Tag Archives: Scot McKnight

Wright talks about Philemon & Frye talks about Jesus and Women

Go here for a remarkable sermon by N.T. Wright on Paul’s letter to Philemon (there is both an audio and a video option–it’s just over 14 minutes long).  I just read Philemon a couple of times last week (it’s very short).  Afterwards I thought, “OK, Paul is embracing this former slave as a brother, but I’m not sure what else this letter is about.”  Wright does a nice job elucidating.  (It’s also an example in the value of being familiar with the historical context of a passage.)

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John Frye, in his post “Jesus and Expectations: Part 7- Women“:

Whatever the debate is today, it is undeniable that Jesus had very liberal views and relationships with women in his 1st century Jewish culture. Whatever his culture’s boundary markers were, he broke them. I will present three episodes of Jesus’ relationship to women. (Link)

The three episodes are Jesus speaking “publicly and theologically” to the Samaritan woman at the well (in John chapter 4); the prostitute who anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume (in Luke chapter 7); and Mary anointing Jesus with myrrh (inMark chapter 14).  John ends the post with this:

Jesus’ relationship to women did not follow the cultural scripts. Neither does the Gospel follow cultural scripts. The Gospel liberates women to their rightful place with their brothers in the work of the kingdom of God. Phoebe was a leader, a deacon. Junia was an outstanding apostle. Priscilla was an effective discipler of Apollos. Many other women were co-workers, not sub-workers, with Paul in the ministry of the Gospel. It all got started with Jesus. (Link)

What has been interesting the learn in the last couple of years is that it’s not only Jesus’ words that are his teaching, but also his actions.  Both his teaching and living are theological.  (And, once again, a fine example of the necessity of being familiar with context.)

Like John does in the post, I highly recommend Scot McKnight’s book The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible.  I grew up in what was officiallycomplementarian home (I’ll let Wikipedia explain the term), though it wasn’t something I saw in practice very often.  Over the years I’ve slowly moved away from that view, and McKnight’s book was the proverbial nail in the coffin for any remaining complementarianism (I think).

(McKnight’s book is not, incidentally, about gender roles and the church or, for that matter, about the symbolism of Jesus’ actions.  The book is about how we read the Bible; women in church ministry is his chosen case study for that reading.)

McKnight on translation tribalism

Scot McKnight has started a series of posts on “Translation Tribalism”: 1 and 2 (so far).

From the second post:

the authority is the original text, not the translation. The original texts are in Hebrew and Aramaic (Old Testament) and Greek (New Testament). The authoritative text is not in English, regardless of how accurate the translation. No matter which translation you prefer, it is not the authoritative text for determining which translation is best.

unless you can read the original languages, you should avoid making public pronouncements about which translation is best. Instead, here’s my suggestion: if you don’t know the languages and can’t read them well enough to translate accurately on your own but you want to tell your congregation or your listeners which translate is best, you need to admit it by saying something like this: “On the basis of people I trust to make this decision, the ESV or the TNIV or the NRSV or the NLT is a reliable translation.” [Emphasis McKnight’s]

As an example, he mentions the translation of the Greek word adelphos in James 3:1, which is variously translated “brothers” and “brothers and sisters”.  Says McKnight:

which one best represents the intent of the original Greek, which has the Greek word adelphos? Unless you know what adelphos means in Greek, in the broad swath of the New Testament’s use of adelphos and how it is used in the Greek-speaking (not to mention Hebrew-reading world) and about how James uses the word adelphos, any judgment is rooted in theology or theory but not in evidence. If you don’t know the Greek, avoid standing in judgment. I’m not trying to be a hard-guy or an elitist, but let’s be honest: only those who know Latin should be talking about which is the “best” translation of Virgil or only those who know Middle High German should be weighing in on the “best” translation of The Nibelungenlied. This isn’t elitist; it’s common sense.

Well said and a good reminder, particularly his argument that any opinion of a translation not based on an understanding of the original languages is based on an alreadygiven theology which requires a particular translation.

More biblical than the Bible

Scot McKnight on the issue of alcohol (but it could apply to any issue):

It seems every year someone brings up the Bible and alcohol (the drinking kind)…What I find every year in this conversation is a serious, but repeated mistake. The tack is this: If I take a stand more “biblical than the Bible,” then I can’t be wrong. That is, if I choose not to drink at all, I will keep myself from sin and all appearance of evil and will be safe. This is what I call the sin of “zealotry” — the belief that if we are more extreme than the Bible, then we can’t be wrong. Wrong.

If God is God, and if God speaks to us in the Bible, then God spoke words that show that wine drinking is fine. One may choose not to drink, but that view is more extreme than what the Bible says. Drinking too much is contrary to the Bible, but not drinking at all is not what the Bible teaches (except for ascetic strands at time). 

But, let’s not fall for the idea that being more biblical than the Bible is safe ground. Extremism is not righteousness; extremism is zealotry. Trust that what God says is what God wants.  (Link)