Making the World Right

In light of the events of this week, a few quotes on God’s making the world right.* I hope this vision captures the church, myself included, and we become God’s people – a people working to make what is wrong right.


In Galatians, the cross is interpreted not primarily as an atoning sacrifice for forgiveness of sins, but as a cataclysmic event that has broken the power of forces that hold humanity captive, brought the old world to an end, and inaugurated a new creation.

Richard Hays


Paul takes his bearings from the good news that in Christ – and thus in the act of new creation – God has invaded the cosmos. Paul does not argue, then, on the basis of a cosmos that remains undisturbed but on the emergence of the new cosmos with its new elements.

J. Louis Martyn


In Christ’s death the whole world has been put to death and a new world of possibilities come to birth.

James D. G. Dunn


God’s gracious will is to create life, to call into existence things that do not exist…Far from repairing the old cosmos, God is in the process of replacing it. 

J. Louis Martyn (partial summary, partial quote)


The new creation is not, however, merely a dream or a vision it takes on empirical reality in the community of God’s people.

Richard Hays


Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:10)



*All quotes from commentaries on Galatians.


Chad at HBU’s ‘Paul and Judaism’ Conference


Here’s Cataclysmic’s own Chad Chambers presenting his paper “Before I was Born: Paul’s Calling and the Question of Time in Galatians” at Houston Baptist University’s ‘Paul and Judaism’ conference going on today and tomorrow.

Chad did a great job and his paper was really interesting, taking a look at how Paul views time in the book of Galatians.  Definitely piqued my interest! Well done, brother!!


Frauen Friday: Beverly Roberts Gaventa

Happy Frauen Friday, everyone!  This week’s featured scholar is Dr. Beverly Roberts Gaventa.  She is one of the top Pauline scholars around and currently holds the position of Distinguished Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Baylor University in Waco, Texas.  Just a reminder, Dr. Gaventa is one of the keynote speakers for HBU’s ‘Paul and Judaism’ conference happening next week.  You don’t want to miss out so register soon and get on down to Houston, Texas!

“Beverly Roberts Gaventa joined the Baylor faculty in 2013. She previously taught at Princeton Theological Seminary, Columbia Seminary, and Colgate Rochester Divinity School. She has been active in a number of professional societies, including Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the American Theological Association. She has served on a number of editorial boards and lectured widely in the United States, Canada, Europe, South Africa, and Australia.” (from her faculty page at

I am currently reading Our Mother Saint Paul in which Gaventa considers the significance of maternal imagery used by Paul throughout his New Testament epistles… I hope to share more about this book as I work my way through it.  She has also written commentaries on Acts and 1 & 2 Thessalonians, a number of other books, and 70+ articles and essays.

While I am still getting acquainted with the works of Dr. Gaventa, I highly recommend her article “Is Galatians Just a ‘Guy Thing’?” (2000), a theological reading of Paul’s letter to the Galatians and how its message might speak to the experience of women today.

The inquiry I propose is neither ahistorical nor anti-historical. It simply urges the importance of asking other questions in addition to the conventional questions about the attitude of the historical Paul to women and their leadership in the Christian community. Those conventional questions inevitably become questions of permission and prohibition: What does Paul’s interpretation of the gospel permit women to do and what does the gospel prohibit women from doing? That way of putting things has the effect of truncating our reflection and, more important, it bears little resemblance to the dynamic character of Paul’s letters, letters that over and over again speak about vocation rather than about per- mission. These letters, instead, call for the question: What is God doing in the gospel of Jesus Christ and what does that gospel mean for the lives of women?” (269)

She concludes:

“Perhaps as Paul dictated this passionate letter, he saw in his mind’s eye the faces of women in the Galatian congregations and cast about for language that would persuade them of the impossibility of the Teachers’ version of the gospel. Or perhaps he gave the women not even a passing thought. As engaging as those and other scenarios may be, neither one constitutes an answer to the question of what Galatians may contribute theologically to women in the present. If, instead of asking only about the relationship between Paul and the historical audience of this letter, or about Paul’s attitudes toward women, we ask about the letter’s fundamental theological dynamics, then Galatians emerges as a powerful voice articulating God’s new creation, a creation that liberates both women and men from their worlds of achievement and identity.” (278)

Books to read by Gaventa:

Check out these articles:

  • “Is Galatians Just a ‘Guy Thing’? A Theological Reflection.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 54, no. 3 (2000): 267-78.
  • “Pentecost and Trinity.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 66, no. 1 (2012): 5-15
  • “The Cosmic Power of Sin in Paul’s Letter to the Romans: Toward a Widescreen Edition.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 58, no. 3 (2004): 229-240.
  • “Reading for the Subject: The Paradox of Power in Romans 14:1-15:6.” Journal of Theological Interpretation 5, no. 1 (2011): 1-12.

Videos of Gaventa teaching:

Paper: HBU Theology Conference – “Paul and Judaism”

Thought I would join Brian Leport and announce that my paper was accepted for the upcoming HBU Theology Conference. My paper’s title is “Before I was Born’ – Paul’s Calling and the Question of Time in Galatians”.

I find the question of time interesting in general and have written several posts on Paul and time (Ann Jervis and T.F. Torrance). This paper examines the metaphorical nature of time in Paul’s autobiographical narrative in Galatians 1:11-17 and seeks to demonstrate how Paul’s calling provides a conceptual structure for his use of time in Galatians 3-4.

It should be a fun conference, I hope to see you there.


Gender and the Incarnation

We are currently reading through Thomas C. Oden’s Systematic Theology 3 Vol. Set
in my Biblical and Systematic Theology class (we started off with Christopher J.H. Wright’s The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible’s Grand Narrative, an excellent resource for biblical theology).  One of our assignments for the class is to write a short catechism or personal credo on a subtopic in systematic theology (soteriology, Christology, etc.).  I have chosen to do a short catechism on anthropology, focusing on what it means to be human, created in the image of God, body and soul, male and female, etc. Since I have been thinking through a number of gender issues during my time at HBU, this will hopefully serve to catalog some of my conclusions.

Recently I’ve been particularly interested in gender and the Incarnation… probably because we’ve been reading on the Incarnation in our Patristics class.

What does it mean for Jesus to be male?  Are both genders represented in the Incarnation?  Many of the early patristic writers drew connections between Eve and Mary, the mother of Jesus (e.g., Irenaeus in Against Heresies, Book III).

Oden’s volume on the person of Christ has a relatively lengthy discussion on gender in the Incarnation. In his section Was the Incarnation Sexist? Oden writes,

Did God show sexist bias or partiality against females or males in the birth of the incarnate Lord? The classical exegetes reasoned that both maleness and femaleness were honored equally in the incarnation…

Mary is female, Jesus is male. God’s way of coming involves both genders in a particular way fitting to those genders: female, for the birthing of the God-man without human father, and male, for the mission of the anointed messianic servant, according to the Jewish expectation of a male of Davidic descent.

The core of this classic feminine/masculine incarnational equilibrium is found in Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: ‘But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law’ (Gal. 4:4). Paul says: born of a woman, a particular woman, without male assistance, not born of woman and man.

If one takes the premise that the incarnation required birth and that giving birth cannot be done by males–there is no way physiologically–it forms a plausible hypothesis for explaining why the Savior was male: if the mother of the Savior must necessarily be female, the Savior must be male, if both sexes are to be rightly and equitably involved in the salvation event, according to classical interpretation. This hypothesis reverses the sexism argument by making the female birth-enabler the primary basis upon which the incarnate Lord was more plausibly to be male (this in addition to the Hebraic assumption that the Messiah would be of the male line of David). (p. 116)

It is no wonder Mary exclaimed, “Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” (Luke 1:48-49)

Oden’s argument finds support from some of the early Christian writers (he quotes Augustine a number of times).  This is one area I think Protestant theology is lacking–we have sorely neglected the role of Mary, the Theotokos, in the Incarnation. We pretty much never talk about her (at least from my own experience)! But I, for one, would like to become better acquainted with the mother of my Lord.

I don’t know… maybe I’ve been spending too much time with the Church Fathers?