A Crisis of Praxis

I need to start this post by stating that I am a believer in Jesus. I think the Apostles Creed provides an accurate summary of the major, non-negotiable tenets of the faith. I think “Unity in essentials, Liberty in non-essentials, Charity in all things” provides a great framework for how believers should interact with each other.

 

I also need to say that I’m fed up, and I’m having what I think I can call a “crisis of praxis.”

I need to be clear and further state that I’m talking about myself. I may identify areas that I see as issues in society and the church-at-large, but largely what I’m frustrated with is how out-of-sync my theology has become with my praxis. In other words, how what I think about Christianity has become out-of-sync with how I actually live.

I theologically understand the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus. But these days, it’s as if those things have no direct, tangible, daily effect on my life.

I’m not talking about legalism or rule-following. I’m not talking about a pastor exhorting a particular action as the “application” of a passage in a sermon.

The way I was taught and the way I continue to think about praxis is that it is the logical outflow of the faith we have in Jesus. There should be a result of that faith that is natural, visible, and un-forced. And it should be distinguishing.

But I just don’t see it. I don’t see evidence of theology and belief practiced in my own life or in large as a result of the presence of the church, be it local or global.

The past six or seven years have worn me down. I have had (rightly, I’d argue) pretty much my sole focus on my little family of 5 and the insane challenges (no, really) that our life situation has brought us.

And I don’t have anything left. As the vulgar yet popular saying goes, “I’ve got zero f*cks left to give.” In this world where my immediate life situation demands and takes pretty much everything, what happens outside of my life situation sucks my hope away.

I’m grieved by my own action and inaction, but too weary and spent to do anything about it. How should I respond to that homeless woman who, in the summer and fall, essentially lives outside of the office where I work? Smiling and nodding isn’t the right way, but it’s about all I have bandwidth for apart from a muttered prayer as I enter the office each day.

How is it that I can sit through sermons at my church, basically numb to what is being said? This isn’t the pastor’s fault — he’s a good friend of mine, and he won’t be surprised that I’m writing this. But when the thing I look most forward to at church is that I can sit for an hour and zone out and not be interrupted by kids or crisis, how can that be right? This seems like an issue. And, honestly — I really don’t care, and I really don’t want to change it.

And when I look at the wider scope of things, I see the big-C “Church” (well, the protestant flavor) happily wielding power as a political pawn through self-proclaimed church “leaders” who, to me anyway, seem literally hell-bent on pursuing power at the cost of everything. Like Esau, they’ve swapped it all for a bowl of pork-and-beans, and they don’t even know it — or they do know it and they don’t care.

Does this not drive anyone else to despair?

When I look at our elected leaders, I see politicians who in their words acknowledge the King of Kings, but lack in their basic understanding of the Bible and their perverse application of it in their pontificating on the floor of the House of Representatives and the Senate, in their blathering during hearings, and during their interviews while appealing to their base saying whatever they can to retain power. It is sick. It drives me to despair.

I’m not expecting parity between what one thinks to be true and how one’s actions portay that truth. Lord knows that’s impossible. But the disconnect on all levels between what is testified to as true and what actions betray to be true has caused me to experience more dissonance than I’d previously thought possible.

It has worn me down.

And I haven’t even got to the issues of white privilege and patriarchy that dominate both church and society at all levels — local, national, and global — yet seem so insurmountable. I am grieved by these too, and yet I have no energy for a response. All I can muster is, unfortunately, apathy.

Talk about “white privilege,” I’m a living, breathing example.

And that’s the crisis, at least to me. My theology says my faith should provoke more than intellectual assent. But my praxis betrays this. When I look to the local church for help, I sense desire to do something, to be sure, but not a lot of ability or knowledge on how to do anything apart from the same church programs that have always been done. (I don’t know either; this isn’t a criticism, it is a statement of what I see happening.) And when I look to the church at large for help, the only thing I see is self-proclaimed “leaders” using platforms as personal power plays.

And all I can muster is apathy and preservation of my Sunday hour of uninterruption.

This is why I frame this as a “crisis of praxis.” I see the issues and they weigh upon me, but I’m spent.

I have zero f*cks left to give.

Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: Second Timothy — Now on @Logos Prepub!

This past winter, I published the second volume (of three planned volumes) of the Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles, this one being the volume on Second Timothy.

Now the good folks at Logos Bible Software (note: I work for Faithlife, the producer of Logos Bible Software) have decided to make Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: Second Timothy available on prepub, to go along with the volume on First Timothy that was released in Logos format in 2017.

I’m stoked about this! Preorder yours in Logos format now!

Here’s the description on Amazon:

To responsibly exegete the text of Second Timothy, one must become familiar with the vocabulary. But examination of word meanings involves more than simply looking up words in a lexicon and choosing a gloss that seems appropriate.

Rick Brannan evaluates the vocabulary of the Second Timothy in light of the New Testament, the Septuagint (LXX), the Apostolic Fathers, the works of Philo, the works of Josephus, the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, and other material. Many commentaries and other works of exegesis mention material from these sources to provide background information or examples of word usage, duly noting references to such works in footnotes or endnotes. Brannan’s work, however, provides full quotations (in translation) of the relevant references. Instead of relegating these citations to footnotes that are seldom if ever looked up, the cited text itself is reproduced for the reader to evaluate.

Please note: All proceeds from sale of books published by Appian Way Press, in print or Logos format, go directly to offset costs incurred in the adoption of our third child, Josiah. He’s now 2, and doing well! But domestic infant adoption is expensive, and we’ll be paying bills for a long time, so help us out with some book purchases!

What Have I Been Doing?

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It’s almost March, and I haven’t blogged much — mostly because I’ve been gathering transcriptions of papyri and translating them in my spare time. I think the count is now over 60 transcriptions, with a large proportion of them translated as well. This is all research and preparation for a larger book project that I’m just about ready to chart out and try to see if I can get it written, somehow, in the next year.

And I’ve also been writing my weekly email newsletter, (forthcoming), in bits of time between transcribing and translating (and fixing rabbit hutches, and playing with kids, and of course working at Faithlife, and sometimes even sleeping).

So it’s been busy and productive, but I haven’t really blogged much about it all. If you want to keep up, the best thing to do is to subscribe to (forthcoming).

What’s happening next? I’m torn because I really, really, want to keep digging into the early fragmentary Christian papyri. They are so interesting, and there is so much work to be done there. But I also need to start writing a paper on commands in Titus for a conference in Germany this September. But before that I need to write two papers for BibleTech — again in Seattle on April 11 and 12. And it may have been foolish, but I just submitted a proposal for a paper at SBL (in San Diego this November!) which I can talk about more after I hear whether or not it gets accepted.

So, yes, I’ve been busy!

Sign up for my Newsletter, “(forthcoming)”

JimCarreyTypingHi folks.

Part of the reason I have this blog is for experimentation. Another part is to raise interest in and disseminate information about my publication projects.

For both of those reasons, I’m going to start a newsletter (sign up here). I’m tentatively titling it (forthcoming), and it will include excerpts from books I’ve published, material from things I’m researching (e.g. Stuff Early Christians Read), and updates on whatever else I find interesting. I plan to use the newsletter to announce when new stuff is available as well.

I’m presently thinking there will be 2–3 newsletters per month, and they shouldn’t be more than a page or two in length. I don’t want to do more than one newsletter per week, at most. I’m not sure exactly when the newsletters will start, but probably sometime in the next two weeks.

This list of email addresses will not be sold or rented, its sole purpose is for distribution of (forthcoming).

If you’re interested, please sign up using this link. Also “Like” my new Facebook Author Page). Thanks!

Subscribe to my newsletter!

Rick’s 2019 Writing Schedule

LCPE-2Ti-coverHere it is, 2019. I had a 2018 Writing Schedule (readjusted along the way), as well as one for 2017 and even 2016. So I figure I need to sketch out some thoughts here at the beginning of the year again.

For last year, I was happy to finish my Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: Second Timothy. I’m still not sure how it happened, but attribute most of it to a weekend away with my wife (and no kids!) where I blitzed the commentary and she simply slept and recharged.

Theme 1: Titus

One of my themes this year has got to be the book of Titus. This is for two reasons. First, the obvious reason, is Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: Titus is the obvious next (and final!) installment in my Lexical Commentary series. I would love to wrap that up, so I will need to start on it. That said, I may let the commentary sit until next year (2020) depending on how much time I want to spend on researching and developing Stuff Early Christians Read material.

The second reason to focus on Titus is less obvious. There is a conference in Mainz, Germany at Johannes Gutenberg University in September of 2019 on the topic of “Ethics in Titus.” Jim West mentioned the conference awhile back, and even linked to the schedule. I’ve been invited to give a paper on “Ethics and Language in Titus.” I plan on exploring command language in Titus for the paper; we’ll see where it takes me. I’d like to finish the paper well before the conference to allow some later time for revision and polish, so I’ll probably start research soon (early January) and writing shortly thereafter.

Theme 2: Stuff Early Christians Read (and Wrote)

If it wasn’t for the conference in Germany in September, I’d probably want to spend my whole year researching and beginning to write a book length monograph on Stuff Early Christians Read (and Wrote). I have a full length book proposal for this, and think I know where I want to go with it. But I can’t pass up the opportunity of the conference in Germany, so will focus on that first.

That said, I hope to take short breaks from Titus to transcribe and translate some early papryi. I’ve got a spreadsheet full of them to locate, research, encode transcriptions, and translate.

Stuff Early Christians Read going on hold

Hi folks!

I’ve been having a ton of fun digging into the “Stuff Early Christians Read” material. I have scads of things I want to find transcriptions for, and I’m stumbling on new stuff all the time. I think I now have five or six series of papyrological stuff  to comb through (some German, some French; nothing English, of course.)

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But, I’m putting that series on hold, at least for now. I will get back to it. But first, I want to finish up with creating a reader’s edition of Acta Pilati A + Descent of Christ to Hades. I have the Greek text pretty much together, I have a public domain English edition I can include, and I have the glossary pretty much together. So now it’s time to fight with Microsoft Word (O ye who deal with documents with hundreds and thousands of footnotes, you know the woes I will experience), get the draft together, and get something out that folks can use.

 

Once I get the reader out, I hope to split time between Stuff Early Christians Read (researching, transcribing, blogging) because I think there’s a book or two in there somewhere, I’m just not sure what yet. And I also hope to finish my Lexical Commentary on 2 Timothy, which has been halfway done for two years now, and really needs to cross the finish line.

So that’s the status, folks.

If you want to help, you can buy my books! Note: I do not get royalties from books published by Lexham Press (Greek Apocryphal GospelsThe Apostolic Fathers, or Anticipating His Arrival) but I do get royalties from books published by Appian Way Press (Lexical Commentary: First Timothy, Second Timothy: Notes, Building a Firm Foundation, First Apocryphal Apocalypse of John).

An Adjustment to my Writing Schedule

JimCarreyTypingThere is good news and bad news. Either way, consider this an update to Rick’s 2018 Writing Schedule.

The good news is that I’m actually getting regular (small) chunks of time that I can use for writing. This has been almost impossible since Josiah was born (Feb. 2017) but for the past few weeks has actually been possible.

The bad news (well, for some, maybe): I’d earlier mentioned that I would spend a large chunk of my 2018 (and 2019) writing and research time working on a new introduction, translation, and commentary of the Acts of Pilate A, Acts of Pilate B, and  Descent of Christ to Hades. In the past weeks, I’ve decided that I really don’t want to do that. I’ve got the Greek text together for Acta Pilati A and Descent of Christ to Hades, and I do plan to put out a reader’s edition of it in the Appian Way Greek Readers series. I have not yet decided if I want to translate the text for inclusion, or review and modernize the translation from ANF 8, but am leaning toward modernization, primarily because I simply want to wrap up that chunk of research and work. A reader’s edition seems the best way to button it up and move on.

I want to wrap it up because I’ve also decided that I really need to get back into the Pastoral Epistles. I’ve got the Lexical Commentary on the Pastoral Epistles: Second Timothy halfway written and would like to put some sustained effort in on finishing it and then starting in on the Titus volume.

In the midst of it all, I plan on continuing to blog (sporadically, likely) on Stuff Early Christians Read. I’ve really been enjoying looking at 1st–4th century manuscripts that are neither LXX nor NT, but ostensibly Christian. I hope to write short entries on many more manuscripts. I’m very eager to learn how interesting or useful y’all find that sort of stuff, so if you have any feedback on these posts, please let me know.