Saturday, 31 May 2008

Greece Trip (3): We Had A Great Group

The 28 enthusiastic fellow pilgrims that came with me to Greece were a bunch of eager and fun loving students of the scriptures. We had a good time covering the cities visited by Paul in his Second Missionary Journey in Greece. Although our itinerary follows the reversed chronological events, I would post my reflections according to the sequence as recorded in Acts 16-18.

True to the spirit of the original Second Missionary Journey, we had a team of medical doctors with us, just like Doctor Luke with Paul (to be precise, 5 of them. I must say their presence was a great relief as they came to my aid when I injured my ankle on the second day of our 11-day tour - more about this later). Paul also brought along "young" Timothy in this journey, and we have the youngest member of our team, aged 15, from Kuching.

Together with this team, we not only shared the agape and the koinonia of Christ, we also read the scriptures together at various sites along the journey - and this experience has enriched our understanding and deepened our love for the scriptures. Paul's words suddenly came alive for many of us!

So watch this space as I begin to post my reflections and highlight some scholarly debates on some of the archaeological evidence that we saw at the various sites.

For my earlier postings on the Greece Trip, click here. Also, do check out the blog posts on the trip by Alex.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Greece Trip (2): What Makes the Ladies Go Ohhhh in Greece?

They say a picture paints a thousand words. I don't think I have anything else to say. Just look at my colleague in the first photo (she's in the centre).

Just what are the ladies looking at? What makes them go "ohhhhh!"

Here's the answer!

I think these couple of photos might just compliment Sze Zeng's post on Key to the Men's Heart.

Click here to see what Alex believes made me go ahhhh!
So, Sze Zeng, you might have to rethink your post on the Key to the Men's Heart... :-)

Announcing New NT Commentary Series: The New Covenant Commentary Series

Michael Bird announces a new New Testament commentary series called the New Covenant Commentary Series (NCSS). To be edited by Michael Bird and Craig Keener, this series will be published by Wipf & Stock with targeted publication dates set between 2009-2014.

With already so many commentary series in the market, not to mention individual commentaries, is there really a need for a new series? What would justify another set of commentaries that would cause a strain on the budget of the libraries in the majority world (including the seminary that I am currently attached)?

One of the editors, Michael Bird, has this to say about the NCSS:

"The New Covenant Commentary Series (NCCS) is designed for ministers and students who require a commentary that interacts with the text and context of each New Testament book and pays specific attention to the impact of the text upon the faith and praxis of contemporary faith communities."

But would such a description adequately justify a new series? Would not the NIVAC series published by Zondervan fit the above description? Bird further provides 3 distinguishing features of this series:

"The NCCS has a number of distinguishing features. First, the contributors come from a diverse range of backgrounds in regards to their Christian denominations and ethnic background. Unlike many commentary series that tout themselves as being international, the NCCS can truly boast of a genuinely international cast of contributors with authors drawn from every continent of the world (except Antarctica) including North America, Puerto Rico, Australia, the United Kingdom, Kenya, India, Singapore, and Korea (my comments: hey, Malaysia is excluded! Mana boleh!! I noted that only 3 out of the 20 contributors are from the majority world. The rest are from the developed nations (mainly North America and I consider Singapore and South Korea developed nations). If it is truly to be a commentary that reflects the global church, I strongly believe that more contributors from the majority world where Christianity is not only growing amidst persecution, but is also a minority faith within a hostile environment, are needed in which their voices should and need to be heard by the developed and post-Christian nations. I think this better reflects the setting and circumstances of the early church. Aren't there scholars from the majority world who could also make significant contribution to this project? Just wondering out loud.). We intend the NCCS to engage in the task of biblical interpretation and theological reflection from the perspective of the global church."

"Second, the volumes in this series are not verse-by-verse commentaries, but they focus on larger units of text in order to explicate and interpret the story in the text as opposed to rigorous analytical approaches."

"Third, a further aim of these volumes is to provide an occasion for authors to reflect on how the New Testament impacts the life, faith, ministry, and witness of the New Covenant Community today. This occurs periodically under the heading of ‘Fusing the Horizons and Forming the Community’. Here authors provide windows into theological interpretation, application, and special emphasis given to spiritual, ministerial, and community formation. It is our hope that these volumes will represent serious engagements with the New Testament writings, done in the context of faith, in service of the church, and for the glorification of God. (my comments: Again, it is this very reason that I believe scholars from the majority world could make significant contribution here. Perhaps coming from Malaysia, I am a bit biased.)"

For a list of the contributors of NCSS, visit Michael's blog by clicking here.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Greece Trip (1): Back from Greece

I am back from Greece! Will post some reflections and photos of the trip in the next few days. At the moment - I think I need some rest.

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Review of Biblical Literature, May 14, 2008

I am a bit late in posting the new reviews that have been added to the Review of Biblical Literature on May 14, 2008:

Loveday C. A. Alexander
Acts in Its Ancient Literary Context: A Classicist Looks at the Acts of the Apostles
Reviewed by Chrys C. Caragounis

Markus Bockmuehl and James Carleton Paget, eds.
Redemption and Resistance: The Messianic Hopes of Jews and Christians in Antiquity
Reviewed by Joshua Ezra Burns

Frances Taylor GenchEncounters with Jesus: Studies in the Gospel of John
Reviewed by John Painter

L. Ann. Jervis
At the Heart of the Gospel: Suffering in the Earliest Christian Message
Reviewed by Thomas W. Gillespie

Robert Kysar
John: The Maverick Gospel
Reviewed by Dirk G. van der Merwe

Terence C. Mournet
Oral Tradition and Literary Dependency: Variability and Stability in the Synoptic Tradition and Q
Reviewed by Robert K. McIver

Geert van Oyen and Tom Shepherd, eds.
The Trial and Death of Jesus: Essays on the Passion Narrative in Mark
Reviewed by Adam D. Winn

Gershom M. H. Ratheiser
Mitzvoth Ethics and the Jewish Bible: The End of Old Testament Theology
Reviewed by Walter Brueggemann

Gerald O. West, ed.
Reading Other-Wise: Socially Engaged Biblical Scholars Reading with Their Local Communities
Reviewed by Erhard S. Gerstenberger
Reviewed by Gosnell Yorke

Friday, 23 May 2008

Another 10 Online Books from SBL Publications

The SBL Publications recently announced another 10 new online books made available under the International Cooperation Initiative Online Books programme. These online books are available free to readers from the majority world.

For a complete listing of all the books available FREE to the majority world, please click here.

The 10 new books are as follow:

Louw, Johannes P. and Eugene A. Nida. Lexical Semantics of the Greek New Testament. Resources for Biblical Study 25. Atlanta, Scholars Press for the Society of Biblical Literature, 1992.

McGinnis, Claire Mathews and Patricia K. Tull, editors. “As Those Who Are Taught”: The Interpretation of Isaiah from the LXX to the SBL. Symposium 27. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature, 2006.

Murnane, William J. Texts from the Amarna Period in Egypt. Writings from the Ancient World 5. Atlanta, Scholars Press for the Society of Biblical Literature, 1995.

Person, Raymond F., Jr. The Deuteronomic School: History, Social Setting, and Literature. Studies in Biblical Literature 2. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature, 2002.

Miller, Patrick D., Jr., The Divine Warrior in Early Israel. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature, 2006 (Originally published by the President and Fellows of Harvard College, 1973).

Konstan, David, Clay Diskin, Clarence E. Glad, Johan C. Thom, and James Ware, trans., Philodemus: On Frank Criticism. Texts and Translations 43. Atlanta, Scholars Press for the Society of Biblical Literature, 1998.

Isser, Stanley. The Sword of Goliath: David in Heroic Literature. Studies in Biblical Literature, 6. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2003.

Verner, David C. The Household of God: The Social World of the Pastoral Epistles. Dissertation Series 71. Chico, CA, Scholars Press for the Society of Biblical Literature, 1983.

Walker-Jones, Arthur, Hebrew for Biblical Interpretation, Resources for Biblical Study 48. Atlanta, Society of Biblical Literature, 2003.

Foster, John L. Hymns, Prayers, and Songs: An Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Lyric Poetry. Writings from the Ancient World 8. Atlanta, Scholars Press for the Society of Biblical Literature, 1996.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Online Lectures by Richard Hays

I have always enjoyed the scholarship of Richard Hays. In fact, Hays' methodology of reading the scriptures lays the foundation for my doctoral work.

I have compiled some of the lectures delivered by Hays that are available online. Enjoy!

Ethics in Light of the Resurrection - The Willson-Addis Lectures held Feb. 19, 2003 in the Paul W. Powell Chapel at Truett Seminary.

The Art of Reading Scripture Faithfully - delivered at St Peter's Anglican Church, Tallahassee, Florida, on March 26, 2006

Turning the World Upside Down: Israel's Scripture in Luke-Acts - lecture delivered at the MacLaurin Institute, April 12, 2007

Sense and Non-sense in Recent New Testament Scholarship - lecture delivered at the MacLaurin Institute, April 12, 2007.

Beyond the Da Vinci Code - A debate between Bart Ehrman and Richard Hays at Duke Divinity School, April 25, 2006, concerning the questions raised by the book, "The Da Vinci Code" and their implications on the interpretation of New Testament.

The Problem of Interpretation - A lecture held at Seattle Pacific University.

How does scripture inform how we think about politics in a situation very different from that of the NT Christians? Listen to a discussion panel with Richard Hays, Richard Stubbing and Stanley Hauerwas on this topic.

Monday, 19 May 2008

East Coast Trip: Final Reflections

The recently concluded East Coast Roadshow gave us an opportunity not only to catch up with our alumni for mutual encouragement, it also provided us an excellent insight into the ministry of the church particularly in the state of Kelantan. For my earlier posts on our East Coast Trip, please click here.

As Kelantan is my home state, I have always had a soft spot for this region. Not only is the state one of the poorest in Malaysia, it is also a state which has the least Christian presence.

As such, we recognise that Kelantan is not the most comfortable place to be in the service for the Lord. Most congregations are small, and some have been around for decades, but growth is barely minimum. Many of the young adults move to bigger cities in the West Coast seeking better career opportunities. In addition, because of the vastness of the geographical area, many congregations are scattered throughout the state. Couple with the lack of express highways linking various cities, towns and rural areas, it makes pastoral care a very demanding and difficult task to be carried out. As such, most ministers would have to spend a large number of hours travelling from one place to another.

As such, I would like to pay my tribute to all the faithful servants of the Lord serving in various churches in Kelantan:

I salute you as the unsung heroes, faithfully ploughing the ground to prepare for the seed of the gospel to be planted.

I salute you because the ground of the field you toil is hard, and this is a laborious task that not many are able to endure.

I salute you because you labour continuously and work strenuously, not knowing whether you would be able to taste the fruit of your labour.

I salute you because you choose to remain faithful in your labour even though you are constantly confronted with discouragement, frustration and loneliness as you work in the field for your Master.

Together with you, we as your partners in ministry, join you in hoping and praying for an abundant harvest for your ministry in the state of Kelantan.

If you are able, would you spend a moment to remember the Church in Kelantan in prayer?

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Off to Greece: Following St Paul's Footsteps

I am now at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, waiting for my Emirates flight to Athens via Dubai. Together with me are a group of 28 enthusiastic travellers, all very eager to begin our pilgrimage together to Greece in following St Paul's footsteps in his Second Missionary Journey, visiting places like Athens, Corinth, Philippi, Neapolis, Thessalonica, Berea, in addition to Kalambaka, Delphi, Thermopylae, Tempi and a 1-day cruise to the lovely islands of Aegina, Poros and Hydra.

I will be away until May 28. Subject to internet connection, I may blog about my trip whenever I have the opportunity. Else, I will update about the trip after I return.

For details of this trip, please click here. For an idea of our itinerary, please click here.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

East Coast Trip: Food...Food...Food

One of the highlights of our East Coast Trip is the opportunity to taste different varieties of delicious food found exclusively in Kelantan. It's no wonder all of us felt slightly heavier upon returning home.

Enjoying coconut water and boiled sweet corn by the beach (The beach was known as Beach of Passionate Love (Pantai Cinta Berahi) when I was growing up in this town - this is a bit too "passionate" and "lustful" for the state government - so it is now renamed and called Beach of Moonlight (Pantai Cahaya Bulan)

Ohh....Look at how my colleagues feast! Ayam percik, akok, sri kaya, and other kuih muih.

The making of ayam percik

Coming up next: My final reflections on our East Coast Trip.

East Coast Trip: Ezra Buying Roast Pork in Kota Bharu

During our East Coast trip, Ezra Kok, my principal, was rather excited to find that pork is easily available in Kota Bharu, the capital city of the state of Kelantan, which has been under the rule of the Islamic state government for many years. For many who have yet to visit Kelantan, the typical impression is that since the state is under the rule of the Islamic government, pork is not easily available.

Ezra insisted that I should take this photo of him buying roast pork in the pork market, much to the amusement of the roast pork seller.

Friday, 16 May 2008

East Coast Trip: Churches in Kelantan - 3

After Kuala Krai, we drove to Wakaf Bharu for a short visit to the Wakaf Bharu Presbyterian Church, before proceeding to Kota Bharu for our 2-night stay in the state capital. Rev Teo, who has been the minister of the church for more than 25 years, is a faithful minister. She started her ministry here after her theological studies at Trinity Theological College, Singapore.

From right: Dr Tan, Dr Kok, Rev Teo and Rev Tee.

We preached in the Kota Bharu Chinese Methodist Church, Kelantan Chinese Presbyterian Church and St Martin's Anglican church.

Kota Bharu Chinese Methodist Church

For the rest of my posts on our East Coast Trip, click here.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

East Coast Trip: Back to My Alma Mater

During our recent East Coast Trip, I decided to pay a visit to my alma mater - Chung Hwa Secondary School. This is one of the biggest secondary schools in Kelantan.

This visit brought back many happy memories. It also brought to light some of my not-so-glamorous past to my colleagues.

I had never been a good student when it comes to languages. Learning Chinese was extremely difficult for me. On hindsight, I empathised with the teacher who taught me Chinese in school. He was so frustrated with me for not being able to grasp and follow his classes. As such, for many occasions, I was on the receiving end of his wrath. In one particular instance, he decided to punish me by sending me out of the classroom and forcing me to stand in the dustbin for not being able to answer his questions correctly.

I reenacted the scene for my colleagues in the following photo, standing next to a bin outside the location of the former classroom which had since been demolished and is now a school canteen.

To all our students who are now struggling with Greek in seminary, aren't you glad that none of you are made to do what I had gone through? There is still hope!!

East Coast Trip: Churches in Kelantan - 2

After our visit to Gua Musang, we travelled to Kuala Krai to meet up with our alumni, Yesudasan, who is pastoring a small Tamil congregation of about 25-30 in this town. He is also involved in pioneering work among the Indian and migrant families in Kelantan.

Kelantan has a very small Indian community, estimated to be about 550 families. This group of community is very much neglected and marginalised. Yesudasan's church, Pusat Misi Immanuel (Immanuel Mission Centre), is the only Tamil speaking church in the entire state of Kelantan.

We had a good time catching up with Yesudasan and his family for mutual encouragement. They are in need of our encouragement and support, as this particular ministry is one that is lonely, difficult, and often not met with encouraging results.

For the rest of my posts on the East Coast Trip, click here.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

The Ghost of May 13

Yesterday was the 39th anniversary of the May 13, 1969 incident. I thought of blogging my thoughts on it, but could not pull together a coherent article. Anyway, my colleague, the Rabbi, has written his reflections on the event. Read it here.

East Coast Trip: Churches in Kelantan - 1

The main street in Gua Musang, with the railway station at the far end.

In our recent East Cost Trip, we visited several churches in Kelantan. Our first stop was Gua Musang, a strategic town located in rural southern Kelantan. Gua Musang is the main hub linking the state capital, Kota Bharu, to other parts of West Malaysia. There are excellent road connections to Cameron Highlands, Ipoh, and Kuala Lumpur.

Gua Musang is a growing town. The limestone hills surround this town, giving it a very interesting character rather similar to Ipoh, the state capital of Perak.

Limestone hills surrounding Gua Musang

The Presbyterian church in Gua Musang, the only church in this district, was established during World War II. Despite having a small congregation of about 25-30, this is a rather vibrant and warm church. Without a pastor for many years, a senior minister from Wakaf Bharu travels to this church every week to minister to the congregation here.

The interior of the Presbyterian Church Gua Musang

From right: Rev Dr Tan Jin Huat, Dr Ezra Kok, Rev Teo (the minister from Wakaf Bharu who travels to Gua Musang weekly, Deacon Chua of Gua Musang church, Rev Tee and myself

Is there any one out there who hears the calling of the Lord to be a shepherd for the the flock in Gua Musang?

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

East Coast Trip: the State of Kelantan

During our recent East Coast trip, we spent 3 nights in the State of Kelantan. Located on the north-eastern part of the Peninsular Malaysia bordering southern Thailand, Kelantan is one of the poorest states in Malaysia. It is presently under the rule of the conservative opposition Islamic party known as PAS. It is also my home state - I was born in Kota Bharu, the state capital; and that makes me an anok kelate.

Known as the Cradle of Islamic Civilisation, Kelantan has a population of approximately 1.5 million where the large majority are Muslims (over 94.5%).

What about the Christian presence in Kelantan? What is the state of the church?

A very small minority of Christians (less than 0.2%) live in Kelantan. In a recent article (March-April 2008 issue) Berita NECF reports the following about the state of the church in Kelantan:

"Churches are few and are confined to urban areas with a high proportion of Chinese, such as Kota Bharu. There is a serious lack of leadership and church growth has been slow. Some churches do not have full-time pastors and depend on full-time workers from outside Kelantan."

"The turnover rate for full-time workers is said to be quite high. The outflow of young people can be a source of discouragement."

"There is generally a lack of passion for the lost, and a need for local leaders to be trained and empowered not only to lead their congregations but also in evangelism."

"As a whole, the Church is lacking of manpower and resources. Much effort is also needed for unity among different denominations. Certain parts of Kelantan, especially the rural areas are totally devoid of any Christian witness."

For further reading of a recent brief write-up on the state of Kelantan by National Evangelical Christian Fellowship (NECF), please click here.

Monday, 12 May 2008

Back from East Coast

Kota Bharu: Entrance to the Cultural Centre

After 5 days on the road covering a distance of more than 1200km, I arrived home late last night. It was a very tiring trip visiting, preaching and teaching in several churches in Gua Musang, Kuala Krai, Kota Bharu, and Wakaf Bharu in the state of Kelantan, and Kuantan in the state of Pahang.

I will post some photos and updates on the trip in the next couple of days.

Review of Biblical Literature: May 7, 2008

The following new reviews have been added to the Review of Biblical Literature. There are a number of very interesting works on the NT being reviewed here:

Paul N. Anderson
The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus: Modern Foundations Reconsidered
Reviewed by John Painter

Malcolm Choat
Belief and Cult in Fourth-Century Papyri
Reviewed by David Frankfurter

Michael Thomas Davis and Brent A. Strawn, eds.
Qumran Studies: New Approaches, New Questions
Reviewed by Heinz-Josef Fabry

April D. DeConick
The Original Gospel of Thomas in Translation: With a Commentary and New English Translation of the Complete Gospel
Reviewed by Stephan Witetschek

Seenam Kim
The Coherence of the Collections in the Book of Proverbs
Reviewed by Johann Cook
Reviewed by Jutta Krispenz

Sarah Malena and David Miano, eds.
Milk and Honey: Essays on Ancient Israel and the Bible in Appreciation of the Judaic Studies Program at the University of California, San Diego
Reviewed by Wolfgang Zwickel

Mikael C. Parsons
Body and Character in Luke and Acts: The Subversion of Physiognomy in Early Christianity
Reviewed by Pieter J. J. Botha
Reviewed by Patrick E. Spencer

Todd Penner and Caroline Vander Stichele, eds.
Moving beyond New Testament Theology? Essays in Conversation with Heikki Räisänen
Reviewed by Jan van der Watt

Richard L. Rohrbaugh
The New Testament in Cross-Cultural Perspective
Reviewed by Stephan Joubert

C. Kavin Rowe
Early Narrative Christology: The Lord in the Gospel of Luke
Reviewed by Christopher Tuckett

David T. Runia and Gregory E. Sterling, eds.
The Studia Philonica Annual: Studies in Hellenistic Judaism, Volume XVIII
Reviewed by Archie T. Wright

Naomi Seidman
Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation
Reviewed by Cameron Boyd-Taylor

Brad H. Young
Meet the Rabbis: Rabbinic Thought and the Teachings of Jesus
Reviewed by Verlyn D. Verbrugge

Nordic Institute of Asian Studies: Scholarships Available

If you are working on an MA or PhD thesis this autumn and need some inspiration, literature or simply just time to write on your thesis, then NIAS has something to offer: SUPRA scholarships.

What does the scholarship include? The SUPRA scholarships covers travel to Copenhagen, TWO WEEKS board and accommodation plus a fully equipped working place at NIAS! A perfect chance to concentrate on your thesis, have inspirational talks with our researchers or collect material in Northern Europe's most comprehensive Asian studies library.

There are free slots available from August to December.

For more information, please click here.

Friday, 9 May 2008

No Male or Female: A Dialogue between Ben Witherington and Amy-Jill Levine

Duke Divinity School recently hosted a very interesting dialogue between Amy-Jill Levine and Ben Witherington on "No Male or Female? A Conversation on St Paul and Women."

Amy-Jill Levine is E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School. A self-described "Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a predominantly Protestant divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt," Levine combines historical-critical rigor, literary-critical sensitivity, and a frequent dash of humor with a commitment to eliminating anti-Jewish, sexist, and homophobic theologies.

Ben Witherington is Professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary – one of the top evangelical scholars in the world who has written over 30 books.

The audio of the event is now available at the Duke Socratic Club by clicking here.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Off to East Coast

From May 7-11, together with my colleages, Rev Dr Ezra Kok, Rev Dr Tan Jin Huat, and Rev Tee Heng Peng, we will be visiting several churches in the East Coast states of Kelantan and Pahang of Peninsular Malaysia. Beginning from Gua Musang, Kelantan, the East Coast Roadshow will take us to the cities of Kuala Krai, Kota Bharu, Wakaf Bharu, and Kuantan. We look forward to mutual encouragement with the churches and our alumni in the East Coast.

For details of our itinerary, please click here.

Fraser's Hill and Fitzmyer's Spiritual Exercises on Romans

Joseph Fitzmyer's Spiritual Exercises Based on Paul's Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004) was one of my companions (apart from my close friend) during my just concluded personal solitude retreat at Fraser's Hill.

In this book, Joseph Fitzmyer demonstrates that Romans is a wellspring of devotional insight, accessible and deeply rewarding even to everyday readers. "While not overlooking the complex theology of Paul's letter, in this book Fitzmyer recasts the text of Romans into the form of meditations for devotional reflection in spiritual retreats, Bible studies, church classrooms, small groups, and other prayerful gatherings. Styled after the famous Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, the book includes twenty-four meditations that can be divided in a variety of ways and fit to a range of reading schedules. Each meditation is accompanied by a set of questions that encourages reflection on the passage of Romans being considered and also a colloquy in the form of a psalm or New Testament hymn that matches the sentiment of the Pauline passage. A truly unique approach to spirituality, this book shows the role of Scripture in properly ordering the Christian life."

I am not disappointed that I chose Fitzmyer's Spiritual Exercises to be my "spiritual" companion. I did the first 18 exercises covering Romans 1-8. It was deeply rewarding, spiritual enriching, and intellectual engaging, to say the least in doing these spiritual exercises.

These exercises helped me as a way of, in the words of Ignatius of Loyola, "preparing and disposing our soul to rid itself of all disordered affections and...of seeking and finding God's will in the ordering of our life for the salvation of our soul."

I think I am now better prepared and recharged to face the challenges and uncertainties ahead of me.

Back from Fraser's Hill

The town centre and the famous clock tower

It was a great, albeit very short, getaway at Fraser's Hill. With the company of a close friend, we had a good time catching up with each other, but not forgetting in giving ourselves plenty of personal time and space. I slept most of the time on Sunday and did not wake up until close to 11am the following day. I never knew that sleep can be so therapeutic for me.

I have always loved Fraser's Hill. It is quiet during the weekday, and the cool air is a real welcome from the heat in the city. We almost had the whole hill resort to ourselves when we arrived on Sunday afternoon. In fact, when we arrived at Pekan Bungalow, the caretaker was a bit surprised that we would choose our stay during the weekday. He asked us, "Why do you come up on Sunday instead of Friday?"

Well, the secret is that we wanted to be away from the crowd. And the reward for doing the trip on Sunday was that we had the entire bungalow to ourselves - we were the only guests occupying one of the 9 rooms available at the bungalow.

I had a great time - needless to say. I'll let the photos do the talking.....

The view of the dam on the way to Fraser's Hill

Pekan Bungalow

The almost deserted dining room

The view from my room, overlooking the golf course

Another view of the golf course from my room

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

New Issue: JSNT Vol 30 No 4 (June 2008)

Sage recently announced the publication of a new issue of the Journal for the Studies of New Testament Vol 30 No 4 (June 2008); Vol. 30. :

Check out the following articles:

Paul among the Philosophers: The Case of Sin in Romans 6--8
Emma Wasserman
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2008;30 387-415

Immortal Bodies, before Christ: Bodily Continuity in Ancient Greece and 1 Corinthians
Dag Oistein Endsjo
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2008;30 417-436

Confession of the Son of God in the Exordium of Hebrews
Scott D. Mackie
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2008;30 437-453

On Articulating Marginalization and Marginality
Jeremy Punt
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2008;30 455-472

Decentering Authority: The Postcolonial Challenge to Certainty
Erin Runions
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2008;30 473-479

The Sun Never Sets on `Marx'? (Marx) Colonizing Postcolonial Theory (Said/Spivak/Bhabha)?
Philip Chia
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2008;30 481-488

Postcolonial Biblical Criticism: Taking Stock and Looking Ahead
Fernando F. Segovia
Journal for the Study of the New Testament 2008;30 489-502

Monday, 5 May 2008

Conference: St Paul's Journey into Philosophy

"What has Jerusalem to do with Athens?"

I know I am a bit late in announcing a conference on St Paul's Journey into Philosophy with Stephen E. Fowl, Paul J. Griffiths, J. Louis Martyn, P. Travis Kroeker, Douglas Harink, Chris K. Huebner, Mark Reasoner, Gordon Zerbe, Jens Zimmerman and others.

"Recently there has been a renewed interest in the writings of St. Paul by continental philosophers. This conference will explore aspects of that appropriation, in particular by Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Jacob Taubes and Slavoj Zizek, as well as their precursors, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Walter Benjamin, and others."

The conference will be held at the Vancouver School of Theology and at Carey Theological College on the beautiful campus of the University of British Columbia, overlooking English Bay and the city of Vancouver.

For further details on the conference, schedule, speakers, papers and plenaries, please visit the conference website by clicking here.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Solitude Retreat at Fraser's Hill

I will be hitting the road shortly. This time I am heading to Fraser's Hill for a personal solitude retreat. I badly needed this couple of days to rest and recharge for the months ahead, to reflect and reassess my ministry, and also to weigh carefully a couple of important decisions that I need to make that would have considerable bearings on my ministry.

I will be staying at the recently refurbished Pekan Bungalow that has a spectacular view over the golf course. The cool fresh air at the hill would be a great welcome for me, as we have been experiencing exceptionally hot weather for the past few days, with temperature soaring above 36 degrees.

After coming back from Fraser's, I will be hitting the road again. This time, together with three of my colleagues from seminary, we will be visiting some churches in the East Coast states of Kelantan and Pahang. More updates on this later.