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 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, 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, and others who belong to that group will at times post recent articles they’ve written. There is similar functionality at 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 via email which highlights recent contributions that might be of interest.
(11) I find a few things at 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!

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | January 21, 2016

Most Common Pauline Passages in pre-Nicene Christianity

An interesting work by Jennifer Strawbridge, The Pauline Effect: The Use of the Pauline Epistles by Early Christian Writers (Berlin: de Gruyter, 2015), has provided research based on a dataset of just over 27,000 references to Paul’s epistles in early Christian writings, grounded in a fairly exhaustive survey of pre-Nicene literary texts   (“This database will be available online as a searchable digital resource from September 2016” [p. 10, n. 30]). There is a lot that could be derived from a database like this. Here are a couple of things I found interesting:

(1) The Pauline passages most cited in these early literary texts were: 1 Cor 2:6-16 (691 instances); Col 1:15-20 (673); Phil 2:6-8 (568; very often found alongside a Col 1:15-20 citation); Eph 6:10-17 (466); 1 Cor 15:50-58 (404); 1 Cor 1:20-24 (382); Rom 8:14-17 (227); Eph 2:11-15 (159); Rom 8:30-39 (142) (p. 11, n. 38). This doesn’t necessarily mean that preachers preached on these texts more than any other, or that early Christians had these texts memorized more often than others, but does point to their general prominence in the early church.

(2) The vast majority of Paul’s epistles is cited in these literary texts; Strawbridge’s research found only 192 verses that weren’t represented (40 in Romans; 21 in 1 Cor; 32 in 2 Cor; 13 in Gal; 3 in Eph; 14 in Phil; 4 in Col; 12 in 1 Thess; 7 in 2 Thess; 14 in 1 Tim; 18 in 2 Tim; 9 in Titus; 5 in Phm) (p. 12, n. 39).

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | December 12, 2015

I. Howard Marshall

I discovered this evening that Howard Marshall had gone to be with his Lord this morning. I am saddened by the news. Howard had graciously, in his retirement, agreed to serve as an external professor for me for an independent study class on the Pastoral Epistles. I had asked with little hope that someone of his stature would agree to serve in such a capacity for an unknown such as myself, but was pleasantly surprised when he cheerfully agreed.

I had known him only through his writings, most notably his magisterial ICC volume on the Pastorals, and was thus expecting a good deal of formality in our interaction. I learned otherwise! Here is part of his response to my initial request:

Dear Chuck,

Thank you for this kind invitation.  I am disposed to accept it, tho’ bearing in mind that I never read blogs, facebooks and the like, and prefer good old-fashioned books! So if you can tolerate an antediluvian comment or two, and allow for the fact that I am not as young as I used to be….

He signed his emails as “Howard,” but I couldn’t imagine addressing him on a first-name basis, and continued doggedly with “Dr. Marshall” until I received this note as part of one of his emails:

I don’t know what protocol is with your academic constituency, but like many in the UK  I see our relationship  as one of friends helping each other within our Christian family of brothers and sisters, and this means that I’m happy to drop formality.

Well, it was “Howard” after that! I only had the privilege of submitting a single paper to him (on Paul and mission in the PE) and receiving his comments on it. In that regard, perhaps I was his last “student”! But even in our limited interaction, I gained a great appreciation for both his academic rigor and his charity.

As one might imagine, I have been immersed in his writings on the Pastoral Epistles over the last year. Here is a list of those writings (including reviews), some obviously more directly related to the letters than others:

Marshall, I. Howard. “Biblical Patterns for Public Theology.” European Journal of Theology 14 (2005): 73-86.

________. “Book of 1 Timothy.” In Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer, 801-804. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005.

________. “Book of 2 Timothy.” In Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible. Edited by Kevin J. Vanhoozer, 804-806. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005.

________. “Brothers Embracing Sisters?” Bible Translator 55 (2004): 303-10.

________. “The Christian Life in 1 Timothy.” The Reformed Theological Review 49 (1990): 81–90.

________. “The Christology of Luke-Acts and the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages167–82 in Crossing the Boundaries: Essays in Biblical Literature in Honor of Michael D. Goulder. Edited by Stanley E. Porter, P. Joyce, and D. E. Orton. Biblical Interpretation Series 8. Leiden: Brill, 1994.

________. “The Christology of the Pastoral Epistles.” Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt A 13 (1988): 157–77.

________. “Church and Ministry in 1 Timothy.” Pages 51–60 in Pulpit and People: Essays in Honour of William Still on His 75th Birthday. Edited by Nigel M. de S. Cameron and Sinclair B. Ferguson. Edinburgh: Rutherford House, 1986.

________. “Congregation and Ministry in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 105–25 in Community Formation in the Early Church and the Church Today. Edited by Richard N. Longenecker. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2002.

________. “The Development of the Concept of Redemption in the New Testament.” Pages 153-69 in Reconciliation and Hope: New Testament Essays on Atonement and Eschatology, Presented to L. L. Morris on His 60th Birthday. Edited by Robert Banks. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974.

________. “Faith and Works in the Pastoral Epistles.” Studien zum Neuen Testament und seiner Umwelt A 9 (1984): 203–18.

________. “The Holy Spirit in the Pastoral Epistles and the Apostolic Fathers.” Pages 257–269 in The Holy Spirit and Christian Origins: Essays in Honor of James D. G. Dunn. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004.

________. “The Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 108–123 in The Blackwell Companion to Paul. Edited by Stephen Westerholm. Chichester, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.

________. “The Pastoral Epistles in Recent Study.” Pages 268–324 in Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles. Edited by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Terry L. Wilder. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2010.

________. “The Pastoral Epistles in (Very) Recent Study.” Midwestern Journal of Theology 2 (2003): 3–37.

________. “Prospects for the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 137–55 in Doing Theology for the People of God: Studies in Honor of J. I. Packer. Edited by Donald M. Lewis and Alister E. McGrath. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1996.

________. “Recent Study of the Pastoral Epistles.” Themelios 23 (1997): 3–29.

________. Review of R. F. Collins, I & II Timothy and Titus: A Commentary. Bulletin for Biblical Research 14 (2004): 136-37.

________. Review of M. Davies, The Pastoral Epistles. Evangelical Quarterly 70 (1998): 77-78.

________. Review of J. M. Holmes, Text in a Whirlwind: A Critique of Four Exegetical Devices at I Timothy 2:9-15. Evangel 20 (2002): 60-61.

________. Review of L. T. Johnson, The First and Second Letters to Timothy: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Biblical Interpretation 10 (2002): 100-102.

________. Review of M. Y. MacDonald, The Pauline Churches: A Socio-historical Study of Institutionalization in the Pauline and Deutero-Pauline Writings. Evangelical Quarterly 61 (1989): 271-73.

________. Review of B. Mutschler, Glaube in den Pastoralbriefen: Pistis als Mitte christlicher Existenz. Journal for the Study of the New Testament 33/5 (2011): 112-13.

________. Review of H.-W. Neudorfer, Die erste Brief des Paulus an Timotheus. European Journal of Theology 15 (2006): 76-77.

________. Review of L. K. Pietersen, The Polemic of the Pastorals: A Sociological Examination of the Development of Pauline Christianity. Journal of Theological Studies 56 (2005): 594-96.

________. Review of W. A. Richards, Difference and Distance in Post-Pauline Christianity: An Epistolary Analysis of the Pastorals. Evangel 21 (2003): 94-95.

________. Review of H. Stettler, Die Christologie der Pastoralbriefe. European Journal of Theology 8 (1999): 186-88.

________. Review of J. Twomey, The Pastoral Epistles through the Centuries. Expository Times 121 (2009): 50-51.

________. Review of S. G. Wilson, Luke and the Pastoral Epistles. Journal for the Study of the New Testament 10 (1981): 69-74.

________. Review of B. W. Winter, Roman Wives, Roman Widows: The Appearance of New Women and the Pauline Communities. Evangelical Quarterly 80 (2008): 83-85.

________. Review of F. M. Young, The Theology of the Pastoral Letters. Epworth Review 22 (1995): 110-11.

________. “The Role of Women in the Church.” Pages 177-97 in The Role of Women. Edited by Shirley Lees. Leicester, UK: Inter-Varsity, 1984.

________. “Salvation, Grace, and Works in the Later Writings in the Pauline Corpus.” New Testament Studies 42 (1996): 339–58.

________. “Salvation in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 449–69 in Geschichte—Tradition—Reflexion: Festschrift für Martin Hengel zum 70. Geburtstag, Vol 3: Frühes Christentum. Edited by Hermann Lichtenberger. Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr (Paul Siebeck), 1996.

________. “Some Recent Commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles.” Expository Times 117 (2006): 140-43.

________. “‘Sometimes Only Orthodox’—Is There More to the Pastoral Epistles?” Epworth Review 20 (1993): 12–24.

________. “Universal Grace and Atonement in the Pastoral Epistles.” Pages 51–70 in The Grace of God and the Will of Man. Edited by Clark H. Pinnock. Minneapolis: Bethany House, 1989.

________. “Women in Ministry: A Further Look at 1 Timothy 2.” Pages 52–78 in Women, Ministry and the Gospel. Edited by M. Husbands and T. Larsen. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008.

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | December 9, 2015

Onesimus Not a Runaway?

I’ve often read of Onesimus as being a runaway slave. Interestingly, S. Scott Bartchy suggests otherwise:

“Not infrequently, knowledgeable slaves left their owner’s control temporarily to hide from an angry owner and wait for tempers to cool, perhaps hoping to find an advocate to intervene on the slave’s behalf. Others took off to visit their mothers (Dig. According to Proculus, the foremost Roman jurist in the early first century, such a slave emphatically did not become a fugitivus (Dig. In light of this legal opinion, the fact that Philemon’s slave Onesimus did not take off for parts unknown but rather fled to Paul in prison strongly suggests that it is incorrect to view Onesimus as a runaway slave.”

S. Scott Bartchy, “Slaves and Slavery in the Roman World,” in The World of the New Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts, ed. J. B. Green and L. M. McDonald (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2013), 172.

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | November 21, 2015

Meditations on the Incarnation from Church History

Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn: Simeon's Prophecy to Mary

Rembrandt, Simeon’s Prophecy to Mary

With the First Sunday of Advent coming soon (November 29), I give below links to 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!

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 | November 16, 2015

And the next IVP Black Dictionary…

…won’t be coming out for awhile, I’m afraid. The extremely helpful “Black Dictionary” series by InterVarsity (I do wish there were an official series title!) has a prominent place on my shelves. Not long ago, I glanced at the recently-(2013)-published second edition of Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, and wondered when IVP was planning on publishing revisions of the aging Dictionary of Paul and His Letters (1993) or Dictionary of the Later New Testament & Its Developments (1997). So I asked. A very nice lady with the title of “IVP Continuity Specialist” (well, then!) informed me that there were no projected dates for any new editions, and it would thus be three years at the earliest (again, not that there are any concrete plans) before there would be even any possibility of seeing another revision released.

Just in case you wondered.

Posted by: chuckbumgardner | November 4, 2015

A Gentile Feeding?, that’s interesting. In the study notes of the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, Craig Blomberg discusses both the feeding of the five thousand in Matt 14:13-21 and the feeding of the four thousand in Matt 15:29-39, and suggests that the latter was a distinctly Gentile-oriented miracle. This is suggested in the narrative itself when the multitude “praised the God of Israel“; God would have not been specified to be Israel’s God if the crowd had been Jewish, Blomberg argues. He also notes that in the feeding of the five thousand, the word for “basket,” (κόφινος, 14:20) is the word for “a typical Jewish lunch pack,” while the word for “basket” in the later incident (σπυρίς, 15:37) is the word for “a larger Gentile hamper.” He is rightly more hesitant in his suggestion that Matthew may see symbolic value in “twelve” baskets in the former incident as engaging “the distinctively Jewish number (as in the twelve tribes of Israel) and in “seven” baskets in the latter incident as engaging “the universal number (as in seven days of creation), appropriate for all nations.” As well, though Blomberg doesn’t mention it here, the feeding of the four thousand comes on the heels of the very Gentile-oriented interaction with the “Canaanite” woman in 15:21-28.

The takeaway from this interesting suggestion for Blomberg is that “the close duplication of the earlier miracle may intentionally demonstrate that Jesus is the bread of life for Gentiles as well as Jews.”

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