The Weekly Hit List: March 29, 2013

Educating All God's ChildrenEducating All God’s Children by Nicole Baker Fulgham received a four-star review from Christianity Today

“Using dozens of her own similar stories, Nicole Baker Fulgham’s Educating All God’s Children . . . champions a faith-based message of ‘educational equity.’ Though fortunate enough to have attended better schools than those in her largely African American neighborhood, Fulgham argues that today’s impoverished families have little access to such mobility.

“Her book offers a candid theological plea for Christians (and, by implication, especially Republican Christians) to prioritize educational equity alongside issues like abortion and same-sex marriage. Educating All God’s Children convincingly shows scriptural mandates for closing the educational gap between low-income areas and wealthier communities.”

Read the rest of the review here.

 

Jim Wallis, On God’s Side:

On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good by Jim Wallis releases on Monday (April 1).

Jim Wallis wrote “On God’s Side: For the Common Good” for Huffington Post.

Don’t miss seeing Jim Wallis on Easter Sunday, March 31, on This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

 

Quick Hits:

Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey was reviewed in the May/June 2013 issue of Bible Study Magazine (available to subscribers): “Those who are interested in the church fathers will find this resource helpful. Pastors will find a treasury of ready-made quotations and illustrations from church history already connected to appropriate passages of Scripture.”

A Life Observed (August 2013) by Devin Brown was mentioned in Publishers Weekly Religion Bookline: “C.S. Lewis: Still Bringing Readers Joy.”

Living into Focus by Arthur Boers was recommended by Darryl Dash.

 

Educating All God’s Children Giveaway Winners:

Congratulations to Guy Williams, Tyler Glodjo, Dennis Yam, Gus Cole-Kroll, and Naomi Johnston.

They have each won a copy of Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can—and Should—Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids by Nicole Baker Fulgham on The Brazos Blog.

Keep checking back for our next giveaway.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

Don’t miss out on March ebook specials that are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 50% off.

Christians at the Border by M. Daniel Carroll R.
Performing the Faith by Stanley Hauerwas
Preface to Theology by John Howard Yoder
Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear by Scott Bader-Saye
Loving Homosexuals as Jesus Would by Chad W. Thompson

Lectionary Reflection for Easter

Luke BTCBThis excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 24:1-12:

The difficulty of conveying such a momentous thing as the resurrection verbally is instanced by Luke in his depiction of the women’s own immediate frustration, even as they become the first to proclaim the very essence of the good news.

Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and all the others have returned breathless to “the eleven” (24:9-10), yet their words seem to the grieving men as “idle tales” . . . . Thus, in sharing this most important news imaginable, the women are disbelieved and ignored (24:11).

These women are soon, of course, to be vindicated. Peter will be troubled and eventually leap up and run to the tomb to see for himself. John will record that he also, having been approached by Mary Magdalene, then runs toward the tomb, where he and Peter likewise find it empty (John 20:1-10) and that meanwhile, Mary Magdalene, having returned to the area to search, queries one she takes to be the gardener about the body of Jesus and discovers herself to be both seeing and speaking with the risen Lord (20:11-18).

So it is the women who first learn of the resurrection, and Mary Magdalene among them who first sees and speaks with the Lord before he has “risen to the Father.” There is just no getting around this, as Augustine says: “So in this fact we have to reflect on the goodness of the Lord’s arrangements, because this, of course, was the doing of the Lord Jesus Christ, that it should be the female sex which would be the first to report that he had risen again.”

Augustine goes on to emphasize this fact too, in the narrative symmetry reflected in Luke’s Gospel especially, that though “humanity fell through the female sex, humankind was restored through the female sex. A virgin gave birth to Christ; a woman proclaimed that he had risen again. Through a woman death; through a woman life. But the disciples didn’t believe what the women had said. They thought the women were raving, when in fact they were reporting the truth” (Sermon 232.2).

One persuasive indicator that we are dealing with facts as they happened is that the revelation comes first to women, so unconventional and imagination for this culture. This is both confirmed and reinforced by the other Gospel accounts.

So many “walls of partition” have been broken down by Jesus in his life and, now, after his death and in his resurrection. Think of it: not only is his resurrection made known first to the women, but he also reveals himself in his resurrection body first to a woman—and to a woman who is not his mother or a relative—something perhaps almost unthinkable in first-century Palestine.

One powerful theme to emerge in Luke’s Gospel is just this: Jesus is no respecter of persons. He does not conform to our social hierarchies and sorry prejudices.

 

©2012 by David Lyle Jeffrey. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for Palm Sunday

Luke BTCBThis excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 22:14-20:

Jesus, as Luke has learned from many witnesses, is the farthest thing from a dispassionate sage or cool-medium rabbi. He is as passionate as the God of the prophets, as passionate as his predecessor the poet David, and we cannot, unlike Michal in her famous disdainful scorn, begin to imagine Jesus being anything other than immensely please with the heart of that true lover of God when he danced naked before the ark. His desire is real; a passionate heart loves a passionate heart.

When he says just at the beginning of the Passover meal that, in effect, he has long been yearning toward this moment, this feast of love with his cherished friends and the students who must carry on his work, only such an intensified expression makes sense, and it is a Hebraism entirely consistent with everything we have learned about the love of Jesus. It also makes sense, or begins to make sense, of the astonishing and utterly extravagant language he is now about to use with respect to his own self-giving and their sharing in it, now and forever.

It is at this point that the reader begins to see, as did the Twelve themselves, that in relation to fulfillment Jesus is here speaking of the ultimate redemption of which the Passover has been a sign. The Passover ritual is now about to take on a future as well as past significance. The Lord will not participate again in this high festive meal, he says, until some future date. Yet there is, in the ritual meal, a sense of sacramental transposition that the apostles will later recognize retrospectively, in the words of the ancient liturgy: “Christ, our Passover, is sacrificed for us.”

It is absolutely clear that considered, thoughtful retrospect is crucial to the realized theological understanding of the disciples, and Luke’s narrative is full of evidence that he as narrator had been all along actively participating in this sort of remembering—putting events back together in such a way that their fullness of expression gathers in a proper register of abiding theological significance for all subsequent Christian history.

Anamnēsis (“remembering”) is thus the heart of Christian celebration of the Eucharist and serves for us to make Christ eternally present to us and us to him, in what he has done and still does for us as we live in him and he in us. It is also propaedeutic, “until he comes” in glory, to take unto himself his faithful and beloved for the final, everlasting eucharistic feast in the celestial Jerusalem that will have no end.

 

©2012 by David Lyle Jeffrey. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

Luke BTCBThis excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32:

The familiarity of this version of “the old, old story” should not cause the modern reader too lightly to overlook an important reason for its perdurable pedagogical power: it is a précis of the central thesis of the gospel, an emblem of the literary power of Jesus’s teaching, and as much as anything it reveals our need to read and reread scripture in company with the faithful of all ages.

The parable also shows well how at its deepest reach the teaching of Jesus is a species of poetics; its concession to our woodenmindedness is by way of a story that draws us out, teases us into interpretation, only to find that we will need to reinterpret it again and again if we are to approach so much as a semblance of its larger truth and power.

Whether we read it literally, morally, allegorically, or indeed as anagogy or eschatology that sees the divine plan for human salvation in terms of redemption of the lost, calling them to the heavenly banqueting table through the unimaginable mercy and grace of the Father, we are reading through partial understanding a text that nonetheless will always yield truth—as long as we do not reduce it to our own partiality.

Luke 15 is at the very heart of the gospel message. It has seemed to preachers in all times that the parable answers one question definitively, and that is through its depiction of God as a father who “wills not that any one should perish” but that all should come to repentance. In Spurgeon’s hallmark one thousandth sermon, the parable of the prodigal “puts plainly before every sinner . . . the exceeding abundance of the grace of God in Christ Jesus.”

Surely it has very often been preached, as Spurgeon puts it, in the hope “that the Lord will find out those who are his sons, and that . . . as they hear of the abundance of bread in the father’s house, [they] may say, ‘I will arise and go to my Father.'” That is the spiritual level of understanding in this parable that opens the door to all separated brothers everywhere.

 

©2012 by David Lyle Jeffrey. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

The Weekly Hit List: March 1, 2013

Kicking at the Darkness by Brian J. Walsh was reviewed by The Christian Century.

Kicking at the Darkness

“Some of us owe a large part of whatever prophetic imagination we have to the creative powers of Bruce Cockburn. For pop-music-loving Bible readers of my generation, chances are he came to us via U2 of the late 1980s.

“In “God Part II,” from Rattle and Hum(1988), Bono tells of a late-night radio singer announcing his resolve to “kick the darkness / Till it bleeds daylight.” Liner-note readers like myself found next to this devastatingly evocative phrase a footnote introducing Cockburn, from whose “Lovers in a Dangerous Time” the line was purloined. From there I’m guessing sales of the Canadian bard’s albums—he’d been putting them out since 1970—spiked more than a little.”

The full text of the review is available to subscribers.

 

Quick Hits:

Our Spring 2013 academic catalog is now available.

Of Games and God by Kevin Schut was recommended by Byron Borger of Hearts & Minds books.

Of Games and God was also recommended by PRISM Magazine.

Genesis (BTCB) by R. Reno was recommended by Mark Braye.

Who Is My Enemy? by Lee C. Camp was referenced by Craig D. Katzenmiller.

 

Goodreads Giveaways:

Two forthcoming Brazos Press titles are now available as giveaways on Goodreads:

Educating All God’s Children: What Christians Can—and Should—Do to Improve Public Education for Low-Income Kids by Nicole Baker Fulgham

On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned about Serving the Common Good by Jim Wallis

Lectionary Reflection for the Third Sunday in Lent

Luke BTCBThis excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 13:1-9:

The question about evil and its causes—or about evil and its relation to justice—can of course be asked in many ways. The epitome in biblical literature for theodicy examined from the perspective of unjust suffering is surely the book of Job; looked at from the other end, as a question about why the practitioners of evil seem to prosper as their victims suffer, it take theological form in Ps. 73.

Here it is the first perspective in which the question is raised, though the second hovers over it, since the Roman oppression was on everybody’s mind. In order to address the issue more fundamentally, Jesus adds to it the fate of some people killed in an accidental manner, perhaps through a flaw of engineering long unnoticed. Talbert suggests that the issue might well have been raised because some in the audience took absence of tragedy as a sign of God’s blessing, while thinking that “trouble is God’s punishment for sin”; the effect would be as much as to say, “Our lives are tranquil. . . why should we repent?” (2002: 145).

Whatever the motives of “some” in the crowd for turning to this subject, Jesus has an astringent answer: “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things? I tell you, no.” The idea of a necessary causal connection between personal sin and the experience of suffering is here dismissed in a word.

But there is a more pressing, more universal question, and that is the question of the human sinfulness, from which no one is free, and its deeper consequences, from which no unredeemed person is exempt. Accordingly, “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). In the context of Jesus’s immediately preceding eschatological remarks, this almost certainly means “perish eternally.”

The fig tree parable (13:6-9), as Cyril of Alexandria observed sixteen hundred years ago, is such that “the literal sense. . . does not need a single word of explanation” (1983: Homily 96). The fig tree has captured the attention of many an allegorist, however, and in the spiritual sense it has been associated with Israel, the synagogue, and even all humanity. Perhaps (as Bock 1994-96: 2.1208 and others suggest) it involves an allusion to Mic. 7:1-6, a passage already invoked in Luke 12:53.

Regardless, the net interpretation is unmistakable: God’s judgment regarding fruitfulness is imminent. This seems to weigh in favor of it being in its context a parable primarily about Israel.

 

©2012 by David Lyle Jeffrey. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Lectionary Reflection for the Second Sunday in Lent – plus a giveaway

Luke BTCBThis excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 13:31-35:

What Jesus is saying, essentially, is that his ministry is now drawing rapidly to a close (the phrase “today, tomorrow, and the third day” should be taken figuratively to suggest rapid culmination rather than a literal three-day period) and that, as in the historical pattern for prophets, he will come to the end of his earthly road in Jerusalem.

It is in fact Jerusalem that is now weighing heavily on Jesus’s mind. His lament for Jerusalem is a synecdoche—a lament in which the city stands for all of Israel—which, as in his parables, has killed the prophets and stoned the messengers sent to them rather than repent.

His figure of a hen trying to gather her chicks under her wings to spare them from the ravages of fire will have special poignancy for anyone who has seen after a grassfire the burned carcass of a prairie chicken or pheasant that has sheltered and saved perhaps one or two, though seldom all, of her chicks. There is deep foreboding here, as well as parental sorrow. The image of a desolated house anticipates the house of David ravaged, the house of Jacob a wasteland.

When Jesus adds that “Jerusalem” shall not see him “until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'” (13:35), it is a way of warning that until the messengers of God are received by his chosen with gracious blessing and hospitality, Jesus himself will not again appear. Those in his immediate audience would have heard an echo of Ps. 118:26: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.” The familiar words of this psalm were sung in the “Great Hallel,” a recitation of Ps. 113-18 on every feast, in every family (Lightfoot 1979: 3.146).

The latter part, including 118:26, would have been the hymn that the Lord and the apostles sang at the end of the paschal meal on the Thursday before his crucifixion. It was called the “Great Hallel” because the head of the family or leader of the group would sing the whole, with the others singing after him the first line only of each psalm; after every verse they would respond antiphonally, singing “Hallelujah!”

No one in Jesus’s immediate audience could fail to get the deep layering of messianic portent in what Jesus is saying; it may be that later readers of Luke’s account are getting here also a literary foreshadowing of the sudden recognition of the Lord at the occasion of two disciples’ postresurrection hospitality to him, as to a stranger, at his blessing of the bread (Luke 24:13-35). The breaking of bread and blessing, a major theme in Luke, is heading toward its climactic sequence.

©2012 by David Lyle Jeffrey. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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Cross Shattered ChristFor your Lenten reading, we recommend Cross-Shattered Christ: Meditations on the Seven Last Words by Stanley Hauerwas.

Theologian Stanley Hauerwas offers a moving reflection on Jesus’s final words from the cross. This small and powerful volume is theologically poignant and steeped in humility. Hauerwas’s pithy discussion opens our ears to the language of Scripture while opening our hearts to a truer vision of God. Touching in original and surprising ways on subjects such as praying the Psalms and our need to be remembered by Jesus, Hauerwas emphasizes Christ’s humanity as well as the sheer “differentness” of God.

Ideal for personal devotion during Lent and throughout the year, Cross-Shattered Christ offers a transformative reading of Jesus’s words that goes directly to the heart of the gospel.

We are giving away 5 copies of this book.

Lectionary Reflection for the First Sunday in Lent – plus a giveaway

LukeThis excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 4:1-13:

Scripture narrative presents three direct temptations by Satan; these, in canonical order, are the temptation of Adam and Eve, the temptation of Job, and the temptation of Jesus here in Luke’s Gospel. Unsurprisingly, these three episodes have been connected by Christian exegetes down through the centuries in various ways, but especially by seeing the resistance of temptation by Jesus as a paradigmatic reversal of the yielding of Even and Adam in the garden of Eden.

That this connection is invited by Luke, arranging and concluding his genealogy of Jesus as he does with Jesus as “the son of Adam, the song of God” (3:38), has seemed to much of Christian tradition an obvious element of his narrative design. Thus, Ambrose speaks for many: “There is here an Adam typology and a Genesis background to this story: as Adam is cast out of paradise into the wilderness, so Christ, the new Adam, goes into the wilderness on our behalf, then to come forth from that temptation to lead us back to paradise” (Exposition of Luke 4.7). . . .

What seems to emerge in these Lukan passages is a strong reminder that in biblical narrative in general there is a cosmic agōn or struggle taking place for the human soul (Calvin 1972: 1.135). In the temptation of Jesus, most fully recounted by Matthew and Luke (Mark mentions it only briefly and John not at all), it is as though the fundamental antagonist to God and his creation has been exposed in a face-to-face encounter with the now revealed protagonist of salvation history, the Redeemer, toward whom all the other narratives and prophecies of scripture had long been pointing.

This too is a part of the reader’s growing sense of the “fullness of time” now appearing. That this confrontation was not an accidental encounter but rather a deliberate showdown willed by the divine author of salvation history is indicated by Luke’s beginning his narrative of this event by specifying that Jesus, newly signified from heaven as God’s anointed, was “filled with the Holy Spirit” and that it was the Spirit who “led [him] . . . into the wilderness” (4:1). . . .

For the church historically spiritual conflict with the adversary has made Jesus’s example of defense by a deep sense of scripture an important principle. For Luke himself, it is the distinctive question of Jesus’s identity that takes precedence, however. Luke wants us to see that the baptized Chris, divinely ordained to his ministry of preaching the salvation of God, is uniquely, unequivocally God’s Anointed One.

Jesus, though echoing the prophets, is not their equivalent. He is rather the Son of God who alone overcame by the word of his power. When the archtempter offered just such temptations as those to which we ourselves fall heir, Jesus answered Satan in each case with a definitive word of God, citing, as in the third instance (which is a summary of Deut. 6:16), just the pertinent divine word to answer a distorted citation of that word.

 

©2012 by David Lyle Jeffrey. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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Cross-Shattered ChristFor your Lenten reading, we recommend Cross-Shattered Christ: Meditations on the Seven Last Words by Stanley Hauerwas.

Theologian Stanley Hauerwas offers a moving reflection on Jesus’s final words from the cross. This small and powerful volume is theologically poignant and steeped in humility. Hauerwas’s pithy discussion opens our ears to the language of Scripture while opening our hearts to a truer vision of God. Touching in original and surprising ways on subjects such as praying the Psalms and our need to be remembered by Jesus, Hauerwas emphasizes Christ’s humanity as well as the sheer “differentness” of God.

Ideal for personal devotion during Lent and throughout the year, Cross-Shattered Christ offers a transformative reading of Jesus’s words that goes directly to the heart of the gospel. Now in paperback.

We are giving away 5 copies of this book.

The Weekly Hit List: February 8, 2013

Of Games and GodOf Games and God by Kevin Schut was reviewed by blogger Joel Watts and by blogger Conrade Yap.

“Kevin Schut’s book is a must read for those struggling with the returning question of just what good are games and what are games good for.” 

To read more of Joel Watts’s review, click here.

 

“As a gamer-enthusiast himself, Schut covers a lot of ground with regards to the range and the depth of understanding of how games work, why gamers play, and what it means for Christians. . . . This rare book is worth reading for anyone desiring to understand a little more of what games is about, and how to connect better with gamers.”

To read more of Conrade Yap’s review, click here.

 

Of Games and God was also reviewed by Janelle Weibelzahl, who worked with Kevin Schut on this book.

“The reason I am so excited about the release of this book . . . is that it begins a conversation that needs to be had by Christians about video games. . . . recognizing that video games are an unavoidable and growing part of our culture, Schut invites us on a journey towards a critical understanding of the relationship between faith and games. He offers us the tools to think intelligently about games, to ask for ourselves the question, ‘How should we then live?'”

 

Quick Hits:

Luke (BTCB series) by David Lyle Jeffrey was reviewed by Justin Boulmay.

Speaking of Dying by Fred Craddock, Dale Goldsmith, and Joy V. Goldsmith was included in Princeton Alumni Weekly.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

February ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 41% off.

Abraham (Ancient-Future Bible Study) by Stephen J. Binz
Paul (Ancient-Future Bible Study) by Stephen J. Binz
David (Ancient-Future Bible Study) by Stephen J. Binz
Peter (Ancient-Future Bible Study) by Stephen J. Binz
Women of the Gospels (Ancient-Future Bible Study) by Stephen J. Binz
Women of the Torah (Ancient-Future Bible Study) by Stephen J. Binz
A Handbook of New Testament Exegesis by Craig L. Blomberg
Magnifying God in Christ by Thomas R. Schreiner
Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament by G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson
Cross-Shattered Christ by Stanley Hauerwas
The Forgotten Ways Handbook by Alan Hirsch with Darryn Altclass

Lectionary Reflection for the Last Sunday after the Epiphany

LukeThis excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 9:28-36:

As at the first Passover the blood of the lamb slain marked out for deliverance the families of the chosen people who Moses would lead out of bondage and into freedom, so here we are on the cusp of the greater deliverance of which that was the harbinger. Jesus, the Chosen, Suffering Servant, and Lamb of God, for sinners to be slain, is the fulfillment of all that the law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah) have spoken.

Peter the spokesman, James the first martyr, and John the beloved are selected to receive thus a privileged insight into the meaning of their spiritual history and its culmination in Jesus. For them, what they see is a paradigm of Jewish identity in which God as revealed in Jesus is united with all that God has been doing in the history of redemption.

The radiance of Jesus’s face would have recalled that of Moses coming down from the presence of God on Mount Sinai—except, as John of Damascus noted, that whereas Moses bore a reflected glory, our Lord’s radiated from within, “proceeding from the inherent brightness of the divine glory” (Sermon on the Transfiguration 13). This radiance is accordingly a further manifestation to the disciples of the divine identity of Jesus; as Cyril of Alexandria has it, they were having a preview of Christ’s eschatological return in majesty (1983: Homily 5).

In Bede’s way of putting it (Homilies on the Gospels 1.24), “the transfigured Savior shows the glory of his own coming for our resurrection. . . . As he then appeared to his apostles, [he] shall in like manner appear to all the elect.” And he quotes to the point a later scripture: “It doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that when he shall appear, we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2 KJV). Calvin, focusing on the main text, adds that “he gave them such a taste of his infinite glory as they were able to receive” (1972: 2.198). . . .

As the transfiguration ends, the three see Jesus “alone,” and this time, they apparently need no warning to “keep it close,” not to disclose “in those days any of those things they had seen” (Luke 9:36). They had been standing on very holy ground, and they now understood the identity of Jesus in a far more profound way than ever before.

 

©2012 by David Lyle Jeffrey. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.