Thursday, December 21, 2017

My Book of the Year 2017

It is getting towards the end of 2017 so it must be time for "Book of the Year".

What is yours?

Mine is both highly recommended and very affordable. Also, if you get the Kindle version, instantly accessible!

It is:

Written by one of the world's leading Pauline scholars and author of the best "thick" book on Paul in recent years, this quickly read book is neatly divided in two parts, The History and The Legacy.

In a relatively few words the reader receives a summary of Paul's writings, a summary of Pauline scholarship, and numerous insights into that Paul's writings mean for the world today.

This award has nothing to do with a very nice lunch I had with John at the annual Aotearoa New Zealand Association for Biblical Studies in Dunedin recently :). 

Seriously, it was a great privilege for all conferees to attend to a presentation John gave on Paul's theology of gift. We sat at the feet of a modern master!


Anonymous said...

"Grace is a multi-faceted concept best approached through the category of gift. It is susceptible to “perfection” (conceptual extension) in a number of different ways, which do not constitute a unified package. Some who discuss this theme will maximize the superabundance, the priority, or the efficacy of grace, and others its incongruity with the worth of the recipients (as gift to the unworthy). Others again will urge the singularity of grace (that God is nothing but gracious), and some that God’s gifts are given 'with no strings attached'... These perfections have been variously deployed in the history of reception of Paul, though some are better supported than others by the Pauline texts themselves. Much in Jewish interpretations of grace, and in the history of interpretation of Paul, can be clarified by distinguishing between these six perfections...

"Paul’s theology of grace characteristically perfects the incongruity of the Christ-gift, given without regard to worth. This incongruous gift bypasses and thus subverts pre-constituted systems of worth. It disregards previous forms of symbolic capital and thus enables the creation of new communities whose norms are reset by the Christ-gift itself. Grace took its meaning in and from Paul’s experience and social practice: the nature of the gift was embodied and clarified in novel social experiments. In the subsequent interpretation of Paul, within an established Christian tradition, this motif has played a number of other roles, but has generally shifted from undermining the believers’ previous criteria of worth to undercutting their self-reliance in attaining to Christian norms or their understanding of this effort as necessary for salvation."

John M. G. Barclay. Paul and the Gift. Kindle 359-366, 372-377.

Anonymous said...

"We are not finished with soteriology once we affirm that all human beings are objectively reconciled in Christ. For Barth our election in Christ is not an election to objective reconciliation but an election to subjective witness. We have only adequately described Christian salvation once we have accounted for each person’s participation in the missionary act of proclaiming the gospel. The error of universalism, as Barth understands it, is that it collapses subjective witness into objective reconciliation. It thus runs roughshod over the historicity of each person. We cannot speak in general and in the abstract about the particular histories of those who are included objectively in Christ. My own work is an attempt to take seriously Barth’s existential insights. The problem is Barth’s sharp distinction between the objective and subjective, which is what leads to interpretations of inconsistency and perpetuates the metaphysical notion that reconciliation applies to us even though it does not concern us existentially. I developed The God Who Saves in response to this problem."

David W. Congdon. The God Who Saves: A Dogmatic Sketch. Kindle 248-256.

Jean said...

God for the Rest of Us: Experience Unbelievable Love, Unlimited Hope, and Uncommon Grace

Front Cover
Vince Antonucci
Tyndale House Publishers, Incorporated, 2015 - Religion - 255 pages
1 Review

What does it feel like to be loved by a limitless God? God for the Rest of Us will wake you up to the outrageous, extravagant, and sometimes even scandalous love of God for the rest of us—whether you think you are unfit or a misfit, an underdog or overlooked, the least or the lost, the left behind or the left out. Vince Antonucci, a pastor who reaches out to people on the Las Vegas Strip, has seen it all—and more important, he has seen God's love in action on each and every street corner. Vince is convinced that too many of us underestimate God and the scope of his love.

God for the Rest of Us is Vince's story of how he found God's breathtaking love at work among the people often forgotten and disdained by this world. Is God for the people who are forgotten and left out? Is He for the guy who betrayed his wife and left his kids? Is He for the doubters? The skeptics? The atheists? The answers to these questions can be found in the lives of people Vince meets. As you read their stories of transformation, you'll begin to imagine how your life could be changed if you truly believe that you are loved with a perfect love. You'll catch a glimpse of God—who is greater than your wildest dreams.
... and in fiction anything by Elizabeth Musser

Anonymous said...

The score so far-- Team (a) 0, Team (b) 3.


Father Ron Smith said...

And then, of course, there is the Scriptural: "Hail Mary, full of grace!"
What category does this fall into, I wonder? Certainly, considering what was to be born in her, Mary, Theotokos, really exemplified the very highest.

Anonymous said...

"What category does 'Hail Mary, full of grace!' fall into, I wonder? Certainly, considering what was to be born in her, Mary, Theotokos, really exemplified the very highest."

Father Ron, you are passing out your Christmas presents early, and yet this one may not be fully unwrapped even by Twelfth Night!

To tug at the ribbon a bit, I'll note that Luther retained the Ave Maria in his theology and practise because, to use Barclay's term, his faith followed St Paul's in *perfecting* the *incongruity* dimension of grace. And although the West has been slow to understand this, the traditional Eastern view is also close to St Paul and Luther on this. I am inclined to say that this is the mariology of Team (b), including even its influential yet rare Reformed players, because it harmonises well with the soteriology of Team (b).

Those who have problems with the Theotokos seem in their soteriology to be *perfecting* one or more other dimensions of grace at the expense of Creator/creation *incongruity*. For example, in accord with their respective understandings of *original sin* and *satisfaction*, the old-time Roman and Reformed responses both perfected grace as *priority*, *abundance*, etc. But in the perspective that results, the Annunciation etc either does not make much sense, or else it makes bad sense, setting up a narrative that potentially competes with the Crucifixion as the story of the world's salvation. Rome could not avoid St Mary, and so promulgated dogmas of the *immaculate conception* and *assumption* to bring her into the Western framework of Augustinian *original sin* and Anselmian *satisfaction*, albeit clumsily. The Reformed on Team (a) notoriously minimised even the incarnation, and so they could avoid the Theotokos and eventually did. Those Anglicans they have influenced get a queasy feeling in the stomach whenever she is mentioned.

If a Team (b) exploration of the significance of the Theotokos is at all interesting, then in 2018 read--

One could easily finish the book by Candlemas.


Peter Carrell said...

On the strength of your recommendation, Bowman, and in order to bring myself up to speed as Team B's latest recruit, I have Kindled that book!

Anonymous said...

Peter, I think that you will enjoy reading-- --not least because it clears the ground for thinking about what the scriptural witness to St Mary is actually doing for the gospel without the unhelpful burden of looking for a path from the text to SS Augustine and Anselm and thence to the Roman mariological dogmas.