Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Revival in Penang - What Would St Paul Say?

Penang, the Pearl of the Orient, has been in the news in recent years. There have been "prophecies" that revival would come to Penang before spreading to the rest of Malaysia.

This morning, I received an email from someone providing links to Youtube showing glimpses of revival in Penang - people are being healed of their infirmities, set free from bondage, and filled with the Spirit as evidenced by speaking in tongues.

Check out the following videos: People were being slained in the Spirit; shook uncontrollably ; jumped up and down; spoke in tongues; danced in circles; and were made to roll on the floor. This obviously happened in a Chinese speaking church, and I am not sure which church this is (perhaps Steven Sim could provide a lead?)

There are also incidents where people were asked to place their hands on the side of the pulpit to be prayed for. There was a young man running in circles in the church hall. There was also this case of a gentleman who laid on the floor, and he was made to roll from one end of the hall to the other, and then was made to roll back again. Is this evidence of him being set free?

Is this true revival? I have often been asked whether revival only takes a particular form of charismatic expression, and this is one question I have great difficulty in answering. I wonder if St Paul were to visit this particular church, what would he say?

Monday, 28 April 2008

Back from Banting: Part 2

As mentioned in my earlier post, I was in Banting last weekend, teaching in the Banting Chinese Methodist Church. I thought that it would also be good for me to test out my new mobile phone by taking some shots (I lost my mobile phone last year while preaching in a church - I left my phone on the pew while I was preaching, and it was gone after the sermon! And it took me more than 6 months to get my new phone.)

I was very encouraged by the ministry of Banting Chinese Methodist Church. It has a very strong children ministry, with an average attendance of more than 200 children every week. Considering that the church has an average adult congregation of 130, the strength of the children ministry is very impressive indeed. The church reaches out to the neighbourhood by carrying out Sunday schools in 3 different locations in the neighbouring villages. This has become an important outreach where a large number of the children come from families who are not believers.

One of the classes from the Sunday School having a good time

Another area that strikes me is the balanced number of different age groups in the congregation. This church has a fairly good number of youths and young adults in addition to those in the 30s, 40s, and 50s and above. In Malaysia, as a result of the large migration to large urban centres, it is difficult to see vibrant youth and young adult ministries in some of the secondary towns in the various states in Malaysia. But not in Banting. With a strong children ministry, and the balanced number of different age groups in the congregation, I am very confident of the tremendous potential of the church, and I pray for the continuous growth and ministry of this church in the locality. May you be a shining beacon for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

After from church ministry, the Pastor-in-charge took me around Banting. It was a great afternoon to go away and to visit some of the highlights of Banting. I took some shots of the newly opened Impiana Resort at Morib Beach. I think I am very impressed with both the resort and my new mobile camera....

A very tiring, but fulfilling weekend indeed.

Back From Banting: Part 1

In my last post, I mentioned about my struggles in preparing for my sermon that I was to preach at the Banting Chinese Methodist Church yesterday. Perhaps it is a good thing that I did not manage to read Steven's comments on the Rites for Speakers without a Sermon in my previous post before I left for Banting, else I might just do what he suggested.

Thanks to all who encouraged and prayed for me.

I had a good time over the weekend in Banting. I was invited to do a series of teaching in the Chinese Methodist Church, a bilingual church in the heart of the town of Banting. The topic that was given for me was Biblical Sacrifices and Offerings.

I must confess I was a bit apprehensive at the beginning, as I would be dealing with an area that is beyond my specialisation - Old Testament. (This makes me wonder whether specialisation in theological education is a good thing after all...anyway, this is another topic for a another post for another time....)

But as I reflected on this topic, this is not really an OT topic. It is as much an NT topic as well. In order for one to adequately deal with such a topic, it requires sufficient knowledge spanning both the testaments (hmmm...perhaps like what Tony Siew said, one would need to have a good grasp of OT first before embarking on NT Studies....).

As such, I decided to structure my 3 teaching sessions over the weekend based on the theme of "Jesus: The Lamb of God."

I began my first session on Saturday evening (April 26) by considering the declaration of John the Baptist: Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:26). Then I moved on to consider Jesus, the Lamb who redeems us from slavery (1 Peter 1:18-19). In this session, I demonstrated that the idea of Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away sins and as the Lamb who redeems us is rooted in the OT sacrificial system, and how Jesus is the final fulfillment of the OT sacrifices for sins. The emphasis in the first session is what Jesus has done for us as individuals.

In the Sunday (April 27) sermon, I spoke from Romans 12:1-2 on the topic: "Can a Sacrifice be Living?" giving emphasis that our appropriate response to God's bountiful mercies for us is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to the Lord. I paid special attention to the notion of living sacrifices, and not, dying sacrifices. The emphasis in the sermon is how we should respond as individuals to the mercies of God.

Then on the final session on Sunday evening, I turned our attention to Jesus, the Passover Lamb that has been sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). I made some parallels how the early church perceived Jesus to be the Passover Lamb with reference to the first Passover celebrated by the Israelites in Exodus 12, and how the institution of the Lord's Supper has taken a new meaning for us today by considering some of the background and problems in the Corinthians church (1 Corinthians 11:17-34). The emphasis in this final session is how, as a church, the body of Christ, we are to respond to God's mercies.

Despite my struggles in preparing for the sermon and the sessions, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed spending my time with the church. I hope that they too, would have found the sessions beneficial for their spiritual growth.

Lord, have mercy....

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Still No Sermon....

It's Friday midnight, and I am still struggling with my sermon for this Sunday. Somehow, I just don't seem to be able to pull the sermon together.

I am feeling a bit desperate now. As I will be preaching in a bilingual service, I will need to forward my sermon script to the church before daybreak so that the person who will be interpreting for me would have sufficient time to prepare himself.

In times like this, I feel like doing what the following cartoon depicts....

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Tyndale Tech Email: Maps and Geography in Biblical Studies

David Instone-Brewer of Tyndale House does it again! In his latest TynTech Email, he provides us with links to map and geography in biblical studies. Thanks, David, for these excellent resources, which I will be using in my teaching.

Maps & Geography in Biblical Studies

Satellites surround the earth, and Google Earth can zoom in to individual houses. Bible maps have now been adapted to take advantage of this amazing facility, especially the Bible Geocoding project which links 800 places and 10,000 photos.

Traditional maps are still very important, especially for explaining specific events. And photographs bring the places alive, especially when linked to a map. You can even download the BibleMapper and create your own, though to make professional looking maps, I recommend the Accordance Bible Atlas.

There is now no excuse to teach or preach without pictures and maps.

1) Interactive maps & GoogleEarth

If you haven't tried GoogleEarth, download it and expand your horizons. The satellite images are often good enough to identify the car outside your house, but remember, these images are several months old, so don't jump to conclusions.GoogleMaps look similar, but needs no download and there is not so much control.

Two projects have made very good use of these facilities (and more are coming)

Satelite Maps - NExT Bible
12 3D-looking satellite maps with 250 Bible places linked to dictionary entries and to GoogleMaps

GoogleMap links and ready-made satellite photos of all the places named in the Bible maps for each Bible chapter and and 800 place names linked to 10,000 photos and Bible refs

Tip: In GoogleMaps, hover over "Satellite" and tick "show labels", then click on the "MyMaps" tab and tick "Photos from Panoramio"

Even more amazing is the mixing of traditional maps and GoogleEarth at Ancient Jerusalem map overlays for Google Earth - OpenBible.info

To use this you need to install GoogleEarth (the "preview" doesn't work well)
Tip: After installing GoogleEarth, here and click on "Open".
In "Places" click on "+" next to "Ancient" or "Modern" and tick one map.
Zoom in (hover over top right of map for the controls) and vary the transparency (the slider in "Places")

Software with templates to create maps with your own annotations. Free registration.

Movie Maps - 90sec flash movies from

MapsOfWar.comImperial History of the Middle East - empires changing since 3000 BC

History of Religions - birth and growth of religions since 3000 BC

A downloadable program linking a photo and description to about 150 places on a satellite map(useful if you have an intermittent web connection)

2) Traditional maps & powerpoint maps

50 simple but good-looking maps with large text for OT, NT

300 historical maps and charts from atlases and the Yale University Map Collection

Historical & Cultural Atlas - Oregon University
30 clear maps for historical background of surrounding countries

Basic information is displayed at the top when you click on a place-name.

50 maps collected by the producers of the wonderful Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman world (which, unfortunately, is not available on the web, even as a subscription site. A great pity!).

600 places with links to articles or websites. It is also worth checking their Pleiades ancient place names project, which is slowly growing, and will be a wonderful resource.

Historical Maps of the Middle East - Univisity of Texas60 high resolution scans of mostly early 20th C maps (plus modern CIA maps of the Middle East)

Maps of the Roman Empire - LacusCurtiusDetailed older maps with Roman place names linked to Pliny's Natural History. Not finished yet, but it will be a wonderful resource when it is.

Ancient Maps of Jerusalem - University of Southern Maine30 mostly 12th C - 19th C, as high-resolution scans with useful commentary.

Jerusalem in Old Maps - Israel Ministry 14 maps in a chronological survery with useful commentary. Small images.

Lists of individual maps or small collections on various websites

3) Photos of places & archaeology

2900 photos listed by site, with very useful descriptions

6000 photos well organised with very helpful descriptions. Free 400px previews.

Archaeological sites in the Middle East - Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
1200 photos of archaeological sites labelled merely with a place name.

500 photos of archaeological remains, labelled by place and objects.

200 locations with photographic essays. Good preparation for a visit.

7 sites each with many photos and some videos. Hint.

If you aren't using many pictures, wait till the latter half of your teaching, and then wake them up with a map and some photos.

Review of Biblical Literature April 23, 2008

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

Herbert W. Bateman IV, ed.
Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews
Reviewed by Felix H. Cortez

Dianne Bergant
Israel's Story: Part Two
Reviewed by A. Joseph Everson

Martin Brändl
Der Agon bei Paulus: Herkunft und Profil paulinischer Agonmetaphoik
Reviewed by Christoph Stenschke

Keith Augustus Burton
The Blessing of Africa: The Bible and African Christianity
Reviewed by J. N. K Mugambi

Joseph A. Fitzmyer
The One Who Is to Come
Reviewed by Jeffrey L. Staley

Kathy L. Gaca and L. L. Welborn, eds.
Early Patristic Readings of Romans
Reviewed by David A. Creech

Ilze Kezbere
Umstrittener Monotheismus: Wahre und falsche Apotheose im lukanischen Doppelwerk
Reviewed by Knut Backhaus

David Milson
Art and Architecture of the Synagogue in Late Antique Palestine: In the Shadow of the Church
Reviewed by Jonathan L. Reed

George T. Montague
Understanding the Bible: A Basic Introduction to Biblical Interpretation
Reviewed by Gosnell Yorke

Hillary Rodrigues and Thomas A. Robinson
World Religions: A Guide to the Essentials
Reviewed by Joseph Matos

Marion Ann Taylor and Heather E. Weir, eds.
Let Her Speak for Herself: Nineteenth-Century Women Writing on Women in Genesis
Reviewed by Frances Klopper

Valerie M. WarriorRoman Religion
Reviewed by Edmund P. Cueva

Claus Wilcke
Early Ancient Near Eastern Law: A History of Its Beginnings: The Early Dynastic and Sargonic Periods
Reviewed by Michael S. Moore

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Evangel Annual Sale is ON!

I have a funny feeling that Pearlie may not be too pleased with me when she reads this; and I do have doubts that she will be able to keep to her 6-month fast from buying books.

That is because...................It's the Evangel Annual Sale!

From April 25 - May 17, 2008, the Annual Sale promises to be a great time to pick up some good bargains.

For example, Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology is for sale at RM88; Stanley Grenz's Renewing the Centre at RM5 (no kidding - unless it is a typo error!); Tom Schreiner's Romans Commentary (BECNT) at RM128; and David Garland's 1 Corinthians Commentary (BECNT) at RM128; and many more.

Happy browsing and spending some $$ this weekend!

BTW, Pearlie, will I see you at the sale?

Monday, 21 April 2008

Writing Theology Well

One of the frustrations we often gather from our students is the ability to write well in their papers. It is not that they don't have excellent ideas, or that they are severely handicapped by the lack of command of English language - but many of them just do not know how to express their argument well in theology papers.

I have been wondering for sometime how to help these students write well. I think I may have found the answer in the book written by Lucretia B. Yaghjian, Writing Theology Well: A Rhetoric for Theological And Biblical Writers (New York: Continuum, 2007).

In describing this book, the publisher notes: "In its creative integration of the disciplines of writing, rhetoric, and theology, Writing Theology Well provides a standard text for theological educators engaged in the teaching and mentoring of writing across the theological curriculum. As a theological rhetoric, it will also encourage excellence in theological writing in the public domain by helping to equip students for their wider vocations as writers, preachers, and communicators in a variety of ministerial and professional contexts."

I decided to check out the table of contents of the book at Amazon.com and I must say that I am not disappointed. A copy for the library will be ordered, and I would encourage all my students to read it. There is no more excuse for writing "bad" papers!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

BibleWorks Tip #15: Command Line Search Tips

Another tip on using BibleWorks has been recently released - The Command Line Search Tip

The Command Line is the primary BibleWorks search tool. It provides powerful search capabilities, is easy to use for most searches, and is easy to access for a quick search. While other tools such as the Graphical Search Engine provide some search capabilities that the Command Line cannot perform, the Command Line is capable of handling most search needs.

In this Classroom Tip we will investigate some of the lesser-known search capabilities of the Command Line for searching on Greek and Hebrew, especially in the morphologically-tagged texts. Two powerful tools for searching on the Command Line are wildcards and range operators.

Continue reading the tip here.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Reflections on the Symposium on Romans with Robert Jewett

I had a very stimulating and enriching time at the Symposium on Romans with Robert Jewett and K.K. Yeo organised by the Sabah Theological Seminary. The primary purpose of this symposium is to elicit response from Malaysian scholars on the relevance of Bob's newly published Romans Commentary in the Hermeneia series on the Malaysian culture and context.

In his epoch-making commentary, Bob sets a new benchmark on the studies of Romans and provides a fresh and groundbreaking analysis of the letter by employing tools of rhetorical criticism, social scientific analysis, historical and cultural analysis of the honour, shame, and imperial systems in the Greco Roman world. In doing so, Bob pays close attention in hearing the text in its own cultural, social, political, and ideological contexts.

Together with Ezra Kok (my Principal), we had the privilege to respond to one of Bob's papers, "The Agape Meal: A Sacramental Model for Ministry drawn from Romans 13:8." In this paper, Bob's major thesis can be summarised as follows:

1) Apart from the house church model, there is also the strong possibility of tenement churches as the social location for early Christian meals, particularly in Rome.

2) Bob suggests the reading of The Agape in Romans 13:10 as a specific reference to the love feasts.

3) The fulfillment of the law in Romans 13:10 should not be narrowly confined to the Torah but to include both Jewish and Roman law, and any other law that could be mentioned.

I will most likely post our response to Bob's paper in a later post, so as not to make this post unnecessarily long.

Personally, I have much to gain and learn from the symposium. Apart from the intellectual stimulation at the symposium, I thoroughly enjoyed the fellowship with Bob and KK over the past few days (we stayed in the same apartment) and exchanged our views and debates over Romans (and many other issues as well). It is in such dialogues that I am humbled and kept reminded of my very limited understanding and knowledge of the world of biblical studies - there is much to discover and learn from one another. Biblical scholarship is never pursued in isolation but within a community. Our understanding and interpretation of the text is not only informed by but also subjected to the critique of the community.

Overall, Bob was very impressed, in his own words, "with the high level of discussion and interaction" among the participants in the Symposium. Coming from Bob, this is very complimentary and encouraging, demonstrating the level of maturity and high scholarship of Asian and, in particular, Malaysian scholars. Malaysia Boleh!


Swamped - that's how I feel since I returned to the seminary yesterday after having been away for 10 days. So much to catch up - meeting to attend (we are in the process of finalising the new Doctor of Ministry programme), papers to mark, finalising the Greece study tour, etc....

But I am still hopeful that I will get my brief reflection on the Romans Symposium out soon.

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Review of Biblical Literature April 19, 2008

Philip S. Alexander
The Mystical Texts: Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice and Related Manuscripts
Reviewed by Samuel Thomas

John Barton
The Nature of Biblical Criticism
Reviewed by James D. G. Dunn

Roland Boer
Symposia: Dialogues concerning the History of Biblical Interpretation
Reviewed by Henning Graf Reventlow

Andrew Chester
Messiah and Exaltation: Jewish Messianic and Visionary Traditions and New Testament Christology
Reviewed by Martin Karrer

Zeba A. Crook
Reconceptualising Conversion: Patronage, Loyalty, and Conversion in the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean
Reviewed by Dietmar Neufeld

A. Andrew Das
Solving the Romans Debate
Reviewed by Don Garlington

Max Küchler and Karl Matthias Schmidt, eds.
Texte-Fakten-Artefakte: Beiträge zur Bedeutung der Archäologie für die neutestamentliche Forschung
Reviewed by Gabriele Faßbeck

Tremper Longman III
Reviewed by Timothy J. Sandoval

Edward P. Meadors
Idolatry and the Hardening of the Heart: A Study in Biblical Theology
Reviewed by Thomas J. Kraus

James M. Robinson
Jesus: According to the Earliest Witness
Reviewed by Robert A. Derrenbacker Jr.

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza
The Power of the Word: Scripture and the Rhetoric of Empire
Reviewed by Warren Carter

James W. WattsRitual and Rhetoric in Leviticus: From Sacrifice to Scripture
Reviewed by Hanna Liss
Reviewed by Mark McEntire

Paul R. Williamson
Sealed with an Oath: Covenant in God's Unfolding Purpose
Reviewed by Matthew S. Harmon

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

What is the New Testament?

Tony Siew, Trinity Theological College's recently recruited NT Lecturer, asks a very basic and yet very difficult question: What is the New Testament?

Challenging all of us to respond in 15 words, I have yet to come out with a satisfactory answer. So what is the New Testament? Any takers?

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

From Robert Jewett to KK Yeo to Hii Kong Hock to..??

It's rather rare to be in the company of three generations of scholars in a conference. Yet this was my experience participating in the Symposium on Romans: The Relevance of Hermeneia Commentary on Romans for Malaysian Culture and Theology that has just concluded a while ago.

Organised by the Sabah Theological Seminary (STS), Sabah, this Symposium brought together three scholars - Prof Robert Jewett (centre) who mentored Prof K. K. Yeo (right) who mentored Dr Hii Kong Hock (lect, who is Lecturer in New Testament Studies at STS) - all of them with special passion and interest in Paul's Letter to the Romans.

So the next question is this: Who will be the next privileged scholar to be mentored by Kong Hock that would continue on the tradition of working on Romans?

Monday, 14 April 2008

Sunset in Sabah

Last Friday evening, we took a drive to the campus of Universiti Malaysia Sabah to enjoy the sunset. I was lost for words for a while, enjoying the beauty of creation. I envy the folks in Sabah - they have so much to appreciate and enjoy here.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Sabah Theological Seminary: A Beautiful Campus

It's been 2 days since we arrived at Sabah Theological Seminary (STS) for the Romans Symposium with Robert Jewett and K. K. Yeo. Together with us on this trip (other than Ezra Kok, my principal) are 4 of our M Theol students.

While the Romans Symposium will not start until tomorrow, we decided to come over to Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah, Malaysian Borneo, a few days earlier. This could give us a chance to rest, and also provide the opportunity for our international postgraduates students to explore another part of beautiful Malaysia.

STS has a very beautiful and serene campus, located on Signal Hill just off the city centre. Surrounded by lush greenery and secondary forest, this is a perfect place for study and rest. I'll let the photos do the talking.

The Main Administration Building, comprising faculty offices, library and classrooms
The historic Chapel

Wisma STS - the student's accommodation block - looks more like a condominium than a hostel block, right!

Wisma Kurnia - apartment block for lecturers. I stay in one of the units in this block.
Room with a view! This is the view from the balcony of the apartment where I stay. One can witness sunrise from this spot as the balcony faces east!

In the meantime, I think I am going to enjoy my stay here. Much to the dismay of my principal, I suggested that perhaps I could do with a lecturer's exchange programme to come over to STS for a while....

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Learning Greek by Singing!

I have heard enough from my students that learning Greek is tough - really tough. Is there any better way to help our students in the seminary?

In this respect, Zondervan announces a new addition to its line of biblical resources: Sing and Learn New Testament Greek: The Easiest Way to Learn Greek Grammar. Authored by Kenneth Berding, this resource includes "everything a professor or a student will need: a CD (containing eleven songs and a PowerPoint with paradigm charts for classroom use) and a booklet with the same paradigm charts for students’ personal use.

According to Zondervan, Sing and Learn New Testament Greek "provides a way for learning (and remembering!) New Testament Greek grammar forms through simple songs. It is not designed to compete with existing Greek grammar books, but to serve as a required supplemental resource for elementary Greek classes. Indeed, it has been designed to be used alongside of any introductory grammar. A professor can simply assign to his or her students any (or some) of the songs for the paradigms a particular elementary grammar employs. In this way, students will actually remember what they have learned. (As we are all aware, people do not easily forget something learned via song.)"

"The entire project includes songs for indicative verb endings, participles, infinitives, imperatives, contract forms, and prepositions, among others. All but the last song can be sung in 15 seconds or less. Parsing is enormously easier through this method. And it is a lot more fun than traditional methods. (Are we allowed to even use the word “fun” in reference to elementary Greek? Absolutely!)"

"Beginning Greek students can listen to the CD as they drive to and from school or work, or put it on their iPod."

"These songs are so simple that students who have used them complain about waking up in the middle of the night with the songs running through their heads. You’ll never hear that complaint from students who have had to use rote memory to learn grammar forms."

I am convinced - I am recommending all Greek-ers to get hold of this resource when it is available in May 2008. You will love learning the articles by singing to the tune of Three Blind Mice; the participles by singing Old McDonald Had a Farm; the imperatives by singing Row, Row, Row Your Boat; and many more.

Have fun in learning, or better still, singing, Greek

Friday, 11 April 2008

Review of Biblical Literature April 9, 2008

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

Calum Carmichael
Illuminating Leviticus: A Study of Its Laws and Institutions in the Light of Biblical Narratives
Reviewed by Reinhard Achenbach

C. John Collins
Genesis 1-4: A Linguistic, Literary, and Theological Commentary
Reviewed by Philippe Guillaume

Mary L. Coloe
Dwelling in the Household of God: Johannine Ecclesiology and Spirituality
Reviewed by Cornelis Bennema

Carol Dempsey
Jeremiah: Preacher of Grace, Poet of Truth
Reviewed by Carolyn J. Sharp

Ronald Herms
An Apocalypse for the Church and for the World: The Narrative Function of Universal Language in the Book of Revelation
Reviewed by David L. Barr

Timothy Paul Jones
Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus
Reviewed by Craig L. Blomberg

Jan Joosten and Peter J. Tomson, eds.
Voces Biblicae: Septuagint Greek and Its Significance for the New Testament
Reviewed by Hans Ausloos

J. A. (Bobby) Loubser
Oral and Manuscript Culture in the Bible: Studies on the Media Texture of the New Testament-Explorative Hermeneutics
Reviewed by Alan Kirk

Nicholas Perrin
Thomas, The Other Gospel
Reviewed by Kenneth D. Litwak

Mark Roncace
Jeremiah, Zedekiah, and the Fall of Jerusalem
Reviewed by Lester L. Grabbe

Don Sausa
The Jesus Tomb: Is It Fact or Fiction? Scholars Chime In
Reviewed by Mark R. Fairchild

John L. Thompson
Reading the Bible with the Dead: What You Can Learn from the History of Exegesis That You Can't Learn from Exegesis Alone
Reviewed by John Sandys-Wunsch

D. Francois Tolmie
Persuading the Galatians: A Text-Centred Rhetorical Analysis of a Pauline Letter
Reviewed by Steven A. Hunt

Elaine M. Wainwright
Women Healing/Healing Women: The Genderization of Healing in Early Christianity
Reviewed by John J. Pilch

Ulrich Wilckens
Theologie des Neuen Testaments,
Vol. 1: Geschichte der urchristlichen Theologie:
Part 1: Geschichte des Wirkens Jesu in Galiläa;
Part 2: Jesu Tod und Auferstehung und die Entstehung der Kirche aus Juden und Heiden;
Part 3: Die Briefe des Urchristetums: Paulus und seine Schüler, Theologen aus dem Bereich judenchristlicher Heidenmission;
Part 4: Die Evangelien, die Apostelgeschichte, die Johannesbriefe, die Offenbarung und die Entstehung des Kanons
Reviewed by Christoph Stenschke

Symposium on Romans with Robert Jewett

Sabah Thelogical Seminary is hosting a Symposium on Romans: The Relevance of Hermeneia Commentary on Romans for Malaysian Culture and Theology from 14th - 15th April, 2008.

Prominent NT scholars, Robert Jewett, Visiting Professor of New Testament, University of Heidelberg and University of Wales Lampeter, and KK Yeo, Harry Kendall Professor of New Testament, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, will be presenting papers with Dr Thu En Yu, Dr Frank Gee, Dr Hii Kong Hock and yours truly as respondents.

The papers to be presented at the Symposium are as follow:

14th April:
1) Romans as a Missionary Letter Aimed at Overcoming Shameful Status by Robert Jewett

2) Romans in Beijing: Cultural Boasting and Mutual Honoring by KK Yeo

15th April:
1) The Agape Meal: A Sacramental Model for Ministry Drawn from Romans 13:8 by Robert Jewett

2) A Confucian Reading of Fulfillment of the Law in Love: Paul's Way of Renren in Romans 13 by KK Yeo.

This Symposium promises to be a very engaging and stimulating time together. The primary focus is to examine the relevance of Robert Jewett's recent massive commentary on Romans for the Malaysian culture and theology. I will be responding to Jewett's paper on "The Agape Meal: A Sacremental Model for Ministry Drawn from Romans 13:8."

I look forward to this Symposium at the Land Below the Wind and to meeting Bob again. We had breakfast together in Lampeter a day after my viva last year. It was an unforgettable time!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Back Home...And Going Off Again

I am now back from Singapore and I had a good time participating in the Asia Emerging Leaders Summit 2008 (AELS). It was a great time catching up with old friends who were at the 1st AELS 2007 in Bali. Of course, the added bonus was the opportunity to meet up with potential theological student, Joshua.

However, I won't be home for long. Early tomorrow morning, I am flying off to Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, to participate in the Symposium on Romans with Robert Jewett organised by the Sabah Theological Seminary. More about this later.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Asia Emerging Leadership Summit 2008

I am off to Singapore today, participating in the Asia Emerging Leadership Summit 2008. I will be back on April 10.

I will not be bringing my notebook along, and as such, I will be taking a "fast" from blogging for the next few days.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Farewell to the Bucks

The seminary is very privileged to host Professors Erwin and Getrude Bucks for the past 3 months. This Canadian couple has been a real blessing for the STM community, and they have taught several classes during their time with us.

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. With heavy heart, we hosted a farewell dinner for the Bucks a few days ago. They will be flying off on Sunday, April 6.

To Erwin and Getrude, thank you for enriching our lives. We are glad that our paths have crossed. May the good Lord bless and keep you.

We look forward to having you back with us in Malaysia, soon.

Saturday, 5 April 2008

Four Crosses

Over the Holy Week, I have collected 3 diferrent types of Cross. I thought it would make a good collection together with the Celtic Cross that I bought when I was in Dublin last year. The 3 crosses from the Holy Week have found a new "home" - on my office door.

9 New Online Books From SBL Publication

The International Cooperation Initiative undertaken by SBL Publications in making free online books available for scholars from the Two-Thirds World (Malaysia included) continues to add new books this month.

This might be an excellent and temporary relief for Pearlie who has self-imposed a 6-month fasting from buying books.

Check out the following new titles added to the Online Books Programme.

For a complete list of the online books now available, click here.

Heil, John Paul. The Rhetorical Role of Scripture in 1 Corinthians. Studies in Biblical Literature 15. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature, 2005.

Racine, Jean-François. New Testament in the Greek Fathers 5. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature, 2004.

Gaines, Janet Howe, Forgiveness in a Wounded World: Jonah’s Dilemma. Studies in Biblical Literature 5. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature, 2003.

Hill, Robert C. Translator, Diodore of Tarsus: Commentary on Psalms 1–51, with an Introduction and Notes by Robert C. Hill. Writings from the Greco-Roman World 9. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature, 2005.

Maclean, Jennifer K. Berenson and Ellen Bradshaw Aitken, translators and editors, Flavius Philostratus: On Heroes. Writings from the Greco-Roman World 3. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature, 2003.

Reeves, John C., ed., Bible and Qur’an: Essays in Scriptural Intertextuality. Symposium Series 24. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature 2003.

Torrey, Charles C. The Lives of the Prophets: Greek Text and Translation. Monograph Series 1. Philadelphia, Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis, 1946. (Reprinted by the Society of Biblical Literature 2006).

Wassen, Cecilia, Women in the Damascus Document. Academia Biblica 21. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature, 2005.

Kannaday, Wayne C., Apologetic Discourse and the Scribal Tradition: Evidence of the Influence of Apologetic Interests on the Text of the Canonical Gospels. Text-Critical Studies 5. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature, 2004.

Friday, 4 April 2008

I am Barred from Recommending Books for the Library!

Talking about books, Pearlie dedicated a song to me, sung in the tune of "Old MacDonald had a Farm." Check it out!

And know what - I think I must have blown the seminary library's budget in my quest for building up the NT books in the library. This is what I received from the librarian, who has a real good sense of humour:

"Given your book request track record,....you are barred from recommending any more books unless they cost less than US$10.00!!"

But thank God there is CBD Academic Closeouts to look out for.....

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Call for Papers: The Pope and Jesus of Nazareth

The following came through the BNTS-list

Call for Papers

The Centre of Theology and Philosophy and the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Nottingham are organising a conference on 'The Pope and Jesus of Nazareth' on 19th and 20th June 2008 in Nottingham.

The publication of the book Jesus of Nazareth on 16 April 2007 was an unprecedented event: never before had a reigning Pope published personal reflections on Jesus. The book engages not just with New Testament scholarship but also with fundamental methodological questions related to historical criticism. Moreover, it resonates with wider questions of scriptural reading, Christology, ecclesiology and relations with Judaism and Islam. This conference is the first extended theological discussion in the UK on Joseph Ratzinger's book.

Among the confirmed speakers, there will be Professor John Milbank, Professor Markus Bockmuehl, Professor emeritus Geza Vermes, Archbishop Martínez, Fergus Kerr OP, Professor Walter Moberly, Olivier-Thomas Venard OP and Professor Mona Siddiqui.

We are inviting research students to submit proposals for short papers. We are particularly looking for contributions that will raise questions and stimulate debate. The papers should be ready for circulation prior to the conference and may be published by SCM in a collection of essays edited by Adrian Pabst and Angus Paddison.

The University of Nottingham has made available a number of bursaries to help cover the costs of transportation and accommodation for the selected students.

The deadline for submitting abstracts of no more than 250 words is 15th April 2008. Abstracts should be emailed by attachment to

adrian.pabst@nottingham.ac.uk and

Position: Uniting Church Theological College, Tasmania

The following came through the BNTS list:

Applications are invited for the positions of:

The appointee will teach in the field of New Testament Studies, enabling students of the Theological College and the United Faculty of Theology (an ecumenical associated teaching institution of the Melbourne College of Divinity) to explore the nature of the New Testament, develop their knowledge and skill for interpreting its texts and to integrate their learning into their theology, preaching, teaching and practice of ministry.

The appointee will participate in the preparation and formation of candidates for the Uniting Church Ministries and resource the wider Uniting Church in understanding the New Testament.

Appointment effective from January 2009;
Closing date: 31 May 2008

The appointee will teach in the field of Worship and Preaching, enabling students of the Theological College and the United Faculty of Theology (an ecumenical associated teaching institution of the Melbourne College of Divinity) to develop their knowledge and skill in these areas, and to integrate this into their ministry by becoming competent in the leadership of liturgy and faithful in proclamation of the Gospel.

The appointee will participate in the preparation and formation of candidates for the Uniting Church Ministries, and resource the wider Uniting Church in its worship life and proclamation of the Gospel.

Appointment effective from January 2009;
Closing date: 31 May 2008

Contact for application information: heather.cameron@ctm.uca.edu.au

Application should be addressed to
the Chairperson of the NominatingCommittee,
Centre for Theology and Ministry,
1 Morrison Close,
Parkville 3052

Position: Dept of Theology & Religious Studies, Bristol

The following announcement came through the BNTS list:

Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies (ref. 13860)
Department of Theology and Religious Studies,
University of Bristol

Based in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, you will become an active participant in the Department's Centre for Christianity and Culture. The Department of Theology and Religious Studies seeks to build on its standing in Christian and Jewish studies. Preference may be given to those working within Biblical reception, Jewish history, or/and Reformation theology. You should have an excellent publication record and you will be expected to teach at undergraduate and postgraduatelevels.

Grade: Level b in Pathway 1

Salary: £31,840-£35,858

Contact for informal enquiries:
Dr C A Muessig
Tel. 0117 9287763

Timescale of appointment :Contract: Permanent
Anticipated interview date: 02 June 2008
Anticipated start date: 01 August 2008
Closing date for applications: 9.00 am on 24 April 2008

Acropolis = Disney?

Does Acropolis (above) = Disney (below)?

I have, for sometimes, suspected that some of my colleagues may have slightly different theological persuasion that remains hidden, only waiting to be manifested under certain circumstances. For example, some have called me a "closet pentecostal." Outwardly, I may not demonstrate any visible signs of being a pentecostal, and I blend in perfectly well with the traditional church. It was not until recently that some people discovered that I spent about 7 years in a pentecostal church. One of my students was even surprised at my prayers during one of our church's prayer meeting some months ago. She said, "Hmm...I never heard you prayed like that before." (whatever "that" means).

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that one of my colleagues was rather shockingly, orthodox. It all happened this way.

Three of us were in a discussion trying to finalise the details of the study tour following the footsteps of Paul to Greece.

In our discussion, one of my colleagues asked, "How come Acropolis is not open at night? Isn't it like Disney World which stays open until late at night?"

Then my other colleague immediately stood up, made a sign of the Cross, and recited, "Kyrie, eleison; kyrie eleison; kyrie eleison."

After which he responded, "How could you equate Acropolis with Disney World? Kyrie, eleison; kyrie eleison; kyrie eleison"

Hmmm....could my colleague be a closet orthodox believer?

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Eerdmans Order Has Arrived!

The Eerdmans order that the seminary placed has arrived. One of my colleagues, while sorting out the books, commented that books with "strange" titles would have most likely belonged to my order. Well, I can't blame him. Who else would order books such as "Greed as Idolatry" or "Recovering Paul's Mother Tongue" or "Qumran and Apocalypticism"?

I exhausted all my book allowance for the year with this order. Looks like I have to "fast" from buying books for sometime to come...

Review of Biblical Literature March 28, 2008

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

Joan Cecelia Campbell
Kinship Relations in the Gospel of John
Reviewed by Ritva H. Williams

Daniel K. Falk
The Parabiblical Texts: Strategies for Extending the Scriptures among the Dead Sea Scrolls
Reviewed by Matthew Goff

Karin Finsterbusch, Armin Lange, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, eds.
Human Sacrifice in Jewish and Christian Tradition
Reviewed by Jason Tatlock

John Fotopoulos, ed.
The New Testament and Early Christian Literature in Greco-Roman Context: Studies in Honor of David E. Aune
Reviewed by Michael Labahn
Reviewed by Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr

Paul M. Fullmer
Resurrection in Mark's Literary-Historical Perspective
Reviewed by John Dart

Martha Himmelfarb
A Kingdom of Priests: Ancestry and Merit in Ancient Judaism
Reviewed by Henryk Drawnel

F. Rachel Magdalene
On the Scales of Righteousness: Neo-Babylonian Trial Law and the Book of Job
Reviewed by Markus Witte

James K. Mead
Biblical Theology: Issues, Methods, and Themes
Reviewed by James D. G. Dunn

Jean-Marc Michaud, ed.
La Bible et l'héritage d'Ougarit: Mélanges bibliques et orientaux en hommage posthume à Monsieur André Caquot
Reviewed by Paul Sanders

Günter Neumann
Glossar des Lykischen: Überarbeitet und zum Druck gebracht von Johann Tischler
Reviewed by Diether Schürr

Romano Penna
Lettera ai Romani: II. Rm 6-11
Reviewed by Lee S. Bond

Neil A. Soggie
Myth, God, and War: The Mythopoetic Inspiration of Joshua
Reviewed by Ovidiu Creanga

Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer
Priestly Rites and Prophetic Rage: Post-exilic Prophetic Critique of the Priesthood
Reviewed by Reinhard Achenbach

William Varner
The Way of the Didache: The First Christian Handbook
Reviewed by Jonathan A. Draper

Robert Louis Wilken, trans. and ed.; with Angela Russell Christman and Michael J. Hollerich
Isaiah: Interpreted by Early Christian and Medieval Commentators
Reviewed by J. David Cassel