Thursday, 11 December 2008

Bauckham and Hays on Divine Identity: Tyndale House Colloquium

Today, Tyndale House featured a premiere conference on “Divine Identity.” The old template which scholars have laboured under for about a hundred years has been that the New Testament documents began with a low Christology and eventually evolved over the centuries, culminating in the high Christology Trinitarianism of 4th and 5th century Nicaea and Chalcedon. Accordingly, Peter, Paul, and Mary or any other early Christian could never have believed that Jesus was God.

Our speakers today smashed the template. It is a tribute to Tyndale House that two scholars of such sterling and high reputation were brought in for a day long conference on this important topic.

The first speaker was Richard Baukham. Yes, of course he is a great scholar and retired professor at St. Mary’s College at St. Andrews University, Scotland. More significantly is that he produces scholarship and books which shake the academic establishment not merely on account of the radical nature of his claims, but on account of the importance of the subject material. The last book of his which I read was Jesus and the Eyewitnesses which made the revolutionary claim that the Gospels actually are traceable to eyewitness accounts. Yes, I know that this is not revolutionary for conservative Evangelicals and Fundamentalists, but it is altogether revolutionary that a major, highly respected biblical scholar would make such a claim. Prof. Baukham is reputed to be perhaps the leading New Testament scholar in all of Great Britain.

The second speaker was Richard Hays, Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School. I first encountered Prof. Hays through one of my own professors, Gordon Fee who himself is one of the few really great Pauline scholars. Prof. Fee urged me to read Prof. Hays work Echoes of Scripture way back in 1992, and Prof. Hays’ scholarly capital has done nothing but grow since then. He is currently working on a mammoth project dealing with the use of the Old Testament in the Gospels. This work was reflected in today’s colloquium as Prof. Hays opened up to us how the Old Testament was employed to reveal Jesus’ divine identity in the gospels. I’m pleased to say that Prof. Hays and I share a study carrel together at Tyndale House while he is on sabbatical, and he has consistently been a very kind and considerate person during these last five or six months. I look forward to reading his work in the coming years.

I suppose we had about 125 people for the colloquium. This is a large number, considering Tyndale House did not advertise the event. We had students and professors from way up north in Scotland as well as south England. I had lunch with Dr. K. Brower of Nazarene Theological College, Manchester, and several of his students (two from Russia, one from Swaziland, and one from England). I also met several students from Oak Hill College, an evangelical pastoral training school here in England.

It was a great day for New Testament scholarship, and Tyndale House Warden Pete Williams should be commended for organising such an outstanding event. I will post a couple of more blogs about the lectures themselves.

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