Day 3: Blog Tour for C.A. Evans’ From Jesus to the Church

As part of the blog tour for C.A. Evans’ new book From Jesus to the Church: The First Christian Generation, hosted by Brian LePort over at Near Emmaus, I’ll be reviewing chapter two today.  You can read Brian’s review of the introduction here and John Walker’s review of chapter one here.

Chapter 2: From Kingdom of God to the Church of Christ

In chapter two,”From Kingdom of God to Church of Christ”, Evans moves from the question of whether or not Jesus intended to found the Christian church to what the transition from kingdom of God to church of Christ entailed.  Having answered the age-old question posed in chapter one with a qualified “yes”, Evans now works to connect the dots for us.

“The shift from the kingdom of God to church of Christ corresponds to the shift from the Jesus who proclaims (the kingdom), to the Jesus who is proclaimed (by the church),” (38).

Evans’ argues, contrary to the position typically held by NT scholars, that this transition from kingdom to church, proclamation to new community, is a natural and even “anticipated” transition.  In tracing the development of the ‘kingdom of God’ proclamation picked up by Jesus in Mark 1:14-15, and elsewhere in the gospels, Evans turns to the Aramaic writings of the Targumim, and specifically to the book of Isaiah.  He presents several verses for our consideration in which the Aramaic translation elaborates on the prophetic message of the Hebrew text.  For example, “the Lord of hosts” in Hebrew Isaiah 24:23b becomes “the kingdom of the Lord of hosts” in the Aramaic Targumim.

“The Aramaic paraphrases of these four passages have not significantly altered the original meaning of Hebrew Isaiah: they have made explicit what the Hebrew passages imply.  In his mighty actions, the kingdom, or rule, of God will be revealed.  It is this good news–the rule of God–that Jesus proclaims in his time,” (41).

Similar developments, including the expectation of a universal kingdom, are also seen in Obadiah, Zechariah, and other prophetic books.  Evans’ further highlights the close connection between repentance and redemption developed in the Aramaic texts, another theme that is picked up in the teachings of Jesus.  The discussion then transitions to the visions in Daniel 2 and 7, Jesus’ self-identification as the ‘the Son of man’, and the hope of an everlasting kingdom.

“The book of Daniel provides part of the backdrop for Jesus’ words and actions relating to his fate.  These words and actions will play an important role in the development of a new community that, given time and circumstances, will eventually separate itself from the larger community of Israel.  The emergence of the new community is closely tied to the fate of its founder,” (49-50).

In the sayings and teachings of Jesus himself, Evans’ points us to further evidence of “the expectation of the formation of a new community,” including Jesus’ invitation to discipleship, the call to repentance, as well as his commission to preach and proclaim the good news of the kingdom (52).  That Jesus was heavily influenced by the theological developments of the Aramaic Targumim becomes clear… and the more I think about this  the more I find it interesting.

Though the early Jesus movement experienced a momentary but “abrupt halt” with his death, the resurrection “relaunched” this new community which would then take up the role of preaching and proclaiming the kingdom to all.  Still, as Evans notes, “[t]he absence of Jesus surely created a problem for his new community,” (57).  What would be next for this young, fragile community?  And thus the stage is set for chapter three…


I found Evans’ to be informative and challenging, and I think the evidence is certainly compelling. The juxtaposition of the Hebrew texts alongside the Aramaic texts is especially telling.  There is also a short excursion on Israel in Exile (page 50) which is helpful in understanding the theology of Jesus and his own understanding of his role and mission.  This chapter served as a good reminder of just how large an influence Isaiah, Daniel, and Zechariah–in the Aramaic!–had on Jesus.

Overall, the book is readable, while remaining an engaging and scholarly work.  I would certainly recommend From Jesus to the Church to anyone interested in learning more about the earliest days of the church and the backdrop against which this new community came to be.

Brian will pick up with chapter three on day four of the tour so be sure to check it out.  A special thanks to Brian for the invitation to participate in the blog tour, and to WKJ for the review copy.

**This book was received from Westminster John Knox Press in exchange for a bias free review.**

Biblical Studies Carnival XCIV: December 2013

‘Twas the night before the new year when all through the house,
not a creature was stirring… except me and my laptop’s mouse.
Smart phones and iPads were set by the nightstand with care,
with hopes that the Biblical Studies Carnival would soon be there.

The bibliobloggers were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of end-of-the-year top ten lists danced in their heads.
And professors, students, bloggers, and more,
had just settled their brains for a two-week to month-long snore…
except for grad students because everyone knows we never sleep.

Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2014, the year we all finally keep our new year’s resolutions… here’s hoping! Before we take a look back at December and all the bloggy goodness it contained, I wanted to remind you of the most exciting thing happening in 2014:

Houston Baptist University is hosting a conference on “Paul and Judaism” on March 19-20, 2014. Our keynote speakers include N.T. Wright (St Andrews University)Beverly Gaventa (Baylor University), and Ross Wagner (Duke Divinity School).

In addition to the keynote speakers, we are inviting papers in the area of Paul and Judaism, representing a variety of approaches from scholars and graduate students. Participants will have 30 minutes to present papers (inclusive of Q&A). Please submit a 200-300 word abstract to Dr. Ben C. Blackwell at bblackwell[at] by January 15, 2014, and you should receive notification regarding acceptance by January 31. Registration by February 15 is required for those who will present at the conference.

For more info:

This conference is going to be AWESOME so be sure to get your paper submissions in by January 15th and/or register for the conference!  Hope to see y’all there.

Now, on to the feast of December blog posts!

Advent, Christmas, and the Incarnation
Since this month’s carnival covers December it seems natural to start off with a sampling of Christmas-themed posts.

“One item of folk religion is the belief among Christians that the incarnation was temporary—a mere interim and perhaps even a charade in the life of the Son of God, God’s Word, the Logos. For many evangelicals (and others, I suspect), the incarnation was simply the Son of God ‘putting on human skin’ for thirty-some years in order to teach us how to please God and then to die for our sins. Either at the moment of his death or at his resurrection or at his ascension he shed that human skin and returned to his glorious pre-incarnation existence as God’s purely spiritual Son in heaven who also, somehow, dwells in every Christian’s heart.

This is, of course, an informal form of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism. It is a docetic Christology. Most of the time I find that people who believe the incarnation was temporary don’t really believe in the incarnation at all! That is, they tend to think of Jesus’ humanity as an act, an outward performance, not a real human nature and existence like ours. To many Christians ‘Jesus’ was Clark Kent to the Son of God’s super-human glory.”

ANE, Hebrew Bible, OT Theology, and More

LXX, DSS, Apocrypha and More

New Testament, NT Theology, and More

Early Christianity and Patristics


Language, Linguistics, Textual Criticism, and Translation

“I say to my students, ‘Check your sources.’ I tell them,
‘Look up the works in the footnotes and read them.’ I warn them to get beyond the slogans and labels of ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ or ‘evangelical’ or whatever and to discover the substance of the argument. In this day of uncounted online ‘“news’ sources (not to mention on air news sources), many of which are propaganda for various positions and/or sensationalism, some of which being not just junk but worse than junk, this admonition is even more important than it has been in the past.


The “I wasn’t sure where to put it but you should definitely read it” Category

“One of the differences between ‘theology’ and ‘religious studies’ is that theology is carried out from within the perspective of the believer, while religious studies takes a strictly historical/sociological perspective. I am enrolled in a theological program: perhaps this is why my immediate response to learning of this theologian’s persistent sinful patterns of behavior was to question whether and how it reflected on the value of his theology. It seems a screamingly obvious question to me.”

Book Reviews
Good heavens, December was the month of book reviews!

The Biblical Studies Carnivals of 2013
Since it is the end of another year, I thought I’d include a link to all of the previous Biblical Studies Carnivals of 2013 compiled by The Biblioblog Top 50.

Peter Kirby has the Top 50 Biblioblogs Winter Report at his blog and Abram K-J has the Septuagint Studies Soirée #5.

And of course, Jim West is hosting his ‘Wright Free Zone’ carnivalat his blog… but is a carnival without Wright really a carnival at all?  We here at Cataclysmic love us some N.T. Wright… well, most of us (wink, wink)… so to start off the new year with lots of joy, here’s Tom-foolery: 12 Epic Facts About N.T. Wright from Out of Ur.

The next Biblical Studies Carnival (Jan 14, Due Feb 1) will be hosted by Brian Renshaw at NT Exegesis.  See y’all ’round the blogosphere!

Gregory of Nazianzus on the Mystery of the Body

From Gregory’s Festal Oration 14:

St. Gregory of Nazianzus
Gregory the Theologian

How am I connected to this body, I do not know, nor do I understand how I can be an image of God, and still be mingled with this filthy clay; when it is in good condition, it wars against me, and when it is itself under attack, it causes me grief! I love it as my fellow servant, but struggle against it as an enemy; I flee it as something enslaved, just as I am, but I show it reverence as called, with me, to the same inheritance. I long that it be dissolved, and yet I have no other helper to use in striving for what is best, since I know what I was made for, and know that I must ascend towards God through my actions. (trans. Daley 48-49)

Meet Jessica…

Jessica Parks is a self-proclaimed language nerd and happily married to one as well. She is a full-time graduate student at Houston Baptist University where she also works as a student grader and occasionally substitutes for Greek, Hebrew, and theology classes.  She recently earned a Master of Arts in Biblical Languages and is starting her second master’s degree this fall in Theological Studies. In addition to biblical languages and linguistics, she is interested in Septuagint studies, early Christianity, patristics, and gender issues. Jessica is a member of First Colony Christian Church (Sugar Land, TX) and serves on occasion through preaching and teaching. She also enjoys going to the movies with her husband Jimmy, playing with her dogs Charlie and Bo, and of course a good game of Zelda.

Follow Jessica on Twitter @mrsjessparks and read her recent review of T. Michael Law’s book ‘When God Spoke Greek: The Septuagint and the Making of the Christian Bible’ as part of a blog tour hosted by Near Emmaus.