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.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

STM 25th Graduation Dinner

The campus is now bursting with activities, getting ready for the 25th Graduation Service today. In a few moments, guests and graduands will be arriving. Further update will be provided soon.

Last night, we had our 25th Graduation Dinner at a local restaurant where approximately 500 guests attended for a time of celebration and thanksgiving.

Phuong (standing, right) is from Vietnam. She is from my pastoral group and is graduating with M. Div. She will be retuning home to serve the body of Christ in Vietnam. I wish you Divine's blessings in your life and ministry. We are proud of you.

To all our graduands, I wish God's abundant blessings in your ministry.

Forthcoming Tyndale Bulletin 58.2 (November 2007)

Tyndale Bulletin, a publication of Tyndale House, announces the forthcoming issue (58.2) to be released in a few weeks' time. This latest issue comprises seven articles and two dissertation summaries, and the abstracts of these articles are avaible by clicking on the links.

Gerald A. Klingbeil (Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies, Silang, Philippines) and Martin G. Klingbeil (Helderberg College, Somerset West, South Africa)

Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer (University of Aberdeen)

A Discourse Analysis of Matthew's Nativity Narrative
William Varner (The Master's College, California)

The Glorification of the Son of Man: An Analysis of John 13:31-32
Peter Ensor (Poynton, Cheshire)

James M. Hamilton Jr. (Southwestern Seminary, Houston)

The 'Breastplate of Righteousness' in Ephesians 6:14: Imputation or Virtue?
David H. Wenkel (Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

God's Law, 'General Equity' and the Westminster Confession of Faith
Harold G. Cunningham (Queen's University, Belfast)

Dissertation Summaries

Taught by God: Divine Instruction in Early Christianity
Lee S. Bond (University of Aberdeen)

BibleWorks Classroom Tip #7

BibleWorks has just realeased another classroom tip. This latest tip demonstrates how words that appear more than 50 times or more in the Greek New Testament can be generated.

"You can use the search and text marking tools in BibleWorks to produce graded reading assignments or translation exercises. This tip will allow you to easily display the words of a higher frequency range in contrast to lower frequency words in the Greek New Testament."

"In this Classroom Tip you will use the Word List Manager to produce a list of all the words from the Greek New Testament that appear 50 times or more. You will then use this list to conduct a search of the Greek New Testament for each of these words in the Graphical Search Engine. You can then use the Color Selection Window to highlight each high frequency word in bold in the BNT version by using the results of your previous search."

Sounds interesting? Read how you can generate a list of words from the GNT that appear 50 times or less by reading the rest of the article here.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Review of Biblical Literature: October 17, 2007

The following new reviews have been added to the Review of Biblical Literature this week. Of significance for me are the reviews of The Symbolic Jesus, Jesus and Archaeology, and the unfortunately very expensive (US$125.00!!) Christians as a Religious Minority in a Multicultural City.

William Arnal
The Symbolic Jesus: Historical Scholarship, Judaism and the Construction of Contemporary Identity
Reviewed by Milton Moreland

Richard Cassidy
Four Times Peter: Portrayals of Peter in the Four Gospels and at Philippi
Reviewed by Timothy Wiarda

James H. Charlesworth, editor
Jesus and Archaeology
Reviewed by Jonathan Reed

Steven Holloway, editor
Orientalism, Assyriology and the Bible
Reviewed by Christopher Hays

J. Maxwell Miller and John H. Hayes
A History of Ancient Israel and Judah
Reviewed by Kenton Sparks

Sebastiano Pinto
"Ascolta figlio": Autorità e antropologia dell'insegnamento in Proverbi 1-9
Reviewed by Paul Sanders

Jean-Michel Poffet, Daniel Brizemeure, Noël Lacoudre, Émile Puech
Le Rouleau de cuivre de la grotte 3 de Qumran (3Q15): Expertise - Restauration - Epigraphie (2 Volumes)
Reviewed by Samuel Thomas

Jürgen Zangenberg and Michael Labahn, editors
Christians as a Religious Minority in a Multicultural City: Modes of Interaction and Identity Formation in Early Imperial Rome
Reviewed by Jonathan Reed

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Greece/Turkey Study Trip

I hope to be able to finalise some details about the Greece/Turkey study trip next year very soon. In the meanwhile, Ben Witherington has posted some very beautiful shots of Turkey from the air in his latest post in his blog. Check it out.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Killing Time in the Waiting Room

This week, my mother's physiotherapy continues in the early morning. So in order to kill time in the waiting room, I am reading Cornelia Cyss Corcker, Reading 1 Corinthians in the Twenty-First Century (London: T & T Clark, 2004). I bought this book while I was studying in the UK back in 2004 but only managed to read a chapter then. Finally, I have a chance to read the entire book now.

"One of the challenges of reading 1 Corinthians these days is that its style seems foreign to us and many of its passages seem irrelevant to us today. On the other hand, many of the passages have become too familiar, overly authoritative, and too oppressively close for comfort in the lives of many Christians."

"Cyss uses the insights of hermeneutics and other critical methods to offer a new reading of Paul's letter for our day. Since much of the letter discusses decisions that have been made or ought to be made by the Corinthians about people, beliefs, behaviors, and situations, Cyss reads 1 Corinthians in terms of discernment and judgement."

The contents of the book have already captured my attention:

Chapter 1: Introductory thoughts on reading 1 Corinthians
chapter 2: Reading 1 Corinthians in the twenty-first century
Chapter 3: The aporetic character of the new reality of God's reign
Chapter 4: Dialogues concerning the new community in Christ
Chapter 5: Old moral order or new law of Christ? : the issue of discerning and judging
Chapter 6: The text of 1 Corinthians and its twenty-first-century readers : moving toward praxis and open-endedness.

I look forward to engaging Croker's utilisation of Mikhail Bakhtin's literary theory of "dialogism" in unpacking 1 Corinthians in which an analysis of the aporetic tensions that determine Paul's eschatology, ecclesiology, and ethics is offered.

Looks like it will be time well spent in the waiting room for the next few days.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Colours of the Rainbow Charity Concert

I am helping a good friend, who is the organiser, in the promotion of this fundraising charity concert, Colours of the Rainbow, for Shelter Home.

For further information on venue, dates of performance and ticket information, please visit

For information regarding the beneficiary, please visit

Photo from Berita STM

The latest issue of Berita STM, the official newsletter of the seminary, has just been published.

It is interesting to note one of the photos in page 3 of the newsletter depicting the visit of Dr Michael Fonner and Dr Philip Baker of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America to the seminary in April 2007. I am not sure whether this is an oversight, or someone is trying to make a rather amusing and conspicuous statement. The photo is reproduced without any touch up.

So, what do you think? What is the hidden message? Can someone break the "Da Vinci code"?

Monday, 15 October 2007

Conversation between A Christian and A Rabbi

ChristianyToday publishes a rather interesting interview between an evangelical leader, R. T. Kendall, former minister of Westminster Chapel, and a Rabbi, David Rosen, former chief rabbi of Ireland.

According to CT, both leaders were introduced by George Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury, and Andrew White, Carey's envoy. In the course of the meeting, Rosen kept talking about Pharisees in a complimentary way. Kendall finally said, "Rabbi Rosen, I almost get the impression that you're a Pharisee and proud of it." Rosen replied, "You're exactly right!" That led to more conversations, and finally, a book titled The Christian and The Pharisee: Two Outspoken Religious Leaders Debate the Road to Heaven (Warner Faith, 2007).

During the interview, some of the questions raised include the following:

In your first meeting, it was your different understandings of Pharisee that sparked conversation. What understanding do you each now want Christians to associate with the word?

As you wrote this book, both of you remained firm in your own traditions. Why is it important in inter-religious dialogue for people to be rock solid in their beliefs?

Jews have traditionally been insulted by "replacement theology"—the idea that the body of Christian believers has taken the place of the Jewish people in God's covenant.

Some people say Christians have theology but Jews have halakhah, or religious practice. Is that true?

Many Jews have a deeply negative view of Jesus' followers. What would it take to rehabilitate that view for Jews?

Wonder what is the response from the Christian and the Pharisee?

To find out about their conversation, read the rest of the interview. We might even learn a lesson or two here.

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Evangelism and Matthew & Friends Project

The Celebration of Hope Malaysia recently introduces the Matthew & Friends project to churches in Malaysia. This project is described as "a plan to reach unbelievers with the message of salvation...It is a practical plan, based in Matthew. Our Lord Jesus called Matthew, who later invited his friends into his house to hear Jesus sharing the gospel."

So how does the Matthew and Friends project work? One can just follow the 5 simple steps:

1) Look Around
Notice who among your neighbours, friends, relatives and co-workers, need Christ, Write down their names.

2) Look Up
Pray everyday for the peoples on your list asking to Lord to bring opportunities to talk to them about the hope you have in Christ.

3) Look Out
Look for opportunities to deepen your friendship with those on your list.

4) Look Forward
Invite the people in your list to your house for coffee or snacks, and to watch with you the video programs of Billy Graham. Make them feel at home, and set a nice atmosphere for them to watch the programs. After the programs, explain to your guests how to receive Christ by faith, and guide them in a simple prayer inviting Jesus Christ to come into their lives.

5) Look After
Use the booklet "Living in Christ" and other materials provided by your pastor to guide the new believers in faith, and to help them pray, read and study the Bible. Also when they are ready, take them to your church, so they might grow in their new life with Christ.

While I think the Matthew and Friends project is a commendable attempt in encouraging churches in Malaysia to be active in sharing one's faith and as a meaningful way in reaching one's neighbours, I do have some concerns. Perhaps I am overtly sensitive here. I am not so sure that evangelism can simply be achieved through some programmatic strategies. I am not so sure also whether we should treat our friends, neighbours, relatives and colleagues simply as objects of evangelism. Do we love and care for them for a reason? Can't we love them because we have the love of Christ in us? What if they turn around and say that they are not interested in our gospel, will we still demonstrate the same love and care?

I think Pearlie has something excellent to say here, and I freely quote from her recent post: "I see evangelism as living a life as a community, sharing our lives with others...It is a giving of ourselves to one another, and that by living out Christ in us, our lives can rub off on others that they too will come to see and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then our duty is to live a life of Christ - in our thoughts, speech and deeds. Please correct me if I am wrong, but I do not think that evangelism is making friends so that we can share the Gospel with them, as it is with certain teachings, training sessions, books and guides. It is making friends because we have the love of God; they are not the object, but the subject. There is no framework, formula or step-by-step-guide to do that. It is a real living out of our lives with the people around us. It is imitating Christ in all aspects of our lives, being his follower so that others may see and follow him too. Yes, we can talk about Christ but what we do speak louder than what we say."

Another nagging uncomfortable feeling in me is the "bottom line" of evangelism measurable in terms of target and numbers. While statistics are good, I get a bit concerned when we merely focus on numbers and reduce people to just another head count. What about subsequent follow-up, discipleship, and mentoring?

Having said that, I am not saying that I am not in favour of the Matthew and Friends project, nor am I questioning the nature, structure or implementation of the project. But it seems to me that perhaps further theological reflections are needed here. Maybe I am wrong here. Herein lies the confusion of the budding NT scholar...

Saturday, 13 October 2007

The Purchase By An Open Bibliophile But Also A Closet Bibliomaniac

I placed an order through a couple of weeks back and the parcel arrived a couple of days ago. I think the shipping speed has improved over the years. Naturally, I have no complaint. Now the open bibliophile but also a closet bibliomaniac is a happy man.

With the arrival of my new "toys," I have the following books as my "bedtime" reading for the coming couple of weeks.

Mark Reasoner, Romans in Full Circles. Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2005.

The New Testament book of Romans has played an important role in the life of the church from the period of the early church and through to the present day. In this concise survey of the major theological changes associated with Paul’s letter, Mark Reasoner focuses on its history and interpretation, particularly through the works of Origen, Augustine, the medieval exegetes, Luther, and Barth. In doing so, he reveals that by a circuitous route, western Christians in the 20th and 21st centuries are returning to reading Romans in ways very similar to Origen’s concerns in the third century. This is true particularly in regard to issues of the human will, sensitivity to Jews and Judaism, openness to the possibility of universalism, and a deconstructive reading of the obedience to government passage in Romans 13. Thus, in addition to giving a helpful overview of Romans itself, this book will help readers situate their theological questions within the 2000-year history of conversations about Paul’s letter to Roman believers.

Terrance Callan, Dying and Rising with Christ: The Theology of Paul the Apostle. Mahwah: Paulist Press, 2006.

Terrance Callan describes the theology of Paul that underlies and comes to expression in his letters. What is most distinctive about this presentation of Paul's theology is the argument that dying and rising with Christ as part of the body of Christ is central to Paul's understanding of Jesus as savior and to his understanding of Christian life. While other presentations of Paul's theology acknowledge the presence of this theme in Paul, none of them sees it as central to his theology. Dying and Rising with Christ also discusses Paul's understanding of God more extensively than other presentations.

A. Andrew Das, Solving the Romans Debate. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007.

Scholars have long debated the "double character" of Romans. Why did Paul address a long discussion of Jewish themes to a Gentile audience? Das provides a fresh understanding of the identity and attitudes of the Gentile Christians in Rome and of the expulsion of Jews from Rome under the emperor Claudius. His reading offers new insight into Paul's concern for the Jewish roots of the Christ movement.

Christopher Rowland & Christopher Tuckett, eds. The Nature of New Testament Theology. Oxford: Blackwell, 2006.

This volume brings together some of the most distinguished writers in the field to provide an overview of discussions about the nature of New Testament theology. The volume explores New Testament theology in three main ways. Firstly, it examines the development, purpose and scope of New Testament theology. It then goes on to examine the relationship of New Testament theology with other branches of theology, such as systematic theology, biblical theology, practical theology and social scientific criticism. Finally, it looks at crucial issues within the New Testament, such as the historical Jesus, the theology of the cross, eschatology, ethics and the role of women. The book is dedicated to and honours the work of Robert Morgan whose pioneering work gives it its title.

A. Andrew Das. Paul and the Jews. Library of Pauline Studies. Peabody: Hendrickson, 2003.

The book examines the question, "How did Paul’s thinking compare with that of the Jews of his time?" By providing a survey of the scholarly views on this question, Andrew Das offers the beginning Pauline student an entrance into the interesting world of Pauline studies and then presents his own conclusions to this pivotal question.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Dominican Biblical Institute Fellowships

The following announcement came through the British New Testament Society.

DOMINICAN BIBLICAL INSTITUTE, a research center affiliated with the University of Limerick, Ireland, invites applications for a sabbatical fellowship program from scholars with expertise in Biblical Studies.

Fellowships will normally last for an academic semester, but full-year appointments will be considered. The program is contingent on funding, but the Institute hopes to select two to four fellows per year.

Scholars who will be on sabbatical in the next few years are encouraged to inquire about the program. Duties include teaching one graduate seminar or undergraduate course and serving as a resource for Ph.D. students. Recipients will also be expected to engage in a program of research and to share their research with others at the Institute.

Preference will be given to scholars whose research interests

(a) extend beyond the traditional boundaries ofbiblical scholarship, and

(b) complement the expertise of the director of the Institute (early Christian uses of Scripture).

The fellowship carries a stipend of 4000 euro ($5600) plus travel expenses and the use of a shared apartment near the Institute.

Applications are due by December 1, and should include a letter of interest, CV, three letters of reference regarding the applicant's scholarly work, and a description of the planned research program.

Applications should be submitted to

Dr. Thomas Brodie,
Dominican Biblical Institute,
Upper Cecil Street,

For more information, contact Dr. Brodie at

Thursday, 11 October 2007 Treasuretrove of a Bibliophile/Bibliomaniac

Alex describes me as a closet bibliophile while Pearlie calls me an open bibliophile but a closet bibliomaniac (see Pearlie's post, Am I a bibliophile or bibliomaniac?) These are the latest additions to a fairly long list of nicknames that I currently have.

It's been sometime since I updated my Wishlist in The features in never cease to amaze me. I really like the following widget. I think it's really cool!

Check out the latest craze of a closet bibliophile aka an open bibliophile but a closet bibliomaniac.

My Wish List

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

T & T Clark: "Let there be blog"

Mark Goodacre recently pointed out that T&T Clark, part of the Continuum group, has started a blog.

The first post says it all: "In the beginning...the internet was a formless void...and T & T Clark said, "Let there be blog!" And there was blog and it was good."

Check out the blog for the latest news, reviews and publications of T & T Clark.

My only constant lament regarding T & T Clark is that the pricing of its excellent academic books is a little bit way beyond the reach of many poor seminary lecturers and seminarians in the Two-Thirds world. I wonder any special discount would be given (well, as a typical Malaysian, I am not shy to ask for discount - and you can tell why by the large number of T&T Clark books that are found in my wishlist)!

He Came, He Spoke, He Left

"He came, he spoke, he left." That's the three line novel Alex Tang has for me.

Alex posted an interesting entry on composing three lines novel. So I commented that for a talkative person like me, "it would be very difficult to do a 3 lines novel...but perhaps I should try it once for my sermon." And in reply, this is what I got from Alex: "He came, he spoke, he left."

Hmmm....I have to think hard since I normally complain about sermons that are over 45 minutes in length. For me, a good length sermon should preferably not exceed 35 minutes (well, I know some may dispute this. Some prefer a longer sermon, some shorter).

Perhaps a three lines sermon would be a nice change....I know for sure that my colleague in charge of AV will be very pleased with this.

He came
He spoke
He left....

And so the pastor of the church said, "And we will never invite him back to our pulpit again."

Tuesday, 9 October 2007

STM Chapel: "I Am Not The Christ"

In response to my earlier post on "Strange Fire on Defiled Altar" and the Rabbi's post on "The Higher You Go, The Harder You Fall," I thought that it might be good for me to blog about the sharing I gave in last week's STM Tuesday Chapel. It was the final week of the semester where I had the privilege to share with the STM community, particularly the graduating students, for the last time this year. I think we have much to learn from John the Baptist.


STM Tuesday Chapel - Sermon Transcript
October 2, 2007
Topic: I Am Not the Christ
Text: John 1:19-28; 3:22-30

If you have been following our Rabbi’s blog, you might be interested in his recent post titled “The Higher You Go, The Harder You Fall.” Rabbi's post highlights the rise and fall of many prominent Pentecostal preachers in recent months. This kind of news is hardly anything new. Over the years, the Christian church has witnessed numerous scandals of prominent preachers. These scandals range from sexual abuse, sexual immorality to financial mismanagement.

I have always pondered as to why there could be so many scandals in the Christian Church. After all, aren't we supposed to the salt and light of the world? Whatever happened to this calling of ours? Instead, our very behaviour informs the world that we are in fact no different from them. Somehow, I always suspect that many of these ministers/preachers caught in these scandals think that they can get away even when their scandals are exposed. Perhaps they think that their sins will not be discovered. Perhaps they think that the church would exercise more grace in the event that their embarrassments are revealed. But above all, I strongly suspect that these people think they are invincible, above the law, and perhaps they are next to God. As such, they have all the authority to do whatever their fleshly desires lead them. After all, who dares to touch the Lord's anointed?

But before we point our finger at others, let us admit that none of us is ever exempted from these scandals. Let us not make the mistake that we too are free from the temptation of the flesh, the lure of power and authority, and the quest for fame, fortune and success. If are not careful, we can fall into any one of these traps - be it sexual immorality or financial misappropriation. This is where our reflection takes us to John the Baptist.

In our first reading earlier on, we see that John is a popular figure (John 1:19-28). As a result of his popularity, the religious leaders from Jerusalem send a delegation to investigate John. This results in a series of Q & As. The first question the delegation asks is this: “Who are you?”

John answers, “I am not the Christ.”

Then comes the next question, "Then who are you? Are you Elijah?"

He said, "I am not."

"Are you the Prophet?"

He answered, "No."

This delegation is now getting anxious and concerned. They are not getting anything from John. He is not the Messiah, he is not Elijah, and he is not the Prophet. Who, then, is he? And so they press John, "Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?"

John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, "I am the voice of one calling in the desert, `Make straight the way for the Lord.' "

Here we see a man who virtually refuses to dwell on himself. His clearly understands that his ministry is to magnify the coming Messiah, the Christ. He knows he cannot do so by talking about himself. He can only repeatedly said, “I am not the Christ.”

I really like this confession. This is the earliest Christian confession. And in many ways, I think this confession is better than the Heidelberg Catechism, the Apostle Creed, or Nicene Creed. And let me also suggest that this is perhaps the most important confession that we as ministers and future ministers of the gospel need to believe in firmly and strongly. Let us take to heart the confession of John the Baptist: “I am not the Christ. He must increase, and I must decrease.”

Let me also go further to suggest that this is one confession that will also protect us in our ministry so that we will not fall into the trap of sexual immorality, financial mismanagement and the temptation to compromise the truth of the gospel in our quest for fame, fortune and success. Let us be reminded that we are not the Christ. Jesus is the one that will build the church, not us. Jesus is the one that will be magnified, not us. Let us be reminded that we cannot draw people to ourselves – we have to point others away from us so that we can point them to Christ. This is where we can learn from John.

One day, some of John’s disciples came to him and said, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan--the one you testified about--well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him." (John 3:22-30). Well, after Jesus begins his ministry, many of John’s disciples abandon him and decide to follow Jesus. Those who are loyal to John begin to lodge their protest: "Master, don’t you care that you are loosing ground – your grassroots are switching camp."

John responds, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, `I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less."

What an answer. What a beautiful reply from John the Baptist. Here is a man who knows the purpose of his ministry and mission in life - to point others away from him so that he could point them to Christ. It does not matter if his followers decide to switch camp to follow after Jesus. After all, that is his purpose - to point others to the coming Messiah. Let us also learn that our ministry is not to draw people to us. Instead, our ministry is to point others to the soon coming King.

Allow me to close with this illustration in which I will dramatise a little bit the image that John uses in his reply to his disciples. Some of you know it very well, but some of you will probably have to use your imagination a little bit. In every wedding, if you are the best man, you know you are the best man for the job when you know that you are not the groom, but just a best man. Just imagine that in this particular wedding where you are the best man. Here you are, standing in front of the sanctuary with the groom. The anxiously awaited moment has arrived, and the bride is now marching in towards the front of the sanctuary. All eyes are now on the beautiful bride, and the groom is getting all excited. In fact, he’s getting a little nervous. He could feel his heart palpitating, and his palms are getting all sweaty. And his eyes are all on his bride. But as she marches closer, the groom suddenly realises that something is just now right – just as he fixes his gaze on her, he realises that her eyes are just off centre. She is looking not toward him but elsewhere, to the best man that stands beside him. As he turns to look at the best man, he notices that the best man is playing eyes signal with her and the bride is responding to the best man. Now if you were the groom how would you have felt?

Friends, if we want to man and woman that God uses and one that remains faithful to him, don’t we dare to compete with the affection of the bride. Don’t we dare to be playing eyes with the bride and to cause her to fall in love with us. Don’t rob the attention of the bride to ourselves. Remember, friends, when the bride comes in, this is the hour for the bridegroom, and this is precisely where we fade away.

And this is the very confession of John: “I am not the Christ, he must increase and I must decrease.”

May this be so in our lives.

Strange Fire on Defiled Altars

The Agora Forum recently posted an article by J. Lee Grady, the editor of Charisma, a magazine with a distinctive pentecostal/charismatic emphasis, entitled "Strange Fire on Defiled Altar."

This article is timely in light of what my colleague, the Rabbi, posted in his blog: "The Higher You Go, The Harder You Fall." In this post, the Rabbi drew attention to the scandals among some of the pentecostal mega-preachers. While the highlight is on the Pentecostals, let us make no mistake for none of us is immune from these scandals, if we are not careful ourselves.

As such, I find Grady's article not only timely, but also a very sober warning for all us, particularly so for our friends in the seminary that will be graduating in less than 2 weeks. May all of us be reminded that as servants of the Almighty, let us not play around with "strange fire" (Lev 10:1) and test the Lord's patience. Instead, let us echo the prayer of Grady: “Lord, when will You clean up Your church? When will you send Your holy fire into the sanctuary? When will You turn over the tables of the moneychangers and drive the charlatans out of Your house?”

I pray that the 57 of you who will be marching down the Chapel on October 20, 2007 to receive your scroll will be ones that will be instruments of the Almighty that he uses powerfully and mightily to nurture, build up and strengthen the church for the glory of his name.

The article by Grady is reproduced below:


Strange Fire on Defiled Altars: Many who claim to be voices for God today are on dangerous ground.
By J. Lee Grady

We don’t talk much today about Nadab and Abihu. They were obscure Bible characters who failed miserably. Certainly their tragic story doesn’t work well as an illustration in the typical seeker-friendly sermon about wealth or success. So we tend to ignore these guys, even though they are mentioned in the Old Testament nine times.

Both sons of Aaron the priest, Nadab and Abihu were suddenly struck dead in the tabernacle because they offered “strange fire” (Lev. 10:1 NASB). We aren’t told exactly what they did wrong—that is left to our imagination. All we know is that they did not follow God’s specific instructions when offering incense. They were careless with His glory. Their mistake proved to be fatal.

What I deduce from their story is that God’s altar is a holy place. When God struck them, He told their father: “‘By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy, and before all the people I will be honored’” (v. 3). God made it clear that He isn’t playing games. He sent fire from His presence to slay Nadab and Abihu so we would understand that we can’t mess around with His laws, His name or His presence. We can’t rewrite His instructions or be slipshod or slapdash about worship.

That’s why I fear for many of the men and women who claim to be God’s mouthpieces today, particularly in the charismatic/Pentecostal movement that I serve. When I read Leviticus 10, I wonder why the ground has not opened up and swallowed some of the careless spiritual clowns who are masquerading as bishops, apostles and prophets.

A case in point: Bishop Thomas Wesley Weeks III, who is now facing charges of assaulting his wife, recently stood in his pulpit in Atlanta during a marriage conference and proceeded to teach married couples how to use profanity during sex.

Yes, the man who allegedly kicked and punched Juanita Bynum in a hotel parking lot last month told attendees at a “Teach Me How to Love You” event that they should get over their hang-ups about cussing. The bedroom, he said, is the place to get down and dirty.

“Don’t bring your salvation into the bedroom,” he said in a sermon segment that has been posted on YouTube. “All those special words that you can’t say no more because you’re saved … save that for the bedroom!”

It is bad enough that Weeks told his followers that it’s OK to use filthy language with your wife during lovemaking. It’s worse that he said these things as a minister speaking from a pulpit during a church service. Thankfully he didn’t bring a bed on stage and give a demonstration—but now that he has taken pulpit crudity to a new level, someone else is sure to introduce Pentecostal porn to an audience somewhere.

Weeks’ comments didn’t surprise me. There are so many crazy things happening in pulpits in this country that I’ve become numb to their impact. It seems that in many segments of the church today, false prophets and backslidden preachers can introduce the most bizarre doctrines imaginable and still get shouts from the crowd and plenty of donations in the offering plate.

Meanwhile, a growing number of television preachers are resorting to the most inane tactics to raise money. A popular trend this year is the “Day of Atonement Offering”—in which Old Testament scriptures are strained to the breaking point to make a case for buying special blessings from God. Thanks to this “revelation,” you can click on a Web site icon and give your Day of Atonement Offering to win divine favor. (And of course every dime of that money goes to an evangelist who uses it to purchase houses, cars, plastic surgeries and more airtime so they can spread this nonsense to more naïve people.)

I have no personal vendetta against these spiritual hoodlums, but lately I find myself praying: “Lord, when will You clean up Your church? When will you send Your holy fire into the sanctuary? When will You turn over the tables of the moneychangers and drive the charlatans out of Your house?”

I have a sense that the answer is coming soon enough. The question is: How close to the modern Nadabs and Abihus will you be when the fire of heaven comes to purge them from the sanctuary? If you are anywhere near a defiled altar, my advice is simple: Run for the nearest exit.

Monday, 8 October 2007

The Art of Forgiveness

On October 4, the Museum of Biblical Art (MOBIA) in New York opened the exhibition, "The Art of Forgiveness: Images of the Prodigal Son." This exhibition features 56 sculptures, prints, textiles, and other media by artists including Rembrandt, Pieto Testa, and Jules Pascin.

According to MOBIA, "The biblical story from Luke 15 of the loving father who forgives his wayward son has inspired artists through the centuries. MOBIA is proud to organize and present an exhibition dedicated to this theme, featuring works from the Renaissance to the present day. More than 50 prints, sculptures, and paintings by artists including Rembrandt, Pietro Testa and James Tissot will provide a wide-ranging overview of the impact this theme has had on the history of art. One section of the exhibition will be dedicated to the private collection of Jerry Evenrud, a musician and art enthusiast who has collected artworks depicting the Prodigal Son. Representative works featuring this story will also be lent by major European and American museums. Educational programs will include a lecture series discussing the impact of the parable on art, literature and theology, featuring Tobias Wolff, well-known author of This Boy's Life and other works and a lecture by Holly Flora, assistant professor of Art History at Tulane University and the exhibition curator."

For a slideshow of some of the seleted exhibits, click here.

Anyone heading to New York soon?

TEE Course for 2008: Romans

In January 2008, I will be offering Romans as a set text for the TEE modular course, Interpreting New Testament Books to be held over 4 days at STM campus (wow...28 hours of lecture in 4 days!!). I think the following cartoon helpfully captures some of my struggles in preparing for the course.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Two More BibleWorks Tips

BibleWorks has just released two more classrooms tips which are reproduced below (for earlier post on more tips previously released, click here). Check these out.

Tip 1.5: Using Tabs Effectively

The BibleWorks Search Window contains 12 tabbed Search Windows. The tabs provide a way to switch rapidly between study contexts without losing the previous context. The tabs can also function as an instruction tool for proper word study method.

In this Classroom Tip we will provide strategies for setting up and using the tabs in the classroom and in your study. We will also show how to save your tabs configurations for future use and distribution to other BibleWorks users. Included are links to saved context files that you can download and use in your classroom.

Tip 1.6: Working Quickly on the Command Line

One of the benefits of BibleWorks is its great speed, not only in its rapid searches, but in how fast and easy it is to perform your most common tasks. One of the keys to working quickly in BibleWorks is using shortcuts on the Command Line.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

When To Separate What God Has Joined

Yesterday, ChristianityToday posted an article by Dr David Instone-Brewer, Senior Research Fellow in Rabbinics and Technical Officer at Tyndale House, Cambridge, on the topic of divorce and remarriage: What God Has Joined: What Does the Bible Really Teach about Divorce.

David is a specialist in rabbinic literature, and you can be sure to learn something from this article. I enjoyed meeting David, a very interesting person, when I was at Tyndale for my doctoral research.

Drawing on his research on rabbinic literature, David strongly affirms marriage, but also argues that divorce may be supported by the following limited grounds:

  • Adultery (in Deuteronomy 24:1, affirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19)

  • Emotional and physical neglect (in Exodus 21:10-11, affirmed by Paul in 1 Corinthians 7)

  • Abandonment and abuse (included in neglect, as affirmed in 1 Corinthians 7)
You may or may not agree with the argument of David, but you definitely learn something on Rabbinic teachings about divorce and remarriage. Make sure you read the article here.

For further resources, check out David's website and his other publications here. In particular, note his following major publications on divorce and remarriage:

1. Divorce and Remarriage in the Bible: The Social and Literary Context. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002 - this is written for academic readers.

2. Divorce and Remarriage in the Church: Biblical Solutions for Pastoral Realities. Downers Grove: IVP, 2006 - this is a "popular" version.

3. Divorce and Remarriage in the 1st and 21st Century. Grove Biblical Series 19. Cambridge: Grove Books, 2001 - if you have no time to read the above 2 books, then get hold of this version!

Perhaps it's time the Malaysian church wrestle with this issue biblically and pastorally. In this respect, we cannot ignore the careful and thorough research carried out by David, particularly in an area where many of us are not familiar with - rabbinic writings. While one may or may not fully agree with David on his analysis and findings, we have to consider carefully some of the issues raised by him concerning the social and literary context of the 1st century surrounding the teaching of divorce and remarriage by both Jesus and Paul as recorded in the gospels and epistles respectively. The more we are aware of the 1st century setting, the more we are able to make better judgment and decision on this very delicate issue in our context today.

Friday, 5 October 2007


October is a busy month at the seminary. We are in the final week of the semester now, and in two weeks' time, we will be having our Graduation Day (57 students will be graduating - wow!). So it's time to say farewell to our students who will be graduating this year.

I was privileged to be invited to join a group of 2nd year students last night for the farewell steamboat dinner (yummy!!). Four of our 2nd year students will be graduating this year.

To Anthony, Took Weng, Kan Suan and Pauline (from left to right in the photo), I wish you all the best for your future ministry and may our Almighty's blessings and guidance be with you always. I thank God that our paths have crossed.

Hmmm...they look pretty glad and happy to be graduating...

Indian Thanksgiving Service in Chapel

One of the real blessings of STM is the multi-racial community in which we are able to celebrate the diversity in the body of Christ.

This is reflected in yesterday's Chapel service where our students of Indian origin took charge. They transformed the Thanksgiving Service into a colourful and unforgettable experience.

It did not end there. The Indian students also went the extra-mile by serving the community banana leaf rice for our community lunch after the chapel service.

I always look forward to services that remind us of the diverse community we have in STM - we are different and yet we share one common purpose and destiny in life and ministry. We speak different languages and practise different culture but yet we are drawn to one another through the love of Christ. This is one richness we should celebrate and be thankful for.

For the cultural diversity in STM community, see my earlier post, "Celebrating our Cultural Heritage in Chapel."

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Introduction to the Study of the Apostle Paul - Part 3

Some weeks ago, I blogged about my struggle in teaching the Introduction to the study of the Apostle Paul in my Introduction to the New Testament course (for my earlier posts, see Introduction to the Study of the Apostle Paul Part 1 and Part 2). I mentioned that I decided to screen the documentary on The Story of Paul the Apostle: The Man Who Turned the World Upside Down produced by the History Channel.

Well, the students' evaluation on the course has come in (as we are in the final week of the semester now). I am very pleased to note that quite a number of students in the course have indicated that they find the screening of the documentary and the discussion as one of the most helpful aspects of the course. They have also given some constructive suggestions on how to improve the course, which I will definitely take into account if I were to teach the course again in the future.

Thank you for all the feedback. It was a great joy teaching the first year seminarians this course. I hope they find the course beneficial and learn something out of it.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Press Release: Outstanding Scholarship at Lampeter

The members of staff in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Wales, Lampeter (where I did my doctoral studies) have scored another first in terms of scholarship where a total of 11 substantial academic books were launched within a week in late September, with another 5 to be published soon.

It is a real delight to note that Dr William Campbell (4th from left), my doktorvater, has launched his latest book, Paul and the Creation of Christian Identity. Dr Paul Middleton (6th from left), my internal examiner, has also released the paperback edition of his Radical Martyrdom and Cosmic Conflict in Early Christianity. Another great friend, Dr Kathy Ehrespenger's (5th from left) second major publication, Paul and the Dynamics of Power: Communication and Interaction in the Christ-Movement, has also been launched.

For further information and the press release on the book launch, click here.

Preaching Points from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

The Center for Preaching at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, my alma mater, has recently launched Preaching Points, a weekly brief podcast "pointing preacher to preaching excellence."

This new weekly program provides brief reflections on preaching covering various topics and tips. On every Monday, one is able to download and listen to "fresh insights on preaching from our faculty at the Center for Preaching, as well as professors and friends of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary." One is also be to subscribe through iTunes in which one will automatically receive the latest podcast without any cost.

According to the Centre of Preaching, "this podcast is designed to provide regular inspiration and encouragement for preachers. We want to reinforce the basics of Biblical Preaching, along with stimulating your thinking with clear and powerful ideas on preaching. You can expect quality teaching from" the faculty of the Centre for Preaching.

Come and join my "sifu" Haddon Robinson, Scott Gibson, and Jeff Arthurs each Monday for a brief podcast on preaching. Each episode will focus on "one point that will challenge, refresh, and inspire preachers to preaching excellence."

There are already 2 Preaching Points available in the Archives, so make sure you listen to them:

1) Preaching Is Worth It by Drs. Haddon Robinson, Scott Gibson, and Jeff Arthurs released on September 17, 2007.

2) Being Biblical and Contemporary by Dr Haddon Robinson released on September 24, 2007.

For those who would like to subscribe, click here for podcast instruction.

Hope that this will be another quality free and helpful resource for all of us so that we can be further equipped to be better preachers.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

2 New Movies about the Boy Jesus

ChristianityToday reports that two new movies about Jesus' early years between 13-30 are now under way. Read the report below.

Filming the Boy Jesus: Two new movies about Christ's early years are on the way—The Aquarian Gospel and Jesus: The Lost Years.

by Josh Hurst posted 10/01/07

Good News Holdings might have scrapped its plans to make a movie out of Anne Rice's Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, a fictional story about Jesus' childhood years. But that's not stopping others from making films with a similar theme.

Drew Heriot, director of the self-help documentary The Secret, has been tapped to direct The Aquarian Gospel, a movie that follows the life of Christ through his "missing years"—including ages 13 through 30. Meanwhile, Jesus: The Lost Years, a documentary based on the Paul Perry book Jesus in Egypt, comes to DVD on November 13.

Variety reports that the script for the former film is based on a pair of books: The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus Christ, by evangelical writer Levi Dowling, and The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ, by Russian anthropologist Nicholas Notovich. The film "chronicles Jesus' journeys from Israel through India, Tibet, Persia, Greece and Egypt as he encounters people of all creeds, classes and faiths."

Meanwhile, Jesus: The Lost Years, billing itself as "The Greatest Story NEVER Told," takes a speculative look at Christ's boyhood years in Egypt after his family fled Israel. Press materials say that "acclaimed" researcher John de Bry and filmmaker "traversed the sands of Egypt, following the Holy Family's actual route." This alleged route was allegedly "outlined by Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Christians and officially certified as authentic in 2000." (There's no mention who actually "authenticated" such a speculative, and possibly outright fictional, "Holy Family Trail," but mere conjecture never stopped anyone from writing a book or making a movie before.)

More Tips for BibleWorks

A couple of weeks ago, BibleWorks released its Fall 2007 Newsletter. In this issue, there are some useful tips on how to use BibleWorks for classroom. While they may be classified as "classroom tips," let me assure all BibleWorks users that these tips are also useful for you, whether you are a student or instructor.

Check out some of these tips:

On the use of Bibleworks, see also my previous post on the Unofficial Bibleworks Blog and Lost in Translation: Inconsistencies of the NIV?

Have fun with BibleWorks.

Monday, 1 October 2007

STM Tuesday Chapel Again...

I am slotted to share in tomorrow's STM Tuesday Chapel again (me again? so fast?). After what we did last week, I am a bit of a lost as to what to share. Furthermore, I need to get the script to the interpreter latest by tonight (else I might end up doing exactly what Paul described about Sivin Kit in his comment in my earlier post).

Hmmm...perhaps the following cartoon has just given me some great idea.