#QOTD: Martin Hengel on Acts

downloadThe title “Acts of the Apostles” has always led the reader of his work astray. It should really be called “From Jesus to Paul”, with the sub-title “From Jerusalem to Rome”, and describes very strictly the straight line followed by the gospel from unbelieving Israel to the Gentiles. The apostles—including Peter—essentially have the function only of preparing for the appearance and activity of Paul, of providing a bridge between Jesus and Paul. Once they have done their duty, the can disappear. To serve Paul’s greater glory they have to leave the stage one after the other: he alone remains behind. The reason for such a “one-dimensional” account does not lie simply in the theme of divine guidance—this could also have been worked out in a multiform way—but in the central and positive interest in the person and missionary work of Paul. He is the real goal of this work.
Between Jesus and Paul: Studies in the Earliest History of Christianity: 2.

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#QOTD: Joachim Jeremias

There can be no doubt that in his frequent use of the passive as a circumlocution for the divine activity, Jesus followed the style of apocalyptic. We may not, however, put the connection between the two in any stronger terms. For Jesus accords to the “the divine passive” and incomparably greater place than is given in apocalyptic. He uses it not only in apocalyptic sayings in the strict sense (e.g. about the last judgment and the eschatological division), but also—enlarging its scope—to describe God’s gracious action in the present: even now God forgives, even now he unveils the mystery of his reign, even now he fulfills his promise, even now he hears prayers, even now he gives the spirit, even now he sends messengers and protects them, whereas he delivers up the one who has been sent. All these “divine passives” announce the presence of the time of salvation, albeit in a veiled way, for the consummation of the world has dawned only in a veiled form. The extension of the “divine passive” beyond purely future apocalyptic sayings, which has been carried out so widely, is connected with the central part of Jesus’ preaching and is one of the clearest characteristics of his way of speaking.
New Testament Theology, Vol. 1: The Proclamation of Jesus, 14

#QOTD: Mike Bird (@mbird12) on Jesus and the Gospel

For Jesus, the deeds that he does —healings, exorcisms, preaching to the poor—are all signs that God is becoming king and that Israel’s hopes for restoration are really, visibly, and tangibly happening. In other words, victory is on the horizon. The constellation of hopes associated with Israel’s restoration, of which Isaiah contributed much much to, included items like the advent of a messianic king, a new exodus, the return of the dispersed tribes to Israel, the pilgrimage of the Gentiles to Jerusalem, the defeat of national enemies, the rebuilding of the temple, Yahweh’s visitation to Zion, and the return to covenant righteousness, and all of these can be coordinated with the program and preaching of Jesus of Nazareth. This was his gospel, his declaration.
The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus. 15

William Baird on the Historical Critical Method

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William Baird

Some reviewers have accused me of undue affection for the historical critical method. To that I merely reply, mea culpa. I am well aware, of course, that the use (or abuse) of the critical method has been destructive for some, resulting in depreciation of Scripture and loss of faith. For me the opposite have proved true. It has been the historical critical method that has sustained my faith and deepened my devotion to the New Testament, the book I have spent my life attempting to understand and teach.
History of New Testament Research, vol. 3: 3-4.

In some circles, the historical critical method is demonized and blamed for all sorts of interpretative evils. Sadly, I have witnessed this first hand on a number of occasions. The phrase is thrown around like a curse word, and the last thing you want to be caught doing is playing nice with this method.

I find Baird’s wonderful affirmation the historical critical method to be a breath of fresh air. While it may be true that some people have loss their faith due to this method, it is also true that people have loss their faith using the historical grammatical method and other methods as well. I do not blame the method for these tragic apostasies; rather, there is something else going on—something much deeper—in the heart of one who loses their faith in the Son of God.