SPS 2017 Proposal Submitted

I just submitted my proposal for the 2017 Society for Pentecostal Studies annual meeting in St. Louis, MO. It is always a bit daunting preparing for a presentation at a scholarly society, but I have always found the effort well rewarded by the responses and engagement at the time of presentation. My title is Toward a Pentecostal Hermeneutic of the Former Prophets. Here is my proposal synopsis:

While there is no singular Pentecostal hermeneutic (nor a singular definition of ‘Pentecostal’), and some still persist in questioning whether there is or should be any, there are noticeable trends toward more clearly defined Pentecostal hermeneutics while still ‘in the making’. Perhaps this ‘still in the making’ is part and parcel of the Pentecostal’s sanctified/sanctifying interpretation. Claims to any form of Pentecostal hermeneutics must admit no ‘claim to possess a pristine and qualitatively unique methodology’. Instead, every hermeneutical approach (including those which might be called Pentecostal) is distinguished ‘by the presuppositions on which they build, the questions that they privilege, the interpretive tools they prefer, and the texts to which they attend’. Such a hermeneutical approach is perhaps properly always in the making as an improvisational performance of the Word by the Spirit within the community.

This paper briefly traces the four broad streams of historical development with the Pentecostal community’s hermeneutics as outlined by V. Kärkäinnen: Oral pre-reflexive, Fundamentalist-Evangelical, pneumatic exegesis and an emerging post-modern movement. This last movement is followed more closely as it unfolds in a triadic form in developing the hermeneutic suggestive by the text of the Former Prophets within the Pentecostal community taking into account the recent work on this trajectory by Scott Ellington, J. Christopher Thomas, Kenneth Archer, and Amos Yong (among others). A proposed phenomenological experience of the text by the Pentecostal community is offered toward a narrative approach to the text of the Former Prophets.

And in case you were wondering … “Former Prophets” refers to the books of the Hebrew Bible / Old Testament known as Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings. 🙂

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New Classes and Why I Love My Job

I love my jobExcited about a few courses I’ve designed being added to the catalog (Lord willing):

BIBL 336 The Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings) – 3 credits
Students will analyze the accounts of Israel’s story as recorded in the books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings, and an evaluation of various attempts to harmonize that story with other historical evidence.  Literary, textual and theological issues as well as an examination of archaeological evidence, social institutions, and ideology will provide the data for discussing the ideas contained in the Former Prophets and their role as scripture for the Church. Prerequisites: BIBL 151 and BIBL 253

BIBL 437 Apocalyptic Literature and the Revelation – 2 credits
Students will analyze apocalyptic texts of the second Temple period with particular emphasis given to the historical, literary and theological elements of the Revelation and its role as scripture for the Church. Prerequisites: BIBL 151 and BIBL 253

BIBL 337 Daniel and Ezekiel – 2 credits
Students will analyze the historical, literary and theological elements of the books of Daniel and Ezekiel and their role as scripture for the Church. Prerequisites: BIBL 151 and BIBL 253

LANG 437 Biblical Hebrew 2a – 3 credits
This course provides intermediate grammatical study, vocabulary building and discourse analysis of Biblical Hebrew narrative. Students build their vocabulary and translate selected portions of the Hebrew Old Testament with particular attention to the book of Ruth. Prerequisites: LANG 435, LANG 436

LANG 438 Biblical Hebrew 2b – 3 credits
The genre of Hebrew Poetry will be explored, focusing on selections from the Psalms, the prophets, and wisdom literature. Students will develop recognition of the characteristics of this genre, with the outcome of becoming better readers of Hebrew Poetry. Students will develop skills to exegete, preach, and teach the portions of the Old Testament which are poetic. Prerequisites: LANG 437

As if I didn’t love studying the Hebrew Bible enough, I must say I’ve thoroughly enjoyed teaching Biblical Hebrew (1a & 1b) last year and being halfway through 2a this semester. I look forward to teaching Biblical Hebrew 2b (who doesn’t love Biblical Hebrew poetry???), Apocalyptic Literature and the Revelation (a topic I have taught numerous times as a pastor), as well as The Former Prophets (my actual specialization) next semester.

The beauty of teaching these courses lays in the fact that most students find this material fresh. Even those who previously thought they understood these books and topics, suddenly encounter the excitement of the new and enter the adventure of engaging Scriptures in ways they had not previously imagined. All I know is #ilovemyjob

Worship, the Arts, and the Spirit

David Plays the Harp for Saul by RembrandtI just submitted my proposal for the Society for Pentecostal Studies 2016 meeting in San Dimas, California (most excellent, dudes!) which is broadly themed “Worship, the Arts, and the Spirit”.

I am hoping my proposal gets accepted as in most previous years. I’ve titled my paper (which will end up as a part of my PhD thesis) “When Prophets Play the Lyre: Saul and the Strings of the Spirit”.

Here is my summary that I submitted (which is always fun to write when NONE of the paper has been written yet 🙂 ):

A recurring notion in 1 Samuel (chapters 10, 16, 18-19) appears to highlight the relation of King Saul to the Spirit, prophesying and the playing of the lyre. Saul initially receives the Spirit of the LORD and begins to prophesy as predicted by Samuel once Saul hears the music of the prophets at Gibeah. Later, the Spirit of the LORD departs from Saul and comes upon David. With the departure of the Spirit of the LORD a “troubling spirit of God” comes upon Saul causing sudden violent outbreaks. The only relief from the troubling spirit is the music of Spirit-endowed David on the lyre. Further, the “prophets prophesying” appears to function musically throughout this literary unit including with the overcoming of Saul twice to “prophesy” when encountering a group of prophets prophesying (in the first instance explicitly with music and suggestive in the second). A literary and theological interpretation of the relevant texts is offered for discerning the role of the Spirit in the instrumentation of the prophets in 1 Samuel with several proposed implications for Pentecostal practice.

Elisha and the Double Portion Spirit

ElishaFor those interested in the topic, I have just uploaded the paper I presented at the 2014 SBL/AAR annual meeting in San Diego, CA as a special session of the Society for Pentecostal Studies. The title is “Elisha and the Double Portion Spirit: Sign of the True Son of the Prophet (2 Kgs 2-9, 13)”. It is a small portion of my exegetical work I am doing for my PhD on “A Theology of the Spirit in the Former Prophets”.

Here is the summary:

While it is assumed among scholarship that the “double portion” which Elisha requests of Elijah refers to the portion of the eldest son (following Deuteronomistic law), it is proposed in this paper that this is theologically significant to demonstrate Elisha as the true son of Elijah as prophet of Yahweh in contrast to the other “sons of the prophets” in the Former Prophets. This motif is followed in the stories of Elisha as he fulfills the prophetic call earlier given to Elijah as Horeb, knows and does what the “sons of the prophets” cannot do themselves, and functions as a new Elijah in the paneling accounts and images. The role of Spirit endowment as verification of elder sonship is followed as a theological trajectory of the Former Prophets.

When the Bible Comes Alive

ImageThe first assignment of the semester for my Former Prophets class was to read Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings in two different translations and give me several pages of questions, comments, and insights about the texts. They could also include things which stood out to them in comparing/contrasting the translations they chose.

I must say I’m impressed with their work. There are wonderful questions and comments on the theology, literary insights, historical intention, and culture of Israel. I think one of the most exhilarating things for me is noting all of the things which were noticed by those who had never read these books or never taken time to pay attention when they heard the stories in the past. I LOVE being able to teach when folks are just hearing these stories for the first time (even if its the “first time” again).

That’s also something I LOVE about pastoring…when I get to share stories which folks haven’t heard or have not heard in the way they are shared. It opens new vistas into the wonder of God’s revelation in Scripture and the unfolding of God’s work in the world. I LOVE what I do!!!

And I actually learn more and love the LORD more as a result!

The Former Prophets: A Theological History

ImageAs I’ve been lecturing this winter semester (Providence University College) for my course “The Former Prophets” (i.e., Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, and 1-2 Kings) we’ve had some wonderful discussions about what it means for this portion of Scripture to offer a “history” of Israel.

Part of the reason for the course not being called “The History Books” (besides that term being used to refer to other books as well: Ruth, Chronicles, Ezra-Nehemiah, Esther) is that the point of these books is not simply to offer a “history” of Israel, but a theological “history” of God’s dealings with Israel, and thus a theological explanation for where Israel finds themselves at the conclusion of this literary unit (in Babylon, no Davidic heir on the throne, with Jerusalem, the land, and the temple destroyed). The focus on these books as belonging to (what the Hebrew canon calls) “The Prophets” (נְבִיאִים nevi’im) is to emphasize their theological intent. This distinction gives emphasis to the presence and work of God. A distinction I find far more satisfactory than simply a discussion of these books as “history” (or even as contemporary scholarship refers to them following the work of Martin Noth: “Deuteronomistic History“). None of this is to deny the historical claims of the text (when such claims are actually present), but simply to recognize the work of the LORD throughout.

I was just wondering if others have found such a distinction helpful themselves in studying these books?