Heading for the Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences (Ottawa)

I’ll be heading off to Canada next weekend to the Congress of Humanities and Social Sciences, held this year at the University of Ottawa. I am member of, and typically attend, three of the eighty academic societies that meet over the space of a week each year on a different Canadian university campus.

This year I’m presenting papers at all three societies.

For the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies (CSBS) I will present a paper on May 30 called “Is God Fickle? The Theological Significance of Interpretive Conundrums in YHWH’s Judgment on the Elide Priesthood (1 Samuel 2-3).” This paper grows out of research and teaching I’ve been doing on 1 and 2 Samuel over the last number of years; I’ve been particularly interested in how God’s character and actions are understood in relation to the momentous transition of Israel from a tribal league to a monarchy.

For the Canadian Evangelical Theological Association (CETA) I will present a paper on May 31 called “A Psalm against David? A Canonical Reading of Psalm 51 as a Critique of David’s Inadequate Repentance in 2 Samuel 12.” This paper also grows out of my work on 1 and 2 Samuel, in connection with my teaching on the Psalms. Here I’m interested in how we in the church tend to read the character of David as pious and faithful, when the narrative portrays him in no such manner.

Also on May 31, as part of the CETA evening program, I will be participating in a panel discussion, responding to three reviews of my book A New Heaven and a New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology; this discussion will be held at Sunnyside Wesleyan Church.

For the Canadian Theological Society (CTS) I will present a paper on June 1 called “Faith Seeking Understanding: Reflections on Narratival Biblical Hermeneutics from a Canadian Immigrant Perspective.” This paper is part of a larger project on Narratival Hermeneutics of the Bible in Canada that will involve a variety of immigrant biblical scholars, each of whom will reflect on how their own ethnocultural background and tradition shapes their approach to the Bible, in connection with their Canadian experience.

Esau McCaulley was Dynamite! Report on the Rochester Preaching Conference

I just came from presenting with Rev. Esau McCaulley (doctoral candidate in New Testament at the University of St. Andrews) at the annual Preaching Conference of the Rochester Consortium of Theological Schools, held at St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry (May 21, 2015). We had a great time, with lots of discussion, both in the Q&A after each talk and during lunch with the attendees.

My presentation on Matthew’s use of the Old Testament in the infancy narratives had considerable overlap with his presentation on Paul’s understanding of the Law in Galatians 3:10-14.

Just as I addressed Matthew’s use of four Old Testament quotations, Rev. McCaulley addressed Paul’s use of four OT passages in the Galatians text. In both presentations we argued that the New Testament writer in question (Matthew/ Paul) was reading the OT texts in context with significant discernment.

Further, we both focused on how the broader biblical narrative of Israel’s crisis/exile and coming Messianic resolution framed the argument of the New Testament text. And in both cases we addressed the communal and socio-political implications of the text relevant for preaching.

It looked like we had collaborated on our presentations, but we hadn’t. This just shows that when Rev. McCaulley begins as a new faculty member at Northeastern Seminary (part-time, at a distance this Fall, and full-time on campus in Fall 2016) there’s going to be great synergy in the biblical studies courses—and, indeed, with the entire core curriculum of NES, which emphasizes the relationship of Bible, theology, and praxis.

In fact, since Rev. McCaulley just signed his contract with Northeastern (the day before the conference), he is already technically on the faculty.

So I want to affirm the welcome to Professor Esau McCaulley that Doug Cullum, the Dean of NES, extended at the conference. Lots of students are eagerly looking forward to taking your courses and being mentored by you.

You can access Esau McCaulley’s blog here.

The Gospel and the Kingdom: Esau McCaulley’s Talk for the Rochester Preaching Conference (May 21, 2015)

A few days ago I posted a description of the talk I would be giving at the Rochester preaching conference on May 21, 2015.

I asked Esau McCaulley, who is also speaking at the conference, to say a bit about his presentation (this is also posted on the Northeastern Seminary website).

His talk is entitled: “The Gospel and the Kingdom: Preaching the Law, Faith, and the Messiah Jesus in Galatians 3:10–14.”

Galatians 3:10–14

10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of the law.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law; for “The one who is righteous will live by faith.” 12 But the law does not rest on faith; on the contrary, “Whoever does the works of the law will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (NRSV)

Esau McCaulley’s Explanation

These verses have often been read as a treatise on how an individual can obtain salvation, given that fact that all people sin and that the Law requires absolute perfection.

In my talk at the Rochester preaching conference, I will argue that we can understand Paul’s argument better by a careful reading of Galatians 3:10–14 and by paying attention to the story of Israel that drove Paul’s understanding of the life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah.

I have four primary goals for this talk:

1. Homiletical Fruit

First, I hope to demonstrate that a close reading of Pauline texts can provide fresh avenues for preaching. Exegesis bears homiletical fruit!

2. Focus on the Community of Faith

Second, I will suggest that Galatians 3:10–14 is not primarily about how a wicked individual can stand before a just God. Instead, Paul focuses on God’s vision for the climax of Israel’s story, namely, the post-exilic creation of the people of God – Jew and Gentile – through faith in the Messiah Jesus, apart from Torah.

Thus, at the heart of Paul’s gospel stands a vision for a multi-ethnic kingdom under the reign of the crucified king. The people of this kingdom are identified by faith, and their lives show a foretaste of the kingdom through Spirit-empowered mutual love.

3. Paul’s Use of Old Testament Scripture

Third, I intend to analyze how Paul uses scripture to substantiate his claim. I will show that examining the contexts of Paul’s Old Testament citations (Deuteronomy 27:26; Habakkuk 2:4; Leviticus 18:5; and Deuteronomy 21:23) provides a richer understanding of his argument.

4. The Connection between Conversion and Justice

Finally, I hope to reveal how this faithful interpretation of Paul’s message allows our preaching to make organic connections between conversion, deep involvement in a community of believers, racial reconciliation, and the church’s public witness against injustice.

I look forward to our mutual engagement around these issues at the conference.

Thanks for sharing this, Esau. I’m looking forward to the conversation.

You can access Esau McCaulley’s blog here.

My follow-up on Esau McCaulley’s presentation is posted here.