Prof. Andrew Lincoln Reviews My Colossians Commentary (Gupta)

As I was perusing the latest issue of Interpretation (April 2015, 69.2), the hair stood up on the back of my neck when I saw that Andrew Lincoln had reviewed my Colossians commentary (Smyth & Helwys, 2013). I read his review with much trepidation – he is one of the world’s finest New Testament scholars, not least on Ephesians/Colossians!

Well, I was deeply relieved to see that he found it not so bad, better than not so bad! At my age and experience, one never quite knows how one’s own work will be received. This is very encouraging indeed. I don’t think I am allowed to cite the whole review, but here is the main section:

He covers much of the recent secondary literature and articulates his findings in a clear and discerning fashion. At the same time, he makes his own contributions to interpretation of the letter and appreciation of its message. The content of the interesting sidebars ranges from the latest information about excavations of Colossae through comparative material in ancient literature to short essays on relevant themes in Pauline theology.

In the format for the series, the two main sections for each textual unit are headed Commentary and Connections, with the latter as the location for providing insights for potential application in preaching and teaching. Wisely, Gupta does not allow this division to make exegesis and application two entirely separate tasks. So, for example, he enriches his commentary on Col 1:9–12 by drawing on insights from theologians Ellen Charry and Colin Gunton. Likewise, his Connections sections do not jump directly to sermon illustrations or immediate practical application but remain rooted firmly in what has been discovered from the texts and wrestle with their hermeneutical and theological implications. Indeed, one of the refreshing features of this enjoyable commentary is its attempt to draw not only biblical scholars but also contemporary theologians into conversation with the text. For Gupta, the witness and thought of Bonhoeffer, in particular, epitomize an emphasis found throughout his commentary: the cosmic Christ and the crucified Christ are mutually informative, and such a Christology calls into question any spirituality of transcendence that obscures the significance of living under Christ’s lordship in this world.

Thank you, Professor Lincoln! I am deeply honored!

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No Turning Back: R. Longenecker and Luther on the “End of Nomism” (Gupta)

I am doing a bit of research on Paul and the Law (just a small scholarly discussion, of course!), and I found Richard Longenecker’s discussion of the subject interesting (Paul, Apostle of Liberty). Longenecker argues that Paul pushes for the “end of nomism” for believers in Jesus. Christ has “brought to an end the possibility of a valid nomistic piety” (154). The work of Christ alone makes one righteous, so the Christian ought not to walk according to Torah. He ends his discussion with an appeal to Luther’s illustration of living by faith alone in Christ and not combining faith with law. Living by faith and works is as

the dog who runs along a stream with a piece of meat in his mouth, and, deceived by the reflection of the meat in the water, opens his mouth to snap at it, and so loses both the meat and the reflection (“Treatise on Christian Liberty”; adaptation of Aesop fable; see Longenecker, 155)

What do you think about this analogy of old and new covenant?