January 23, 2010

What I'm reading

I'm always reading 4 or 5 books at any given time, so I thought it'd be a good idea to share some of them with the Dojo readers.

Right now I'm reading "New Testament Theology" by the late Oxford scholar G.B. Caird. The book carries a hefty price tag, but you can access much of it for free HERE. Caird was one of the greatest NT scholars who ever lived and has influenced many of the top scholars in the field today. His commentary on Revelation (now out of print) is one of the best I've ever read. And reading "New Testament Theology" is like sitting in a seminary classroom once again. The way Caird wove together the overall teaching of the NT on various topics is nothing short of majestic. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:

The will of God is, as we have seen, an ambiguous concept. It is interesting therefore to find the distinction between God's antecedent and His consequent will draqwn, though without technical terms, in the Marcan debate about divorce (10:1-9). Moses permitted divorce, and Jesus never for a moment suggests that he was wrong to do so; the Law of Moses is God's Law. But the commandment in questions (Deut. 24:1-4) was given in consequence of human hardness of heart to protect the rights of women and the institutions of marriage and family. Jesus penetrates behind the positive Law to the intention of God the Creator that man and woman should live together in lifelong partnership. He is not initiating a new and harsher Law, but is insisting that the Torah will be wrongly interpreted unless it is constantly referred back to the intention of God who gave it. [p.47]

Jesus is first left with the Twelve, doubtful even of their allegiance, and is then deserted by them so that in the end he stands alone; and the whole world, including the disciples, stands under the judgment of having rejected the light or of having received it with only a half-hearted faith. it is at this point that Jesus' hour arrives, when he must realize the judgment of God, not by executing it on others, but by bearing it himself. If their condition is such that they cannot come to the light and so join him where he abides in the bosom of the Father, he can join them where they are, under the judgment of God and in the death which is the wages of sin...By accepting a death in which he could be identified with sinful men and women, Jesus drew all into the unity of his own person, so that the judgment by light, under which the world stood utterly condemned, became instead the means of the world's salvation; and Satan, who appeared to have won a total victory, entitling him to claim possession of all unbelieving humanity, suffered instead a total defeat. [pp.79-80]

He [Satan] tempts people to do wrong, not because it is wrong, but because it appears to be right. [p.110]

To be pardoned by God is to live no longer by one's merits buy by His grace. Those who insist on dealing with others according to their deserts betray their own inability to comprehend the meaning of grace and therefore their incapacity to receive pardon. The forgiving spirit is a condition not of God's offer of pardon but of our receiving it. To refuse to forgive is to refuse to be forgiven. The elder brother must share the feast with the prodigal, not have one to himself. [p.116]

...in all the annals of human vice, no power is as destructive or demonic as perverted sincerity. [p.147]

Retaliation wins a victory for wrongdoing, by recruiting the victim into the army of hatred and violence. Wrong propagates itself by chain-reaction, and can be stopped in its career only by someone who absorbs it and lets it go no further. [p.156]

In the death of Christ the love of God has been manifested, but only in order to be shared. [p.161]

The ongoing process of salvation is the progressive appropriation in the experience of believers, individual and corporate, of all that had been accomplished once for all in the representative and inclusive person of Christ. [p.179]

I'm only halfway through the book, but these are just a few gems that have been mined from this work which is, in my opinion, the best book on NT theology as a whole that I've ever read. I commend it to everyone who wants to gain a clearer and more profound grasp of the message in the 27 books that we call the New Testament!

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