Saturday, August 28, 2010

Robert Kysar - John, the Maverick Gospel

In a recent post, I mentioned Robert Kysar's book John, The Maverick Gospel.  First published in 1976, it is now in an expanded third edition in paperback format.  Let me be direct.  Buy it.

This is one of the best introductions to the Gospel of John that I know.  But it is not the typical introduction that spends all its time on authorship, date, audience, etc.  Rather, Kysar wants to introduce us to the thought world and symbolism of this  literary/theological work in a non-technical fashion.  His hope is to accomplish three objectives:
  1. to stress the uniqueness of the Fourth Gospel among the literature of the early Christian movement
  2. to set the thought and symbolism in the broader context of the universal religious quest of humanity
  3. to keep the reader engaged in the text of the gospel itself
It is the latter objective that initially attracted me to this book.  It is structured almost as a self-study course with various reading assignments, called Reader's Preparation, scattered frequently throughout the text.  As you might guess, this is not a linear approach to the gospel, but topical and conceptual.  The four major chapters of the book are:

Chapter 1:  The Father's Son - Johannine Christology
Chapter 2:  Two Different Worlds - Johannine Dualism
Chapter 3:  Seeing Is Believing - Johannine concepts of Faith
Chapter 4:  Eternity Is Now - Johannine Eschatology

Each time I begin a new study of the John's Gospel, the first book to come off the shelf is John, The Maverick Gospel.  That's why I've got at my desk right now.  It clearly has the revJohn Seal of Approval.

Dale Allison - Constructing Jesus

 Mark November 10 on your calendar.  That's the publication date of Dale Allison's highly anticipated new book on Jesus entitled Construction Jesus: Memory, Imagination, and History.  I'm really looking forward to the book's release.  Check out the information below.  I think you will be excited too.

Below is the Baker Academic's biography of Dale, publicity blurb, and  table of content.  For more at the Baker site, go here.  And for the Amazon listing, go here.
Dale C. Allison Jr. (PhD, Duke University) is the Errett M. Grable Professor of New Testament Exegesis and Early Christianity at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. His recent books include Resurrecting Jesus, Studies in Matthew, and The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus. He is also the author (with W. D. Davies) of the three-volume work on Matthew in the International Critical Commentary series.

What did Jesus think of himself? How did he face death? What were his expectations of the future? And can we answer questions like these on the basis of the Gospels? In Constructing Jesus, internationally renowned Jesus scholar Dale Allison addresses such perennially fascinating questions about Jesus.
Presenting the fruit of several decades of research, Allison contends that the standard criteria most scholars have employed and continue to employ for constructing the historical Jesus are of little value. His pioneering alternative applies recent findings from cognitive science about human memory to our reading of the Gospels in order to "construct Jesus" more soundly.
All scholars and students of New Testament and Jesus studies will want to interact with the data and conclusions of this significant work.

1. The General and the Particular: Memories of Jesus
2. More Than a Sage: The Eschatology of Jesus
     Excursus 1: The Kingdom of God and the World to Come
     Excursus 2: The Continuity between John the Baptist and Jesus
3. More Than a Prophet: The Christology of Jesus
4. More Than an Aphorist: The Discourses of Jesus
5. Death and Memory: The Passion of Jesus
6. Memory and Invention: How Much History?

Stan The Man

Gene.  Roy. The Duke.  Mr. Dillon.  My heroes all.  But the truth be told, my heroes have not always been cowboys.

Mother of revJohn:  Who's your favorite ball player?
revJohn (before the rev):  Stan Musial.

ESPN calls him the most underrated athlete ever

Bob Gibson called him "the nicest man I ever met in baseball."

  • Stan had 3,630 hits in his career; 1,815 at home and 1,815 on the road.  That's consistency.
  • Stan never struck out 50 times in a season. That's amazing.
  • Stan was NEVER thrown out of a major league game and he played from 1941 to 1963.  That's almost unbelievable!
Now Joe Posnanski, for my money, the best sports writer in the business, has written a fantastic piece for Sports Illustrated on Musial.  Do yourself a favor.  Click here and read about a great athlete and a great person.

"Whaddya say!  Whaddya say!  Whaddya say!  

I say Stan is still a hero to me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Word Cloud - John 14-17

Below is a word cloud that graphically illustrates the key concepts in Jesus' farewell address from the Gospel of John. If you're doing a study of this text, the graphic may help direct your study by showing the concepts that John emphasizes in this section of his gospel.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Paraclete in John's Gospel

John is the only New Testament writer who uses the Greek word parakletos (paraclete) to designate the Holy Spirit.  The multiple uses of the term are found in Jesus' farewell address in chapters 14 -16 of the fourth gospel.  Below is a graphic that shows some of the ways paraclete has been translated into English from John's Greek text.  It also shows how John conceived the role of the Spirit in the life of the believer.

Robert Kysar, in his book John, The Maverick Gospel, points out the two-fold function of the Paraclete: 1) He communicates Christ to the believer and 2) he puts the world on trial. But what I would like to get a better handle on is how John's community understood this to happen in practice.

How did the Paraclete teach them all things about Jesus?
How did they experience revelations of the future?
How did the Spirit guide them into all truth?

Let me know what you have discovered in practice (not conceptually) about the Paraclete's workings?

The Long Goodbye - The Farewell Address of Jesus

The Gospel of John is unique in a number of ways, but one important way it differs from the Synoptic Gospels is the narration of Jesus' last supper.  Read the account of the last supper in Matthew, Mark, and Luke; each account covers only a few short verses.  In John, on the other hand, the narrative covers five chapters, including a lengthy farewell address that Jesus delivers to his disciples ("the long goodbye").  Among the distinctive features of this material (John 13-17), Jesus:
  • washes the feet of the disciples
  • teaches about the Paraclete (the Holy Spirit)
  • gives a new commandment (love one another)
  • prays at length for his disciples
And significantly missing from the text is any mention of the word's of institution of the Lord's Supper, the focal point of the synoptic narratives of the supper.

Take some time and reread these significant chapters.  What did John's account mean for those Christians who first heard/read it?  How should contemporary believers make use of his insights?  What needs to be translated into a 21st century perspective?

And lastly what does John's remembrance of the Jesus tradition tells us about how we continue to celebrate the Lord's Supper?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Who Is the Beloved Disciple in John's Gospel?

Mark Goodacre's latest podcast explores the identity of the beloved disciple in John's Gospel.  Listen to it here.

Accurate and Adequate Information

In the business world, ethical retailers give much consideration to how their Associates communicate product information.  Three terms enter into how information is provided to customers:
  1. Representation - any statement verbal or written) that is made to influence a purchase decision.
  2. Misrepresentation - any statement that contains inaccurate information.
  3. Failure to Disclose - occurs when there is inadequate information or something important is left out or concealed. 
What if church leaders were held accountable for their representations, misrepresentations, and failures to disclose.  I am thinking particularly of sermons/adult education offerings where no use is made of scholarly research, where denominational loyalty supplants critical study, and where, under the guise of protecting the flock, outdated theological concepts and discriminatory rhetoric passes for bible study.  And perhaps worst of all, the failure to disclose differing perspectives and intentionally ignoring the advances of science, literary criticism, archaeology, etc. because it conflicts with long held prejudices or congregational dogma.

In the business world, customers would have legal recourse against firms not providing accurate and adequate information.  In the church, we just say, "good sermon/class today," no mater what the quality or the accuracy of the representations.

Faces of America

I missed this series when it initially aired on PBS, but you can view the first episode online here. Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. shows us the faces of America through the family history of 12 well known Americans.  Here's how PBS describes the program:

About the Program
What made America? What makes us? These two questions are at the heart of the new PBS series Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The Harvard scholar turns to the latest tools of genealogy and genetics to explore the family histories of 12 renowned Americans — professor and poet Elizabeth Alexander, chef Mario Batali, comedian Stephen Colbert, novelist Louise Erdrich, journalist Malcolm Gladwell, actress Eva Longoria, musician Yo-Yo Ma, director Mike Nichols, Her Majesty Queen Noor, television host/heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz, actress Meryl Streep, and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Will Campbell's Grandma Bettye

If you don't know of Will Campbell, you should.   He escorted the black students who integrated Little Rock, Arkansas, public schools, and he was the only white person present at the founding of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.  And he ministered to Klu Klux Klan members.

He believes in justice and grace.  And family.  For a slice of his life and ministry, consider his 1977 biography Brother To A Dragonfly.  Below is one of four portraits of his grandparents that begins the book:

Grandma Bettye
Grunting every breath, sometimes twice,
  with neuralgia and lumbago.
But smiling, too.  Because her lover
   (for sixty-six years her lover)
never one forgot to say: "Mighty fine supper,
   Mrs. Campbell."
No matter what the fare.
And once she cried when he asked if the bread, hon,
was cooked yesterday
   or the day before.
That being as close to irreconcilable differences as
  the years ever knew.
And she talked about the Glory Hole,
meaning the place just above the bridge
where we baptized
  And where
boys went bathing with her nod,
but girls' bodies made it a naughty sacrilege.
And McComb City was the wickedest place in the world.
Camphor Balm from the Rawleigh Man and
  aspirin from the store
were good for lumbago
But not as good as salt mackerel
  and knick-knacks Uncle Tiff brought from Louisiana.
She sat on the pew that ran crosswise
  to the congregation.
Right up front.  With Miss Emma, Miss Lola, Miss Eula,
Aunt Donnie, Aunt Ida,
not one of them either "Miss" or "Aunt," but old, like
  Grandma was old.
  For old began at thirty.
And she wore the flannel bathrobe to church
the very first Sunday after Christmas.
Because it was the prettiest thing she
  had ever seen,
  and the Lord deserved the best.
And because it was 1933 and she didn't have a

Don't Get Above Your Raisin"

Sometimes in relationships, if not careful, we can begin to think more highly of ourselves than we should. It sometimes happens in families when one generation begins to see itself as better than past generations because of "economic success" or higher levels of "education," both achievements usually made possible by the sacrifices of the older generation.

So I thought we should listen to brother Ricky Skaggs preach on the subject. His sermon topic: Don't Get Above Your Raisin'.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Rudolf Bultmann 1884 - 1976

Yesterday, August 20, marked the birth date of one of the 20th century's greatest theologians, Rudolf Bultmann. To lean more about Bultmann, see the brief biography here. To sample his writing, read an online version of Jesus and the Word, his view of the historical Jesus. And while you're exploring his work, the David Fergusson at St. John's Nottingham in the a video below discusses Bultmann's work and his influence on New Testament studies.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Mosque at Ground Zero

The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, is a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) clergyman and a long-time educator and ecumenical leader. He is the ninth General Secretary of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA.

At the National Council of Churches USA website he comments on the controversy around building a mosque near Ground Zero.

Praise & Blame

Speaking of Las Vegas, a name synonymous with casino entertainment, like Elvis and Frank Sinatra, was (is) Tom Jones. So who would think that Tom, at this stage in his career, would do a gospel (and blues) CD? But he has, entitled Praise & Blame, and it has some great cuts. Two in particular are Ain't No Grave and Didn't It Rain. Here is a live performance of the latter at this year's Latitude Festival.

Ain't No Place

I've been away on business most of the last two weeks. Last week it was Las Vegas. I was far from the Strip, but Gram Parsons has got it right in the opening lyrics of Ooh Las Vegas:

Ooh, Las Vegas
Ain't no place for a poor boy like me
Ooh, Las Vegas
Ain't no place for a poor boy like me
Every time I hit your crystal city you know
You're gonna make a wreck outta me

Here's a cover by Whoosh.