Thursday, October 28, 2010

10/26 amd 10/28:: Timelines and Testations

Tuesday's class:

After hearing Trucker Frank's timeline:

(more Trucker Frank videos here)

..we talked about history, narrative and timelines,
and then inserted our own  history, narrative and timelines into the crucial
(literally; the word means "cross")
event of Matthew's gospel "timeline" the death and resurrection of Jesus.

It was interesting to have Michael and Daniel chart out their life timelines on the board.
In the process, we learned about Daniel's former life in the band Thirteen Arrows..

We also noted that Trucker Frank suggested Kingdom life is sometimes more about journey than destination.
We remembered that  according to Cahill, the Jews "invented" history, and Western civilization" that is, the sense that life and history have a purpose; that the arrow of our corporate timeline is going somewhere.
Many ancient cultures and worldviews saw time and history as cyclical or reincarnational.

To offer a visual, we charted out our timelines as a "holy helix"  (You'll remember I brought one to class)
Note there are lines working both directions: one might represent our lifeline (bottom to top, or left to right) and the other  God;s involvement with our life and history (top to bottom, or right to left),  Note how connected and inseparable the two are.

We also remembered that The Kingdom (a la George Ladd) is in a sense "the end times working backwards.  (see bottom of 10/5 post)

The Vander Laan video we watcehd was "Roll Away the Stone".  
Unfortunately, it is not online in any form, but several  Vander Laan audio downloads are here,

Remember, on Hebrew vs. Greek  views on time (and several other categories:   sin, faith, truth ,community, truth over time etc), be sure ti familiarize with the charts linked on this page (also on top of this website under "Thinking  Hebrew") as this will be on the final exam.

Thursday's class:

As we began our discusion on Kryabill's  "UpsideDown Kingdom"  we suggested (along with Ktaybill_
taht teh three "temptations" Jesus met in Matthew 4 were  the same three tempttaions that shiw up throiughtlout Jesus' timeline on earth...righ yoo to, and espcillay includiung the cross.

The Ray Vander Laan video we watched  ( "Jesus Our Desert – The Three Temptations")  offered several examples:

  • Jesus put God ahead of family ("Who are my brothers and sisters?"  "Whoveer loves father and mother more than me cannot be my disciple."
  • When people reported Herod wanted to kill him, he was not concerned (Luke 13)
  • When people wanted to make him king, he walked away
  • When the crowds were hungry, the disciples  wanted Jesus to feed them.  He refused.
  • The "get behind me, Satan" comment to Peter when Peter suggested Jesus should bypass the cross.
  • "go ahead and use Your power; the cross is going to hurt
Vander Laan also suggested that

We moted that VanderLaan prefers to translate "tests" instead of "temptations."
I coined the woprd "testations"  It woulkd seen that in Scriptrure that
God tests, and the devil tempts.

But we found both in the narrative.

And we were tempted to take the  shocking "The devil is God's devil"  test:

  • 1.)Who sent an evil spirit to terrorize Saul? (1 Sam. 16:14; 18:10)
  • 2.)Who sent a deceiving and lying spirit? (1 Kings 22:22)
  • 3)Who authorizes satanic harassment of Job (Job 1:12)
  • 4)Who can destroy both body and soul in hell? (Matthew 10:28)
  • 5)Who sent a deceiving influence, so that wicked people are damned? (2 Thess. 2:11)
  • 6)Who sees to it that a sinner is saved? (1 Cor. 5:5)
  • 7)Who is the god of this world? (2 Cor 4:4)
  • 8)Who helps keep Paul humble? (2 Cor, 12:7)
  • 9)Who teaches Paul not to blaspheme? (1 Tim 1:20)

Qualifier:These verses have "verse-itis," and are out of context, and are meant to over-ehpasize a point (God is incredibly sovereign, and "uses" the devil), but if you look them up, you'll see that the answers to #1-5 are GOD, and #6-9 are THE DEVIL!
It was also announced that as an alternative to the final exam, you can instead write a paper:

  • 1)What were the three temptations of Jesus in Matthew 4:1-11, Compare any ways Mark's account,  Mark 1:12-13  and  Luke's account, Luke 4:1-13 differ, and suggest any reasons why.
  • 2)How does Nouewen summarize the three temptations?  How do you (use your own words)?
  • 3)How do the three temptations connect to the historical and literary world of the Hebrew Testament?
  • 4)How do the three temptations connect to the contemporary world of Jesus and the disciples?
  • 5)List and discuss several possible ways that versions of the three temptations reoccur and are revisited  throughout Jesus' life in Matthew's gospel?  (How is Jesus tested/tempted elswhere in Matthew, and how are the temptations versions of a similar one (two, or three) that he faced in the original temptation passage?
  • 6)What are the three core temptations you face, and how have they revisited you  throughout your timeline?  How would you categorize them using Nouwen's categories?  Using the three categories of the "Shema"  (heart/mind/might) a la  Vander Laan'?  Using Kraybill's three categories?
  • 7)What have you learned about passing these tests/resiiting these temptations?
  • 8)What does all of this  (the Matt 4 Scripture, and testing/tempting) have to do with the Kingdom?
  • 9)Discuss how the passages that deal with Jesus not being immune to temptation( Hebrews 2:17-18, Hebrews 4:14-16,  and Hebrews 5:7-9) affect your views of  "Who is Jesus?" and of Jesus' divinity and humanity.

The video we saw today was so loaded with help for this paper.  But it's brand new and not online or in FPU library yet.  You may want to locate it, rent it, or get notes from a classmate if you had to miss it (I will see if I can get permission to upload it)  It's  episode 4 of Vol 11, here.
For help on question 1, see video and class notes from today, and this chart
For help on question 2, see class notes for 10/12. 
 For help on question 3, see notes from the video and read Deuteronomy  6-8, and commentaries on        Deuteronomy Matthew  4  (see "helpful resources" at right for online resources).
 For help on question 4, see the Kraybill book, first four chapters (tons of info).  For question 5, see video notes above, but come up with some of your own from your reading of Matthew.  For question 6, I would recommend Nouwen's "In The Name of Jesus" book (it's a very short and classic book, and several copies are in the library.  Click here for a fairly thorough summary.

This should be a 7-10 page paper, or a detailed video or power point.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

10/21Apples and Oranges, Sweet and Sour, Chiasm and Bridges, Tattoos and Buns, Jesus and his Dubbed Counterpart

The Sweet teacher(with apples and oranges)

The sour teacher:

This all led to some great discussion on how we cross the bridge from
Historical/Literary World                 to                                 Contemporary world.

The bridge:

Some "bridge issues" we discussed:




Remember the two C.I.E overstatements:

  1. Context is Everything
  2. Chiasms are Everywhere

Mike Rinaldi, a local filmmaker (and Fresno Pacific grad) told this at the first "Gathering to Bless Christians in the Arts":
Blake Snyder, the screenwriter behind the classicSave The Cat"  book became a Christian not long before he died. 

Often at this point in such a story, folks ask "Who led him to Christ?" 

Go ahead and ask. 

The answer is: 


It happened in large part because Mike, not even knowing if such a well-known and busy writer would respond to his email, asked him if he had heard about chiasm. 

Turns out Snyder was fascinated with it all, and Mike was able to point out chiastic structure and shape in scriptwriting....and one thing led to another...and then in Scripture. 

All roads, and all chiasms, lead to the Center and Source. 

Mike, of course, learned chiasm in JCC.


So,remember you now have two choices  for your next assignment (I just added choice B as  an alternative  to previously announced A (the Kraybill paper.  Note you are still responsible for reading the Kraybill book if you choose B) :Due beginning of class November 11.

 A) Write a 4-6 page response paper to Donald Kraybill’s The Upside-Down Kingdom. Half the paper should address the following questions related to chapter 3, and the other half should address the same questions related to another chapter (your choice):
1) Succinctly summarize Kraybill’s argument in the chapter (What point is he trying to make about the kingdom, or Jesus, or what it means to follow him? How does he go about it?)
2) Indicate whether you find his argument convincing, whether you agree/ disagree, and why.


2)Write a 4-6 page can be the story of your life, of your Christian life, or a story (or screenplay) you make up...
and write the story in chiasm; in the style of some of the larger chiasms in Scripture.  The chiasm can be literal (exact or similar words or phrases are repeated in parallel, mirror image, chisatic form in both halves of the paper), or thematic
(parallel themes).  On the last page, spell out (chart out and make clear the intended   chiastic strucure and parallels (for example, abcdefg/gfedcba, or however long you choose to make it).  

Some links to get you familiar with larger chiasms in the Bible are
and here.   
Videos are here and here .

Your assignment is to write your own, having.familiarized yourself with how they function in the Bible, so remember that you are not to rewrite a Bible story, and that the center of the chiasm should somehow reflect a central or crucial  theme of the chiasm.


The Jesus movie clips:

The first are from,  (these are all on one page on youtube here):
Jesus Video 1: Jesus doesn't have time for Peter

Jesus Video 2: Jesus gives rules for First Christian Church, and confronts a follower for missing prayer meeting for the Super Bowl:

Jesus video 3: Jesus tells all the disciples what they have recently done wrong:

Jesus Video 4: Jesus rides on a donkey, cleanses the temple,and steals money from Pharisees:

Here are the clips from Elevation Church; usually in a series called "Misconceptions of Jesus" (these are all on youtube here)

Misconceptions of Jesus 1: Jesus Club-Jesus Loves Righteous People:

Misconceptions of Jesus 2: Jesus Loves Red States:

Misconceptions of Jesus 3: Jesus Sells Insurance:


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

10/12: Subversion, Presence of the Future, Birthday Parties for Prostitutes

Yes, we somehow wove  into our discussion on Matt 25-18 and the midterm:
1)the "two funniest jokes ever" (though obviously I can't tell them as well as Stephanie).
2)These videos:

Blessings on the mid term tab at top of page for study guide.

  • -Oops, i missed one item on the midterm in today's discussion:  Number 16e: answer is "a wedding"
  • -Also..the chart we showed a bit of today, suggesting Jesus crucifixion may have been (in part)a subversion of empire, using and redeeming imagery from emperor coronation processions is on last Thursdays post here.
  • Here is Henri Nouwen on Jesus' "temptation to be relevant" (Remember that Nouwen equates to  the temptations as 1)the temptation  to be relevant("Turn these stones to bread."), 2)to be spectacular ("Throw yourself from the temple."), and 3)to be powerful ("I will give you the kingdoms of the world.")
  • -Finally,  as promised:

Thursday, October 7, 2010

10/7: Subversion of Empire

The early Christian church, living as an
  • altermative
  • counter-cultural
  • Upside Down Kingdom
 community and comunitas (within the Matrix/ Roman Empire; in but not of it)
had to decide how to respond to the empire/emperors.
Here below are two "literary/historical world" examples of one of their key responses:

Subvert/satirize it.
(How do you compare this response to culture/government/empire
to those of the Pharisees,Sadducces, Zealots and Romans (discussed  9/22, see here)

1)The Crucifixion/Resurrection accounts in the gospels:
Especially in Mark,  the "Literary world" styling and "Historical world" background  ofJesus' crucifixion scene seems set up to satirize empire, and encourage subversion. Here is a summary below from Shane Claiborne's book, "Jesus For President":

Coronation and Procession (8 steps):
1. Caesar: The Praetorian guard (six thousand soldiers) gathered in the Praetorium. The would-be Caesar was brought into the middle of the gathering.
1. Jesus: Jesus was brought to the Praetorium in Jerusalem. And the whole company of soldiers (at least two hundred) gathered there.
2. Caesar: A purple robe was placed on the candidate. They were also given an olive-leaf wreath made of gold and a sceptre for the authority of Rome.
2. Jesus: Soldiers brought Jesus a wreath (of thorns), a sceptre (an old stick), and a purple robe.
3. Caesar: Caesar was loudly acclaimed as triumphant by the Praetorian Guard.
3. Jesus: Sarcastically, the soldiers acclaimed, mocked, and paid homage to Jesus.
4. Caesar: A procession through the streets began. Caesar walked with a sacrificial bull and a slave with an axe to kill the bull behind him.
4. Jesus: The procession began. But instead of a bull the would-be king and god became the sacrifice and Simon of Cyrene was to carry the cross.
5. Caesar: The procession moved to the highest hill in Rome, the Capitolene hill (‘head hill’).
5. Jesus: Jesus was led up to Golgotha (in Aramaic ‘head hill’).
6. Caesar: The candidate stood before the temple altar and was offered a bowl of wine mixed with myrrh, which he was to refuse. The wine was then poured onto the bull and the bull was then killed.
6. Jesus: He was offered wine, and he refused. Right after, it is written, “And they crucified him.”
7. Caesar: The Caesar-to-be gathered his second in command on his right hand and his third on his left.
7. Jesus: Next came the account of those being crucified on his right and left.
8. Caesar: The crowd acclaimed the inaugurated emperor. And for the divine seal of approval, the gods would send signs, such as a flock of doves or a solar eclipse.
8. Jesus: He was again acclaimed (mocked) and a divine sign confirmed God’s presence (the temple curtain ripped in two). Finally, the Roman guard, who undoubtedly pledged allegiance to Caesar, the other ‘Son of God’, was converted and acclaimed this man as the Son of God.
This extraordinary symbolism would have been unmistakable to the first readers of the Gospel. The crown of thorns, the purple robe, the royal staff; the whole section leading up to the crucifixion reads like the coronation of Jesus! At the apex of this passage is the Roman Centurion’s exclamation that “Surely this man was the Son of God!” He saw how Jesus died and became the first evangelist. His realisation tears apart his whole view of the world and reveals the fallacy of earthly empire and the nature of the true King.
Mark is trying to show us where our allegiance should lie. At the foot of the cross, when even those that Jesus loved must have been bewildered (only failed Messiahs hung on crosses), a Roman Centurion proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God! The journey to the cross was the final coronation of the Son of God, the rightful King, who in the cross defeated sin and death.
-Link: Shapevine 


  • Here's a Ray VanDer Laan article that Shane Claiborne drew from in the coronation article above..
  • Here is a podcast interview Keltic Ken and I did with Shane Claiborne.

2)Book of Revelation:
Here below is a Rob Bell sermon that presents the book of Revelation as subversion of empire; many do not realize that the "historical world" of this book has much to do with persecution by emperors for not worshipping them:

“Domitian was the first emperor to understand that behind the Christian movement there stood an enigmatic figure who threatened the glory of the emperors. He was the first to declare war on this figure …” Ethelbert Stauffer. How do followers of a peaceful Christ respond when the government has declared war and death on them? 


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Posts for 10/5: The Matrix , Pointed Parables, Persian Onions, Unpardonable Sins, Time Travel

Shhh...Don't tell.. but the Mid Term questions
 (and many answers!!) have been posted ..

But I know you actually want to first read all these exciting highlights from today'[s class
FIRST.. when you are done, you'll find at the bottom of this post  exactly where the midterm can be found...



The Matrix?
The exact clip we watched in class is here,
and it sure triggered some lively conversation.

When Morpheus tells Neo that "like everyone else, you were birn into bondage"...and that he can feel that bondage, that matrix....even when "he goes to church."  It's a reminder that even in church/as church we are still living in the world, and thus vulnerable to being co-opted by our culture, and not live fully in the Counter-Culture of the "Upside Down Kingdom."
This relates to several previous conversations about culture  (see  this  and this)..

But how we primarily talked about the clip was as a classic postmodern parable.
Remember that "the  one primary point of a parable is that a parable has one primary point"
(Note that is a chiasm!).
This is a helpful guideline for interpreting Jesus' parables.

Yet at the same time, parables are multifaceted and fluid, and can be entered into from different angles.
They are not intended as allegories, but they may have multiple levels of meaning, even allegorizing, in service of the main point.

We noticed in the Matrix that the characters Neo, Trinity, Morpheus, Cypher, Agent Smith et al
may well have one key Bible person they represent....but they each also have multiple other characters they also stand for.

Remember the "Teenage Affluenza" video that we watched, for which you used terms like:

  • subversive
  • satirical
  • abductive
  • interactive
  • juxtaposing
  • convicting
  • comedic
  • abductive
  • pointed
  • ironic
  • interactive
  • offensive (to some)
in describing?  These are all great sub-definitions of a parable.

Robert Stein suggests three possible reasons for  Jesus' use of parables:

  • To communicate clearly with his followers  (his "bounded set" or those who are headed toward the center of his centered set)
  • To intentionally cause offense and misunderstanding among his hardened critics (those headed away from the center of his set.
  • To disarm hearers.

    A parable may have a specific meaning not only for its original situations of Jesus but also for that of the evangelist... Parables are seen as autonomous works that posses multiple meanings and power in themselves, completely apart from their author. Although it's important to appreciate the aesthetic quality of the parables, the parables of Jesus have been treasured and loved primarily because they are the parables of Jesus. -Robert H. Stein

See Stein's very helpful chapter on parables by clicking:

  HERE  (scroll to Chapter 3,  pp 33-59)

For those interested in an amazing, creative, hilarious, provocative, profound book on the parables, test-drive
"Kingdom, grace, judgment: 
paradox, outrage, and vindication
 in the parables of Jesus"
by Robert Farrar Capon:

....or hear his podcast on The Prodigal Son here.

You'll remember we opened the class session with a provocative threefold question:

Which would you choose:

  • 1)Drink wine mixed with rubber, alum, and garden crocuses
  • 2) Eat Persian onions and yell out 'Kum, Kum, Kum!'
  • 3) Carry around the ashes of an ostrich egg in a cloth

You can read more about the intriguing reasons WHY at this link..

..but you'll remember an amazing "historical world" lesson:

These were the main options that would be given the bleeding woman we met in Matthew  9

And if you look at how the story is obviously NTERCALATED in three gospel accounts with another story (the young girl, daughter of Jairus, a synagogue ruler..

you'll be able to do some quick comparing/contrasting the two stories,
and note that we are to get the "Literary world" message that Jesus is indiscriminate and inclusive in who he heals:

Older (a woman suffering for 12 years  and younger  ( a 12 year old girl),

poorer  and richer...what other comparisons/contrasts do you find?

See all the accounts on one page HERE.        


Great job on the small group study on "What  does Jesus seem to be saying is the unpardonable sin?"

Here's the way I once answered it, but I like the ways YOU answered it better!  ("   


Finally, on the Kingdom of God:

The "age to come"  (the Kingdom) has in large part already come (from the future/heaven)
into "this age" (in the present/on the earth.

See Matt 4:17...and Hebrews 6:1-8

See also:

the Mid Term questions (and many answers) have been posted  HERE..
(or click tab that says "midterm" at top)