Saturday, September 29, 2018

For Patrons: Stoicism and the New Testament

My podcast/video for patrons this week is now available. It's very superficial but a quick 24 minute introduction that at least might launch a person into deeper study of possible intersections between Stoicism and the New Testament.

Patrons are those who donate at least $5 a month to my page, supporting my daily podcast commentaries on Acts, along with the daily videos on the Greek of these same passages.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

8 Week Romans Bible Study

Starting October 4 (Thursday), I will be doing an 8 week Bible study, going through Romans, with the Light and Life Wesleyan Church at Three Rivers, Michigan via Zoom. We will meet from 6:30-7:30 on the schedule below. If a church small group or you as an individual would like to join the Bible study, just email me (

For a church, all you need is a laptop and the ability to project the internet on a screen. If you want a daily devotional to work through alongside the Bible study, I have two devotionals on Romans (Our Righteousness and Our Relationships)

Here is the schedule:

Oct. 4 – The Reasons for Romans
Oct. 11 – All Have Sinned
Break Week
Oct. 25 – Right with God by Faith
Nov. 1 – The Human Condition
Nov. 8 – How Salvation Works
Nov. 15 – All Part of the Plan
Break Week
Nov. 29 – Living Together in Peace
Dec. 6 – Debated Issues in the Church

This is somewhat of an experiment. If it works, the School of Theology and Ministry at Indiana Wesleyan University might do something like this regularly.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Novel on Creation now self-published

About a year and a half ago, I started writing a series of self-published novels called Gabriel's Diaries. The first one was about the incarnation. The second was about Jesus' earthly ministry to his resurrection. I'll do a second edition with notes by Advent for the first and by Lent for the second.

I've now finished the third. This one is geeky and extremely speculative. The idea was to see if it was possible to combine faith in the inspiration of the Bible, an affirmation of Christian orthodoxy, and modern science when it comes to cosmology, genetics, and evolution. I am not claiming that these latter ideas are true. I am exploring possibilities because some people's faith may be at stake.

Because these are sensitive topics, this one has a 7 page preface. Here's an excerpt:

"I am not staking any claims in this novella. It is an exploration of possibilities, not a statement of actualities. All the evidence of science could easily be accounted for by way of the 'apparent age theory.' This is the idea that God created the universe with apparent age. Indeed, as I told a class even last week, God could have created us six minutes ago with our memories intact. The question is whether such a theory is necessary or fits with the character of God. What purpose might God have had in creating the DNA sequences of all animals to look like they come from common origins? Would God really have set up fossil evidence just to test the faith of people in the last couple centuries, assuming that it reads the way most scientists say it does?

"For most of us, these issues are not central to our faith. I am a New Testament expert, not a scientist. I do not deal with scientific evidence in my daily life. I grew up taking Genesis 1 as literal 24 hour days and had no problem with the idea. I am still open to this possibility.

"I also fear that a lot of people have lost their faith over this issue. Others I fear are hindered from coming to faith because of these questions. Someone does graduate study in biology or genetics or some other scientific discipline, and they become convinced that the universe is 13.8 billion years old and the earth 4.5 billion years old. They become convinced that evolution is true. If they were taught that literal 24 hour days are a non-negotiable, they may lose their faith, not because they want to but because they just cannot fit the two together.

"Perhaps it will all blow over. What if the scientific evidence suddenly turned and older views of creation became obvious to all? In the meantime, it is worthwhile for Christian theologians, philosophers, and biblical experts to explore the possibilities. Scientists can be wrong for sure. But as an expert on the Bible, I can tell you that biblical interpreters are wrong just as often. They have to be—there are just too many conflicting interpretations out there!

"So my purpose here is to explore. May the Lord rescue any reader from any thought that might lead our trust in God astray. That is, after all, what it is all about, our faith. God is not primarily interested in our intellects, although God is truth. God is of course interested in our actions, because they have an impact on others. But it is the heart that is the center of the moral universe of humans. May the Lord protect our hearts as we try to navigate the troubled waters of our finite, fallen heads!"

So here is now Gabriel's Diary: The Creation, volume three of my Gabriel series.



For Patrons: The Church at Philippi

My podcast/video for patrons this week is now available. This week I decided to record on everything I can find in the New Testament about the church at Philippi.

Patrons are those who donate at least $5 a month to my page, supporting my daily podcast commentaries on Acts, along with the daily videos on the Greek of these same passages.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

For Patrons: Fitting Acts 15 (Jerusalem Council) and Galatians 2 Together

My podcast/video for patrons this week is now available. Patrons are those who donate at least $5 a month to my page, supporting my daily podcast commentaries on Acts, along with the daily videos on the Greek of these same passages. The patron post this week is on the question of how Acts 15 and Galatians 2 fit together.

Saturday, September 08, 2018

For Patrons: Who were the Galatians?

Every week I do a special podcast/video on Patreon for those who contribute $5 a month to my ongoing podcast commentary on Acts and daily videos on the Greek. This week's post asks who the Galatians to whom Paul wrote Galatians were. Were they the "south Galatians" we meet in Acts or some "north Galatians" Paul visited on his second missionary journey. All the secrets of the universe are here. :-)

Friday, September 07, 2018

Bultmann, "Exegesis without Presuppositions?"

One assignment for the second day of hermeneutics class was to read Rudolf Bultmann's classic article, "Is Exegesis without Presuppositions Possible?" It was first published in 1957 in Theologische Zeitschrift and then later in Existence and Faith in English in 1965.

1. Bultmann's answer, in the sense that he means "presuppositions," is no. No one is a blank slate. There is another sense of presupposition, meaning prejudging what the text means, is yes. As a good modernist, he rejects allegorical interpretation. But that is not what he is really writing about.

2. Prejudgments are often involved even when one intends to do exegesis. He mentions the assumption that Matthew and John were written by the disciples Matthew and John. He says the same for the assumption that Jesus thought he was the Messiah. "Every exegesis that is guided by dogmatic prejudices does not hear what the text says, but only lets the latter say what it wants to hear."

1. Such prejudgments are not however the interest of the article.

The historical method is an essential presupposition, from his perspective. There seem to be overtones of Ernst Troeltsch here. The exegete must presuppose the continuity of cause and effect. Bultmann might reminds you here of David Hume in presupposing that miracles are not allowed to be part of exegesis or what he calls "historical method." This may also hint at Troeltsch's principle of analogy. If we don't see miracles today, we should not assume there were miracles then.

He does not deny anyone the right to believe in miracles, however, He simply denies that their allowance can be part of historical method. I also heard overtones at the beginning of the article of Troeltsch's other principle--the idea that historical conclusions are always revisable. This concept appears later in the chapter as well.

2. "In every effort to achieve a unified view the individual historian is guided by some specific way of raising questions, some specific perspective."

Bultmann did not believe that this dynamic falsified the historical picture, but it was a factor of which the historian should be self-aware. "Historical phenomena are many-sided."

Bultmann seems confident in human understanding of ideas like "man and his possibilities for action" or "what economy and society in general mean."

An interpreter must have some relation to the subject matter. "Only he who has a relation to music can understand a text that deals with music." A "life-relation" to the text is necessary for understanding, an appropriate "pre-understanding."

"The historical picture is falsified only when the exegete takes his pre-understanding as a definitive understanding." "To understand history is possible only for one who does not stand over against it as a neutral non-participating spectator, but himself stands in history and shares in responsibility for it." This is what he calls an existentiell encounter with history.

"This existentiell relation to history is the fundamental presupposition for understanding history." "Historical knowledge is never a closed or definitive knowledge." In its existential aspects, the meaning of an event belongs to the future. "What a historical event means always first becomes clear in the future."

3. "The understanding of the text is never a definitive one, but rather remains open because the meaning of the Scriptures discloses itself anew in every future."
This chapter is not what I expected. It is a mixture of the historical and the existential. It seems to me that he speaks of two different kinds of understanding. There is historical understanding. Then there is existential appreciation or "understanding."

Saturday, September 01, 2018

Patrons only: Christology of Acts

My weekly patrons only post is up on This is an 11 minute summary of some features of Luke's Christology we've seen. For $5 a month, my patrons support my daily podcasts and Greek analysis of Acts and are rewarded with a special podcast/video just for them on Saturdays.