Thursday, March 5, 2015

World's ransom, blessed Mary's Son (UPDATED)

When I studied at Durham University in the 1990s, the legendary giants of its 20th century contribution to NT study, C.K. Barrett and Charles Cranfield, were long since retired.

I see that Charles Cranfield has died at or about the age of 100 years!

Michael Bird has some thoughts here.

You will have to click on one of the articles about Cranfield linked there to find out why I have ended up with a Shakespearean phrase as the title to this post!


Some guy, recently dismissed as a non-scholar (as regular readers here will recall from a few weeks ago) by a scholar no one ever heard of, has written an erudite, learned, scholarly, respectful, indeed delightful obituary and evaluation of Charles Cranfield and his contribution to scholarship.


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, for starters on this article by Michael Bird; I would think that this statement about your esteemed tutor's teaching from Saint Paul, is spot on:

" the heart of the gospel preached by Paul is a series of events in the past (not just the crucifixion of Christ – for the Cross by itself would have been no saving act of God – but the crucifixion together with the resurrection and exaltation of the Crucified) a series which is the Event of history, an act which as the decisive act of God is altogether effective and irreversible. It attests the fact that what we have to do with in the gift of righteousness, with which Romans is concerned, is nothing less than God’s costly forgiveness"

I have ended the quotation there, precisely because that contains the fullness of the gospel. The clue to our redemption, is not our own freedom from sinning; but that 'While we were yet sinners' Christ forgives us. This is the eternal redemption which saves us all - not our own potential for being 'good'! God has already borne the full cost of our sins; in the crucifixion, death, resurrection and glorification of Jesus. Praise the Lord!

Father Ron Smith said...

"C. also claimed that every theologian should be well acquainted with Shakespeare as he was able to pack in his lines of poetry with such deep reflections on theology and the human condition. One of his favorite lines comes from RICHARD II, where Shakespeare writes: ‘World’s ransom, blessed Mary’s son’ – .." - Nijay Gupta -

As a Shakespeare afficionado myself, Peter, I thoroughly understand Cranfield's deference to Shakespeare's acquaintance with catholic theology. His references to the mother of Christ in several history plays marks our the dramatist as a child of his time - and age when members of the Church in England (and the world) were made fully aware of the dignity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, through whose acceptance of God's will in her life became a model for all of us. Ave, Maria! The epitome of all that is gracious and good in our fallen humanity.

This 'Calvanist', Cranfield, was aware that 'there are more things in heaven and earth (Horatio) than this world dreams on!'

Bryden Black said...

The curious thing about the careful, not to say fastidious exegesis of Cranfield's Mark and Romans Commentaries is that they almost anticipate Bauckham's frontal assault on form criticism with his Eyewitnesses methodology. I sense a certain irony here!

Father Ron Smith said...

" He proposed an understanding of Romans 9—11 which he himself saw as leaning heavily on Barth’s Church Dogmatics, and which some have seen as considerably distorting what Paul was actually saying." - Tom Wright, re C.C. -

The very word 'distorting' here suggests the fact that there are grounds for disagreement on the dogmatic assertions of even the very best of N.T. scholarship. Evidence that one may never get a correct, precisely definitive, understanding of the Gospel meaning from extant texts. I guess this is where the Holy Spirit comes in - to give an understanding for the age and situation.

Bryden Black said...

Hi Ron! I’m not sure that you are doing justice to Wright’s comments here - and certainly not to either Cranfield or Barth! For when one ploughs through NTW’s own Paul and the Faithfulness of God, there is considerable overlap in both the central thrust of their arguments and in their closer readings. Not least, when the “spirit” is invoked by Wright, he has crucially such formulations as “election-reworked-by-the-spirit” absolutely to the fore. Wright’s reference to the “spirit” is NEVER some foot loose and fancy freeing of some supposed ‘movement of God’ that is apart from Law and the Covenant of Yahweh. The crux (for both Wright and Cranfield) is how the faithfulness of Yahweh, now demonstrated through Messiah Jesus, secures our hope and our own faith, in “the love of God in Christ Jesus”. The shifts from Rom 8 through to 9-11 are the logic of “election-reworked-by-the-spirit” by means of Messiah Jesus - for both Jew and Gentile, the Reworked People of God. If Barth’s CD II.2, ch.VII, is to be invoked, then it appears to be only another reworking, in another key. The symphony itself remains ...

If you wish to quickly see what’s up here, take a look at either Faithfulness, pp.916-925, or more extensively, an essay reprinted in Pauline Perspectives, “A Hidden Clue to the Meaning of Romans?”, pp.489-509.

This way two distortions might be avoided: your own misreading of Wright re Cranfield; and your persistent misreading of “spirit” in relation to certain ‘times’ and ‘ages’, of Zeitgeist rather than God’s Covenant Faithfulness.

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Bryden, my understanding of the working of the Holy Spirit in my life is purely personal - a process enjoyed over 80 years of sentient life. From time to time, that consciousness of the Spirit's working - in my life and the lives of others I know - is something not limited to the observations of the writers of tomes (in respect to my own valid experience).

I enjoy the old quaker song: Its a gift to be simple, its a gift to be free; its a gift to come down where we ought to be. And when we find ourselves in a place just right - we'll be in the valley of Love and Delight".

What that affirms is that my Baptism, membership of the Body of Christ, my priesthood, my participation in the Eucharist, and such systematic biblical understanding as has been accessed by reliance upon the Holy Spirit's leading and accrued over many years, has gifted me with the knowledge of God's love for me, and for all creation. This serves to encourages me to move beyond mere intellectual indulgence in theological gymnastics. My remaining task is to encourage others to believe that God loves them - beyond their human understanding (which is limited).

When that peace, which 'passeth all understanding' comes; one finds a secret joy and felicity that keeps one going - despite the fleeting changes and chances that so often occur in academic theological disputation.

What more can I ask or want?

I repeat the old adage, that an ounce of experience is worth a tonne of theory.

Bryden Black said...

Thanks for your reply Ron - which does not really address either Cranfield or Wright, or Barth. But it does of course repeat what I'd expect: "personal experience". This also does of course have its due place, one that should seek to dovetail (pun intended) with "systematic biblical understanding". This last was truly my point, where all three theologians (C, W & B) were addressing themselves the acutely painful experience of Israel's seeming failure to enact the Covenant : how then does Yahweh fulfil that very Covenant in face of such failure? How does the Holy One of Israel remain faithful? In the face of such a profound dilemma, neither your experience nor mine counts one jot or tittle, I suggest.

I shall refrain from quoting any adage, one especially derived from TSE. Meanwhile, may your Lent be fruitful!