I’m moving to a new writing spot

Hello, just wanted to give a quick update. I’m moving where I write to Tabletalk Theology because the name is less clunky and better conveys what I’m hoping to accomplish with these posts. I’m going to be posting the review post of Joel B. Green’s The Theology of the Gospel of Luke over there shortly, so please take a look!

Thanks,

Joe

Following Jesus as Faithful Readers of Matthew’s Gospel

matthew as storyLast time, we looked at Mark as Story1, which introduces readers to the main elements of narrative criticism: narrator, setting, plot, character, and rhetoric. Despite having some flaws, it’s a solid introduction. As we discuss our next book, Jack Kingsbury’s Matthew as Story2, I’m tempted to once again dive into the nitty gritty details of narrative criticism, exploring how these features function in Matthew’s Gospel. Such a rehashing of the same topics would get pretty repetitive, though. Therefore, I’m going take things in a slightly different direction this time, turning from how the narrator crafts the story and looking more at the role of the reader in responding to the narrator’s work.

One of the more interesting parts of narrative criticism is the concept of the “implied reader.” Kingsbury explains that the implied reader is not a literal flesh-and-blood person. Rather, the implied reader is:

[A]n imaginary person who is to be envisaged, in perusing Matthew’s story, as responding to the text at every point with whatever emotion, understanding, or knowledge the text ideally calls for. Or to put it differently, the implied reader is that imaginary person in whom the intention of the text is to be thought of as always reaching its fulfillment. (p.38)

Continue reading “Following Jesus as Faithful Readers of Matthew’s Gospel”

The Gospels as Stories: Narrative Analysis in Mark

mark as storyMark as Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel is a classic within its field. Originally written in 1982, it helped introduce narrative criticism to the world of Gospel studies, and in the years since, it has become widely influential. Despite a few weaknesses, Mark as Story does an admirable job of explaining the elements of narrative criticism in a concise and accessible way.

From one angle, narrative criticism can be understood as nothing more than a formalized method of being an attentive reader. One doesn’t have to be heavily involved in literary theory to find things like character development and plot structure interesting. However, discussions of literary criticism can sometimes be unhelpfully abstract. Mark as Story helps deal with that; in many ways, it is more like a case study than a commentary. The authors note in the preface that, “We are not so much trying to give an interpretation of Mark—though of course we do that—as we are endeavoring to show how narrative analysis can illuminate a text, using Mark as our example” (p.xi). Continue reading “The Gospels as Stories: Narrative Analysis in Mark”

What’s Coming up (a Few Ideas)

Up until now, most of the posts on here have basically followed along with whatever reading I’ve happened to be doing, without much of a long-term plan in mind. Doing reviews like this suits me well since it allows me to move between disparate subjects, following my interests. However, I’ve also started wanting to do more in-depth studies once in a while. Therefore, I have a few ideas in mind that I’m excited to share for others to see (and potentially give feedback on). Here we go: Continue reading “What’s Coming up (a Few Ideas)”

Welcoming the Stranger: Christine Pohl on Christian Hospitality

making roomHenri Nouwen once observed that for many today, the term hospitality conjures up images of, “Tea parties, bland conversation, and a general atmosphere of coziness.”1 While I’m all for a “general atmosphere of coziness,” Christine Pohl’s book, Making Room: Recovering Hospitality as a Christian Tradition 2 has helped me realize that practicing Christian hospitality entails going beyond inviting close friends over for warm food and deep conversation. In Making Room, Pohl persuasively demonstrates both the centrality of hospitality as a practice throughout church history and that authentically Christian hospitality includes caring for strangers and other vulnerable people. She comments that, “Hospitality, because it was such a fundamental human practice, always included family, friends, and influential contacts. The distinctive Christian contribution was the emphasis on including the poor and neediest, the ones who could not return the favor” (p.6).

Of course, Pohl understands that this is easier said than done. She writes that, “Recovering the tradition of hospitality suggests the ironic possibility that in revitalizing an ancient practice, we may discover some radical and fresh responses to contemporary difficulties” (p.8). Ours is not the first generation to grapple with challenges to being hospitable. Pohl begins by exploring the historical roots of hospitality as a Christian tradition. Continue reading “Welcoming the Stranger: Christine Pohl on Christian Hospitality”

C.S. Lewis, Virtue Ethics, and Maturing in Christ

mere christianityIn the Christian world at least, C.S. Lewis really needs no introduction. Oxford don, creator of Narnia, friend of J.R.R. Tolkien, and seen by many as one of the most intelligent, articulate, and beloved Christian thinkers of the 20th century. Believers from a wide range of traditions look up to him, and usually want to see him on their side of an argument. In one of his most famous works, Mere Christianity1, which developed out of a series of radio lectures Lewis delivered during the 1940’s, he attempts to introduce and defend what he calls, “mere Christianity.” A term adopted from the 17th century Puritan pastor Richard Baxter2. In the preface, Lewis explains:

The reader should be warned that I offer no help to anyone who is hesitating between two Christian ‘denominations’. You will not learn from me whether you ought to become and Anglican, a Methodist, a Presbyterian, or a Roman Catholic. I am a very ordinary layman of the Church of England, not especially ‘high’, nor especially ‘low’, nor especially anything else…Ever since I became a Christian I have thought that the best, perhaps the only, service I could do for my unbelieving neighbours was to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times (p. VIII).

Continue reading “C.S. Lewis, Virtue Ethics, and Maturing in Christ”

The Summer Reading List: 2015 Edition

I suppose the most ironic thing about forming a “summer reading list” is the small detail that, no longer being a college student and working full time, I’m no freer during the summer than any other time of the year. Nonetheless…

It still makes my heart happy to come across other people (teachers, headmasters, professors, or students) who, being giddy with the prospect reading time arriving thanks to the summer months, put together a list of the books that they hope to get through over the next couple of months. It makes for a good mix of ambition, hope, and an unashamed affection for literature (which is awesome, duh). So, this post is in large part inspired by Chris Marchand’s 2013 summer reading list. When autumn arrives and masses of people reluctantly return to their classes, I will hopefully be able to look back and see my reading efforts as reasonably successful. So, off we go (hurrah for books!) Continue reading “The Summer Reading List: 2015 Edition”