At SBL 2016 I was excited that Wipf & Stock interviewed me regarding my 1-2 Thessalonians commentary. Here is the video (below) which I think could serve as a nice little introduction to these epistles.
As of January 9, 2017, my institution – George Fox Evangelical Seminary – has become “Portland Seminary.” This is a very exciting development that goes along with some changes to our programs and great ideas that have come out of a major self-study for accreditation. Before explaining my perspective on why the name change is a good idea, I want to make two clarifications.
#1: We are still embedded within George Fox University, so the official title of the seminary is Portland Seminary of George Fox University. We at the seminary have a deep appreciation for the oversight and partnership with GFU.
#2: We will continue to identify as “evangelical,” even though we are not keeping the word in our name. When the seminary was originally founded, it was supported in part by the Evangelical Church of North America (ECNA), and the seminary was called “Western Evangelical Seminary” (WES). The “Evangelical” term in our original name, I believe, linked to that ECNA connection. When WES merged with GFU, the seminary had a name change, but kept the “Evangelical” term. Over time, though, the seminary has developed up a number of partners and influences – Wesleyan, Quaker/Friends, Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran. We consider ourselves a big-tent place for students of diverse traditions – we are grounded in the core distinctives of the best of evangelicalism, but we believe was can affirm this without the titular terminology in our name.
Ok, on to why Portland Seminary.
Here are some reasons why I personally am excited to have the seminary identified with Portland.
A “Tree-Hugger” City – Portlanders love parks, forests, and enjoying the great outdoors. Portland Seminary has a leading eco-theology program that affirms the glory of creation and how we can be caretakers of it.
A “New Ideas” City – Portland is almost synonymous with “local and weird.” Portlanders hate big corporations, we love niche and boutique, strange and creative (have you ever watched Portlandia?). We buck trends. Heck, one of our famous sites is a big used bookstore! Portland Seminary also wants to be innovative, and weird (well, at least I like being weird). We don’t want to do it the way everyone else is doing it. We want to do seminary our own way, and the shape and nature of our new curriculum will demonstrate that – for example, we have a new required course for some programs called “the postcolonial church” and another one called “The Use and Abuse of the Bible.”
A “Fusion” City – Portland loves food, and it loves combining foods and flavors – Asian fusion, Latin fusion, we love putting two great things together! So too Portland Seminary has two communities, local students and distance students, and we want to do a good job of “fusing” these groups. For our distance students, we are committed, esp in our new curriculum, to providing the best of hybrid learning with both local (in Portland) and distance elements.
Bridge-City – Portland has lots of bridges. We think that is such a key metaphor for our seminary – bridging faith traditions, bridging local and global, bridging church and world.
Rose City – Portland is known as the “Rose City” (partly due to the gorgeous urban rose garden). Our new logo is a rose (or flame? Both?). This communicates to me too Portland Seminary’s vision for Christian formation and growth, life, and beauty.
If you are interested in seminary (at the master’s or doctor of ministry level), please get in touch. You can find my email on my faculty webpage.
This may have been a book release that flew under the radar at the end of 2016. This multi-contributor work (ed. S.J. Wendel and D.M. Miller) is something of a Festschrift in honor of Stephen Westerholm (see preface). The main topic of the volume raises this key question: “in what ways did the Mosaic law continue to serve as a positive reference point for Christ-believers regardless of whether they thought Torah observant was essential?”
The book is divided into three sections: Torah Ethics in Early Judaism, Torah Ethics and the New Testament, and Beyond the New Testament. Contributors include Adele Reinhartz, Scot McKnight, Beverly Gaventa, Terence Donaldson, Richard Hays (a reprint of a previously published essay), and the book is capped off by an essay by Westerholm himself. The essays do seem to hang together pretty well, but I found the title a bit misleading – I am not sure “Torah ethics” is the right word. It may have better been termed “Torah and Early Christian Identity.” Still, several worthwhile essays included. Of particular interest to me were these:
Anders Runesson, “Entering a Synagogue with Paul: First-Century Torah Observance”
Scot McKnight, “The Law of the Laws: James, Wisdom, and the Law”
Beverly Gaventa, “Questions about Nomos: Answers about Christos: Romans 10:4 in Context”
Terence Donaldson, “Paul, Abraham’s Gentile Offspring, and the Torah”
The news has just come from Eerdmans that the NIGTC commentary series has named two new editors: Mark Goodacre and Todd Still. Todd I know very well – a first-rate Paulinist – and I have followed Mark’s blog and his research for many years. These are outstanding choices for the series leadership. The NIGTC has a great reputation, under the previous editorship of Donald Hagner and Howard Marshall. I think of RT France’s Mark, Thiselton’s 1 Corinthians, Dunn’s Colossians, and Beale’s Revelation.
My hope for the NIGTC in the future, especially under this excellent new leadership, is the acquisition of female authors and authors of color -and I am sure this will be a concern for Still and Goodacre as guild leaders. Looking forward to great things to come from NIGTC!
Today is my first day back in the office after break, and I was greeted by Michael Gorman’s new edition of his Apostle of the Crucified Lord (Eerdmans, 2017; hereafter ACL). Sitting down with this book this morning transported me back to my days as a seminary student. The first edition came out in 2004, and I was about halfway through seminary. ACL was one of a handful of books that inspired me to enter into Pauline studies – others included Wright’s What Saint Paul Really Said, Hays’ Conversion of the Imagination, Hooker’s work on Paul and interchange, and Beker’s Paul the Apostle.
When I took an introductory course on Paul, we used Bruce and also Polhill – both of these were informative and serviceable, but Gorman’s ACL was theologically dynamic and engaging. Over time I have returned to ACL again and again for lecture prep and counsel – for example, I just finished a short writing project on 2 Timothy and picked up ACL for guidance. I have not taught an intro to Paul in several years, but I have had students read selections from ACL, his early chapter on “Paul’s World” is outstanding. Of course, in my opinion, his chapters on Paul’s theology and spirituality are the heart of the book, and what makes it such a worthwhile textbook.
What about the new edition? Gorman has a high bar for excellence, and although the book follows the same format and flow as the first edition, he has clearly taken time to re-think and revise in light of scholarship over the last decade. Since 2004, Gorman has written numerous books, and you can see the new insights and thoughts he has incorporated into the new edition. Many of these are adjustments in titles and wording, but they demonstrate the integrated way he has tried to update the book.
Perhaps the thing that inspires and encourages me most about this new edition is that it is not written because Gorman demands that the world gives him attention – he updated it because he himself is a learner, a student of Paul, and simply wishes to share what he has continued to learn since the first edition – he is all too quick to acknowledge many scholars, friends, and even students who have sharpened his thoughts here and there. It is a very encouraging model of ongoing inquiry in community.
If you don’t have the first edition, it is definitely time to get this 2017 one. If you already own the first edition, just know that Gorman has not really changed his mind on anything substantial. What you would miss out on would be updated academic conversations mostly, and Gorman’s tips on good bibliographical material (his annotated bibliographies are one of the best features of the book). Enjoy!