The Trial and Crucifixion of Jesus 書評

Revd Dr Jim West reviews The Trial and Crucifixion of Jesus: Ancient Texts and Modern Commentary by David W. Chapman and Eckhard J. Schnabel

This book offers readers the opportunity to examine primary sources relating to the trial and execution of Jesus – although the material does not directly cover the events concerning Jesus himself. Instead, it looks at documents about trials and crucifixion in general, written during and slightly later than the first century CE.

For instance, in part one, Eckhard J. Schnabel discusses Jewish trials before the Sanhedrin, an assembly of rabbis appointed to sit as a tribunal in every city in ancient Israel. He offers extra-biblical texts relating to topics such as Annas and Caiaphas, the two High Priests mentioned during Jesus’ public ministry, the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrin, and capital cases in Jewish law. He also covers the interrogation of witnesses, charges of blasphemy, seduction, and sorcery, the abuse of prisoners, and the transfer of court cases.

Part two, again by Schnabel, turns to Roman trials before Pontius Pilate, and discusses, by means, again, of extra-biblical texts, Pilate himself, the jurisdiction of Roman prelates, and various Roman legal niceties.

In part three, which is written by David W. Chapman, the book focuses on the act of crucifixion in all its gory details. It addresses what Chapman styles as ‘bodily suspension in the ancient Near East’, with Greco-Roman sources on the topic laid out, along with Hellenistic and Jewish sources. Chapman then provides something of a Who’s Who of crucifixion victims in Roman literature. 

This section is followed by a look at the ways in which various societies reacted to the act of crucifixion. Chapman closes out his very long third part with a listing of the taunts, curses and jests that were hurled at the victims of crucifixion. It is worth reading. Some of the taunts may be useful to readers of the volume at some point, especially if they are seeking a fresh rejoinder to hurl at some hapless, ill-prepared conference presenter.

There are, as one should expect, a fair number of illustrations in the book, and the work also includes a bibliography, an index of ancient sources, modern authors, and subjects.

The volume is a sourcebook of materials about trials and crucifixions in the ancient Mediterranean world, but it is not, strictly speaking, a volume about the trial and crucifixion of Jesus. The title is, accordingly, a bit inaccurate. It should have been titled Trials and Crucifixions in the World of Jesus, because that is what it is really about.

The inaccurate title notwithstanding, this is a fascinating sourcebook with mountains of important primary source materials, in their original languages as well as in translation, and with helpful commentary. The authors have done a lifetime of work and they are to be congratulated for it.

This resource belongs on every New Testament scholar’s shelf.

New Religious Education Programme Planned 宗教教育課程預告






Ming Hua Theological College is excited to announce plans for a new Religious Education programme aimed at teachers working in Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui schools.

The programme is being developed by Revd Odette Pun and Revd Canon Thomas Pang, of the Religious Education Resource Centre, in consultation with Bishop Andrew Chan, chairman of the Anglican (Hong Kong) Primary Schools Council.

While planning is still at an early stage, it is envisaged that the programme will cover three core areas, namely different methods of teaching religious education, ethics, and biblical studies, including some basic theology.

Revd Pun will be talking to the schools to find out more about what they would like to see included in the programme.

She will also be consulting the Catholic Church, which runs a similar programme for teachers at its school, to gain further insights into how the programme should be designed.

The course will be taught by Ming Hua faculty, as well as principals and teachers from Anglican schools in Hong Kong.

Once the programme has been developed, Ming Hua will seek to register it with the Education Bureau so that teachers who take it will receive a certificate and have it counted towards their continuing professional development.

The College hopes to be able to launch the programme in September next year.

Over the longer term, Ming Hua is exploring the possibility of offering a Master of Religious Education through Charles Sturt University.

The Book of Ruth Retold 路德記今讀

Dr Stephen Lim is interested in reading the Bible in the context of Asia to address the issues that people in Asia face. Here he retells the Book of Ruth from the perspective of a domestic helper in Singapore.

Ruth as Esperanza

Esperanza waited by the lobby below the condominium for Mr Chee to drive his car to pick her up to take her to the airport. The air was heavy, made all the more burdensome by the silence that sat between her and Mrs Chee. 

“How come he take so long?” Mrs Chee said impatiently, breaking the silence that was beginning to cement. The car horn sounded and Esperanza heaved a quiet sigh of relief as the car finally pulled into the porch.

“Why you take so long? Cannot find the car again, is it?” Mrs Chee questioned with her usual sharp, interrogative tone. Mr Chee silently got out of the car and helped Esperanza put her luggage into the boot of the car. It was not a big bag. No bigger than the bag she brought to Singapore two years ago, and would have fitted the back seat just as well. Mr Chee had to steady himself as he had used too much strength to haul the bag into the boot. He did not expect it to be so light. The surprise registered on his face but he chose not to say anything. Then Esperanza sat in the back as the car pulled away from the porch, heading towards the airport.

The journey was silent with some soft Chinese pop music playing in the background. 

Esperanza thought to herself that this was most probably only the second time she had seen the expressway. The first being the time she came to Singapore to meet her employers at the maid agency. 

Her thoughts began to stray. She wondered why she chose to come here to Singapore. The face of her grandmother came to mind. 

A cool breeze blew as the sun began to set in her village in Mindoro. She remembered she was twelve, old enough to be helping out in the kitchen. Dinner was especially busy but she and her cousins looked forward to the time after that. 

“Grandmama, tell us again the story of Ruth!” 

“Again? Have you not heard the story many times before?” Her grandmother replied in her usual feisty tone. 

But her grandchildren persisted. “Yes! Yes!” 

Esperanza wiped the table and did her share of washing the dishes as quickly as she could so that she could join them. 

“It was a time of famine in Bethlehem. What is Bethlehem?” Her grandmother enjoyed quizzing them as she told the story. Esperanza thought it was just her way of keeping them engaged.

“House of bread!” One of her cousins replied glibly.

“Indeed. But it was just that then it had no more bread. So Elimelech and his wife, Naomi had to bring her two sons into another country, Moab. There their two sons married two beautiful Moabite women, Ruth and Orpah. Famine came upon Moab and Elimelech and his two sons died. But now Bethlehem was full of bread again so Naomi decided she would return to her homeland.” 

Looking back, Esperanza wondered how cursed Moab was. Its wealth was all but fleeting. All that it had left was hunger and death. Bethlehem’s misfortune seemed to pale in comparison and be just as fleeting. Just like Singapore.

“Who were Ruth and Orpah?” One of her cousins asked. “Were they poor?”

“Why, they were princesses, my dear. Daughters of the Most High King of Moab. They saw how pitiful Elimelech and his family were and they took them in.” 

This exchange floated up from the depths of her memory. She recalled in her university days reading Ruth in the Bible. It seemed that there was nothing mentioned about who Ruth and Orpah were. No background. Simply just Moabites. Like her. Mr and Mrs Chee never once asked her about her background. Had they asked, they would know she had a degree in English and Political Science. That she understood way more than they would have liked when they spoke to each other in English. That she could hear very clearly what Mrs Chee and her friends thought of helpers in the home when they were playing their overnight mahjong. 

“Eh how come your maid so pretty one? You not scared she and your husband…”

“Aiyo, I tell you ah, if you leave these maids alone, you never know what they will do…”

“Actually ah, teach her how to do, better I do. Take up so much of my time some more! Might as well pay me her salary…”

“You can never leave her alone one… sekali[1] she sleep with some construction worker, get pregnant, then how?…”

“So scary la…my friend told me she find more and more thing go missing in the house. She thought, must be the maid do one. So she search her room and there, she found her bras, her panties all put in a milo tin…”

Idiots, prostitutes, thieves. Maybe that was what the Moabites were like, Esperanza thought to herself. Or that would be what those like Naomi might think. 

“So Ruth begged Naomi to let her go with her to Bethlehem while Orpah chose to return to her family. Naomi was reluctant as she was feeling bitter. But Ruth pleaded with her, 

‘Where you go, I will go;

    where you lodge, I will lodge;

your people shall be my people,

    and your God my God.

Where you die, I will die—

    there will I be buried.

May the Lord do thus and so to me,

    and more as well,

if even death parts me from you!’

Naomi, hearing how determined Ruth was, said no more.”


“Got remember to bring your passport or not?”  

Mrs Chee’s shrill voice pierced through her reminiscing of the past. Startled, Esperanza could only manage a nod.

“Aiyo, you deaf ah? Ask you so many times, now then say something.”

Mr Chee then interrupted, saying, “Don’t disturb her la. You ask this question so many times since we left already.”

The car pulled into the airport car park, much to the relief of everyone in it. As Esperanza unloaded her bags, she spotted from the corner of her eye her best friend since university days, Amy. 

“Sir, Ma’am, I think I can manage from here,” she could feel her voice shaking. 

“You sure or not? Later you never fly off, then how?” Mrs Chee barked in her usual impatient tone. 

“Just let her be la,” Mr Chee then turned to Esperanza and told her sternly, “Make sure you get on your flight, ok?”

“Yes, Sir.” Esperanza picked up her luggage and started to walk towards the departure hall. 

“Grandmama, did Ruth feel at home?” 

“Esperanza dear, Ruth found Boaz. He was a respectable man in the community. He made sure she was safe in the fields by asking her to take the leftover corn in his fields.”

“But Grandmama, you mean Ruth was in danger?”

“Yes even in the safe place of Bethlehem, a widowed woman was very vulnerable.”

“But why did Naomi not tell her?”

Esperanza remembered Grandmama’s stunned silence.

“Tell her what, dear?”

“Ruth told Naomi that she wanted to go to the fields. So why did Naomi not know that it was not safe for a woman like Ruth?”

Mrs Chee was only concerned for her when she needed her, Esperanza thought. She then caught herself wondering if that was what had actually happened to Ruth. It was a question she wished she could ask her Grandmama.


“Esperanza, are you okay?”

“Oh Amy, the last few days have been horrible. I am so angry… Mrs Chee does not treat me like a human being… just someone to do the work she does not want to do… I have to stay up and work under impossible conditions… I am so angry…”

Esperanza told Amy that Mr Chee found her with the watch he had given Mrs Chee. Naturally he accused her of stealing. In reality, she was so frustrated that she scratched the watch just as he walked in. So instinctively, out of shame, she hid it in her pocket.

“Am I wicked person?”

“Oh Esperanza, no…”

“Grandmama once told us the story of Ruth and how she found her Boaz in a foreign land. An honourable man who would shoulder her burden and give her what she needed. I thought Singapore was my foreign land and I will meet my Boaz here.” 

Tears began to stream down Esperanza’s face. Amy reached out and held her hand. 

“Oh Esperanza, Ruth gave her body to be part of Israel. Remember what Naomi told her to do when she went down to the threshing floor to find Boaz?” Amy said in the gentlest voice she could manage as one also all too familiar with this story turned urban legend. 

“Amy, you must try to get me back here. If there is a job opening, please let me know.” Esperanza exclaimed, seemingly oblivious to all that Amy had just said. “My father, he does not know what happened. I just told him I am back for family holiday. Oh Amy, you must help me!”

Amy heaved a sigh. She was definitely more fortunate than her best friend. The family who took her in respected her and gave her regular time off, even to come to the airport to make sure Esperanza was all right. Even then, she knew she would always be an outsider. She knew that it was not possible to find her Boaz here. 

But when she saw Esperanza’s pleading eyes, her heart broke. She could not bear to tell her that as the story wore on, it became increasingly more about Naomi than Ruth. For the son was not born to Ruth, nor to Boaz but to Naomi. That was possibly part of the price Ruth paid to be part of the people of Bethlehem. 

“Final call for all passengers leaving for Manila on flight PH 834. Please proceed to Gate E73 for immediate boarding.”

Esperanza looked at Amy, “Please, promise me you will help me. I will do anything. Anything.”

Amy nodded, trying valiantly to hold back her tears. Both of them hugged. 

Esperanza picked up her bag and walked towards the departure gate, feeling hopeful again. 


This is a retelling of the Book of Ruth in the Hebrew Bible through adapting a play that was written by Wong Souk Yee and Tay Hong Seng in the 1980s in Singapore called Esperanza.[2] Esperanza means hope in Tagalog. The play was written in consultation with Filipina domestic helpers in Singapore. 

[1] This word has been adapted from the Malay language into Singaporean English to mean, “what if”.

[2] Souk Yee Wong and Hong Seng Tay, “Esperanza,” in 5 Plays from Third Stage: A Collection of Five Singaporean Plays, ed. Anne Lim and Suan Tze Chng (Third Stage: Singapore, 2005), 99-129.

What is On Offer? 春季科目一覽

We take a look at the subjects that are being offered next semester through the College’s BTh and MTh programmes.

More Intensives!

Ming Hua’s intensives have proved to be hugely popular with our students. Intensives enable students to study an entire subject in a matter of days with no reduction in content. Instead, lectures are held from 10am to 4pm over five consecutive days. This model of teaching is particularly beneficial for students who find it hard to commit to weekly lectures over a 12-week period.

We are excited to be offering the following two subjects as intensives next semester:

Practical Theology (THL120)

For students who are interested in how theology can be put into practice, this subject is a must. It looks at theology in action across a range of areas, including ministry, mission, worship and pastoral care. Students will not only develop an understanding of what is distinctive about practical theology, but they will also learn a range of methodologies appropriate to putting theological theory into practice.

Lecturer: Revd William Lam

Day & Time: March 23 to 27, 10am to 4pm

Wisdom and Worship Traditions (THL209)

This interesting subject explores the Old Testament texts that reflect on how to live well and justly with one another and before God. Through a study of the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon, students will learn about the literary features, socio-cultural contexts and diverse philosophical, religious and moral perspectives of the wisdom and worship texts, as well as the interconnections between creation, human experience and language about God.

Lecturer: Professor Donn Morgan

Day & Time: February 24 to 28, 10am to 4pm

Biblical Studies:

Introduction to Old Testament Studies (THL105)

This exciting subject offers an introduction to the Old Testament from the Pentateuch right through to the Minor Prophets. Students will be taught the basic scholarly tools and critical methods needed to study scripture, as well as gaining an understanding of how the Old Testament is formed, both as a whole and as collections of different books.

Lecturer: Dr Stephen Lim

Day & Time: Thursdays, 7pm – 9:15pm

Paul and His Letters (THL203)

The Letters of Saint Paul contain some of the most famous passages of the New Testament and have had a significant impact on shaping the Church as we know it today. This subject explores these letters, along with Acts of the Apostles, in more depth, looking at Paul’s biography, his theology and the situations to which his letters were responding.

Lecturer: Revd Ross Royden

Day & Time: Mondays, 10am – 12.15pm

Systematic Theology:

Introduction to Christian Theology (THL111)

This interesting subject offers students an introduction to Christian theology, covering areas as diverse as the meaning of revelation, the Triune God, and humanity and sin. Alongside helping students develop the skills they need for theological reasoning, it will also look at the role played by scripture and tradition in Christian thought, and the significance of context in shaping theological reflection.

Lecturer: Dr Matthew Jones

Day & Time: Mondays, 7pm – 9.15pm

God and Humanity (THL245)

The Bible tells us that humanity was made in the image of God, but what does this really mean? This thought-provoking subject will explore theological ideas relating to humanity, creation and our relationship with God. It will consider this relationship within the context of grace and salvation, as well as looking at contemporary approaches to describing God, such as feminist and postcolonial, as well as ecological and liberation discourses.

Lecturer: Dr Matthew Jones

Day & Time: Tuesdays, 2pm – 4.15pm

Theological Ethics (THL326)

This interesting subject looks at how Christians define what is right and what is wrong. Students will explore the theology, philosophy, Biblical texts and traditions behind Christian ethics in both historical and contemporary contexts. They will then use this knowledge to consider a range of ethical issues in areas such as politics, economics, war, the environment, medicine and sexuality.

Lecturer: Dr Matthew Jones

Day & Time: Wednesdays, 2pm – 4.15pm

Church History:

The European Reformations (THL132)

The reformations in 16th and 17th century Europe have left legacies that are still seen in the Church today. This fascinating subject explores this period of upheaval, looking at reform movements within Roman Catholicism, the radical reformations, inquisitions and the plight of religious minorities during this period. Particular attention is paid to the social context in which the reformations took place, touching on issues such as gender and moral discipline.

Lecturer: Revd Dr Jim West

Day & Time: Tuesdays, 7pm – 9.15pm (through Global Classroom)

Practical Theology:

Christian Ministry (THL218)

The Church engages in a wide range of ministries both within the church and in the wider community. This interesting subject explores the practice and theory of Christian ministry, for both lay people and those who are ordained. It incorporates a number of contemporary issues, including cultural context, heightened public standards, issues of justice and the status of the Church in society.

Lecturer: Revd Prof John Kater

Day & Time: Mondays, 7pm – 9.15pm

Theology and the Arts (THL256)

The Arts are integral to Christian theology and life, with humanity’s relationship with God expressed through music, literature and drama throughout the ages. This fascinating subject explores how the Arts can help us gain a broader understanding of the human condition and God.

Lecturer: Prof Gareth Jones

Day & Time: Tuesdays, 7pm – 9.15pm

Master of Theology

Contemporary Approaches to Biblical Studies (THL511)

This interesting subject looks at major contemporary approaches to the study of the Old Testament and New Testament. It focuses on recent developments in Biblical Studies, paying particular attention to methodology, both in a theoretical framework and through an analysis of a variety of concrete exegetical problems. It also compares and contrasts different methods of biblical criticism.

Lecturer: Dr Stephen Lim

Day & Time: Mondays, 2pm – 4.15pm

Contemporary Issues in Practical Theology (THL519)

Contemporary society faces a number of issues ranging from poverty to gender equality to climate change. This challenging subject teaches students how to engage critically with these issues from a theological perspective. Students will learn how to apply cross-disciplinary research and a variety of practical theological models, including indigenous, feminist and social science perspectives, to develop new approaches to these issues and a deeper understanding of how the Church can respond to them.

Lecturer: Revd Prof John Kater

Day & Time: Tuesdays, 2pm – 4.15pm

Classic Texts in Christian Theology (THL545)

Students taking this subject will have the opportunity to study at an advanced level some of the key texts that have helped to shape systematic theology and Church tradition. They will focus on the historical and theological context of the texts, as well as looking at their reception and influence on later Christian thought. Students will be encouraged to reflect deeply on the coherence, diversity, and continuing tensions within the Christian theological tradition.

Lecturer: Prof Gareth Jones

Day & Time: Thursdays, 7pm – 9.15pm

For enquiries,

Phone         (852) 2521 7708
Whatsapp   9530 7241

Ming Hua Hosts Cambridge Postulant 歡迎來自劍橋的聖職志願人

Ming Hua is delighted to welcome Coryn Stanforth, an ordinand from Wescott House in Cambridge, to the College. Coryn is spending several weeks at Ming Hua as part of her training to become a priest for the Church of England.

Principal Professor Gareth Jones said: “It is always lovely to welcome students from our old friends and partners around the Anglican Communion, and Westcott House is one of Ming Hua’s oldest and deepest friendships. Coryn has brought many gifts to our Hong Kong and Taiwan postulants and we treasure her time with us this autumn.”

Coryn, who is originally from Norwich in the UK, started her career as a primary school teacher. She describes her journey to becoming a postulant as being a gradual one that happened over many years.

“I had a niggling feeling that I should become a priest and I felt God was pushing me towards it,” she says.

In 2011, she became a reader in the Church of England, but she still felt it was not quite enough. It was not until 2018 that she describes things as finally falling into place, leading to her going forward for selection.

Coryn explains that she was keen to come to Hong Kong as part of her training because she wanted to see more of the Anglican Communion.

“I had been teaching other readers about Anglicanism but I felt I had not seen much of the Anglican Communion. I was also interested in theological education and wanted to see what it was like in other places,” she says.

She was particularly interested in Asia after visiting one of her former teaching assistants who had moved to Malaysia a few years earlier.

“I was fascinated by Asia and thought it would be great if I ever had the chance to go back to the region,” she says.

Coryn says she has really enjoyed her time at Ming Hua, particularly visiting the different churches the College’s postulants are attached to. 

“Everyone is very friendly and helpful. It has been really nice to get to know everyone,” she says.

Coryn is due to be ordained as a deacon in the UK in June next year, and is likely to return to Norwich to complete her curacy.

Ming Hua Graduates Ordained 按立聖職

恭喜畢業同學勞漢賢、李文祺、蔡樂媚和梁智偉在十一月一日按立聖職。 願他們一生忠勤事主,榮神益人。

Congratulations to Ming Hua graduates Lorraine Choi and Jason Leung, on their ordination to the priesthood, and Matthew Lee and Kenneth Lo on their ordination to the diaconate.

Continue reading Ming Hua Graduates Ordained 按立聖職

Meet the Faculty: Dr Rowena Chen 見.識教授:陳睿文博士

陳睿文博士 (Rowena),香港聖公會檔案館研究員,同時任教於澳洲查理斯特大學——香港明華神學院,教授範疇包括中國宗教、在華基督教史等;她亦是學院的琴師,每周四將近黃昏的時候,Rowena 便會讓明華小聖堂響起悅耳的風琴聲,呼籲我們進入敬拜。


白晢的膚色,澄明光潔的臉容,溫文儒雅的談吐——是大家閨秀沒錯。這是Rowena 常常給人的第一印象。只是當你走近,你卻會發現,大家閨秀的模樣底下,有一雙專注的眼睛,散發着對人、信仰、文化藝術及歷史的好奇和熱情,為她添上了不一樣的氣質與溫度。

Rowena 來自上海,自幼受歷史及藝術的薰陶。前上海聖約翰大學的校園 (今華東政法大學)是她自幼成長的地方,這是美國聖公會於19世紀在華辦學時創建的學府。Rowena 在紀念學院創始人施約瑟主教的懷施堂(今韜奮樓)中長大 。而校園裡寬闊的綠色草地,亦是她孩提時代最愛玩耍的地方。這一美麗的校園見證著聖公會在華福傳的歷史,也承載着 Rowena 成長的足跡和記憶,她將之視作為自己與聖公會相遇的開始。難怪她尤愛研究聖公會歷史——這正是塑造她生命的重要部分。

Rowena 幼年時每日所在之處——懷施堂 (現韜奮樓)


Rowena 四歲開始習琴,也正是音樂為她開啟了信仰及學術研究的道路。她其中的一位鋼琴老師引領她認信基督信仰,帶她返教會,開始了她跟隨主的信心旅程。

在本科就讀二年級時,Rowena 舉辦了第一次鋼琴獨奏會,也正是在那時,遇上了研究中國基督教史的專家陶飛亞教授,其後她隨陶教授攻讀碩士學位。陶教授鼓勵 Rowena 進行近代音樂與福傳視角的歷史研究,開啟了她用文字侍奉神的道路。之後,Rowena 前往香港中文大學文化及宗教研究系攻讀宗教研究哲學博士,研究聖公宗人華人神學家趙紫宸與20世紀初在華處境化讚美詩議題。期間亦入選奧地利維也納音樂與表演藝術大學 (University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Austria) 訪問學人項目,前往歐洲豐富其研究視野。博士論文 Fragrant Flowers Bloom: T. C. Chao, Bliss Wiant and the Contextualization of Hymns in Twentieth Century China 亦已於2015年在德國出版 。


一路走來,Rowena 與聖公會有著不解之緣,2014年至今,她於香港聖公會檔案館及明華神學院工作,致力於堂會史、主教史等方向的研究,作品包括《包爾騰主教傳略》(2018)、《萬代要稱妳有福——香港聖公會聖馬利亞堂史(1912-2012)》(2014,合著)等。目前正在進行聖士提反堂之歷史研究。她熱愛自己的科研及教學,並深信無論是音樂修習、學術研究還是教授傳承,都是上主定意定時所成就的一切 。

這同樣也是她對學生的勉勵:神在每個人身上都有計劃,祂會按時成就,叫萬事互相效力成為美好。Rowena 感恩在明華所遇到的一切人和事物。她指當我們把握每一次探索,有朝一日便會看見今時過往及至未來,都會在上主的定意下連結在一起,即艾略特 (T.S. Eliot) 所言:「 我們不能停止探索,而一切探索的盡頭, 將到達我們出發的原點,並再度認識這個地方 」 。(“We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” ) 在 Rowena看來,由此,「過往與今時匯合,卻賦予了更為新鮮、豐滿的內涵;生命也在時間的流逝與永恆的定格間漸然頓悟、昇華,這即是信仰帶領我們所行的奇妙之旅。」