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Australasian Theological Studies

Pacifica is a scholarly peer-reviewed journal covering all aspects of Christian theology, published three times a year by the Pacifica Theological Studies Association. Pacifica serves the needs of scholars and students in responding to the current and future challenges facing Christian theology. We provide a forum for theologians of Australasia and the West Pacific Basin, bringing a unique contribution to the world of theological studies. Pacifica welcomes high quality articles from both Church and Academy, irrespective of the creedal or religious commitment of the contributor.

IN JULY 2009 the Uniting Church of Australia Centre for Theology and Ministry, Parkville, Victoria, held a week-long Seminar in celebration of the 500th anniversary of the birth of John Calvin. The distinguished Calvin scholar, Elsie McKee, Archibald Alexander Professor of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship at Princeton Theological Seminary, New Jersey, delivered the Northey Lecture in the course of the seminar. Pacifica is delighted to publish Professor McKee’s lecture in this issue of the journal, along with articles derived from two other lectures given in the course of the conference, both dedicated, in a complementary way, to Calvin’s treatment of the Psalms: Dr Gregory Goswell explores Jewish influences behind the Reformer’s exegesis and Professor Howard Wallace indicates the light the Preface sheds upon the hermeneutic that is operative in Calvin’s commentary on Psalms. A review article of Professor McKee’s recent translation of the French version of Calvin’s Institutes (1541) by Emeritus Professor Ian Breward completes the contributions that render the major part of this issue a commemoration of the great Reformer. As an ecumenical journal within an ecumenical age, Pacifica is pleased in this way to honour the memory of so significant a figure within the wider Christian tradition.

Contributors

ELSIE A. MCKEE, an ordained Presbyterian elder, is the Archibald Alexander Professor of Reformation Studies and the History of Worship at Princeton Theological Seminary, NJ. She earned a PhD at Princeton and a Diploma in Theology from Cambridge University, UK. Her historical studies have specialised in the history of the Reformation at Geneva and Strasbourg, with a particular recent focus upon the sermons of John Calvin. She has also written a biography of the reformer Katharina Schütz Zell (Brill: 1999). Most recently she has edited and translated the 1541 French edition of Calvin’s Institutes(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009). In association with the 500th centenary of Calvin’s Birth, in August 2009 she was the J. B. Northey Lecturer at the Uniting Church Centre for Theology and Ministry, Parkville, Australia.

GREGORY GOSWELL (PhD Sydney, 2002) has been since 2001 Lecturer in Biblical Studies (Old Testament and Hebrew) at the Presbyterian Theological College, Box Hill North, Victoria, where he is currently Academic Dean. He is assistant editor of the Reformed Theological Review, and has contributed studies to a number of journals and collections on the Old Testament and its contemporary interpretation.

HOWARD WALLACE (PhD Harvard) has been Professor of Old Testament at the Uniting Church Theological College, within the United Faculty of Theology, Parkville, Australia, since 1994. Besides introductory courses he specialises in the teaching of Genesis, Psalms and the Prophetic Literature. Himself a calligrapher, he has a particular interest in Art and the Bible, especially the portrayal of the Old Testament in Australian art. His most recent publication is Psalms(Readings: A New Biblical Commentary; Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2009).

 

DUNCAN REID completed a doctorate at Tübingen, Germany, in 1992, with a thesis subsequently published as Energies of the Spirit: Trinitarian Models in Eastern Orthodox and Western Theology (Atlanta GA: Scholars Press, 1997). He was involved in theological education for 15 years, being Head of the School of Theology at Flinders University, Adelaide (1999-2001) and Dean of the United Faculty of Theology Melbourne (2002-2005). An Honorary Research Associate of the Melbourne College of Divinity and a member of the International Anglican-Orthodox Commission for Theological Dialogue, he is currently priest-in-charge at St George’s Anglican Church, Flemington, Melbourne.

DOUGLAS PRATT (PhD, St Andrews; DTheol, MCD) is Associate Professor and Convenor of the Religious Studies programme at the University of Waikato, NZ. He is the New Zealand Associate of the Monash-based UNESCO Chair in Interreligious and Intercultural Relations – Asia Pacific and an Adjunct Senior Research Fellow of the School of Social and Political Inquiry at Monash University. His research interests include religious pluralism; fundamentalism and extremism; Islam and Christian-Muslim relations; interreligious dialogue and related issues. From January to May 2010 he will take up a Fulbright Visiting Scholarship in the Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies at Georgetown University, Washington DC.

Calvin’s Commentary on the Psalter: Christian or Jewish?

This article explores John Calvin’s debt to preceding Jewish exegetes on the Psalter and seeks to determine how explicitly Christian his interpretation of the Psalms was. To assist in meeting this aim, use is made of the medieval Jewish commentator Rashi as a conversation partner. A survey of Calvin’s commentary on the Psalms helps to clarify his method of approach with respect to earlier Christian and Jewish exposition of the Psalter. When it came to Jewish exegesis of the Psalms, Calvin was neither uncritical nor hypercritical. Comparison with the exegetical efforts of Rashi shows that Calvin was no prisoner to Jewish opinion. Nor did he accept a view just because it was that of a Christian exegete. The detection of a messianic connection required some trigger, one trigger being apostolic use of a psalm. Calvin’s focus on the historical context of the psalms was not something derived from Jewish exegetes but the result of his humanist training and inclination. His first impulse was to relate a psalm to its historical setting (usually the life experience of David) derived from clues in the psalm itself. On the other hand, Calvin saw no difficulty in a psalm having reference to David and at the same time being a prediction of Christ.

Calvin on Psalms: Reading his Hermeneutic from the Preface to his Commentary

Calvin loved and lived the psalms. A lifetime of reflection and praying them stands behind his commentary on the Psalter. The Preface to the commentary, in which Calvin tells much of his own story, is revealing of his hermeneutic when dealing with the psalms. Parallels between his own life and that of David as psalmist functions as a major key for interpretation. This article explores Calvin’s hermeneutic when dealing with the psalms and notes ways in which it correlates with principles of composition of the Psalter itself.

Patristics and the Postmodern in the Theology of John Zizioulas

This review article argues that, in contrast to the older movements of Sophia mysticism and neo-Palamism, associated with the names of Soloviev and Florovsky respectively, a new book by Zizioulas represents the emergence of a new school of Eastern Orthodox theology. Like the older movements, this newer, more personalist movement seeks to bridge the gap between Orthodox thought and the contemporary world. Where sophiology and neo-Palamism attempted to speak to the theology and culture of western modernity, Zizioulas addresses the more post-modernist themes of identity and otherness.

Christian Discipleship and Interfaith Engagement

Ever since the famous 1910 Edinburgh World Mission conference Christian individuals and the Christian Church have been increasingly challenged to relate in new ways to people of other faiths. Reflecting on the relationship between Christian discipleship and interfaith engagement this article addresses three questions. Can a biblical basis for such engagement be discerned? What is the impact of the “Great Commission” at the end of Matthew’s gospel (28:18-20)? How might a new understanding of mission and discipleship relate to concerns about interreligious dialogue? In other words, can Christian discipleship actively enable positive interfaith relations and engagement with adherents of other faiths? In conclusion, the article points to a number of considerations that might indeed contribute to just such an understanding of discipleship.

Ted Kennedy: Priest of Redfern

This simple but well-informed biography by Edmund Campion tells a great deal more than the story of an enigmatic man who spent thirty years of his life in the inner Sydney suburb of Redfern, doing the best he could as parish priest among the displaced Aboriginal people who gathered there from near and far. The title is the key to the book: it is not about a priest, or the priest, but about “priest”. It tells a story about the fragility of clericalism and church authority, a story about the impact of dispossession, a story about Catholic hopes and griefs after the Second Vatican Council, a story about finding the place of the Church in the modern world, and it tells a story about theology as mystical action. Edmund Campion concludes his book by declaring his hope that his book might contribute to a “discussion of the meaning of Ted Kennedy”. This review is written in response to that invitation.

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