Monthly Archives: November 2016

Strangers to Family: Diaspora and 1 Peter’s Invention of God’s Household

Smith-Diaspora-cmyk

Strangers to Family: Diaspora and 1 Peter’s Invention of God’s Household
by Shively T. J. Smith

In Strangers to Family Shively Smith reads the Letter of 1 Peter through a new model of diaspora. Smith illuminates this peculiarly Petrine understanding of diaspora by situating it among three other select perspectives from extant Hellenist Jewish writings: the Daniel court tales, the Letter of Aristeas, and Philo’s works.

While 1 Peter tends to be taken as representative of how diaspora was understood in Hellenistic Jewish and early Christian circles, Smith demonstrates that 1 Peter actually reverses the most fundamental meaning of diaspora as conceived by its literary peers. Instead of connoting the scattering of a people with a common territorial origin, for 1 Peter, diaspora constitutes an “already-scattered-people” who share a common, communal, celestial destination.

Smith’s discovery of a distinctive instantiation of diaspora in 1 Peter capitalizes on her careful comparative historical, literary, and theological analysis of diaspora constructions found in Hellenistic Jewish writings. Her reading of 1 Peter thus challenges the use of the exile and wandering as master concepts to read 1 Peter, reconsiders the conceptual significance of diaspora in 1 Peter and in the entire New Testament canon, and liberates 1 Peter from being interpreted solely through the rubrics of either the stranger-homelessness model or household codes. First Peter does not recycle standard diasporic identity, but is, as Strangers to Family demonstrates, an epistle that represents the earliest Christian construction of diaspora as a way of life.

For more information regarding Strangers to Family, visit the book’s page on MUSE.

Becoming Friends of Time: Disability, Timefullness, and Gentle Discipleship

Becoming Friends of Time - Swinton - revised

Becoming Friends of Time: Disability, Timefullness, and Gentle Discipleship
by John Swinton

Time is central to all that humans do. Time structures days, provides goals, shapes dreams—and limits lives. Time appears to be tangible, real, and progressive, but, in the end, time proves illusory. Though mercurial, time can be deadly for those with disabilities. To participate fully in human society has come to mean yielding to the criterion of the clock. The absence of thinking rapidly, living punctually, and biographical narration leaves persons with disabilities vulnerable. A worldview driven by the demands the clock makes on the lives of those with dementia or profound neurological and intellectual disabilities seems pointless.

And yet, Jesus comes to the world to transform time. Jesus calls us to slow down, take time, and learn to recognize the strangeness of living within God’s time. He calls us to be gentle, patient, kind; to walk slowly and timefully with those whom society desires to leave behind.

In Becoming Friends of Time, John Swinton crafts a theology of time that draws us toward a perspective wherein time is a gift and a calling. Time is not a commodity nor is time to be mastered. Time is a gift of God to humans, but is also a gift given back to God by humans.

Swinton wrestles with critical questions that emerge from theological reflection on time and disability: rethinking doctrine for those who can never grasp Jesus with their intellects; reimagining discipleship and vocation for those who have forgotten who Jesus is; reconsidering salvation for those who, due to neurological damage, can be one person at one time and then be someone else in an instant. In the end, Swinton invites the reader to spend time with the experiences of people with profound neurological disability, people who can change our perceptions of time, enable us to grasp the fruitful rhythms of God’s time, and help us learn to live in ways that are unimaginable within the boundaries of the time of the clock.

For more information regarding Becoming Friends of Time, visit the book’s page on MUSE.