckbumgardner | January 28, 2017

A Review for which to Aim

Since I am not fluent in German—and this in spite of  both German ancestry and the excellent instruction of my bilingual Doktorvater Andreas Köstenberger!—I was looking for English-language reviews of the important Wolfgang Speyer, Die literarische Fälschung im heidnischen und christlichen Altertum. One reviewer, Edgar Krentz, said of this work,

In short, it is written out of such a mastery of the relevant ancient and modern texts that few reviewers are competent to review it; most stand rather to learn from it.

From an academic standpoint, one could hardly ask for higher praise!

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | January 28, 2017

Helpful annotated bibliography for discourse analysis

I so appreciate when someone provides the welcome service of summarizing a number of books in a given area of interest. Exegeticaltools.com has posted an annotated bibliography on discourse analysis, for which they deserve thanks!

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | December 3, 2016

The Incarnation in Church History

Here I provide my yearly “repost” of a series of observations on the incarnation from various theologians and the like through church history. The clean sea-breeze of the centuries, Lewis might say. Enjoy!

(Rembrandt, “Adoration of the Shepherds,” detail)

Irenaeus ( – c. 202) on the Incarnation

Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 220) on the Incarnation

Cyprian ( -258) on the Incarnation

Methodius ( -311) on the Incarnation

Athanasius (293-373) on the Incarnation

Ambrose (c. 340-397) on the Incarnation

Chalcedon (451) on the Incarnation

Martin Luther (1483-1546) on the Incarnation

John Calvin (1509-1564) on the Incarnation (1)

John Calvin (1509-1564) on the Incarnation (2)

John Donne (1572-1631) on the Incarnation

John Gill (1697-1771) on the Incarnation

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) on the Incarnation (1)

Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758) on the Incarnation (2)

Charles Wesley (1707-1788) on the Incarnation

Louis Berkhof (1873-1957) on the Incarnation

C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) on the Incarnation

John Murray (1898-1975) on the Incarnation

David Wells (1939- ) on the Incarnation

Robert Reymond on the Incarnation

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | July 12, 2016

Jesus in the Gospel of Luke: the Knower of Thoughts

I just read a review of:

Jesus and the Thoughts of Many Hearts: Implicit Christology and Jesus’ Knowledge in the Gospel of Luke. By Collin Blake Bullard. Library of New Testament Studies 530. London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015, xviii + 210 pp., $112.00.

The review provides an excellent summary of the book, and reveals that it argues a very interesting thesis. As background, note that because the humanity of Christ is strongly on display in Luke’s narrative, critical scholarship has often highlighted the lack of a “high Christology” in the gospel of Luke and suggested that the author did not view Jesus as divine. However, some scholarly treatments have recently demonstrated that Luke does, in more subtle ways, show that he really does think Jesus is God. Bullard’s thesis is about one of those ways.

One of the distinguishing marks of Luke’s Gospel is the way he portrays Jesus as knowing what people were thinking. He does this a number of times (in Luke, Bullard examines 5:17–26; 6:6–11; 7:36–50; 9:46–50; 11:14–32, 37–54; 24:36–43); for instance:

And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 22 When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, “Why do you question in your hearts? (Luk 5:21-22 ESV)

Two points stood out to me about Bullard’s work (as mediated through the book review):

  1. Bullard finds the closest parallel to Luke’s portrayal of Jesus as the Knower of Thoughts not in the OT prophets (or for that matter, in any putative Greco-Roman parallels), but in Yahweh, who searches and knows the hearts, an ability often connected with Yahweh’s divine identity as the righteous judge. And Jesus’s “knowing of thoughts” is also often connected with Jesus’s role as judge.
  2. Bullard finds these portrayals of Jesus as Knower of Thoughts to be a fulfillment of Simeon’s prophecy:

“Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed 35 (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” (Luk 2:34-35 ESV)

I had never made these connections before.

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | June 14, 2016

Not just methodology

In the academy it would be regarded as scandalous nowadays to draw attention to the inner life of the exegete and its importance for biblical interpretation. Nevertheless, depth is acquired through spiritual formation, which inevitably, according to the best authorities in the Christian tradition, involves dark nights of the soul. These wounds ironically become the very points of growth and formation. Rich theological interpretation will not emerge simply from the recovery of a method of exegesis: it will require formation not only of minds, important as that is, but also of hearts. . .

Craig A. Bartholomew, Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics: A Comprehensive Framework for Hearing God in Scripture (Baker, 2015), 542.

Bartholomew is one of the strong voices promoting “theological interpretation of Scripture,” and while I question some of the tenets of TIS, I very much appreciate its emphasis on the inner life of the exegete, as reflected here. In a footnote, Bartholomew refers the reader to A. G. Sertillanges, The Intellectual Life: Its Spirit, Conditions, Methods; though written from a Roman Catholic viewpoint, Sertillanges’s volume is outstanding and thought-provoking in many ways, and I recommend it as well.

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | June 12, 2016

“Final Form”?

Bartholomew makes a good point about the terminology “final form” when used in reference to a given biblical text that we have available to us for interpretation:

The expression commonly used to refer to this object of interpretation is “final form.” I am hesitant about this nomenclature because it may imply that we have access to the earlier forms of these texts but that we choose to make the final form the object of our exegesis. In this case “final form” falsely implies that these same texts exist/ed in a number of different forms. In fact, this is never so. We have only the biblical texts that we have, and apart from firm text-critical evidence, any reconstructed earlier “forms” are generally speculative and too often based on poor readings of the “final form.” “Final form” also tends to carry with it the synchronic-diachronic tension between historical-critical and canonical readings of the Old Testament. A text may have a very complex prehistory, but in its literary form it is far more than the sum of its component parts, and it is the literary form that must be the focus of interpretation.

Craig G. Bartholomew, Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics: A Comprehensive Framework for Hearing God in Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2015), 380. Boldface added.

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | April 9, 2016

Keeping Up with the Literature (on the LTT)

picture-of-a-stack-of-books-with-some-harry-potter-glassesMy area of concentration in my Ph.D. studies is the New Testament, and my particular research area is the Letters to Timothy and Titus (LTT), commonly styled the “Pastoral Epistles” (that’s another matter!). I have a penchant (and to some degree, a need) to keep up with what is being published on those NT letters so as to understand the ongoing conversation about issues in them. Through the graciousness of Ray Van Neste, I’m often able to post the results of my bibliographic searches at pastoralepistles.com for wider dissemination.

I was asked a few months back how I manage to come across all of the academically-oriented material I do, as it is often found in essay collections, obscure journals, and so forth. I’m sure there are other ways—and I’d love to hear them—but the following are what I do in order to stay apprised of what is being produced. Obviously, some of these things are far more productive than others, but I’d say that I discover things by means of each of them that I wouldn’t discover otherwise (or at least not nearly as soon).

(1) ALTA Religion Database with ATLA Serials, via my seminary library.  This is a fairly comprehensive and up-to-date database. You can search by Scripture; and so I choose each of the LTT and order the results by most recent date. I also search “Pastoral Epistles.” You can set up alerts with this service as well, although I have had trouble getting them to work well.
(2) NTA (New Testament Abstracts) print volumes in the library.  These have a discrete section where the LTT article abstracts are clustered, and cross-references to other articles that deal with the LTT more obliquely and have their primary categorization elsewhere. I also scan through the “books received” lists in pertinent categories and catch essays (in collected volumes) that are generally not abstracted individually.
(3) Every few months, I scan tables of contents of the most recent print issues of relevant journals in the library (e.g., NTSNovT, Early Christianity, JBL, EvQZNW, TynBulBSac). Takes about half an hour and usually nets me a few things I haven’t seen yet.
(4) I subscribe to the free service at http://www.journaltocs.hw.ac.uk/, which emails me tables of contents for a number of journals when they come out. This is an extremely helpful service about which I’ve posted here. This overlaps with the previous point, but not all print journals are covered by journaltocs.
(5) I scan footnotes in recent essays, and bibliographies in recent monographs and commentaries. This is particularly helpful for me for foreign-language works, where someone who lives in that language is familiar with the literature in that language, and I and most English-speakers are not.
(6) Every few months, I search “Pastoral Epistles,” “1 Timothy,” and “2 Timothy” in Google Books, organizing results by most recent date (“Titus” is too common to make it a good search term). For contents of books, I find Google Books is the most robust repository online; Amazon will net some results as well, but Google Books tends to have more content for more academically-oriented books.
(7) In connection with the last point, I have set up three Google Scholar alerts: “Pastoral Epistles,” “1 Timothy,” and “2 Timothy” (again, “Titus” is too common to be a good search term), and get regular email alerts. Today, for instance, I was alerted to a new book by James Aageson (a familiar name to anyone engaged in the academic study of the LTT) which contains a section on “The Pastoral Epistles.”
(8) Sometimes, if I’m researching a narrower topic, I’ll search Google Books for the title of a key article/monograph that is about that topic (so, e.g., when studying salvation in the LTT, I searched for “Wieland ‘Significance of Salvation'”). A number of books that footnote that work will also footnote similar works, some of which I might be unaware.
(9) When I find someone who has written on the LTT more than once, or has written a commentary—say, Jens Herzer or Michael Theobald or Michel Gourgues or Korinna Zamfir or Paul Trebilco — I find a faculty page for them that gives a CV. Especially if they’ve written a commentary, they probably have a number of articles leading up to it (William Mounce is a notable exception!).
(10) I belong to the “Pastoral Epistles” group on academia.edu, and others who belong to that group will at times post recent articles they’ve written. There is similar functionality at researchgate.net. I “follow” people who have tagged “Pastoral Epistles” as a research interest, and their posts show up in a news feed. I also receive a weekly digest from academia.edu via email which highlights recent contributions that might be of interest.
(11) I find a few things at pastoralepistles.com that I don’t myself contribute.
(12) I subscribe to the Mohr Kurier, and chase down any likely volumes in the Theologie section.
(13) As an SBL member, I have access to Review of Biblical Literature and get a summary email every week which lists just-posted reviews. This doesn’t generally net me much in the way of new bibliographic discoveries, but is excellent for reading summary treatments and critiques of pertinent literature. I was recently alerted, for instance of Korinna Zamfir’s review of Joram Luttenberger’s Prophetenmantel oder Bücherfutteral?: Die persönlichen Notizen in den Pastoralbriefen im Licht antiker Epistolographie und literarischer Pseudepigraphie; this was helpful in providing an (English-language) overview of a German work.


Clearly, my particular research interest lends itself more readily to some of these avenues of discovery than others—and I’d be glad to entertain suggestions of others!

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