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About Todd Brewer

Assistant Professor of New Testament @GeneralSeminary in NYC. Phd from Durham University, England. I have a love for all things alt-rock, Pixar, football (American style), hockey (on ice), poetry, and good, short literature. On Twitter @toddhbrew

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    Day Four of #AARSBL17 (and the Spiritual Roots of Theological Insight)

    To read the previous round-ups of this year’s American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature (AARSBL), click here. Also excited to announce that we have the recording of Simeon Zahl’s lecture from the event, “Prayer and Affliction: Martin Luther on the Spiritual Roots of Theological Insight” available to stream/download here.

    The final day of AARSBL feels like going to church on a snowy day. The publishers are still there and papers are still being given in the morning, but the excited “buzz” is gone as probably 50-75% of attendees have already left. Universities don’t usually…

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    Day Three of AARSBL (American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature)

    To read the previous round-ups, click here.

    To be honest, Day Three of AARSBL was only OK. I went to the Christian Apocrypha discussion on a worthwhile new collection of Christian Apocrypha, with interesting commentary on the nature of genres, on which texts should be included, and on future editions of this new series. I’m definitely going to buy the book at some point.

    The rest of the day didn’t feature any sessions of interest, an opinion confirmed by the number of coffee meetings I had with others who were likewise underwhelmed by the offerings. That isn’t to say there is nothing…

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    Day Two of the AARSBL

    To read the round-up of day one, click here.

    Today was my Luther Day. Ever since the schedule was released I had the “Luther and Justification” section circled on my calendar. This enthusiasm derives not so much because it’s Luther but because it was being conducted by Bible scholars. For the longest time, Luther has been an easy target for Pauline students. Having “Lutheran spectacles” or a “Reformational bias” is an insult of the highest degree. For many it seems as though Luther’s reading of Paul was the original sin of Pauline scholarship—the place it all went so terribly wrong….

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    Day One of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature (AARSBL)

    For anyone studying the Bible, theology, or religion, the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature (AARSBL) is the go-to conference to learn about the latest and greatest in current research. Several thousand scholars from all around the world descend upon an unsuspecting city’s conference center and hotels. This year Boston was the site. The AARSBL is the one time that usually introverted academics become social: seeing old friends and renewing professional acquaintances. Paper topics given are as wide as you can imagine, ranging from studies of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas to the controversy over the Luther…

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    The Top Theology Books of 2016

    The Top Theology Books of 2016

    Another year and there are many, many more books to read. If that statement feels more like a celebration than an arduous demand, this post is for you. I buy an inordinate amount of books each year, so I’m firmly in the former category. Below are the best theology books of 2016, categorized by their movie genre equivalent. You can click here for the accompanying podcast. Happy Reading!

    The Best Pixar Films (Abreactive Theology Books)

    John Newton’s Falling into Grace

    A book for those of us who have ever failed and found themselves in dire straits–that is, all of us. Newton writes for…

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    A Poem for April Fools’ Day – “The Aristocrat” by G.K. Chesterton

    The devil is a gentlemanThe Devil is a gentleman, and asks you down to stay
    At his little place at What’sitsname (it isn’t far away).
    They say the sport is splendid; there is always something new,
    And fairy scenes, and fearful feats that none but he can do;
    He can shoot the feathered cherubs if they fly on the estate,
    Or fish for Father Neptune with the mermaids for a bait;
    He scaled amid the staggering stars that precipice, the sky,
    And blew his trumpet above heaven, and got by mastery
    The starry crown of God Himself, and shoved it on the shelf;
    But the Devil is a gentleman, and doesn’t brag himself.

    O blind your eyes and break your heart and hack your hand away,
    And lose your love and shave your head; but do not go to stay
    At the little place in What’sitsname where folks are rich and clever;
    The golden and the goodly house, where things grow worse for ever;
    There are things you need not know of, though you live and die in vain,
    There are souls more sick of pleasure than you are sick of pain;
    There is a game of April Fool that’s played behind its door,
    Where the fool remains for ever and the April comes no more,
    Where the splendour of the daylight grows drearier than the dark,
    And life droops like a vulture that once was such a lark:
    And that is the Blue Devil that once was the Blue Bird;
    For the Devil is a gentleman, and doesn’t keep his word.

    Who Will Save Us From Our Shame?

    Who Will Save Us From Our Shame?

    For anyone who went to college in the last quarter of the 20th century you’ll be well aware of the rise of what was called “moral relativism”, i.e. the loss of absolute standards of right or wrong and the rise of the moral choice or preference of the individual. Equally esteemed or feared, particularly within Christian circles, this do-it-yourself morality was the talk of the nation.

    The moral winds, though, appear to be shifting. And in a recent opinion piece David Brooks suggests that the once formidable doctrine of moral relativism has slowly become a passing fad with the increase of…

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    The Top Theology Books of 2015

    The Top Theology Books of 2015

    In the several years that I’ve been compiling a yearly review of theology books I have to say that this past year has been the best of them all. Some publishing years come and go without much notice, but this one will likely be remembered for quite a while.

    Sin Boldly!: Justifying Faith for Fragile and Broken Souls, by Ted Peters

    This book is so good we keep. writing. about. it. Go back and look – DZ has been subliminally sneaking Peters quotes or allusions into almost everything he’s written for the past 6 months. For Peters, justification is not some abstract,…

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    The "Trigger-Warning" Life

    The “Trigger-Warning” Life

    Universities have historically always been on the leading edge of American cultural change. The university has, or at least tries to be, the place where new ideas are tested, refined, and put into meaningful action. Today’s college students become tomorrow’s leaders, which is to say that the recent explosion of “trigger warning” policies are not an aberration or fad that can be ignored.

    As Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt so astutely outline in their cover story for The Atlantic (see DZ’s take here), the muting of “triggers” from pedagogy is an overt form of censorship of anything that might create unwelcome,…

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    Shining Some Light on True Detective, Season Two

    Shining Some Light on True Detective, Season Two

    This season of True Detective has – to say the least – not lived up to the high standards set by the gripping first season. Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey are hard acts to follow, so perhaps the expectations were too high. But the real Achilles heel of this season has been its plot, which was so convoluted that I had to consult a lengthy summary before watching the finale. As we all learned from the most recent season of a certain beloved comedy, TV shouldn’t be that hard to follow and I still can’t remember all of the main…

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    A Quick Calvin and Hobbes (on Work vs. Play)

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    Modern Marcionitism and the Epistle of James (Part II)

    Modern Marcionitism and the Epistle of James (Part II)

    In my previous post on the Epistle of James and the origins of its place in the New Testament Canon I noted (following David Nienhuis’s excellent work on the subject) that James found its canonical home within the New Testament as a corrective to the persistent threat of Marcionitism. While Marcion, reading Paul, divorced the God of gospel from the demigod of the Old Testament, the Epistle of James was written to ensure that this God and his commandments are not be discarded as obsolete. Rather than Marcion’s supposed antinomianism, the Epistle of James ensures that genuine faith is a…

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