Friday, 27 November 2009

It's Been A Sunny Week

I must say that I am pleasantly surprised by the British weather this week. Although it is slightly colder than last week, it has been sunny for most of the days! This is a rarity for the British weather! So for the sunny weather, I am very grateful and thankful. It just cheers up the week and gives the needed boost to continue my work that has been slightly behind schedule!

PS - Hope the Reb has equally nice weather in Oxford.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Work Progresses at Tyndale

Time flies - it has been more than 2 weeks since I arrived at Cambridge. Work on my book has been progressing rather well - but at a rather slow pace - this is partly due to the fact that there is quite a fair bit of catching up for me to do in my reading. There has been a large number of significant monographs being published in Pauline studies in the last year or so. Scholarship is progressing at a rather fast pace, and this can be seen in the high number of PhD theses that are being published by major academic publishers. From the photo above, these are shelves containing books on the Corinthian correspondence - how can one finish reading these in 5 weeks?

I have 2 more weeks to go before heading for home - and I wish time could slow down a bit for me.

Friday, 20 November 2009

What My Students Think of Us

Sze Zeng blogs about his experience in Trinity Theological College after the end of his first semester there. He shares from three different perspectives as embedded in TTC's ethos of training: intellectual inquiry, spiritual formation and vocational training. Since I am not part of TTC's community, I don't think I am in a position to comment or respond to Sze Zeng. But I could certainly empathise with him on some of the issues he raised.

Closer to home, we also hear of our own students' lament about their seminary experience. The following is what one of our seminary students posted about his rather negative reflection about us as lecturers in one of his blogposts. Is this a case of unmet expectations of the student (whether these are realistic or not is a separate isssue), or we, as lecturers, are simply incompetent or 'beyond redemption'?

Lecturers: In many ways, being more competent than me, they have always challenged me to be ready to be a competent full time pastor. Unfortunately, I realised some of them just talked only ...they are good academically, not really that pastorally(not being patience by walking alongside with the students). On the other hand, some are really pastoral but not academically competent (do not update their information on their disciplines- they still use the 1990s materials for their lecture). Some even preached and don't practice what they preached. Sometimes, their preachings are bad model eg. Generally, most of them are busy and difficult to spend times with us or to nurture us personally. I pity those students in Chinese department where they have to bear the incompetencies of the lecturers who were neither pastoral nor academic. Well comparing to the Westerners, perhaps, at least Malaysian lecturers would try to be friends with us and are more compassionate towards us. These are the mixture of the characteristics of the lecturers there that make me as a student, need to be patient with and be challenged to pray for.

Another student blogs about his learning experience after one year in seminary. This is what he says:

Things that I have learned in lecture is (sic) very dry, spiritually dry, because it is just knowledge....I realised that when I understood something, it doesn't makes (sic) my relationship with God become more intimate.

Incidentally, Sze Zeng does have some good things to say about TTC lecturers - something that is missing from my students. Some food for thought for us as lecturers.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Review of Biblical Literature: November 11, 2009

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

Jim W. Adams
The Performative Nature and Function of Isaiah 40-55
Reviewed by Ulrich Berges

Joseph Azize and Noel Weeks, eds.
Gilgamesh and the World of Assyria: Proceedings of the Conference Held at the Mandelbaum House, The University of Sydney, 21-23 July 2004
Reviewed by Michael Moore

John M. G. Barclay and Simon Gathercole, eds.
Divine and Human Agency in Paul and His Cultural Environment
Reviewed by Thomas R. Blanton IV

Nina Burleigh
Unholy Business: A True Tale of Faith, Greed and Forgery in the Holy Land
Reviewed by Aren Maeir

Philip Cary
Reviewed by Jacek Stefanski

Deborah L. Ellens
Women in the Sex Texts of Leviticus and Deuteronomy: A Comparative Conceptual Analysis
Reviewed by Carolyn Pressler

J. Harold Ellens and Wayne G. Rollins, eds.
Psychology and the Bible: A New Way to Read the Scriptures (4 vols.)
Reviewed by Ron Clark

Douglas Estes
The Temporal Mechanics of the Fourth Gospel: A Theory of Hermeneutical Relativity in the Gospel of John
Reviewed by John C. Poirier

Eric Eve
The Healer from Nazareth: Jesus' Miracles in Historical Context
Reviewed by Tobias Hagerland

K. C. Hanson and Douglas E. Oakman
Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Conflicts
Reviewed by Panayotis Coutsoumpos

Xavier Levieils
Contra Christianos: La critique sociale et religieuse du christianisme des origines au concile de Nicée (45-325)
Reviewed by Stephan Witetschek

Tremper Longman III
Jeremiah, Lamentations
Reviewed by Francis Dalrymple-Hamilton

James L. Resseguie
The Revelation of John: A Narrative Commentary
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Roman Vielhauer
Das Werden des Buches Hosea: Eine redaktionsgeschichtliche Untersuchung
Reviewed by James Nogalski

Paul Wilkinson
: What It Is, Where It Is, and How to Do It
Reviewed by Aren Maeir

Kairos Organises Forum on "The Real Jesus Christ of History"

Kairos Research Centre is organising the following forum.



Jesus of The Bible


Jesus of the Documentaries (National Geographic/Discovery /BBC)

Date: Friday, 20 November 2009

Time: 8.30pm – 10.30pm

Venue: Hall 1, Dream Centre

2 Jalan 13/1, Seksyen 13
46200 Petaling Jaya
Selangor, Malaysia

Influential networks like National Geographic, Discovery and BBC Channels are propagating new portraits (or fabrications) of Jesus that distort if not contradict what Christians traditionally believe about Jesus for 2000 years.

This Kairos Public Forum seeks to explain why these TV producers rely on pagan Mystery Religions and 2nd century Gnosticism texts to reconstruct new portraits Jesus, what methods and assumptions inform the scholars who advise these media channels for their distorted views of Jesus.

The Forum also offers evidence for the integrity of the New Testament Gospels as reliable historical records of Jesus’ life and ministry and critiques popular images of Christ in contemporary society.


1) The Fabricated Jesus of Contemporary TV Documentaries

Speaker: Mr. Philip Koh

(Partner of a legal firm in Kuala Lumpur and Director of Kairos Research Centre)

2) The Historical Christ of the New Testament: The Test of History

Speaker: Dr. Ng Kam Weng

(Research Director of Kairos Research Centre)

3) The Real Jesus Christ and Contextual Christs Today: Who makes the real difference?

Speaker: Rev. Dr. Tan Jin Huat

(Anglican minister and CTEE Director, Seminari Theoloji Malaysia)

Kairos Seminar on Jesus Christ and Early Christianity

There will be a follow-up seminar for those who want to learn in detail how contemporary research supports the historical accuracy and authenticity of the New Testament portrait of Jesus Christ.

Speaker: Dr. Ng Kam Weng

Date: Saturday 5 December 2009

Time: 9.30am – 12.00 noon

Place: Dream Centre

To participate in this seminar contact Kairos office (Tel no: 7726 5420 or email:

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Star Reports on Crisis in Calvary Church

The Star today reports the on-going crisis that confronts Calvary Church in Kuala Lumpur. Looks like there is no solution for the crisis anytime soon (For further details of the crisis, see Calvary Today blog).

I have often questioned mega projects for the church. Over the past few years, we have witnessed numerous churches in the Klang Valley pumping millions of Ringgit into church building projects. I am not against building physical building for the church - but my question here is this: Is it necessary to have a mega building project just to house a single church?

For example, a church is willing to invest RM150 million in a building project. I wonder would it be better if that money is used to build a single large mega building or plant 75 churches nationwide, assuming that it would cost at average of RM2 million to acquire a 3- to 4-storey office block in various location in the country? Would the latter be a better strategy in reaching the community with the gospel?

And if a church is willing to invest that amount in physical building, would she be willing to invest the same amount for the training and equipping of the workers to serve the church?

Strangely though, I have heard of many large scale fund raising projects organised for the building of church buildings, but I have yet to hear a large scale fund raising project to raise money for theological education - funds for the libraries of our seminaries, for scholarships for faculty members in theological colleges to upgrade themselves, for scholarships for seminaries, for theological research and publication, and for improving the facilities of seminaries. Just imagine what would have happened if the Christian community is willing to invest RM150 million in theological education.

Is something wrong with the Christ believing community when we are only interested in building physical buildings for the church at the expense of neglecting theological education in the equipping and empowering the people of God to serve and pastor the church?

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The Old and the New in England!

My colleague, the Rabbi, has safely arrived Oxford. He will be here for his pre-viva at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies and also to get his thesis ready for submission. So both the Old (ie OT lecturer) and the New (ie NT lecturer) from the seminary are now both in England - and ironically, the former is in Oxford and the latter is in Cambridge. Hence, one of our students, SP, commented that the rivalry just does not stop in Malaysia!

All the best to the Rabbi. Hope you have a fruitful time in Oxford. Do drop by Cambridge for a visit. Tyndale House beckons you!

Haunted Bookshop!

Would you dare to step in and buy any books from this haunted bookshop in Cambridge?

Saturday, 14 November 2009

First Week at Tyndale

It's coming to the end of the week, and I am taking a moment to pause and reflect on my work throughout the first week of my time at Tyndale House, Cambridge. After having put in more than 10 hours daily (working from 9am till 9pm daily!), I must say it has been rather mixed.

Early on this week, I made some really good progress in terms of my reading. However, in the mid week, things seemed to hit a snag as I was not able to put my finger on the stuff I was looking for. Perhaps I had been asking the wrong question. It was not until this morning that I finally see the light when I decided to make a slight change on the thrust of my argument in the chapter that I am currently working on for my book, Paul's Use of Images in the Corinthian Correspondence.

I hope to be able to complete the first draft of my chapter by the end of next week. It's an ambitious aim. But considering the fact that I do not have the luxury of time, I have to make the best out of everything.

But it's not all hard work and no play. This weekend, I am heading to London to meet up with my relatives for a dim tum lunch at Chinatown and to drop by the British Library where I will be visiting the Sir John Ritblat Gallery to have a peek at the Codex Sinaiticus once again. Looking at the real thing is surely better than having to look at the online version!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Second Hand Religion?

Saw this in a local bookstore in Cambridge - Second Hand religion? What then is First Hand religion?

Better still, there is Second Hand philosophy as well...would you buy that?

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Work Progresses at Tyndale

I was hoping to go full swing yesterday, but I guess the engine needed some time to warm up (especially in the unusually cold November in England!). So I did not manage to get much work done yesterday. But nonetheless, this morning has been rather productive - been reading a number of books on the temple imagery in both the OT and NT. So, this is how my desk currently looks like in Tyndale House.

I am a bit more persuaded that Paul's use of the temple imagery in the Corinthian correspondence is not simply sporadic, but constitutes a deliberate attempt in creating Christian identity in Corinth. I will blog more about this when my mind is clearer on this subject matter.

I've just managed to locate an online 2008 PhD thesis done by Timothy Wardle at Duke University on "Continuity and Discontinuity: The Temple and Early Christian Identity". It would be good to interact with Wardle and see how he argues for the use of the temple imagery in the creation of Christian identity.

So it's back to work now!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

All Set to start Work at Tyndale House

Bright and sunny morning - the library of Tyndale House

I was greeted with a very bright and sunny morning, a very rare sight in chilly November in Britain! With the jet leg behind me, and after having settled in at my accommodation, I came into Tyndale House this morning to continue locating the books that I might need for my research.

By now, I've got most of the books in place, and this means that I am all set to begin work by next week Monday!

Some of the books needed are now on my desk. How do I devour all of them in 5 weeks, not to mention there will be more to come along the way?

The rest of the quiet Saturday will be spent in trying to catch up with where I left off last year while doing my research at Trinity theological College, Singapore. So it's back to work now!

Friday, 6 November 2009

Arrived Tyndale House, Cambridge

After a long 13-hour overnight flight, I finally touched down at London Heathrow, and made my way to Cambridge. I arrived Cambridge much earlier than expected. After a quick hot shower at the place I would be staying for the next 5 weeks, I headed straight to Tyndale House, hoping to locate my desk and some of the books I need so that I could begin work next week.

My working space for the next 5 weeks

Coming back to Tyndale House has been a real blessing. It also brings back many happy memory of the many months I spent here working on my doctoral thesis.

I look forward to my 5-week stay here.

Oh yes, a small little surprise greeted me when I walked into the library as I browsed through the new arrivals section in the library.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Off to Tyndale House, Cambridge

In a matter of few hours, I will be flying off to London and thereafter making my way to Tyndale House, Cambridge for a 5-week research and writing on my second book on Paul's Use of Images in the Corinthian Correspondence.

This project has been brewing for a couple of years already. Since I am the most junior faculty member, the dream of having a sabbatical is non-existence for me, at least for many more years to come. As such, I can only squeeze in a period of 5 weeks during the end of the academic year and hope to spend some productive time at Tyndale House, so that I could get as much work done as possible. Like last year, I spent a month at Trinity Theological College working on the framework of the book, and this time, I hope to get some solid background materials done.

I will be blogging from Tyndale House next week and I will be sharing more on my book project.