I just finished reading Daniel Kirk’s most recent blog post, which, though written in an irenic tone, spells out fairly explicitly the theological and social divide(s) that exist between him and some of his senior colleagues at Fuller. I am disappointed to hear him say that this upcoming year will be his last at Fuller Seminary. Awhile back I read and reviewed his very helpful book on Jesus and Paul, and have interacted with him several times over the years to express my appreciation for his scholarship.
Of course, I am not on the inside of his situation vis-a-vis the administration and senior colleagues at Fuller, so I don’t know the particulars of the situation beyond what he has shared on the blog. However, as one who was nurtured in the cradle of American evangelical Christianity (and who no longer finds that label a helpful or positive personal descriptor), I continue to be disappointed (though not surprised) by the high profile departures of evangelical scholars who, in my opinion, are: (1) not afraid of the difficult questions; (2) not afraid of the answers that emerge from those questions; and (3) are genuinely committed to dialogue and living in the midst of theological tension. I don’t need to provide a list for you. If you’ve been paying attention over the past few years, you know exactly which professors I’m referencing.
At this point, it really doesn’t help to lament much more than many of us have in recent years. I guess I can only wish the best, both for Daniel and for Fuller.
Over the past year or so I have been transitioning into research on the various reconstructions of the Johannine community and how those reconstructions impact our understanding of the ethics of the Johannine literature. To that end, I am currently co-editing a book for Fortress Press with my friend, Sherri Brown on the (mostly implicit) ethics of the Johannine literature, and working up a proposal for an authored monograph on history and ethics in the Johannine community. More on that anon….. Of obvious importance to any reconstruction of the Johannine community is understanding the background and content of the Christological claims being made by the so-called “secessionists” in 1 John. Yesterday I saw that Urban von Wahlde–whose work on the Johannine literature I have very much appreciated–has just published a new book with LNTS entitled, Gnosticism, Docetism, and the Judaisms of the First Century. Here’s a description:
In this book von Wahlde provides an exploration of three distinct cultural and religious backgrounds against which scholars have frequently proposed that the Gospel and Letters of John are to be read and understood.
von Wahlde examines each of these three possibilities in turn, and shows how they may be regarded as plausible or implausible depending upon the evidence available. von Wahlde shows that there are features within the Gospel and/or Letters of John that do in fact suggest that they were influenced either by Gnosticism, Docetism or one of the variant forms of Judaism. However, in each case, while some of the evidence suggests a particular background, von Wahlde shows that it is equally evident that not all of the evidence can be seen to suggest the same background. Through an examination of the origins and purpose of the gospel, and drawing on the conclusions of his well-regarded commentary on the Johannine literature, von Wahlde presents a new way of understanding the Gospel in its wider contexts.
I’m hoping I can convince the peeps at T & T Clark to send along a copy, which I will not only use for my own research but happily review for the blog.