Mission to Outsiders: Ethics & Ethos
I am very excited because I recently had the opportunity to contribute to two edited volumes that have finally appeared in print. The first volume is entitled, Sensitivity to Outsiders: Exploring the Dynamic Relationship between Mission and Ethics in the New Testament and Early Christianity (WUNT II/364; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014), and the second volume is entitled, Insiders versus Outsiders: Exploring the Dynamic Relationship between Mission and Ethos in the New Testament (Perspectives on Philosophy and Religious Thought 14; Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2014).
These collections are in many ways sister volumes. The man who stands behind them both is Prof. Dr. Jacobus (Kobus) Kok from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, whose research on the topic of “Mission” in the New Testament functioned as the catalyst for these volumes, and he also served as an editor and contributed essays for each volume. Both collections deal with the issue of missiology and specifically address the question of how ethics were structured in relation to outsiders in the New Testament on the one hand (Sensitivity to Outsiders) and how Christian ethos and identity was formed in relation to Outsiders on the other hand (Insiders versus Outsiders). The topic is a fascinating one and the two volumes complement each other nicely. I was able to contribute an essay for the volume on outsiders and Ethics (Sensitivity to Outsiders) on Galatians 4:29–30 and the issue of the (potential) command to cast out the so-called “agitators” (i.e. Paul’s opponents; “the children of the flesh”). For the volume on Outsiders and Ethos (Insiders versus Outsiders) I served as a co-editor alongside Prof. Dr. Kok.
Below are blurbs about each volume and lists of the contributors involved.
Here is the blurb on Sensitivity to Outsiders:
From its very beginning, Christianity was an innovative movement which had to construct and maintain its identity, morality, and social as well as theological boundary markers as it developed from a religion of conversion into a religion of tradition. Early Christianity’s sensitivity to “outsiders” evolved in various ways as circumstances and socio-cultural contexts changed. In this volume scholars from around the world reflect on the dynamic relationship between mission and ethics in the New Testament and Early Christianity, focusing particularly on the sensitivity, or lack thereof, to outsiders, and thereby offering new insights into old questions. Most of the New Testament and several second century books are individually studied by specialists in the field making this book a valuable reference volume on the topic.
Contributors: Andries G. van Aarde, Jonathan Draper, John Anthony Dunne, Ernest van Eck, Paul Foster, Erhard Gerstenberger, Christopher M. Hays, Dirk J. Human, Stephan Joubert, Jacobus (Kobus) Kok, Andreas Köstenberger, Abraham Malherbe, Johann Meylahn, David Moffitt, Candida Moss, Tobias Nicklas, Nelus Niemandt, Heike Omerzu, Bert-Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, Jeremy Punt, Volker Rabens, Dieter Roth, Christopher Rowland, Herbert Schlögel, Gert Steyn, Andrie du Toit, Chris L. De Wet, Ruben Zimmermann.
Here is the blurb on Insiders versus Outsiders:
In times of conflict and radical change, group identity is often threatened and boundaries need to be renegotiated. The first century was a time of radical change, especially for the Jews. It was in the first century C.E. that the core symbol of Jewish identity, the temple, was destroyed. Social scientists point out that in such turbulent times, groups will often create stronger boundaries around themselves. In such contexts boundaries between insiders and outsiders are created and in ancient texts, expressed in linguistic forms that illustrate such boundaries. Christianity as a movement developed within the already established, but volatile Jewish movement/religion. As a movement Christianity expressed a profound sense of inclusivism and illustrated that value in the transcendence of social boundaries. However, Christianity was also a moral movement, as Wayne Meeks once remarked, and therefore also created boundaries. This is expressed in linguistic expressions, such as to say that the in-group are the pistoi (believers) to be distinguished from the apistoi (the unbelievers). In this book the dynamic reality of creating and transcending boundaries and the relationship between insiders and outsiders are explored by way of reflecting on mission and ethos. Mission is understood as the expansion of early Christianity which was experienced as a (missionary) call or responsibility to share a particular view on God and life. Ethos is understood as the language and behaviour that flowed forth from a missionary understanding of identity.
Contributors: Athanasios Despotis, Marius Nel, Jacobus (Kobus) Kok, Christoph Stenschke, Ronald van den Bergh, Ernest van Eck, Rob Van Houwelingen, Pieter Venter.