“Faith in the resurrection is thus an expression of the conviction that there is justice in history, even when the experiences of calamity, suffering, and death appear to speak against this.”
Jesus of Nazareth: Jew From Galilee, Savior of the World: 205.
Word came today via the blogosphere that New Testament professor Dr. Rod Decker passed from this life into the glory of his Savior. Dr. Decker is known for his careful study of the Greek New Testament. Since 1996, he has been Professor of Greek and New Testament at Baptist Bible Seminary. He is the author of Koine Greek Reader: Selections from the New Testament, Septuagint, and Early Christian Writers and Temporal Deixis of the Greek Verb in the Gospel of Mark with Reference to Verbal Aspect. He was also a prolific blogger, blogging at New Testament Resources.
By God’s mercy to us, Dr. Decker was allowed to finish what may become his magnum opus. Set for publication later this year are two books that I know I have been eagerly awaiting—The Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament: Mark 1–8 and The Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament: Mark 9–16, and his beginning Greek grammar, Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook.
While I only conversed with him through email, and meeting once this past November at ETS, I can say he was a very warm and kind person. I thank God for his life, ministry, and the legacy he leaves behind in his family and former students. May he enjoy eternal rest with his Lord!
When you write like Paul seems to have done, at one level you think very hard about what you are doing, but at another level it just happens. Large-scale planning may be going on in your head or on scraps of parchment, but at that point there is an easy commerce of the old and the new, of conscious and subconscious. Finally, you glimpse it, you feel it, it emerges from somewhere, you write it (or dictate it), and it’s done. By the time Paul wrote Romans, writing was part of the praxis of his mindset, a symphonist at the top of his game. The letters were part pastoral, part a substitute for his own presence; as theoreticians were already pointing out in his day, that’s what a letter was and did. But they were also writing: quality writing to match the new thing which Paul must be credited with inventing, that specific, odd, craggy yet harmonious thing we call Christian theology, which demands new genres in which rhetoric, poetry, explanation, persuasion, scriptural exposition, warning and devotion rub shoulders and declare themselves members together of a new family. Whether we agree with him or not, his letters deserve their place (to put it with cheerful anachronism) not only in the Church Times or the Christian Century but also in the Times Literary Supplement and the New York Review of Books. They break the several different moulds, from which they emerge, just as did Paul’s theology itself. Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning. If Seneca didn’t read Romans, which he almost certainly didn’t, it is a pity: he would have been puzzled by much of the content, but he would have recognized that this man had something to say and knew how to say it. With style.
Paul and the Faithfulness of God, 453-54.
Today I received a lovely surprise from the fine folks at Mohr Siebeck (my favorite publisher!): Studies in Matthew and Early Christianity. This volume consists of essays from the late Graham Stanton, edited by Markus Bockmuehl and David Lincicum. During his lifetime Dr. Graham was arguably the world’s leading expert on the Gospel of Matthew. I look forward to what this gem will teach me.
Eerdmans has a informative interview with James Dunn on his latest work, The Oral Gospel Tradition.
The reason we study Paul’s theology, I suggest, is that it has had to grow up quickly, to learn its new, complex, leading part within the music. Theology is the lifeblood of the ekklēsia, which is itself the central worldview-symbol. Without it—as any church will discover, to this day, if theology in general and Pauline theology in particular is ignored or marginalized!—the chance of the central worldview-symbol standing upright and supporting the rest of the building will be severely decreased.
Paul and the Faithfulness of God, 404.