Category: KEDS Essays

In this section you will find all the essays I write for my MA in Theology with the University of Chester (via King’s Evangelical Divinity School).

KEDS Essays – Romans 9-11 as a proof-text for the Calvinist doctrine of election. Discuss.

Calvinist soteriology is perhaps most widely known for the doctrine of unconditional election, a divine choice concerning mankind’s eternal destiny, where both “election and reprobation are individual, personal, specific, and particular” (Enns, 2008, p. 510). In the words of John Calvin himself:

God by his eternal and immutable counsel determined once for all those whom it was his pleasure one day to admit to salvation, and those whom, on the other hand, it was his pleasure to doom to destruction. (Calvin, 2017, p. 407)[1]

Chapters nine through eleven of the Epistle to the Romans are foundational to Calvinism. Palmer (2010) calls chapter nine the “finest statement of all” about election (p. 39); Boice & Ryken (2002) deem it “the most important passage” (p. 92); Moo (1996) says it “gives strong exegetical support to Calvinistic interpretation” (p. 587). However, the debate throughout history has been fierce at times (de Villiers, 1981), and many still think “the apostle says nothing about eternal life and death” (Sanday & Headlam, 1908, p. 258).

We shall begin with a more detailed analysis of Romans 9, to then overview chapters 10-11 briefly, and conclude with the purpose of these three chapters; since modern Calvinist interpretations are virtually the same as John Calvin’s, we shall refer primarily to his commentary on Romans. Finally, we shall attempt to account for the origin of both the Calvinist doctrine of election and the usage of Romans 9-11 as its prooftext.

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KEDS Essays – Module 4 – The Synoptic Gospels

Complete three gobbets (short comment questions). Chosen texts: Matthew 2:14-15; Mark 4:38-39; Luke 8:48.

Matthew 2:14-15

This is a notoriously difficult text (Beale, 2012). Luke, the only other synoptic recording Jesus’ early life, provides no parallel;[1] but once we understand Luke and Matthew differ in their primary purpose and audience, it becomes clear that the text’s role is unique to Matthew’s intent. The latter, however, seems to be subject of debate, too (Carson, 2017), with some suggesting we should never look for a single audience and purpose (Blomberg, 1992). Blomberg, Carson, and many others seem to believe Matthew does not state his purpose clearly, though Blomberg does conclude that Matthew’s theological emphasis points to the primary purpose being apologetics directed to a Jewish audience.

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KEDS Essays – Module 3 – New Testament Survey

The Epistle of James and the First Epistle of John

The Epistle of James

Introduction. Scholars have proposed dozens of disparate solutions to the most basic questions regarding the epistle of James (Edgar, 2001). It is indeed difficult to assess genre, audience, message, purpose, and social, historical and cultural setting of this epistle. This is specially so when faced with the challenge of dating this book; though out of scope for this essay, we must at least acknowledge that opinions ranging from mid 30s (Hodges, 2015) to mid second century (Allison, 2015) must be taken into consideration.

Popular views that see James as mere wisdom literature (Bauckham, 1999, as cited in Baker, 2002), as paraenesis (Dibelius, 1976 as cited in Moo, 2015), or as diatribe (Ropes, 1916 as cited in Edgar, 2001), and generally lacking logical structure, have been challenged in the past few decades (Jackson-McCabe, 2003; Reiher, 2013; Moo, 2015). James cannot be taken as a discourse in a vacuum without neglecting the socio-historical background and impacting our understanding of message and purpose. However, Moo’s (2015) suggestion that James is a homily then transcribed in epistolary form allows to retain both exhortation and wisdom characteristics, now underpinned by a historical setting providing us with occasion, motive, audience, and social situation, and thus shedding new light on the message.

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KEDS Essays – Module 2 – Old Testament Survey

Introduction to the book of Exodus and the book of Haggai

Exodus

Until the 19th century the historicity and traditional authorship of the Pentateuch was widely accepted. Nowadays, however, Exodus is a controversial book (Seiglie, 2003). The Documentary Hypothesis constituted the first substantial shift, rejecting Mosaic authorship (Allis, 2001). The biblical minimalists went much further, denying archaeological evidence exists in support of biblical Israel (Thompson, 1999). Yet Exodus is “the most significant historical and theological event of the Old Testament” (Merrill, 1996, p. 57-58), thus of critical importance (Hayes, 2009).

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KEDS Essays – Module 1 – Introduction to the Bible

Introduction

Divine revelation is seen as essential to Christianity across the spectrum. Ball (2012) says that any knowledge one may have of God is solely “the outcome of God’s gracious initiative and of his will to be known” (p. 13), while Bahnsen (1996) goes as far as saying that God’s revelation is the very foundation of knowledge. Of all forms of divine revelation, written revelation—the Scripture—was ultimately necessary to preserve all we need to know in order to relate properly to God (Erickson, 1985).

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