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Spring 2017 national meeting

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Ethics & Early Christianity

John Shelby Spong

The Fourth R Magazine

Did Martin Luther Get It All Wrong about Faith in Christ?

By William O. Walker, Jr.

The debate hinges upon the translation of a simple two-word Greek phrase: pistis Christou. In short, if the Christou in pistis Christou is an objective genitive (“faith in Christ”), then Luther was right and Protestant theology since Luther has generally been on the right track so far as this issue is concerned. If, however, the Christou in pistis Christou is a subjective genitive (“the faith/faithfulness of Christ”), then Luther got it all wrong, and Protestant theology since Luther has generally been on the wrong track.  Continue reading

Gladiators and Martyrs

By Susan M. Elliott

How did prisoners who were publicly executed in horrifying and degrading ways become icons of Christian heroism, “The Martyrs” celebrated in song and story? While Christian culture now takes the martyrs’ heroic status for granted, the process by which they were transformed from objects of derision to icons of Christian heroism remains a paradox. To understand this paradox, we need to understand how another despised figure in the Roman arena became an emblem of Roman heroism: the gladiator. Continue reading

Jesus the Apprentice

By Daniel Frayer-Griggs

Where did the idea of Jesus as healer originate? The answer probably lies in the story of his apprenticeship with John the Baptist. Continue reading

Spiritual Defiance

By Robin Meyers

What if we thought of faith as resistance to ego, to orthodoxy, and to empire? In this article, Robin Meyers offers a call to action and vital insights from his Lyman-Beecher Lectures at Yale University, which eventually inspired his book Spiritual Defiance. Continue reading

Rethinking the Beginnings of Christianity

By Maia Kotrosits

Many scholars already know that the people represented in the New Testament didn’t consider themselves Christians. ... I want to suggest that, rather than static truths about Jesus or God, early Christian texts represent a number of creative and improvised ways of trying to make sense of who one is, where one belongs, and what God means in the face of loss. Continue reading

What the New Testament Says about Homosexuality

By William O. Walker Jr.

Mainline Christian denominations in this country are bitterly divided over the question of homosexuality. For this reason it is important to ask what light, if any, the New Testament sheds on this controversial issue. Most people apparently assume that the New Testament expresses strong opposition to homosexuality, but this simply is not the case. The six propositions that follow, considered cumulatively, lead to the conclusion that the New Testament does not provide any direct guidance for understanding and making judgments about homosexuality in the modern world. Continue reading

Active Seminars

Christianity Seminar

Christianity Seminar

What was early Christianity really like, behind the New Testament? The Christianity Seminar reimagines how the movement that began around Jesus became Christian orthodoxy and the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Seminar on God and the Human Future

Seminar on God and the Human Future

Historical questions about the Bible can be very specific. What did Jesus really say? What date should be given the book of Acts? But when it comes to “God questions”—the meaning of God, the existence of God, the future of God—the ground shifts from critical history to metaphysical quandary. Where does one even begin? Yet a Seminar on God cannot be dismissed lightly, for there is an important sense in which God is every bit as historical as Jesus was, perhaps in a certain sense even more so.

Polebridge Press

Polebridge Catalog Winter 2017 cover
Book cover for Some Surprises from the Apostle Paul

“Anyone interested in Paul will profit by the author’s carefully crafted and well-written exploration of Paul’s letters…”
—David E. Aune, University of Notre Dame

Book Cover, The Pastorals and Polycarp

“A thoughtfully and beautifully laid out volume...”
—Dennis R. MacDonald, Claremont School of Theology

Galatians and the Rhetoric of Crisis by Nina E. Livesey

“This ground-breaking study of Paul’s polemics cannot be overlooked...”
—Magnus Zetterholm, Lund University

“... My ‘must have book’ for 2016.”
—Rex A. E. Hunt, Common Dreams Australia

“This is a wise book, don’t pass it up.”
—John D. Caputo, Syracuse University

Fall Meeting Resources

CD cover for Robbins Fall 2016 Lecture
CD cover for Wendt Fall 2016 Lecture