The Opening and Closing of the Letter to Philemon

September 19, 2017

As is common in ancient letters from the first century, the letter to Philemon has an identifiable opening (vv. 1-3) and closing (at least 23-25, some say 19-25). Though brief, they are significant for several reasons. First, they introduce us to the people connected to this letter. This includes not only the letter’s primary author […]


The Narrative World of the Letter to Philemon

September 11, 2017

This brief letter contains its own narrative world. What it offers is partial, often ambiguous (to us), but nonetheless profound. I begin this series on Philemon by simply (though it is not all that simple) observing the world this letter evinces. Backstory Paul’s letter presumes a relationship with Philemon who was, presumably, the host of […]


On Reading Philemon

September 7, 2017

Philemon is a brief letter with only 335 words in the Greek text, and it appears in the New Testament without any specific context. Philemon and Onesimus, the main characters in the letter’s story, are unknown elsewhere in the New Testament. Many, if not most of the details, are lost to us as readers to […]


The Power of a Biblical Story

August 6, 2015

Bible stories. Many of us have heard them since we were children. Daniel and the Lion’s Den. Noah’s Ark. Three Angels Visiting Abraham. Moses and the Burning Bush. David and Goliath. And many more! Bible stories are important. They do more than tweak the emotions or offer a moralism, as important as those dimensions are. […]


1 Peter 1:10-12 — Prophets and Angels, and the Rest of the Story

June 4, 2015

Elect exiles, scattered across the Roman provinces of modern Turkey, are the heirs of Israel’s story, which means they participate in the trajectory of not only Israel’s history but also its hopes. Significantly, the “salvation” in which believers rejoice is what Israel, through its prophets, anticipated. The living hope and future inheritance—“this salvation”—in which believers […]


The Gospel of Mark: On Reading a Gospel as Scripture

August 23, 2011

How do we read a Gospel as Scripture? By “Gospel” I mean the literary genre itself. A Gospel announces good news and our canonical Gospels locate this good news in Jesus, particularly his ministry, death and resurrection. It has been common for modern readers to think of the Gospels as primarily or fundamentally history or […]


Theology? Doctrine? Whatever…. (SBD 2)

May 6, 2009

A few introductory comments on the definition and function of theology…… Systematic Biblical Doctrine That’s the title of the course I will teach this Maymester at the undergraduate level for Lipscomb University. I don’t particularly like it. Here’s why. “Doctrine” rings hollow at best for most students (especially at the undergraduate level) and creates hostile […]


“It Ain’t That Complicated” — Applied Theological Hermeneutics III

August 7, 2008

Fortunately for us, Paul’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 do not stand alone. In another letter to the Corinthians, chapters 8 & 9 of what we call 2 Corinthians, Paul felt compelled to further encourage the Corinthians to follow through on their commitment to the poor saints in Jerusalem. This is fortunate because we have a wonderful opportunity […]


Theological Hermeneutics IX — Outline of a Method

July 3, 2008

Okay, maybe I’m not ready to go with the intensely practical as yet….my bad!  But I think the following methodological outline of a theological hermeneutic is a fairly simple one.   I will wait for the “rubber-meets-the-road” kind of ecclesiological discussions of the theological hermeneutic (which is, historically, what really interests the heirs of the Stone-Campbell […]


Theological Hermeneutics VI — Divine Presence and Assembly (Redemptive-Historical Example)

June 16, 2008

With this post, I will lay down my keyboard for a few weeks on this topic as I leave Friday or Saturday for a week vacation without electronics.  But I will continue this series again upon my return.  I envision six or seven more articles on “theological hermeneutics” and then a new series on “applied” theological […]