The Weekly Hit List: December 4, 2015

 Cover ArtLisa Graham McMinn, author of the forthcoming To the Table, was interviewed at Publishers Weekly.

Sacramental eating calls forth a humble gratitude that inclines us to eat in ways that fosters the flourishing of other life. So we learn about and begin to pursue “just” food untainted with human exploitation, animal misery, or ecosystem degradation. We begin to open our hearts and minds to an ever-expanding community that changes how and what we eat. Perhaps we will influence how our partners and children eat, and introduce our friends and extended family to eating with an eye toward the flourishing of all life.

Alastair Roberts, at The Gospel Coalition, reviewed Jonathan Grant’s Divine Sex.

Grant presents a wide-angled-lens account of Christian sexual ethics within the context of contemporary culture. Rather than focus on discrete questions—he only lightly grazes on some of the fiercest prevailing controversies—Grant’s concern is to expose the nature of the shared cultural matrix from which they arise….This is a book I’ve already personally recommended to several friends and acquaintances. I highly encourage you to read it too.


Quick Hits:

Free to Serve, by Stephen Monsma and Stanley Carlson-Thies, was reviewed at Influence Magazine.

At Reformedish, Derek Rishmawy used Peter Leithart’s commentary on 1 & 2 Kings to discuss lessons for the church from the time of king Ahab’s reign.

Lisa Graham McMinn announced To the Table on her blog, Preserving Life.

Lectionary Reflection for the Twenty Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter J. Leithart, commenting on 1 Kings 17:8-16:

Wherever Elijah goes, life breaks out, abundantly, since he is the bearer of the word and presence of the life-giving creator. By providing food for the widow of Zarephath, a Canaanite counterpart to Jezebel, Yahweh shows his superiority to Baal, who, after all, is unable to provide a bit of bread for a Sidonian widow and her household.

In the midst of drought and famine, Elijah’s arrival makes her house a place of uninterrupted provision. When she honors the prophet by giving him her first cake of bread, Yahweh gives her a prophet’s reward (Matt. 10:41), replenishing her oil and flour. In the midst of Baal’s territory, Yahweh provides bread for his prophet and for the widow who supports him. In faith, the woman puts bread upon the waters and receives an abundant return.

The greatest test is the last. After Elijah saves the widow and her house from starvation, after Elijah brings new life to the house, suddenly death invades the house. The widow blames Elijah, and we can hear the disappointment and dismay in her accusing question: “I thought you were coming to save me and my son, but you’ve come to kill. I thought you came as a mediator of life, but you come instead with death.”

This complaint raises a climactic challenge. Yahweh crosses into the wilderness and gives life; he gives life in Baal’s territory. But can he cross the boundary to rescue a boy from Sheol? Yahweh is the lord of life: but is he the lord of death? Again, the answer is yes.

Elijah brings the widow’s accusation to Yahweh and then prays that the Lord will revive the boy. Yahweh listens to Elijah’s voice and restores the boy’s soul to his body. Yahweh is not only superior to Baal, the Canaanite god of fertility and life, but also greater than Mot, the Canaanite god of the underworld, snatching the dead boy from the grave (Provan 1995, 132).

 

©2006 by Peter J. Leithart. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter J. Leithart, commenting on 1 Kings8:[1, 6, 10-11], 22-30, 41-43:

One key moment in the dedication ceremony occurs when Solomon transfers the ark from the fortress of Zion to the temple mount. During David’s reign, the palace and the tent for the ark are both in this portion of the city, but in 1 Kgs. 8, the Zion system of worship is incorporated, with the Mosaic tabernacle (8:4), into the temple (Leithart 2003a). Solomon reunites the divided worship of Israel into a single location.

Starting from 1 Sam. 4, the story of the ark is a story of death and resurrection: the “body” of the tabernacle is divided and then reunited, and this points to the ultimate tabernacle of God in the flesh of Jesus, who is torn on the cross before he is raised and ascends to the “house” of his Father in heaven. The emphasis on the ark and the tablets of the law inside demonstrates the continuity between the order of Solomon and the Mosaic covenant (l)r#y ynb-M( hwhy trk r#)) (1 Kgs. 8:9).

The temple becomes an architectural emblem of the nation and the individual with the Torah of Yahweh written on his or her heart. Once the ark is in the temple, Yahweh descends in a cloud and consecrates the temple as his holy place. The temple is the place of Yahweh’s enthronement, again pointing to the human temple at the center of the Father’s kingdom.

Though highlighted in the dedication, the ark hereafter disappears from 1–2 Kings and is not even listed among the furniture seized by Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kgs. 25) or among the furnishings brought back from exile. It is apparently lost at some point in Israel’s history, since Pompey found the most holy place empty when he came to the temple. The understated treatment of the ark in 1–2 Kings seems to indicate that its role is already envisioned to be temporary.

If its loss is a tragic mistake, one would expect some mention of the tragedy, but there is none. The ark serves as the transportable throne of Yahweh until he takes his rest in the temple, but once there the temple itself is seen as the “throne” of Yahweh. Jeremiah makes this point in Jer. 3:11–18, where he refers to the days after the exile when the ark will be forgotten. Instead of the ark serving as Yahweh’s throne, the entire city of Jerusalem will become a throne.

 

©2006 by Peter J. Leithart. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter J. Leithart, commenting on 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14:

In large part, the historical discussions miss the point of biblical wisdom. Augustine assumes something like a Platonic epistemological dualism of sensible and intelligible that rests on the metaphysical dualism between the world of forms and the world of experience, while Thomas’s conception, though preferable in many ways, remains too intellectualist to capture the biblical conception.

In Scripture, wisdom is often more closely associated with the skill of the woodcutter than with the ecstasies of the mystic. The Hebrew word for wisdom (hmkx) often means “artistic skill” (Exod. 28:3; 31:3; 35:31; 1 Kgs. 7:14), and even where the reference is not directly to art, the esthetic and practical dimension is not left behind.

A furniture maker displays wisdom in craftsmanship, not only by knowing “causes” but by excellence in the sheer physical activity of the craft. A musician displays wisdom in making music, a parent in training and guiding children. There is a craft or art to these endeavors, and overall Proverbs is a book of instruction concerning skillful living, teaching how to construct a life that is attractive, fitting, and beautiful.

Jesus, the incarnate wisdom, is wisdom in just this sense, the one who embodies, as Nicolas of Cusa said, the art of the Father, the craftsman who shapes the raw and ruined matter of this world into the kingdom of God, the teacher who instructs his disciples how to build well (Matt. 7:24–27).

First Kings 3 is one of the great biblical treatments of wisdom and sets wisdom firmly in this practical—and in this case political—context.

 

©2006 by Peter J. Leithart. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for Transfiguration Sunday

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter J. Leithart, commenting on 2 Kings 2:

The story of Elijah’s departure into heaven follows the sequence of a sacrificial rite (Lev. 1). By their mutual journey around the land, Elijah and Elisha form a unit, a “two of them” (2 Kgs. 2:7). They cross the Jordan, as parts of a sacrificial animal will be washed before being placed on the altar.

Fire descends from heaven, dividing them in two, one ascending in fire to God, as the altar portions of the animal ascend in smoke to heaven. In the ascension (or “wholly burnt”) offering, the skin of the sacrificial animal is given to the priest, and the mantle-skin of Elijah, the hairy garment of the “baal of hair,” is left for Elisha.

Through this human “sacrifice,” Elisha becomes a successor to Elijah, and a new phase of prophetic history begins. In this sense too the story is a type of the sacrifice of Jesus, who is washed in the Jordan, gives himself over to be cut in two, ascends into a cloud, and leaves his Spirit and his mantle with his disciples.

Sacrifices are completed in celebration, in a meal, and following the “sacrificial” departure of Elijah, Elisha embarks on a ministry of feasting. Already in 2 Kgs. 2 Elisha is characterized by what he eats. When Jesus promises that his Father will not deny the Spirit to those who ask, he uses food metaphors: a father will not deny bread and fish to his children, so the heavenly Father will not deny the Spirit (Luke 11:11–13).

Elijah’s response to Elisha’s request for the spirit also uses a food image. In the Hebrew Elisha asks for “two mouths of your spirit” or “a double mouthful of the Spirit” (2 Kgs. 2:9). For both Elisha and Jesus, the Spirit is food, and Elisha can provide abundant food because his mouth is filled with the Spirit.

Following on the sacrifice of Jesus, our Father offers bread and wine, a token that he will not deny the Spirit to those who seek him. And more than a token: through this meal, we eat and drink spiritual food (1 Cor. 10:1–4), as we feed on the Son through the Spirit. “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it,” says the Lord, and the greater Elijah who has ascended into heaven fills us with a double mouthful of his Spirit.

 

©2006 by Peter J. Leithart. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Third Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter J. Leithart, commenting on 1 Kings 17:8-24:

Wherever Elijah goes, life breaks out, abundantly, since he is the bearer of the word and presence of the life-giving creator. By providing food for the widow of Zarephath, a Canaanite counterpart to Jezebel, Yahweh shows his superiority to Baal, who, after all, is unable to provide a bit of bread for a Sidonian widow and her household. In the midst of drought and famine, Elijah’s arrival makes her house a place of uninterrupted provision.

When she honors the prophet by giving her her first cake of bread, Yahweh gives her a prophet’s reward (Matt. 10:41), replenishing her oil and flour. In the midst of Baal territory, Yahweh provides bread for his prophet and for the window who supports him. In faith, the woman puts bread upon the waters and receives an abundant return.

The greatest test is the last. After Elijah saves the widow and her house from starvation, after Elijah brings new life to the house, suddenly death invades the house. The widow blames Elijah, and we can hear the disappointment and dismay in her accusing question: “I thought you were coming to save me and my son, but you’ve come to kill. I thought you came as a mediator of life, but you come instead with death.”

This complaint raises a climactic challenge. Yahweh crosses into the wilderness and gives life; he gives life in Baal’s territory. But can he cross the boundary to rescue a boy from Sheol? Yahweh is the lord of life: but is he the lord of death?

Again, the answer is yes. Elijah brings the widow’s accusation to Yahweh and then prays that the Lord will revive the boy. Yahweh listens to Elijah’s voice and restores the boy’s soul to his body. Yahweh is not only superior to Baal, the Canaanite god of fertility and life, but also greater than Mot, the Canaanite god of the underworld, snatching the dead boy from the grave. . . .

Through his prophet, Yahweh demonstrates his lordship, his boundary-bursting power. He shows his power over the wilderness, over enemy territory, over the grave. And in this he manifests his relentless persistence, his unwavering commitment to preserve his prophet and to save Israel.

Elijah goes to the wilderness, and Yahweh follows him. Elijah goes to Zarephath, and Yahweh follows him. The widow’s son goes to the grave, and Yahweh follows to bring life from death. Yahweh’s commitment is not confined to the prophet, but extends to call of Israel, for he preserves the prophet for the sake of his people. . . .

This is the God of Jesus Christ, the God who comes to us in Christ Jesus. Will our God enter the wilderness for us? He has done, in Jesus. Will he cross into the territory of the “prince of this world” for us? He has done, in Jesus. Will he cross the boundary between the living and the dead for us He has done, in Jesus.

 

©2006 by Peter J. Leithart. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Second Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter J. Leithart, commenting on 1 Kings 18:20-39:

When Ahab arrives, Elijah proposes a contest on Mount Carmel, in the north of Israel toward the Mediteranean Sea. Elijah takes charge of the whole contest, and Ahab complies with Elijah’s every instructions (1 Kgs. 18:19-20).

After he calls Elijah a “troubler,” Ahab disappears from the narrative until 18:41, and after 18:17 Ahab never speak again. Ahab, like Baal his god (18:29), falls silent.

The prophets of Baal also submissively, even comically, follow Elijah’s orders. He tells them to choose an ox, prepare it, and call on Baal, and they do (18:25-26). Even when he mockingly instructs them to cry out more loudly; they follow his instructions (18:27-28).

They continue their antics throughout the day, but the day of Baal is nearly over. At evening, a new day begins, the day of Yahweh.

Yahweh shows mercy to demonstrate that he is God. This is a common theme in the prophets, who claim that Yahweh forgives Israel, restores it, brings it back to the land, for the sake of his own name. Repentance is a gift of God, and if God gives a gift of repentance it is because he has already decided to show mercy to his people.

In explaining why he does not destroy Israel when they rebel against him, Yahweh says through Ezekiel: “I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them by bringing them out of the land of Egypt” (20:9; cf. 20:14, 22).

Israel’s continuing existence does not ultimately depend on Israel’s faithfulness, but on Yahweh. He displays his glory, the glory of his name, before the nations, and he saves Israel, sends renewal and resurrection to Israel, time and again, for the sake of his name.

Yahweh, as Elijah confesses, “turns the heart” (1 Kgs. 18:37). Israel cannot turn to Yahweh unless he turns to them first. When Israel begins to pray toward Jerusalem, confess their sins, and turn away from them, they realize that God is always already there first.

 

©2006 by Peter J. Leithart. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

The Weekly Hit List: May 10, 2013

Of Games and GodOf Games and God by Kevin Schut was reviewed by Drew Dixon for Think Christian.

“I am thrilled, thanks to Schut, to have a tremendous resource to share with Christians to help them understand not only why they should care about video games, but also why they are worth engaging. Schut helps Christians understand what video games are and what they do best.

“He also wades faithfully and thoughtfully through the most common objections leveled against the medium by Christians with chapters on violence, games’ treatment of women, addiction and isolation.”

Read the rest of the review here.

 

 

On God’s Side media:

“The Common Good in Politics” by Michael Gerson, in The Washington Post (syndicated): “Wallis’ argument, offered by a man of the left, reaches well beyond the left: In a political era of rights talk and special-interest pleading, a greater emphasis on the common good would make American politics more civil, admirable and humane.”

“Here & Now” on NPR

“The Tavis Smiley Show” on PBS-TV

“Pursuing the common good: Q&A with Jim Wallis” in World Vision Magazine

Kansas City Star Faith Matters blogger Bill Tammeus review

“9 Morning News” on KUSA-TV NBC

“Politics can benefit from religion, author says,” in Daily Camera

“Sojourners CEO Wallis visits local bookstore to discuss new book about common good” in West Michigan Christian

“Jim Wallis, bestselling author, preacher, holds two Denver-area events” in The Denver Post

“Six Months After Superstorm Sandy, Hope Emerges”  on The Huffington Post

“Religious Leaders to Government: We Must Get Our Fiscal House In Order” on Religion & Politics

“Monasticism, Beloved Community, and The Common Good” by Tripp Hudgins

 

Quick Hits:

Nicole Baker Fulgham, author of Educating All God’s Children, was interviewed by The Urban Gospel Mission.

Letters to a Young Calvinist by James K. A. Smith was reviewed by There Will be Reflection.

Peter Leithart, author of 1 & 2 KingsAthanasius, and Solomon among the Postmoderns, had his Wheaton Theology Conference talk discussed on For Christ and His Kingdom.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

May ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 52% off.

Searching for Home by Craig M. Barnes
Conversations with Poppi about God by Robert W. Jenson and Solveig Lucia Gold
Everyday Apocalypse by David Dark
The Early Church on Killing edited by Ronald J. Sider
Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory by Markus Bockmuehl

Lectionary Reflection for the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter J. Leithart, commenting on 1 Kings 17:8-16:

When the water runs out at Cherith, Yahweh sends his prophet to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, Jezebel’s territory, Baal’s territory. There too Yahweh proves himself Lord. . . . Israel looks on other gods with favor, so Yahweh looks for other nations to favor.

Yahweh sends Elijah off to a Gentile widow, though, as Jesus said, there were many widows in Israel at the time (Luke 4:25). With all Israel remade in the image of its harlot queen (2 Kgs. 9:22, 30), Yahweh seeks out a poor widow-bride among the Gentiles (1 Kgs. 17:13-24).

Wherever Elijah goes, life breaks out, abundantly, since he is the bearer of the word and presence of the life-giving creator. By providing food for the widow of Zarephath, a Canaanite counterpart to Jezebel, Yahweh shows his superiority to Baal, who, after all, is unable to provide a bit of bread for a Sidonian widow and her household.

In the midst of drought and famine, Elijah’s arrival makes her house a place of uninterrupted provision. When she honors the prophet by giving him her first cake of bread, Yahweh gives her a prophet’s reward (Matt. 10:41), replenishing her oil and flour. In the midst of Baal’s territory, Yahweh provides bread for his prophet and for the widow who supports him.

In faith, the woman puts bread upon the waters and receives an abundant return.

 

©2006 by Peter J. Leithart. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

 

Lectionary Reflection for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter J. Leithart, commenting on 1 Kings 8: (1, 6, 10, 11) 22-30, 41-43:

First Kings 8 is the climax of the Solomonic narratives in 1-2 Kings and stands out as an event of world-historical importance.

Yahweh, the creator of heaven and earth, settles in Jerusalem, in the nation of Israel, and the seven petitions at the center of the passage offer a rough preview of the trials that Israel will face in the subsequent centuries:

oath before altar reign of Solomon
defeat by enemies division of the kingdom
no rain Elijah and Omrides
famine, siege, plagues siege and famine in Samaria
foreigner prays fall of northern kingdom
sent out to battle last days of Judah
exile exile of Judah

Though many of the plagues that Solomon mentions in the prayer happen in the course of 1-2 Kings, few kings ever resort to prayer or the temple for forgiveness and healing.

Occasionally kings prayer or ask for prayer, and Hezekiah actually goes into the temple during the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem (2 Kgs. 19), but such example are few and far between. More often, kings plunder the temple for gold and silver to pay off Gentile invaders. When the Babylonians comes to destroy the temple, the Jews treat it as a talisman whose mere physical presence will save them from national destruction (Jer. 7).

Yahweh establishes his house at the center of Israel and stretches his arms out in invitation to a stubborn people, who refuse to turn to him and be healed. This too is christologically significant, for when the human temple appears, the Jews refuse to turn toward him as well.

The story of 1-2 Kings is a story of a rejected temple, a rejected and suffering Messiah and mediator, a temple destroyed but destined to be raised on the third day. A temple Christology thus works out in a narrative of cross and empty tomb.

 

©2006 by Peter J. Leithart. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.