Saturday, September 29, 2018

Why Is "the Body of Christ" (σῶμα Χριστοῦ) Important to Paul?

I thank God and all who have helped me one way or another. 10 years have passed since my first book published by Fortress in 2008, and 13 years have passed since I embarked on a new second career in this job. During this time period, about a dozen books (I don't count anymore) showed up in my name, roughly one book a year. I still find myself doing more than this. So I thank God and feel more responsibility for my job as a teacher and writer. Lord, help me and use me!

My debut book, Christ’s Body in Corinth: The Politics of a Metaphor (Fortress, 2008), has made a significant contribution to the study of 1 Corinthians by presenting a new argument on the metaphor. Now is the good time to review it and extend to cover diverse concepts and uses of “the body of Christ” in Paul’s undisputed letters, including the Corinthian correspondence, Romans and Galatians. I am planning a new book about the body of Christ and Paul.

1 Cor 12:27 was a verse for my dissertation and I revisit it: Ὑμεῖς δέ ἐστε σῶμα Χριστοῦ καὶ μέλη ἐκ μέρους. This verse contains the gist of Paul's embodiment theology. What do you think? How do you translate it?

My new translation: "You are the Christic body and parts constituting Christ."

The Christic body is what I argued in my dissertation. It is an attributive genitive like "the body of sin" as "the sinful or sin-ruled body" in Rom 6:6. My conviction is that the Corinthians must embody Christ individually and communally.

I also read μέλη ἐκ μέρους as "body parts individually," which means constituting Christ individually. I am not reading "the body of Christ" as a metaphorical organism, but as a metaphor "for a way of living."

Friday, September 14, 2018

[Poem] Like a stream, 흐르는 물처럼

흐르는 시냇물처럼

Like a Stream

Yung Suk Kim

흐르는 시냇물은
막히면 잠시 머뭇거리다
돌아가든지 돌파한다.
나도 그러하다.
막히면 잠시 머뭇거릴 뿐
아무도 나를 붙잡지 못하고
아무 것도 나를 영원히 막지 못한다.
나의 길을 갈 뿐이다.
가다 보면 간간히 막히더라도
막히면 잠시 머뭇거리겠지 잠시 어색하겠지
잠시 당황하겠지.
이내 조금 숨을 돌리고 다시 가려한다.
왜냐하면 일어나 갈 힘이 이미 내게 있으므로.
목적지를 모르고 떠났던 아브라함처럼.
그 끝이 어디든지 몰라도 가려한다.
막히면 돌아서 가든지 통하여 가자.
그러면 길이 아닌 길이 없고
가지 못할 곳이 없다.

When a flowing water hits obstacles, 
it seems to hesitate a bit. 
But it goes around them or through those that prevent it. 
It never stops for good. 
At times I may be kept from moving forward. 
I may falter a bit, feel awkward or hesitate a bit.
But nothing gets in my way forever.
I walk the way to be myself.
On my way, I know there are downhills.
I may be stopped for a while. 
I may be disappointed a bit. 
But soon I know that sufficient energy rests in what I am.
I will go to the place without knowing where to go, 
as Abraham did once upon a time.
When storms hit me, I may feel enervated for a while or even die.
But nothing will separate me from the love of God.
I will go around or through the tempest. 
There is no way that is not the way.
There is no place that I cannot take.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Don't complain

Don't complain. Sometimes it is okay to mumble a bit, but never remain stick to a grudge. No matter what, do what you can. Don't focus on what you cannot.

I often say to myself: "Nothing or nobody can block me forever from what I am supposed to do." Sometimes I may be faltering or fainting a bit in life's turmoil, but that is not what I am supposed to be like forever. There is a purpose in my life. I don't know what that is all about, but I have to believe it. So I say I live because I believe. 

You can decide what is the best for you. No one will tell you what is the best. You can be true to yourself and listen to your inside. You may feel awkward a bit about yourself. But you are the key to yourself. The world is a reference to you. 

Don't have a burden that you can or must be perfect. If you think that way, that may be a deception because perfection is not that which is achievable in this world. We make progress little by little. If we are perfect, there is no need to make efforts. Maybe our lives would be boring or monotonous. 

Time is precious. Don't waste it. Even you are not yours. Do what you can do now. Tomorrow is in the divine. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Lumpkin's Jail

A painful, unforgettable part of history in Richmond involves a place called Lumpkin’s Jail, which served as a lucrative business for slaveholding and jailing during the 17-19th century America. Slave ships from Africa arrived at James River in Richmond. At nights, innocent Africans were forced to walk a few miles by the chain, through the riverside a.k.a the slave trail, only to reach a hell-like dungeon. A group of us from our school also visited a nearby burial ground for these African ancestors some of whom were hanged on a gallows. Virginia Union University began with this Jail to educate freed slaves after emancipation in 1865. Today our school faculty and staff as part of our one-day retreat had a bus tour of this Old Richmond area. We prayed together under the scorching killing sun and reflected on all we saw. It was a heavy day emotionally. One question in my mind remains the same throughout this trip and keeps bothering: What can we do about all this ugly past? 

Monday, September 3, 2018

My teaching philosophy

Yung Suk Kim

I am eager to know more about me and the world. Self-knowledge is important. Often we think we know all about ourselves. But the very self must be constantly (re)formed with the help of new experience from around the world. The world is also important to me since it is bigger than what I am. My classroom is a space to do both of these: knowing the self and the world. Once we have a good perspective on the self and the world, we can better engage with the world and experience transformation. Toward this goal, I invite students to think critically about Scripture, theology, and ethics.

I ask in my classroom: What does it mean to live in this world in relation to each other (i.e., the meaning of the Other --which resonates Emmanuel Levinas' "the face of the other," Paul Ricoeur's "inter-subjective narrative identity," or Jacques Derrida's "relationless relation")? How can we do theology in our thoughts and deeds, while moving pointedly away from individualism? And how can we read biblical stories with each other when we differ?

I know what is most important to students. I will respect their present conditions and encourage them to mature through the transformative encountering of the divine love and care. I believe trusting is the first step to their success. 

[Teaching Philosophy]

I foster and teach to engage in the knowledge of who we are in this world in which we see our diversity and differences. In my teaching, diversity is not a given, but a source of critical engagement with each other. I value both a critical and self-critical stance toward any claim of knowledge, truth, and reality. I emphasize the following as pedagogical goals: learning from others, challenging one another, affirming who we are, and working for common humanity in differences. In my teaching, all in all, I communicate critical diversity and transformative identity in a variety of life contexts.