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Extracurricular Activities 4.24.15 — Joseph Typology, Pope Francis, & George Whitfield
“It sure seems that the story of Joseph is a typological foreshadowing of the life of Jesus,” mused Peter Leithart recently, and I have to agree. It sure seems so! Leithart went on, in his post, to describe the kind of mental abstraction required to read the Joseph story that way; a “Proppian structural move that captures a common morphology” [had to look up “Proppian!“]
There’s a reason Leithart needed to spend some time theorizing about how to make the case. The peculiar and stubborn fact is that the New Testament never invokes the Joseph story as something fulfilled or figured out in the life of Jesus. So preachers who want to make Christological hay with Joseph have to do it on their own, without explicit scriptural warrant.
The possibility of a revolutionary pope isn’t one that most Vatican-watchers have taken seriously, and not only because a college of cardinals with members appointed by John Paul and Benedict seemed unlikely to elevate a true wild card to the office. The reality is that popes are rarely the great protagonists of Catholic dramas. They are circumscribed by tradition and hemmed in by bureaucracy, and on vexing issues Rome tends to move last, after arguments have been thrashed out for generations.
Yet now we have a Pope Francesco in the flesh, and elements of Murphy’s vision have come to pass, or so it seems...
I was nurtured in the kind of American faith that was utterly convinced that the Rapture or the Second Coming — in essence, Judgment Day — was coming soon, if not very soon, and it was a good thing to be on the right side, which we were. While our pastor did not regal us with ramped apocalyptic sermons we had an annual revival that more often than not opened on the tense theme that tonight could be the night. So, get right with God now or it could be … doom and gloom for ever and ever.
At one of the deepest levels — far beyond what I perceived at the time — our apocalyptic faith provided for us an all-encompassing story and explanation of where we were and where history was headed.
Thomas Kidd is Professor of History at Baylor University. Kidd is the author or editor of many works in the field of early American history. His latest book, George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father framed this interview.
The interview was conducted by David George Moore. Dave blogs at www.twocities.org.
Moore: You’ve written biography before with your book on Patrick Henry. What made you choose to write about Whitefield?
Yesterday, Professor Troels Engberg-Pedersen (University of Copenhagen) favoured us with an invited lecture: “Paul, Stoicism, and the Material Spirit.” He is an established scholar in Pauline studies, of course, and very well versed also in ancient Greek Philosophy. The main emphasis in his line of publications on Paul over a number of years now has been to urge that there are elements in Paul’s thought that derive from, and make for interesting comparison with, terms and concepts that likely come from Stoicism.
Extracurricular Activities is a weekly roundup of stories on biblical interpretation, theology, and issues where faith and culture meet. We found each story interesting, thought-provoking, challenging, or useful in some way – but we don't necessarily agree with or endorse every point in every story.
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