2005 Volume 32
Issue 01 -- Spring 2005
Editorial Introduction: pg. 3-10
Bob E. Patterson
Waco, Texas 76798
John Newport has proposed a partnership between science and religion in his book Life’s Ultimate Questions. There is a classic four-fold way of relating issues of importance between science and religion: conflict, independence, dialogue, and integration. Modern science and religion first started as friends, but the interaction slowly turned hostile. At the beginning of this new millennium there is a renewed interest in a more constructive partnership, and John Newport has pointed us in a helpful direction.
John Newport and Revelation: pg. 11-24
Russell H. Dilday, Jr.
B. H. Carroll Theological Institute
Arlington, Texas 76010
This essay is on John Newport’s doctrine of revelation. This essay lays out Newport’s biblical worldview, his ideas on special and general revelation, Jesus the supreme revelation, revelation’s progressive character, how the Bible participates in God’s revelation, and how revelation is saving.
John Newport and Systematic Theology: pg. 25-32
James Leo Garrett, Jr.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas 76122
This essay examines Newport as a systematic theologian. This essay outlines Newport’s theological method as grounded in the Bible, tradition, and a cultural context. Newport’s “guiding key” to his Christian doctrine was “the already-not-yet stream of redemptive history centered in Jesus Christ” and the rightful correlation of properly interpreted and applied biblical texts. This essay takes up Newport’s doctrines of God, Creation, Christ, Salvation, and the Church, and notes how each is informed by Newport’s “guiding key” of being faithful to the Bible.
John Newport and Life’s Ultimate Questions: pg. 33-42
Kansas City, Missouri 64122
The focus of this essay is Newport’s Life’s Ultimate Questions. Newport’s life was one of “faith seeking understanding,” and Newport’s Questions book is his magnum opus. The book is a discussion of twenty-four significant issues considered relevant for interrogation and response. In chapter nine, “The Question of Religion and World Religions,” this essay shows how Newport’s biblical approach clarifies for the reader seventeen questions about world religions. This approach, for example, easily leads the reader into a dialogue with Islam, or Hinduism, or Buddhism, or Judaism. Newport’s methodology highly effective for dialogue and discussion.
John Newport’s and Eschatology: A Hopeful Future: pg. 43-50
Bert B. Dominy
George W. Truett Theological Seminary
Waco, Texas 76798
This essay is on Newport’s eschatology. This essay points to some of the key influences on Newport in the development of his eschatology. This essay also outlines the key categories of Newport’s eschatology in the Scriptures and shows how “holy history” shapes his approach to future hopes.
John Newport’s Apologetic of Complementarity: Cults, Consciousness, and Cosmic Evil: pg. 51-58
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas 76122
This essay is about Newport and the cults. Newport had a life-long interest in the cults that he found penetrating the consciousness of American religious life. As an apologist, his method of dealing with the religious expressions that brushed the boundary of his own evangelical worldview was a commitment to dialogue coupled with a sense of irony. The New Age Movement and the New Consciousness groups, together with the ever-present question of the demonic, captured most of his attention.
Paul Tillich’s Theology of Religions: pg. 59-76
Waco, Texas 76798
This essay explores Paul Tillich with whom Newport was fascinated. Tillich may be the most widely known philosophical theologian in American history. Newport gravitated toward him, became one of his students, and determined to learn all he could about Tillich’s thought and life. He was especially attracted to Tillich’s “method of correlation,” a method to show how the Christian faith can relate to secular culture. Tillich started by making an analysis of the situation out of which the human existential question arose and then tried to show how the symbols used in the Christian message were the answer to the question. The focus of this essay is on Tillich’s understanding of world religions but also attempts to show how Newport understood the Tillich system, how he was indebted to it, how he borrowed from it, how he pointed up its limitations, and how he became a sympathetic critic of it.
John Newport and His Books: pg. 77
Institute of Religion and Health
Charleston, South Carolina 29401
Issue 02 -- Summer 2005
Confessions of a Canonical Critic: pg. 87-92
Nancy L. deClaissé-Walford
McAfee School of Theology
Atlanta, GA 30341
This paper is an adaptation of the presidential address delivered at the NABPR annual meeting in San Antonio, TX, November 2004. The address is a summons to consider the importance of how, as Baptist professors of religion, they select texts to teach from the canon of Scripture and the manner in which these texts are taught thereby shaping the students and ultimately the communities of faith to which they and the professors belong.
Beyond the Book of Acts: Stephen, the First Christian Martyr, in Traditions Outside the New Testament Canon of Scripture: pg. 93-108
Harvard Divinity School
Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
While many scholars have spent time and energy analyzing the canonical book of Acts, particularly those chapters related to Stephen’s last speech and martyrdom, few have written on the other non-canonical texts related to the first Christian martyr. The multiplicity of texts related to Stephen illustrates a little known but very important fact about the way church leaders, major theologians, and ordinary Christians from late antiquity through the Renaissance viewed texts related to figures from apostolic times: contrary to a commonly held assumption that there were only two categories of texts that were acknowledged-those that were canonical and those that were rejected as apocryphal-there was also a third, “middle” category of texts that were useful for the soul. My goal in this article is to present three noncanonical documents related to Stephen, to refuse to call them apocryphal, and to insist on their character as books that were and are still profitable for Christian devotion.
Unmasking the Enemy: Deconstructing the “Other” in the Gospel of Matthew: pg. 109-24
Judy Yates Siker
ABSW / Graduate Theological Union
Berkeley, CA 94709
Matthew’s Gospel is indeed a story of “us” and “them;” throughout the text we see the evangelist drawing the lines, and one thing is clear—they are not we and we are not they. But who are they and who are we? While much has been written on the identity of the community and the relationship between these groups (however one labels them; e.g. Jewish Christians, Christian Jews, etc.), in this article I will address these issues by applying sociological identity construction theory to Matthew’s Gospel. My argument is that the author of the Gospel of Matthew constructs the “other” in the text, in part, by means of deconstruction. What and how we tear down says a great deal about who we are. In this article I will show how this dynamic functions in the Gospel of Matthew. We will begin by looking at current sociological work on identity construction and its significance for New Testament studies. We will then see how the Gospel of Matthew engages in a polemical construction of the Jewish leaders as “other.” Finally, we will see how Matthew’s construction of these Jewish leaders is accomplished, in part, by unmasking—and hence, deconstructing. I will conclude with a few comments about the significance of my conclusions for the ongoing debate about the relation between Matthew and the Jews.
Through a Glass Darkly, Not in the Ear Loudly: Flannery O’Connor and Revelation: pg. 125-34
Wingate, North Carolina 28174
Flannery O’Connor’s notion of revelation is thrown into relief by placing it against the backdrop of recent Bakhtinian approaches to her work. Arguments have developed over whether her fiction tends to the monologic or the dialogic side of Bakhtin’s spectrum. My thesis is that O’Connor found a way to use monologism to establish a new kind of dialogue—one between the self and God. This dialogue ultimately goes beyond language to silence. In her recognition of the theological limits of language, O’Connor may actually be closer to Bakhtin than are some of her Bakhtinian critics, for recent scholarship has pointed to an “apophatic” Bakhtin for whom silence can become the key element in a dialogic situation. But further, I maintain that O’Connor developed an understanding of revelation which coincided with her aesthetic in suggesting that sight is superior to sound as a means to experience the mystery of God.
Flannery O’Connor and the Practice of Hospitality: pg. 135-48
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
Richmond, Virginia 23227
Christian hospitality must be understood in light of God’s hospitality toward us, manifest most fully in trinitarian worship. In this essay, I argue that Flannery O’Connor’s short stories shed light on the practice of Christian hospitality so understood, both by pointing toward potential distortions and by illustrating significant embodiments of this practice. I will highlight three aspects of this divine hospitality as it appears in O’Connor’s fiction. In contrast to hospitality’s easy slide into a superficial friendliness, I argue that O’Connor portrays divine hospitality as at once abundant and terrifying. In contrast to hospitality being overly spiritualized and individualistic, I argue that O’Connor depicts Christian hospitality as sacramental and ecclesial. Finally, in contrast to our temptation to equate hospitality with a “general atmosphere of coziness” or with a non-judgmental openness, O’Connor reminds us that participation in divine hospitality always involves the judging grace of God which entails death and resurrection.
Roger Williams Meets Sayyid Qutb: When the Quest for Religious Liberty Becomes a Force for Global Injustice: pg. 149-66
Robert F. Shedinger
Decorah, Iowa 52101
For Muslims, the depoliticizing of religion may be experienced not as a source for a flourishing spirituality, but rather as a force for the maintenance of an unjust status quo. Confronting the Islamic critique of Western religion can help Baptists recognize the deeply contextual nature of the idea of religious liberty and the ironic way that advancing this idea can, in certain contexts, be understood as promoting injustice rather than liberation. To understand this, we will exam the way that Islam constructs its understanding of God, humanity, and the relationship between them; Islamic scholars’ critiques of the West; and the case of Islamic feminism.
The Cross: Gift or Payment?: pg. 167-82
Grace Adolphsen Brame
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19141
How we understand God and God’s unconditional love affects how we understand sacrifice. Then how we understand sacrifice will influence our view of redemption, atonement, and salvation. Surely God cannot even conceive of being paid for grace or playing games of substitution. Until we leave this life, God will try to get through to us what unconditional grace and true love are. Someday, beyond the glass which now seems dark, we will see and we will know what God has been trying to reveal for a very long time. We are loved. We are claimed. We are forgiven, healed, and freed. The cross reaches out through all time and every circumstance to tell us so.
Modern Art and the (Evangelical) Church: A Review Essay: pg. 183-92
Daniel A. Siedell
Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery
University of Nebraska
Lincoln, Nebraska 68588
The legacy of cultural politics in the eighties and nineties has given us a stereotyped and politicized “art” and “religion” in perpetual conflict—one the domain of elitist progressive liberals, secularists, and mainliners and the other the province of common-sense (i.e., anti-intellectual) conservatives and fundamentalists. As a result, the shape of this public debate has already defined the limits of a Christian response to modern art as well as the art worlds’ response to Christianity. However, the tensions, complexities, and even opportunities that as a specialist in modern art and as an evangelical Christian are simply not represented in either the current parameters of public discourse or the scholarly literature. Bill Dyrness, Fuller Seminary theologian and specialist in art and culture, has made his own contribution. But it has received neither the praise nor scrutiny it deserves. Visual Faith: Art, Theology, and Worship in Dialogue is an epistle to the Protestant (evangelical) Church urging recovery and re-engagement with Christianity’s deep visual and aesthetic tradition in order to address the intensely visual nature of contemporary society and extend the reach of the gospel. This essay will be a review and engagement of the issues and challenges Dryrness raises in his book.
Issue 03 -- Fall 2005
Mikhail Bakhtin and Biblical Studies: pg 241-48
Graduate Theological Union
Berkeley, California 94709
“At His Gate Lay a Poor Man”: A Diaologic Reading of Luke 16:19-31: pg 249-66
David B. Gowler
Oxford College of Emory University
Oxford, Georgia 30054
Mikhail Bakhtin’s sophisticated understanding of the dialogic nature of language allows us to hear more clearly the divergent and distant voices that reverberate in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. This essay analyzes the parable’s literary function, intertextual relationships, social and cultural implications, and ideological concerns. The parable contrasts the rich man—a “lover of money” who lives a life of conspicuous consumption—and Lazarus—a member of the “expendable class” forced into lethal poverty. The first-century context demands that the rich man be seen as wicked and deserving of punishment, because he did not participate in vertical generalized reciprocity, a redistribution from the advantaged to the disadvantaged with the expectation of nothing in return. In contrast, the Lukan Jesus proclaimed release to captives such as Lazarus, good news for the poor, and announced that the oppressed should go free. In this parable, we can still hear dialogic echoes of the voice of the historical Jesus, reflecting his peasant artisan anger at the exploitative, dominant class.
A Bakhtin Reading of Biblical Allusion in Dostoevsky’s Novel Crime and Punishment: pg 267-80
Graduate Theological Union
Berkeley, California 94709
This paper shows the workings of literary allusion in a context of Bakhtin’s thought by means of a reading attentive to biblical allusion in Crime and Punishment. Principal aims are to show something of how the literary device of allusion fits into Bakhtin theory and, at the same time, to show how Dostoevsky has incorporated the Bible, especially the fourth gospel, into his novel. The paper represents an extension of Bakhtin theory in showing how literary allusion can achieve double-voicing, artistically orchestrated heteroglossia, and hybridity in genre and chronotope.
Emotions as Loopholes for Answerability in the Unfinalized Gospel According to Mark: pg 281-94
Cornelia Cyss Crocker
Graduate Theological Union
Berkeley, California 94709
This paper explores the trajectory of human emotions in the gospel according to Mark in terms of several literary concepts developed by Mikhail Bakhtin. The point of departure for this paper is the role that strong emotions play among the actors in Mark’s gospel. It is striking how Jesus, the disciples, the Pharisees/scribes, and the crowd are all subject to emotions that move them to decisive action. The key concepts in the Greek text that signify emotions and emotively motivated actions are examined. In addition, the main Bakhtinian concepts that are utilized for this reading of Mark’s gospel are discussed, namely dialogism, unfinalizability, loophole, threshold, and answerability. By bringing Bakhtin’s conceptual framework to bear on Mark’s narrative, it becomes apparent how this gospel seeks draw its readers into the unfinalized action by emphasizing strong emotions in the actors. As the readers experience their own emotive responses to the actors and their actions, they are moved to participate in the unfinalized narrative of Mark through their own answerable acts.
Laughter and Tears: Carnivalistic Overtones in the Stories of Sarah and Hagar: pg. 295-308
L. Juliana M. Claassens
Baptist Theological Seminary
Richmond, Virginia 23227
Using Bakhtin’s notion of carnival, this essay identifies carnivalistic overtones in the stories of Sarah and Hagar—the two women being a classic example of the carnivalesque notion of the paired image chosen for their contrast. This contrasting pair is bound together in what Bakhtin terms a “two-in-one image” where the two opposite women turn out to be intrinsically related. For instance, both stories contain dramatic changes in fortunes, when first Sarah’s and later Hagar's situation is overturned, echoing something of the Bakhtinian notion of crowning/decrowning. The two women are also bound to each other by means of some oxymoronic contrasts: birth/death, praise/abuse, laughter/tears. It is particularly striking to see how Hagar's tears in Genesis 21 mirror Sarah's laughter in Genesis 18 and 21. Following an analysis of the carnivalistic overtones of these narratives, this essay turns its attention to some implications for feminist biblical interpretation.
Court or Jester Tales? Resistance and Social Reality in Daniel 1-6: pg 309-24
David M. Valeta
University of Colorado
Boulder, Colorado 80309
Daniel 1–6 is often identified as court tale literature that construes the narrative social world as an accurate representation of the social reality behind these tales. This article utilizes the work of Bakhtin and his conceptions of the novel, genre and menippean satire to demonstrate that these tales are finely crafted novelistic satires of resistance that ridicule foreign kings and empires. This imaginative use of humor and satire reflects a creative manipulation of the social reality of life in the royal court to resist king and empire, and thus crafts a thematic link with the judgmental visions of Daniel 7–12. Interpreters of Daniel encounter a pastiche of genres, languages, and ideological viewpoints that frustrate attempts to discern a coherent hermeneutical strategy. Newer postcolonial and literary interpretations reassess prevalent understandings of the social background, purpose, and tone of Daniel 1–6. Recent scholarship acknowledges the literary complexity of these stories and their novelistic character that creatively expresses the frustrations and hopes of oppressed peoples. This Bakhtinian reading of Daniel 1–6 corroborates post-colonial and sociological readings of the Daniel tales that take seriously the realities of life under the influence of imperial power and suggests innovative approaches to perennial interpretive conundrums
Bringing Dialogue from Cacophony: Can Bakhtin Speak to Biblical Historiography: pg. 325-38
Alice Wells Hunt
Nashville, Tennessee 37204
While several biblical scholars use the work of Mikhail Bakhtin in literary studies, his work has not yet reached the work of biblical historians. This essay explores the viability of using Bakhtin’s work to inform historiography. In particular this essay suggests that Bakhtin’s notion of dialogism may help historians of ancient Israel overcome parts of the current polemical impasse by providing a way to think about history of ancient Israel, to methodologically approach the task of historiography, and to interact with the work of other historians.
Issue 04 -- Winter 2005
The Patristic Tradition as Canon: pg. 357-80
Waco, TX 76798
In order to do justice to the reality of our historical sources, we cannot interpret the patristic era in an idealistic way, nor present it as a monolithic expression of doctrine that bears witness to a single faith. Still, the Fathers of the earliest centuries can be considered authors and exponents of a “founding” Christian identity which has been essentially preserved and continuously elucidated in subsequent ages. Both the scriptural canon and the canon of faith (or tradition) are products of the ancient church, which together became the foundation upon which all theology, spirituality and exegesis has been built (in support or disavowal of it). Practically speaking, the patristic legacy has functioned as a canon of Christian belief, especially the achievement of the fourth and fifth centuries as doctrinal and confessional canon.
Establishing Unity in Diversity: pg. 381-400
Vanderbilt University Divinity School
Nashville, TN 37240
The achievement of internal unity by separation from the dominant culture and the interplay of internal equality and diversity can be traced during the first three centuries of North African Christianity. In the second century, attention was on the external boundary and conflict over the differentiation of powers and roles within the church. During the third century, Cyprian rejected the egalitarian model and used role differentiation to resolve conflict over the enforcement of the external boundary. In the fourth century, the Donatists achieved unity by enforcing separation from both the Roman Empire and the Catholic church. At the beginning of the fifth century, Augustine attempted a unity based not on external opponents but on mutual love and forgiveness, along with a differentiation of forms of service.
An Urban Bishop in a Changing World: The Exegesis of Caesarius of Arles: pg. 401-20
Marie Anne Mayeski
Loyola Marymoung University
Los Angeles, CA 90045
After carefully situating bishop Caesarius of Arles (469-502) within his specific historical context in the city of Arles, the author explores his exegetical work, both as an example of earlier Christian practice and as a model for contemporary pastors and theologians. By a careful, critical reading of a small number or sermons, she analyzes the ways in which Caesarius utilizes the four-fold interpretation of sacred scripture and the care he uses in exposing the historical meaning of the text. She demonstrates Caesarius’s use of allegorical interpretation in expounding fundamental Christian doctrines and his method of presenting moral teaching that is based on scripture and on a particular Christian understanding of human nature.
Perpetua, Montanism, and Christian Ministry in Carthage c.203 C.E.: pg. 421-42
Phillips Theological Seminary
Tulsa, OK 74116
This article analyzes the data regarding Christian ministry contained in the Passion of Perpetua and Felicitas—a poignant, contemporary account of the martyrdom of six Christians in Carthage c.203. The document reveals that by the early third century, North African Christianity had developed a clearly identifiable three-fold official ministry consisting of bishop, presbyters, and deacons, but that many other members of the Christian community in Carthage (prophetesses, teachers, catechists, lectors) also exercised a variety of ministries. There were “lay elders” as well as “ordained presbyters,” at Carthage at the time and Montanism may have begun to influence some members.
On Church History: A Review Essay: pg. 443-48
Philip E. Thompson
North American Baptist Seminary
Sioux Falls, SD 57105