Dear Friends:  For a while I tried to do a blog which would publish some of my reflexions and my academic papers, and I encouraged my African friends also to participate.  However, I found that doing this blog as a web page made it too cumbersome to add or to change content.  So I started a community blog with some of African friends at palabre.wordpress.com (as of February 2010 I no longer blog there but at petrostelos and at the Righteous Investor).  The Acts of Paul articles are now available at actapauli.wordpress.com.  Recension thus was short-lived indeed as a venture in web-publishing.    Thanks, Peter


Analyse et compte rendu critique d’un ouvrage dans une revue, dans un journal.
Étude du texte d’une édition d’après les manuscrits.
[Figuré] Inventaire, examen détaillé.
(dictionaire d’Antidote)

1. A critical revision of a text.  2. A text established by critical revision (Wiktionary)

Peter Wallace Dunn, editor

e-mail:  recension at barnabasventure dot com


14 December 2007

Espèces de fautes dans les devoirs exégétiques :
Illustrées par des exemples réels des étudiants de troisième année

(Different kinds of Errors in Exegesis Papers:

illustrated by real examples from third year students)

I wrote this list of the different types of recurrent errors which I saw in exegesis papers in the Acts course that I taught at Bangui.  It is a sign of the times, a post-literate generation, and somehow we need to encourage students to read more and to develop better writing skills.  This is not just a problem in Africa, for my students in Canada made the very same kinds of mistakes.  Here is an English summary of the errors:

Errors of precision in using primary and secondary sources:  concerning historical facts, understatement or exaggeration, dependence on a secondary source when there is an available primary source which says it; errors of presentation: lack of organization, misspellings, grammatical errors, redundancy, diction errors, errors in citation methodology, errors in punctuation.  logical errors: argument for the obvious, non sequitur, confusion of the narrative and the real worlds, circular arguments or presuming the question resolved, reification, confusion of one’s own analysis with the author’s intention, lack of coherence, lack of pertinence, and the reporting of  useless or undigested information;  plagiarism.

December 11, 2007

Peter W. Dunn, “The Charismatic Gifts in the Acts of Paul: Second Century Trends”

I presented this paper at the 29th annual meeting of the Society of Pentecostal Studies (March 16-18, 2000) at my own alma mater Northwest College (now Northwest University), Kirkland, WA.  While the Acts of Paul is a unreliable biography of Paul, it nevertheless remains a valuable source for the beliefs and practices of the second-century church.  I wrote:  “Where contemporary sources corroborate this portrayal [of the Christian life from a second century perspective], we are likely standing on firm ground when trying to ascertain trends in the second-century church.”  The two most notable trends in the Acts of Paul are the connections of the charismatic gifts with sexual continence and with martyrdom.  The portrayal of women prophets speaking freely in the church assembly suggests both an ignorance of 1 Corinthians 14.34-35 and a date for Acts of Paul before the Montanist crisis.


December 3, 2007

The Life of Edward James Dunn

by Laraine Dunn

edited by Elaine Dunn Johnson from a 1943 manuscript.

(c) 1995 (All rights reserved)

Photo courtesy of Elain Dunn Johnson

Photo courtesy of E. D. Johnson

One day in August, 2007, I was checking the internet for hits on my name (which is not mere vanity but a useful way of seeing if the search engines are actually indexing the Barnabas Venture site), when I found a complete genealogy of my father’s side of the family (so much for security questions like, “What is your mother’s maiden name?”).  One of my Dad’s first cousins, Elaine Dunn Johnson (a.k.a., Donna Johnson), has gone to the enormous trouble of making a record of the Dunn and Johnson families.  Later, I found the page for my great grandfather, Edward James Dunn (1852-1933), and remembered that my father gave me a photocopy his biography written by my great Uncle Larry’s (Laraine Dunn, 1906-1988).  My photocopy was from an original typed by my father, Dr. Wallace Wilkinson Dunn, Jr., on an unspecified date.  I found out from the website that Donna had edited a MS in her possession, putting it in digital format.  I now publish that biography for the first time, as far as I know, to the broader world.  My thanks to cousin Donna, not only for the labor in editing this biography but also for giving me permission to publish it.

Some time after losing his young wife to typhoid fever in 1880, Edward James Dunn left his three children with family and made his way West to Oregon with the intention of continuing to Alaska in search of gold.  He stopped at the Oregon homestead of James M. Wilkinson with whom he made good friends, eventually marrying Wilkinson’s daughter Luella (1872-1955).  Ed and Luella had six children, including the second oldest, Wallace Wilkinson Dunn (1897-1991), who was my grandfather.  Ed never made it to Alaska but lived out his days in Oregon.  His grandson, Dr. Wallace Wilkinson Dunn, Jr., however, made his home in Alaska and completed the Dunn family’s trek Westward, though no one has found any significant quantities of the yellow metal.


November 27, 2007

Testing Pauline Pseudonymity:  3 Corinthians and the Pastoral Epistles Compared”. Proceedings:  Eastern Great Lakes and Midwest Biblical Societies (2000), 63-68.

While at the annual SBL conference in San Diego last week, I asked Jim Leonard if he would make contributions to Recension, and I have learned from him that upon his return to Cambridge he began his own blog, Treasures Old and New: Biblical Texts and Meaning.  I’d like to think that I was the stimulus for this worthy project.  Jim and I were both TA’s for Gordon Fee, for whom Jim writes an encomium, entitled, “Gordon Fee and Textual Criticism“.  In an earlier post on the same page, Jim writes that Fee’s view that the Pastoral Epistles are authentic has had a serious influence on later commentators.  He writes,

The impact of Fee’s analysis was so great that my survey of the best six commentaries on PE earlier in this decade showed that four of the six accepted Pauline authorship. In my estimation, the best commentary on PE is by Robert Mounce in the Word Biblical Commentary, which is profoundly indebted to Fee in reconstructing the situation behind the PE.

I thus provide my own contribution to the subject, in which I argue that in contrast to an uncontested inauthentic Pauline letter, the second-century 3 Corinthians, the PE most likely belong to the first century.  This contrast most clearly comes out of an analysis of the orthodoxy and heresy of the respective documents.

November 10, 2007

Who will cry for South Sudan?

by Moussa Bongoyok

In November of 1998, Moussa Bongoyok was also a visiting professor during my first three-week trip to Central African Republic to teach at Bangui Evangelical School of Theology.  Consequently we shared nearly three meals a day for three weeks.  As a result, we became friends.  He introduced me at that time to his poetic skills with his challenge, “Qui pleurera pour ceux qui n’ont plus de l’armes?”  Among these Southern Sudanese is my friend Bennet Thomas Zaza.  He fled Sudan during an attack on his people about 15 years ago.  His brother and infant son fled in the opposite direction and as a consequence, hasn’t seen his eldest child since that day.  A few years later, I translated this poem into English; later, apparently because my translation drew attention to Moussa’s skill as a poet, Moussa became a poet laureate, International Poet of the Year.

November 8, 2007

John Kerry and Viet Nam:  An historian’s view

In September of 2004 I wrote this little essay from asking, how would a historian judge the Swiftboat controversy based on historiographical principles?  My conclusion was that John Kerry is a notoriously unreliable witness to historical events and therefore should not be trusted without corroborating evidence.  I seize the occasion of Kerry stunning announcement that he has accumulated sufficient information now to rebut the Swift boat veterans.  (The Patriot Ledger, November 5, 2007).  In the same article, he also makes comments about evangelicals:

Kerry also said he doesn’t see why Republicans were able to corner the market on the evangelical vote, adding that former Bush adviser Karl Rove used religion to divide voters.  “Evangelicals care enormously about the centrality of the teachings of Jesus Christ and of the Bible,” he said. “If you lead a life and if you are involved in issues that manifest a concern for those kinds of issues, there’s no reason that one separate issue or another ought to create a wedge.”

In Kerry’s typical convoluted way of speaking, I guess he’s saying that evangelicals should not be Republicans even though Democrat party is the party of abortion.  That seems to me very condescending to us evangelicals:  Senator Kerry, don’t you think we are smart enough to determine what issues are important to us?  Karl Rove didn’t divide voters, Roe vs. Wade did.  Or is it Jesus that teaches us to kill the innocent, the weak and the defenseless?


November 6, 2007

Review of Anne Jensen. Thekla die Apostolin

I wrote this review before the book actually appeared in print in 1995, based on a MS that Jensen had kindly provided for Willy Rordorf (which as his doctoral student provided me with access too).  I once spoke with Father Justin, a Romanian monk, about why Thecla had been removed from the list of martyrs.  His response was that the Western church has been removing the Eastern saints for some time now.


November 5, 2007

Les Actes de Paul et l’héritage paulinien

I presented this paper at the annual meeting of AELAC at Dole, France, on July 2, 1994.  It is essentially a resumé of a large part of my doctoral dissertation, entitled, The Acts of Paul and the Pauline Legacy in the Second Century (University of Cambridge, 1996).


November 5, 2007

Song:  Psalm 46

The sons of Korah composed a beautiful song of trust in God in Psalm 46, which the NRSV beautifully renders into English, with stark verbs: “utter”, “totter”, “shatters”.  God comforts a nation surrounded by enemies with the words, “Be still and know that I am God …” a God who melts the earth with a word.  Perhaps we are so comfortable in the West that we do not appreciate how comforting such lyrics would be.  I dedicated this song to the Sudanese refugees in Central African Republic; my friend Bennet Thomas Zaza has been a refugee for about 15 years, since war broke out against his people in the south of Sudan.  The armies came with bombs and guns and they had no choice but to flee through the dense forest separates Sudan and CAR.  I admire his confidence.  He once told me that, when the Chadian rebels that helped Bozize seize power in CAR looted the BEST campus, while the others were shut up in their houses, he went out and spoke to them in Arabic.  I asked him if he was afraid.  He said, “No.”  I pondered this for sometime, until the next day when I asked him, “Bennet, why weren’t you afraid of the rebels?”  (He was unarmed).  He said, “Because they weren’t shooting at me.”  I sang Psalm 46 for the English service at BEST on a Sunday evening.  When Bennet saw that I had dedicated it to his people in CAR, I could see that he was moved.    Psalm 46 Chord Chart (pdf).  Demo MP3.


November 4, 2007

On Tithing

Here is the first sermon on giving delivered at Bangui Evangelical School of Theology on January 26, 2006, “The charismatic gift of giving or the law of the tithing?  Which?”  (ou en français:  “Le don charismatique de genersosité ou la loi de la dîme? Lequel?“) This sermon stirred up considerable lively discussion on campus amongst the students, as it contradicts a very common teaching which I consider a form of spiritual abuse.  I am particularly pushed to publish this sermon because of an November 3 article by Grant Swank in the Canadian Free Press entitled, “Tithing is timeless“, which presents the more common view.  I argue that tithing is an Old Testament law, which applies to the Jewish setting but is not affirmed in the New Testament for gentile believers.  The NT presents giving as a spiritual gift, not as law.  Such a NT understanding contrasts on several points the common view of tithing and has serious practical consequences in the life of the church.


November 3, 2007

“The human person is both male and female”, Willy Rordorf

I’ve begun my reaction to Stichworte by Willy Rordorf, my Doctorvater. The first chapter of his book is entitled, “Der Mensch ist Man und Frau”.


On Frugality and Generosity

I was speaking with my friend Keith about a message that I gave at Bangui Evangelical School of Theology on February 5, 2006 entitled, “Good stewardship and the Imitation of God” (main text:  Matthew 13:1-9).  In it, I mention that our frugality as Christians clearly contrasts with God’s extravagant generosity.  Indeed, while we Christians often assume that frugality is a virtue, I have yet to find this to be praised in the Bible.


December 11, 2007

Penguins:  A rejoinder

“The emperor penguin … is losing chicks as the ever thinning ice breaks off taking nests with it” (BBC News)

This morning I watched a news video supplied by yahoo.com in which the BBC narrator claimed that the penguins’ nests are falling into the sea.  I don’t know how stupid the global warming alarmists posing as reporters think the rest of us are.  I saw the movie the March of the Penguins.  It is clear that emperor penguins lay their eggs on dry ground and not on ice that can fall into the sea (see minute 1:10f. of the film).  There are two things I hate: When people lie to me and when people acting like experts don’t know what the hell they are talking about (pardon my French).  While extreme cold kills many eggs and chicks, it is not at all clear how warmer weather can kill them.  But global warming is clearly the cause of all kinds of calamity in the minds of many today, many whom have never lived in artic or sub-artic conditions (or Antarctic).  The struggle of warm blooded creatures is to survive extreme cold.  Global warming does not kill; extreme cold does.  BBC, perhaps you should watch the movie.

November 28, 2007

Dejeuner or Lunch?

On p. 20 of How to Choose a Translation, Fee and Strauss write,

… a simple “word-for-word” transfer from one language to the other is inadequate.  If someone were to translate the French phrase petit dejeuner into “word-for-word English, they would say “little lunch”; but the phrase actually means “breakfast”.

Here is where I start to get nitpicky.  The literal translation of the term dejeuner is “de-fast” or “break-fast”.  The reason why the French call their first meal of the day a “little breakfast” is that typically it is some sweet thing with coffee, what we call, “continental breakfast”.  The true break-fast, dejeuner (France, African French) or diner (Swiss French) doesn’t come until early afternoon, when traditionally the most important hot meal of day is taken.  At least this has been my experience in Europe.  Thus, dejeuner doesn’t really mean “lunch” at all, which in American and Canadian English is usually small, often cold meal that one takes during a short midday break.  Fee and Strauss’s point, that all translation is interpretation is illustrated by this point.  In order to understand a language, one must also understand the culture (cf. p. 30) .  Our friends from cultures where a large meal is taken at noon find it quite funny when we offer them a cold sandwich and call it dejeuner.


Nov. 28, 2007How to Choose a Translation for All Its Worth: A Guide to Understanding and Using Bible VersionsIn San Diego at the Society of Biblical Literature conference, Zondervan Publishers gave me a copy of a new book by Gordon Fee and Mark Strauss which will serve as a companion to the best seller, How to Read the Bible for All its Worth (by Fee and Douglas Stuart, 1981; 2nd ed. 1993).  The earlier volume is an excellent guide to the different literary genres of the Bible.  This new book expands on the too-short ch. 2 of the first volume.  This book is welcome, for it will do much to educate Bible readers with no knowledge of the biblical languages.  I will have my nitpicky comments of course, but in looking over it, I have little to complain about.  So far, what I have seen is that the authors stress accuracy in meaning as opposed to literalness in translation.

November 27, 2007

What Are You some Kind of Republican?

While in San Diego, I saw my old friend Dan Falk, who is a professor at the University of Oregon, and his family.  We were at both Regent College and Cambridge together.  I mentioned my last commentary “Save the Penguins” to him.  When I got the part about urging everyone to drive their cars and turn up their thermostats, he blurted out, “What are you some kind of Republican?”  I said that I was really interested in saving the penguins.  For why should the polar bear be saved at the expense of the penguin?  I remember reading that polar bears depend on small air holes in the ice where seals come up to breath.  When the poor seal comes up to get a little oxygen, the lazy bear snatches it up for his own personal sustenance.  Now, I am not sure that I appreciate such a lifestyle which depends so utterly on the weaknesses of another creature.  It would be better that the entire arctic polar ice cap would melt and seals didn’t depend on such air holes which make it so easy for the bears to eat them.  With the outside temperature just below zero here, I say we sure could use a little global warming!  Maui here I come!

Nov. 14, 2007

Save the Penguins!

A story of an alarming nature came to my attention today.  Antarctica has been cooling, that’s right, cooling for about the last 35 years.  As an avid lover of penguins, I am very alarmed.  We saw in the movie, The March of the Penguins, that in order to reproduce, the male and female penguins take turns incubating on dry land, while the other marches across the ice to the sea, their source of food.  If that trek across the ice is increased, it may become too long, and the penguins risk extinction.  Therefore, I encourage people to produce more greenhouse gases, esp. CO2 by burning more fossil fuels: increase the temperature in your house, drive your car unnecessarily.  I know it will cause the price of fuel to skyrocket, but it’s the least we can do for the our poor cousin at the South Pole.

Update:  Others have picked up my challenge, but unlike me they blame global warming for the decline of penguin populations, saying that the eggs fall into the sea because of melting ice!

November 8, 2007

The Weather Channel Founder:  “Global Warming is a Scam”

Many have seen Al Gore’s, An inconvenient truth, which a British court has declared to have eleven inaccuracies:  such as, carbon dioxide build up appears after long periods of warming, it is not the cause thereof.  But what are Al Gore’s qualifications?  John Coleman, founder of the weather channel has proclaimed the hype about anthropogenic global warming, “the greatest scam in history”.  Hat tip: Rick Moran.



1 Comment »

  1. There seems to be two divergent positions in the media and among fellows regarding this.

    Gore recently wrote an article for Rolling Stone which says the world will be in a climate change caused famine by 2090.

    Both sides claim the other is a conspiracy of great magnitude.

    And National Geographic presupposes global warming as already melting whole mountain ranges and making polar bears skinny cause there ain’t no continuous ice floes to speak of with scrumptious seals to find.

    Who am I supposed to believe? This post was in 2007. The Rolling Stone article was a few months ago.

    Comment by Sola Yeshua — October 14, 2011 @ 12:49 pm | Reply

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