Dr. Nijay Gupta from Northern Seminary joins Mark to discuss how the church can better read and apply the writings of Paul and the New Testament.
Welcome to Jessup think I’m your host, Mark Moore. And on the show, we are joined by Dr. Nee, J. Gupta, who is a professor of New Testament and northern seminary. He’s the author of numerous books, including Paul and the language of faith, a beginner’s guide to New Testament studies, reading Philippians, a critical commentary First and Second Thessalonians, just amongst a few of the books that he has published. He also co edits several books. He’s a world class scholar, and Anna, and a great writer and a really fun conversationalist. I know you’re going to enjoy the show.
Yeah, DJ, thank you so much for being on the show and joining us and really excited to, to talk to you about your scholarship on Paul in the New Testament. And particularly with Paul in the language of faith, but we’ll we’ll get there. But as I was kind of preparing for, for this episode, it was interesting at our church, also a pastor here in Sacramento, and at our church, we’re reading the New Testament through and 90 days, so that can the first 90 days of the year, you know, added onto your workout regimen or something, you know, that you that you do starting on January one. And and this year, I think for me was, was the first time like we read through the Gospels, and just hearing Jesus hearing that and the message. And then moving to Paul and was like, Oh, yeah, there’s there’s a little bit of a subtle shift in, in maybe tone and what Paul highlights in a sense, and, and so I could see and then started getting questions from people in the church like, Oh, hey, how do I understand this? How do I read this? How do I, you know, how do I understand Paul here is for me, it was kind of, you know, a really good experience to be like, Oh, yeah, when we get to Paul, it’s a little bit different. And we have to understand like, Okay, how, how do we approach Paul? And so really, I’d love just from you, maybe what are some ways or what are some advice for people in the church to read Paul better? Like, what is their things they need to know going into Paul? And how can we understand Paul better?
Yeah, hi, Mark, great to be with you. And it’s fun, fun to be connecting with your institution. And great, even during a pandemic, we can, you know, talk online and through a podcast and connect and meet new people. Yeah, you know, it’s when you start reading the Bible carefully, you start noticing differences, distinctives of different writers and things like that. So just within the Gospels, if you’re paying careful attention, you’ll notice gospel, john does things differently. Right. Right. JOHN is called the maverick gospel. Yeah, because it’s anti Mark, Luke are Matthew. But because it gives a little bit different of a vantage point, it kind of highlights some different things. If you think about like a modern biography of Lincoln, or even, you know, Barack Obama. Right now you’re dealing with the same basic information about a person in history, you can take different camera angles, to look at that person, and it gives you a more robust picture. So yeah, when you turn to Paul, you notice things are a bit different. I would give a couple couple pieces of advice. Number one is to remember that most of Paul’s letters were probably written before the gospels were written down. Yeah. And that’s actually hard to keep in mind. The gospels were reading about Jesus who came before Paul’s ministry, right? And yet something like First Thessalonians and Galatians were, you know, they’re known to be the earliest New Testament texts. So I hate to use the word primitive, because it has negative connotation. But when you’re thinking of the earliest voices in Christian literature, you’re talking about Paul, and that’s, you know, I Dunn’s work in First Thessalonians, and you get this kind of a grittiness there to that letter. That’s very different than something like Hebrews, which is this really thought through sermonic reflection on the Jesus story, right? looked at in terms of the Old Testament, and sacrifice and priesthood and things like that. So one tip is to remember how early Paul’s letters are. Yeah, it doesn’t make them better or worse than the gospel, it just means they’re going to use maybe a little bit different vocabulary. They’re going to talk about things a little bit different way. The second thing to keep in mind is that doesn’t mean we change our Bibles It doesn’t mean we rip out parts and put stuff earlier or later. Yeah, I believe in many scholars, like Do Timothy Johnson Bravo chiles believe that the church gave us an ordering of the New Testament that would be most helpful for the flow of how we read the Bible. Hmm, yeah. So it’s helpful to start, it’s helpful to start with the Gospels and get fully entranced or, you know, in mashed in this story of Jesus, and then go on to Paul, because he carries on this post, post Ascension ministry. So So I still like that ordering the book of Acts kind of sets up the life of the church. But another, I’d say that third thing to that, and then we’ll we’ll go back and forth on it. But the third thing I’d add is remember that their letters and letters are situational or occasional texts. Yeah. And so Paul is giving advice, he tells Timothy, Hey, stop drinking water and drink more wine. I mean, he’s saying things that he’s giving advice in a personal letter. And so some things are gonna be hard for us to understand, like, First Corinthians talks about baptizing the dead. What does that mean? When we read letters, we realize you can’t just pull everything out and apply it immediately to our lives. Yes, scripture is written for us, but it’s not written directly to us, we have to go through a process of interpretation, I believe, and I’m sure you believe, mark that everything in the New Testament and Old Testament is relevant for life today in some way, right? Sometimes it’s on the level of principles, what principles, moral principles, theological principles, just in the same way we know when we hear drama, that we need to interpret that to dollars and cents. Right, right. In other areas, we need to go through that kind of process. Those are three tips that I like to give early on when people think about how to study Paul.
Yeah, no, those are really helpful. And I’ve always I’ve always joked with my classes, and I teach kind of a New Testament intro class, and along with other theology classes, and so I’ve always joked with them that that that advice from Paul to Timothy is probably like every Christian college student memorizes that first, drink more wine. Now water, they’re like, Wait a second, is this biblical? But trying to help them oftentimes in this new testament intro class. It’s the first time they’ve heard and many that have grown up in the church. It’s the first time they hear that Paul’s writings predate the Gospels. And, and often it’s the first time they hear the context and situation of his letters. And, and I agree with you that it’s it’s so important as we approach scripture, and especially as we approach Paul, to realize there is this kind of context there is this culture. And I like what you’re saying, how, how can we because because often, I think when people within the church, and when students are reading scripture, our focus is how do I apply this to my life? Right? Like, we read everything, and it’s through this lens of application. And, and sometimes, then we can read Paul, talking about headcoverings. And we’re like, Okay, how, you know, I guess, you know, I’m a man, I need to cut my hair, right? I can’t have long hair or, and and we get caught up in application. How can we how can we understand kind of the situation or occasion or the cultural specificity of Paul, in terms of our application? I like what you said about principles. Love, just hear more about that.
Yeah. So starting with understanding like the Bible’s context and background, you can learn a few things that are going to help you really grapple and understand the cultural world of the New Testament. Things like how men and women relate social class, you know, how slavery worked back then, meals and how important they are. So one book I’d recommend is Craig keener has done the IVP Bible background commentary, which is kind of a lookup any text of the New Testament, and he’ll give you background context information, which is super helpful. Another great resource, if that might be too hefty is the IVP Bible backgrounds, Study Bible. And yeah, that’s Yeah, gives you study notes that are going to give you cultural information. But in terms of then how to apply that for today. My professor at Gordon Conwell, his name is Walter Kaiser. He taught us something called the ladder of abstraction. And this really, yeah, it’s really helpful. I know it could continue to sounds like something from Dr. Seuss. Right? But so what you do is you take some issue, like for example, when the New Testament says women shouldn’t have hair braids. Yeah, right. And then you try to figure out the ladder abstraction is you go up this ladder from the ancient context to some abstract concept or theory. Yeah. And so you go from hair braiding to what did hair braiding mean? symbolically in the ancient world, and scholars talk about two things. One is possibly showing off wealth kind of flaunting wealth or social life. Yeah, Another possibility is showing your kind of sexual availability. Not sure depending on the context, which one but you go up the ladder of abstraction, you say, don’t don’t advertise your kind of sexuality or that you’re kind of wanting a sexual partner outside of marriage. Or don’t flaunt flaunt your wealth. So you’re at this abstract, and then you climb back down the ladder on the other side, into our world. And you could do this in Bible study and process. Okay, what would that look like today? That might look like not taking like pictures of yourself on Instagram? Like 10 cars? Yeah, you know, something like, they don’t always take your Hawaiian vacation pictures, you know, and show all the fancy things you’re doing. And, yeah, that simple process you can do on almost any text, if you can get a good grasp of what it meant. In a change context, it’s worth getting a group of people together and talking about, okay, how does this apply today? So for example, I’ve been doing stuff on the New Testaments work on how we relate to one another, especially in public. And I’ve been applying that to how we use social media. Okay, and yeah, using some things about peace, the language of peace in Hebrews and and so the New Testament says nothing directly about social media, but it has a lot to say about how we engage with one another in a public space.
Right. Well, and that is so so pertinent right now in our culture, and just how divisive social media can be and and how argumentative and and then I like you’re saying, like, cuz I think most people when they’re reading Paul, they wouldn’t go from hair braids, or even Peter right when he talks about, you know, jewelry and adorn yourself. They don’t jump from that to Oh, yeah, how do my Instagram posts connect to this passage, but they totally do. And you? And I love that. And I’ll just admit it right now on the air, I’m going to steal the letter of abstraction, a ladder of abstraction. And, and I will, I will, I will, you know, note you in class, and I will know Walter Kaiser as well. But that is that’s so helpful, right? Because that’s getting you to a principle. And that really speaks to how we read the Bible in general, right? You know, that it’s not just the words, but it’s getting us to the meaning and the principle that then becomes the application. And that’s, that’s really helpful. And now it’s, you know, I don’t you know, to be honest, I don’t have a ton of social media posts in my life. But it makes me think about, well, how am I using those how, how am I and I love what you’re saying in that research, too, of like, how am I responding to others? And you know, and that’s as a message message for the church right now. My Another thing I wanted to kind of ask you about Paul, and students bring this up all the time. And I think we see it, maybe more in his Corinthian letters. But there seems to be some times where Paul is just saying, Hey, this is just my advice to you. And then sometimes he’s saying this is God speaking to you right like this. How do we how do we understand that knowing like, you know, having a view of biblical inspiration, how do we balance maybe those two and understand when Paul is is he’s maybe speaking for himself? Or when Paul is speaking inspired? You know, the words of God to us?
Yeah, that’s a great question mark, because it kind of raises questions both about what Paul’s doing in his letters and about what what Scripture is. So the first thing to say is, as Paul says himself, All scripture is God breathed. So there’s no part of scripture where we say that’s not really from God. Gotcha. Yeah, yeah. Even the parts where we feel like it seems completely irrelevant. So for example, at the end of the letter, I’ve been just teaching this and of course, he gives greetings. And you know, a friend of mine memorize the whole book of Romans in seminary in English. And he got to Romans 16. And I remember sitting down with him over coffee and he said, should I memorize chapters? Right? Yeah, all these like, Hey, how you doing? But I said, Man, you’ve gotten this far, just finished across the finish line. And as I’ve been studying these little things in Scripture, they They proved to be actually really important. They’re more important than we tend to realize. You know, when you’re talking about Are there times where Paul’s just giving his opinion? And he’s not saying, hey, you have to do this because I’m writing scripture, we have to remember Paul didn’t know he was writing stuff that would be read, right by billions of people. Right. You know, I think I think of the, you know, the Christian pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and he wrote all these personal letters from prison to his friends, including his ministry friend, Eberhard, Becky, and he, you know, he reveals a lot of very personal things. He didn’t know that this would be published by a book company and read by 1000s of people. Same thing with Paul, he didn’t know. So when he’s saying, Hey, this is, you know, from me, not from the Lord. He wasn’t meaning this is not scripture. The church decided his letters were scripture. Yeah, I think what it means is, sometimes he’s giving people advice, that he doesn’t want to be really pushy about. Hmm, yeah. And so he’s maybe being more descriptive than prescriptive or something like that, or kind of nudging them. I still think there’s important things to learn from that, especially on the level of principle. But there are times where, you know, one of the jokes I like to make about, you know, reading Paul’s letters is at the beginning of First Corinthians, he says, You know, I didn’t baptize anybody. And he’s like, okay, except these people. Yeah, I guess so. So it’s kind of funny if you if you try to divide up, okay, is this scripture, but not this, you know, kind of makes a little goof up in there. And that’s okay. It’s still it’s still the way God works through flawed humans. Yeah. Yeah. So I take all of Paul’s we all the church takes all of Paul’s letters as God breathed, inspired. But I think on some occasions, he is more gently encouraging them towards something and other occasions, he’s saying, hey, you don’t want me to bring a big stick? Right? Right. Right. Right, right of discipline, because I’ll do that. Like he kind of Yeah. Whereas with Lehman, he’s more buttering them up. He’s like, oh, you’re wonderful, you know, and Isn’t that right? So I think I see more of those as kind of rhetorical strategies to get, you know, we have this with our kids, right? Where, hey, you know, on this occasion, I’m gonna get them to do what I want. By making them cookies. On this occasion. I’m going to take away screentime right? Yeah, I think it’s, I think it may be some of that.
Yeah, files is kind of saying, hey, if you do this, you get some cookies, or, or I’m gonna have to come over there. And take away your screen. Yeah, take away your screen time. Because Yeah, cuz even in, I was in class talking about First Thessalonians. And there’s a part in there where he, where he says, like, if you reject this, you’re not rejecting me, you’re rejecting God’s, you know, Yasmin. So he’s like, that was a Yeah, I was. I was screentime. That was screentime. Oh, yeah. Then other parts in First Corinthians where it’s like, Hey, this is just me, you know, maybe answering your questions, right, the questions they had about marriage, and, and that, you know, within their culture, and so, but I love the I love the framework you put on that that doesn’t mean parts of the in Paul’s writings are not scripture, right? Not God’s word. And that I think that’s helpful, too. Because I think that’s, that’s the root behind some of the students questions, right is, or if this isn’t from God, then it’s not scripture. And, and yeah, how we approach the entire scripture and how the church understands it. And inspiration really does guide us there and helpful and
we have to understand how radically innovative was Paul’s concept of using letters to teach theology? I give an analogy and one of my books that Imagine you have some, you know, you’re a pastor of a church, which you are, and you have a guest, let’s say you bring me in as a guest preacher, you fly me from Portland, to Sacramento. I’m a guest preacher, I preach, you know, a decent message. And I leave, and I’m sitting at the airport, and I text you and I say, Hey, Mark, I had a great time you say, hey, DJ, thanks for coming in. And I said, I had something else I want you to tell your church. And they say, Okay, great. Go ahead and text it to me. And then you see the three dots going and going, and then I text you 10 pages. Yeah, over text. And you’re like, why would he send me that over text? Yeah. Why would you miss him? Yeah, it seems like a really bizarre medium to use to get across the kind of information like you use text for just a quick, you know, one send message. And here I am sending you 10 pages of text. That would be the cultural equivalent of Paul sending Romans. Yeah, most ancient letters were shorter than five Leeman Yeah. And then you take these, you know, massive letters like First Corinthians, Romans. And it’s actually an innovation in that time scholars have said, it’s a real innovation to say, I’m going to teach theology this way. So we have to take that with the good, which is this very personal way of expressing oneself, along with the challenges, which is trying to figure out what what relates to us directly. And what may be more something where we have to step back and say, is there a bigger principle or theology point or ethical point to take away from this? That’s the challenge of Paul’s letters?
Yeah, and that’s, that’s really good. And it’s such a great analogy. And oftentimes, I don’t think we think about that with Paul using letters, we think, oh, everyone wrote these, like long doctrinal treatises to people. And that is this wasn’t the case. And and I think maybe another challenge that you highlight in your books to specifically maybe with Paul and the language of faith, is how we even understand the words Paul uses, right, and how we are translating that from Greek. And so I’d love to, I’d love for you to talk a little bit about his use of faith and how and how it’s more than often we use it maybe just as belief or mental assert. But how, how is Paul using it? And how is it maybe deeper than that?
Yeah, well, you know, the reason I thought about this is because we often use faith language in a very in your brain kind of way or in your head kind of ways. We have faith statements. We have faith traditions, some people will say, you know, you just take it on faith, which means it’s kind of just a leap into the unknown, right, and, and when I looked at Paul’s letters, so this goes back to a dictionary article, I was asked to write on faith in the whole Bible, and Okay, language in the entire Bible. And so New Testament, I thought I had a pretty good grasp of, but as I started studying the Old Testament and Jewish literature around the time of Jesus and Paul called Second Temple, Jewish literature, I realized faith language had already been used by Jews before the New Testament came along. And it’s interesting that Jews didn’t use faith language to mean a belief system, the way that the way we might use it today. Yeah, they really often used faith language in the way we might think of a covenantal relationship. So in the ancient world, so I call these relationships of Concord, were two people, you know, like Jonathan, and David, you know, make make an agreement, they’re going to look out for each other, they’re gonna take care of each other, they’re going to, they’re going to, you know, be friends, they’re going to help one another out. And you often see this language used both in Jewish literature and in non Jewish literature to refer to relationships of mutuality, Concord, goodwill, expectation, obligation. And once we start thinking in those terms, I argue that basically pistis The Greek word for faith, becomes the way that the early Christians talk about a covenant relationship. Yeah, where just like a marriage to people are kind of knit together. And we see this all over the place in Paul, but, you know, I like the example of Galatians 220. I’ve been crucified Christ and I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by pistis by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me, this this doesn’t just mean hey, I believe these things, I can mark the checklist when I get to the pearly gates, right? It means that I have I have tethered myself you know, to Jesus, and there’s no going back. No turning back. Right? Are you know, it’s it’s kind of like our fates are intertwined. I put all my eggs in this basket, whatever analogy you want to use, there’s, there’s a major relational social element to it. That often gets kind of ignored because we’re so used to hearing faith as something that happens only in kind of theory or in your head. Right?
Yeah. And you you also use the word obeying faith, right? versus believing and with obeying faith. You use another word that I thought was interesting. It’s pre you call it pre obedience. Yeah. And and I love that and I was like, What did he just make up a word is DJ coining a word here? I do. I do sometimes make up words. Yeah, no, that’s good. You have every right to that’s perfect. And but I think it was really helpful. So what, how how, like, what is obeying faith? And then what did what did you mean by pre obedience?
Yeah, so So when I look at Paul’s use of faith language, it’s helpful to nose in in the New Testament general, it’s not neat and simple. You know, there’s some words where you pretty much always use it in the same way, like truck, you’re pretty much always going to use the word truck in the same way. But take a word like love, you can say, I love my children or loved my spouse. Yeah, and, you know, that’s this very intimate thing. But then you also say, like, I love one division, and it’s a TV show that I may forget what it’s about in two years. So you know, or when you like something on Facebook, or you like something on social media, that’s different than saying, like, I like Mac versus PC, like I’m really invested in back more than just like it happens with face language. Sometimes faith can mean, I believe it might rain tomorrow, but sometimes faith can mean like, I’m going to commit myself to this no matter what. And so on the one end of the scale of how it might be used, I call believing faith where it does have to do more with the way we see reality. As in Second Corinthians five, seven, we walk by faith and not by sight. But then on other occasions, it seems to mean something that is more embodied something that is more dynamic in terms of kinetic energy of the person. Yeah, and it’s not exactly action. It’s not exactly obedience, I wouldn’t just combine the terms and say they’re equivalent. Yeah, but I think kind of like a relay race where you’re passing the baton, the baton is not is still in the hands of the first person, right? That would be like, the desire of the thinking. And it hasn’t been handed off to action, that would be like the next person. But it’s kind of in between. So pre obedience would be like, would be like, just when you hand it off, like maybe you’re both touching it, you know, you in the next person are both touching it. And so you know, I think of this maybe, on the one end of spectrum, you have the mind, which creates the thoughts on the other end of the spectrum, on the other end beyond you have action. But then I think it’s something kind of in between, which is the will, right? The will, right? Right, engages more in this person’s commitment to something. Yeah. And I think of that as kind of, okay, the wheel is now moving. And that might be kind of where this kind of pre obedience takes place. I don’t know. It’s it is kind of all all kind of something you kind of make up as you go. But But it seems like pistis can mean faithfulness as well. And his faithfulness and action, is it a thought it’s kind of neither, right? And right now, this is what Bible scholars do, right? Marcus, we sit around, and we say, does this, what does this word mean? Right? Yeah, does this
word really mean? And then we could have long conversations about that. And then we get a makeup words that kind of help. But I really do like that idea of pre obedience that because it is that in between of it’s not action, but it moves you to action, right. So that moves you to action. And so that, you know, I think being able to give it a term actually helps because then now we have that framework, right in our mind. So again, another term I’m gonna steal from you moving forward. So this is a great ladder of abstraction and free obedience. Now, you also, along with all the writing you co edit, are several things, too. And you co edited the state of New Testament studies with Scott McKnight, in 2019, I believe that came out, which I usually would refer to that as last year, because 2020 is kind of a blur. So when I say last year, it means 2019. I wish that and maybe even looking forward to what would you maybe highlight as as maybe one of the most important kind of topics being covered right now and current New Testament scholarship?
Yeah, good question. I’ll mention a couple things. One is what scholars call reception study, reception studies. So often we’re reading the Bible, we read it, and we kind of leap to from from, you know, 8050 to 2021. Right. And we kind of assume nothing happened in between, or not that important happened in between, right, except maybe Luther or something. Right. So when we have questions about what the Bible says, and what it means, excuse me, we might turn to a Scott McKnight to get advice and Scott’s great, obviously, but there were these early Christian themes. logins that wrote tons and tons of stuff about scripture. Yeah, that were kind of like commentaries. They many of them were homily sermons, but they were very commentary like people like john chrysostom, or Theodore, or Theodore of Cyrus, ambrozy astir. And they wrote lots of stuff. And only until recently has that stuff been widely accessible in English. Yeah. And we learn a ton from those patristic theologians. And I’m glad right now a big conversation is what we can learn from early reception history, how the Church of the second, third, fourth century, fifth century, read and interpreted these texts. Why? Because sometimes we have to get of our own culture, our own headspace. Yeah, because we’re used to seeing things in terms of, let’s say, capitalism, individualism. You know, some of the things that have gone on our lives have been very helpful, like thinking about race and gender issues. But in other ways, we just don’t understand that ancient world. And some of these patristic writers who understood it better john chrysostom was a Greek speaking church fathers, we understood the Greek language and that guy better than we do. Yeah, he has lots of great stuff that we can learn from. And so one area that’s really important. So I encourage Christians, even if you’re not, don’t consider yourself academic. There’s a great series called ancient Christian commentaries on scripture, which are from University Press. Yeah. And they give these almost like devotional snippets from patristic writers on biblical texts. You could buy volume on Matthew, and you get kind of their greatest hits. Yeah, math. Yeah. Have you read these before? Mark? Yeah, there’s so helpful. Oh, they’re so great. So I encourage that, because I found that reading the church fathers, which I really didn’t do in seminary, so that wasn’t really going on when I was in seminary, right. It’s really huge right now, I found it just profoundly helpful. I even find it more helpful sometimes in reading modern modern Bible studies. Because they just think so differently. Right. Right. That’s so good. That’s so good. Yeah. A second. A second one I’d mentioned is something called Empire studies. And if you’re not tuned into Biblical Studies, and some kind of, you know, more modern theology stuff, you might not understand what this is. But it’s basically trying to understand how the wider political space of the ancient world affected the experience and worldview of the earliest Christians. Yeah, I feel like we just kind of see Christianity in a bubble in the ancient world, and don’t really care about what was going on behind that kind of dome. But just as today, I’m writing books and things. And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked about in my writings COVID more raised race issues in America, right? Or, I mean, these things come to mind, how can they not right, you can’t just turn that off when you’re writing. Yeah. And so Empire studies is taking seriously that politics, Empire power structures, affects how the early Christians thought. Now some, some theologians say the early Christians were out and out against Empire against Caesar against Rome. Other scholars say no, no. Sometimes they seem to be more Pro, sometimes it’s more against. So there’s all these different ways of looking at it. So I’m not trying to pitch a certain way. But what we can’t do anymore is just ignore it. We can’t just say, oh, it doesn’t matter. It matters as much then as it does now to how we think about what we watch. What grocery store we go to, you know, how we do church. I mean, how we do Church has been affected by whether by pandemic, by Paul right by race. So, you know, I’ve benefited a lot from just reading more about the political world of antiquity. To better understand how does someone like Jesus
navigate being a part of an empire being a part of, you know, and movies like, and books like, Hunger Games, actually help us think through this? Like, yeah, it affects how you live and what you view the end game of God is and how God relates the powers of the world.
Yeah, that’s, that’s so good and so true. And I also teach a class on pop culture, scripture and pop culture and I’m tracking right with you on that. Yeah, we can. We can understand this from our pop culture artifacts to that they they grasped and I particularly think you know, it’s I do find it not interest is the wrong word. But I I’m not surprised that Empire studies would be, would be a focus right now. Because it’s understanding because I think we’re trying to process how do we live in an empire? And how, as a Christian, how do we relate to that? And what is our stance? What is our posture? And maybe what what, what is God really kindness to? And so it’s helpful to think, yeah, the earliest Christians lived in the Roman Empire, you know, and, and you probably experienced this with New Testament intro classes as well. I think it’s in many ways, the first time students realize that Western Civ and the New Testament are overlapped, right? Like, they just kind of think of the Bible characters as separate. And then you give them just a quick Greek Roman history. It’s like, Hey, this is this is the context of the New Testament. And so understanding that I think is, is really helpful. And so I like I really like both of those as a focus the reception studies, especially looking at this patristic view of Scripture and, and understanding culture better than also understanding Empire and, and that effect. And I think that that those two have an ability to get outside of academia. And, and, and the lay person in the church can be like, wow, I can learn from that, you know, learn from that. Well, as we kind of wrap up again, thank you so much for for being on the show. I don’t want to take too much of your time, but I could talk all day about these things. But I also want maybe just wondering, with, with all of the writing, you’re doing what are maybe some new, are you allowed to share any new projects you’re working on? coming up in 2021?
Yeah, for sure. So one thing that’s now done and kind of in production is a New Testament theology for real life. So I took 13 big words, and the New Testament words like life, righteousness, faith, Grace gospel. And I basically say, this is christianese. We don’t use these terms in everyday life like fellowship. Right? You know, I mean, maybe if you know, I’m from Ohio, so we use these terms all the time, because everyone’s in Ohio. Right now. fellowship is just a really often misused and misunderstood term and modern in modern Christian use in terms of how Paul used it. So I take these terms. And I basically say, what would this actually look like? Today? If we tried to understand that the way the biblical writers were trying to explain it, take, for example, the word righteous. I mean, outside of religious terminology, it’s not really used. So it feels very old timey. But it is the normal word that they would use in the world for honesty, integrity. Yeah, respectability. Yeah. Right. So we talk about things like the Ravi Zacharias stuff, or we talk about I have the kind of Christian celebrity cultures, scandals. And the term righteous would fit into what’s needed in those kinds of spaces. Right. I don’t talk about those issues, because I wrote the book A while ago, but yeah, but so it’s called words of life, because I try to say, okay, we sometimes feel this distance when we read the New Testament because of the language that’s used in the New Testament. That’s partly a problem with our translations. I don’t think our translations are bad, but not reflecting the fact that the language in the New Testament by and large is coin a Greek which means the language of everyday speech, right? When we say Hallowed be thy name, we’re not expect 2.8 Greek being the language of the people. So project and I hope that I’ve come out in about a year. I’m, you know, just eager. It’s really written for laypeople for pastors to help them think through how to preach some of these things. Another book I’m writing right now, which I’m teaching a course on is called the women leaders of the earliest Christian churches. Yeah, I don’t know if you remember the the movie. I didn’t read the book, but I don’t remember the movie Hidden Figures. Yeah. And it’s this idea. There were these women in the NASA program that were kind of the brains, mathematicians, the computers. You know, actually, if you read the New Testament carefully, there seem to be these women that were really important to the leadership growth of the church. I’m going to preach I’m going to teach excuse me not preach on junia and Priscilla and Romans 16. Right. One of the last things I say about jr on my lecture is these jeans Nia and Andronicus Romans 16 verse seven. My last slide says, they were not disciples of Paul. They were mentors of Paul. Yeah, he was he says they were in Christ before him, you had to be pretty early in Christian history to pray. Christian, right. And so I say, basically, they are his auntie and uncle. Hmm. Rather than, like, you know, people like Timothy that he mentored. Right. And so there are these hidden there these Hidden Figures throughout the New Testament that you know, how come in high school I never heard about your audience into key or ninfa. Right? Why did no one Tell me about them? Or Phoebe and how Phoebe might have been an important Christian leader. Right? Right. And so I’m writing this book, because I have daughters, and my wife’s a pastor. And, you know, we all have heroes that shape who we are. I, myself am very much impressed with and influenced by these women in the New Testament. And honestly, Mark, their stories just aren’t told often enough. Right? So I’m excited to be doing some research on them.
Oh, that’s so good. Well, I’m now really excited for both of those projects. And, and I can already see even for both of those, but even the last one, like our school, we have a, a women in Scripture class, and always searching for good kind of New Testament resources for that, too. So I could see how that would be a perfect addition for a class like that. So I’ll put it in a good word for you with that, but No, thanks. Again. I’m really excited for those projects and and really have just appreciated your scholarship and your writing, leading up to this and just again, honored that you’d be on the show with us. So thank you so much, and continue to, to keep doing what you’re doing and as really helping other academics. other teachers are the New Testament, and and really impacting and helping others to just again, thank you so much. Thanks, Mark. Appreciate it. Thank you for listening to Jessup. Think Be sure to follow us on Twitter at Jessup think we would love to hear your thoughts on the episode and engage with any questions you have. Our aim is to provide a framework for further reflection and deeper exploration of these important topics. You can also help the show by leaving a review on iTunes these reviews help the podcast reach new listeners. Until next time, I’m Mark Moore and this is Jessup.
If you’re interested in learning more about Jessup, please visit us at jessup.edu. William Jessup is the premier fully accredited four year Christian University in the Sacramento area offering over 60 academic programs in undergraduate and graduate studies designed to see every student equipped and transformed into the leader they are called to be as you go Don’t forget to hit subscribe and share so you never miss an episode. Thanks for joining us for Jessup think.