What did it mean to be a “fellow-prisoner” with Paul?

A few times, for example in Romans, Colossians, and Philemon, Paul mentions certain individuals as sharers in his imprisonment. I always assumed this to be rather benign, as in they were regional companions, visiting Paul (daily?) to offer company, provisions, and to learn from him. Another possible view, which I have tended to reject, is that some were actually in prison at the same time as Paul and in his vicinity. Actually, this seems more true of Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7).

What about Epaphras and Aristarchus? I just came across the proposal (and some contextual evidence) that these men may have voluntarily entered into Paul’s prison chamber to keep him company. This is apparently the view that James Dunn takes (Colossians, NIGTC, 275-6) and the potential is confirmed by Brian Rapske (see Lucian, Peregr. 12). Richard Bauckham writes this:

The suggestion I endorse is not that Epaphras and Aristarchus were condemned prisoners, but that they voluntarily spent time with Paul in his prison cell.” (Gospel Women, 171)

Wow! Talk about sharing in the sufferings of others! This suggestion appeals to me on a number of levels, but what kind of confidence can we have? What do you think? How can we know what Paul was intending to say?

What will I be doing at San Francisco SBL?

1. Socializing

2. Soaking in sun (remember, I live in Seattle)

3. Vacationing-ish (my family is coming too!)

4. Browsing books I cannot afford to buy!

As far as papers are concerned, I will be “giving” two presentations.

I was invited by my friend Craig Keener to be a respondent in an Institute for Biblical Research session on “Global Readings of Scripture.” I will respond to a paper given by another friend David deSilva on Sri Lankan readings of Galatians. That should be fun!

Secondly, I was invited to give a paper in the section “Ethics, Love, and the Other in Early Christianity” where I will be a reviewer in a session focusing on the book: Among the Gentiles by Luke Timothy Johnson. I am VERY excited to meet Prof. Johnson – I am a huge fan.

What sessions will you find me at? I don’t tend to “frequent” the sessions. I prefer scheduling some personal conversations with folks who have similar research interests. However, these sessions caught my eye:


Exile (Forced Migrations) in Biblical Literature
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room TBD – Hotel TBD

Theme: Canonical Consciousness: Israel’s Witness in the New Testament

John Ahn, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Presiding
Lee McDonald, Acadia Divinity College
Debating Canon Formation: Why and Where Scholars Disagree (25 min)
Gregory Sterling, University of Notre Dame
Creating a “Canon within the Canon”: Genesis in the Biblical Commentaries of Philo (25 min)
Helmut Koester, Harvard University
Early Christianity is Israel (25 min)
Urban C. von Wahlde, Loyola University of Chicago
Some Reflections on the Use of the Jewish Scriptures In the Gospel of John (25 min)
N. T. Wright, University of St. Andrews
Israel’s Scriptures in Pauline Theology (25 min)
Adela Yarbro Collins, Yale University
Rewritten Prophets: The Use of Older Scripture in Revelation (25 min)



Theological Hermeneutics of Christian Scripture
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Room TBD – Hotel TBD

Theme: Theological Interpretation and Jesus-Studies
This session will explore the significance of two recent attempts at identifying Jesus: Beverly Roberts Gaventa and Richard B. Hays, eds., Seeking the Identity of Jesus: A Pilgrimage (Eerdmans, 2008); and Darrell L. Bock and Robert L. Webb, eds., Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence (Eerdmans, 2010).

Michael Gorman, Saint Mary’s Seminary and University, Presiding (5 min)
Michael Bird, Crossway College, Panelist (15 min)
Amy Plantinga Pauw, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Panelist (15 min)
Murray Rae, University of Otago, Panelist (15 min)
Robert Wall, Seattle Pacific University, Panelist (15 min)
Break (5 min)
Beverly Gaventa, Princeton Theological Seminary, Respondent (10 min)
Richard Hays, Duke University, Respondent (10 min)
Darrell Bock, Dallas Theological Seminary, Respondent (10 min)
Robert Webb, McMaster University, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (40 min)


Second Corinthians: Pauline Theology in the Making
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room TBD – Hotel TBD

Theme: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 and the Broader Context

Dominika Kurek-Chomycz, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Presiding
Troels Engberg-Pedersen, Copenhagen University
The Unity of 2 Corinthians as Reflected in the Account of Paul’s and Titus’ Travels Between Ephesus, Macedonia and Corinth and the Theology of 2:14-7:4 (30 min)
Reimund Bieringer, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Love as That Which Binds Everything Together? The Unity of 2 Corinthians Revisited (30 min)
Discussion (15 min)
Paul B. Duff, George Washington University
Israel’s Hardened Minds: 2 Cor 3:14a and the Development of a Theological Idea. (30 min)
Scott J Hafemann, University of St. Andrews
The New Creation (2 Cor 5:17) as the Cross-Shaped Life: The Development of a Pauline Theme (30 min)
Discussion (15 min)


Second Corinthians: Pauline Theology in the Making
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Room TBD – Hotel TBD

Theme: 2 Corinthians 5:14-21

Thomas Schmeller, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main, Presiding
Sean F. Winter, Melbourne College of Divinity
Who and What are ‘Ambassadors for Christ’?: The Identity and Role of Paul’s Audience in 2 Corinthians 5.16–21 (30 min)
Matthew Forrest Lowe, McMaster Divinity College
Pleading and Power: The Missional Theopolitics of Paul’s Ambassadorial Soteriology in 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 (30 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Edith M. Humphrey, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Manifest in the Body— Deeds, Sin, Righteousness and Glory (30 min)
Steven Kraftchick, Emory University
Transformation, Change and Pauline Thought (30 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Business Meeting (10 min)



Theological Hermeneutics of Christian Scripture
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Room TBD – Hotel TBD

Theme: Reading Revelation as Christian Scripture

Richard Cornell, Spring Arbor University, Presiding
Edith M. Humphrey, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Mixing Wine with Water: Enjoyment and Expectation through the Style of the Apocalypse (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Frank D. Macchia, Vanguard University
Worthy Is the Lamb: The Christology of Revelation in the Context of Christian Worship and Dogma (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Break (5 min)
Carl Mosser, Eastern University
The Deification of Humanity in the Revelation of Jesus Christ (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Leslie Baynes, Missouri State University
Reading Symbolism in John’s Apocalypse Now and Then: The Case of the Millennium (25 min)
Discussion (15 min)

What sessions are you excited about?

A “Down and Dirty” Guide to Theology (McKim)

When I saw WJK’s new A “Down and Dirty” Guide to Theology (D.K. McKim) as a new release, I thought this might be the right book for my freshman theology students. Now that I have read it, I admit that I thoroughly enjoyed the great little reference book that it is, but it is more about the discipline of theology, than it is an introduction to Christian theology. I don’t blame McKim for this – I simply misunderstood what the book contained.

In any case, what a delightful book. Essentially, McKim is using his many years of teaching, editing, and writing to help students dip into the disciple of theology. Additionally, he got the great cartoonist Ron Hill (who illustrated the For Armchair Theologians books) to contribute his humorous drawings as well. It does not work as well in this book as it does in the biographies, I think.

So what is in the book? Very briefly (about 160 pages), McKim introduces the definition of theology and its goals, major theologians, the history of the study of theology, the relationship between theology and the church, the relationship between theology and the academy, the methods of theology, and “big questions” of theology. None of this is done in much depth, but McKim stuck to the “down and dirty” simplicity of a very short guide.

I appreciated the “Personal Touch” section of the book which offers inspiring quotes from a number of theologians, some of their memorable “last words,” and finally some cheesy theology jokes and anecdotes.

The book finishes with definitions of some common Latin and German phrases in theology.

I guess this book would be helpful to have more for fun than anything else. I will draw from some of McKim’s definitions and he has a great chart of the flow of the protestant church movement (which apparently he took from Wikipedia!).

I leave you with this joke McKim offers (p. 127-8)

Karl Barth, Rudolf Bultmann, and Paul Tillich are fishing together on Lake Geneva. They are having a lovely time, smoking their pipes and chatting idly. It’s hot, however, and they are getting thirsty. So Barth gets up, steps out of the boat, walks across the water to the shore, gets some beer, and returns. But on such a hot day the beer doesn’t last long. Barth tells Tillich, “Your turn, Paul.” Tillich gets up, steps out of the boat, walks across the water, and fetches some beer.

It is getting really hot now, and the beer is finished once again. Bultmann is beginning to sweat profusely, so Barth says, “Come on, Rudolf, your turn now.” With a slight tremor in his knees, Bultmann gets up, steps out of the boat and sinks like a stone. Fortunately, he is a good swimmer, and he drags himself back into the boat and sulks at the far end.

Tillich turns to Barth and say, “Do you think we should have told him where the stepping stones are?”

Barth looks at him in astonishment and replies, “What stones?”

Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care

I just received an advertisement drawing attention to the relatively new periodical (since 2008), Journal of Spiritual Formation & Soul Care, sponsored by Biola University/Talbot. The journal seeks out articles that research on “the nature and means of becoming more like Jesus.”

I appreciate journals like these – great for ministry leaders and connects academia to the church in more fruitful ways than traditional journals. They have some free articles that look interesting. I am not a fan of the phrase “soul care,” but I think we need more journals like these in general.