Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pentecostalisms, Peacemaking, and Social Justice/Righteousness

I'm thrilled to once again be attending the annual meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies (SPS).  This year it is being hosted by Regent University in Virginia Beach, VA from March 1-4 (which promises to be much warmer than Karlstad).  The topic is one I find close to my heart -- "Pentecostalisms, Peacemaking, and Social Justice/Righteousness" and this year I will be chairing one of the Bible sessions.  It looks to be an interesting conference.  You can view a PDF of the sessions HERE.  

The two presenters and their respective papers I will be chairing are:
"‘New Treasures and Old’: (Re-)Reading the Old Testament Theologically with Early Pentecostal Mothers and Fathers" -- Chris Green, Bangor University (Wales)
"‘Tell Me the Old, Old Story’: The Hymns and Testimonies of Ancient Israel and American Pentecostals" --
Meghan Musy, Missouri State University

I am thrilled to be able to chair the session (especially as it pertains to the joint topics of Pentecostals and the OT).  Also, its a delight to be able to chair for Chris Green...who I've found helpful in several previous sessions of SPS concerning the integration of the sacraments -- and a sacramental appreciation -- and Pentecostal theology and praxis.

On a related note...I realized I still haven't joined Pentecostals and Charismatics for Peace and Justice, but will have to rectify that this year.  By joining you can elect to receive a PCPJ mug, shirt or book (Pentecostal Pacifism by Jay Beaman).  This group was formed by Paul Alexander (and several others of like mind) of whom I intend in 2012 to read his "Peace to War: Shifting Allegiances in the Assemblies of God".

Monday, December 05, 2011

"Fourteen" Generations?

This week I preached from Matthew 1:1-17 on the genealogy of Jesus.  Talk about a fun text!  Needless to say, one of the elements of this text that is troubling (at a certain level) is the emphasis by Matthew on "fourteen generations" from Abraham to David, then David to the exile in Babylon, then the exile to the Christ.  When one counts the names in each list it becomes readily apparent that there are not fourteen in all three.  The first is fine, but the other two are not. 

There have been a number of proposals for resolving this and I'll just mention them briefly followed by my own proposal.
1) At least one of the names should be counted in both lists.  For instance, David or Jeconiah.
2) The three groups of fourteen are meant to refer to six groups of seven (which is considered a number of completion).
3) Fourteen should be understood as gematria (where the letters of the alphabet represent numbers) and David in the Hebrew (דָּוִד dawid - only the consonants have numeric value) is 4+6+4 which equals 14.  Thus, David and Jesus connection to him as the Christ is the central point.

The first should be rejected because there is actually no clear indication of adding only one name twice.  It fails to work out intelligibly in any counting.  The second proposal fails because Matthew emphatically notes "fourteen" and not seven.  This would also place Jesus within the groups and fails to actually count the names.  The third (being the leading preference for interpreting this passage) falls short (in my opinion) because it requires a Hebrew gematria reading of a Greek text, which seems overly complex.  The use of a name being equal to the number is also not noted (as elsewhere in Scripture - cf. Rev.13:18).

My own proposal is simply to consider the "fourteen" generations for each of the groups as referring to the fulness of time.  This is then taken to point to Jesus as the Christ coming in the line of the promise to Abraham to bless all the nations, and to king David to have a son who would sit on the throne forever.  Thus, making this text a wonderful fit for Advent season (on which also see the post by Dan Thompson concerning "hope").  To be certain, the number "fourteen" in this context is ambiguous at best.  One can only guess that Matthew's original audience understood what was meant.  So what are your thoughts?

Friday, December 02, 2011

Why Amos Is a Downer This Time of Year

Today I opened my blogreader to discover that Dan Thompson was discussing (tongue-in-cheek) why Amos is a real downer to read for advent season.  I personally think he's probably not much fun at parties either, so I wouldn't recommend inviting him to any this season...unless you like being told you are the first to be taken away as a prisoner-of-war because you were living the high-life.
 4 They lie around on beds decorated with ivory, and sprawl out on their couches. They eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the middle of the pen.
 5 They sing to the tune of stringed instruments; like David they invent musical instruments.
 6 They drink wine from sacrificial bowls, and pour the very best oils on themselves. Yet they are not concerned over the ruin of Joseph.
 7 Therefore they will now be the first to go into exile, and the religious banquets where they sprawl on couches will end. (Amos 6:4-7 NET)
 (As an aside, Dan is giving away a free copy of the CEB every week till Christmas for those who comment on his advent readings and link back to them...so if you want a chance at a CEB...)