[March 24, 2014] Late in March, Easter around the corner and it is supposed to SNOW tonight....
So I have been troubled lately by a simple concept. Within our Doctrine of Scripture, and specifically within the subcategory of "authorship," there lingers the question for me of the implications of NOT accepting the authorship of books by those whom tradition, and often the text itself, holds them to be written. "Did Moses 'write' the 'Books of Moses'?" Did Paul write the Pastoral Epistles? Can we comfortable say from the pulpit, "as it says in Third Isaiah...." Clearly, one could begin to probe the meaning of "authorship" and ask about an oral background of the 'authors words' subsequently edited (redacted?) and maybe updated with additional material from another source by an unknown author, and finally accepted as "nevertheless" the "book of Jeremiah." One could even argue (as has been done) that it is irrelevant who wrote what is now "canonized" since it is not the "author" who is being acknowledge in the "Doctrine of Scripture." If we have already accepted the canonical form of the books within our doctrine of scripture, we have ipso facto ruled out a concern for authorship and must let the tradition be corrected as forensic evidence requires. That is, if we have heard the Voice of God in the text, who cares what 'vessel" or "textual development" was used as the mediating vehicle. What lingers for me in all this are the subtle implications of "veracity," "integrity" and "revelation" as related to what the text of God communicates.
In the last several hundred years of textual-criticism, sure assumed findings (the late dating of Luke-Acts for example) have been overturned by the meticulous work of scholars showing the actual accuracy of the material in question. Even much of Wellhausen's JEPD has been effectively questioned by very different approaches to the textual evidence (compare Gunkel and Mowinckel to Wellhausen, not to mention the Jewish scholar Cassuto who would have none of it). This has clearly shown that the text can be "used" in various ways rendering the results one expects. Not a very good so-called scientific method! Once it can be shown that writing existed and was actually used in religious narrative materials of the late first and early second millenium BC (Code of Hammurabi, the Sumarian flood, etc. however distributed or utilized, they exist(ed)), why are we so uncertain as to Moses' ability (raised as he was) to write a narrative of the history passed down to him and then lived by him? If he had been schooled by the Egyptian scribes (a rather distinguished class in Egypt) why again are we surprised that a man whom God was grooming to deliver His people would not pick up a tool forthat service along the way. Egypt's history of writing is a significant one in our understanding of the history of writing. (see Ancient Egypt Online)
Clearly a short musing is not the place to deal with the many many issues which this subject raises but a final note is offered. That is the "evidence" of the scriptures themselves. In more than a dozen unrelated passages, OT and NT, Moses (in this discussion) is identified as the "author" of the TORAH, the Law. All through the life of Israel, the authority of Moses was recognized and he was credited as having authored the "Law". Prophets, Priests and Kings referred to "his books." If we believe in the authority of the scriptures, where do we get the idea that we know where to draw the line as to what is authoritative to believe and what is not. And if we do place ourselves in that position, what is next to lose authority. Is not the reference to Moses as the author also "God Breathed and profitable for instruction...?" You now see why I am troubled lately.....
[March 21, 2014]
There is a theological connection between our Doctrine of Creation and the work of Ministry in the Church. Since, by faith we believe God created the world (Heb 13:3), we implicitly believe that it is not the world that convinces us of this. Neil MacDonald spends much of the first section of his book ("Metaphysics and the God of Israel") walking through the first day of creation asserting that that Day was the Day of God "determining himself as the Creator." That is, the foundation upon which the world is created is not the properties of the world, but the determination of Himself as its Creator. Based on this, it should not be expected that the "nature of the world" tells us who God is. It could be the case that the world is as it is without God being it's Creator. But, since God determines Gods-Self to be the Creator and in faith we affirm this which "we have heard and believed" we should not be surprised that Natural Theology (determining something of God's nature from the properties of the world) falls short as revelation. I will leave it to you to ponder this more. Where I want to go in the connection to Ministry, follows. A persons calling to ministry is based on a determination of God through the Holy Spirit and not based on properties of the person. As the Body is One but with many members, so each is given a gift (their membership contribution to the Body) which is a "determination of God's" and is not a quality the person "brings to the table." That is to say, your "calling" to services is your "Servicability" to God not based on the quality (or even lack of quality) of the "qualities" (read properties) which make up you. It is not your great voice which makes you a preacher, or your great bible knowledge that makes you a teacher, or your organizational skills which make you a church administrator, etc. You may have these things and those things may be used to honor the Lord in your use of them, but your properties are not the basis of your calling. Your calling is the determination of the Holy Spirit in you and your obedience (though begrudgingly at times, Moses!) to that calling. Your servicability is the basis of your calling, that God might receive the glory. Creation and Ministry are about the same thing. "Let there be Light!"
[March 19, 2014]
One of the wonderful results of reading, interacting with family/friends, and writing is that I get to feel love. What I mean by that is, I feel wonderfully bombarded by contact with external ideas, support, reactions and challenges. And in that process I am called out of myself to the ways that God is working with me and others. I guess it comes down to an appreciation of "friends." In John 15, Jesus says to the disciples, "I no longer call you servants...I call you friends." I am not sure why he called them servants (worth looking into) but I am so glad he calls us friends. And here is the reason for that change. "because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another." In Jesus' friendship with us, he binds himself to us in love, revealing to us the intimacy of his relationship to the Father, and his love for sharing the father with us, with the outcome that we are empowered (prayer) to love one another and bind ourselves in that love to each other. What more could you ask for in life.
My wife returns today from a wonderful trip abroad. My love for her is in part expressed by my smile of anticipation. She is my friend. She too calls me friend. Is not this the core of intimacy in a male-female relationship ("bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh");the restoration of the tragic from the unknowing of another to the knowing, sharing and loving that we have. Jesus calls us friends. Out of the bond between the Father, Son and Spirit, where true love is generated outward, we are drawn towards our relations with others. Love is an outward act of embrace which turns "others" (servants?) into friends. The "bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh" is the flip side of the imago Dei (image of God in us). Robert Gagnon calls this the "formal structure of embodied existence." I like that. I can see the "ordered ontology" (Anderson) in my existence in the one for whom I await. When Jesus says to abide in his love we are called to a "structural form of our embodied existence." It is what we were made to be and do, loved and loving. My friend, my wife, bones of my bones, is an intimate part, fabric, and seams of my existence. Welcome home!
[March 18, 2014]
I am not much for following the Christian Calendar (rather Pauline in treating all days much the same... blah blah blah), nevertheless, as Easter is arriving, I have been doing some "lenten" reading in Barth. Along with that, I have received a copy of Neil MacDonalds book "Metaphysics and the God of Israel." MacDonald poses the thought that in creation, the first act of God in creating, "Let there be light" is not so much a "thing" that is created as the determination that there be "what follows." That is, in wrestling with the text and the order of events, the "thing" we think of as "light" is not created until day 4. What is created on day 1 is the foundations of all that God creates and the "void" and "formlessness" is no longer "there." This is not so much a right or wrong interpretation issue as much as a way of looking at the "determination" of God. In this act, God creates not only external to himself "stuff," but he acts internal to himself by making a determination to which he binds himself. That determination includes us and the real possibility of understanding and knowing our Creator. Here is the connection with Barth... "Hence the knowledge of God given to man through illumination is no mere apprehension and understanding of God's being and actions, nor as such a kind of intuitive contemplation. It is the claiming not only of his thinking but also of his willing and work, of the whole of man, for God...Its subject and content, which is also its origin, makes it an active knowledge, in which there are affirmation and negation, volition and decision, action and inaction, and in which man leaves certain old courses and pursues new ones. As the work of God becomes clear to him, its reflection lights up his own heart and self and whole existence through the One whom he may know on the basis of His own self-declaration." (CD IV, 3, p 510) Can I get an Amen! Why not preach that!
[March 17, 2014]
"The litmus test of theology is not only what it says of God but what it does to persons when it is preached, taught and practiced. The theology of pentecost humanizes and heals, for it is a theology of resurrection and life, not of death and despair." (Ray Anderson, Ministry on the Fireline, pg 68) As I mentioned yesterday in my cursory review of the book "Word Spirit Power," what we need in the church is a clear understanding of the actual work of God the Father in Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. That is to say, when Father worship (Almighty God) is isolated from Jesus worship (celebration and praise) which is isolated from Holy Spirit worship (healings) we have torn apart the manifestation of the Triune God in the life of the church. The quote above from Ray Anderson attempts to help us back to a recognition of the unity of the revelation, reconciliation, and redemptive work of God, in Christ, through the Spirit. If theology is seriously Talk of God, then it has transformative (conformative) power ("my word does not return to me void, but performs that for which it was intended" Isa 55:11). It is rarely, if ever, simply a word. It is rarely, if ever, merely an event. It is almost always the power of God enmeshed in the experience of humanity (incarnational) to the effect that the experience of the vicarious humanity of Jesus in obedience and surrender to God and in resurrection to New Life, is what is made possible in our humanity. Our understanding is actually transformed and so is our experience of living, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The dread within humanity is not authentic to what it means to be human. The resurrected Christ is the true and new humanity into which we are being transformed (from darkness to light ) by the the deliverance from sin and the fear of death. The cross took away the power of death, the resurrection has presented us with the truth of the Real Humanity and the victory over death in the triumph of Grace and the Holy Spirit produces the fruits of this Jesus-humanity in us within the church as a manifold witness to the world of the wisdom of God (Eph 4).
When God created the world, to each days work he could say "It is good." On the "afternoon" of the sixth day, after creating the human in their "co-humanity as male and female" he said more than "they are good." He said, "This is my image and likeness. Enter my Sabbath rest...." It is that restoration, the return to humanity, which is wrought by the cross and the resurrection. Preach that! Amen.....
[March 15, 2014]
I finished the book "Word Spirit Power." I think the books speaks for itself as a passionate refection of the three authors experience and "conversion" to a better understanding of the place and work of the Holy Spirit in their lives and pastoral/preaching ministries. I would whole heartedly agreed that the work of the Spirit in the church has too often been just the opposite of what the Holy Spirit was sent to do, unit, not divide. But unlike the authors, I was raised in the church (without believing) experiencing people's love and openness to others because of the work of the Spirit in their lives. When I became a Christian and began reading the NT, both the Gospels, full of the Spirit working in Jesus, and in the Epistles, Paul challenging the church to live in the power of the Spirit, I had already seen the church this way. My early understanding of the Holy Spirit, from the NT, was that it was the power under which the ministry of Jesus was continued in the church. I never thought to separate Word from Spirit or to believe that the Holy Spirit's work had somehow ceased at the closing of the canon. It never occurred to me. Scripture seemed so clear.
I say all that because for many people the work of the Holy Spirit is "new" and "strange" and seems to radically transform their ministries once they under go a "baptism of the Spirit." I will leave that where it is. I praise God that Jesus is acknowledged as Lord and that the Father is loved and glorified as a result of his miraculous powers to save and heal the broken, sick and estranged through his Holy Spirit. This book, for some, will really challenge you to be open to new experiences and ways of thinking. For others it may be a call to humble yourselves and be re-awakened to a calling you have lost passion for.
What it has made me aware of is the need for a clearer articulation of our Trinitarian understanding of the self-revelation of God as Father Son and Spirit, with, in this context, an emphasis (however paradoxical that may be) on the Holy Spirit. Let me just cite a paragraph from Elmer Colyer's How to Read T.F. Torrance on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, "In Torrance's theology everything that Jesus Christ does vicariously on our behalf throughout his life, death and resurrection is done through the Holy Spirit. Thus the role of the Spirit in mediating Jesus Christ to us begins with Christ's conception and extends through his life, death, resurrection and ascension. When the Holy Spirit comes from the Father after the ascension of Christ, the Spirit does so as the Holy Spirit who has already sanctified humanity and realized human knowledge of God in and through the earthly, historical vicarious human life of Christ. It is as the Spirit of Jesus, through whom Christ accomplished our salvation, that the Holy Spirit comes on the church clothed with Christ and his redemptive activity and transforming power as our Savior and Lord." (pg 224) Much needs to be said further here, but fundamentally, Torrance (see his Christian Doctrine, pg 62ff) is keen to work the doctrine of the Holy Spirit through our doctrine of the Trinity and maintain the consistency of Jesus statement "He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (John 16:14) However we work out our understanding of the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in the church, what is clear is that it is Jesus through the Spirit that is at work based on that same Spirits work in Him during his ministry.
Let me just recommend several books for your reading on the work of the Spirit:
Thomas Smail, Reflected Glory, The Spirit in Christ and Christians
John Taylor, The Go-Between God, The Holy Spirit and the Christian Mission
Alasdair Heron, The Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit in the Bible, the History of Christian Thought, and recent Theology,
Ray S Anderson, The Praxis of Pentecost, Revisioning The Church's Life and Mission
[March 14, 2014]
FYI, I have started the section in "Word Spirit Power" but have not been able to finish it yet. I will have it completed by Monday. In the meantime, I received a link to a fairly short message given by TF Torrance addressing the subject of "Theological Instincts." I reference it here for your listen, it will cost your $3.00 USD but it is well worth listening to. You will want to listen to it several times, for both its depth of thought and because Torrance speaks very rapidly (like his really long sentences in his books). In a nutshell, this message is the key which was learned by Ray Anderson and as time passes, shared here as well, that is, since the Father and Son are only known by each other, no other way, and that the both have sent their Spirit to conform our minds to the mind of Christ, we can know the mind of God. Paul asks us to "Have this mind in yourselves, which is in Christ Jesus..." John records Jesus words of the "indwelling" (or abiding) relationship which exists between the Son and those whom the Father draws to him. In all this, there is a fundamental "relationship" of knowing which is intended. Michael Polanyi talks about the Tacit Dimension of our knowing based on an awareness which is at its core a commitment to in a relationship. Torrance talks of this as a structuring of our mind and hearts (transformation) by a dwelling on the Word of God (letting it penetrate our deepest being) so that our own thoughts and actions, our nature, is conformed to the divine paradigms. It is out of this conforming of our minds by a committed reading and meditation on the Word of God which produces theological instincts based on the Word of God. This is Trinitarian Theology which can be preached!!
[March 13, 2014]
My long time friend Norman asked me the other day to look over a book he had just read. As you can imagine, an opportunity to read another book is always nice. I easily received this book from Amazon loaded into my Kindle. This book is on the relationship between the Word of God, the Holy Spirit and the power of God as manifest when these two (if there are really two) are held in concert within ministry. The book is: Word Spirit Power: What Happens When You Seek All God Has To Offer, by R.T. Kendall, Charles Carrin, Jack Taylor, Chosen Books, 2012.
I am two thirds of the way through the book so I cannot make remarks about the final section on Power. The book begins with a discussion of the historic lack of understanding or emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit within the broader Evangelical Church as opposed to the classic Pentecostal or Charismatic movements. The section addresses the need to realize the significant role and function of the Holy Spirit in the biblical materials and therefore the critical need to remediate this lack of understanding and emphasis and hence gain the benefit of the presence of the Spirit in the Ministry of the Church.
The second section speaks to the many manifestations of the Spirit which have been seen in the churches which have been open to the "Baptism" of the Spirit and the ongoing "Filling" which can happen. The emphasis was on the fact of the work of the Spirit and language of "receiving the promise" which Jesus assured the disciples would come as they wait for it.
I am interested now in the final section on the formula "Word + Spirit = Power" as presented in the book. Stay tuned for a larger discussion of this book....
Thanks Norm for the opportunity for rethinking a dimension of the biblical witness and life of the church I have not focused on for a while.
[March 9, 2014 travel day home]
Morning musing from a Holiday In Express in Thomasville, GA. It does not take much travel in the southern states to quickly pick up on the confused relationship between faith and life. This is not meant to be a judgement, since it is true in the North, East and West as well. But the overtness in the South struck me on this trip. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition is not an uncommon phrase. The NRA and the South go hand in hand with the Bible.
Since I am reading through the exegetical challenge of the OT in Barth, Calvin, Luther and their contrast to the historical-critical school (not that Calvin and Luther had to deal with that) i was drawn to think about the "People of God" as Children of God and the redemptive work of the "Son of God" over them as we move from OT to NT. As Christians, we have an insight into the way redemption works "backwards" to cover the covenant people in the OT. We know that as people of faith, too, according to Hebrews (and Paul), the "faith of Abraham" was accorded to him as righteousness and "by faith" many received mercy and grace.. But this is neither complete nor automatic. That is, through Paul we see that it is not circumcision itself that is the basis for inclusion in the people of God. So, i have been thinking about our era of faith. Since Christ's death and resurrection, we believe that the redemptive work is done, issues of "all Israel will be saved" and anyone who confesses and believes in Jesus will be saved have placed the churches of Jesus Christ in a comfortable position vis a vis "salvation." But if this is true, and we can speak of the Christ "in the OT" as anticipatory and Christ "in the NT" as fulfillment, such that the Yes of God's grace covers the entire span of time and "Now" the "Time of Salvation" is complete, why is there still such division and unchristian behavior in the christian churches. In what ways are the "people of God" in our time not really different than the "people of God" before Jesus and therefore subject to the prophetic and disciplinary voice of God.
i don't, as I said early, write this as a move toward a judgement against merely sinfulness as sinfulness, but more profoundly as a question of "witness" to Jesus and the grace of God. The whole purpose of the Election of Abraham and his seed was to witness to the world that God is Lord and obedience to him can and does create a community which can and does exist by trust and dependence on Him alone. The Exodus is, if anything, a statement of how a whole "nation" of people can survive for so long on the floor of an unforgiving desert. If not for the manna and the water from the rock, nourishment as miracle, they would not have survived. God did that! That was a witness to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was a witness to the one who was the Manna from God and is the Living Water. But where is that witness today. The diversity and estrangement of denominations of the christian church do not show a people in the desert, or do they? I guess, that is my point. We have a tendency to see "us" as the redeemed, not grumbling, and no longer a "stiffnecked people." Maybe we should look again at this state we are in and, wandering in the desert of our lack of witness and look to see where the Jordon is for us and how we need to "enter the land" showing the providence of God and unity of the people of God who are truly united in Him and have but one witness to make to the God of the Whole World.
[March 8, 2014 (from Thomasville, GA)]
Just a brief note today culled from the book "Karl Barth and the Fifth Gospel" by Gignilliat. Here is why Barth is so, and seriously so, confessional in his view of Scripture. 1) "[O]ne's understanding of the nature of the Old Testament as Christian Scripture is ana posteriori commitment grounded in one's confession of Jesus Christ as the object and subject of canonical Scripture."
2) "The nature of Scripture determines the way in which it is to be interpreted."
3) "Barth allows the Old Testament's own voice to open up the possibilities for an apostolic exegesis that retrospectively makes sense of the incomplete nature of the OT in light of Jesus Christ."
4) "Barth respects the discrete voice of the OT and at the same time allows the full revelation of God's action in Jesus Christ to be read back into these overarching structures and patterns within the OT. There is a multi-level aspect of Barth's OT reading where he allows the OT's own voice and narrative/prophetic movements their say, then allows for a Christological or figural reading of these texts as legitimately anticipating Jesus of Nazareth. The OT is a voice of anticipation and functions as such in the divine economy. From our perspective in the divine economy, however, we know fully that their anticipation was an expecting of Jesus Christ." ((pg 59-61)
The profundity of these points is found in the scientific method of allowing the object to be known to determine the method of knowing it. Barth is relenless in his pursuit of knowing based on what is already believed and therefore granted knowledge through the Spirit (believing leading to understanding). In our relationship to Jesus, His relationship to us is the basis of our knowing the sources and integrity of the revelation which witnesses to Him.
[March 6, 2014]
Those of us involved with the OT theology for the last several hundred years (not that we have been around that long) are very familiar with the name Wellhausen. He is the gentleman who made popular the "Documentary Hypothesis" of the OT. That is, a way of identifying the strands of pre-canonical literature, both oral and written, which came together to finally become the OT we see in front of us. This school of thought compared the OT literature (primarily), stories, culture, religion, and history with other religious traditions development and differentiated those strands with in the OT materials with letters such as "J" for the Yahwist tradition, and "E" for the Elohim tradition, along with a "D"euteronomist and "P"riestly tradition. In this process the "canonical" form of the text was set aside with the determination to establish the "real" meaning of the text in "life circumstances" which "may" have led to its structure and then inclusion in the final form. Clearly this is a challenging undertaking with a great deal of speculation involved.
This way of viewing the text has gradually become imbedded in the language of OT studies even in the Church School literature now in the 21st Century, even though the "theory" has been shown to be mostly conjecture and without solid evidence. (See the work of Brevard Childs and Wm LaSor for that discussion). What I am interested in is the impact on faith and the "teaching and preaching" ministry in the Church. When there is a constant interest in what lays behind the text, can the text as text, really be read and understood. The reader is always looking for the "true" motivation for the text which means that stories, events, conversations, and actions rarely have the center stage. The "author" or "redactor" is constantly being challenged for the real "motivation" for their spin, adaptation, intentions, or "point of view" clouding the "real" event so as to make it nearly impossible to get at the meaning of the text. Almost everything and everyone in the text is questioned and called to accountability or disregarded. To preach or teach with this perspective is incredible. What is left is not "the text" but our thoughts about the author of the text or worse, our ruminations about anything even remotely associated with the text by word association or event similarities to our own experiences. The text is left behind as the pulpit is reached.
Well, all of that as a prelude to a quote, apparently from Wellhausen, as he came to realize just this issue of the preachability of the results of such treatment of the OT.
"Only gradually did I come to understand that a professor of theology also has the practical task of preparing the students for service in the Protestant Church, and that I am not adequate to this practical task, but that instead despite all caution on my own part I make hearers unfit for their office. Since then my theological professorship has been weighing heavily on my conscience." (Quoted from Jon D. Levenson, The Hebrew Bible, the Old Testament, and Historical Criticism, Louisville: Westminster Press, 1993, pg 97)
K Barth used to argue that the faculty of OT Biblical studies who relied on such a background and set of presuppositions about the text should move from the Theology school to the History or Philological Departments..... Amen...
[Beginning of March 2014]
Since preaching, I have been reading Mark Gignilliat's "Karl Barth and the Fifth Gospel, Barth's Theological Exegesis of Isaiah" in the Barth Studies Series from Ashgate Publishing. I remember writing a paper on Barth as an Exegete when I was taking post graduate classes at Westminster Theological Seminary. I know Barth is not well thought of there, and I was viewed with some uncertainty myself. But it was a good exercise in attempting to be clear.
The concept of Theological Exegesis or Pneumatic Exegesis was the area of discussion. Gignilliat continues the discussion with an historical overview of the clash (or apparent clash) between the historical-critical methodologies along with the history of religions school perspective and the extensive exegesis found in the Church Dogmatics. He engages through the conversation which took place between Walter Baumgarten (OT at Basel) and Barth on the interpretive avenues available to the christian preaching in dealing with the OT. I am interested in pursuing this discussion since Jesus' own reference to the OT as "about him" is rather important. Are the "Christological references" to him in the OT "really there" as Vischer says or just there by way of paradigm, allegory, typological sense of Goppelt or even in Mowinkels "He that Cometh?" There is a need in the church today to be clear about "how we view the OT." To often we, in good faith, attempt to recover the "original intent" and sense of the text historically. But how do we even know "that?" Presuppositions are important here. A view of scripture as revelatory would suggest that the "plain sense" is in the "ultimate" meaning of the text, ie, Christologically. Maybe we need to recover the view of Wm LaSor and sensus pleniar, or the multiple vistas of the text.
It is a conversation worth having in the church. The preservation of the OT as "part of the Bible, too" is critical today.
[End of Feb 2014]
Sermon is done for March 2 at Trinity Press. Happy Day. I have sent it out to a few friends for review and comment, I hope. Sermons are a community event. I do not believe that they should come down to the congregation as if from "on high." But at the same time they are meant to be based on a prayerful and faithful attempt at discerning the word of God and speaking it. That is a hard balance for sure. We can sometimes present a message as if we are just "sharing" our views. I am not sure that a sermon, or rather an explication of a biblical passage is a sharing, in that sense, event. Maybe there is too much "reformed theology" in me, but having studied under James Daane at Fuller, I lean towards proclamation being as "biblical" as the text. That is the only test for truth we have. This may require more discussion.... For now I have posted my sermon in the Topics section.. Let me know what you think...
[Mid Feb 2014]
I am spending more time these days back in Barth (and Anderson). With the course coming up on Sabbath, I am more blessed by Barth's focus on the Sabbath as a structurral part of Creation (CD III/1). See my "Topics: Thoughts on the Sabbath" notes.
I am beginning (have been) to work my way through material on the Mt of Transfiguration and the encounter between Jesus, Moses and Elijah (not to mention the 3 disciples) for a sermon at Trinity Pres on March 2.
From Mark's perspective, the story is dead center and in concert with the confession of Peter and the start of the predictions of Jesus Death and Resurrection. In the dialog with Moses and Elijah the discussion seems to be on Jesus' "departure" or exodus....
We also have here one of the several events where God speaks out about his "beloved" Son and the command to "listen to him."
This is good stuff to help people get a handle on the story and the way Mark (and the other writers) have focused attention on this event as a "turning point" in the revelation of who Jesus is and the redemptive role his "departure" plays historically in the Gospel.