Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Bonny St. Andrews

The third oldest university in the United Kingdom is St. Andrews University, with 5,000 undergrads today and numerous grad students. The town itself is a little seaside village on the west coast of Scotland, and let me tell you--- the water is very cold in the North Sea. I went swimming yesterday and it was the hottest day on record in St. Andrews. It didn't matter--- the water was still about 50F max. The town has a long religious history, with a ruined abbey and a castle keep where John Knox was imprisoned among its other intereting sites to visit. Of course today it is most famous for its golf course, the Old Course, which has hosted many a British Open. I played it on Friday-- 2 pars, one bird, and though the cost was very pricey (think hundreds of dollars) the experience was priceless. Hope to post some pictures when I get home, including one of me on the famous 18th hole bridge. St. Andrews, without question, is one of the best places in the world to study theology with a world class faculty, to which has just been added Marcus Boeckmuhl from Cambridge. I have had a wonderful time with my old friends Richard Bauckham (who is soon retiring) and Bruce Longenecker. Now we are beginning an important conference on the book of Hebrews with papers by Richard Hays, Morna Hooker, Richard Bauckham, Craig Blomberg, yours truly and lots of others. It promises to be grand. More anon.

22 comments:

Terry Hamblin said...

Ben
I don't know whether you are familiar with the novels of Edinburgh ethicist Alexander McCall Smith (No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency). In his book "The Sunday Philosphy Club" he has some disparaging words for the University of St Andrews. It is, he says, a place for rich kids who don't want to do any work, but enjoy golf and parties. But then Edinburgh is altogether more austere and Calvinist.

Chris Tilling said...

I studied Theology in St Andrews - and I have very fond memories of it. Is the old lady still handing out tracts to all the theologians as they pass into St Mary's from the main road?

Marc Axelrod said...

Swimming in 50 degree water? Holy cow, I'll bet you were wide awake for the rest of the day!

I have always liked Dr. Bauckham's work. His little book on the theology of Revelation is great, it keeps the focus on the Christology in the book.

I'm in Willem VanGemeren's Isaiah class today. He is brilliant, and he reads Hebrew very fluently.

Scott said...

you've got to check out the Highlands while you're over there. rent a car and take it through to Skye. the horizons are unbelievable. just make sure you apply lots of bug repellent; the Highland midges are the worst insects in the world.

see-through faith said...

Terry, don't believe all you read in novels (grin) but I just finished Friends, Lovers and chocolate and it's a good book.

And skip Skye and go further north. the North West Coast is out of this world.

And yeah ST Andrews golf course is prob one of the most expensive there is. Priceless as you say.

Matt said...

A lot of Dr. Bauckham's writing is priceless, but none more so (for me, at least) than his little (<100 pages) "God Crucified". It's a pity he's retiring.

Peace,

Matt

Joshua Brainard said...

Dr. Ben

Since you mention the book of Hebrews, I've got a question about it. Hebrews 10:4 says the blood of the sacrificial animals in the OT could not take away sin. But I was looking at Leviticus and it says that the priests were to make atonement, to "cleanse" the people, that the people would be forgiven, and the ram "bears the iniquity." But the Hebrew writer relagates the role of the animals to bringing ritual purity and remembrance of sin only. What gives?

Joshua Brainard said...

Dr. Ben, I have been looking for anything you have written on the topic of the meaning of inspiration as it relates to inerrancy, and only was able to find an article you posted on your blog about 2 Tim 3:16. However, while you asked if anyone was going to raise the question of inerrancy, there was no discussion about it. Any chance I could get you to write us a little something about it :D Or point me to a good source? I'm really having a tough time right now...like Lamentations 3 or Job 3 kind of tough.

Ruud Vermeij said...

I suppose that has to be the east coast of Scotland. The North Sea is on the west coast of The Netherlands (my country...) :-)

Brian said...

I guess I only fantasize about one day studying somewhere in Scotland (my grandmothers home), but I think I'd get my hiney kicked (theologically speaking)! a wee bumkin likes meself woudn't do to well I say. Ha!

Ben Witherington said...

Thanks one and all for your wisdom on Scotland. Please remember I have lived over here for various years of my life and have seen these other places you've mentioned, which are indeed grand. St. Andrews is certainly not an elitist place in my observation.

Joshua my book on the inspiration of the Bible is yet forthcoming. It will be a while down the road.

Blessings

Ben

David said...

Ben,

Would you let us know when and where these papers on Hebrews get published?

It is good to hear that you are having such a great time.

David

Ben Witherington said...

Richard Bauckham is in charge of the publishing matter, but I suspect Eerdmans will take these papers or at least some of them.

Ben

Jon said...

"I don't know whether you are familiar with the novels of Edinburgh ethicist Alexander McCall Smith (No.1 Ladies' Detective Agency). In his book "The Sunday Philosphy Club" he has some disparaging words for the University of St Andrews. It is, he says, a place for rich kids who don't want to do any work, but enjoy golf and parties."

The irony here being that McCall Smith's daughter studies at St Andrews...

I'd be interested to hear your total score on the Old Course Ben. I'm a Theology student at St And but I've been polishing up my game so that I can play the Old Course...

Ben Witherington said...

Hi Jon:

Well on my home course I am about a 12-13 handicap. On the old course this time I had about three pars and a birdie, the rest bogies and one dreaded 7 I think, so, 90 something. I did not keep a card. I was just having too much fun. The best part was a picture on the bridge on the home hole.

Ben

Traditionalist1611 said...

ben, please tell me what you diagree with on this page regarding Israel, especially point 1:

http://www.jhm.org/support-israel.asp

yuckabuck said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
yuckabuck said...

Traditionalist,
Wow, I didn't realize that John Hagee could be so guilty of such horrible exegesis of the Scriptures! I'm sure Dr. Witherington has his own take on the above link, but just for starters I noticed:

1) Gen 12:3 never says that we are
to look the other way when Israel does wrong. Paul says that the fulfillment of this verse is the blessing of the gospel (Gal 3:8-9). Nothing here says that we are to put support for Israel ahead of a concern for justice. Even God didn't "support Israel" when it was full of injustice, as the book of Amos shows! To "bless" means to wish for good for someone, and to "curse" is to wish evil for someone. It is possible to "bless" Israel and still be very critical of its actions.

2) Hagee says "It is not possible to say, "I am a Christian" and not love the Jewish people." Jesus says that it is not possible to say, "I am a Christian" and not love ANY people. We are to even "love" Al Quaida, and pray for their repentance.

3) Where does Hagee get that "Jesus considered the Jewish people His family" from Matthew 25:40? Jesus specifically said that his family was "whoever does God's will" (Mark 3:35). Nowhere in the context of Matthew 25 is Jesus' brothers shown to be the Jewish people or nation. He is reading into Scripture what he wants to find there. Shame on him.

6)Time after time the book of Acts asserts that the Holy Spirit came upon Cornelius because he believed the gospel, not because he gave alms to Israel. If he had NOT believed Peter's message, would he have still received the Spirit? Of course not. No almsgiving or "supporting Israel" would have changed that.

And for the record, politically I am very conservative, and so I consider Israel a staunch ally, and I have no axe to grind against them. But bad exegesis needs to be pointed out. James 3:1 says, " Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." Everyone who attempts to tell others what "the Bible says" should first have this verse stapled to their head in a way that will hurt so that they will not soon forget it! Then perhaps they will be more cautious in their assertions.

yuckabuck said...

Note that my criticism is of John Hagee and not Traditionalist. I am not asserting that Traditionalist should staple anything to his head. :-) (I hope it didn't sound that way.)

Ben Witherington said...

Hi Traditionalist:

I have looked at Hagee's page, and there are too may exegetical blunders to enumerate, but in addition to what Yuckabuck has pointed out, which is mostly right I would add these things. 1) ABRAHAM is not Israel. The blessing on Abraham and his descendents does not include all of Israel as is perfectly clear from the fact of what happens with Isaac, Jacob etc. as one line is blessed and the other is not; 2) Rom. 15 is referring to the collection for the POOR CHRISTIANS IN JERUSALEM, it has nothing to do with some modern unconditional support for the Zionist state of Israel, which I would remind you, even orthodox Jews do not support a good deal of the time; 3) It is simply untrue that God loves Israel at the expense of the church, in this particular case the Palestinian Christian Church. If there is a group that the NT targets as especially the apple of God's eye, it is the church of Jew and Gentile united in Christ, not the nation state Israel. 4) As John 3.16 says God loves the world, and while we are at it the story of Cornelius in Acts 10 says God is impartial and is no respecter of persons, hence the kick in the pants to Peter to get on with evangelizing a Gentile like Cornelius and his family!!

Ben

Ty said...

You might also include the books of Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, and various passages in Isaiah, which make it clear that God is not just God for Israel, but for all nations (even before Christ). In fact, God says, "Only you have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities [Amos 3:1-6]." Not indicating a exclusive relationship, but special accountability as "the people of God."

Prov 17:15

J.Skjou said...

Ben...
I'm assuming that Richard is Retiring from his teaching Career and is still open to writing during his retirement? It would be a serious shame not to have his insights for the rest of the world to see. Can you tell him that his readership does not have a peace about him not writing anymore :)! S.I. Hayakawa, in "Language in thought and Action", speaks about writing enabling us to "go on from where others left off. Language, that is to say, makes progress possible" (7). Richard has made progress possible for alot of laymen like myself (not to mention your works also). Please pass the message: Retirement, OK. Stop writing, not OK!