Catholic epistles get moment in spotlight

New book by Biola professor takes closer look at New Testament letters.

Austin Green, Writer

Darian Lockett, associate professor of biblical and theological studies, first fell in love with the book of James after a transformational experience while completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Kansas.

“I did some mission work in eastern Europe,” Lockett said. “While I was there, I bumped into people who had suffered for their faith. Being from the United States, I had not faced persecution or challenges like that. As I encountered these Christians who had suffered dearly for their faith, it drove me to James. James chapter one talks about ‘considering it joy’ when facing trials and how difficulty is a necessary part of how we grow. That totally challenged me.”

Lockett later did his doctoral dissertation on James. However, when he first started to examine the other Catholic epistles — Jude, 1 and 2 Peter and 1, 2 and 3 John — he noticed how common the themes were among the different letters.

The central thesis in his new book, “Letters from the Pillar Apostles,” argues these seven biblical works should be read together in the same manner that the Gospels and the apostle Paul’s epistles often are, despite not sharing a common story or author. Lockett credits the early church for starting this practice and claims it is time for the modern church to follow suit.

“People talk a lot about social justice, the poor and how the church can reach out to disempowered communities,” Lockett said. “The Catholic epistles have a lot to say about that. These texts will help the church learn to suffer well and witness well in a hostile situation.”

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