Available Lecture

I mentioned earlier that Jonathan Boston spoke at the University of Otago through the Centre for Theology and Public Issues. His lecture on Child Poverty in New Zealand has been made available as a podcast by the Centre. It is entitled “Child Poverty: Myths, Misconceptions, and Misunderstandings” and is available as either a video or audio podcast.

Also, Richard Bauckham’s lectures (the last of which will get started in about half an hour) are being turned into podcasts. They are available here.

Bauckham in New Zealand

Professor Richard Bauckham has been in New Zealand to give the Burns Lectures in the Theology Department of the University of Otago. The three lectures from last week were well-presented and extremely informative. Three more follow this week. So, for anyone in Dunedin Tuesday through Thursday evenings, the lectures are in Archway 2 at 5.15.

Prior to coming to Dunedin, Prof. Bauckham and Chris Marshall were at Carey Baptist College to deliver a few lectures on the subject of Jesus in Context. Thanks to Carey Baptist College, the lectures have been made available here.

1 Corinthians 4.1–5

Paul has just told the Corinthians not to allow themselves to be deceived in 1 Cor 3.18–23, and he offers an alternative way to live in 1 Cor 4.1–5. Having torn down the foundation on which Corinthian self-promotion was based and shown the surprising superiority of the cross, Paul has instructed them in the previous verses not to count wisdom as wisdom is counted in this age. Instead, they are part of the new age because they belong to Christ.

Throughout the letter, Paul uses two ages to denote the way that the death and resurrection of Jesus have changed the world. In this age, that is, the world in which we all live and participate, the Corinthians should be considered as “Christ’s servants” and “stewards of God’s mysteries” (1 Cor 4.1). The words for “servant” and “steward” could be used in Greek to describe people with varying levels of responsibilities. Yet the point here is not to figure out precisely what the role of a servant or steward might be. No matter how much responsibility is given to a servant or steward, that person must answer to his or her master. The servant should aim to be considered faithful in the eyes of the master (1 Cor 4.2). A good servant is one who is trustworthy and consistent in working out his or her role in God’s plan. This metaphor does not run too far afield from the three images which Paul has already used in 1 Cor 3.6–17 (field, building, temple). The point is that the faithful servant persists in the work to which he or she has been assigned and leaves the final consideration of the work to God.

Paul establishes himself as a model of one who leaves the final judgment of faithfulness to God. He says that it is finally insignificant how he is judged by his Corinthian audience, “a human day,” or even himself (1 Cor 4.3). The phrase “human day” refers to a day of judgment carried out by human beings. This seems to be a contrast with the prophetic “day of the Lord” on which God himself will judge his creation and set all things in order. Paul’s reason for leaving this judgment to God is that Paul does not know everything about himself. He does not know of anything concerning which he could be found guilty, but this does not preclude the possibility that Paul has overlooked something secret in his life (1 Cor 4.4). He advises his audience to follow his practice and leave judgment to the proper time—the time when God will judge the world properly (1 Cor 4.5). Only at this time will God’s workers receive their proper commendation.

Paul’s instruction to leave judgment to God at the appropriate time comes from the belief that the Creator is the only one who fully knows the creation. Self-deception is a very real possibility in the human experience and, while the Spirit helps Christians to understand (1 Cor 2.11–13), they are not thereby ready to judge themselves in a final way. Paul’s conclusion in 1 Cor 4.5 provides an additional reason to follow his instruction in 1 Cor 3.18. Moreover, if even Paul leaves judgment to the final day, how much more should the Corinthians (and current believers by extension), withhold judgment on the works of other believers.

As You Like It

Spoiler alert. I finished reading Shakespeare’s As You Like It yesterday. It was the first time that I have read that play. I thought the lines below were a clever ending to a comedy, but they are the ending. So, if you are like me and over 500 years behind but don’t want to read the end of the play without reading the whole thing first, I suggest you find a different post to read. Better yet, find a copy of the play and get started.

Rosalind’s epilogue. From Act V, scene iv, lines 198–220.

It is not the fashion to see the lady the epilogue; but it is no more unhandsome than to see the lord the prologue. If it be true that good wine needs no bush, ’tis true that a good play needs no epilogue. Yet to good wine they do use good bushes; and good plays prove the better by the help of good epilogues. What a case am I in then, that am neither a good epilogue, nor cannot insinuate with you in the behalf of a good play? I am not furnished like a beggar, therefore to beg will not become me. My way is to conjure you, and I’ll begin with the women. I charge you, O women, for the love you bear to men, to like as much of this play as please you. And I charge you, O men, for the love you bear to women—as I perceive by your simpering none of you hates them—that between you and the women the play may please. If I were a woman, I would kiss as many of you as had beards that pleased me, complexions that liked me, and breaths that I defied not. And I am sure, as many as have good beards, or good faces, or sweet breaths, will for my kind offer, when I make curtsy, bid me farewell.

10 Pentecost

From the 1662 BCP (9 Trinity):

Grant to us, Lord, we beseech thee, the spirit to think and do always such things as be rightful; that we, who cannot do any thing that is good without thee, may by thee be enabled to live according to thy will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Around the Web: Higher Education

This morning I’ve been catching up on some reading about the university and academic professions.

To attest to how behind I am, last month Naomi S. Baron wrote a piece about e-reading that is available on the website of The Chronicle of Higher Education. The thesis of the article is plainly stated and a bit disheartening to someone like myself who is undertaking his research within the Humanities Department of a public university.

But there is another essential consideration affecting interest in humanistic inquiry: how we are doing our reading. I contend that the shift from reading in print to reading on digital devices is further reducing students’ pursuit of work in the humanities. Students (and the rest of us) have been reading on computers for many years. Besides searching for web pages, we’ve grown accustomed to reading journal articles online and mining documents in digital archives. However, with the coming of e-readers, tablets, and smartphones, reading styles underwent a sea change.

Baron’s book Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World is scheduled to come out at the beginning of next year with OUP.

Steve Kolowich has a nice article on attempts at the University of Michigan to solve the problems of boring lectures and distracted students by using data collection and technology. There is a nice distinction made between for-profit, online universities and research universities such as Michigan. However, there is another type of university, the small, liberal arts college, that would be interesting to know about as well.

Finally, David Bromwich has a very interesting and detailed summary and response to Andrew Rossi’s new documentary The Ivory Tower. The response is available at The New York Review of Books.

The number of problems with higher education in the US are often enumerated from a variety of perspectives, and we need people working on all of these. However, one of the chief problems to overcome is the idea that university is a place to undergo expensive job training. This way of thinking is readily available from students, parents, administrators, and potential employers. A certain amount of this is fair enough. We should expect a university graduate to have a certain set of skills that can be used in their future professions. But this set of useful skills should be expanded rather than diminished. In the course of prioritizing “practical” degrees in such fields as business or computer science, we should not lose track of the role of the university in teaching students to think well, to engage a variety of tasks and ideas critically, and to live as robust contributors in all areas of society and human life.

1 Corinthians 3.18–25

1 Cor 3.18–25 follows Paul’s threefold metaphor of the church as God’s field (3.6–9b), building (3.9c–15), and temple (3.16–17). The point of 1 Cor 3.6–17 was that the church belongs to God and that the significant personalities over which the Corinthians were divided work together on what God is constructing. 1 Cor 3.18–25 connects the imagery in 1 Cor 3.6–17 with the discussion of wisdom that has played such a prominent role since 1 Cor 1.18.

Paul instructs the Corinthians not to deceive themselves. The wisdom that he has discussed is of a different order from what is usually considered wise. It is the sort of wisdom that considers a crucified messiah to be the focal point of the message by which the rulers of the present time were duped and exposed to a new kingdom (compare 1 Cor 1.18–25, 2.6–8). The surprising way in which it works seems to make it easy to deceive oneself in to thinking that he or she is wise. Such a person must instead become foolish in order to become wise.

Thiselton points out that the references to Job 5.13 and Psa 94.11 epitomize 1 Cor 1.19 and the reference to Isa 29 found there [1 Corinthians (NIGTC; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 322]. Paul’s claim that the wisdom of this world is folly in comparison with God is supported by Job’s praise of God who “catches the wise in their cleverness” and the Psalmist’s statement that he “knows that the reasonings of the wise are empty.” These quotations seem to be more than proof texts. The presence of multiple quotations and similar structures for quotations suggest that Paul has a method, however different it may be from contemporary exegetical preferences. For a similar style and Old Testament citation, see 1 Cor 1.18–19 where a similar train of thought to that expounded in 1 Cor 3.18–20 is stated and then supported by a statement from the Old Testament.

If Paul is correct that the wisdom which comes from God has been enacted in a different way from the wisdom which human beings would normally expect, it follows that human beings are left without ground on which to make a claim (1 Cor 3.21). The result of Paul’s argument is that no one is able to boast in their own wisdom. Nevertheless, the Corinthian believers possess all things because they have been given everything by God himself. Paul lists a number of these gifts in 1 Cor 3.22, and the list resembles Rom 8.38 in some ways.

Paul’s point in this passage is that everything belongs to the Corinthians. This generosity undercuts the assertion of those in Corinth who may want to see themselves as privileged. All are equally privileged. This is because all of them belong to Christ and Christ himself comes from God. The breathtaking claims that Paul makes for the people of God in 1 Cor 3.22 demonstrates the astonishing effects of God’s wisdom as enacted in the crucified messiah. His claims are consistent with the claims that the church must be seen as something that originates in and belongs to the God who redeems the world by his own plan and way of working.

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