January 27, 2015 by Gerald Hiestand
The good folks over at the Theopolis Institute have just published an essay of mine on Augustine and pagan virtue. Below is the introduction, followed by a link to the whole piece.
My children attend a classical Christian school, situated in the independent “free church” evangelical tradition. Over the past few years they have been growing in their acquaintance with the world of Homer, Plato, Virgil, and Livy. They enjoy it, and I envy it. The school is a great school. My oldest came home the other day with an assignment to read the youth edition of Herodotus’ Histories. As he read he was to look for two things: 1) the cultural practices of the peoples mentioned in the book, and 2) their sinful practices.
I found the assignment curious. Not the first part of the assignment, but the second. Herodotus’ Histories is a rich book—full of all sorts of fascinating tales about the ancients Greeks and Persians. Why focus on their sinfulness? Why not recount their moral virtues?
It is, I suspect, because we don’t think they had any moral virtues.
You can read the whole essay here. And while you are there, look around the site. Lots of interesting stuff (as one might expect from Peter Leithart)!0 Comments
January 26, 2015 by Gerald Hiestand
We are nearing the Feb 1 deadline for the CPT’s Third Fellowship. Those interested, please see here for the relevant information.0 Comments
January 10, 2015 by Gerald Hiestand
Matthew’s account of Joseph’s response to Mary’s pregnancy reads as follows: Ἰωσὴφ δὲ ὁ ἀνὴρ αὐτῆς, δίκαιος ὢν καὶ μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι, ἐβουλήθη λάθρᾳ ἀπολῦσαι αὐτήν.
The ESV translates the sentence as: “And her husband Joseph, being a just man (δίκαιος ὢν) and unwilling to put her to shame (καὶ μὴ θέλων αὐτὴν δειγματίσαι), resolved to divorce her quietly.”
The NIV (2011 edition) translates the sentence as: “Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.”
Note the difference. The NIV glosses δίκαιος ὢν (lit. “being righteous”) as “was faithful to the law”, and pits this against Joseph’s desire not to disgrace Mary. Thus the NIV introduces tension between Joseph’s inclination toward righteousness (seen here by the NIV as “law keeping,”) and his inclination toward mercy. Per the NIV, Joseph resolves the tension by divorcing Mary, thus maintaining fidelity to the law, but doing it quietly in keeping with mercy.
But the ESV refrains from introducing this tension. Joseph’s righteousness (δίκαιος ὢν) is the very reason he shows mercy to Mary and puts her away quietly. In other words, Joseph’s righteousness inclines him towards mercy over judgment.
The two translations highlight the different perspectives in biblical scholarship on δικαιοσύνη, and have relevance for the way we understand (and translate) biblical passages that speak of God’s righteousness. Fundamentally, does God’s righteousness stand in tension with his mercy, or is his righteousness the very fount and source of his mercy? Or stated again, given that we are sinful human beings under the sentence of death, is God’s righteousness our blessing or bane?
Let the Psalmist decide!
“In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame!4 Comments
In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me!” (Psa 71:1-2)
January 9, 2015 by Gerald Hiestand
I was pleased to receive a complimentary copy of Zondervan’s newly released New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDNTTE), edited by Moises Silva. The project is a revision of The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology. The new set is five volumes (volume five is an index ), hard cover, and offers commentary on Greek words and concepts in the New Testament, as well as related usage in classical Greek sources, the LXX, and Jewish literature. In addition, the NIDNTEE “presents current scholarship on every book of the Bible, including the Apocrypha, with entries focusing on ancient context, history on interpretation, and contemporary significance.” Per the publisher, the set is is geared toward pastors, students, scholars, and teachers.
The layout of the set looks pretty sharp. Each volume begins with an alphabetical list of English concepts and words (like “good” or “face”) and then lists all the Greek words that might conceivably be translated within that semantic range. Following the list of concepts is an alphabetical arrangement of Greek words. Here the lexical analysis seems at times less detailed than what one finds in BDAG, but at other times comparable; no doubt the result of multiple authors. Yet in all cases the data appears substantive and and clearly presented. Each entry concludes with a bibliography of relevant sources. Silva has also worked to analyze each word with a view to its relationship with other words typically associated with it.
I’m not a language scholar, so no doubt others are better situated than I to offer a more constructive evaluation. But from where I sit, the NIDNTEE looks to be a worthwhile update of the NIDNTT – both in content and usability, and a helpful set to have on one’s shelf. The price tag is a bit steep for a pastor — $249.99. But for a five volume lexical resource of this quality, that’s about what one might expect to pay.
December 10, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand
As we announced earlier this year, recent grant funding has made possible the launch of a Third CPT Fellowship. This new Fellowship will meet for the first time August 3-5, 2015 (thereafter always the first Monday-Wednesday of August). The application process for this new Fellowship remains open. The ideal candidate for the CPT’s Third Fellowship…
- Is a full-time vocational pastor who views the writing/publication of theological scholarship as a significant ministry calling.
- Has a PhD.
- Has a publishing record in theological scholarship.
- Is under 40 years old.
- Has regular availability for the August Symposium.
Candidates who do not meet the ideal profile for all criteria are encouraged to apply if they are strong in the other areas. We are keen on theological diversity within a larger evangelical framework, and therefore invite applications from all denominational backgrounds.
The application window will stay open until Feb 1, 2015. At that time applications will be reviewed and the CPT board will invite the top fifteen candidates to join the Third Fellowship.
Interested applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a CV to Gerald Hiestand at email@example.com prior to applying.0 Comments
December 8, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand
It’s hard to believe the end of 2014 is already here! I trust you and yours have experienced the riches of God’s blessing this past year, and that you are enjoying this season of Advent.
As the year draws to a close, I am especially grateful for all the ways God has blessed the CPT in 2014. Since January, we’ve been approved for a nearly quarter-million dollar grant with the John Templeton Foundation (to take effect in later 2015), hosted two Fellowship Symposia, published our first edition of the Bulletin of Ecclesial Theology, invited applications to a Third Fellowship for pastor theologians, hosted a Dinner and Panel Discussion for seminarians and graduate students, and along with my CPT co-founder, finished the manuscript on a forthcoming book, The Pastor Theologian: Resurrecting an Ancient Vision, which will be published by Zondervan in 2015.
It’s not all success though; for this year, we’re still $12,500 behind budget. The lion’s share of this deficit has fallen on the shoulders of our CPT staff. Our staff work tirelessly, and they have forgone compensation the last half of this year due to limited funding. As the board chair, and on behalf of the board, I’m asking you to help us honor our financial commitments to our staff. Without their dedicated work, the CPT vision would be only that — a vision. As you think about year end giving, would you consider giving a gift to the CPT? All gifts are tax deductible, and can be made securely online via Paypal. Or checks can be sent to:
The Center for Pastor Theologians
931 Lake Street
Oak Park, IL 60301
The Center for Pastor Theologians is making a difference. Slowly but surely the CPT is helping deepen the theological integrity and spiritual vitality of local congregations, and at the same time helping theology find its center once again in the Church. As always, we so appreciate — and depend — on your partnership and financial support.
Todd Wilson0 Comments
Board Chairman, CPT
December 2, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand
My friend and CPT Fellow Stephen Witmer has a nice essay in the recent edition of Themelios. His essay is a fleshed out version of a paper he presented at one of our first CPT symposia. The abstract is below:
In linking ethics and eschatology, the NT writers were following in the footsteps of Jesus, whose ethical instruction was closely connected to his eschatological preaching. Given this connection between Jesus’ ethics and eschatology, it is striking to note that again and again in modern theology scholars have attempted to sever the link by reinterpreting, discarding, or demythologizing Jesus’ outmoded apocalyptic eschatology (i.e., his theology) and retaining his teaching (i.e., his ethics).1 This approach is often associated with the nineteen-century liberal lives of Jesus, but one of my aims in this essay is to demonstrate that a similarly radical severing of eschatology and ethics is present in the work of Albert Schweitzer, ironically the scholar most often credited with putting the nail in the coffin of the liberal lives of Jesus. I will explore and critique this surprising divorce in Schweitzer’s work between Jesus’ eschatology and the modern application of Jesus’ ethics and argue, in opposition to Schweitzer, for the importance of preserving the close link between Jesus’ eschatology and ethics, his theology and his pastoral concern. For Jesus, as with Paul and the other NT writers, eschatology and ethics were thoroughly enmeshed, so that it is not possible to take over the latter without the former. I’ll conclude by reflecting upon the implications of my thesis for contemporary pastor-theologians.
Read the whole thing here. Stephen is also the author of Eternity Changes Everything: How to Live Now in the Light of Your Future (Good Book Company, 2014).0 Comments
November 4, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand
Below is the press release for the newly named Theopolis Institute, led by Peter Leithart. Peter has been a good friend and ministry partner of the CPT, and the Theopolis Institute has many of the same impulses as the CPT. I hope you’ll check out their new site!
Beginning in November 2014, Trinity House Institute of Birmingham, Alabama, will take a new name, the Theopolis Institute.
The Theopolis Institute trains pastors and Christian leaders through intensive courses in biblical theology and liturgics, encourages unity in the church with its ecumenical Nevin Lecture series, and advances theological scholarship with essays on its web site and in its e-newsletter, In Medias Res.
According to Theopolis President Peter J. Leithart, the new name better communicates the Institute’s unique vision and mission, and captures the unified purpose behind its various programs and activities.
Theopolis comes from two Greek words, “God” and “city.” It expresses the Institute’s hope that as the Spirit works through the Word, Liturgy, and pastoral care, the world becomes more like the city of God-— the Institute seeks reformation in the church and transformation in our culture.
Theopolis’s elegant new logo, designed by CREVIN AMD of Missoula, Montana, symbolizes the Institute’s aims in visual form. The logo depicts the heavenly city of God reflected below the firmament, imprinting a cross on heaven and earth.
Visit our new web site at theopolisinstitute.com.
October 28, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand
Mark your calendars for the first annual CPT Theology Conference, November 2-4, 2015. The conference will be hosted by Calvary Memorial Church in Chicago, and is being launched in partnership with Zondervan. The first year’s theme is “The Pastor Theologian: Identities and Possibilities”.
The conference will include plenary addresses from James K. A. Smith, Peter Leithart, Kevin Vanhoozer, Todd Wilson, and yours truly. We also have a great line up of break out “conversations” led by CPT Fellows and other like-minded folks.
Our aim is to make this conference as “un-conferencey” as possible, with lots of time built in for conversation — both formal and informal. More details will be forthcoming, but for now, be sure to save the date.2 Comments
October 22, 2014 by Gerald Hiestand
A helpful word from CPT Co-Founder, Dr. Todd Wilson.0 Comments