From the Dean

News items, published articles, and reading recommendations from Dean Timothy George

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The Dean Recommends: Does the Bible Contain Forgeries?

By Terry L. Wilder

Spring 2016

Books in antiquity unquestionably contained forgeries, writings that were purportedly authored by someone who did not actually write them. Critical scholars today argue that not only are many ancient works forged, but so also were some books found in both the Old and the New Testaments. Terms like “pseudepigrapha,” “pseudepigraphy,” or “pseudonymity” are often used to refer to such writings. Technically, a forged or pseudonymous text is not authored by the person whose name it bears and there must be the intention to deceive, from whatever motive. Such deceptive works are written after the purported author’s death by another person or during his life by someone who is not commissioned to do so. Plenty of these writings existed in ancient times, having been created by Greek, Roman, Jewish, and even Christian writers.

Forgeries or deceptive pseudonymous writings are not the same as anonymous texts. The former works make definite bogus claims to authorship; the latter do not. Several anonymous works exist within both the Old and New Testaments. For example, the book of Judges, the Gospels, Acts, and Hebrews do not make definite claims to authorship. That is to say, the authors of these works did not specifically identify themselves, though they were surely known to their recipients.

Strictly speaking, those biblical works most often classified by scholars as forged or pseudonymous are the OT books of Daniel and Isaiah, and certain Pauline and Petrine letters and those of James and Jude in the NT—namely, Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, the Pastoral Epistles, 1 and 2 Peter, James and Jude. One might also note that several forged, pseudo-apostolic works exist outside of the NT canon—for example, 3 Corinthians, the Epistle to the Laodiceans, and the Gospel of Peter. Read the rest at Midwestern Journal of Theology.

Please consult the journal for the footnotes contained in these paragraphs. This article originally appeared in Terry Wilder's book, "In Defense of the Bible," (B&H Academic, 2013).


Posted by Kristen Padilla at Wednesday, May 18, 2016
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The Dean Recommends: A Tribute to Donald Bloesch

By Gerald R. McDermott

May 16, 2016

Donald Bloesch was a theologian who was also a saint. He was a clarion voice for Reformed evangelical orthodoxy in the second half of the twentieth century. This is the foreword to Bloesch’s last book (The Paradox of Holiness), soon to appear from Hendrickson Publishers.

Michael McClymond has remarked that the only theologians worthy of deep study are those who are also saints. One thinks immediately of Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, and Jonathan Edwards. I would add Donald Bloesch.

I first met Bloesch when I was in graduate school at the University of Iowa. I remember being one of several Ph.D. students invited by “Dr. Bloesch” aand his lovely wife Brenda to their home for dinner, and then to hear him lecture at a nearby college. One of my friends struggled with his advisor and committee at Iowa, and Dr. Bloesch, who had taught there for a semester, intervened on his behalf and shepherded him through a long ordeal. From my friends who had been to Iowa before me, I heard story after story of the kindness and sacrifices Bloesch had expended for students, colleagues, and assorted souls wrestling with the vicissitudes of life.

Bloesch helped me through my own theological vicissitudes. As I struggled to find the meaning of Christian orthodoxy, I turned so often to Bloesch’s Essentials of Evangelical Theology that my copies of those two volumes are now dog-eared. Shortly before his death I asked him to write an essay on justification and atonement for The Oxford Handbook of Evangelical Theology. As always, it was balanced and wise, advising that atonement in the Bible represents “much more than the forgiveness of sins . . . [but also] liberation, acquittal, regeneration, satisfaction, expiation, propitiation, and certainly also sanctification.” This was an important word when much of Protestant theology limited the meaning of justification to pardon. Read the rest at Patheos' Northampton Seminar.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Tuesday, May 17, 2016
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Francis: A Springtime Saint

By Timothy George
May 16, 2016

He shone in his days as a morning star in the midst of the clouds.
~Pope Gregory IX at the canonization of St. Francis of Assisi (1228)

There lived in the town of Assisi a man whose name was Francis. . . . In him we can contemplate the excess of God’s mercy: he brought the good news of peace and salvation to all, like a true Angel of peace.” Thus Bonaventura, the official biographer of St. Francis, introduced his readers to one of the most popular and attractive figures in medieval Christianity. In his own lifetime, though, Francis did not seek glory and fame for himself—he shunned them. He wanted to be known only as il poverello, the little poor man, or fratello, little brother.

More than anything else, Francis wanted simply to be like Jesus. As he put it in the Rule of 1221, the aim of his life was “to live in obedience, in chastity and without property, following the teaching and footsteps of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Long before he received the stigmata, the marks of Jesus’s passion, in his own body, some of his contemporaries began to call him alter Christus, another Christ. That term must be used with care, however, for it cannot mean that Francis was a rival to—or, much less, a substitute for—Jesus himself. No, Francis was single-mindedly devoted to Jesus Christ, “the glorious Word of the Father,” who by the power of the Holy Spirit took on our human nature in the womb of the Virgin Mary. Francis was alter Christus in the sense that the first followers of Jesus were called christianoi—partisans of Christ, “little Christs,” those stamped by and conformed to Christ (see Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). As the Apostle Paul could say, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1), so too Francis gathered disciples who followed him in the way of the cross.

Beyond doubt, Francis was a Jesus-saturated saint. As Thomas of Celano said: “He was always occupied with Jesus; Jesus he bore in his heart, Jesus in his mouth, Jesus in his ears, Jesus in his eyes, Jesus in his hands, Jesus in the rest of his members.” In recent times, it has become popular to present Francis as the prototypical saint of secularism. One scholar has praised a recent biographer for “not larding his narrative with a piety that might alienate a secular reader.” But such an un-larded Francis, one shorn of miracles, mystery, exorcisms, and an ascetic rigor that would make anyone wince, is not the Francis we meet in the documents of his life. The “quest for the historical Francis” has produced a manageable figure we can domesticate and manipulate. Read the rest at First Things.

Posted by Kristen Padilla at Monday, May 16, 2016
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