Thanks to Nijay Gupta for notifying us of the release, or near release, of two volumes in the prestigious International Critical Commentary series: Dale Allison on the epistle of James (just released), and Karl Donfried on 1 & 2 Thessalonians (to-be released in October). Nijay notes that the Amazon (USA) prices are rather steep. I checked; Amazon offers 14% off Allison and 10% off Donfried. For the bargain shopper, BookDepository.com is selling each for a bit more of a reduction–19% off Allison and 25% off Donfried, with free shipping worldwide. Allison is available for even cheaper through private vendors on Amazon and other sites.
Saturday, 11 May 2013
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Saturday, 30 March 2013
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There’s a conference in Edinburgh this summer that you might be interested in:
Peter in Earliest Christianity
July 4-6, 2013
Speakers include: Timothy Barnes, Markus Bockmuehl, Sean Freyne, Larry Hurtado, Peter Lampe, Tobias Nicklas, Margaret Williams
Topics include: The Historical Peter, Peter in Galilean and Roman Archaeology, Peter in the First Three Centuries
Sounds like a good mix of NT, Greco-Roman, and Patristic scholarship. Those of you headed to St. Andrews for ISBL (July 7-11) should come to Edinburgh for this event first.
Monday, 28 January 2013
As avid fans of the television series “Friends,” my wife and I try to incorporate clips of the show into our teaching as often as possible (science for her, Bible for me). In class today, I illustrated the Antioch Incident in Galatians 2:11-14 through the following clip (season 4, episode 11):
Wednesday, 23 January 2013
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Saturday, 22 December 2012
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So, I’m hoping for an NA28 for Christmas. Nevertheless, in a recent research seminar here in Cardiff, I was interested by a comment from Hugh Houghton of the University of Birmingham who said, ‘Don’t worry if you don’t get an NA28, the NA29 is just round the corner.’ Admittedly, when quizzed afterwards, ’round the corner’ probably means a couple of years, but still.
From the proposed timeline he showed us, there may be quite a number of new editions over the next decade or so as the Editio Critica Maior approaches completion. Although this will lead to lots of blue volumes on the shelf, I don’t see this as a bad thing (apart from financially). Quite apart from increasingly reliable and useful text and notes, I hope this plurality of editions will move us away from seeing NAxx as a definitive and fixed text. It was fascinating, now that I’m in a primarily Religious Studies department, to hear scholars of other religious traditions arguing that the quest for a single text (albeit eclectic and with apparatus), seemed to them to be unhelpful, and ideologically driven. They considered it far more intellectually useful to work with actual texts, along with their variants. Happily, this is the way that things seem to be going with the advent of excellent online resources (e.g. Codex Alexandrinus has gone online this week). Nevertheless, such an approach is generally not practical for much work in NT studies, and NAxx is still a very useful tool. But I take the general point and want to avoid the ‘laziness’ that reverence for the ‘default’ text can bring. So here’s my suggestion for future editions: how about putting the apparatus at the top (i.e. making actual MSS the main feature) and the text at the bottom?
Having said this all this, Santa, I hope I’ve been a good boy this year.
Thursday, 20 December 2012
Baker Academic kindly provided me with a copy of Greg Beale’s recent Handbook of the New Testament Use of the Old Testament: Exegesis and Interpretation. Beale is well-known for his studies of how the OT is used in the NT. This book provides the method behind the Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament which he edited with D.A. Carson (see also his A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New). Consistent with the title, the book functions more as a primer to the issues than a technical assessment.
Chapter 1 addresses several current debates about the use of the OT in the NT. Beale does not present full argumentation for his views, but rather introduces a topic and then states his position. He is particularly concerned to demonstrate that the NT authors read the OT within its context (which eventually is clarified to be the literary context). He also spends some time discussing ‘typology’.
Chapter 2 deals with how to identify quotations and allusions. Beale notes briefly Richard Hay’s method of identifying allusions and the critiques offered by Stanley Porter. In the second half of the chapter Beale highlights key sources to help with identifying allusions (e.g., NA27, commentaries).
Chapter 3 ‘is the core of the book’ (p.41). Beale presents nine steps for assessing how the OT is used in the NT (pp.42–43) which are then explained in the chapter:
- Identify the OT reference. Is it a quotation or allusion? If it is an allusion, then there must be validation that it is an allusion, judging by the criteria discussed in the preceding chapter.
- Analyze the broad NT context where the OT reference occurs.
- Analyse the OT context both broadly and immediately, especially thoroughly interpreting the paragraph in which the quotation or allusion occurs.
- Survey the use of the OT text in early and late Judaism that might be of relevance to the NT appropriation of the OT text.
- Compare the texts (including their textual variants): NT, LXX, MT, and targums, early Jewish citations (DSS, the Pseudepigrapha, Josephus, Phiilo). Underline or color-code the various differences.
- Analyze the author’s textual use of the OT. (Which texts does the author rely on, or is the author making his own rendering, and how does this bear on the interpretation of the OT text?)
- Analyze the author’s interpretative (hermeneutical) use of the OT.
- Analyze the author’s theological use of the OT.
- Analyze the author’s rhetorical use of the OT.
Although considered the core of the book, I’m somewhat disappointed with this chapter. First, I’m struggling to see what is different or profound about this approach than just teaching someone to be a good reader. Second, I’m wary of ‘step’ approaches. They give the impression that if someone simply does each step then he will arrive at the right interpretation. I realise that Beale will be aware of this, but students often think that if they simply follow the steps they will get things right and thus get a good grade. They are shocked when I say back, ‘Well yes you followed the steps, but you didn’t realise that there is more to it than just plugging in the right material’. Anyway, I think the approach offered by Beale is good, but it could use some slight refinement.
Chapters 4–6 take up specific steps from Beale’s nine-step method. Chapter 4 develops step 7 by categorising the primary ways that the NT uses the OT. Although Beale views chapter 3 as the core, primarily because it outlines a method, I found this chapter to be more interesting and potentially useful. Beale provides some 12 main ways in which the NT author’s interpret the OT, such as ‘direct fulfillment’; ‘indirect fulfillment of OT typological prophecy’; ‘symbolic’; ‘ironic’. He is careful not to make every use of the OT fit into one of the categories as he acknowledges both that he is offering only key categories and that there is overlap. Although I doubt that any nomenclature will ever be universally adopted, his attempt here at least provides a focal point around which scholars could work even if someone opts for a different label.
Chapter 5 develops briefly step 8. Beale identifies five basic presuppositions at work for the NT authors (pp.96–97):
- There is the apparent assumption of corporate solidarity or representation.
- In the light of corporate solidarity or representation, Christ as the Messiah is viewed as representing the true Israel of the OT and the true Israel—Church—in the NT.
- History is unified by a wise and sovereign plan so that the earlier parts are designed to correspond and point to the later parts.
- The age of eschatological fulfillment has come in Christ.
- As a consequence of the preceding presuppositions, it follows that the later parts of biblical history function as the broader context for interpreting earlier parts because they all have the same, ultimate divine author who inspires the various human authors. One deduction form this premise is that Christ is the goal toward which the OT pointed and is the end-time center of redemptive history, which is the key for interpreting the earlier portions of the OT and its promises.
Chapter 6, which has the title ‘Relevance of the Jewish Backgrounds for the Study of the Old Testament in the New: A Survey of the Sources’, expands on step 4. This chapter doesn’t actually describe the relevance of the contemporary sources. Rather, it is an (annotated) bibliography of works about the primary sources: translations, introductions, etc. He gives three points of guidance for locating Jewish texts that refer to Old Testament texts quoted in the New (pp.104-08):
- Consult background commentaries on key NT passages
- Consult major New Testament commentaries
- Consult primary sources in Jewish literature by utilizing topical and especially Scripture indexes of these sources in English translation
Chapter 7 is a case study of the use of Isaiah 22.22 in Revelation 3.7.
The volume ends with a ‘Select Bibliography on the New Testament Use of the Old’. The bibliography is somewhat dated and lacks direction at a number of points (e.g. General Epistles).
In general, I think this book can be helpful for students, but a few cautions would be in order. In addition to what I said about chapter 3, I would also add two other points. First, I was disappointed in the way that Beale handled the Jewish literature. Although Chapter 6 has the title ‘Relevance of the Jewish Backgrounds …’ Beale seems to keep the Jewish literature at some distance. He doesn’t actually show a student why this literature matters. I think that more careful attention to how the contemporary Jewish authors read the OT will help us better understand the NT authors as engaging in interpretative debates about the text. At times we will see that their readings match one segment of Judaism and disagree with other segments. Also, more careful attention to the Jewish literature will help us see where the presuppositions of the NT authors (particularly with regard to their understanding of Jesus as the Christ) have reshaped the way they read a text.
Second, I would have liked to see Beale address in more depth some of the problem texts like Rom 10.6–8 or Christ as the rock in 1 Cor 10.4. Hebrews is also poorly represented in the book which is surprising given the way in which scripture drives the argument. I realise that the volume is a handbook and cannot address every appearance of the OT in the NT, but problem passages of these kind are the ones that students do ask about.
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
In the spring I’m teaching NT Theology (undergraduate), and I want to have my students to consider the relationship of the OT to the NT. In particular, I want an essay/article length assessment of Covenant, New Covenant, (Progressive) Dispensational and (possibly) Lutheran perspectives for my students to read. I would prefer an essay that attempts to address each area objectively, but one by a proponent of one area or another would be okay if it adequately addresses the other areas. Again, my preference would be for a journal article or essay from a book rather than a website. Thoughts?
Tuesday, 6 November 2012
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I have an article in the latest volume of JBL (131.3 , 547-66) titled “Voluntary Debt Remission and the Parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-13).” JBL doesn’t include abstracts, but here is a lengthy soundbite at the end of the survey/critique of existing interpretations that, more or less, explains what I try to do in the piece:
Numerous other interpretations could be presented here, each with its own shortcomings. The foregoing survey, however, has sufficiently demonstrated the common assumption underlying most of these inadequate explanations, namely, that unless the steward is deducting from his own profits, the reductions are to be viewed as hostile to his master, or in the words of Douglas E. Oakman, as “betrayal” and “an abrogation of the then-current social mores of fidelity.” Kloppenborg similarly remarks, “[T]he natural implication of the story is that the steward’s actions are injurious to the master’s interests.” Schellenberg concurs, explaining, “The expectation within the world of the parable [is] that loyal stewardship requires meticulous collection of the master’s debts.” But these assumptions rest on a limited understanding of the purpose and function of debt remission in the ancient economy. And since, as Klyne Snodgrass suggests, “[t]his is a parable where one must fill in the blanks,” in this essay I will offer a new explanation of the master’s praise based on the general custom of lease adjustment in the early empire. Through the testimony of Roman landowners such as Pliny the Younger, Cicero, and Columella, as well as those represented in leasing contracts from early Roman Egypt, I will demonstrate that the instability of land tenancy during the early imperial period quite often required wealthy proprietors to reduce debts (rents and arrears) in order to enable and encourage their repayment, as well as to secure the longevity of their tenants and their own long-term profitability. Debt remission in antiquity, then, was advantageous both to landlords and tenants, an insight that has significant implications for the interpretation of our parable (552-53).
If you interested in matters relating to the ancient economy and/or the interpretation of this confusing parable, I would encourage you to check out the article.
Saturday, 3 November 2012
I picked up Douglas Campbell’s The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul (Eerdmans, 2009) from the college library yesterday, intending to read through much/most of it. I have skimmed bits and pieces of it before – after all, who has time to work through all 1,200 + pages? Well, I’m sure some of you dedicated academics do! But as of this afternoon, after skimming through a few more chapters, I gave up again. I have decided (for now) to spare myself a month’s worth of free time and to settle for reading a couple of published review articles on it instead. So, I started with Barry Matlock’s and will shortly get to Grant Macaskill’s. Both are published in JSNT 34.2 (2011). I have to say, for a quite wordy 35-or-so-page book review, Matlock’s article is thoroughly entertaining. I found myself grinning repeatedly throughout, especially as he critiqued Campbell’s caricature of “Justification theory.” Here is how Matlock summarizes his comments on Campbell’s portrait of Justification theory:
It is the most elaborately constructed straw man I have ever witnessed, and to watch Campbell parry and thrust with it across hundreds of sprawling pages is a singular and uncanny spectacle (137).
Monday, 15 October 2012
I teaching NT theology next semester, and it’s that time of year to order textbooks around here. I’ve been going through various texts that people here have used and that I’ve got on my shelf, but I’ve not found anything that just clicks for me. The current prof is using Frank Matera’s New Testament Theology, which is what I might default to myself. The biggest problem that I’m finding is that most New Testament theologies are written for seminary level students and are thus detailed and long. I want to kindle a fire of interest in the topic not beat them to death with reading. At the same time, I’m a fan of having outside texts–articles and relevant selections from key works–as assigned “seminar” reading so student learn to analyse and discuss arguments. So, a huge textbook squeezes out the ability of assigning this other reading.
My questions to the blogging world are these: 1) What NT theology(ies) are your favorites and why? 2) Would you recommend it/them for undergrads or just grad students?