About Me

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Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).

Monday, 31 October 2011

Yeah—My new Lamentations book is out!!!

After years in the pipeline the Parry-Thomas collaboration has come to fruitition. It is a book about Jewish and Christian use of Lamentations as Sacred Scripture. Here is the table of contents:

Introduction—Robin A. Parry and Heath A. Thomas /

1. “Holy Scripture” and Hermeneutics: Lamentations in Critical and Theological Reflection—Heath A. Thomas /

2. Outrageous Demonstrations of Grace: The Theology of Lamentations—Paul R. House /

Soundings in Jewish Reception History
A. Lamentations in Isaiah 40–55—Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer /
B. The Character and Significance of LXX Lamentations—Kevin J. Youngblood /
C. Targum Lamentations—Christian M. M. Brady /
D. Lamentations Rabbati—Jacob Neusner /
E. Introduction to Rashi’s Commentary on Lamentations—Mayer I. Gruber /
F. Lamentations in Jewish Liturgy—Elsie R. Stern / 09
G. Lamentations in Modern Jewish Thought—Zachary Braiterman /

Soundings in Messianic Jewish Reception History
H. Holocaust Theology in the Light of Yeshua? Messianic Jewish Reception of Eikah—Richard Harvey /

Soundings in Christian Reception History
I. Lamentations in the Patristic Period—Heath A. Thomas /
J. Christian Interpretation of Lamentations in the Middle Ages—David S. Hogg /
K. John Calvin’s Interpretation of Lamentations—Pete Wilcox /
L. Lamentations for the Lord: Great and Holy Friday in the Greek Orthodox Church—Eugenia Scarvelis Constantinou / 15
M. Lamentations and Christian Worship—Andrew Cameron-Mowat SJ /

Soundings in Artistic and Contemporary Reception
N. Musical Responses to Lamentations—F. Jane Schopf /
O. Lamentations in Rembrandt van Rijn: “Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem”—Heath A. Thomas /
P. Psychological Approaches to Lamentations—Paul M. Joyce /
Q. Feminist Interpretation(s) of Lamentations—Heath A. Thomas /

3. Wrestling with Lamentations in Christian Worship—Robin A. Parry /

4. Confession and Complaint: Christian Pastoral Reflections on Lamentations—Ian Stackhouse /

Appendix 1. A Translation of LXX Lamentations—Kevin J. Youngblood /
Appendix 2. A Translation of Targum Lamentations—Christian M. M. Brady /
Appendix 3. Lamentations Rabbati on Lamentations 3:1–21—Jacob Neusner /
Appendix 4. Rashi on Lamentations 3:1–21 /
Appendix 5. Calvin on Lamentations 3:1–23 /

“The question mark in this title points to the fact that sadness, loss, and grief are now the order of the day in Western culture. For that
reason the book of Lamentations now draws great attention and energy among us. This book, with its long historical sweep of interpretations
and its broad ecumenical reach in rereading Lamentations, is sure to become a point of reference for our continuing response to the question. The question of the title requires endless, continuing engagement among us. These pages provide guides and models for continuing answering.”
—Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary

“The essays in Great is Thy Faithfulness? focus upon one question: How is Lamentations a word of God? Responses are deep, rich, and
many. They draw from interpretations, contemporary and ancient, Jewish and Christian, and from the arts, pastoral care, and liturgical usage. They reveal how Lamentations has been and can be embraced by believers. For pastors and classrooms, this book promises to stir up conversation, questions, and faith.”
—Kathleen M. O’Connor, Columbia Theological Seminary

Friday, 14 October 2011

Guest post from St. Augustine

At the moment I am reading through Augustine's book The Trinity. This morning I came across a sentence that made me smile:

So they [the three persons of the Godhead] are each in each and all in each, and each in all and all in all, and all are one
(Book VI, ch. 2.12)



Thursday, 13 October 2011

Eyes in their Stars: Ezekiel meets a Constellation

I recently read an interesting book by John Pilch called Flights of the Soul: Visions, Heavenly Journeys, and Peak Expericnes in the Biblical World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011). Pilch is a biblical scholar who has for many years used the tools of social anthropology to make sense of texts. He has a lot of helful insights, even though Christian readers could not leave things where Pilch does (and in some cases they cannot go where he goes).

Anyway, one little thing that really caught my attention was a chapter on Ezekiel's inaugral vision. Pilch suggests that the four living creatures (each with the face of a lion, a human, an ox, and an eagle) are not simply weird angels but are, in fact, constellations (i.e., groups of stars).

He observes that Ezekiel has his vision while in Babylon and that in Babylonian astrology the four Babylonian seasonal constellations are:
Leo (the lion),
Scorpio (who had a human face),
Taurus (the bull),
and Pegasus (the thunderbird/eagle).
In Babylonian astrology these four constellations depict the four directions of the sky, being about 90 degrees from each other. Thus they represent the entire sky with God’s throne at the centre.
"Ezekiel has made immediate sense of his vision. He is looking into the night sky and interprets the constellations in line with Babylonian understanding. For this reason Ezekiel is called an astral prophet. He learns God’s will from the stars in the sky. The fact that the rim of the wheels (v. 18; see vv. 15–21) on which the living creatures moved are “full of eyes” confirms this. The ancients called stars “eyes,” and thought them to be living entities. Constellated stars, called “full of eyes,” were perceived as animate beings like persons or animals. Since Ezekiel sees all four constellations moving at once, his vantage point was high above the entire cosmos (vv. 4–11).

According to ancient star lore, the constellations support the firmament, that solid bowl-like object that covers the earth. That is precisely what Ezekiel saw (vv. 22–23) . . .”
Above these astral living creatures is the firmament (raqîa') and above the firmament is the throne of God.

This drew my attention to a commentary on Revelation by Pilch and Bruce Malina where they read the whole book in terms of astral stuff. That sounds fascinating.

This all fits with an article I have been working on about stars in the OT. It is often said by scholars that one of the revolutionary things about the OT is that ancient Israel, unlike the pagan nations around it, stripped the stars of their divine status and made them simply into . . . stars. I don't think that is correct. What Yahwism did was to forbid the worship of stars and to put stars in their proper pace. But stars were still very closely linked with "divine" beings — the "sons of God" (i.e., the divine council).

So this raises all sorts of fun theological questions for modern believers because we do not (indeed cannot) think of stars as divine beings. So what is God trying to say to us through this ancient set of texts? What a fun question that one is! Once I have something intelligent to say about it I'll let you know. But I am convinced that this ancient notion of stars has important things to teach us about the resignification of the cosmos — pointers to transcendance.

Phatfish, "And Can It Be"

This is a wonderful version of the hymn, "And can it be" from Christian group Phatfish.

If you don't know Phatfish please do check them out. They write songs with theological depth and devotional heart. Nathan Fellingham, the drummer, is also the guy who writes a lot of that wondeful new material.

But this one we owe to a certain Charles Wesley. I may be wrong but I don't think that he was in Phatfish.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Weinandy on Divine Immutability

One should not be misled into thinking that God’s immutability is like the immutability of a rock only more so. What God and rocks appear to have in common is only the fact that they do not change. The reason for their unchangeableness is for polar-opposite reasons. The Rock of Gibraltar does not change or changes very little because it is hardly in act at all, and the change that it does undergo is mainly from outside causes—wind and rain. God is unchangeable not because he is inert or static like a rock, but for just the opposite reason. He is so dynamic, so active that no change can make him more active. He is act pure and simple . . .

What the critics consistently fail to grasp is that God’s immutability is not opposed to his vitality. Nor need one hold together in some dialectical fashion his immutability and his vibrancy, as if in spite of being immutable he is nonetheless dynamic. Rather, it is precisely God’s immutability as actus purus that guarantees and authenticates his pure vitality and absolute dynamism. Thus, when the critics assert that because Aquinas and the tradition believe God to be immutable they espouse a static and inert conception of God, they but demonstrate their own lack of understanding.
(Thomas Weinandy, Does God Suffer? 78–79, 124)

Saturday, 1 October 2011

The Christmas Police. Love it!

Another great cartoon from David Smart