King's Evangelical Divinity School

15 September 2014

The Bible and the Crisis of Meaning

This review of mine was published in Evangelical Quarterly in 2009 (80.1, pp 81-82).  I'd forgotten all about it and only just now came across the PDF file sent to me by the publisher some time back, so I thought I'd share it. It will most likely be of interest to students of biblical studies, hermeneutics, language and culture.

The Bible and the Crisis of Meaning: Debates on the Theological Meaning of Scripture 
by D. Christopher Spinks (London: Continuum, 2007). xii+201pp. hb. £65, ISBN 978-0-5670-3210-2

If you acquire and read this cerebral book be prepared for some considerable exercising of the grey matter. D. Christopher Spinks delves into the thorny and highly theoretically complex issue of meaning. How does one define meaning, and where exactly is the meaning of the biblical text located? If with the author, in which part of the authorial process: the author’s thoughts, or perhaps the actual communication of ideas? Or maybe our quest ought to be more reader-response orientated so that meaning becomes subservient to the interpretative process by and for the reading community.

Throughout, Spinks’ discussion of meaning is wedded firmly to theological interpretation of the Bible, the recent inexorable rise of which is noted by Spinks at the outset. Given the inherently theological nature of the Bible, whether in its authorial for- mation or communal reading, Spinks makes clear we must move firmly beyond an historical-critical approach and matters lying ‘behind the text’ (though he does not eschew historical approaches as worthless) to a process thoroughly rooted in the theological interpretation of the Bible.

9 September 2014

The Politics and Economics of Pentecostalism

Are Pentecostals inherently political and materialist? The established wisdom until fairly recently was that they were neither. With notable exceptions such as stances on moral issues (for example, sanctity of life, sexuality), the occasional televangelist expressing politically conservative views, and intriguingly a long tradition of pacifism, Pentecostals were largely apolitical and otherworldly. They often felt uncomfortable relating to wider society or engaging in worldly issues such as politics, while their pietism, eschatology, and evangelism contributed to Pentecostalism’s political quiescence.
However, since the late 1970s an explosion of Pentecostalism, particularly in Latin America but also in Africa and Asia, has attracted considerable scholarly interest in its social impact and potential as a determinant of political behavior. The ensuing (and substantial) body of interdisciplinary research yields a social, political, and economic picture of global Pentecostalism that strongly challenges the apolitical narrative. Thus, Harvard Divinity School’s Harvey Cox describes how, some years ago while listening to the Pentecostal Benedita da Silva (Brazil’s first black woman elected to congress) speaking in a church, a sinking feeling came over him: “I realized that nearly all my preconceptions about pentecostalism and politics, race and women, would now have to be junked.”
These are the opening paragraphs of my chapter entitled "The Politics and Economics of Pentecostalism" just published in the Cambridge Companion to Pentecostalism, edited by Cecil M. Robeck and Amos Yong and published by Cambridge University Press. Further details of my chapter and the book are available here. This book is available through all major booksellers.

2 September 2014

The Church and Israel FAQs

I realise there's a lot of material on this blog about the relationship between the Church and Israel and related matters, but other than the tag cloud it's not easy to find individual articles. Someone suggested I should create an FAQ page on the topic. It's a good idea so what I've done below is to outline some typical questions people ask on this issue and link to some of my articles to help readers easily find material. The list by no means covers all my posts, but it is a start. This page is now highlighted in the right-hand column beneath the tag cloud for site visitors.

Finally, I have been working on some podcasts on the whole issue of the Church and Israel, the aim being to present a series of talks covering the subject and related issues in a systematic manner. Recording has begun, so watch this space.