July 7, 2017

Previous posts: Part 1, Part 2

Chapter 5

Parables After Jesus

The last main chapter focuses on both the 20th and 21st centuries (pp. 207-153). Here Gowler covers 9 people/groups including Thomas Hart Benton, the Blues, Flannery O’Connor, Martin Luther King Jr., Godspell, Latin American interest in the parables, David Flusser, Octavia Butler, and Thich Nhat Hanh. I will mention a few interpreters that were especially interesting to me. I love Flannery O’Connor. Her novel, The Violent Bear It Away, is considered to be inspired by the Parable of the Sower, a harrowing but vivid modern tale. As for Martin Luther King, he preached with passion about the Parable of the Rich man and his storehouses. Also, unsurprisingly, King was inspired by the Parable of the Good Samaritan. My favorite musical of all time is Godspell and as a young Christian I learned many of the teachings of Jesus through it. Gowler is no doubt right when he says that Godspell more than any other Jesus film/play/musical “incorporates parables so deeply into its narrative of Jesus’ life and teachings” (232).


Gowler’s conclusion is concise, less than three pages. He simply affirms that we see such creativity and  rainbow of readings of the parables no doubt because they are puzzles and riddles worth pondering extensively. Gowler likens them to art works, inviting the reader into active imagination.

Gupta’s Final Thoughts

Gowler’s The Parables after Jesus is such a fun book to read – the case studies are well-chosen and refreshingly diverse. Gowler balances ancient and modern, East along with West, men and women, academic and art/popular culture. The visuals in the book are helpful and show the impact of the parables even in earliest Christian art. If I have one lingering desire after completing the book, though, it is for more synthesis and guidance from Gowler. I would have enjoyed some commentary on trends and distinctives of certain periods or communities, perhaps briefly at the end of each chapter. In the conclusion, Gowler could have adumbrated how readings have flowed through various watershed moments. These ideas notwithstanding, I warmly recommend this book to all students of the Gospels and the parables of Jesus.

April 1, 2016

I have always loved Festschriften (celebration-writings). When done well, they serve as  a combination of scholarship and appreciation, and there is a great energy and warmth that is attractive.

Right now I am working through two relatively new works.


Chris Keith and Dieter Roth, ed. Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado (LNTS 528; T&T Clark, 2015). 

No doubt Prof. Hurtado is deserving of this honour. I have admired his scholarship for many years, I have used his work as textbooks and I have worked closely with his work on early Christianity. The essays in the FS are rather evenly divided into the three categories in the title: Gospel of Mark, Textual Criticism, and Monotheism and Early Christianity. Contributors include Chris Keith, Sean Adams, Thomas Kraus, Michael Kruger, Tommy Wasserman, Mary Ann Beavis, and Paul Middleton (and others). Two essays that really caught my interest were by Holly Carey and Richard Bauckham. Carey has an essay called ” ‘Is It Bad as All That?’: The Misconception of Mark as a Film Noir.” She notes how common it is to refer to Mark as a dark gospel, all about suffering, emphasis on the cross, no resurrection and ascension. But she does an admirable job pointing out the often overlooked places where there is hope: “Mark has no interest in leaving his audience wallowing in the depths of despair as it hears about the death of Jesus. From the beginning he has defined his story as good news. As the narrative of Jesus’ life progresses, Mark underscores the restorative element of his work in some of his most memorable healings. At the central and transitional point in the story, he repetitively highlights the importance of Jesus’ resurrection alongside his suffering and death. In the midst of his account of Jesus’ death, he highlights his role as a righteous sufferer who will be vindicated by God” (20).

Again, the other essay that caught my attention is by Bauckham, “Devotion to Jesus Christ in Earliest Christianity: An Appraisal and Discussion of the Work of Larry Hurtado.” Bauckham referees the latest criticism of Hurtado, both defending him at times, but also adding his own criticisms. For example, I think Bauckham is right to question Hurtado’s famous terminology of “binitarian” and he presses Hurtado for more clarity.

This is a great volume – make sure to check it out!



J.G. McConville and L.K. Pietersen, ed. Conception, Reception, and the Spirit: Essays in Honor of Andrew T. Lincoln (Wipf & Stock, 2015).

This is another fantastic FS, well-deserved for Prof. Lincoln. And, as with the above FS, the list of contributors is impressive: McConville, Philip Esler, J.D.G. Dunn, Ann Jervis, Catrin Williams, NT Wright, Sylvia Keesmaat, Mike Gorman, Stephen Barton (my doktorvater!), David Catchpole, Stephen Fowl, Robert Morgan, John Rogerson, John Webster, Loveday Alexander, and Brian Walsh (and more!). What a feast of readings!

Here we have the same challenge as with Hurtado – Lincoln’s work is so (excellently) wide-ranging, how do you narrow a subject? You don’t! So, there are chapters that focus on “Exegesis” (chs 1-10), those on “Theological Interpretation” (chs. 11-16), and those on “Theology and Embodiment” (chs. 17-19). Jimmy Dunn has a nice chapter on “Let John be John (2)” which continues a string of essays (in various settings) on the distinctiveness of John. NT Wright has an extended discussion of political dimensions of the Fourth Gospel. While I find Wright’s work on John intriguing, I don’t think he gave enough credit to Thatcher’s contributions to the subject. Gorman makes another interesting contribution to the study of Phil 2:5-11. Loveday Alexander offers a richly rewarding hermeneutical discussion of sexuality in the Bible – her essay, whether one ends up agreeing or disagreeing with her conclusions – is a “must-read” for seminary students.

I am very pleased to see Hurtado and Lincoln appreciated with these remarkable volumes.



October 17, 2015

SBL 2015 is coming up! Here are some sessions that caught my eye – esp excited about the review session for John Barclay’s Paul and the Gift.




Early Jewish Christian Relations; Paul Within Judaism

Joint Session With: Early Jewish Christian Relations, Paul Within Judaism
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Baker (Atlanta Conference Level) – Hyatt

Theme: Review of Paul within Judaism: Restoring the First-Century Context to the Apostle, Fortress 2015, ed. by Mark Nanos and Magnus Zetterholm

Pamela Eisenbaum, Iliff School of Theology, Presiding (5 min)
James Crossley, University of Sheffield, Panelist (15 min)
Christine Hayes, Yale University, Panelist (15 min)
Amy-Jill Levine, Vanderbilt University, Panelist (15 min)
Shelly Matthews, Brite Divinity School (TCU), Panelist (15 min)
Emma Wasserman, Rutgers University, Panelist (15 min)
Break (5 min)
Discussion (65 min)


Institute for Biblical Research
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: A602 (Atrium Level) – Marriott

Theme: IBR Unscripted
This session of the IBR annual meeting offers Biblical Scholars from throughout the academy the opportunity to present their new and innovative ideas in an engaging forum inspired by the famous TED talks. Scholars will speak without notes and are encouraged to use a variety of media to help the audience interact with their ideas. A generous discussion time will follow each presentation and refreshments will be served. For further information see https://www.ibr-bbr.org

Katie Heffelfinger, Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Presiding
Peter Enns, Eastern University
On Not-Knowing When Knowing is All You Know (17 min)
Discussion (17 min)
Break (17 min)
Ruth Anne Reese, Asbury Theological Seminary
Remembering the Future, Shaping the Past: Memory, Narrative, and Identity (17 min)
Discussion (17 min)
Break (7 min)
Scott Hafemann, University of St. Andrews
The Unity of the Bible? Really? (17 min)
Discussion (17 min)
Break (17 min)
Break (7 min)


John, Jesus, and History
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: International 5 (International Level) – Marriott

Theme: Portraits of Jesus in the Gospel of John
In 2013 the John, Jesus, and History group began a series on Portraits of Jesus in the Gospel of John. It explores roles ascribed to Jesus in the Fourth Gospel, which also appear in other early Christian sources. Two years ago we considered Jesus as rabbi, prophet, and apocalyptic Son of Man. This year we continue with Jesus as healer, controversialist, Davidic Messiah, and Son of God.

Craig R. Koester, Luther Seminary, Presiding (5 min)
Graham H. Twelftree, Regent University
Jesus as Healer in the Gospel of John (30 min)
Tom Thatcher, Cincinnati Christian University
Jesus as Controversialist: Media-Critical Perspectives on the Historicity of the Johannine Sabbath Controversies(30 min)
Matthew Novenson, University of Edinburgh
Jesus as Messiah: The Unlikely Trove of Messiah Traditions in the Gospel of John (30 min)
Alicia D. Myers, Campbell University
Jesus as God’s Son: Blending Voices and Memory to Hear John’s Word (30 min)
Discussion (25 min)


Synoptic Gospels
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Marquis A-B (Marquis Level) – Marriott

Theme: Panel Review of Francis Watson, Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective (Eerdmans, 2013)

Robert Derrenbacker, Thorneloe University, Presiding
Francis Watson, Durham University, Introduction (10 min)
John Kloppenborg, University of Toronto, Panelist (15 min)
Mark Matson, Milligan College, Panelist (15 min)
Margaret Mitchell, University of Chicago, Panelist (15 min)

Francis Watson, Durham University, Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (80 min)


Biblical Ethics
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Hanover D (Exhibit Level) – Hyatt

Theme: The Moral Vision of the Bible – A Methodological Discussion

Volker Rabens, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität Jena, Presiding
Eryl W. Davies, Prifysgol Bangor – Bangor University
The Moral Vision of the Bible: A Hebrew Bible / Old Testament Approach (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Todd Still, Baylor University, Respondent (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
David G. Horrell, University of Exeter
The Moral Vision of the Bible: A New Testament Approach (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Jacqueline Grey, Alphacrucis, Respondent (25 min)
Discussion (35 min)


John, Jesus, and History
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Courtland (Atlanta Conference Level) – Hyatt

Theme: A Review of the John, Jesus and History Project
The John, Jesus, and History project has been contributing to the discussion of the Fourth Gospel and questions of history since 2002. This year a panel will reflect on the work that has been done, the contributions that have been made, and the questions that might set directions for the future.

Helen Bond, University of Edinburgh, Presiding (5 min)
Jan van der Watt, Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen
A Critical Appraisal of Challenging and Critical Views on the Historicity of John (30 min)
Andrew Lincoln, University of Gloucestershire
What is “History” in John, Jesus and History? (30 min)
Michael Labahn, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
The “Johannine Lens” and Many Current Lenses on “John and Jesus”: A Review of John, Jesus and History Volume III (30 min)
Mark Goodacre, Duke University
“Strange, Restless and Unfamiliar”: The Character of the Fourth Gospel in the John, Jesus and History Project (30 min)
Catrin Williams, Prifysgol Cymru, Y Drindod Dewi Sant – University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (15 min)


Pauline Epistles
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: 406 (Level 4) – Hilton

Theme: Reviews of J. A. Harrill, Paul the Apostle and M. Novenson, Christ Among the Messiahs

Emma Wasserman, Rutgers University, Presiding

John Barclay, University of Durham, Panelist (20 min)
Laura Dingeldein, University of Illinois at Chicago, Panelist (20 min)
Paula Fredriksen, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Panelist (20 min)
Break (5 min)
J. Albert Harrill, Ohio State University, Respondent (25 min)
Matthew Novenson, University of Edinburgh, Respondent (25 min)


Theological Interpretation of Scripture
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: A602 (Atrium Level) – Marriott

Theme: Trinity in/and the Bible
All papers will be read in their entirety.

Brent Laytham, Saint Mary’s Seminary and University, Presiding
Murray Rae, University of Otago
Biblical Foundations of a Trinitarian Hermeneutic (20 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Mark S. Gignilliat, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University
Wish Fulfillment or Real Presence? The Old Testament’s Trinity (20 min)
Andrea D. Saner, Eastern Mennonite University
Trinitarian Judgments in/and the Book of Exodus (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Break (5 min)
Matthew Bates, Quincy University
Christology of Divine Identity? Septuagintal Dialogues in the New Testament as Trinitarian Critique (20 min)

Wesley Hill, Trinity School for Ministry
Paul and the Narratable Divine Identity (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Discussion (20 min)



Jewish-Christian Dialogue and Sacred Texts
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Grand Ballroom B (Level 2) – Hilton

Theme: A Review of Amy-Jill Levine’s Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi

Adele Reinhartz, Université d’Ottawa – University of Ottawa, Presiding
Adele Reinhartz, Université d’Ottawa – University of Ottawa, Introduction (5 min)
Adam Gregerman, Saint Joseph’s University, Panelist (25 min)
Luke Timothy Johnson, Emory University, Panelist (25 min)
Annette Merz, Protestant Theological University Amsterdam, Panelist (25 min)
David Sandmel, Anti-Defamation League, Panelist (25 min)
Amy-Jill Levine, Vanderbilt University, Respondent (25 min)
Discussion (20 min)



Theological Interpretation of Scripture
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: A704 (Atrium Level) – Marriott

Theme: Bonhoeffer as Theological Interpreter
This session is co-sponsored with the Bonhoeffer: Theology and Social Analysis Group (AAR). Papers will be read in their entirety. This session investigates aspects of Bonhoeffer as a theological interpreter of Christian scripture. Papers explore Bonhoeffer’s own exegetical practice and its application in particular cases, examine the role of exegesis in the construction of Bonhoeffer’s own distinctive theological positions, and consider Bonhoeffer’s understanding of scripture and its consequences for contemporary debates about theological exegesis.

Myk Habets, Carey Baptist College, Presiding (5 min)
R. Walter Moberly, University of Durham
Bonhoeffer’s “Creation and Fall” Revisited (25 min)
Tyler Atkinson, Bethany College (KS)
Bonhoeffer, Qoheleth, and the “Natural Joy of Bodily Life” (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Break (5 min)
Chris Dodson, University of Aberdeen
“The Person Who Receives Blessing . . . Must Also Suffer Much”: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Wilhelm Herrmann, and a Hermeneutic of Suffering (25 min)
Derek W. Taylor, Duke University

Nonreligious and yet Theological: Bonhoeffer’s Interpretation in a World Come of Age (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Discussion (20 min)


Pauline Soteriology
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: A602 (Atrium Level) – Marriott

Theme: Paul, Poverty, and the Powers

Richard Hays, Duke University, Presiding
Bruce W. Longenecker, Baylor University
Malignant Forces, Perpetual Poverty, and the Body of Christ: Theologizing toward an Eschatological Reality (30 min)
Robert Moses, High Point University
Paul, Poverty, and the Powers: The Body of Christ as Response (30 min)
Break (10 min)
A. Grieb, Virginia Theological Seminary, Respondent (15 min)
Luke Bretherton, Duke University, Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (50 min)


Bible and Emotion
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: A706 (Atrium Level) – Marriott

Theme: Toward a Biblical Theology of Joy

Matthew Croasmun, Yale University, Presiding
Gary Anderson, University of Notre Dame, Panelist (25 min)

Samuel Balentine, Union Presbyterian Seminary, Panelist (25 min)
Stephen Barton, University of Durham, Panelist (25 min)
Michal Beth Dinkler, Yale Divinity School, Panelist (25 min)
Miroslav Volf, Yale University, Respondent (25 min)
Discussion (25 min)


GOCN Forum on Missional Hermeneutics
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Marquis A-B (Marquis Level) – Marriott

Theme: Review Panel Discussion of Michael J. Gorman’s book, Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission (Eerdmans, 2015)
As a leading voice among Pauline scholars, Michael J. Gorman has written a number of significant books and articles on Paul’s theology in recent years, including Cruciformity: Paul’s Narrative Theology of the Cross (2001) and Inhabiting the Cruciform God (2009). His most recent contribution, Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission (Eerdmans, 2015), extends and develops some of the themes highlighted initially in earlier works, and places particular emphasis on mission as an interpretive rubric for the Pauline epistles—an outgrowth, in part, of his work with the GOCN Forum on Missional Hermeneutics. In the introduction to Becoming the Gospel, Gorman calls his “affiliation with the Forum” “one of the most important professional developments for me in recent years,” noting that “learning to read Paul missionally—not merely as the quintessential ‘missionary’ but as a formator of missional communities—has been an exhilarating experience” (p. 10). Specifically, Gorman argues that “theosis—Spirit-enabled transformative participation in the life and character of God revealed in the crucified and resurrected Messiah Jesus—is the starting point of mission and is, in fact, its proper theological framework” (p. 4). Please join us for what promises to be a fascinating panel discussion—including responses by a fellow Pauline scholar, a congregational pastor, a missiologist, and a theologian—followed by an open-ended conversation about the missiological dimensions of Paul’s theology as illuminated in Gorman’s work.

Sylvia Keesmaat, Trinity College, University of Toronto, Presiding (5 min)
Michael J. Gorman, Saint Mary’s Seminary and University, Panelist (20 min)
J. Ross Wagner, Duke University, Panelist (15 min)
Eunice McGarrahan, First Presbyterian Church, Colorado Springs, Panelist (15 min)
Break (5 min)
George Hunsberger, Western Theological Seminary, Panelist (15 min)
John Franke, Evangelische Theologische Faculteit, Leuven, Panelist (15 min)
Michael Gorman, Saint Mary’s Seminary and University, Panelist (20 min)
Discussion (40 min)



Paul Within Judaism
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Marquis C (Marquis Level) – Marriott

Theme: For Paul, Do Jews Have to Become Christians to be Saved?

Paula Fredriksen, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Presiding (5 min)
John Marshall, University of Toronto
Deixis and Scope: Reading Romans in Time and Place (25 min)
Mark D. Nanos, University of Kansas – Lawrence
Are Jews Outside of the Covenants if Not Confessing Jesus as Messiah?: Questioning the Questions, the Options for the Answers Too (25 min)

Jason Staples, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Who is Israel? Understanding Paul’s Restoration Eschatological Hopes (25 min)
Larry Hurtado, University of Edinburgh, Respondent (25 min)
Break (5 min)
Discussion (40 min)


Pauline Soteriology
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Marquis A-B (Marquis Level) – Marriott

Theme: Review of John Barclay, Paul and the Gift (Eerdmans 2015)

Alexandra Brown, Washington and Lee University, Presiding
Joel Marcus, Duke University, Panelist (20 min)
Margaret Mitchell, University of Chicago, Panelist (20 min)
Miroslav Volf, Yale University, Panelist (20 min)
Break (10 min)
John Barclay, University of Durham, Respondent (40 min)
Discussion (40 min)


1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: 210 (Level 2) – Hilton

Theme: A Dialogue with Francis Watson’s Gospel Writing: A Canonical Perspective

Joel Willitts, North Park University, Presiding

Mark Goodacre, Duke University
What Does Thomas Have to Do with Q? The Afterlife of a Sayings Gospel (20 min)
Richard A. Burridge, King’s College – London
Ancient Biography, Matthew’s Genre and the Development of the Canonical Collection (20 min)
Jonathan Pennington, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Theological Epistemology in the Gospel according to Matthew: A Watsonian “Canonical Perspective” (20 min)
Jens Schroeter, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin – Humboldt University of Berlin
The Place of Matthew’s Gospel among the (Canonical and Apocryphal) Gospels in the Second Century (20 min)
Break (5 min)
Francis Watson, University of Durham, Respondent (25 min)
Discussion (30 min)


Systematic Transformation and Interweaving of Scripture in 1 Corinthians
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: International 10 (International Level) – Marriott

Theme: Scripture and Eschatology in 1 Corinthians

Erik Waaler, NLA University College, Presiding

Raymond Collins, Brown University, Panelist (15 min)
Matthew Malcolm, Trinity Theological College (Perth), Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (25 min)
Break (2 min)
Ben Witherington, Asbury Theological Seminary, Panelist (15 min)
Roy Ciampa, Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship at the American Bible Society, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (25 min)
Break (2 min)
Craig Keener, Asbury Theological Seminary, Panelist (15 min)
Linda Belleville, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (21 min)


Christian Theology and the Bible
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Hanover E (Exhibit Level) – Hyatt

Theme: Spiritual Interpretation of Scripture
This panel will consider the relationship between spirituality and the Bible. Each panelist will respond briefly to the question, “What are the hallmarks of the spiritual interpretation of Scripture?” There will be time for discussion among the panelists as well as substantial time for Q&A and discussion between the panelists and those attending the session.

Pieter De Villiers, University of the Free State, Presiding (15 min)

Gordon McConville, University of Gloucestershire, Panelist (15 min)
Bo Karen Lee, Princeton Theological Seminary, Panelist (15 min)
Andrew Lincoln, University of Gloucestershire, Panelist (15 min)
Kathryn Greene-McCreight, Panelist (15 min)
Discussion (75 min)


Extent of Theological Diversity in Earliest Christianity
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: M303-M304 (Marquis Level) – Marriott

Theme: Interactive Diversity
A discussion of “Interactive Diversity: A Proposed Model of Christian Origins” by Larry Hurtado (The Journal of Theological Studies, 64 [October 2013]: 445-462). Hurtado critiques the “trajectories” model proposed by J. Robinson and H. Koester and proffers another model which he thinks accounts more adequately for the diversity and complex nature of the interactions evident in early Christian sources.

David Capes, Houston Baptist University, Presiding (5 min)
Larry Hurtado, University of Edinburgh, Introduction (25 min)
Paula Fredriksen, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Respondent (15 min)
Carl Holladay, Emory University, Respondent (15 min)
Pheme Perkins, Boston College, Respondent (15 min)
Larry Hurtado, University of Edinburgh, Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (60 min)


August 5, 2014

I am working my way through the SBL annual meeting program and flagging “Sessions of interest”. Here are my favs for Saturday Nov 22.

Here are my quick-notes: So many attractive things to choose from for the morning. I will probably end up at the Ehrman session because it will just be fun! In the early afternoon, I probably cannot resist the GOCN topic and paper-titles. The early evening “Theological Interp of Script” session also looks very interesting. A good day in all! 


Biblical Lexicography
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Room 11 A (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)

Theme: The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew (1993-2011), edited by David Clines: An Appreciation

Erik Eynikel, Universität Regensburg, Presiding
Jan Joosten, Université de Strasbourg
The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew — A Philological Appraisal (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
John Goldingay, Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena)
Translating Common Words (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Mark Smith, New York University
Questions about Boundaries (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Regine Hunziker-Rodewald, Université de Strasbourg
The Dictionary of Classical Hebrew in the Classroom: Dealing with Patterns of Meaning (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
David J. A. Clines, University of Sheffield and David M. Stec, University of Sheffield
The Future of the Dictionary of Classical Hebrew Project (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)




Extent of Theological Diversity in Earliest Christianity

9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Room 8 (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)

Theme: A panel review of Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (HarperCollins, 2014)

David Capes, Houston Baptist University, Presiding (5 min)
James McGrath, Butler University, Respondent (15 min)
Michael Bird, Ridley Melbourne, Respondent (15 min)
Dale Martin, Yale University, Respondent (15 min)
Craig Evans, Acadia Divinity College, Respondent (15 min)
Larry Hurtado, University of Edinburgh, Respondent (15 min)
Bart Ehrman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Respondent (25 min)
Discussion (45 min)



Institute for Biblical Research
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Room 1 A (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)

Theme: IBR Unscripted
This session of the IBR annual meeting offers Biblical Scholars from throughout the academy the opportunity to present their new and innovative ideas in an engaging forum inspired by the famous TED talks. Scholars will speak without notes and are encouraged to use a variety of media to help the audience interact with their ideas. A generous discussion time will follow each presentation and refreshments will be served. For further information see https://www.ibr-bbr.org

Katie Heffelfinger, Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Presiding
John Walton, Wheaton College (Illinois)
Garden of Eden: Peripheral or Central? (17 min)
Discussion (17 min)
Break (17 min)
Ryan O’Dowd, Chesterton House, Cornell University
Holy Writ or English Lit? (17 min)
Discussion (17 min)
Break (7 min)
Scott Hafemann, University of St. Andrews
The Unity of the Bible? Really? (17 min)
Discussion (17 min)
Break (17 min)
Break (7 min)



Pauline Epistles
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: 410 B (Level 4 (Sapphire)) – Hilton Bayfront (HB)

Theme: Paul’s Judaism

Matthew Novenson, University of Edinburgh
Did Paul Conceive of Such a Thing as Judaism? (25 min)
Matthew Thiessen, Saint Louis University
Christ, the Seed of Abraham (25 min)
William Sanger Campbell, The College of St. Scholastica
Paul’s Judaism and the Jesus Movement (25 min)
Tyler A. Stewart, Marquette University
Fallen Angels, Bastard Spirits, and the Birth of God’s Son: An Enochic Etiology of Evil in Galatians 3:19–4:11 (25 min)

James Ware, University of Evansville
The Coherence of Paul’s Theology of the Law in Romans 2-3: A New Proposal (25 min)


GOCN Forum on Missional Hermeneutics
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: 411 B (Level 4 (Sapphire)) – Hilton Bayfront (HB)

Theme: “Thinking Missionally about God, Scripture, and Missional Vocation” – Session 1

Stina Busman, Bethel University, Presiding
Derek W. Taylor, Duke University
Is Israel a Missionary Failure?: Isaiah’s Servant of Yahweh and a New Telling of the Missio Dei (20 min)
James C. Miller, Asbury Theological Seminary
Suffering as a Component of the Mission of God (20 min)
Kelly Liebengood, LeTourneau University
Participating in the Life of the Triune God: Reconsidering the Trinitarian Foundation of 1 Peter’s Missional Identity (20 min)
Break (5 min)
Darrell Guder, Princeton Theological Seminary, Respondent (20 min)
George Hunsberger, Western Theological Seminary, Respondent (20 min)
Discussion (40 min)



Jewish Christianity / Christian Judaism
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Room 17 B (Mezzanine level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)

Theme: The Aramaic Base of Earliest Christianity

Daniel Boyarin, University of California-Berkeley, Presiding (5 min)
Bruce Chilton, Bard College
The Platform of Mark’s Gospel, Its Aramaic Sources and Mark’s Achievement (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Jan Joosten, Université de Strasbourg
Syriac Evidence for Primitive Aramaic Gospel Terminology (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Break (5 min)
F. Stanley Jones, California State University – Long Beach
From Jesus to Lord and Other Contributions of the Early Aramaic-Speaking Congregation in Jerusalem (25 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Discussion (15 min)
Break (5 min)
Business Meeting (15 min)


Second Corinthians: Pauline Theology in the Making
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: 400 A (Level 4 (Sapphire)) – Hilton Bayfront (HB)

Theme: 2 Corinthians 8-9

Steven Kraftchick, Emory University, Presiding
Calvin J. Roetzel, Macalester College
Explorations in the Pluri-significance of the Offering in 2 Cor 8 and Related Texts (25 min)
Thomas A. Vollmer, Cincinnati Christian University and Emmanuel Nathan, Australian Catholic University
Beyond Expectation (2 Cor 8:5): The Macedonians’ Generosity in Light of Paul’s Rhetorical Strategy (25 min)
Paul B. Duff, George Washington University
2 Corinthians 9: The Earliest of the Letters Contained in Canonical 2 Corinthians? (25 min)
Reimund Bieringer, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
The dikaiosynê of God and the dikaiosynê of the Corinthians (2 Cor 9:9-10) (25 min)
Edith Humphrey, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (35 min)


Theological Interpretation of Scripture
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room 8 (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)

Theme: The Prophetic Voice
The voices of prophets are heard throughout Scripture. Presenters in this session will address some aspect of the prophetic voice(s) in the two Testaments of the Christian Bible and its significance for contemporary interpretation.

Jeannine Brown, Bethel Seminary (San Diego, CA), Presiding
Walter Brueggemann, Columbia Theological Seminary
Silence Broken from “Elsewhere” (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Luke Timothy Johnson, Emory University
The Prophetic Witness of James (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Break (5 min)
Ellen F. Davis, The Divinity School, Duke University
Prophecy in Interfaith Context: Christianity and Islam (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Katho Bungishabaku , Shalom University of Bunia (DR Congo)
Hearing Jeremiah in African Context: An Intercultural Interpretation (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Discussion (25 min)

September 16, 2013

We are now up to part 3 of our review series on the book Four Views on the Role of Works At the Final Judgment (Zondervan, 2013).

First up was Robert Wilkin. The second contributor is Thomas R. Schreiner (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)

Schreiner’s chapter title, which captures his overall view, is: “Justification apart from and by works: at the final judgment works will confirm justification.”

Given the vast area the topic covers in the NT, Schreiner limits himself to James and Paul (which is unfortunate, since Wilkin gave a heavy focus on the Gospels). Schreiner begins by articulating his own (traditional) understanding of justification by faith:

Human being cannot be justified or saved on the basis of their works, for they are sinners and fail to meet God’s standard. They need to be rescued, redeemed, and reconciled. They need to be justified and saved. They need to be cleansed and washed to be adopted into God’s family. Justification must be apart from works, for human beings do not and cannot do what God demands. Hence, their righteousness is not in themselves but in Jesus Christ their Lord (p. 78)

He goes on to engage with Romans 2 and the language of judgment. Long story short, Schreiner concludes: “Paul teaches here that works play a role in the final judgment. They are necessary for final salvation” (81). He emphasizes how they demonstrate the power and work of God: “Good works are energized and accomplished by the Holy Spirit, being rooted in the cross-work of Jesus Christ by which believers have been freed form the old creation and have been inducted into the new creation” (83). It really cannot be said better than this: “The grace received in conversion is not an abstraction separated from everyday life and behavior. God saves the whole person so that those who have received his grace are transformed by that grace” (85).

Schreiner devotes some attention to warning passages in Paul-  especially those where he lays out the kind of people that will not inherit God’s kingdom: “those who give themselves over to evil and fail to repent of their sin will not be members of the kingdom” (p. 85).

When it comes to James, Schreiner, again, gives a very cogent interpretation. He urges that James’ focus is not incompatible with Paul, and that James rails against a kind of superficial faith that is not internalized – “What James rejects is a faith that is devoid of works” (91). What actually united James and Paul is their mutual assumption that “faith” and “works” are deeply connected: “Faith and works can be distinguished logically, but in life they are inseparable” (91).

So what about final judgment? Schreiner is blunt: Paul and James affirm “both truths [justification by faith, and judgment by works] without explaining to us precisely how they cohere! Hence, the debate!” (96), In light of this, Schreiner must proceed in view of “clues and hints.” Here is his theory.

It seems legitimate to say that works are necessary evidence and fruit of a right relation with God. They demonstrate, although imperfectly, that one is truly trusting in Jesus Christ (p. 97).

And, again,

We can even say that salvation and justification are through faith alone, but such faith is living and vital and always produces works. (98)

Here are the responses from the other contributors:

Wilkin: Wilkin does not like the tension that Schreiner allows.

Dunn: Dunn actually finds much agreement with Schreiner – he even refers to his essay as “a breath of fresh air” (105)! Dunn pushes in the opposite direction as Wilkin, though –why try so hard to resolve the tension?

The fact that Paul never actually addressed the question of how to hold the two emphases together in so many words at least leaves open the question that he didn’t find it necessary to do so, and was content to bring out the different emphases in different situations as the situation demands (Dunn, 106).

I think perhaps Dunn is being too hard on Schreiner (who among us does not press for coherence?), but I really like the way Dunn puts his finger on a bad habit of scholars. Regarding Schreiner’s “neat” solution, Dunn  says it has

…the smack of the teacher who has retired into his study to reflect on the conundrum and has thus come up with a solution. (p. 109).

Dunn is saying, if we are quick to “resolve” the tension, will that make it go away? Perhaps we should not sweep the tension under the carpet too quickly…

Barber: I thought Barber’s response was quite helpful and it makes me look forward to his essay. In the short response, he explains the traditional Catholic view. In that perspective, judgment can and should happen for believers because of what God has done in justification – “God transcends the constraints of human juridical authority not by violating justice, but because he actually makes the wicked righteous” (113). This happens through union with the Son, Jesus Christ (Barber tips his hat to Mike Gorman’s work on justification, theosis, and union with Christ in Paul). What really made this persuasive for me was that Barber wrapped it all within a covenantal framework, where one is adopted and transformed through Christ. Christians can (and should) be judged because “Sonship entails growth” (117).

Gupta (my 2 cents): I found Schreiner’s essay very articulate and well-reasoned. I thought he captured the reality of justification and the complexity of judgment quite well. The major downside of his essay, I think, is that he spent so much time setting the stage, so to speak, for the tension and his solution, that he gave only brief attention to his perspective on the matter at hand.

There were a couple of other issues. First, he seems so tentative in his theory (judgment is about evidence-only of faith) that one has a hard time being convinced of it. Secondly, I agreed strongly with Barber’s suggestion that much tension can be dealt with when we place the divine-human relationship into a covenantal context where benevolence/good-will and demand/judgment are quite normal.

Finally, I was a bit confused by what appears to be a convoluted argument in his essay – on the one hand Schreiner affirmed that judgment must judge the commitment of faith one has placed in Christ. For example, he writes, “those who give themselves over to evil and fail to repent of their sin will not be members of the kingdom” (p. 85). However, in a footnote later on, he makes this statement: “I don’t believe genuine believers will ever apostatize, but space is lacking to explain why here” (pg. 93, note 33).

If believers will not apostatize, is final judgment for believers really a judgment? If a negative judgment is impossible because no one will be in that category, how is it judgment at all? Will it only be a judgment of whether or not someone was a “genuine Christian”? Is that really judgment “according to works”? How does God decide who is genuine? I found that comment and caveat serious setback to his argument.

Last thing I will say – Schreiner is careful to say that judgment is not on the basis of works, but just according to works. I am not sure I make that distinction in English. If someone said, “According to Dr. Smith, there will be an exam on Friday,” I would hear, “Based on the word of Dr. Smith, there will be an exam on Friday.” I just don’t think kata is that narrow in meaning. BDAG, for example, has one meaning of kata as: “the norm according to which a judgment is rendered .” If this is the correct nuance in Rom 2:6, for example, that means believers are judged “according to the standard” of works – presumably a certain expectation regarding works (quality?). I cannot see that as far from “basis.”

What do you think of Schreiner’s argument?

September 4, 2013

The Oct 2013 NTS issue is now online.

I would like to point out that there are a number of Durham connections in this issue: Bond, Goodrich, Frayer-Griggs, and Linebaugh are all grads – yay!

“Dating the Death of Jesus: Memory and the Religious Imagination” (Helen K Bond)

“Sold under Sin: Echoes of Exile in Romans 7.14-25” (John K Goodrich)

“The (In)frequency of the Name ‘Erastus’ in Antiquity: A Literary, Papyrological, and Epigraphical Catalog,” (Timothy A Brookins)

“Neither Proof Text nor Proverb: The Instrumental Sense of dia and the Soteriological Function of Fire in 1 Corinthians 3.15″ (Daniel Frayer-Griggs)

“The Christo-Centrism of Faith in Christ: Martin Luther’s Reading of Galatians 2.16, 19-20” (Jonathan A. Linebaugh)

“Hapax legomena: Definition eines terminus technicus und Signifikanz für eine pragmatisch orientierte Sprachanalyse” (Thomas J. Kraus)

“The Place of the Gospel of Philip in the Context of Early Christian Claims about Jesus’ Marital Status” (Karen L. King)

“Papyrus 32 (Titus) as a Multi-text Codex: A New Reconstruction” (Emily Gathergood)

July 28, 2013

What looks to be another enticing set of article in JSNT.
John Anthony Dunne “Suffering in Vain: A Study of the Interpretation of ΠΑΣΧΩ in Galatians 3.4”
Allan T. Georgia “Translating the Triumph: Reading Mark’s Crucifixion Narrative against a Roman Ritual of Power”
Wendy E.S. North “‘Lord, if you had been here …’ (John 11.21): The Absence of Jesus and Strategies of Consolation in the Fourth Gospel”
Walter T. Wilson “The Uninvited Healer: Houses, Healing and Prophets in Matthew 8.1-22”

Thomas Schmeller “No Bridge over Troubled Water? The Gap between 2 Corinthians 1–9 and 10–13 Revisited”
Craig R. Koester “Rethinking the Ethics of John: A Review Article”

October 25, 2012

I would be surprised if the name Stephen Fowl was unfamiliar to you. He is a highly esteemed New Testament scholar, a pioneer in the area of theological interpretation of Scripture, and an all-around nice guy. A few years ago, when I was working on some research on Philippians, I sat down to have lunch with Fowl at SBL and he struck me as such a humble, warm person.

Also, his Philippians commentary (Two Horizons) is one of the best theological commentaries on a Pauline letter in existence. It is exquisitely focused on Paul’s dynamic theology and Fowl manages to sidestep pointless discussion of minutia that plagues many dull commentaries.
Well, I was very excited to work through Fowl’s latest commentary, this time on Ephesians – for the WJK “New Testament Library” series (2012). I enjoyed reading this commentary very much, especially because I am completing my own commentary on Colossians which obviously has a lot in common with Ephesians. Fowl is what I like to call a “no-nonsense” commentator. He refuses to speculate about backgrounds, connections, allusions, etc… He simply wants to understand the literary and theological flow of the text. He also desires to think about the theological implications of the text. That is commendable.
I was a bit surprised at the brevity of the commentary. I am sure he was given some flexibility in this regard. Note that Cousar’s work on Philippians in this series is 120 pages (for 4 chapters of Philippians). Sumney’s volume on Colossians is a much larger 344 pages. Fowl has written about 250 pages, which (because Ephesians is 2 chapters longer than either Philippians or Colossians) would put it closer to Cousar’s level of discussion and interaction. This was a bit disappointing for me. I had very high expectations for Fowl “bringing the theological heat,” which takes space. There are a good many commentaries on Ephesians out there. Fowl himself relied much and dialogued often with Lincoln, Best, Hoehner, and Aquinas. There were few times, though, when I felt that he offered anything particularly new to the discussion. Certainly he did offer occasional fresh insights, and I will highlight them below, but I had slightly higher hopes.

Again, let me say, there is no deficiency in the commentary. He treats all the expected subjects with wisdom and eloquence. I just did not feel he made the kind of contribution to scholarship with this commentary on Ephesians that he did on Philippians.
In 30 pp., Fowl’s introduction is succinct. He discusses the outline and flow of Ephesians, the potential aid of consulting Acts, authorship matters, and the recipients and occasion. I hoped for a preview of key themes, but that was not crucial.
On authorship, you might not be surprised to learn that Fowl does not find this a very critical matter: “Given the ends for which Christians engage Scripture theologically, the issue of authorship is not particularly relevant. Ephesians plays the role it does in the life and worship of Christian because it is part of the canon, not because it is written by Paul or not written by Paul. The text is canonical, Paul is not” (9).
Now, that does not mean that Fowl throws out any interest in the author’s rhetorical concerns. He (helpfully) distinguished between a texts “communicative intention” and an author’s “motives.” He believes the text will divulge the former, but the latter is inaccessible to readers.

Still, I am not convinced that Christians, members of the church, are not interested in who wrote the text and why. Fowl (and others) appeal to patristic writers and how they were not so concerned with the authority of the author, but rather the text’s own voice. I think that there is definitely evidence for both. Also, I just don’t think we can say that Paul himself wasn’t canonized. Insofar as his own words and writings were canonized, this inscribes a part of Paul – after all, it came from his mind. You can’t get around the fact that commentators (from the early church to the present) regularly try to think Paul’s thoughts with him. He is not a talking head. He is a man who lived at one time in one place who wrote these words once to one (or a few) communities. While the church came to find his words relevant and applicable to all, that does not de-Paul[ize] these texts.
Look at Chrysostom. He is always thinking (with regard to Colossians), for example, how unique this letter is and how passionate it is because Paul is in chains. If Chrysostom came to learn that it wasn’t the imprisoned Paul, after all, who wrote this but someone later on who was not in prison, Chrysostom would not just shrug his shoulders and say, “oh well.” He would be irate! His whole approach to Colossians would collapse. [Sit down and read his commentary on Colossians and you will see what I mean] Now, Fowl is right that there are a good many texts where we do not know who the author was (especially in the OT). True. But that does not mean we cannot work from the author when we DO have that author. Again, read patristic commentaries (especially of the Antiochene exegetical tradition). When they know who the (purported) author was- they run with it!
At the end of the day, Fowl does not ignore the question of authorship. He explores it with a good amount of critical interest, but simply concludes: “I genuinely do not know whether or not Paul wrote Ephesians” (28). He is open to Pauline authorship, but a firm answer is beyond confirmation. Both sides of the debate make compelling arguments. For simplicity, he refers to the author as Paul and the recipients as Ephesians (28). I think this is much more sensible that those scholars who hold to Ephesians being pseudonymous and then reading into the text all kinds of fanciful motives and theological concerns “in the name of Paul.”
I missed, in the introduction, any dialogue with Arnold and others on the subject of magic. He treats Ephesians as more of a broader explication of his theology. Ephesians is occasional, but we don’t know what kind of specific occasion prompted it, argues Fowl. Rather, he ties the themes of Ephesians to life in our own world.

Despite our desire to know more, we have little to go on when it comes to understanding what specific occasion might have led Paul to write Ephesians. At the same time, one can imagine that, in a world deeply interested in spiritual things and in a religiously pluralistic environment, Christians might have been tempted to supplemenet their faith in Christ in ways that would lead someone such as Paul to assert that God’s plan is to bring all things to their proper end in Christ, who is both source and locus of all spiritual fullness. (30)

Commentary Notes
1:1-2 – when it comes to the superscription “to the Ephesians,” many  of you know the manuscript evidence is unclear as to whether this is original to the letter or not. However, I was fascinated by Fowl’s note of Tertullian’s comment. “Of what consequence are the titles, since in writing to a certain church the apostle did in fact write to all?” (See Marc. 5.17). Recently, Ken Bailey made the (cogent) argument that while Paul wrote 1 Corinthians, for example, as an occasional letter to respond to various problems in Corinth, he wrote it in such a way as to make it relevant theologically to other churches.
1:3 “Although the ‘heavenly realms’ have yet to be fully subjected to Christ’s rule, it appears that this is ‘the place’ where matters of the utmost significance happen. The one in control of the heavenly places is the one ultimately exercises dominion over the earth” (p. 38).
1:15-16 “On the one hand it seems right to say that Paul does not presume a doctrine of the Trinity here. On the other hand, Paul’s language here and elsewhere strikingly places Christ and the Spirit within the identity of the one God of Israel without any qualms and without any clear way of resolving the tension such language places on the singularity of Israel’s God. Rather than think of later Trinitarian doctrine as the imposition of an alien and rigid Greek metaphysical system on the biblical text, Christians should understand that later Trinitarian doctrine can be seen as providing a scripturally regulated way of ordering and resolving the tensions that the language of Scripture generates but does not directly resolve.” (57)
2:14-18 Fowl acknowledges that scholars have expended much energy trying to figure out what this “Wall of Hostility” refers to – is it the temple or the Torah? Fowl thinks it is too much to find a metaphorical source. He reads it as a simple metaphor. It is interesting, though, that part of the rejection of the temple metaphor is about historical plausibility.

It seems unlikely, however, that Ephesian Gentile Christians would have known this wall, especially if the epistle is written after 70CE” (90).

However, I got the impression in his introduction that historical-contextual matters are not determinable and perhaps even unnecessary. Here, though, he seems quite confident in reconstructing the education and background of the original readers (in Ephesus, nonetheless!). The point I am trying to make is that when scholars make a case that determining the original author and context doesn’t matter, they often can’t help but make assumptions and default to assumptions about historical context.
3:12 – Fowl refuses to take a position on the ever-thorny issue of pistis Christou.

In the case of Eph 3:12, very little hangs on making a sharp distinction between these two options. Both are possible, both fit the larger context, both convey theological truth, and both can be understood here.” (113)

In many ways, I agree with Fowl. Neither side of the debate seems totally wrong or totally right. Why, oh why, did you make this so confusing, Paul (and/or someone else writing just like Paul with the same ambiguities)!!! At the end of the day, I don’t think it can be both at the same time, but I do think it may be insoluble.
4:11 On the “gifts” that Christ gives, Fowl argues very persuasively that Paul was not saying that Christ gave gifts to individuals of certain offices. Rather, he gave apostle (and evangelists and pastors and teachers) to the church as gifts. The recipients of the “gifts” are not the individuals endowed with an office-gifts. The receiver is the church.

In Ephesians the emphasis is not on the individuals or groups who receive “apostleship” as gift. Rather, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers are themselves the gifts given by the ascended Christ through the Spirit. (140)

6:10-20 When it comes to the “whole armor of God,” Fowl argues that the armor is not one of the military attacker, but the defender. Christians are not supposed to lunge and conquer, but they are to be strong in their stance and defense. Thus, Fowl does not buy into arguments that Paul is tapping into “Divine Warrior” motifs.
What about the “sword of the Spirit” – the one weapon this warrior wields? Fowl explains that “it is a weapon for fighting at close quarters; in such a context, it would be difficult or impossible to distinguish the aggressor from the defendant” (208). Fowl is right that it means something more like a dagger (though see Josephus Vita 1.293). However, it was used as an offensive weapon as much as a defensive weapon (see Syb.Or. 3.689). I think Fowl’s wider concern is to make sure Paul is not represented as a military revolutionist, encouraging Christians to be aggressors. However, it is still easy to get this impression from Jesus’ own idea of the church storming the gates of Hades (Matt 16:18). That does not promote physical violence, but Paul himself does depict believers as soldiers who are in hot pursuit, leading the charge against the enemy (2 Cor 10) – it is just that Christians do not use weapons of flesh, but the spiritual tools of the Gospel. Similarly, in the Revelation, the witnesses take up war, but in self-sacrifice and in service of the slain lamb (Rev 7:14).

Again, this is a solid reading of Ephesians overall from a master-exegete. I only wish it were more detailed and thorough! One will see many similarities and much agreement with Best and Lincoln. I particularly like Fowl’s regular attention to Thomas Aquinas. I don’t often think to turn to Aquinas, so this is a fresh perspective. Fowl is also very interested in the theme of unity as it is generated by Ephesians and has an important word for the Church today. It is not that debate and dialogue should be swept under the carpet. Rather, Fowl argues, unity should be seen in and through dialogue and debate, not as an alternative.

June 16, 2012

A few years ago, when Richard Hays was in Durham (UK) for a special lecture, he told a group of us that he is knee-deep in a Gospels book and has basically turned down further offers to talk about Paul – he has spent decades studying Paul (to all of our benefit!) and is excited about researching the use of Scripture in the Gospels.
Well, I was also pleased to see the soon-coming release (July 2012) of a book he has edited on another non-Pauline text: Revelation and the Politics of Apocalyptic Interpretation (Baylor Press; edited with Stefan Alkier). Don’t forget to wipe the drool off of your face as you read this table of contents:

1  What Has the Spirit Been Saying? Theological and Hermeneutical Reflections on the Reception/Impact History of the Book of Revelation
Michael J. Gorman
2  Models for Intertextual Interpretation of Revelation
Steve Moyise
3  The Reception of Daniel 7 in the Revelation of John
Thomas Hieke
4  Faithful Witness, Alpha and Omega: The Identity of Jesus in the Apocalypse of John
Richard B. Hays
5  God, Israel, and Ecclesia in the Apocalypse
Joseph L. Mangina
6  Revelation and Christian Hope: Political Implications of the Revelation to John
N. T. Wright
7  Witness or Warrior? How the Book of Revelation Can Help Christians Live Their Political Lives
Stefan Alkier
8  The Apocalypse in the Framework of the Canon
Tobias Nicklas
9  Reading What Is Written in the Book of Life: Theological Interpretation of the Book of Revelation Today
Marianne Meye Thompson
I WANT THIS BOOK! Where did I put that SBL wishlist…?

May 6, 2012

link to Tyndale website.

The Definition of the Term ‘Canon’: Exclusive Or Multi-Dimensional?
Michael J. Kruger (Reformed Theological Seminary)
There has been an ongoing debate amongst biblical scholars about how to define the term ‘canon’. In recent years, one particular definition­that canon can only be used to refer to books in a fixed, final, closed list­has emerged as the dominant one. Moreover, some scholars have argued that this is the only legitimate definition that can be used. This essay suggests that a single definition fails to capture the depth and breadth of canon and may end up bringing more distortion than clarification. Instead, the complexities of canon are best captured through using multiple definitions in a complementary and integrative manner.

Heptadic Verbal Patterns in the Solomon Narrative of 1 Kings 1–11
John A.Davies  (Presbyterian Theological Centre, Sydney)
The narrative in 1 Kings 1–11 makes use of the literary device of sevenfold lists of items and sevenfold recurrences of Hebrew words and phrases. These heptadic patterns may contribute to the cohesion and sense of completeness of both the constituent pericopes and the narrative as a whole, enhancing the readerly experience. They may also serve to reinforce the creational symbolism of the Solomon narrative and in particular that of the description of the temple and its dedication.
‘Certainly this Man was Righteous’: Highlighting a Messianic Reading of the Centurion’s Confession in Luke 23:47
Matthew C. Easter (University of Otago)
This essay expands on common readings of the centurion’s confession of Jesus as dikaios (‘righteous’, ‘innocent’) in Luke 23:47. Many interpreters take the centurion’s words in Luke as his recognition of Jesus’ political innocence. While not denying a Lukan insistence on Jesus’ innocence, this essay argues for a fuller reading of the centurion’s words that accounts for the christological potential in his calling Jesus dikaios. Whether historically-speaking he knew it or not, this centurion in Luke’s narrative world stands as one of the first people to recognise the crucified Jesus as the Christ.

The Manumission of Slaves in Jubilee and Sabbath Years
Michael A. Harbin (Taylor University, Upland IN)
p. 53
Debt in the Old Testament economy was problematic, and our understanding of it is even more problematic, especially with respect to debt slavery. It is suggested that several common misunderstandings have contributed greatly to the problem. First, the Hebrew word ‘ebedcan be translated servant or slave and in the latter case it can denote both debt slave and chattel slave. In many cases there is a failure to make these distinctions. Second, there is a tendency to categorise all debt the same, regardless of the size. Third, a misunderstanding of the purpose of the jubilee has led to confusion regarding its role with respect to slavery and the manumission of slaves. Specifically, while the sabbath year guidelines included debt slavery, the jubilee by its nature did not involve slavery at all. Because the land ‘sale’ was really a land-lease, there was no debt involved, and the Israelite who ‘sold’ his land was not enslaved. It is then suggested that one option for the Israelite who ‘bought’ the land was to employ the ‘seller’ to work the land as a hired hand, which would explain the admonition that he was not be viewed as a slave.

Pistis Christou in Galatians: The Connection to Habakkuk 2:4
Debbie Hunn (Dallas Theological Seminary)
p. 75
The coherence of Paul’s argument in Galatians 2:15–3:14 depends upon strong links among the phrases. Therefore the reader who understands a single use of in the passage can correctly infer basic aspects of the others. Therefore ek pistews in Habakkuk 2:4, because it is cited in Galatians 3:11, informs the discussion about pistis Christou in Galatians 2:16, 20; and an Old Testament prophet speaks in a present-day controversy. Habakkuk, by using ek pistews to refer to the faith of Gentiles, testifies that pistis Christou in Galatians refers to human faith as well.
Early Christian Eschatological Experience in the Warnings and Exhortations of the Epistle to the Hebrews
Scott D. Mackie (Venice, CA) or (Venice, Calif.)
p. 93
This essay examines the characteristics and rhetorical function of the many eschatological experiences found in Hebrews’ warnings against apostasy and exhortations to persevere. In these two contexts we see the vital connection of the author’s hortatory effort to the community’s eschatological experiences. Warnings of the dire consequences of forsaking the community are often substantiated by appeals to the community’s eschatological experiences, both past and present. Similarly, exhortations to persevere are frequently supported by reminders of past and present supernatural experiences. The primary experiential motif found in these exhortations pertains to the community’s identity as the family of God. This essay concludes with the novel claim that the author’s Christological doctrine, hortatory effort, and the community’s eschatological experiences are mutually interdependent.

The Affective Directives of the Book of Revelation
Andy Harker (Nairobi, Kenya)
p. 115
In contemporary study of the Johannine Apocalypse both at the academic and popular levels there continues to be a strong bias towards questions of hermeneutics and semantics. This is true despite the calls of many commentators and pastors over the last two millennia to receive the prophecy as pictures to move the heart rather than puzzles to tease the mind. This paper adds volume and clarity to their call. The approach here is an emic one­How does the text itself invite the recipient to engage with its words? Picking up on J.-P. Ruiz’s suggestion that Revelation is punctuated by ‘hermeneutical imperatives’ (sc. Rev. 1:3; 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9-10, 18; 17:9; 22:7, 18-19), this article argues that these texts are just as much, if not more, ‘affective imperatives’ or better ‘affective directives’. Thus to read the book in line with its own explicit directions is much more a matter of being moved at the level of the heart and will than of solving a hermeneutical conundrum.
Back Under Authority: Towards an Evangelical Postcolonial Hermeneutic

Peter H. W. Lau (Seminari Theoloji Malaysia)
p. 131
A postcolonial approach is gaining acceptance by many scholars as a fruitful way of interpreting the Bible. Yet a postcolonial approach raises issues for those who hold a ‘high’ view of Scripture. Five issues will be demonstrated through an analysis of Mary Donaldson’s reading of the book of Ruth, with the outcome being that the authority of Scripture is decentred. Nonetheless, a postcolonial approach can still be usefully adapted by those with a ‘high’ view of Scripture. This article will present an alternative postcolonial reading of the book of Ruth that uses biblical theology to help maintain the central authority of the biblical text.
Dissertation Summaries:
Affirming the Resurrection of the Incarnate Christ: A Reading of 1 John
Matthew D. Jensen (Sydney, Australia)
p. 145
It is often claimed that 1 John contains no references to Jesus’  resurrection. However, for this claim to hold, a possible allusion to the resurrection in the opening verse of 1 John needs to be denied. There are three reasons given to discard this allusion. First, under the influence of the historical reconstructions that dominate the interpretation of 1 John, the opening verses of 1 John are often understood to affirm the incarnation and not the resurrection. Second, the allusion to the resurrection is rejected because of the similarity between the prologues of the Gospel of John and 1 John. Since John 1:1-18 affirms the incarnation, so too must 1 John 1:1-4. Third, the allusion to the resurrection is dismissed due to the apparent lack of other references to the resurrection in 1 John. The thesis proposes that 1 John affirms the resurrection of the incarnate Christ in the context of an intra-Jewish disagreement over Jesus’ identity. The thesis presents a reading of 1 John that flows from understanding the opening verses of the book to be affirming the resurrection of the incarnate Christ.

An Exploration of Early Christian Communities as ‘Scholastic Communities’
Claire Smith (Sydney, Australia).
p. 149
In 1960, Edwin Judge described the early Christian communities as ‘scholastic communities’. Since then, he has continued to explore this aspect of early Christian communities. However, while his pioneering work in this field has become a standard point of departure for the socio-historical study of the early Christian movement, his ‘scholastic communities’ description has received scant attention. By contrast, scholarship on the formation and social character of early Christian communities is dominated by the search for antecedents, influences, and analogies or models from antiquity, none of which adequately accounts for the Christian communities, or recognises the priority of educational activities reflected in Judge’s characterisation. Moreover, the approach of these studies is problematic, because without a prior description of early Christian communities on their own terms, comparative approaches risk overlooking, distorting or misunder­standing aspects of early Christian communities that are not repeated in other social phenomena.

Lexical Dependence and Intertextual Allusion in the Septuagint of the Twelve Prophets: Studies in Hosea, Amos and Micah
Myrto Theocharous (Greek Bible College, Athens)
p. 153
As the Septuagint is becoming increasingly important in studies of Second Temple Judaism, the interest of scholars is shifting away from the mere use of the version as an adjunct to the textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible. The process of sifting secondary readings in order to arrive at the ‘pure’ form of the Hebrew text has been the main preoccupation of textual critics for centuries. LXX readings were commonly retroverted into Hebrew in order to offer more pristine readings than have survived in the MT. Other ways of explaining deviations (e.g. translational factors, influence of late Hebrew/ Aramaic) were generally neglected and a different Hebrew Vorlagebehind the LXX was commonly assumed.
Text, Context and the Johannine Community: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of the Johannine Writings
David A. Lamb (University of Manchester)
p. 157
This thesis examines the social context of the Johannine writings from the perspective of sociolinguistic theory of register. In particular, it considers the validity of the Johannine Community model. The idea of a distinct Johannine community lying behind the production of the Gospel and Epistles of John has become, to use Thomas Kuhn’s terminology, a paradigm within Johannine scholarship over the past fifty years. The key works in establishing this paradigm were the two large Anchor Bible commentaries on the gospel published by Raymond Brown in 1966 and 1970, and the slim volume published by J. Louis Martyn in 1968, History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel. Other scholars, from Wayne Meeks and his 1972 essay ‘The Man from Heaven in Johannine Sectarianism’ onwards, have used sociological insights to depict the Johannine community as a sectarian group, opposed both to wider Jewish society and to other Christian groups.

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