Book Thoughts #8: „Between Wittenberg and Geneva” by Kolb and Trueman

Kolb and Trueman’s Between Wittenberg and Geneva: Lutheran and Reformed Theology in Conversation was on my to-read list ever since I heard that it is going to be published. Lutheran and Reformed churches have a lot in common. One would expect that this will lead to fruitful theological exchanges and indeed it is so in many parts of the world. In my native Poland, for instance, there is full intercommunion and sharing of pulpits between the Lutheran and Reformed Church. They also share one theological school and have mixed congregations in some places. And yet there seems to be relatively little contact or exchange of ideas happening between confessional/conservative Lutheran and Reformed bodies in North America. This book, therefore, appeared to be a valuable exception. And in some ways, it is so though I was hoping for more. 

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Book Thoughts #7: „A Beginner’s Guide to New Testament Studies” by Nijay Gupta

Nijay Gupta’s A Beginner’s Guide to New Testament Studies is aimed to introduce ‘relative newcomers’ to major debates in the field. The author has selected thirteen controversial issues and summarised major approaches to them. He avoids as much as possible technical language and attempts to lay succinctly the heart of each debate. At the end of each chapter, Gupta provides us with suggestions for further readings which are divided into categories of ‘beginner’, ‘advanced’ and books supporting specific positions on a given issue.

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Book Thoughts #6: „The Future of Orthodox Anglicanism”

Although I am not an Anglican myself, this ecclesiastical tradition is a source of continual inspiration for me. I admire theological vitality of Anglicanism and its ability to produce evangelical leaders such as John Stott or J.I. Packer. I am a fan of Lewis’ literary genius. And last but by no means least, I love the beauty of the Book of Common Prayer. Therefore The Future of Orthodox Anglicanism published recently by Crossway has quickly drawn my attention. Now, when my MPhil thesis is finally submitted, I had time to delve into it. 

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Reading Theological Classics #3: Apologies of Justin Martyr

Some time ago, I have written a blog post about the earliest group of Christian writings known as the Apostolic Fathers. Another group of writings that begun to form in the 2nd century are early Christian apologists. To this group belongs the Epistle to Diognetus (which is included in the corpus of the Apostolic Fathers) as well as writings of Quadratus of Athens, Tatian, Tertullian, Origen and others. Some of their works are preserved, others are known to us only from the name or short fragments cited by other authors.

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Book Thoughts #5: “Christian Baptism” by John Murray

John Murray’s famous little book „Christian Baptism” was on my list of the things to read for a long time but only recently I have found time to delve into it. I regret now that I did so that late. This brief treatment of the Reformed view of baptism is a true gem. As Murray himself stated in the preface, his aim in this book was to defend the practice of infant baptism as divinely instituted. But there is more to this book than just a defence of the paedobaptism. In fact, what I enjoyed most about it, were his thoughts on the understanding of the church and the relationship between God’s decreed will and historical administration of the covenant of grace. 

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Papyri Letters and New Testament Letters

Recently, my work on my MPhil thesis has made me think a little bit about the letter-form of Pauline letters. It occurred to me that this is a very good illustration of how knowledge about the ancient world helps us to read Scripture better. I am thinking in particular about non-literary letters that are known from papyri and their ability to inform our understanding of New Testament letters. 

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What I Have Learned about Manuscript Evidence

Five years ago, I wrote a short paper on Luke 22:43-44 for my seminary textual criticism class. As far as I remember, I got a good mark. But my paper was not good at all. I mostly relied on the apparatus of Nestle Aland and textual commentaries by Metzger and Comfort. I am still wondering how I managed to confuse 0171 with 1071. While the sigla of these manuscripts are deceptively similar, their relative weight in this case is incomparable. 1071 is a 12th century codex of four gospels which omits verses 43-44 in the main text but supplies them in the margin.1 0171 is probably the oldest manuscript that contains these verses. It was even dated as early as late second or early third century.2 But this was not the only problem with my paper. This year I decided to give this passage another try and see if I can write a better essay after five years. In the process of writing I realised that the most important lesson I have acquired is to always take a closer look at the manuscript evidence and not assume that Metzger or any other authority got it right. 

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Book Thoughts #4: „The Text of the New Testament” by Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman

When I took a New Testament Text class in seminary five years ago, we used a different textbook than Metzger and Ehrman. I have wanted to read through The Text of the New Testament ever since. It did not help, however, that I am rather a slow reader and my seminary reading list was always longer than I could manage. This year I took the new testament textual criticism class at Cambridge and I thought it was also a good time to finally read Metzger and Ehrman.

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Some Musings on Online Worship

We are now six weeks into the lock-down in the UK due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the situation is similar in many other countries. In my native Poland, the government is slowly loosening some of the restrictions. Initially, it banned all religious gatherings of more than 5 people. Now in the worship service one person can participate per every 15 square meters of the church space. Still, it is much less than the president of the Episcopal Conference of Poland asked for. This regulation will be particularly difficult for smaller communities which do not have a large worship space such as the majority of evangelical churches in Poland. For many of us, online services will still be their main option for a while. It is certainly a great blessing that we can use technologies such as live-streaming and video-conferences to accommodate various forms of worship. There are, however, several dangers that should be kept in mind. 

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Reading Theological Classics #2: The Apostolic Fathers (2/2)

The Letter of Polycarp to the Philippians 

Polycarp was a bishop of Smyrna and a significant figure in the early church whose lifespan connects the time of the apostles to the succeeding period. His letter is a word of exhortation responding to certain problems in the church in Philippi. What is particularly interesting about this document is how it inseparably connects orthodoxy (right beliefs) with orthopraxy (right practice). Polycarp is concerned about both teaching and moral conduct of the  church and sees these issues as closely related to each other. 

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