This series of books (and articles / discussion groups that accompany the books) are positioned to be accessible for as many as possible. They are not the final word, the definitive article, and in that sense represent the 'shallow end' but seek to be an honest exploration.
On this page you will find links to various articles, some of which are tied to specific books and some even to specific chapters. For those seeking to access the zoom groups those specific articles will prove useful to have read before the relevant group discussion.
The 'Background to the Series' will fill in how the series came about, who they are written for, and for those who like the overall picture of the trajectory of the series, the 'Arc' of the books article will be good to read.
This is written in less theological language than the books, but addresses the Jewish and the Imperial background, seeking to outline how remarkable Jesus was in his context, and how unlikely that a message from an obscure province gained any traction outside a minority of Jews that might have been attracted to the 'sect' comprising of those who claimed a crucified young man was the messiah appointed by God.
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Background to the Series
Here is a simple background to the books, why they were written and for who they might prove useful. I explain in more detail about the groups and also here you will find the links where to purchase the books.
The 'Arc' of the books
The four books lay a foundation for many discussions and perhaps other volumes could have been added that address issues of eschatology. The intention of the four volumes is to suggest a direction that would be appropriate on further subjects, and so act foundationally. Read the article to see the flow and direction.
Simply a few suggestions and links to wider resources that could supplement what is found in the books.
Use the links below to access an article that is connected directly to each of the chapters. In the zoom groups for book 1, Humanising the Divine, we take a chapter a week, hence including the preface those zooms last 8 weeks.
Preface: Bio or Bias
Chapter 1: Why Human?
Chapter 2: Judas - Human Weakness
Chapter 3: Peter - Revelation and Expectation
Chapter 4: Cornelius Conversion
Chapter 5: Witness
Chapter 6: Time for Wrath
Chapter 7: Hung on a Tree
In the books that follow on from the first there are different ways that the books can be engaged with. Some will not wish to go further, others will want to discuss the ongoing books, and some will simply use (or not use) the books by way of background but wish to journey together into a whole variety of areas. For those who continue the subsequent volumes will not be looked at chapter by chapter, but book by book; hence the number of zoom meetings will differ, continuing for as long as they are deemed helpful.
Book 2: An Overview
Simply a quick overview of the books, followed by a summary of each chapter in a paragraph. I do suggest that this is read alongside or before engaging with Significant Other. I also acknowledge that I emphasise the 'movement' side of a body of people.
Book 2: Beyond the First Step
One of the questions raised by the book is 'what on earth was Paul doing?' with regard to his work in seeking to ensure that there was an ekklesia (of Jesus Christ) in every polis. This provokes a set of questions:
- are we therefore 'pre-Pauline'?
- would Paul do it differently in our culture / world?
- if he had the first step, should we be exploring not simply what he might do in our setting, but what might further steps look like?
Book 3: An Overview
A quick overview and summary of book 3, A Subversive Movement. This would be helpful to read alongside / before reading the book itself.
In this section are various articles that do not tightly fit within a specific book but are relevant to the series as a whole.
Paradigm Shifts - Hebraic world-view
There was a significant shift from a Hebraic world view to a Greek one that shaped so much of subsequent understanding and reading of Scripture. We need to seek to recover the original world view to understand better what the text might be pushing for.
Reading the Bible historically
Although I am by no means an expert I think it is important to read the text in its history, not simply history to understand the context, but in particular the context of Israel set in the wider context of dominating powers, with the very key element of allowing the Imperial domination (one-world government) of Rome to be what casts a dark shadow over the New Testament era.
The resurrection is such a cosmic event, with a 'before' and an 'after'. In this article I track that the first appearance is to a woman, then to a couple. This opens sight. Sight on the future that repositions / realigns in the present; sight also on who God is in Jesus, that he has trudged through the dust of human journeying. That the 'death' sentence is what he carried as the three left Eden. Two bitterly disappointed, but one carrying the ultimate pain.
Sinlessness of Jesus
In Humanising the Divine there is a re-definition of sin that emphasises the aspect of not being 'truly' human and of dehumanising others. If this is an approach adopted then it opens up the necessity of looking again at the sinlessness of Jesus, and the necessary journey to growth (learning / maturity).
Why I am not a Universalist
A not irregular question I get on zooms is one version or another related to universalism. If one does not believe in 'limited atonement' nor that 'all are lost except for those who are born again' a logical possibility has to be that of universalism, all will be saved. So here is my short-ish response.