Thursday, February 01, 2007


I did it. I set the goal for getting through at least one decent book a month and I did it...for January anyway. I finished Blomberg's Contagious Holiness at 11:20 pm last night (1/31 - I've always preferred to wait until the deadline hits). It's a great book and well worth the read. I thought I'd offer a brief synopsis followed by a few observations.

The book is part of the NSBT series (that's the series more commonly known as "the silver ones edited by Carson") and unfolds following the standard methodological procedure. The subtitle is "Jesus' Meals with Sinners" and thus Blomberg builds a "theology of meals" through the book. He traces the concept through the OT (limited to a survey in one chapter due to the large volume of material) into the Intertestimental period (if that bothers you, see my post on Dangerous Devotions below) and then into the synoptics (two chapters here, the latter devoted to material exclusive to Luke) concluding with a synthesis and application. The general flow of thought that develops out of his chronological/inductive inquiry is that meals in Judaism became more and more exclusivisitic as Israel developed as a nation. A concern for avoiding impurity (contamination-foreshadowing the title) and a zeal for Torah led the Israelites to forgoe eating with anyone perceived to be impure or a sinner. This practice accelerated drastically during the intertestamental period and in turn set as the backdrop against which Jesus' practices became viewed as contraversial, if not subversive. The Gospels portray Jesus as someone who would share table fellowship with anyone. He was not contaminated by the sin from the sinners with whom he ate, but instead, it was his holiness or purity that often became "contagioius." Those with whom he dined were those whom he called to faith and repentance, to which many responded. Jesus' practice was radical in it's break with traditional and contemporary Jewish practice. The results are well know to students of Scripture: many believed and many objected. Having examined the data, Blomberg reserves the final chapter for application, in which he examines the potential of contemporary Christian meals.

Overall, the book was excellent. There were several points I was going to mention that I thought were unnecessary, but as I read the concluding chapter, it was as if Blomberg anticipated the objections. The first page and a half of the conclusion silenced my objections and justified his inclusions. Only two small disappointments remained: 1) the nature of the biblical theological method and the self determined limitations of the study left me wishing he had gone a step further and commented on passages such as 1 Corinthians 11 and Galatians 2 (especially the latter). Oh well. 2) When dealing with Mark's Gospel, Blomberg demonstrated some aspectual sensitivity that I noticed was glaringly absent in Mathew and Luke. Since Mark was treated first, I was surprised by the digression; however, it didn't take me long to realize that this may have been because of his citations of Decker's diss. published in the Peter Lang series. To my knowledge (and his bibliography) there isn't nearly as reliable a guide to temporal deixis in for the other Gospels. Sigh. Again, oh well, maybe someday.

Regardless, these minor details can't possibly eclipse the value of this quick and easy read. If you can't bring yourself to reading the whole volume, you owe it to yourself to AT LEAST read the final chapter. Chapter six begins with a MASTERFUL summary of the book in about 4 pages (he did such a good job here, you almost don't need to read the whole book) and concludes with a bountiful supply of contemporary application. These 16 pages alone are worth the price of the book.


smlogan said...

no matter how much you read or dream with those outside your boyhood tradition, your fundamental roots always shine through (tainting everything you touch).

bountiful supply?
who says that except one who grew up singing "drinking at the springs of living water".

G said...

Wow. I need this book.

Nate Mihelis said...

Logan - It takes one to know one

smlogan said...

but thomas lacks the gusto to stand with his fellow-fundy, so i thought i'd play his part for a day.

per the post:
dare we imitate Christ in this manner? as piper has noted, i think our generation is up for the task. of course, for those who grew up in fundamental circles (especially), i think sharing in his example will mean bearing his reproach (the servant is not greater than his master).

matthew 10 speaks to this issue, and warns of men delivering us up to authorities for His sake (and a testimony to them). 11 is even more specific to the post/book. i was encouraged at the reminder that my convictions will always manifest themselves as folly to some. "for John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say -he has a demon! (but) the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, behold a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners! (wait for it...) yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds."

two men. both resolved to do the will of God, but attended by different ways and means - the one testifies in his abstinence and isolationism; the other, in his participation and ecumenicity...
and both are condemned.

has a certain ring to it, huh?
or is that a certain "sting to it"?
gives a whole new meaning to rom 14.17 - "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

jeileenbaylor said...
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jeileenbaylor said...
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Luther's Stein said...

I'll drink to that, Logan!

Nate Mihelis said...

based on how many times you deleted the comment, it looks like you have been drinking to that.