Esteban Vazquez tagged me in this. I don’t normally do these sorts of things, but
Five Fact About Myself
- When I was 18, my friends and I started a college and high school ministry at our church that met every Saturday night and it grew into a massive event in just a few weeks. It wasn’t until years after we stopped doing it that we realized that we had accidentally started a mega-church that thankfully ceased to exist.
- I used to be a soccer fan but lost interest when I met a girl in South America who had been robbed at gun point during a soccer riot. The sport, literally, became instantly unappealing. I’m still not sure why. I’ve been punched in the face outside of a burger joint and I still love burgers.
- For a brief time, I lived like it was the 80s by being a pizza delivery guy and training in Okinawan karate. All I needed was a synthesizer theme song.
- I once participated in a police chase wherein a driver tried to crash into me head on and I avoided said person at the last possible second. I chased the person while I was on the phone with the police who had received similar calls and helped them corner the driver.
- I read a book on electricity from the library as a six year old and nearly killed myself when doing experiments on circuit completion with a wall socket and some wire.
Answers to Five Questions
- Identify your chief area of expertise and three works that you consider to be of primary importance for it.
Honestly, I have no area of expertise. My days as a budding New Testament scholar are long past. But my main focus is the relationship between Paul and the Jesus traditions (and secretly between the gospels and Paul). But here are three books that have been helpful for me in this area: Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity by David Wenham, The Sayings of Jesus in the Churches of Paul by David Dungan, and The Faithfulness of Jesus Christ by Richard Hays.
- Name three writers (academic, spiritual, literary) whose works have had a formative influence on your thinking.
Academic: David de Silva, his work in bringing ancient cultural norms to bear on New Testament interpretation is excellent.
Spiritual: Dallas Willard helped me to see that the New Testament, despite being a series of disparate documents has a coherent moral vision that was meant to be applied on the ground. He managed to do this as a philosopher who engaged not only with the big questions (what is reality, how can we know, what is goodness ,etc), but also as a critic of contemporary evangelicalism. He introduced me to a great deal of older spiritual writers as well. A great deal of books about the Christian life that have the most insight into human psychology and day to day life are completely devoid of competent interpretation of Scripture and a great deal of literature that interprets the New Testament well is devoid of any sense of day-to-day life. Willard avoided both errors.
Literary: The poetry of George Herbert has wielded a great deal of influence in how I preach and teach and think about preaching and teaching.
- You have the extraordinary opportunity to settle or correct, universally and definitively, three particularly grievous misunderstandings about your area(s) of study. Which three do you choose to address?
- The silly idea that Paul did not care what Jesus said or did other than the crucifixion and resurrection events.
- The equally silly notion that Paul’s gospel was irreconcilably dissimilar from what Jesus preached.
- The much, much more silly notion that passages such as Romans 1:1-7 cannot be representative of Paul’s actual preaching because it’s clearly a prior tradition despite the fact that Paul admits in Galatians and 1-2 Corinthians that he wishes for his teaching to comport with that of the earliest apostles. This matters because Romans 1:1-7 is a sort of abstract of Paul’s preaching that also functions as an abstract of the four gospels.
- Adapted from Pivot/Lipton: What profession other than your own would you like, or not like, to attempt?
- I’m currently a teacher of no great amount of skill. I would love to attempt being an engineering consultant. I love problem solving with data I’ve never seen before.
- I would not like to attempt anything involving electricity.
- Last but certainly not least, Moisés Silva: great biblical scholar, or the greatest biblical scholar?
I have only one of his books: God, Language, and Scripture. It’s pretty good, so he is at least a good biblical scholar. I’ve always been partial to David Alan Black’s take on linguistics and biblical languages though. Honestly, I think I could learn a great deal from Silva, but my reading has been sorely limited since I became a teacher. I rarely read more than 60 books a year.