Sunday, 2 December 2007

Short Break

I am hitting the road again - not for work, but for a well deserved short vacation. There will be very limited internet access so I may not be able to update my blog while I am away.

Will be back on December 10!

Friday, 30 November 2007

TEE Schedule 2008

The revised TEE schedule for 2008 is finally posted on the web.

There are some interesting courses lined up for 2008. Of major highlights are the course to be taught by Dr Peter O'Brien of Moore College, Australia, and the Special Travel Course Following the Footsteps of Paul. Check out these and other courses, and sign up!

If you are interested in our Theological Education by Extension (TEE) or would like further information on our TEE programmes, please click here.

Financial Transparency

Transparency. Good governance. Integrity. These are buzz words not only in the Malaysian politics but also in churches today.

In the Malaysian scene, I have yet to see churches publicly display their financial statements (for obvious reasons - and I could be wrong here) although these are often made known to the church members/congregation during their annual general meetings.

But there is one mega church in the neighbouring country that has precisely done that - publicise the financial statements online for all to scrutinise. Many thanks to Blogpastor who highlighted this.

City Harvest Church makes it known publicly her detailed financial statements from 2003-2007. Even the church building construction cost is made known. Very impressive indeed. One may criticise or disagree with City Harvest Church for many things the church does, but certainly, the impressive transparency with finances and attendance details is one area that many churches need to emulate.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

NT Position at Regent University

Of late, there have been several NT positions being advertised. Another one has just been announced.

New Testament Studies
Position Announcement

Regent University's School of Divinity invites applications and nominations for a tenure-track faculty appointment at the rank of assistant professor. The appointment involves responsibility for teaching and research in some facet of New Testament studies. Interest in and aptitude for teaching biblical languages and hermeneutics are also desirable. A PhD and an aptitude as a teacher to become proficient in multiple forms of delivery are required. University or seminary level teaching experience in a relevant field is desirable, and the successful candidate must demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the Renewal (Pentecostal/Charismatic) perspective in Christianity. Ministerial credentials are strongly preferred.

Prospective candidates should send a letter of interest, transcripts, curriculum vita, and a brief statement on their Christian experience and philosophy of education in relation to ministry. In addition, letters of reference from three recommenders should be sent directly from the recommenders to this postal address.

Biblical Studies Search Committee
c/o Meredith Vance
Office of the Dean
School of Divinity
Regent University
1000 Regent University Drive
Virginia Beach, VA 23464

Applications can be submitted online at

Curriculum vita or resume can be submitted electronically in PDF or Microsoft Word format to (

Priority will be given to applications received by December 15, 2007.

Regent University is a culturally diverse community that actively encourages women and members of all racial/ethnic backgrounds and cultures to apply. More information regarding Regent University can be found at

Applicants will receive consideration without discrimination because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, or disability.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Position: Kirby Laing Chair of NT Exegesis

The following announcement came through the BNTS list.

Kirby Laing Chair of New Testament Exegesis
School of Divinity, History and Philosophy
University of Aberdeen
Closing Date: 31-Mar-2008

We wish to enhance our investment in New Testament research and teaching by appointing an exceptional scholar of international standing to the Kirby Laing Chair of New Testament Exegesis. Your role will involve providing intellectual and personal leadership for research and teaching activities e.g attracting high calibre postgraduate students, raising research income, strengthening the taught and research postgraduate programmes, and contributing to the department's undergraduate teaching. In addition, there is a major role to play in maintaining established links between New Testament studies and other biblical and theological fields within the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy.

You must demonstrate a distinguished record in research/publication, teaching and strategic management of a team. Analytical skills of the highest level, sound judgement and excellent communication skills are also essential.

We invite interested candidates to submit an initial application. Suitably qualified individuals will be invited to visit the University informally before any formal interview. We would hope to have completed interviews by April 2008, and that you would take up the appointment in September 2008.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Reveiw of Biblical Literature, Nov 23, 2007

The following new reviews have been added to the Review of Biblical Literature:

Martin Arneth
Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt.: Studien zur Entstehung der alttestamentlichen Urgeschichte
Reviewed by Michaela Bauks
Reviewed by Konrad Schmid

Gary M. Beckman and Theodore J. Lewis, eds.
Text, Artifact, and Image: Revealing Ancient Israelite Religion
Reviewed by Diana Edelman

Barry Beitzel, ed.
Biblica The Bible Atlas: A Social and Historical Journey through the Lands of the Bible
Reviewed by Ralph K. Hawkins

Silvia Cappelletti
The Jewish Community of Rome: From the Second Century B.C. to the Third Century C.E.
Reviewed by Judith Lieu
Reviewed by Allen Kerkeslager

Georg Gäbel
Die Kulttheologie des Hebräerbriefes: Eine exegetisch-religionsgeschichtliche Studie
Reviewed by Gabriella Gelardini

Bruce J. Malina and John J. Pilch
Social-Science Commentary on the Letters of Paul
Reviewed by Eduard Verhoef

Jerome Neyrey
The Gospel of John
Reviewed by Dirk van der Merwe

Richard P. Thompson
Keeping the Church in Its Place: The Church as Narrative Character in Acts
Reviewed by Steve Walton

David A. Warburton, Erik Hornung, and Rolf Krauss, eds.
Ancient Egyptian Chronology
Reviewed by Nicolas Grimal

Markus Witte, Konrad Schmid, Doris Prechel, Jan Christian Gertz, eds.
Die deuteronomistischen Geschichtswerke: Redaktions- und religionsgeschichtliche Perspektiven zur "Deuteronomismus"-Diskussion in Tora und Vorderen Propheten
Reviewed by Trent C. Butler
Reviewed by Jobst Bösenecker and Ulrike Sals

Friday, 23 November 2007

NT Position in Wycliffe Hall

Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, is advertising once again for an NT position. This announcement came through the BNTS list. A similar recruitment announcement was made in June earlier this year.

An international centre for evangelical and Anglican Christian life and study in the University of Oxford.

An exciting post with the opportunity to be at the heart of a biblical and spiritual training for gospel ministry.


* Teaching within the Hall & the University
* Opportunity for research & postgraduate supervision
* Mentoring & preparing students for ministry

For further details please contact:

The College Administrator,
Wycliffe Hall,
54 Banbury Road,
Oxford OX2 6PW.

Applications close: Monday 10 December 2007

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Christmas Ideas

I am going off topic in this post.

I am helping to promote a novel arts and craft venture by my sister. Together with two other friends, they have come out with some cool and neat ideas for Christmas gifts. Check out their blog, ARTSYC.

They are making their products available this week. Please visit their booth at Mont Kiara Bazaar. There are more products on display.

Details as follows:

  • Mont Kiara Bazaar, Plaza Mont Kiara.
  • For map to venue, please click here.


  • Thursday, 22 November 2007 evening from 5pm to 10pm
  • Sunday, 25 November 2007 from 11.30am to 6.00pm

If you drop by, just mention that you come to know about their booth in my blog, and I am pretty sure the ladies will give you a good deal. They will be very pleased of your support.

New Biblical Studies Journal

THE ORTHODOX CENTER FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF BIBLICAL STUDIES (OCABS) is pleased to announce the launching of its new, on-line academic journal, The Journal of the Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (JOCABS).

The following is the abstract from the press release.
The mission of JOCABS is to promote scholarship in biblical studies, homiletics, and religious education among Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians around the world.

Although submissions in English are preferred thus ensuring greater accessibility, academic papers in other languages (especially Arabic, Armenian, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, and Spanish) will be considered by our multi-lingual editorial board and its international associates.

Articles may be submitted in the following areas:

  • Old Testament and Cognate Studies. Including (but not limited to) critical studies in Hebrew Bible; Septuagint; Pseudepigrapha; Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture; Syro-Palestinian Archaeology.

  • New Testament and Cognate Studies. Including (but not limited to) critical studies in New Testament; Early Christian Literature; Apocryphal Literature and Traditions; Classical Studies; Archaeology of the Hellenistic and Roman periods.

  • The Bible in Homiletics and Christian Education. Including theoretical and methodological studies dedicated to the practical applications of biblical scholarship to both preaching and pedagogy.

  • Book Reviews. Submissions of critical reviews of books related to the field of biblical studies will be accepted and invited.
JOCABS is committed to promoting scholarship among scholars and graduate students and encourages them to submit papers to its peer-reviewed process.

The first issue will appear in the Summer of 2008, and semiannually thereafter.

For additional information, please contact Dr. Nicolae Roddy, at or Fr. Vahan Hovhanessian, at

To submit an article online, please visit

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

It is Finished!!

It is finished!

Yes, I have finally finished marking (American English: grading) all the papers and turned in the grades. The final semester for the current academic year ended about a month ago and I have been struggling to finish marking all the papers since then. It is a great relief for me, and I am very sure for the students as well who are anxiously waiting to know their grades. Well, I think I have less hair on my head now!

Whatever it is, it's time for a break....

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

"Do Not Read the Bible Like the Theologians Do"

"Do not read the Bible like the theologians do!"

That statement in the sermon made me sit up. My first reaction was that perhaps I heard the preacher wrongly. But I did not. The person sitting next to me confirmed what was said over the pulpit.

This happened when I was attending a Sunday Service in a fairly large and well-known church in the Klang Valley some months ago. In this particular sermon, one of the pastors of this church was making a point concerning the importance of having a regular personal devotion if one wishes to grow towards maturity as a believer. One could hardly disagree with this. But in the midst of making his point, the pastor remarked, "But remember when you read the Bible in your personal devotion, do not read the Bible like the theologians do."

It is not very often that I reacted rather negatively to a Sunday sermon. Even if I do disagree with the preacher, more often than not, it has to do with issues of interpretation of scripture. After all, many of my own "si fu" (Gregory Beale, Walter Kaiser, William Mounce, Moises Silva, and Bruce Winter, amongst others) have thought me that as a budding NT scholar, I should practise charity when it comes to differing opinions concerning the interpretation of scripture. While we do exercise caution in interpreting the scripture, we must also acknowledge that we do not have all the full knowledge and wisdom to make a dogmatic statement, especially in interpreting the difficult passages in the Bible.

But this time, it was very different. I must confess I was stunned! Perhaps the preacher, who does not have any theological education, was trying to share a joke in the sermon. Perhaps he was trying to caution the congregation that, more often than not, theologians would argue on so many peripheral issues in the text, and yet they can never come to an agreement, and this is an area that should be avoided. Perhaps the preacher was trying to emphasise that one must not merely treat the Bible as a piece of literature subjected to scholarly research and scrutiny under the intellectual microscope. Perhaps he was reacting to the concern that some biblical scholars are investigating the scripture simply for some intellectual stimulation. Perhaps he was exhorting the congregation that we must allow the scripture to speak not only to the head but to the heart as well. Perhaps it was just a slip of tongue.

While I may not know the intention of the preacher for making this statement, I could not help but to wonder why theologians/biblical scholars have often received bad press in many sermons, particularly among the independent charismatic churches? This is not the first time that I hear such remark being made over the pulpit.

I thought that instead of arguing over the issue of whether one should or should not read the bible like the theologians do, perhaps it would be good for me to reflect and ask myself these questions as a budding NT scholar: As a follower of Christ, do I read the Bible differently from the "non-theologians"? In my teaching and preaching, have I failed to instruct the congregation concerning the truth of God? Have I failed to demonstrate that the scripture is relevant for all of us even in our present day? Or have I only caught up in the academic pursuit of biblical studies to the neglect of applying the scripture in my own personal life and professional life as a lecturer in a seminary?

Or, if I am not a theologian/biblical scholar and if I do not reflect or think through issues theologically, what difference would this make in my discipline of reading the scripture? What treasures would I not be able to mine? What theological insights would I not discover? What truths would I not understand? If I do not allow the scriptures to guide and instruct me in my understanding of ethical, moral and contemporary issues, what significant impact would this have in my appropriation of biblical truths in various aspects of my Christian life? What application of biblical truth in my Christian journey would I misappropriate?

I may not have all the answers to the above questions. But this I know. After all, isn't it Karl Barth, when asked about his Christian faith, responded by saying, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so"? I think this is a very sober reminder from a great theologian to all of us about how we understand and read the Bible - whether we are theologian or not!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Growing Number of Men for Priesthood

A recent article in The Times reported that there has been a steady growing numbers of men training for priesthood in the Roman Catholic church in recent years, thanks to a series of aggressive and creative advertisement campaigns.

The report also highlighted several interesting developments in the Catholic church.
  • From the lowest recruits of 26 in the year 2002, there has been a steady increase over a period of 4 years to 44 applicants .

  • The average of men entering priesthood is now 28, the youngest it has been in years.

  • A disproportionate number of the new seminarians at the Westminster archdiocese's seminary at Allen Hall are coming into the priesthood through the “ecclesiastical movements” that proliferated after the Second Vatican Council. These groups are officially recognised organisations that follow a particular founder and are usually led by the laity. They often take the model of the early Church as their example, meeting as small communities to pray and study scripture.

Read the rest of the article here.

It is also interesting to compare some of these figures to my seminary's new intake for the coming 2008 academic year. While we are encouraged by some of the recent developments, it seems to me that the latest statistics also reveal some concerns and trends that both the church and seminary need to consider seriously. More of this later.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

"You Die!!"

I had a rather interesting conversation with someone over the course of last week. And this had to do with the command of different languages. In multi-cultural and multi-lingual context of Malaysia, not everyone is fluent in Chinese, and not everyone is fluent in English. As for me, my understanding of Chinese is rather limited, despite spending some years in vernacular Chinese school. And the same goes to those who are fluent in Chinese may have a somehow limited understanding of English. In circumstances like this, a person who is fluent in Chinese may be speaking in English, but the construction of the sentences in English sounds more like literal translation of Chinese.

For example, a phrase like "I came to my office seven early eight early this morning" would make no sense to an English speaker, but those who speak Chinese would know that it means "I came to my office very early in the morning, or, earlier than my usual office hours."

Back to my conversation with this person. This person is fluent in Chinese, but not so in English. She was trying to express something and it ended up with this: "Good thing you don't know much Chinese, else you die!"

Obviously, I had a shock of my life. Someone wishing that I die!! But she explained that what she meant was that she was not able to respond to my queries fast enough, but if she were able to express it in Chinese, she would be able to do so. She assured me that it did not sound so derogatory in Chinese as it did in English. much so for some cross-cultural communication....

Friday, 16 November 2007

Gospel of John

Pearlie gives her "feminist" persepctive on John 8:2-11. And there is another persepctive on this passage as depicted in the cartoon below.

For those of you who may be interested in the study of the Gospel of John, my colleague, Allen McClymont, is offering the course as part of our TEE programme on 23-25 November and 30 November - 2 December, to be held in Heritage Centre, Petaling Jaya Evangelical Free Church, Petaling Jaya. It's still not too late to sign up. Further details can be found here. If you wish to register for the course, the enrollment form can be found here.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Review of Biblical Literature, November 14, 2007

The latest Review of Biblical Literature is out. The following books are reviewed. Worthwhile mentioning the is the review of the work of my colleague, Y. V. Koh, Royal Autobiography in the Book of Qoheleth.

Pancratius Beentjes
"Happy the One who Meditates on Wisdom" (Sir. 14,20): Collected Essays on the Book of Ben Sira
Reviewed by Benjamin G. Wright III

Mark J. Boda, Daniel K. Falk, and Rodney A. Werline, eds.
Seeking the Favor of God: Volume 1: The Origins of Penitential Prayer in Second Temple Judaism
Reviewed by Albert L. A. Hogeterp

Kurt Erlemann, Karl Leo Noethlichs, Klaus Scherberich, and Jürgen Zangenberg, eds.
Neues Testament und Antike Kultur (4 vols.)
Band 1: Prolegomena; Quellen; Geschichte
Band 2: Familie; Gesellschaft; Wirtschaft
Band 3: Weltauffassung; Kult; Ethos
Band 4: Karten, Abbildungen, Register
Reviewed by Joseph Verheyden

Meik Gerhards
Die Aussetzungsgeschichte des Mose: Literar- und traditionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen zu einem Schlüsseltext des nichtpriesterschriftlichen Tetrateuch
Reviewed by Eckart Otto

Graeme GoldsworthyGospel-Centered Hermeneutics: Foundations and Principles of Evangelical Biblical Interpretation
Reviewed by Erwin Ochsenmeier

Hermann Gunkel; trans. by K. William Whitney Jr.
Creation and Chaos in the Primeval Era and the Eschaton: A Religio-Historical Study of Genesis 1 and Revelation 12
Reviewed by Pieter G. R. de Villiers

Stanley Hauerwas
Reviewed by John Nolland

Ilze Kezbere
Umstrittener Monotheismus: Wahre und falsche Apotheose im lukanischen Doppelwerk
Reviewed by Loveday Alexander

Y. V. Koh
Royal Autobiography in the Book of Qoheleth
Reviewed by Stefan Fischer

Josep Rius-Camps and Jenny Read-Heimerdinger
The Message of Acts in Codex Bezae: A Comparison with the Alexandrian Tradition; Volume 2: Acts 6:1-12:25: From Judea and Samaria to the Church in Antioch
Reviewed by Jacob M. Caldwell

Dorothee Soelle; trans. by Nancy Lukens-Rumscheidt and Martin Lukens-RumscheidtThe Mystery of Death
Reviewed by Cornel W. du Toit

Timo Veijola
Das fünfte Buch Mose (Deuteronomium): Kapitel 1,1-16,17
Reviewed by Christoph Levin

D. H. Williams, ed.Tradition, Scripture, and Interpretation: A Sourcebook of the Ancient Church
Reviewed by H. H. Drake Williams III

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Gideons Bible is Out

In those days that I used to travel quite frequently (during the many years that I worked in the real estate industry), I could always count on a Gideons Bible in the hotel rooms if I ever forgot to bring along my Bible, or if ever an unscheduled overnight stay was required. But it seems that this is not the case anymore. The familiar Gideons Bible may not be easily available in hotel rooms in the very near future.

A recent article in Newsweek reports that finding a Gideons bible in a hotel room may be a dying tradition. But something else is fast replacing the Bibles in the hotel rooms. Guess what? Any surprises?

The article is reproduced below.

In the rooms of Manhattan's trendy Soho Grand Hotel guests can enjoy an eclectic selection of underground music, iPod docking stations, flat-screen TVs and even the living company of a complimentary goldfish. But, alas, the word of God is nowhere to be found. Unlike traditional hotels, the 10-year-old boutique has never put Bibles in its guest rooms, because "society evolves," says hotel spokeswoman Lori DeBlois. Providing Bibles would mean the hotel "would have to take care of every guest's belief."

What might be surprising to many Americans is that the Bible-free room isn't a development just in hip New York City hotels. Across the country upscale accommodations are doing away with the Bible as a standard room amenity. And in its stead have arrived a slew of "lifestyle" products that cater to a younger, hipper (and presumably less religious) clientele. Since 2001 the number of luxury hotels with religious materials in the rooms has dropped by 18 percent, according to the American Hotel and Lodging Association. The Nashville-based Gideons International, which has distributed copies of the Christian scripture to hotels since 1908, declined to comment on this trend.

Edgier chains like the W provide "intimacy kits" with condoms in the minibar, while New York's Mercer Hotel supplies a free condom in each bathroom. Neither has Bibles. Since its recent renovation, the Sofitel L.A. offers a tantalizing lovers' dice game: roll one die for the action to be performed (for example, "kiss," "lick") and the other for the associated body part. The hotel's "mile high" kit, sold in the revamped gift shop, includes a condom, a mini vibrator, a feather tickler and lubricant. The new Indigo hotel in Scottsdale, Ariz., a "branded boutique" launched by InterContinental, also has no Bibles, but it does offer a "One Night Stand" package for guests seeking VIP treatment at local nightclubs and late checkout for the hazy morning after.

The reason for hotels' shift in focus? Leisure travel is up, business travel is down, and younger generations are entering the hotel market. Leisure now leads business by more than 10 percent in U.S. hotel stays, according to travel research firm D. K. Shifflet & Associates. With the lead in technology, design and nightlife, the boutique market is where Generations X, Y and young baby boomers want to be, says CEO Doug Shifflet. And with the boutique sector booming (boutique hotel rooms have grown by 23 percent since 2001, compared to only 7 percent for standard rooms), more traditional chains, which once catered to business clientele, are now desperate to emulate.

Sofitel's brand, for example, is taking "a new direction," says Daniel Entenberg, the "romance concierge" at the chain's flagship Los Angeles location. He was brought in two years ago in an effort to reposition the entire company's image. The chain once had Bibles in all guest rooms, but the corporate office in Dallas recently removed them due to guest inquiries about why other religious texts weren't available.

Even the staid Marriott chain, founded by a Mormon, is debating whether or not to include Bibles in its yet to be named boutique chain, which is set to launch in partnership with hipster hotelier Ian Schrager, who created the '70s disco Studio 54 and later New York City's Morgans, Royalton and Paramount hotels—which are largely credited with kicking off the boutique hotel craze. Schrager says he hasn't yet discussed the Bible amenity with Marriott, though he adds that his properties have never had in-room Bibles.

Marriott spokesman John Wolf says the Bible question is premature for the new venture, which he describes as "cutting-edge," "more urban" and "less values-oriented." Now, there's a marketing slogan no one's tried yet: "Sleep with us. Leave the values at home."

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Dim Sum and Chinese Hermeneutics

T&T Clark Blog highlights the endorsement received from Prof R. S. Sugirtharajah, Professor of Biblical Hermeneutics, University of Birmingham, UK, on an upcoming publication, Reading Christian Scriptures in China, ed. by Chloe Starr, expected to be released in April 2008.

"This distinguished assemblage, like the dim sum, is a rich feast. If China is emerging as an important force in the twenty-first century, then this scholarly and highly nuanced volume has the potential to make Chinese hermeneutics part of that exciting narrative. This exceptional collection addresses competently a wide range of hermeneutical issues, from the complexities of reception history to the politics of printing bibles, from the issue of public access to biblical material to the Christian Bible’s capricious status as a source for both moral and political engagement. This handsome guide to a territory which is totally new to those engaged in the field of biblical studies opens up new vistas in Chinese biblical interpretation and at the same time introduces to the English-speaking world the hitherto inaccessible but insightful and innovate hermeneutical enterprise of earlier Chinese interpreters like T.C. Chao; the interactions between biblical precepts and Confucian concepts, and the transformations that occur; and the constraining and enabling effect of Chinese culture and politics on the Bible. Written elegantly by China experts and Chinese both at home and abroad, this volume shows that hermeneutics can be both charmingly entertaining and wonderfully informative. Enthusiastically I recommend this book."

Sounds interesting enough? As a Chinese Malaysian, I look forward to interacting with this edited volume. In my current research, I am attempting to read some of the Pauline texts using Chinese hermeneutics and this book will no doubt contribute significantly to my research. Literature on Chinese hermeneutics is scare and this subject matter remains an area yet to be explored. As such, this edited volume by Starr will be a timely welcome. But, I suspect that the price of the book will be prohibitive. Hmm...I wonder a review copy would be made available for the budding NT scholar in the Two-Thirds world?

Monday, 12 November 2007

Blog Readability Test: Genius??

Ever wonder what level of education is required to understand my blog?

So I decided to try out the blog readability test to determine once and for all the answer to this question. Here's the verdict:

cash advance

All I can say is this: "Huh? Really ah? Can I trust the test?" So, what do the readers say?

Precious Monday

A day of rest finally! The last time I had a day off was exactly 1 month ago. For the past 4 weeks, I have been on the road, teaching and preaching in various locations, and attending numerous meetings and retreats in different parts of the country. It's been very tiring, to say the least (I think the age factor plays a significant role here!).

Anyway, it's nice to have a real Sabbath rest on a precious Monday after a month of running around. Let's hope there would be more regular Sabbaths....

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Paul's World, edited by Stanley Porter

The 4th installment in the Pauline Studies Series edited by Stanley Porter will be released in January 2008, according to information available in the publisher's website. (For earlier volumes in the series, see The Pauline Canon, Paul and His Opponents, and Paul and His Theology)

The forthcoming volume, Paul's World, appears to be promising and interesting. According to Brill, the publisher:

"This volume is concerned with Paul's world. The major question to ask is—what is that world of Paul? In determinable ways, Paul's world is everything in the world in which Paul lived and acted, and hence virtually everything that Paul did. In other words, Paul's world can be defined macrocosmically and microcosmically. As the term is defined in the various essays in this volume, Paul's world includes the surrounding environment in which Paul functioned, including its various religious, social, cultural, literary, rhetorical, linguistic and related phenomena. This volume treats some of the most important and germane factors that went into making up the world in which Paul lived, and that consequently defined who he was and became."

The contents of this volume include:



Defining the Parameters of Paul’s World: An Introduction
Stanley E. Porter

The Problem of Paul’s Social Class: Further Reflections
Ronald F. Hock

Hellenistic Schools in Jerusalem and Paul’s Rhetorical Education
Andrew W. Pitts

Greco-Roman Concepts of Deity
Ron C. Fay

Paul and the Athletic Ideal in Antiquity: A Case Study in Wrestling with Word and Image
Jim Harrison

Crucifixion in the Ancient World: A Response to L.L. Welborn
Sean A. Adams

The Languages that Paul Did Not Speak
Stanley E. Porter

Paul at the Ball: Eccclesia Victor and the Cosmic Defeat of Personified Evil in Romans 16:20
Michael J. Thate

Paul, the Cults in Corinth, and the Corinthian Correspondence
Panayotis Coutsoumpos

Ephesians 5:18-19 and Religious Intoxication in the World of Paul
Craig A. Evans

The Letter to Philemon: A Discussion with J. Albert Harrill
Tobias Nicklas

Some Rhetorical Techniques in Acts 24:2-21
Craig S. Keener

Index of Ancient Sources

Index of Modern Authors

The downside of this book - the price! At US$127.00, it is out of reach for many, including the library of my seminary, and, of course, yours truly as well!

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Review of Biblical Literature Nov 7, 2007

The following new reviews have been added to the Review of Biblical Literature.

David E. Aune
Apocalypticism, Prophecy and Magic in Early Christianity: Collected Essays
Reviewed by Lorenzo DiTommaso

Samuel E. Balentine
Reviewed by Willem A. M. Beuken

M. Daniel Carroll R. and Jacqueline E. Lapsley, eds.
Character Ethics and the Old Testament: Moral Dimensions of Scripture
Reviewed by Eckart Otto

Byron G. Curtis
Up the Steep and Stony Road: The Book of Zechariah in Social Location Trajectory Analysis
Reviewed by Ehud Ben Zvi

James D. G. Dunn
The Partings of the Ways: Between Christianity and Judaism and Their Significance for the Character of Christianity
Reviewed by Peter Carrell

Rolf Furuli
A New Understanding of the Verbal System of Classical Hebrew: An Attempt to Distinguish Between Semantic and Pragmatic Factors
Reviewed by John Kaltner

Hans-Josef Klauck
Ancient Letters and the New Testament: A Guide to Context and Exegesis
Reviewed by Pieter J. J. Botha

Derek Krueger, ed.
Byzantine Christianity
Reviewed by Peter-Ben Smit

Mareike Rake
"Juda wird aufsteigen!": Untersuchungen zum ersten Kapitel des Richterbuches
Reviewed by Christoph Levin

Hershel Shanks, ed.
Where Christianity Was Born: A Collection from the Biblical Archaeology Society
Reviewed by Jonathan Reed

Cynthia Long Westfall
A Discourse Analysis of the Letter to the Hebrews: The Relationship between Form and Meaning
Reviewed by Gabriella Gelardini

Alexa F. Wilke
Kronerben der Weisheit: Gott, König und Frommer in der didaktischen Literatur Ägyptens und Israels
Reviewed by Stefan Fischer

Friday, 9 November 2007

Wycliffe Hall Again

Christianity Today posted an article on Wycliffe Hall from its December issue. This latest editorial from CT adds to a rather long list of unfortunate negative press about the otherwise reputable college. Let's be in prayer for the college.

Wycliffe Woes: Troubles mount for Oxford's evangelical outpost.
Brad A. Greenberg

Britain's leading evangelical college is facing increasing criticism, and not just from outside detractors.

Since a new principal took over last year at Wycliffe Hall, one of seven private Christian schools at the University of Oxford, more than half of its faculty ha resigned. Critics charge new head Richard Turnbull with an abrasive management style and a narrowing of the college's theological vision.

A letter authorized by Alister McGrath and two other former principals said Turnbull's continuing leadership would turn away prospective faculty and students and saddle the school with a "limited focus on one strand of evangelicalism."

Adding to the school's troubles is a university panel review, released in September, which concluded that Wycliffe and Oxford's other Christian halls were not providing a liberal education in line with Oxford's values. The report recommended that Oxford regulate the curriculum of its permanent private halls. Teaching that squelches "the spirit of free and critical enquiry and debate" could cause a hall to lose its license.

Wycliffe Hall achieved permanent status with Oxford in 1996, thanks to the work of former principal McGrath, who significantly raised Wyc-liffe's profile. Throughout its 130-year history, the school has produced a number of notable alumni, including Regent College professor and CT senior editor J.I. Packer, Bishop N. T. Wright, and former member of Parliament Jonathan Aitken.

But the evangelical Anglican seminary, which annually matriculates about 140 students, has undergone a seismic shift since McGrath's resignation two years ago. One council member and 8 of 13 faculty members have resigned, including two of Wycliffe's leading voices, vice principal David Wenham and professor Elaine Storkey, who produces the BBC's religious radio program Thought for the Day.

Supporters say Turnbull is fulfilling the institutional mandate given him when he was hired. In a letter sent to the Church of England's newspaper, three student body presidents commended Turnbull for ushering in "more contemporary forms of management," consistent with changes across the entire university. The students also wrote that Turnbull had "sharpened the focus of [Wycliffe's] training without narrowing it" and was "appointing staff from across the evangelical spectrum."

Likewise, in a letter to The Guardian, Aitken wrote that the vast majority of Wycliffe's students and council members stood behind Turnbull.

For his part, Turnbull told CT that "Wycliffe remains a college where the range and breadth of the evangelical tradition is welcomed and affirmed amongst both staff and students."

The Church of England has moved its 2009 inspection of Wycliffe up by a year, to next October. While the college's ability to enroll undergraduate students for Oxford degrees is expected to survive, the bigger question is whether its administration will gain the support of faculty members.

"If the turbulence that is currently going on does settle down … [then] this may be seen as a turning point at which Wycliffe went from one approach of evangelicalism to another approach that is just as well," said Justin Thacker, head of theology for the U.K.'s Evangelical Alliance. "When Paul and Barnabas split over the issue of John Mark … there were two missions instead of just one. There have been divisions—and they have been painful divisions—but I hope that at the end of the day, each group that splits off goes to do so in the service of Jesus Christ."

Please check out also other related articles and links.

For my earlier posts on Wycliffe Hall, see here.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Public Lectures by Paula Fredriksen

Prof Paula Fredriksen, Aurelio Professor of Scripture at Boston University, recently gave a series of Spencer Trask Lecture on Sin: The Early History of An Idea.

The description of the three lectures is given as follows:

"Jesus of Nazareth announced that God was about to redeem the world. Some 450 years later, the church taught that the far greater part of humanity was eternally condemned. The early community began by preserving the memory and the message of Jesus; within decades of his death, some Christians asserted that Jesus had never had a fleshly human body at all. The church that insisted that Jewish scriptures were Christian scriptures also insisted that the god who said “Be fruitful and multiply” actually meant, “Be sexually continent.” Some four centuries after Paul’s death, his conviction that “All Israel will be saved” served to support the Christian conviction that the Jews were damned. What accounts for the great variety of these and other ancient Christian teachings? The short answer is the following: dramatic mutations in ancient Christian ideas about sin. In the gospels, sin’s remedy is repentance, immersions, prayer, and sacrifice—we are still in the world of Late Second Temple Judaism. In Augustine’s writings, only God is sin’s remedy. People can repent, but God alone decides whose repentance to accept. And between these two extremes we see “sin” invoked as a way to account for an astounding range of things, from the physical structure of the universe to the grammatical structure of a sentence. These three lectures provide an aerial survey of the vibrant vitality of the idea of sin in the first Christian centuries. Come see how an impulsive bite of fruit came to explain absolutely everything else, from the death of God’s son to the power politics of the empire that eventually worshiped him."

All of the three lectures are available online.

October 9, 2007:
Lecture 1: God, Blood, and the Temple (Philo, John the Immerser, Jesus, Paul, Josephus).
Real Player: 56K 350K
Windows Media Player: 56K 350K

October 10, 2007:
Lecture 2: Flesh and the Devil (Gospel of John, Valentinus, Thecla, Origen)
Real Player: 56K 350K
Windows Media Player: 56K 350K

October 11, 2007:
Lecture 3: A Rivalry of Genius (Origen and Augustine on Paul)
Real Player: 56K 350K
Windows Media Player:56K 350K

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Paideia: A New Commentary Series

With the upcoming ETS and SBL annual meetings just round the corner, academic publishers are rushing to announce new releases of numerous academic books to capture the attention of the delegates of the two largest biblical conferences.

One highlight is the inauguration of the a brand new commentary series: Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament, published by Baker Academic. The first volume in this series, Ephesians and Colossians by Charles H. Talbert, will soon be released in time for the conferences.

With the proliferation of commentaries, is there a justification for another new series? What then is the distinction of the Paideia series?

According to the editors of the series, Mikeal C. Parsons and Charles H. Talbert, Paideia aims itself to be "a series that sets out to comment on the final form of the New Testament text in a way that pays due attention both to the cultural, literary, and theological settings in which the text took form and also to the interests of the contemporary readers to whom the commentaries are addressed." (emphasis mine)

Who then is this series targeted at?

"This series is aimed squarely at students—including MA students in religious and theological studies programs, seminarians, and upper-divisional undergraduates—who have theological interests in the biblical text." (emphasis mine)

"Thus, the didactic aim of the series is to enable students to understand each book of the New Testament as a literary whole rooted in a particular ancient setting and related to its context within the New Testament."

How then would Paideia aim to achieve this? How would the commentaries in this series look like? What is the approach used?

According to the editors, "each commentary deals with the text in terms of larger rhetorical units; these are not verse-by-verse commentaries. This series thus stands within the stream of recent commentaries that attend to the final form of the text. Such reader-centered literary approaches are inherently more accessible to liberal arts students without extensive linguistic and historical-critical preparation than older exegetical approaches, but within the reader-centered world the sanest practitioners have paid careful attention to the extratext of the original readers, including not only these readers’ knowledge of the geography, history, and other context elements reflected in the text but also to their ability to respond correctly to the literary and rhetorical conventions used in the text. Paideia commentaries pay deliberate attention to this extratextual repertoire in order to highlight the ways in which the text is designed to persuade and move its readers." (emphasis mine)

"Each rhetorical unit is explored from three angles:

(1) introductory matters;

(2) tracing the train of thought or narrative flow of the argument; and

(3) theological issues raised by the text that are of interest to the contemporary Christian.

"Thus, the primary focus remains on the text and not its historical context or its interpretation in the secondary literature." (emphasis mine)

It is worthwhile to note that contributors to this series comprise scholars of international reputation. Apart from the first installment by Charles H. Talbert on Ephesians and Colossians, forthcoming volumes in the Paideia series include: James W. Thompson on Hebrews (Fall 2008), Mikeal C. Parsons on Acts (Fall 2008), Frank J. Matera on Romans, Pheme Perkins on First Corinthians, and Raymond F. Collins on Second Corinthians.

Thus far, this series appears to be interesting enough to capture my attention. I would be very interested to see as to how the above aims and objectives will be achieved in the first installment of this series, Ephesians and Colossians, that will be released soon. If successful, this series will be helpful not only for theological students but also for anyone who is interested in the final form and theological interests in the New Testament. It may also prove to be useful for lay teachers and preachers in the church. While this series is aimed at students, it is hope that seasoned scholars will also find this series engaging enough to be able to satisfy one's hunger for scholarly investigation of the biblical texts. Having said that, judging solely from the description of the series, it seems that those who are primarily interested in the historical-critical approaches to the biblical texts may have to look elsewhere.

I look forward to be a proud owner of the first volume in the Paideia series.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Two New Books from Zondervan

Zondervan Academic has just announced the release of several new academic books. Two deserve special mention.

"The Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy is a comprehensive reference tool designed to assist everyday people in understanding biblical prophecy. Based on solid scholarship, the dictionary contains clear and readable entries on a broad sweep of topics relevant to biblical prophecy, providing insight to complicated subjects in a balanced fashion."

"All you wanted to know about biblical prophecy from A to Z, the Dictionary of Biblical Prophecy is a comprehensive reference tool. It is targeted for those who truly desire to understand prophecy and the end-times. Starting with “Abomination of Desolation” and continuing through hundreds of articles until “Zionism,” this book provides helpful and interesting discussions of the entire range of biblical prophecy, all at your fingertips. This exhaustive work contains articles on a broad sweep of topics relevant to the study of biblical prophecy and eschatology. The articles are based on solid scholarship, yet are clear and accessible to the lay reader, illuminating even the most complicated issues. The dictionary also strives for a balanced presentation by laying out differing positions along with their strengths and weaknesses, while not pushing any specific theological or interpretive agenda other than a firm commitment to seeking to understand the Scriptures. This is a valuable tool you will refer to time and again."

2) Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics: The Search for Meaning. Revised and Expanded Edition. By Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., and Moises Silva.

I am pleased that this useful text on the introduction to biblical hermeneutics has been revised and expanded. Having had the privilege to study under the feet of these two masters, I am glad that this text is now getting better with the revised edition with four new chapters addressing contemporary issues.

"This standard hermeneutics text has been updated and expanded, allowing the authors to fine-tune their discussions on fundamental interpretive topics. Four new chapters have been added that address more recent controversial issues. The coauthors hold different viewpoints on many topics addressed, making for vibrant, thought-provoking dialogue on this crucial discipline."

"Since its publication in 1994, An Introduction to Biblical Hermeneutics has become a standard text for a generation of students, pastors, and serious lay readers. This second edition has been substantially updated and expanded, allowing the authors to fine-tune and enrich their discussions on fundamental interpretive topics. In addition, four new chapters have been included that address more recent controversial issues:

• The role of biblical theology in interpretation

• How to deal with contemporary questions not directly addressed in the Bible

• The New Testament’s use of the Old Testament

• The role of history in interpretation

"The book retains the unique aspect of being written by two scholars who hold differing viewpoints on many issues, making for vibrant, thought-provoking dialogue. What they do agree on, however, is the authority of Scripture, the relevance of personal Bible study to life, and why these things matter."

Monday, 5 November 2007

JSNT Vol 30 No 2 (December 2007)

The latested issue of the Journal for the Study of New Testament, Volume 30 No 2, December 2007, has just been released.

The articles found in this issue include the following:

David J. Neville
Toward a Teleology of Peace: Contesting Matthew's Violent Eschatology

Rick Strelan
A Note on asphalelia (Luke 1.4)

R. Barry Matlock
The Rhetoric of pistis in Paul: Galatians 2.16, 3.22, Romans 3.22, and Philippians 3.9

George H. van Kooten
The Year of the Four Emperors and the Revelation of John: The `pro-Neronian' Emperors Otho and Vitellius, and the Images and Colossus of Nero in Rome

Jesse Rainbow
Male pastoi in Revelation 1.13

Sunday, 4 November 2007

BibleWorks Classroom Tip #8

The folks at Bibleworks have been working very hard to ensure users of BibleWorks maximise their investment in the software. The latest Classroom Tip #8 on Creating User Notes for Classroom Teaching has just been released a couple of days ago.

According to BibleWorks, "The BibleWorks User Notes, Editor, and Report Generator tools are great ways to create teaching notes and class handouts rapidly. Unique linking features in the BibleWorks Editor enable you to open quickly BibleWorks lexicons and grammars to the precise section you want to show to your students."

This Classroom tip teaches one to do the following to enhance classroom learning experience:
  • User Notes Note-Taking Strategies

  • Using the User Notes in the Classroom

  • Creating Student Handouts.

To find out how to do the above, click here. Enjoy BibleWorks. You will not regret your investment in this powerful software for doing biblical exegesis and research.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Biblica Vol 88 No 3 2007

Biblica 88/3 (2007) is now available online (pdf format) in the website of Biblical Studies on the Web.

This latest issue contains the following articles:

B. Weber, «Psalm 78 als 'Mitte' des Psalters? — ein Versuch» , Vol. 88 (2007) 305-325.

S. Schreiber, «Eine neue Jenseitshoffnung in Thessaloniki und ihre Probleme (1 Thess 4,13-18)» , Vol. 88 (2007) 326-350.

M. Lau, «Die Legio X Fretensis und der Besessene von Gerasa. Anmerkungen zur Zahlenangabe “ungefähr Zweitausend” (Mk 5,13)» , Vol. 88 (2007) 351-364.

D.J. Armitage, «An Exploration of Conditional Clause Exegesis with Reference to Galatians 1,8-9» , Vol. 88 (2007) 365-392.

D.W. Kim, «What Shall We Do? The Community Rules of Thomas in the ‘Fifth Gospel’» , Vol. 88 (2007) 393-414.

P. Frick, «Johannine Soteriology and Aristotelian Philosophy. A Hermeneutical Suggestion on Reading John 3,16 and 1 John 4,9» , Vol. 88 (2007) 415-421.

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Willow Creek Repents?

Alex highlighted an interesting blog post in ChristianityToday that I missed. It's about the recent evaluation carried out by Willow Creek on the effectiveness of their programme-driven church. The blog post is reproduced below.

What about us - do we dare to confront our own weaknesses in the way we do church, admit it, then do the necessary and rightful thing? What happen to the "age old spiritual disciplines of prayer, bible reading and relationships...(that) do not require multi-million dollar facilities and hundreds of staff to manage"?

Willow Creek Repents?
Why the most influential church in America now says "We made a mistake."

Few would disagree that Willow Creek Community Church has been one of the most influential churches in America over the last thirty years. Willow, through its association, has promoted a vision of church that is big, programmatic, and comprehensive. This vision has been heavily influenced by the methods of secular business. James Twitchell, in his new book Shopping for God, reports that outside Bill Hybels’ office hangs a poster that says: “What is our business? Who is our customer? What does the customer consider value?” Directly or indirectly, this philosophy of ministry—church should be a big box with programs for people at every level of spiritual maturity to consume and engage—has impacted every evangelical church in the country.

So what happens when leaders of Willow Creek stand up and say, “We made a mistake”?

Not long ago Willow released its findings from a multiple year qualitative study of its ministry. Basically, they wanted to know what programs and activities of the church were actually helping people mature spiritually and which were not. The results were published in a book, Reveal: Where Are You?, co-authored by Greg Hawkins, executive pastor of Willow Creek. Hybels called the findings “earth shaking,” “ground breaking,” and “mind blowing.”

If you’d like to get a synopsis of the research you can watch a video with Greg Hawkins here. And Bill Hybels’ reactions, recorded at last summer’s Leadership Summit, can be seen here. Both videos are worth watching in their entirety, but below are few highlights.

In the Hawkins’ video he says, “Participation is a big deal. We believe the more people participating in these sets of activities, with higher levels of frequency, it will produce disciples of Christ.” This has been Willow’s philosophy of ministry in a nutshell. The church creates programs/activities. People participate in these activities. The outcome is spiritual maturity. In a moment of stinging honesty Hawkins says, “I know it might sound crazy but that’s how we do it in churches. We measure levels of participation.”

Having put all of their eggs into the program-driven church basket you can understand their shock when the research revealed that “Increasing levels of participation in these sets of activities does NOT predict whether someone’s becoming more of a disciple of Christ. It does NOT predict whether they love God more or they love people more.”

Speaking at the Leadership Summit, Hybels summarized the findings this way:

"Some of the stuff that we have put millions of dollars into thinking it would really help our people grow and develop spiritually, when the data actually came back it wasn’t helping people that much. Other things that we didn’t put that much money into and didn’t put much staff against is stuff our people are crying out for."

Having spent thirty years creating and promoting a multi-million dollar organization driven by programs and measuring participation, and convincing other church leaders to do the same, you can see why Hybels called this research “the wake up call” of his adult life.

Hybels confesses:

"We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and become Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become ‘self feeders.’ We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their bible between service, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own."

In other words, spiritual growth doesn’t happen best by becoming dependent on elaborate church programs but through the age old spiritual practices of prayer, bible reading, and relationships. And, ironically, these basic disciplines do not require multi-million dollar facilities and hundreds of staff to manage.

Does this mark the end of Willow’s thirty years of influence over the American church? Not according to Hawkins:

"Our dream is that we fundamentally change the way we do church. That we take out a clean sheet of paper and we rethink all of our old assumptions. Replace it with new insights. Insights that are informed by research and rooted in Scripture. Our dream is really to discover what God is doing and how he’s asking us to transform this planet."

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

STM TEE Programme

Since I stand in for my colleague, Sarah Yap, as the Acting Director of Theological Education by Extension (Sarah is on 6-month sabbatical leave), I have received numerous enquiries concerning our TEE programme. Our TEE programme is specifically designed for working professional and those who are unable to do theological studies full time.

Some of the questions that are almost guaranteed to be raised by those enquiry for the programme include:

  • How do I find time to study?

  • How do I adjust to study life again since I have left school/college/university some years ago?

  • Is theological studies very difficult?

  • Will theological studies result in spiritual dryness since there is so much emphasis on the academic requirements?

I think the best way to answer the above questions is to hear it from those who are taking our TEE programme. One of our students, Pearlie, has blogged about her testimony, experience and thoughts in taking up the challenge of working towards a degree in Master of Christian Studies through our TEE programme. Read about it here - and don't forget to leave her a word of encouragement, if you can!

Review of Biblical Literature: Oct 26, 2007

The following new reviews have been added to the Review of Biblical Literature. It is interesting to note that this issue contains mainly studies in the Hebrew Bible.

Karl Donfried
Who Owns the Bible?: Toward the Recovery of a Christian Hermeneutic
Reviewed by J. R. Daniel Kirk

Johanna Dorman
The Blemished Body: Deformity and Disability in the Qumran Scrolls
Reviewed by Jeremy Schipper

Richard Horsley, editor
Oral Performance, Popular Tradition, and Hidden Transcript in Q
Reviewed by Joseph Verheyden

Gerald Klingbeil
Bridging the Gap: Ritual and Ritual Texts in the Bible
Reviewed by Wes Bergen

Max Küchler
Jerusalem: Ein Handbuch und Studienreiseführer zur Heiligen Stadt
Reviewed by Gabriele Fassbeck

Marta Lavik
A People Tall and Smooth-Skinned: The Rhetoric of Isaiah 18
Reviewed by Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer

Scott Noegel
Nocturnal Ciphers: The Allusive Language of Dreams in the Ancient Near East
Reviewed by Robert Gnuse

Lucretia Yaghjian
Writing Theology Well: A Rhetoric for Theological and Biblical Writers
Reviewed by Mark Reasoner

Daniel N. Schowalter and Steven J. Friesen, editors
Urban Religion in Roman Corinth: Interdisciplinary Approaches
Reviewed by Jonathan Reed

Anna Silvas
Gregory of Nyssa: The Letters: Introduction, Translation and Commentary
Reviewed by Ilaria Ramelli

Giuseppe Veltri
Libraries, Translations, and 'Canonic' Texts: The Septuagint, Aquilla and Ben Sira in the Jewish and Christian Traditions
Reviewed by Pancratius Beentjes

John H. Walton
Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible
Reviewed by Alan Lenzi

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Textual Criticism

For the next few days, I will be teaching a course on Biblical Interpretation in the First Baptist Church, Petaling Jaya.

One of the greatest challenges is to introduce textual criticism to the students in the course. For the past years that I have been teaching this course, textual criticism is one of the most difficult concepts to grasp. It is also one area that some students find difficulty in accepting the fact that there could be errors in scribal transmission and in different manuscripts.

Let's hope I can do better this time.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

New Book: The Soul of Mission

Led by Dr Tan Kang San, a team of writers gathered together to contribute essays in appreciation of Dr David Gunaratnam. This results in a publication of the book in October 2007 entitled, "The Soul of Mission: Perspectives on Christian Leadership, Spirituality and Mission in East Asia: Essays in Appreciation of Dr David Gunaratnam."

I am privileged to be a part of this project, in which I contributed an essay, "Is There A Place For Suffering In Mission? Perspectives from Paul’s Sufferings in 2 Corinthians"

Kang San, the editor, describes the project in his introductory chapter:

"David Gunaratnam celebrates his seventieth birthday on October 3rd, 2007. In appreciation of David’s lifelong ministry to the church in Malaysia and commitment to cross-cultural mission in East Asia, a group of friends agreed to contribute a series of essays dealing with the theme of “spirituality, leadership and mission”. These three themes converged in David G’s (as David is affectionately called) life and ministry as a servant of the church, an advocate for global mission, and a disciple of Jesus Christ. Although most of the writers in this volume reflected on East Asian contexts, we hope these essays will contribute to the ongoing discussion on servanthood, mature leadership and genuine spirituality in the practice of Christian mission. The volume also offers a sampling of perspectives from both experienced mission leaders from the West and national leaders from different parts of Asia whereby issues on discipleship, suffering, leadership, growth of the church, and mission in East Asia are explored."

We trust the book will make a small contribute to the ongoing discussion concerning the issues of mission in East Asia. We also wish Dr David G God's rich blessings in his life and ministry.

The contents of the book:

Tan Kang-San

Words of Appreciation
1) David Gunaratnam: Quiet Leadership
Wong Fong Yang

2) Spirituality: Some Thoughts on Culture, Context and History
Rose Dowsett

Biblical Perspectives: Leadership, Spirituality and the Corinthian Correspondences
3) No Mission Without Holiness
Allan Webb

4) The Servant of the Lord and Mission Leadership: Reflections from Isaiah 49:1-7
David Pickard

5) Mission and Spirituality: Lessons from 1 Corinthians
Jim Chew

6) Is There A Place For Suffering In Mission? Perspectives from Paul’s Sufferings in 2 Corinthians
Lim Kar Yong

7) Trying to Preach in Context – Some Reflections from 2 Corinthians
Matthew Grandage

Historical Perspectives: Past Models and Present Challenges
8) The Moravians: A Model of Spirituality and Mission for the Asian Church
Peter Rowan

9) Revitalization, Renewal and Missions: A Case Study on Sidang Injil Borneo
Gary Roosma

10) Mongolians: Their Journey of Faith
Kwai Lin Stephens

11) Robert Morrison – The Trailblazer and Beyond: Following One Trail of Christian Medical Service in China
James H. Taylor III

12) D. E. Hoste: The Spirituality of a Servant Leader
Patrick Fung

13) The Spirituality of Wang Mingdao
Paul Woods

Programmatic Proposals for the Future of East Asian Church and Mission
14) The Multicultural Congregation: A Critical Model for the Future of Asian Christianity
Bruce Milne

15) Leadership or Servanthood?
Hwa Yung

16) Transforming Conversion: From Conversion to Transformation of Culture
Tan Kang-San

17) Rethinking the Meaning of the Cross for Christian Discipleship
Tony Lim

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Paul and the Amazing Race

How does a budding NT scholar attempt to make the studying of scriptures fun, rewarding and inspiring, all at the same time? This is a difficult and challenging question.

For instance, I have always wondered how to make the teaching of Paul's various missionary journeys as recorded in Acts of the Apostles come alive. For example, one could show a geographical map of the cities visited by Paul and give some background and historical information of each of these cities. However informative this approach might be, it can be rather boring and passive at best, with little or no participation from the audience. How can one expect the audience to appreciate or remember the highlights of Paul's missionary journeys in these cities?

I find some very helpful and interesting ideas for teaching Paul's missionary journeys in the book edited by Mark Roncace and Patrick Gray, Teaching the Bible: Practical Strategies for Classroom Instruction, Resources for Biblical Study 49 (Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature 2005) as highlighted in a previous post on Classroom Ideas for Teaching the Bible.

With some modifications to suit a younger and non-academic audience, and together with two other "partners-in-crime", we hope to try out the idea of "Paul and the Amazing Race" in one of the meetings of the College and University Group in my church in November.

The whole idea is to borrow from the CBS's show, The Amazing Race, and with the appropriate modifications and some creative imagination, we will run a competition among the participants in tracing one of Paul's missionary journeys (most like the 2nd missionary journey).

While this is not only an interesting but also challenging idea, it does get some of us excited. We have finally nailed down a date to test run this idea. Let's hope that this will present a very fresh and participatory approach to comprehend Paul's missionary journeys by utilising contemporary culture, modern technology and creative imagination.

Hopefully, this will make the teaching of Paul's Missionary journeys more exciting, fun, memorable, and engaging. Ultimately, it is our aim that learning and digging into the Scriptures can be fun and rewarding at the same time, and this project will be a small step to instill some excitement in the hearts of the young adults in wanting to explore further and to dig deeper into the Scriptures for themselves. Hopefully, this will make the Scripture comes alive too for them in a fresh and exciting way.

Sunday, 21 October 2007

STM 25th Graduation Service

STM 25th Graduation Service was held on October 20, 2007. A total of 57 graduands received their diplomas in this joyous day. The graduation address was delivered by the Rt. Rev. Philip Lok, Bishop of Lutheran Church in Malaysia and Singapore, based on the theme, Forging Ahead.

Graduation Service has always been a joyous occasion. And this year marks my first year participating in the Graduation Service as a full-time lecturer.

To all our graduands, congratulations. May the Lord's richest blessings continue to rest on you as you go forth to serve him.