What about your list?
My extended no-pay leave from the seminary has begun, and this gives me a bit of freedom to catch up with some reading. Here is a list of books I will be reading and engaging with in the months to come.
What about your list?
During the recent lectures I gave on "Journey with the Apostles to Turkey" on 16 & 23 August 2021 (organised by Wolrd Discovery Travel), I thought that I would use the opportunity to make available about 50 copies of my recent book, "Following Jesus" (please click here for more information on the book), for sale to the participants as a small fundraising initiative. All proceeds from the sale will go to St Nicholas' Home for the Blind based in Georgetown, Penang. This home is a social outreach of the Anglican Diocese of West Malaysia.
During the current pandemic, St Nicholas' Home for the Blind faces a number of challenges in their administrative operation, and funding being one of them. St Nicholas Home is a non-profit charitable organisation reaching out to the needs of the blind and visually impaired community (BVI) in Malaysia. The Home carries out training for BVIs, equipping them with living skills so that they are able to find employment and lead independent lives. Some of these initiatives include massage training, basketry skills, and pastry and baking training.
I am very pleased to announce that 53 copies of my books have been sold, and the total amount received from the sale is RM4,100. This amount will be donated to St Nicholas' Home. Initially, I thought that I would use the months of August and September for this initiative. However, with such a good and encouraging response , this small fundraising exercise is now ended.
Thank you to all who purchased my book, and some of you bought 2 and 3 copies. Thank you for joining me in this small initiative to make a difference in the lives of people who are visually impaired.
A group of Malaysian scholars currently in Malaysia and other parts of the world come together to contribute to a book project entitled, "From Malaysia to the Ends of the Earth: Southeast Asian and Diasporic Contributions to Biblical and Theological Studies." This volume is edited by my colleague, Elaine Wei-Fun Goh, and others including Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, Jonathan Yun-Ka Tan, and Amos Wai-Ming Yong. This project is now in the final proof reading stage and should be published by Claremont Press in the autumn of 2021.
I make a small contribution to this project where I examine Paul's understanding of ethnic relations between Jews and Gentiles gleaned from his letters, and offer some contemporary reflections for nation building in Malaysia.
My essay is entitled, "“For All of You Are One in Christ Jesus” (Gal 3:28): Paul’s Social Vision Beyond Inclusivity and Diversity", in pages 83-116. This bulk of the essay was written when I was on sabbatical in the second half of 2019. In light of the current political climate and the COVID-19 pandemic, I have made further reflections on what I have written. Perhaps a short follow-up piece might be needed.
I look forward to seeing this significant project in print soon.
While it may not be possible to visit all these places in Turkey physically with our borders still closed, you can join me in a virtual tour as we follow the footsteps of Paul in Turkey, read the Scriptures in sites where the events took place, and reflect on some of the lessons we can apply in our context today.
Please register for the course by clicking on this link:
Take a sneak peak of what we will cover in our sessions by viewing the slideshow below.
This event is organised by Footprint Travel Planner and Beit Shalom.
Writing this devotional booklet has a profound impact on me. I share about this at the conclusion:
May this devotional be a helpful tool for you as you prepare for the Holy Week.
Over the past one year or so, most theological libraries are either closed or opened with restricted access. Almost all our classes have gone online. This means that accessing online resources is critical for all of us to prepare our lectures and carrying on our research. For students, digital resources allow them to access text books online and also other reference books needed to complete their assignments.
At Seminari Theoloji Malaysia, the library subscribes to a host of digital resources such as ATLAS, JSTOR, Brill Online, Sage Journals, Global Digital Theological Library, T&T Clark library, amongst others. This gives us access to the latest top-tiered journals and publications (Please get in touch with the library if you need any help accessing these resources, if you are registered as our student)
Yet, many books remain inaccessible to the students. One of the cheapest way to access theological books is to take up a subscription based online library with vast theological collection. Perlego is probably one of the best and cheapest available at the moment. At USD$40 per annum for residents in Malaysia, the subscription fee is less than the cost of a theological book, and this subscription opens up access to more than 34,000 theological books.
Over the past weeks, Perlego announces that they have added another 10 theological publishers to their collection, and this includes Westminster John Knox, Baker, Fortress, and Eerdmanns. Together with Bloomsbury/T&T Clark, Taylor & Francis, Wipf & Stock, de Gruyter, Zondervan, Peter Lang, Baylor, and the list goes on, almost all critical text books and references for theological studies are now available with a few clicks and at a fraction of the cost of acquiring these books.
For students taking biblical studies/exegesis courses, they now have online access to many excellent commentaries such as those in the series of NIGTC, NICNT/NICOT, PNTC, Two Horizons Commentary, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture, BECNT, Zonderven Commentary, and many more.
Check out what our library offers for your research, and also some of the online theological libraries available. I would say this is probably one of the most exciting times to do studies and research as almost all the resources we need can easily be accessed in the comfort of our homes ... or office!
"Following Jesus to the Cross" is now available from Our Daily Bread. This illustrated guide with 12 devotionals for Easter will guide our reflections on the passion, crucifixion, death, and resurrection of Jesus this Easter season. Based on the Gospel of Mark, each reading contains reflection questions and prayers to commit ourselves to God.
Evoke our senses with photographs of the sites where the events of the final week are believed to have taken place, and let this devotional make the Scripture come alive for us in fresh ways.
A sample chapter of this booklet is extracted below.
If you or your church would like to have copies of this devotional booklet, please contact Our Daily Bread Malaysia.
In less than 36 hours, I have to close the registration to this public lecture as we received overwhelming response.
I plan on running the same lectures again, perhaps in the of May or early June.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed, hallelujah!
Good Friday ends in darkness and despair. But Easter is glorious. It gives us new hope. It gives us new meaning to our existence. It speaks of the victory of Christ against sin and death. Yet, Easter is different this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. For many of us who may be accustomed to Easter celebration, drama production, large-scale evangelistic campaigns, this year’s celebration certainly seems less triumphal, celebratory, and glorious.
However, if we go back to the first Easter, things seem less glorious too. In John 20 there seems to be no sense of rejoicing. No one shouted: “Christ is Risen!”, and no one replied: “He is risen indeed.” All the disciples were in hiding. They had their own Movement Control Order (MCO), practised social distancing, and locked the door for the fear of the Jewish leaders (John 20:19). They imposed on themselves some measure of self-quarantine. They were full of fear, anxiety, and worry.
It was not until the first Easter evening when Jesus appeared to the disciples in the place where they were staying that they were overjoyed. Yet, one of the disciples, Thomas, was not present and doubted the resurrection of Christ. The following week, the disciples were still under MCO, and continued to practise social distancing and self-quarantine. Jesus appeared the second time to the disciples, and Thomas had his doubt removed.
There was hardly any victorious celebration on the first two Easter Sundays according to the narrative in John 20. Although Jesus had already appeared twice to the disciples, there was fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt. All they did was to go into hiding for a whole week. They had their self-imposed lockdown. No one proclaimed, “Jesus is risen” despite Jesus appearing twice to them.
To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:1-4)
In exhorting the leaders of persecuted Church in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, Peter reminds them the the words of Jesus to him: “Follow me. Feed my lambs. Tend my sheep. Feed my sheep.”
Peter remained faithful to his calling till his martyrdom in the 60s CE. According to the early church tradition, Peter was crucified on the cross upside-down with his head down on the ground and feet raised on high, asserting that he was not worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord.
For the disciples, Easter is a new beginning for them. While there may not be much celebration on that first Easter, the impact of the resurrection of Christ changed them. The narrative of the restoration of Peter is an inspiration and encouragement to us today. If we feel that we are not worthy to serve the Lord because of our past failures, this passage reminds us that Jesus is not finished with us yet. Jesus called Peter again for the third time, “Follow me” after his resurrection. He was patient with Peter, and he gave Peter all the time and space for him to ponder, reflect, and respond. Jesus is calling us again today. Our current situation may also offer us the time and space needed for us to pause, reflect, and respond to the resurrected Lord. Easter is a new beginning.
Like the disciples, we may be at the crossroads of our lives, feeling lost and not knowing the next step we should take. We may be confused by recent events we have encountered. We may be worried about the post-COVID-19 aftermath. Some of us may be concerned with our business, employment, and our financial cash flow. In moments of frustration, disappointment, and discouragement, we may choose to go our own way and do things according to our own strength and effort. Some of us may have gone back “fishing” because it is the only thing we know what to do. Despite our failures, Jesus wants to reinstate and restore us to serve him. Easter gives us hope.
Like the disciples, in moments like these, it is time to accept the invitation of our Lord to have breakfast with him (John 21:12). It is time to renew our strength in his presence. It is time to sit at his feet again to hear his voice and guidance so that we can be his effective servants: “Feed my lambs… Tend my sheep… Feed my sheep… Follow me” (John 21:15, 16, 17, 19).
This year’s Easter may be a bit quiet, and is certainly very different from what we may have been used to. Nevertheless, as we remember the confusion, the sense of loss, and the anxiety and fear of the disciples on the first Easter, may we be reminded that Easter is a new beginning and it gives us hope. May we be renewed on this Easter day. May we be reminded afresh why we follow Jesus. May we hear afresh his calling once again: “Follow me.” And most importantly, let us not forget to have breakfast with the resurrected Jesus – he is waiting for us.
Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Hallelujah.
Lecturer in New Testament Studies at Seminari Theoloji Malaysia. You can find out more about me by clicking here.
My engagement in conversation with issues, reflections, and concerns related to my vocation as a seminary lecturer and theological education in general. Opinions expressed in this blog are strictly my personal views and do not represent the official position of the seminary