The infamous Monday reading group at IWU is now on the last chapter of Joel Green's Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible, so I will soon be able after many months to move on in the "Books I'm Reading" list on the right below. :-)
I would say in general that our group is very open to Green's form of non-reductive monism, although we have generated a number of questions, and some have doubted. Since the spirit of Green is known to hover over the waters of the blogosphere from time to time, I thought I might pose some of the "between the lines" questions we have and see if the spirit of Joel might rise from the LA area, interestingly the entrance to Hades in The Lightning Thief. :-)
What, for example, does the Incarnation mean from a Christian monistic perspective? For those just joining, I would define a Christian monist as someone who believes that humans cannot exist without some form of embodiment. Language of the soul and spirit would thus at best be a metaphorical way of referring to something that literally will always involve a body of some sort, whether our current ones or our coming resurrection bodies.
So what is the point of divine continuity of Jesus with the pre-existent second person of the Trinity? I will say that I've only read part of the last chapter and it is possible Green addresses this question in the parts of that chapter I'll read for next week. I suspect he would invoke mystery, although I would be interested to know.
The same goes for the Holy Spirit--what does the NT mean when it speaks of the Holy Spirit? In the words of one person in our group, "What in the Dickens does the NT then mean when it speaks of the Holy Spirit?" If I were to hypothesize, I suppose I would suggest that the entire question of what God's substance might be outside this universe is a question of mystery that we cannot answer.
There's more of the same, what state was Jesus in during Holy Saturday?
One thing I've noticed about Lukan scholarship on conversion, whether it be Green in chapter 4 or Richard Peace's book or Gaventa's or apparently Nave or Mendez-Moratalla is an apparent intentional or unintentional omission of the Holy Spirit in conversion. In my reading of the narrative world of Acts, the Holy Spirit is the sine qua non of conversion. Repentance does not equal conversion in Acts. Baptism doesn't. Change of life doesn't. It is the event of the Holy Spirit's baptism, filling, receiving that a person becomes "in" in Acts.
My guess is that Green omits this intentionally, that he believes that a "series of transformations are compressed into a single moment, 'conversion'" (137). I take this to be a kind of "de-metaphorization" of Acts' narrative presentation on his part, that in his understanding, Acts has creatively portrayed what is in reality a process as an event.
Do you think I'm right?
There are all sorts of other thoughts we've had. What if we could do brain scans prior and after to conversion. Green seems to lean toward process, but could we not in theory witness a significantly altered brain structure as a result of an instantaneous change. Indeed, would we not think of the Holy Spirit introducing quantum level changes in all the right places to create human change and "free will" of a sort. Could we not consider the Holy Spirit's actions to be a metaphorical representation of quantum level changes?