Baker Academic

Friday, August 15, 2014

Class Offering: NT and Suffering

I will be offering a class through United Theological Seminary (Dayton, OH) called "The New Testament and Suffering." This will be a seminar-style, on campus, night class. It will run from mid-September to mid-December (Tuesday nights, 6:30-9:20 pm). If you live in the Dayton / Cincinnati / Columbus areas, I'd love to include you!

This class will follow three primary threads: (1) How is suffering represented in the Bible (esp. the NT)? (2) How have Christians perpetrated, participated in, and responded to suffering as guided by New Testament texts? (3) How did the conditions of suffering shape the New Testament and the message of the Gospel?

If you have any questions about the class, please email me at acledonne at united dot edu. If you have general questions about registration, you can email the campus registrar at registrar at united dot edu.


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Bi-Quarterly Quotation of the Fortnight about Jesus for this Time, Times and Half a Time

They charged Jesus with sedition. Didn't they do that? They said he was against Caesar. They said that he was discriminating because he told his disciples “Go not the way of the Gentiles, but rather to the lost sheep.” He discriminated. Don’t go near the Gentiles; go to the lost sheep! Go to the oppressed. Go to the downtrodden. Go to the exploited. Go to the people who don’t know who they are, who are lost from the knowledge of themselves, and who are strangers in a land that is not theirs. Go to the slaves. Go to the second class citizens. Go to the ones who are suffering the brunt of Caesar’s brutality. And if Jesus were here in America today, he wouldn’t be going to the white man. The white man is the oppressor. He would be going to the oppressed. He would be going to the humble. He would be going the lowly. He would be going to the rejected and the despised. He would be going to the so-called American Negro.

                           ~Malcolm X

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Quarterly Quote of the Month about Jesus for this Week

Prior to reading Gandhi, I had about concluded that the ethics of Jesus were only effective in individual relationships. The "turn the other cheek" philosophy and the "love your enemies" philosophy were only valid, I felt, when individuals were in conflict with other individuals; when racial groups and nations were in conflict, a more realistic approach seemed necessary. But after reading Gandhi, I saw how utterly mistaken I was. Gandhi was probably the first person in history to lift the love ethic of Jesus above mere interaction between individuals to a powerful and effective social force on a large scale. Love for Gandhi was a potent instrument for social and collective transformation. It was in this Gandhian emphasis on love and nonviolence that I discovered the method for social reform that I had been seeking. I do not want to give the impression that nonviolence will work miracles overnight. When the underprivileged demand freedom, the privileged first react with bitterness and resistance. Even when the demands are couched in nonviolent terms, the initial response is the same. So the nonviolent approach does not immediately change the heart of the oppressor. It first does something to the hearts and souls of those committed to it. It gives them new self-respect; it calls up resources of strength and courage that they did not know they had. Finally, it reaches the opponent and so stirs his conscience that reconciliation becomes a reality.

                                 ~Martin Luther King Jr.

James Crossley's New Home on the Web

James Crossley has taken his blogging talents to

You may know Dr. Crossley from his many books related to New Testament studies, modern politics, and reading strategies. He is often provocative and always interesting. The title of the blog "Harnessing Chaos" is also the title of his recent book.

Power user tip: when you comment on his blog, quote Alain Badiou at length. You will also impress him if you can use the word "decisionist" and then qualify it heavily.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Jesus and Militancy - Le Donne

Bob Ross: T.V. Artist and Vietnam War Veteran
I don’t know whether 2014 is more or less violent than 2013 or if we who consume the Western news/social media are just more interested in violence in 2014. Whatever the case, some of the reports of violence and the systems of oppression that make violence inevitable have been impossible to ignore.

My attention vacillates from arguments that Jesus preached/practiced thoroughgoing non-violence (see my interview with Simon Joseph here and here) and horrific facebook posts. Please allow me to state clearly that I don’t presume to have any solutions to modern problems. I will not suggest that Jesus’ sayings help much with military bases dressed up like schools or warlords pulling triggers. Nothing in the Gospels tells me what to think about children being cut in half. These things are clearly evil. But how should I respond? I am committed to pacifism, but I am not guided by any single dictum or mandate. I am committed to pacifism even if my research of Jesus leads to me to believe that he was indeed a zealot. That said, I have not been persuaded of this.

Rather than leveraging Jesus’ sayings about peacemaking and cheek-turning to suit my own political affinities, I will make a modest suggestion about his historical character. The suggestion involves a needed distinction between violence and militancy.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism--Chris Keith

Well, we'd kept the secret for about two years, but now it's out.  I include here the link to Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado, a Festschrift that Dieter T. Roth and I have edited for our Doktorvater, Larry Hurtado.  The essays in the volume include presentations from Tommy Wasserman, Richard Bauckham, and Thomas J. Kraus, delivered on a day of honor for Larry at New College, as well as contributions from Larry's former students.  It should be available at SBL and I'll post more here on it later.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Violence and the Passion

Over at Jewish-Christian Intersections, Larry has a series going that discusses episodes of violence circa Jesus' passion.

I think that I might have something to say on this topic a bit later in the week. My thoughts are still a bit undercooked.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lonergan, Authenticity, and Plato's Cave

If you have not yet discovered Jonathan Bernier's new blog "Critical Realism and the New Testament" here is your chance. Jonathan's blog relates his expertise in New Testament studies to his fascination with mathematician, priest, philosopher, and theologian, Bernard Lonergan. In his latest post, he wonders if Plato's cave allegory might give us a better way into the notion of "authenticity" in New Testament studies.

Bernier writes, "Thus we can see that the criteria did not fail because they did not measure up to the task for which they were formulated but because more fundamentally that task did not measure up to intelligence or reason." Against Chris Keith (who has published on this topic more than anyone else), I think that I agree with Bernier on this point. Chris has taken the line first put forward by Morna Hooker: the traditional authenticity criteria were not invented to authenticate historical material. But (and this is my counter point) researchers develop new tools all the time without  a full view to their range of application. If we are to criticize the criteria for authenticity, we must do so on two levels: (1) our notion of "authenticity" carries baggage of false assumptions about what historians do with data and facts; (2) the individual criteria - judged each upon their own logic and output - often create more problems than they solve.

Perhaps once Chris has returned from his holiday, we can revisit this topic.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Inkling Edition of Sumney's Bible Introduction

Fortress Press has made Jerry Sumney's excellent introduction to the Bible available in an e-format. I was part of the team that enhanced this edition. It includes:

...the full text of the print textbook PLUS the chapter summaries and primary sources from the print Study Companion, PLUS enhancements that engage students like never before!
• Audio and video clips that further explain key concepts
• Poptips, links, and callout boxes for deeper learning
• Guided tour, slideshow, and hotspot images for visual learners and better understanding
• Self-tests that lead students to additional information about questions they answered incorrectly
• Social note-taking that optimizes group study and whole-class inquiry and discussion
• Full-text search capabilities, bookmarks, highlighting, and note-taking features for discovering, synthesizing, and retaining important information

In addition to being part of this team, I was also the lead author for the study companion. This companion text (available in both print and e-formats) is heavy on excerpts from Ancient Near Eastern texts (both inside and outside the Bible) and questions for discussion/reflection. It is written for beginners.


Chris Keith and Hard-wired Reading Strategies

Dr. Keith writes of his hermeneutical development for Pete Enn's "Aha" series: