Michael Bird & Andreas Köstenberger on Earliest Christian History

You’ve heard what they say, right? “An open New Testament and an open mind leads one to attend Southeastern every time.” Or, at least, that’s what I often say. And, in case you are interested in New Testament studies, you’ll want to be aware that SEBTS professor Andreas Köstenberger recently joined Michael Bird, Richard Bauckham, Jason Maston, and other world-class scholars in producing a fine collection of essays on early Christian history, in honor of Martin Hengel. In Earliest Christian History, edited by Michael Bird and Jason Maston, Köstenberger contributes an essay, “John’s Transposition Theology: Retelling the Story of Jesus in a Different Key.”[1]

In the essay, he explores the relationship between the Gospel of John and the Synoptic Gospels, arguing that we need to reconsider the relationship. As the editors note in the introduction, Köstenberger “advocates a theory of ‘transposition.’ He defines transposition as the reworking of earlier texts to express potential meanings and the extension of their meaning to a new context. Transposition is not simply an updating, for it also draws out underlying meanings and ideas. To flesh out his hypothesis and in an effort to build a cumulative case for it, he explores representative examples of how John transposes Mark in sixteen ways and Luke in four ways. John’s transposition occurs with theological themes (such as the kingdom of God and eschatology) and historical events (such as the Temple clearing and the Gentile mission). Concerning the relation between John and the Synoptics, Köstenberger concludes that John shows awareness of them as literary documents, but he is willing to extend beyond them. Rightly understood, John is both dependent and independent of them” (5).

As we have come to expect, Köstenberger’s essay evidences scholarly depth and breadth, is tied faithfully to the inspired biblical text, and makes an original and substantive contribution to New Testament studies.

If you wish to study with premiere New Testament scholars who are also committed to the mission and ministries of God’s church, we invite you to come study with us at Southeastern. At Southeastern you will have the opportunity to study the New Testament in the original Greek and so be better equipped to minister to the people of God (see Eph 4:11–13) for the glory of God. In so doing, you will have the opportunity to study with the following men:

Beck, David (Ph.D., Duke University) is Professor of New Testament and Greek and Associate Dean of Biblical Studies. He is the author of The Discipleship Paradigm: Readers and Anonymous Characters in the Fourth Gospel (Brill) and co-editor with fellow SEBTS Professor David Alan Black of Rethinking the Synoptic Problem (Baker). Dr. Beck manages to be, at the same time, both wickedly smart and enviably laid back.

Black, David (D. Theol., University of Basel, Switzerland) is Professor of New Testament and Greek and author of Linguistics for Students of New Testament Greek: A Survey of Basic Concepts and Applications (Baker); Learn to Read New Testament Greek (Broadman & Holman); Why Four Gospels? (Kregel) and the author and editor of over 15 other books. Dr. Black is internationally renowned as a Greek scholar, is a member of the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, and spends 3-4 months overseas per year working in Ethiopia and other countries.

Gravely, Ed (Ph.D., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies and History of Ideas and wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on Codex Vaticanus under the supervision of Maurice Robinson, fellow SEBTS professor. Dr. Gravely is smart, funny, and articulate.

Kellum, Scott (Ph.D., Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek, author of The Unity of the Farewell Discourse: the Literary Integrity of John 13:31-16:33 (T&T Clark), and co-author with Andreas J. Köstenberger and Charles L. Quarles of The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (B&H). Dr. Kellum mastered classical Greek in college and koine Greek at the grad and post-grad level; if any other sort of Greek develops in the future, he’ll master it also too.

Köstenberger, Andreas Johannes (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is

Senior Research Professor of New Testament  and Biblical Theology at Southeastern. He is the author, translator, and editor of more than 20 books including The Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters: The Word, the Christ, the Son of God (Zondervan); John, Baker Exegetical Commentary of the New Testament (Baker); co-author with L. Scott Kellum and Charles L. Quarles, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (B&H); co-author with Michael Kruger, The Heresy of Orthodoxy (Crossway); God, Marriage, and Family: Restoring the Biblical Foundation with fellow SEBTS professor David Jones (Crossway). Dr. Köstenberger has written more books than most people have read, and he’s only mid-career. Scary.

Lanier, David (Ph.D., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Professor of New Testament and served as Editor of Southeastern’s first journal, Faith and Mission 11/1 (Fall 1993) to 24/3 (Summer 2007). Dr. Lanier is a particularly amiable fellow, and is a history buff whose specialty is the Confederate War.

Merkle, Benjamin Lee (Ph.D., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek and author of The Elder and Overseer: One Office in the Early Church (Peter Lang); 40 Questions About Elders and Deacons (Kregel), for which also he serves as Series Editor; Why Elders? A Biblical and Practical Guide (Kregel); and co-editor with fellow SEBTS professor John S. Hammett of Those Who Must Give an Account: A Study of Church Membership and Church Discipline (B&H, forthcoming). Dr. Merkle lived and taught in Malaysia for years and is known for being a thorough and efficient writer of theological prose. If he continues publishing at this rate, he might give Dr. Köstenberger a run for his money.

Robinson, Maurice (Ph.D., Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is Senior Professor of New Testament and a renowned textual criticism scholar. He is the author of Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament: Revised and Updated (Hendrickson, forthcoming). Dr. Robinson is a world-renowned textual critic, an accomplished guitarist, and is known to give a Bob Dylan impersonation that is “spot on.”

Southeastern offers several degrees with a focus on the New Testament. The Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies with a minor in Biblical Studies introduces undergraduate students to the knowledge and skills central to the work of pastors, particularly in the area of Old and New Testament competency. The Master or Arts (Biblical Languages) prepares students to serve as translators and as field supervisors for Bible translation teams. The M.Div. with Pastoral Ministry prepares students for pastoral ministry in the local church with and is grounded in study of the Old and New Testament. The M.Div. with Christian Ministry offers the same strong core education while giving one freedom to pursue elective courses in the area of New Testament and Greek. The M.Div. with Advanced Biblical Studies offers the greatest opportunity for focus in New Testament and Greek exegesis, preparing one for a pastoral or teaching ministry. The Th.M. in Biblical Studies equips post-M.Div. students who want to enhance their theological training, either for preparation for doctoral study or as an advanced degree for service in the church. Students can take the thesis or non-thesis tracks under the supervision of a professor in the area of New Testament and Greek. Finally, the Ph.D. in Biblical Studies with a concentration in New Testament prepares students to teach New Testament, Greek, and other courses to college or seminary students, and to write about the interpretation and theology of the New Testament.

We invite you to study with our New Testament faculty in the B. A., M.Div., Th.M., or Ph.D. programs of Southeastern. For more info visit our website (http://www.sebts.edu/) and check out the Admissions and Academics links.

[1] Michael F. Bird and Jason Maston, Earliest Christian History: History, Literature, and Theology in Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe. 320 (Mohr Siebeck, 2012).

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  1. dr. james willingham   •  

    The “resident hippy professor” is the way they first tabbed Maurice, when he returned to be the first conservative of the Resurgence. When he was a student, I simply knew him as “the hippy”, thongs, levis, beard, long hair, and all, and he was also one of the sharpest Greek students I had ever encountered, walking about the campus carrying a handful of computer punch cards (yes, there were computers like that in days of yore). We often compared notes on how unliberal our liberal professors were and gave mutual aid and encouragement to one another in those days of second class citizenship, etc. While I liked languages, Greek, primarily, my first love was church history. But I also had another love, preaching the word and the subject of another great awakening. Dr. Robinson went on to become a renowed scholar whose works I now and then turn aside to enjoy. We need the scholarship; we also need a bridge from scholarship to the person in the pew. Likewise, we need a Third Great Awakening for which I had been praying (it will be this Fall of 2013) for 40 years. The time draws nigh for the answer to the prayers (many others have prayed for such and mine are not worthy to be compared to theirs)that have been prayed for the past150 years. God grant that all of you esteemed gentlemen hall also be men of prayer.

  2. Bruce Ashford   •     Author

    Dr. Willingham,

    Your description of Dr. Robinson is priceless. I mean, it is a real treasure. I’ve always appreciated you, but now you’ve got “most favored nation” status! And thank you for your encouragement, and your exhortation to pray for a third awakening. You are “spot on.”

  3. dr. james willingham   •  

    Dr. Ashford,

    Thank you for the commendation though I fear I hardly deserved to be accorded such recognition. Having come from the long rows of cotton in Arkansas, I feel more like the body shop mechanic from eastern Kentucky, who called himself “a jackleg historian.” It makes one feel good to see people devoted to research and scholarship that honors the written word which the Living Word called “the word of God.” My prayer is that such great works shall come out of such faculty that they will occupy the attention of God’s people for centuries to come. My prayer for a Third Great Awakening is for one that shall begin, hopefully, in our generation, reaching every soul on earth, and continuing for a 1000 generations (anywhere from 20,000-1,000,000 years and a millions of planets). Suggest the use of Edwards’ Humble Attempt, Owen’s Death of Death in The Death of Christ, for verses that can be pleaded as promises to that end.

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