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Volume 25 Issue 2

Editor's Preface

History is the crucial foundation to Christianity. That real events took place in real places and real times undergirds almost everything we teach and believe. Jesus was born in Bethlehem. He grew up in Nazareth, taught all over Galilee, went to Jerusalem, was tried, crucified, died, and resurrected there. Paul travelled in Greece and Asia Minor to real cities like Athens, Corinth, Philippi, Thessalonica, Iconium, and Antioch on real Roman stone-paved roads, lived in Corinth practicing his tent trade, taught for years in Ephesus before being secreted out of town after a riot against him.

After teaching about events in these places for thirty-eight years, I can now say I have travelled myself to these historical places. From October 22–November 14 I travelled along with my wife Joni by cruise ship, bus, and even regional Turkiye airlines to see these places. For years I have passed out a very precisely drawn map of Corinth (including the market, two key roads, shop areas, and more). It was really something to be on the pavement where Paul had his tent shop and likely met Priscilla and Aquila. As important as Corinth was, it was so much smaller than I had imagined, especially when compared to the massive city of Ephesus, plus Ephesus is far and away the best preserved archeological site of them all. Columns, homes, temples, library façade are all there to roam about. Ephesus included the very large stadium where Paul’s efforts to defend the gospel were shouted down by chants of “Great is Artimus of the Ephesians” after which he was likely hustled down a nearby route to a sea escape. Philippi was a surprise. I had not realized it was so well pre- served and extensively excavated, including the possible cave-jail where Paul and Silas were imprisoned overnight. And up from there was a possible river location where Paul baptized Lydia, the seller of purple who was the first European convert to Christianity.

Despite the critical events that took place in Jerusalem related to Jesus, some- how I felt closer to the real Jesus in Galilee. I could easily imagine him traveling from town to town in this geographically confined area with his new message and teaching in and around the Sea of Galilee. Teeming with masses of people and with Catholic shrines astride every key site, Jerusalem seemed more like a busy tourist site than anything else. Galilee was literally a breath of fresh air. I did not visit Nazareth or Capernaum. We were more in the countryside near the Sea of Galilee but did visit Sephoris. This is a relatively recent and ongoing archaeological site of the past generation that has energized biblical scholars with theoretical possibilities. Not ten miles from Nazareth, here was a major Roman city likely under construction during the time of Jesus. Did he visit here? Did he and/or his father do work here? With this city being so close, how much more exposed was he to Greek culture and ideas than we previously thought? Did Jesus learn some conversational Greek here?

I guess this memorable trip to the places of Paul and Jesus left me with the sense of just how real the biblical events are that we talk about so much in class and at church. Being historical is not in itself what makes Jesus’ claims true. Being a Christian is about history and faith. We believe the history of Jesus and Paul and others in the Bible is true; we also believe the testimony of Scripture that Jesus is who says he is. And we believe that what Paul and other apostles teach in Scripture is true. All this is encapsulated in Scripture and in the continuing witness of the church.

And so we come to the current contents of a journal that seeks to deepen and solidify our understanding of both the Bible and also the world depicted in the Bible. So, this journal contains six excellent articles.

Our two lead articles come from the presentations of consulting editor Jerry Sumney and SCinternational non-profit board member Doug Foster at our 2021 SCJ reception at the Society of Biblical Literature national meeting in San Antonio. This was billed as A Conversation about the Biblical Hermeneutics of Race and Justice. Doug, drawing from his recent biography of Alexander Campbell (Baker, 2021) explains how Campbell undermines his own normal hermeneutics in justifying slavery. Jerry’s article explains the hermeneutics that leads him to advocate that Christians be politically and socially active.

William Custer’s intriguing and heavily researched article paints the historical advancement of Christian philosophical apologetics against the backdrop of the intellectual movements of the well-publicized atheist of Oxford University philosopher, Antony Flew. Flew ends up in a surprising place.

Rob O’Lynn mines the treasures of the book of Job to demonstrate how engaged, theological exegesis can lead to dynamic sermons. Eric Brandell’s article on James works through an array of approaches to arrive at suggesting a convincing structure for the Epistle of James. For good reason Eric’s paper won the graduate division of the student paper competition at the 2022 SCJ Conference. Finally, Walt Zorn thoroughly traces the violent, punishment images of "the lamb" through Revelation.

William Baker, SCJ Editor

Abilene Christian University


Alexander Campbell was deeply concerned with proper interpretation of the Bible. From extensive studies early in his career he distilled seven hermeneutical rules for rightly understanding and applying Scripture to one’s life. Six of the rules reflect common sense critical principles, but his “essential” rule seven added a moral component that went beyond the intellectual. Campbell, however, failed to apply this essential rule to the enslavement of human beings.

Lexington Theological Seminary


Starting from Alexander Campbell’s hermeneutic, seen in his treatment of the issue of slavery, this essay sets out a hermeneutic for using Scripture in the church. Rejecting literalistic readings, it argues that readers must have a consistent hermeneutic if they are to use the biblical texts in legitimate ways, that is, in ways that bring the intent of the biblical texts into the present. Having such a consistent hermeneutic can help avoid imposing ideas on the biblical text.

Cincinnati, OH


The last forty years have shown significant progress in Christian apologetics. Christian thinkers have reformulated failed deductive arguments from first cause and design into inductive arguments that can defeat enlightenment skepticism and open the way for fine-tuning of revelational theism. This paper traces the gradual journey of Oxford philosopher Antony Flew from his systematic defense of atheism to belief in a God who is both an incorporeal, omnipresent spirit and who interacts with the world. Flew did not take the final step of belief in the deity of Jesus but opened the door to arguments based on divine miracle and providence.

Kentucky Christian University


This is an engaged approach to read Job 1–2 through the application of theological exegesis. As defined by Gorman, theological exegesis seeks to read Scripture formatively in order to develop a confessional approach to disciple- ship. Emphasis focuses on God as the central character of the text. Next, attention turns to the homiletic component, as a theology of hope is applied to gospel proclamation. A sermon précis will be offered as a practical application of the concepts discussed.

Harding School of Theology


While the literary structure of James is notoriously difficult, after appreciatively tracing the historical trajectory of interpretation, this paper articulates an under- standing of the structural indicators present in the text. Distinguishing the Wisdom Paraenesis genre helps anticipate the letter’s aphoristic style. Identifying the introductory role chapter one plays assists in making connection between it and each of the subsequent sections. Noting the frequency of telo" (telos, “goal/outcome”) assists in discerning a centering theme that coherently ties the work together.

Lincoln Christian University


Wrath is often accompanied by violent action no matter its source. Revelation presents “the Lamb as having been slaughtered” acting as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David” (Rev 5:5) who conquers. The Lamb conquers by being slaughtered by Evil (the cross)! Yet, the Lamb still stands (the resurrection, exaltation, and enthronement). Throughout Revelation, the “violence” of the Lamb surges forth in judgment against both “cowardly” and “faithless” Christians (the Letters to the Seven Churches). It also stands against the evil entities (dragon, two beasts) behind an evil, totalitarian government that persecutes and even martyrs Christians because of their testimony concerning Jesus. The “military imagery” throughout Revelation is ultimately fulfilled in the Lamb’s violent casting of those who follow the beasts and beastly governments into the “lake of fire and sulfur.” Only the Lamb can open the seven seals unleashing seven trumpets and ultimately seven bowls of wrath. In the end the “Lamb” (Suffering Servant), as a victorious “Lion” (Davidic Messiah), is found to be “trustworthy and true” (Rev 19:11).

Download book reviews for this issue.

RoseAnn Benson, Alexander Campbell and Joseph Smith: Nineteenth-Century Restorationists
(James O’Brien, Cincinnati, Ohio)

Thomas P. Johnson, ed., A History of Evangelism in North Americ(Shawn C. Smith, Johnson University)

John C. Peckham, Divine Attributes: Knowing the Covenantal God of Scripture
(John C. Nugent, Great Lakes Christian College)

Christopher R. J. Holmes, A Theology of the Christian Life: Imitating and Participating in God
(David Kiger, Emmanuel Christian Seminary at Milligan)

Cyril Orji, Unmasking the Africa Ghost: Theology, Politics, and the Nightmare of Failed States
(Matthew B. Hall, Abilene Christian University)

David Bentley Hart, Tradition and Apocalypse: An Essay on the Future of Christian Belief
(Steven C. Hunter, Murray Kentucky)

Catherine Keller, Facing Apocalypse: Climate, Democracy, and Other Last Chances
(Wade Casey, Loyola University Chicago)

David H. Kelsey, Human Anguish and God’s Power
(Brad East, Abilene Christian University)

Roger E. Olson, Against Liberal Theology: Putting the Brakes on Progressive Christianity
(David Lertis Matson, Hope International University)

John Kessler, Between Hearing and Silence: A Study in Old Testament Theology
(Paavo Tucker, Lipscomb University, Abilene Christian University)

Ruben A. Bühner, Messianic High Christology: New Testament Variants of Second Temple Judaism
(Tyler A. Stewart, Lincoln Christian University)

Joshua Cockayne, Contemporary with Christ: Kierkegaard and Second-Personal Spirituality
(Thomas J. Millay, St. Olaf College)

Andrew Root, Churches and the Crisis of Decline: A Hopeful Ecclesiology for a Secular Age
(Mason Lee, Abilene Christian University)

Michael P. Knowles, Third Voice: Preaching Resurrection
(Rob O’Lynn, Kentucky Christian University)

Charles L. Aaron, Jr., and Jamie Clark-Soles, eds., Shouting above the Noisy Crowd: Biblical Wisdom and the Urgency of Preaching: Essays in Honor of Alyce M. McKenzie
(Rob O’Lynn, Kentucky Christian University)

Sarah Travis, Unspeakable: Preaching and Trauma-Informed Theology
(Cana Moore, Hays, Kansas)

Lisa L. Thompson, Preaching the Headlines: Possibilities and Pitfalls
(Cana Moore, Hays, Kansas)

Veronice Miles, Embodied Hope: A Homiletical Theology Reflection
(Rob O’Lynn, Kentucky Christian University)

Noel A. Snyder, Sermons That Sing: Music and the Practice of Preaching
(Matthew Love, Baylor University)

Rob Dixon, Together in Ministry: Women and Men in Flourishing Partnerships
(Paul D. Potter, Kentucky Christian University, Emmanuel Christian Seminary)

R. B. Jamieson and Tyler R. Wittmann, Biblical Reasoning: Christological and Trinitarian Rules for Exegesis
(David W. Hester, Faulkner University)

Eric A. Seibert, Enjoying the Old Testament: A Creative Guide to Encountering Scripture
(Donald R. Sanders, Jr., Lincoln Christian University)

Tremper Longman, III, Confronting Old Testament Controversies: Pressing Questions about Evolution, Sexuality, History, and Violence
(J. Blair Wilgus, Hope International University)

Amy C. Cottrill, Uncovering Violence: Reading Biblical Narratives as an Ethical Project
(Jennifer M. Matheny, Nazarene Theological Seminary)

Adam J. Howell, Ruth: A Guide to Reading Biblical Hebrew
(Daryl Docterman, Southeastern University)

Holger Gzella, Aramaic: A History of the First World Language
(Daryl Docterman, Southeastern University)

Anthony Milner, A Theology of Genocide? Reading Deuteronomy 20
(Joe M. Sprinkle, Johnson University)

Mark S. Smith and Elizabeth M. Bloch-Smith, Judges 1: A Commentary on Judges 1:1–10:5
(Jennifer M. Matheny, Nazarene Theological Seminary)

Johnson Thomaskutty, ed., An Asian Introduction to the New Testament
(Fred Hansen, TCM International)

Stanley E. Porter and Benjamin P. Laird, eds., Five Views on the New Testament Canon
(James E. Sedlacek, Israel Institute of Biblical Studies)

Ryan S. Schellenberg and Heidi Wendt, eds., T&T Clark Handbook to the Historical Paul
(Rafael Rodriguez, Johnson University)

Georgios K. Giannakis, Luz Conti, Jesús de la Villa, and Raquel Fornieles, eds., Synchrony and Diachrony of Ancient Greek: Language: Linguistics and Philology
(James E. Sedlacek, Israel Institute of Biblical Studies)

Mathieu de Bakker and Irene J.F. de Jong, Speech in Ancient Greek Literature: Studies in Ancient Greek Narrative, Volume Five
(James E. Sedlacek, Israel Institute of Biblical Studies)

Scot McKnight, Reading Romans Backwards: The Gospel of Peace in the Midst of Empire
(William Baker, Stone Campbell Journal)

Herbert W. Bateman IV and William C. Varner, James: An Exegetical Guide for Preaching and Teaching
(William Baker, Stone Campbell Journal)


Chosen by Eric Brandell
Harding School of Theology
25.2 Quotables
View Quotables from Other Issues Here

Featured Quote:

"Campbell justified his stance on slavery by ignoring an 'indispensable' part of his own hermeneutic."

Douglas Foster, "Alexander Campbell's Hermeneutical Rules and the Enslavement of Black People" (SCJ 25.2:169)

"Using his Reformed approach that saw Scripture as a legal document, Campbell believed he could demonstrate to any rational person not deceived by wrongheaded selfish considerations, that slavery was approved and regulated by God, never condemned, or depicted as sinful."

Douglas Foster, "Alexander Campbell's Hermeneutical Rules and the Enslavement of Black People" (SCJ 25.2:169)

"As I watch people try to use a literalist hermeneutic, they always fail to be able to do so consistently."

Jerry Sumney, "A Stone-Campbell Hermeneutic for Justice: A Practical Hermeneutic for the Church Today" (SCJ 25.2:176)

""[Sumney's proposed] hermeneutic can help us be faithful to God and to what we read in Scripture as we think about what to believe and do in our time and place, including our varying cultural and social locations. It makes the faith and Scripture more relevant as new questions and new understandings of our world emerge."

Jerry Sumney, "A Stone-Campbell Hermeneutic for Justice: A Practical Hermeneutic for the Church Today" (SCJ 25.2:185)

"The late Anthony Flew was somewhat unusual among atheists because, unlike most who merely dabble in disbelief, he invested a lifetime of systematic argument against belief in God and the afterlife. He also changed his mind."

William L. Customer, "Forty Years of Progress in Christian Apologetics: An Atheist Changes His Mind" (SCJ 25.2:187)

"Given the universe had a beginning in time some 14.5 billion years ago, evolutionary explanations have had their wings clipped. Monkeys with typewriters need more than just a term-paper extension, it is time to look for intelligent causes."

William L. Customer, "Forty Years of Progress in Christian Apologetics: An Atheist Changes His Mind" (SCJ 25.2:212)

"What do you want?' the king bellows. 'Simply to engage in a little wager, my lord,' comes the cool and calculated response. 'I wager that if you strike Job, he will renounce his faith faster than a rebellious angel falls from heaven."

Rob O'Lynn, DMin, "God's Wager: A Theological-Homiletic Reading of Job 1–2" (SCJ 25.2:224)

"To ask ourselves to 'find our place in the story of Job' is equally troubling theologically. The challenge is, therefore, not to divine an answer to why suffering happens but how we should respond to suffering."

Rob O'Lynn, DMin, "God's Wager: A Theological-Homiletic Reading of Job 1–2" (SCJ 25.2:226)

"Thus the ideal of Christian wholeness (τέλειος) is largely structured around Torah and Wisdom, consisting of neighborly love and wise humility in daily activity."

Eric Brandell, "Discerning the Literary Structure in the Epistle of James" (SCJ 25.2:238)

"Coherence is achieved primarily through the incorporation of a wisdom paraenesis genre, which seeks to exhort through a series of loosely related (longer) essays and (shorter) aphorisms; through the introductory nature of chapter 1, which ushers in key themes to be discussed subsequently throughout the body of the text; and through the centering theme of τέλος, the prevalence of which indicates the goal of perfection or wholeness within the Christian's daily life."

Eric Brandell, "Discerning the Literary Structure in the Epistle of James" (SCJ 25.2:239)

"Indeed, Christians are not to overcome evil by 'violence.' Neither did Jesus overcome evil by violence; rather, the 'Lamb' overcame evil by absorbing the violence of his enemies."

Walter D. Zorn, "The Violence of the Lamb: Revelation's Imagery" (SCJ 25.2:247)

"To the question: 'Is the Lamb safe? Is he safe?' the answer is 'No, but He is good!' He is violent against the enemies of his people but good to 'those who follow Him."

Walter D. Zorn, "The Violence of the Lamb: Revelation's Imagery" (SCJ 25.2:255)

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Volume 26 Issue 1

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Spring 2023



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