Book Review – “A Man Attested by God” by Daniel Kirk (part 8 – “Son of God” in Matthew)

Thanks for stopping by my blog! I have been thoroughly enjoying Daniel Kirk’ssaintmatthew.JPG newest book, A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels. Overall his thesis is proving to be extremely persuasive as well as a welcome addition to the many scholarly voices on Christology these days. Today I will discuss the section entitled “Son of God in Matthew,” which is the final section in the second chapter. As per my custom, I will summarize and review Kirk’s arguments in bullet points while adding a few comments and observations of my own in italics.

  • Son of God for Matthew’s implied readers – Kirk rightly notes that those who read and obey the teachings of Jesus contained within Matthew’ Gospel may authentically regard God as their heavenly Father, thus making them sons (and daughters) of God. In other words, the father-son terminology is not reserved for Jesus alone but is used of the Church which seeks to follow the words of Jesus as outlined by Matthew. How can the title “son of God” be a persuasive reference for divinity or even the divine side of the later doctrine of the two natures?
  • Hosea 11:1 – The first reference to Jesus’ sonship is in a citation from Hosea 11:1 used in reference to Jesus leaving Egypt as a child. The phrase “Out of Egypt I have called my son” originally referred to God’s election and rescue of the nation of Israel during the Exodus event. In Matthew, however, Jesus is the fulfilment (dare I say, embodiment) of Israel, and Exod 4:22-23 clearly regards Israel is son of God. Jesus is thus regarded typologically as the new Israel (son of God), a nod to Exodus’s title used of the nation in regard to their election.
  • Baptism – Matthew, like Mark and Luke, places heavy emphasis on Jesus’ baptism where he is identified (and anointed) as the messianic son of God. Jesus submits himself to John’s baptism in solidarity with the rest of Israel. Kirk sees in this narrative hints that Matthew may even by pointing to Jesus as the new Isaac, drawing attention particularly to the language of “my beloved son” from Gen 22:2, 12. I still think more can be made out of the baptism/anointing of Jesus as the messianic son of God, an event alluded to later in the Gospel (21:25) in order to answer a question about Jesus’ self-understood authority to enact prophetic signs of judgment in the temple. If son of God is a messianic (kingly) title then the baptism allowed others to hear the voice from heaven designate Jesus as the kingly son of God, one who because he is the king possesses legitimate authority over the temple (cf 2 Sam 7:13).
  • Johannine bolt from the sky – The reference in 10:22 to Jesus full knowledge of the Father is not due to, according to Kirk, ontological unity with the Father or Jesus’ supposed preexistence in heaven. Nothing in the text indicates a coequal or omniscient relationship between the Father and Jesus ( esp. 24:36 discussed below). Rather, it is best understood in light of Israel’s kings and prophets sometimes regarded to possess exclusive divine knowledge. Kirk helpfully notes that there is a major narrative emphasis in Matthew regarding the people’s ability to recognize God’s authorized agents. He offers examples drawn from his research in the first chapter of the book regarding idealized human figures who were admitted into heavenly/sacred space: Moses (Heb 8:5), Isaiah (Isa 6), and Zechariah (Zech 3). This further indicates that Matthew regards Jesus as the authentic revealer of the Father, thereby making the words of Jesus important for Matthew’s readers to faithfully observe and retain.
  • Peter’s confession – The chief apostle gets an A+ for correctly answering the question regarding Jesus’ identity as revealed in Matthew. Peter declares that Jesus is the Christ, the son of the living God (redacting and further clarifying the remark made in Mark’s Gospel). Again, both “Christ” and “son of God” are parallel titles (cf Psa 2:2, 7). Jesus further notes that the Father in heaven has revealed this information to Peter. If the Father revealed this information to Peter, it should be sufficient christological information. No further revelatory data is required, such as Jesus being the second member of the so-called triune godhead.
  • Jesus walks on water – It is often suggested that Jesus walking on water, claiming ego eimi, and receiving worship as the son of God points to a divine status. Kirk rightly notes that Psa 89:25 regards the Davidic king as genuinely empowered by God to calm the seas of chaos (just as Moses and Joshua split the waters). Kirk also notes that Peter also walked on water, and this does not make him divine. The claim by Jesus to ego eimi is a simple affirmative phrase “it is I” and nothing more in the text of Matthew indicates that it should be read any other way. As for Jesus being worshipped, this is reminiscent of David the human king being given prostration from the people in 1 Chron 29:20. I also suspect that Jesus possessing authority over the created realm makes him out to be an Adam figure, as Adam was given authority and kingship over the created realm in Gen 1:27-28. This authority is explicitly mentioned at the end of the Gospel, where God gives authority to Jesus (28:18). Admittedly, Adam is not a key figure in Mathew as he is in Luke, but he seems to be an example of Kirk’s idealized human figures relevant for this particular account.
  • No one knows the day nor the hour – Kirk also notes the important passage in Matt 24:36 where Jesus admits that he does not possess knowledge of the moment of his second coming. Even as the empowered and authorized revealer of the Father, Jesus nevertheless bears limitations to what he knows. The Father clearly possesses knowledge and understanding above the son of God. It should also be noted that Matthew redacts Mark and adds the adjective “alone” to the Greek text, further clarifying that only the Father possesses this knowledge.

After summarizing the data presented by Matthew, Kirk offers a quotable observation worthy of sharing:

Even where we might see Matthew’s Jesus pushing us to recognize aspects of idealized human Christology not fully enunciated or depicted in Mark, we nevertheless find ourselves dealing with a human Jesus and not, yet, incarnate God” (p. 258)

Tomorrow I will begin to work through chapter 3 wherein the “Son of Man” is the focus in the three Synoptic Gospels. Let me know in the comments below what you think of Kirk’s reconstruction of “Son of God” in the Gospel of Matthew. Thanks for stopping by!

Book Review – “A Man Attested by God” by Daniel Kirk (part 7 – “Son of God” in Luke’s Gospel)

saintlukeHappy Labor Day and welcome to my seventh post containing my reviews and thoughts on Daniel Kirk’s newest volume, A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels. Having taken a few days off to enjoy a wild weekend of college football and to observe my religious duties, I will today present on the section entitled “Son of God, Son of David, Son of Adam in Luke.” As per my custom, I will summarize his arguments in bullet points while adding a few comments of my own in italics.

  • Starting point – Luke redacts Mark, thereby using Mark’s christology as a foundation. Kirk suggests that Luke “takes the opportunity to clarify and/or reaffirm that son of God connotes messiah.” Luke does not redact Mark in any manner which indicates that he disagreed or desired to elevate the christological identity of Jesus.
  • Announcement of Jesus’ birth – Gabriel declares to Mary that Jesus will be the son of the Most High and that the Lord God would bestow upon him the throne of his ancestor David (in fulfillment of 2 Sam 7:12-16). Thus, Jesus is the human descendant of King David while also being declared to be son of God. In other words, Jesus is a lineal descendant of David, and Yahweh is not the son of David.
  • Luke 1:35 – God is the actual father of Jesus in a manner which, according to Kirk, is “creational rather than incarnational.” The act of the spirit hovering over Mary is akin to the original Genesis creation where the spirit hovered over the waters (Gen 1:2). In this way, a new being is being formed at this birth and is to be understood as an act of new creation. This makes the spirit of God the creative force enabling the coming into existence of Jesus in the womb of Mary (and if the Son of God came into existence, then he did not personally preexist).
  • Baptism – The voice from heaven declares that Jesus is the anointed son of God (or as Kirk puts it, “God’s human agent”).
  • Genealogy – After the account of the baptism Luke strategically places the genealogical record of Jesus, tracing his lineage back to Adam. Adam is called explicitly the “son of God” and Kirk takes this reference subsequent to the baptismal announcement that Jesus is God’s son as a clear indicator that Luke possesses an Adam christology. Son of God, in reference to Jesus, is therefore both Adamic and Davidic.
  • Temptation narrative – Satan tempts Jesus in three different attempts (“If you are the son of God…”) in a manner which sheds insight on the nature of this important title. The temptations are not out to get Jesus to question if he actually possessed some preexistent, divine ontology with God. Rather, they clarify for the reader that son of God is the title for the office of Israel’s messiah, the one who represents and typifies Israel. Jesus demonstrates himself faithful to the messianic vocation, succeeding where Israel as a nation failed. Furthermore, God cannot be tempted, but Jesus was indeed tempted. Why would the Devil tempt Jesus if Jesus was the Creator of the Devil?
  • Demons – The demons possess supernatural understanding that Jesus is both the son of God and the agent of the coming judgment. Jesus silences them “because they knew that he was the Christ” – Luke 4:41. Therefore, Jesus’ encounter with the demons again clarifies that “son of God” means “messiah” for Luke.
  • Transfiguration – Kirk notes that Luke goes out of his way to portray this event in light of a Moses/Exodus framework. Note the following parallels:
    • Luke changes Mark’s six days of waiting to eight days, likely to portray Jesus in light of the Israelite firstborn sons dedicated on the eighth day (according to Exodus 13 and 22)
    • Luke also changes Mark’s glowing and luminous Jesus by adding the fact that Jesus’ face also glowed, a clear allusion to Moses’ face shining the glory of God (Exodus 34)
    • Luke 9:31 speaks of Jesus’ exodus (τὴν ἔξοδον), rendered as “departure” in most translations
    • The voice from the cloud declares that Jesus is God’s “elect one” – indicating that he is chosen by God likely along the lines of corporate representation of Israel’s chosen human beings (like David)
  • The Johannine bolt from the sky – Luke 10:21-24 speaks of the intimate knowing between the Father and Jesus the son. Kirk rightly notes that this needs to be read in light of Luke’s theology, wholly detached from influence of the Fourth Gospel. The passage does not demand that the messianic secret, brought over from Mark’s Gospel, entails that Jesus is identified as Israel’s God. Rather, Jesus is the one who discloses and reveals the Father. In other words, Jesus reveals the Father to whomever he desires (reminiscent of Moses and the Israelite prophets).
  • The trial of Jesus – When Jesus is placed before the priests on Thursday night before his crucifixion the questions all regard the identification of the messianic office. The titles “Christ” and “Son of God” are parallel queries (just as they are in Psa 2:2, 7).

In sum, Kirk skillfully and persuasive demonstrates that Luke regards Jesus as the idealized human messiah, plump with Adamic, Davidic, and Israelite echoes of the title “Son of God.” In regard to Luke’s christology, Kirk aptly states that:

“the high Christology of Luke fits well within the paradigm of Jesus as an idealized human figure who takes up the primordial call to rule the entirety of the created order on God’s behalf.” (p.236)


Let me know in the comments below what you think of Kirk’s reconstruction of “Son of God” in the Gospel of Luke.

Book Review – “A Man Attested by God” by Daniel Kirk (part 6 – “Son of God” in Mark)

saintmark.JPGThis is post number six in my ongoing series containing my reviews and thoughts on Daniel Kirk’s newest volume, A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels. Today we will start your Labor Day weekend examining Kirk’s second chapter – “Son of God as Human King.” In particular, I will focus on the Gospel of Mark, the first document Kirk discusses in this chapter. As has been my custom in these reviews, I offer a few bullet points covering his arguments along with a few comments of my own in italics.

  • The Christology of Mark needs to be read on its own terms, particularly outside of the lens of the Fourth Gospel. I would be interested in testing Kirk’s idealized human figure hypothesis on the christological claims and statements within the Gospel of John, but that will likely require another 600+ page book from him (here’s hoping).
  • Kirk builds a overall persuasive argument noting the internal structure of Mark in which Jesus is proclaimed as “Son of God” in three key moments of the narrative: at his baptism, at the Transfiguration, and upon the cross by the Gentile centurion. Thematically, these three episodes share, broadly, many elements, actions, and phrases, suggesting that the writer deliberately placed them there for structural and theological reasons. Each of these episodes contain:
    • a voice claiming that Jesus is the Son of God
    • a reference to Elijah
    • the act of ripping (heavens, cloud, temple curtain)
    • a reference to the Spirit/spirit
    • an associated meaning with Jesus’ death
    • a key linking with Jesus’ kingship
  • Mark’s Gospel opens with a YHWH quotation from Isaiah seemingly used with Jesus as “Lord” instead. However, Kirk has already demonstrated in the previous chapter that this manner of using texts from the Hebrew Bible also appears at Qumran without any hint that those persons were claiming to be YHWH himself.
  • Jesus is empowered with the Spirit at his baptism. Many other human figures in the Hebrew Bible were similarly empowered. Furthermore, the voice from heaven proclaiming the sonship of Jesus, if indeed echoing language from Psalm 2, makes Jesus out to be an anointed king distinguished from and wholly subordinate unto YHWH.
  • Jesus proclaims the kingdom of God as gospel and performs deeds/miracles, such as healings and exorcisms, which verify the preaching of God’s rule.
  • Mark places considerable stress in regarding Jesus as the royal king of God’s kingdom, but a king whose path to kingship first involves rejection, suffering, and death. This emphasis, of course, is not initially understood by the disciples. That is why they are called the “duh-sciples” because they just dont get it. =)
  • Jesus is said to one day return “in the glory of his Father” (8:38), indicating a measure of an agent invested in the glory of the one who sends him. This glory, not surprisingly, appears in the following episode’s vision of the Transfiguration. Kirk rightly notes that Dan 12:2-3 regards those who are bodily resurrected to the life of the age to come as shining in luminous glory, and this image is the appropriate way in which to understand the glowing Jesus at the Transfiguration (cf also Moses’ veiled face from God’s glory). Kirk suggests the appearance of Moses and Elijah at this event is indicative that they had been exalted to heaven. I prefer to see the Transfiguration as a vision of the resurrected (per Dan 12:2-3) glory of Jesus accompanied by Moses and Elijah, both bodily resurrected from the grave. Matthew redacts this account and has Jesus clearly stating that it is a “vision” (Matt 17:9) and the fact that the episode subsequently follows a statement about a few disciples witnessing the kingdom of God further points me in this interpretive direction. But I digress…
  • Kirk draws attention to some nice parallels between Jesus at the Transfiguration and Moses ascending to the mountain:
    • Both encountered God on the mountain
    • Both brought three witnesses (Peter, James, John with Jesus; Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu with Moses)
    • Both waited six days before ascending to the mountain
    • Both come into contact with God in a cloud
    • Both appear to be glorified or bearing a piece of God’s glory
  • The titles “Son of God” and “Son of Man” appear to overlap and offer similar roles of rejection before exalted kingship. Furthermore, these are not thinly veiled indicators of divinity and humanity (in the sense of the later doctrine of the two natures of Christ).
  • Plutarch recounts how Caesar’s death resulted in cosmic signs, particularly the sun being blocked. Since Caesar (and his successors) were widely regarded and worshiped by the imperial cult as “Son of God,” Mark’s insistence that Jesus’ death resulted in “darkness falling over the land at the sixth hour” of Good Friday indicates that Jesus is also to be regarded as “Son of God” (perhaps, in my opinion, polemically against the claims of Rome and the imperial cult).
  • Fallen spirits/demons worship Jesus. Yet Kirk has already demonstrated that angels worship Adam in contemporary Jewish literature. Being worshiped does not prove that one is identified as YHWH. See also 1 Chron 29:20.
  • Jesus, far from being the omniscient God of Israel, admits he does not know the day or the hour of his second coming (13:32). In stating this, Jesus differentiates himself from the angels and from the Father, the one who alone knows this information. Mark does not say that Jesus’ humanity didn’t know but that his divine side did know. No, rather only the Father knows (even the Holy Spirit is unaware, if it is to be regarded as a person distinct from the Father, which I doubt).
  • “Abba” does not mean “Daddy” (cf. Rom 8:15 and Gal 4:6). It only further points to Jesus as the authentic Son of God.
  • When Jesus heals the paralytic earlier in the Gospel he is met with opposers who state, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” God has given authority to the Son of Man to forgive sins, and Jesus later gives that very same authority to the disciples (11:25). If the disciples can truly forgive sins, then they are certainly not divine (and neither is Jesus for that matter).


Mark checks out to fit the working hypothesis that Jesus of Nazareth is best understood as a Jewish idealized human figure (rather than a preexisting divine person or angel). Let me know in the comments below what you think of Kirk’s reconstruction of the Gospel of Mark. Tomorrow I plan to post on Kirk’s arguments in the Gospel of Luke regarding how he depicts Jesus as “Son of God,” so stay tuned!

Book Review – “A Man Attested by God” by Daniel Kirk (part 5 – the Son of Man)

Here is post number five containing my review and thoughts on Daniel Kirk’s newest volume, A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels. Today we will examine Kirk’s arguments regarding the noteworthy Son of Man in Daniel 7 and later extrabiblical sources. I will also comment briefly on his conclusions for the first chapter. Here are a few bullet points covering his arguments along with a few comments from me in italics.

  • The Son of Man in Daniel – I am happy to say that Kirk came to the same conclusion that I have in the past regarding the function of Daniel 7, a vision which deals with sonofmanthrones.JPGthe problem nations by moving from chaotic animals back to the idealized role of humanity in Genesis 1 (where humans rule over the animals). Just as the beasts represents nations, so too does the Son of Man represent Israel as a nation/people, albeit as a single figure. Much discussion and conversation with John Collins regarding the interpretation of the “holy ones” (angels or humans). Here Kirk sees the Son of Man as one enthroned alongside God in heaven and receiving universal worship, although still existing as a human figure (rather than angelic). He also notes that the Son of Man, having suffered persecution from the “little horn” in Daniel 7, is vindicated precisely as a suffering figure. It will be interesting to see where Kirk ends up going with this line of argumentation, as I can already see the dialogue with Jesus and the priest in Mark 14 as a strong candidate for this evidence.
  • Son of Man in 1 Enoch – The Son of Man here is reckoned quite clearly as the “messiah” and is the recipient of universal worship. He also possesses glory, might, and the authority to judge secret things. This Son of Man even judges the angels, suggesting that he is categorically distinct from them. Kirk notes that even Hurtado regards 1 Enochs Son of Man as “God’s chief agent.” Kirk correctly points out that the Son of Man is openly identified with Enoch. Of no small importance is Kirk’s suggestion that Enoch is better understood as a human translated to heaven before returning to judge as messiah rather than preexisting in heaven before his earthly life. Furthermore, the supposed reference to preexistence might better be explained as a development of Psa 72:17 where the messiah’s name was before the sun. Matters are complicated because it is difficult to know for certain if chapter 71 of 1 Enoch, where the reference to Enoch appears, is original to the Similitudes. In a footnote Kirk argues that concluding that the Son of Man in 1 Enoch possesses personal preexistence is debatable. It would clearly seem that this issue of whether 1 Enoch teaches literal preexistence of a messiah figure has been reopened by Kirk’s analysis, and this interpreted move will be welcomed by many readers.
  • Son of Man in 3 Enoch – Enoch is again identified as a heavenly figure. This time, however, he is described by Rabbi Ishmael as greater than all the princes, more exalted than the angels, more honored than all the hosts, and elevated over all in sovereignty, greatness, and glory. This is surely a lot to say about a human being and is therefore pertinent evidence for Kirk’s “idealized human figure” thesis.
  • Prayer of Enosh (4Q369) – This passage does not specifically deal with Daniel’s Son of Man, but it does piggyback on Enoch’s exalted status (and 1 Enoch was a highly cherished textual tradition at Qumran). This document described Enoch as God’s firstborn son, prince, and ruler over the world. In fact, the father-son relationship is precisely what enables Enoch to possess this role of rulership. The same could be said about the implications of 2 Sam 7:14 and Psa 2:7.
  • Son of Man in 4 Ezra – Although this text clearly comes after the destruction of the temple in 70 CE, it shows how the traditions developed from what is articulated back in Daniel 7. The Son of Man in 4 Ezra is none other than the messiah, the son of God. This messiah figure suffers death after a 400 year reign, and so is not an eternal figure. He plays the role of judge and deliverer, both in a manner which mediates God’s initial initiative. Kirk considers these configurations ample examples of participation in the divine identity (re: Bauckham) in a manner which does not equate the Son of Man with God but instead acts as one standing in for and act on behalf of God. Kirk rightly notes that the Son of Man in 4 Ezra is a preexisting figure and does not debate this as he does in regard to 1 Enoch.

It is interesting to see how the Son of Man tradition develops over a period of 250 years. Granted, 250 years is no short span of time, as America has been an independent nation for around that much time and a lot has taken place during that period.

Kirk concludes his massively important (and what I regard as highly persuasive) survey of Jewish literature with some noteworthy quotes. I thought this one best represented the fruit of his argumentation thus far in the book:

…being identified with God is not the same as being identified as God…we find in early Jewish literature wide-ranging claims for various human figures sharing in the divine identity, without any sense that this puts pressure on the inherent identity of God, demanding its reconfiguration. (p.174)

My take on this first chapter is that it could have been an entire book itself, one which would have (indeed it does have) massive implications for understanding Jesus’ relationship with God in all of the NT documents, not just the Synoptics. 



Book Review – “A Man Attested by God” by Daniel Kirk (part 4 – Priests as Idealized Human Figures)

This is my fourth post containing my review and thoughts on Daniel Kirk’s newest volume, A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels. Today we will look at the significantly important section on Priests as “idealized human beings” in Judaism, data upon which the Synoptic evangelists drew in order to articulate their christological conceptions of Jesus of Nazareth. Kirk covers a lot of complicated ground, so as usual I will use bullet points and put my own thoughts in italics.

  • Melchizedek in Scripture– This enigmatic figure developed in tradition by combining priest.JPGthe priestly image in Genesis 14 and the kingly role in Psalm 110. Since King David and his sons, on rare occasions, functioned as both kings and priests (2 Sam 8:18) this allows Psalm 110 to promote a human lord as the idealized priestly king. Furthermore, Psa 110:1 envisages this human lord as exalted to God’s right hand, followed by an appointment of priesthood forever (110:4). Yet this figure is distinct from YHWH in both Genesis 14 and Psalm 110.
  • Melchizedek in Qumran – The Temple scroll (11Q13) identifies Melchizedek as “god” of Psalm 82, which is generally understood to be referring to human judges. Kirk rightly notes that this is in line with previous attributions of elohim to the human king (Psa 45:6; Isa 9:6). As priest, this figure represents both sides, human and divine. Therefore, Melchizedek becomes an intense figure crossing the boundaries between God and humans without compromising strict monotheism.
  • Priest in Sirach – Written in a period when Israel only possessed priest and no kings, Sirach highlights Simon ben Onias as an idealized human figure echoing divine images drawn from the vision in Ezek 1:28. He may even be intended to be understood as one reflecting the “glory of Adam” (which appears in both Qumran and Paul). Of no small significance is that Sirach 24 describes Lady Wisdom as the personification of God’s wise ordering in creation, only to take those traits and give them to the high priest Simon in Sirach 50 (thus making Simon the poetic incarnation of Wisdom nearly three hundred years before the Gospel of John was completed). The same chapter takes images of the idealized Davidic ruler from Psalm 89 and reinterprets them for Simon the priest.
  • Testament of Levi – An eschatological priest evokes God’s glory reminiscent of Moses’ face in Exodus. Furthermore, he is gifted with the heavenly spirit of understanding and sanctification, allowing him to bound Belial and the ability to grant authority to others over wicked spirits. There is a lot of food for thought regarding depictions of Jesus along these very lines of thinking.
  • Jubilees – More priests are depicted as possessors of the divine glory. These priest perform functions on earth likened unto angelic functions taking place in heaven.
  • Priests in Qumran – 1Q28b ushers in a blessing for the community’s priest so that they may shine with heavenly angelic light, thus illuminating the congregation. This draws upon Moses’ face and the Aaronic benediction of Numbers 6, but goes further than the picture of Moses and states that these priests will indeed allow their glorious faces to shine upon their people. These priests are nevertheless still human figures, albeit while possessing luminous glory of their God. 4Q400 depicts the priests who serve in the holy temple as ascending into the heavenly throne room. They also are agents through whom God’s sanctification is carried to the holy people. 4Q418 notes how the addressee (either a king, priest, or ruler) is described as a “holy of holies over all the earth.” This make the inner room of the Jerusalem temple into a person, one who bears in himself the very presence of Israel’s God (or as I call it, “poetic incarnation”). The Self-Glorification Hymn (4Q471b, 4Q491c) depicts a singer, who is a “friend of the king” who is exalted to heaven, seated, and sharing in the lot of the angels. Yet this person is a human member of the Qumran community, albeit a highly exalted human figure. My favorite citation made by Kirk is 4QApocryphon of Levi wherein the human eschatological high priest is described as sharing in the creative word of God which made the Genesis creation. Kirk summarizes the scroll’s contribution by noting that the “priest is identified with God through the recapitulation of God’s role in creation…without any indication that the priest is being identified as God or as some other divine being.”


Kirk also has an interesting section noting that at least habpeshertwo times in the DSS the authors replaced the divine name (YHWH) with the name of a human priest (just as the NT does with Jesus in Rom 10:13 and Acts 2:21). In particular, the moreh hatzadik (“Teacher of Righteousness”) in the Habakkuk Pesher puts the reference to the teacher in for the divine name. This also occurs in 4Q167 where the “last priest” replaces the first person reference to Yahweh’s “I” in Hosea 5:14. This observation is hugely significant, noting that the NT authors were not going rogue in their high claims made of Jesus. They were only doing what other Jews were practicing before them.

Although one might not think that a study on priests bears any significant relevance on the development of Christology, this section of Kirk’s book argues persuasively to the contrary. I feel a growing excitement reading this book, attempting to process all of the small changes this makes for some of the more popular arguments regarding the divinity of Jesus which now are shown to have a broken foundation. It might be a little premature for me to state this, but Daniel Kirk’s contribution here might be as noteworthy as James Dunn’s Christology in the Making published some thirty years ago.

Book Review – “A Man Attested by God” (part 3 – Kings in Worship and Rule)

godtomanIn this third post wherein I provide my review and thoughts on Daniel Kirk’s A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels I will focus on the section entitled “Kings in Worship and Rule.” In this part of the book Kirk lays out the evidence demonstrating that the Israelite king was regularly represented as the idealized human being, one who embodies God’s rule upon the earth.

Many texts are discussed in this section, so I will offer a brief summary of his arguments and accompany them with a few thoughts of my own:

  • David in Historical Texts (Scripture) – The Davidic dynasty is understood as kingdavid God’s son on earth per 2 Sam 7:14 (cf. Psa 2:7). 2 Samuel’s reworking in 1 Chronicles 17:11-14 signifies that the Davidic kingdom is also the kingdom of God, indicating that the human ruler is the one through whom God is/will be enacting his sovereignty.
  • Psalm 45 – The Davidic king here (likely Solomon in my opinion) is called “God,” although there is another God above him (“your God has anointed you”). Both Yahweh and the Israelite king can rightfully be called “God.” This language evoke the similar terms used of Moses, the prophet who functioned as God to Pharaoh. Psalm 45 is significant because this is the text which the author of Hebrews uses to call Jesus “God” (Heb 1:8), and this author includes in his citation the part of the human king having a God above him.
  • Psalm 72 – Kirk notes that the tsi’im in 72:9 (71:9 MT) are better rendered as animal desert dwellers, therefore indicating that animals will bow down in prostration to this idealized human king. This recalls the language of Adam in Gen 1:26-28 where the idealized human ruled over the animals as God’s viceroy. Kirk also notes that the name of this idealized king is petitioned to flourish “before the sun” (72:17), a statement used to describe the notional preexistence of the Messiah’s name in Rabbinic Judaism. Since the phrase “before” (liphnai) can be temporal as well as spatial, this very well may be a reference to preexistence of God’s idealized king’s name before the sun was created.
  • Psalm 89 – Another major psalm echoing the promised of 2 Samuel 7’s Davidic covenant. Particularly of interest is that the anointed Davidic king will possess the ability to control the sea and the waves, and the waters in Judaic thought are usually regarded as personifications of the chaotic evil. God, who generally reserves the ability to control nature, extends this function unto the Davidic king, the son of God.
  • Solomon’s Throne and Worship in 1 Chronicles – Both David and Yahweh are kingsolomonworshiped, being the recipients of a single verb in 1 Chron 29:20. In 1 Chron 29:23 Solomon sits on the throne of Yahweh, indicating that Yahweh has invested his personal rule and throne upon the earth so that the human king can function as his embodied representative. The Israelite king, therefore, is the visible presence of Yahweh.
  • Isaiah 9:6-7 – The idealized king, likely originally referring to Hezekiah, is called “Mighty God” and “Everlasting Father.” He will also function as the human embodiment of Yahweh, the divine warrior ushering in the peaceful reign of God. Elijah was a “father” to Elisha (2 Kings 2:12).
  • Ezekiel 34 – Long after King David has died, the restoration of the kingdom envisions the restoration of the Davidic dynasty. This idealized king will function as the shepherd of the people (34:23), sharing in the responsibilities of shepherding which Yahweh himself will perform (34:11-16). In other words, the restored Davidic king will share in the functions of Yahweh as the idealized human ruler.
  • Micah 5 – This promised ruler, whose origins extend “from days of old” (miyamai olam), reach back to the ancient Davidic family (not back to eternity). God will bestow upon this ruler his strength and glory. More striking is the indication that God’s own name will be shared with this promised Davidic king (Micah 5:4; 5:3 MT). This is no different from Yahweh extending his throne down to earth upon which Solomon was to rule as the human king in 1 Chronicles.
  • Zechariah 12 – Yahweh, functioning as the divine warrior, is spoken of in conjunction with the idealized human king. Zechariah 12:8 importantly notes that the house (dynasty) of David will be “like God” (c’elohim), further overlapping the functions of the idealized human ruler and Israel’s God.
  • Psalms of Solomon – Chapter 17 of this work regards the idealized Davidic king playing the role of God on earth, particularly over Israel. Kirk quotes John Collins who remarks that, “The kingship of God… is implemented though human kingship.” There are other echoes in the Psalms of Solomon where the idealized king’s mission to rule over the Gentiles seems to be deliberately drawing upon Psa 2:7-9, where the human Son of God will smash the nations with a rod of iron. Furthermore, Kirk points out that while Isa 66:18 says that Yahweh knows the thoughts of the people, Psalms of Solomon 17:25 says that the human Davidic king is the one who now possesses this prerogative. The fact that the promised Messiah could be spoken of as possessing the ability to know the thoughts of humans has massive implications upon similar texts in John’s Gospel and Rev 2:23.
  • Animal Visions of 1 Enoch – In the midst of a vision of sheep, a champion arises to sit on the throne for the Lord (90:9). This enthroned ruler is thus playing the role of God as both king and judge of the people (90:20).
  • Qumran References to the Idealized King – 4Q246 notes how God will wage war on behalf of the human king (who is called “son of God”). 4QFlor states that the idealized king will function as the agent of deliverance for God, drawing upon the prophecy of Amos 9:11, itself a promised of the restored Davidic dynasty. 4Q521, which has precipitated a 4q521plethora of interpretations by scholars (about which Kirk shows awareness), notes how the God’s anointed one will be obeyed/listened to by the heavens and the earth. This recalls the primordial Adam image who functioned as the crowning achievement of the original creation, ruling over everything God had created.

Kirk has demonstrated that the images describing the Israelite kings (primarily David and Solomon) as idealized rulers in whom God embodies his attributes and sovereignty can abundantly be observed in both the Hebrew Bible and in a variety of texts in Second Temple Judaism. Combined with the case which Kirk has already established regarding the images of Adam, Moses, and prophets like Elijah, these Israelite kings provide fertile soil out of which the Synoptic evangelists can grow their depiction of Jesus as the idealized human being. This first chapter of the book is proving to be a solid reconstruction of how Judaism’s strict monotheism could incorporate these human figures as mortal “embodiments” of Israel’s God, carrying out his rule and purposes.

Stay tuned for further updates on A Man Attested by God.


Book Review – “A Man Attested by God” by Daniel Kirk (part 2 – Adam, Moses, and the Prophets)

This is the second installment of my review and thoughts of Daniel Kirk’s newest volume, A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic GospelsI will take the time now to begin working through the contents of Chapter 1 – Idealized Human Figures in Early Judaism.


Adam as Past and Future

In Kirk’s search of the Synoptic evangelists’ sources for shaping Jesus of Nazareth as an idealized human being, being neither personally preexistent nor angelic, the primordial figure of Adam is discussed at length. Here is a summary of the texts which Kirk covers:

  • Genesis – Adam is placed by the Priestly writer not simply as God’s representative but adamevean actual living representation who points creation to the true God in heaven. Adam is made in God’s image and likeness and rules as God’s viceroy. Rulership over creation is a divine prerogative given to Adam. This makes Adam an idealized human figure. I would like to add to Kirk’s analysis that the P source of Genesis 2 tells of God letting Adam name the individual animals (another divine prerogative as observed in P’s record of God himself naming the day, night, sun, moon, etc.). 
  • Psalm 8:6 – Human beings (initially Adam) are crowned with glory, honor, and majesty. These traits are divine qualities shared with Adam (as depicted in Genesis 1). These attributes are not merely expressed by the psalmist as Adam representing God but more likely regarding the human as the embodiment of elohim’s power and presence here on earth.
  • Ezekiel 28 – The King of Tyre (not Satan) is poetically described as the initial human being in Eden, the garden of God. This king is described as formerly possessing divine glory (now lost due to his transgression) in a manner reminiscent of the Adam story in Genesis 1-3.
  • Wisdom of Solomon – The unknown author of this document puts into the mouth of Solomon words which equate the role of the Israelite king with the initial vocation given to humanity, thus indicating that Solomon reckons that he is taking upon himself the role of Adam in all of his idealized human glory. This suggests that the author of Wisdom of Solomon used Gen 1:26-28 as the lens through which to understand the role of Israel’s kings.
  • Dead Sea Scrolls – Kirk surveys the pertinent scrolls mentioning the “glory of Adam” as an inheritance promised to the Qumran covenant community. These texts indicate that the authors of the scrolls regarded themselves as the ones who will one day receive the role given originally to Adam, namely rulership on God’s behalf. These roles make better sense as relating to humanity rather than to angels, Kirk persuasively notes. It would be interesting to know of 4Q381 originally read that the remnant of Israel would rule with God over the “heavens and the earth” (although I cannot imagine what the text could say other than shamayim there in the decayed part of the scroll). Either way, part of the nation of Israel looked forward to regaining the idealized human function given to King Adam by God.
  • Philo – The famous Alexandrian Jew notes in De opificio mundi that the animals of the original creation were to worship the human being Adam as their natural ruler and despot. Worship, as an act, is therefore not limited to the Creator alone. Humanity is described as functioning as God’s sovereign ruler, acting as God’s delegated viceroy. Even Noah, the head of the creation after the flood, is understood by Philo as the ruler likened unto Adam, embodying divine rule upon the earth.
  • The Animal Visions of 1 Enoch – Images of Adam and the Davidic king are depicted as the earthly embodiment of God. These figures appear to exercise judgment precisely as the judge, a prerogative initially belonging to God alone.
  • Life of Adam and Eve – Humans are distinct creatures from the angels. Adam is promised to sit on a divine throne in the restoration of humanity. Kirk notes that angels do not share in God’s throne nor do they receive worship. It is rightly noted that this text probably has been influenced by early Christians and therefore needs to be bracketed out of possible influences on the New Testament Christologies.
  • Testament of Abraham – Adam is again depicted upon a divine throne. This time, however, Adam shines in heavenly glory, appearing like the Lord. This suggests that humans appearing with heavenly glory are not to be taken as direct indicators of being angelic in nature or existing as divine persons.

It is clear that the Apostle Paul was influenced by these depictions of Adam as the idealized human figure. Romans in particular notes how all persons, sharing in Adam’s likeness, suffer from his sin and loss of initial glory (Rom 3:23). However, the redeemed people of God hope and boast/celebrate in the glory of God (Rom 5:2), namely a restoration to the image and position of rulership of Adam. Christ himself is the type of Adam as clearly described in Rom 5:12-21. Christians are therefore co-heirs with Christ in the restoration of the idealized human vocation (Rom 8:17). 


Moses and the Prophets

Kirk also sees in the Jewish depictions of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha further representation of his “idealized human being” category:

  • Moses in the Bible – Moses is called “god” precisely as the agent/representative of Yahweh. Kirk sees in Moses the one who brings God’s rule to earth just as the vocation was given to Adam. Throughout the Exodus narratives Yahweh speaks and performs miracles in and through Moses. The same God who conquered the chaos in Genesis 1 divides the Sea of Reeds in Exodus 14, yet this feat is performed through the prophet Moses.  God’s glory is even reflected off of Moses’ face. The famous passage in Deut 18:15 further indicates that Moses was regarded as the ideal figure and prophet (and the NT clearly regards Jesus as the “prophet like Moses”).
  • Philo’s Moses – Philo continues the line of thinking exhibited in the Pentateuch by regarding Moses as God and as the one who shares in God’s sovereign rule over humanity. Moses is both theos and King according to Philo. It might even be the case that Philo prays to Moses in Somm. 164-65. More work could be done on this passage, for sure.
  • Moses in The Exagogue – In a vision, a nobleman summons Moses so as to give up his Charlton-Heston-as-Moses-001throne unto Moses. As Moses looks over the created order, some of the stars bow down before him. If these stars are a reference to angels them Kirk has a good argument against Bauckham and even Fletcher-Louis regarding how humans can be given roles which are regularly reserved for God alone. This reminds me of the Apocalypse of John in the NT where human beings are to be worshiped but angels refuse the very same action. 
  • Moses at Qumran – Moses is again depicted as reflecting the glory of God upon his face. If the Aaronic blessing of Numbers 6 wishes that the face of Yahweh shine upon the Israelites, then the fact that Moses already possesses this glory indicates that he is embodying God in some measure as his representative. This further contributes to the notion that Moses was understood as in idealized human being
  • Elijah in the Scriptures – The deuteronomistic author of 1 Kings regards elijah Elijah the Tishbite as controlling aspects of nature in ways which are generally reserved for God alone. In fact, the awesome episode upon Mount Carmel in 1 Kings 17 indicates that it is the human Elijah, and not Baal the storm god, who controls the storms. Yet no one honestly thinks that Elijah is divine. Rather, everyone knows that he is a faithful prophet of God empowered to do miracles and wonders. Kirk notes the many ways in which the deuteronomist sees Elijah as the parallel figure to Moses, noting where both persons do the same miracles and feats. If Moses was an idealized human figure then certainly Elijah is depicted in Scripture to be similarly understood!
  • Elisha – Elisha the prophet begins his career by receiving upon him the power and blessing of Elijah. Therefore, Elisha shares in Elijah’s ministry as the idealized human prophet. I thought it was great for Kirk to point out that the same sort of passing the torch from master to disciple can be observed in the Moses narratives, perhaps even from John the Baptist unto Jesus, and certainly with Jesus unto his disciples. One of my favorite parts of this discussion was the point where Kirk noted that Elisha was able to extend his personal presence in places where he was not physically present (just as Paul did in 1 Cor 5:3-4). Excellent insight here.
  • Elijah in Sirach – There are many Jewish traditions which regard Elijah as physically taken to heaven without dying. Sirach works this material and suggests that the heavenly Elijah as the instrument of God who controls the natural world with “glory.”
  • Elijah in Qumran – Kirk again surveys the various scrolls referring to “the prophet” (i.e., Elijah the expected one). Perhaps a prophetic figure will share in the eschatological role of raising the dead in 4Q521. That there were traditions steaming from the biblical book of Malachi regarding the expectation of Elijah returning can be observed in 4Q558, perhaps hinting that this unnamed figure will share in the coming judgment of God. Personally, I didn’t find the Qumran arguments regarding Elijah as sharing in the coming judgment of God very persuasive, although I admit that Jesus and John the Baptist are aware of such expectations and interpret them for their own purposes (so Kirk’s thesis still stands on the NT evidence).

It is fairly clear in my mind that Adam, Moses, and Elijah are significant examples meeting the criteria for Kirk’s idealized human being. The case for Elisha is not as strong, but he certainly deserves to be included in the discussion. I had formerly been pointed to these figures by reading John Collins and James Dunn, but no one has worked the material as exhaustively as Kirk has demonstrated in this chapter.

I look forward to continuing through this first chapter as it is proving to lay the groundwork for his reading of the Synoptic Gospels in their understandings of who Jesus actually was.

Book Review – “A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels” (part 1)

My copy of Daniel Kirk’s highly anticipated contribution to the christologies in the Synoptic accounts, A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels, arrived today. I have been looking forward to this tome for some time now, primarily because I have been convinced for over a decade now that Matthew, Mark, and Luke were teaching that Jesus is the human Messiah of God who began his physical existence at his birth. These next several posts will contain my thoughts and review of Kirk’s arguments located in this book.

IMG_2073In the opening chapter, which is really the important introduction to the book, Kirk cites Acts 2:22 as a sufficient declaration of Jesus’ identity articulated in the three Synoptic Gospels. Since Acts is the second volume of Luke’s two contributions to the New Testament, citing Peter’s christology which regards Jesus as “a man attested to you by God through miracles, wonders, and signs” makes sense.  Kirk begins by clearly defining his term “idealized human figure” as referring to a non-angelic, non-preexistent human being who plays a unique role in representing God unto creation (or vice versa). Kirk furthermore suggests that this terminology is a reasonable third alternative to the more commonly (at least in modern christological discourse) expressed terms of a “low Christology” and a “high Christology.” So far so good.

I get the impression loud and clear from this initial introduction that Kirk is not out to actively disprove other christologies (although it is clear that he regards his own reconstruction of the Synoptics as more persuasive than that of the “early high christology” club card holders). The tone is not one of polemic. Put differently, Kirk is not jumping into the UFC ring with Bauckham, Hurtado, Fletcher-Louis, and the like in attempts to go to war. Rather, he seems to want to respectfully present his argument regarding Jesus as an idealized human figure as an honest reading of the text which makes better sense of the theologies of the three Synoptic evangelists. Although I know some readers were looking for a more combative approach in this book, we will simply have to wait and see for ourselves through the unfolding chapters how Kirk maneuvers through the arguments of his opponents.

Kirk rightly notes that one of the significant issues when it comes to articulating an early, high, divine Christology is to “articulate clearly what the evidence has shown” (p.37). Since the New Testament both fails to make clear equations of Jesus precisely as the God of Israel and because the text repeatedly distinguishes God and Jesus, this creates a problem for those enrolled in the early high Christology club. Kirk takes the time to examine the kirkprimary arguments of the modern contributors of early high Christology and indicates their weaknesses (or what these scholars fail to state). Richard Bauckham, for example, argues that Jesus is “identified with God,” but Bauckham does not come out and say that Jesus is identified as God. Another example is made out of Larry Hurtado who regards the cultic worship given to the exalted Jesus as appropriate for the Creator, but Hurtado refuses to come out and say that Jesus is in fact the Creator. Similarly, Darrell Bock regards Jesus as one possessing “more than human authority,” but never fleshes out what this exalted status actually is or entails. I personally have noticed that these scholars (and others articulating an early high Christology) never come out and openly say that the NT authors unambiguously teach Nicene or Chalcedonian understandings of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They regularly throw around the word “divine” in regard to Jesus’ identity, almost always without ever defining what that term actually means. Kirk respectfully suggests that viewing Jesus as an idealized human being is a more natural explanation of what Matthew, Mark, and Luke actually believed and taught. In this manner, Kirk is offering an alternative reading similar to the theology of James Dunn, James McGrath, and others.

I was keenly interested to examine Kirk’s methodology regarding how his arguments were to unfold in the book. The first chapter seeks to examine how the Bible and early Judaism depicts the concept of the idealized human being. Afterwards, the next five chapters will deal precisely with the Synoptic Gospels to see if the “idealized human being” hypothesis is a sufficient category, working through different aspects such as Jesus’ titles, his birth, and relationship to the rest of creation. I will be eagerly blogging through these chapters in the next couple of days.

This volume looks to be an exciting and engaging contribution to the studies of Christology which continue to flood the literary market (including my own work, The Son of God: Three Views of the Identity of Jesus). Jesus of Nazareth is still a controversial figure, some two thousand years after his earthly ministry. The Church Councils did not offer satisfactory or convincing conclusions for all readers, as new scholarly works continue to challenge our thinking and push us to reexamine our presuppositions in regard to how we engage Scripture.

Stay tuned for further updates and reviews of Daniel Kirk’s newest volume – A Man Attested by God.

Jesus is the Embodiment of Lady Wisdom in 1 Cor 10:4

I am experimenting with my new screen capture program and thought I would make a short video on 1 Cor 10:4. In this short clip I demonstrate that Paul was interacting with many Jewish interpreters of his day regarding the identification of the rock which provided water to the Israelites during the Exodus wilderness trek. If Paul regards Jesus precisely as the true embodiment of Lady Wisdom (i.e., God’s personified wise interaction with the world) then Paul can typologically label that rock as “Christ.” This would sugggest that 1 Cor 10:4 was never intended by Paul to refer to Christ as a physically preexistent person. 

Let me know in the comments below what you think of this interpretation.

The Epistle of Jude and Greco-Roman Associations

Here are the lectures on the somewhat unknown epistle of Jude. In the introductory issues I wrestle with the problem of authorship, its relationship with 2 Peter, date, and the intended recipients. I draw heavily on Philip Harland’s Associations, Synagogues, and Congregations which allowed me to realize that Jude was writing to communities which either viewed themselves or others viewed them as Greco-Roman associations. I introduce my students to these ancient associations and suggest they are key to understanding the particularly heated and selective language used by Jude in this letter.

Let me know in the comments below what you think of reading the epistle of Jude in light of ancient associations.



Critical Introduction to Jude – part one


Critical Introduction to Jude – part two


Exegesis of Jude – part one


Exegesis of Jude – part two


3 John – Introduction, Content, and Theology

If I had to guess I would say that you have not heard very many sermons coming out of the small epistle of 3 John. Many have a hard time understanding what is taking place with this letter and what were the social issues precipitating its composition. Fear no further, for I offer here three videos dealing with critical aspects of 3 John, its social situation, and its application for the Church today.

Let me know in the comments below what you make of the message of 3 John.



Introduction to 3 John – part one


Introduction to 3 John – part two


Exposition of 3 John 

Critical Introduction of 2 John with Commentary

Here are the video lectures critically introducing 2 John and commenting on each of its verses. I find this epistle significant because it was written precisely to highlight the christological humanity of Jesus as a critical Christian doctrine. Failure to confess the human Jesus was akin to labels of “antichrist.” Our class also wrestles with how the honor the command to refuse hospitality to those who do not honor this teaching (according to 2 John 10). Tough issues for sure.

Let me know what you think of 2 John and its unique message.



Critical Introduction to 2 John


Exposition of 2 John part one


Exposition of 2 John part two 


Exposition of 2 John part three

1 John – Message, Theology, and Application

I got a lot of good feedback on yesterday’s post in which I critically introduced 1 John. Here are the videos on the contents of 1 John taught against the backdrop of the introductory material covered yesterday. I focus at the end on practical applications which the wider Church can take from this document.

Let me know what you think of the exegesis.



1 John – part one


1 John – part two


1 John – part three


1 John – part four


1 John – part five


1 John – part six



Critical Introduction to 1 John

I do not know about you, but when I used to read 1 John as a teenager I felt that there was a disconnect between the author and myself. It was as if I did not quite fit into his social world, as if I were missing a large piece of the puzzle. Thankfully I now have the benefit of modern scholarship on the Johannine literature so as to fill in that large puzzle piece, thus making it possible to responsibly reconstruct the social setting of 1 John and thereby read the document with greater understanding.

In these three videos I outline the social situation which precipitated the writing of 1 John. I also wrestle with critical issues, particularly regarding what sort of document 1 John is and who wrote it. I also attempt to tackle the interesting issue regarding 1 John’s relationship with 2 John, 3 John, and the Gospel of John (which I regard as having experienced a final form of revising at the hand of the author of 1 John).

Let me know in the comments below what you make of the critical issues surrounding 1 John.



Introduction to 1 John – part 1


Introduction to 1 John – part 2


Introduction to 1 John – part 3

Ephesians – Introduction, Content, and Theology

Here are some short lectures on the epistle to the Ephesians. I take time to wrestle with the fact that Ephesians was not likely not originally penned to the city of Ephesus in addition to using the epistle to the Colossians as a literary source. This latter point, of course, directly influences the issue of Pauline authorship (which I also explore). Furthermore, Ephesians is the only epistle in the New Testament where there is no crisis being solved by the author!

Let me know in the comments below how you personally wrestle with these difficult and critical issues.



Introduction to Ephesians


Ephesians chapters one through three


Ephesians chapters four through six

Colossians – Introduction, Content, and Theology

Here are my short lectures discussing Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. I take some time to address the issue of authorship, the likely Jewish identity of the opponents, and I even deal with the christological hymn in chapter one. I am convinced that Paul regards Jesus as the embodiment of God’s personified wisdom, being God’s wise ordering and interaction with his creation. Let me know in the comments what you think about Jesus being the embodiment of God’s wisdom.



Introduction to Colossians


Colossians chapters one and two


The christological hymn in Col 1:15-19


Colossians chapters three and four

Philemon – Introduction, Content, and Theology

In today’s lecture we will be looking at the short (but very important) epistle to Philemon. I encourage you to look more closely and more critically at this oft-neglected letter. Perhaps you might find a message bigger than the letter’s size might initially suggest.

In my exegesis I challenge the popular reconstruction which states that Onesimus was a fugitive who stole from Philemon. Let me know if my reconstruction is persuasive.



Introduction to Philemon


Philemon chapter one

Philippians – Introduction, Content, and Theology

Today’s lectures are on the epistle to the Philippians. Special attention is given to the christological hymn in 2:6-11, particularly in how it fits into Paul’s overall ethical argument exhibited throughout the letter.



Introduction to Philippians


Philippians chapters 1-2


Philippians 2:5-11 


Philippians chapters 3-4

Galatians – Introduction, Content, and Theology

Here are my short lectures on the Epistle to the Galatians. I discuss issues involving the New Perspective on Paul, the famous 4QMMT document, the important phrase “works of the law,” the relationship between the imperial cult and the church in Galatia, and what Paul likely meant by his “faith of Jesus” phrase in Gal 2:16.



Introduction to Galatians


Galatians chapters 1-2


Galatians chapter 3


Galatians chapters 4-6