Lou tagged me a while back, but instead of influences on myself personally, here are the five biggest influences that have shaped what I do, and what I'm doing here.
Gene Edwards - I was already passionate about his vision of house church when I heard him make the statement, "Paul's epistles are not arranged in their chronological order." My shock and disbelief at christendom's apparent lack of concern about that fact has remained a driving force for the past thirteen years. Whether or not Gene is too idealistic for his own good, I love him like a third father and I wish all believers could look at the New Testament through his eyes at least once.
The Greatest Story by Johnston Cheney - I couldn't believe someone would go through the trouble to streamline the events and then chop them back up again with thematic subheadings. My efforts to retype Cheney's text into an ongoing story format is what showed me our desperate need for a greater sense of time and location when reading the scriptures. Besides, Cheney's independent status and his concise arguments in support of the four-year gospel chronology are constantly encouraging to me.
Peter Green's Alexander to Actium - trying to visualize the New Testament story entirely from Thessalonica's perspective led me to visit Greece and learn all about Macedonian history up to 51 AD. Green's book was a thorough introduction to "The Hellenistic Age" and changed the way I thought about ancient greek peoples while putting the Macabees into context with the Macedonian Wars. Dozens more books in that period of my explorations, but Green's is the one I remember reading (and appreciating) the most. It helped obliterate my elementary view of the mythological, heroic and golden age "Greece".
The Oxford Classical Dictionary - Read all 1640 pages cover to cover in two weeks and got depressed. "You mean that's all we know?" Four years later (third time straight through) I typed the major first century dates into a spreadsheet. From then on, I deepend my knowledge of the major NT era figures as their lives entwined around Jesus' and Paul's days. Best of all, the OCD article footnotes guided most of my deeper delving into top rank classical scholarship. Oxford's footnotes have led me to leading and worthy opinions time and again, almost without fail.
Bibliobloggers - I found Celucen Joseph and Jim West's blogs in April 2008, followed their links and quickly realized I had found my next circle to run in. I believed I had facts and numbers on my side, but I knew I was not prepared yet to present those facts and numbers to anyone who could help confirm or deny what I'd been doing. In the past fifteen months, I've learned a lot about the world of "Biblical Scholarship", and it has not altered my beliefs or conclusions greatly, but these interactions have ammended my approach to a significant degree, for which I am extremely grateful to God.
From here, I continue attempting to understand the (con and di) vergences of Biblical and Classical studies in order to more accurately, helpfully and effectively stake my long held claim that New Testament events - even spiritual ones - deserve to stand, by faith, as part of history.
I may be missing something here but I don't understand the significance of the Gene Edwards quote. Who actually believes that Paul's epistles are in chronological order?
Thanks for asking, CD. My point is that it had never occured to me one way or the other. Maybe it's not what he said but the way I took it. I was hanging around Bible quoting evangelicals who talked about "context" once in a while, and yet all of Paul's letters were hanging in a larger-context-less limbo, that we weren't even aware of. Apparently.
That's how I felt at the time. If you asked how I feel today, it's evolved somewhat. Hopefully into something a bit more sophisticated, but not too much so. ;)
Very nice Bill.
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