December 2006

As promised I’m finally getting around to listing the books I picked up at SBL. Since I’ve really only just picked up with real Pauline studies, I’m just now building my library of Pauline studies beyond commentaries. After talking with a couple of friends working on Paul, I pulled together this list of a few key works on Paul–both general and ones that relate to my thesis. Do you think I missed anybody important?

Pre-New Perspective
Albert Schweitzer, The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle
Albert Schweitzer, Paul and His Interpreters
William Wrede, Paul
Robert Tannehill, Dying and Rising With Christ

Post-New Perspective
Ed Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism
Jimmy Dunn, The Theology of Paul the Apostle
Tom Wright, The Climax of the Covenant: Christ and the Law in Pauline Theology
Jerome Murphy-O’Connor, Paul His Story
Stephen Westerholm, Perpectives Old and New on Paul: The Lutheran “Paul” and His Critics
Margaret Mitchell, The Heavenly Trumpet: John Chrysostom and the Art of Pauline Interpretation
Richard Hays, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul
Lou Martyn, Theological Issues in the Letters of Paul

Bernard McGinn (ed.), The Essential Writings of Christian Mysticism*
BibleWorks 7

* Random House just had McGinn to sign a bunch of these and was giving them away just as I walked by. It’s quite a volume with 2-3 page selections from major historical writers on different areas of mysticism. It covers deification (i.e., theosis) along with all sorts of other angles on mysticism.


by Dan Wallace

This list is organized along two lines: 1) easiest to most difficult, and 2) approximately 10 chapter segments which bear some semblance of unity (e.g., either literary [pastorals] or historical [James-Galatians]).  If you do 1 group/day, you’ll read the whole NT in a month.

  1. John 1-11
  2. John 12-21
  3. 1 John; 2 John; 3 John; Philemon
  4. Mark 1-8
  5. Mark 9-16
  6. Matthew 1-10
  7. Matthew 11-20
  8. Matthew 21-28
  9. Revelation 1-11
  10. Revelation 12-22
  11. 1 Thessalonians; 2 Thessalonians
  12. Ephesians; Colossians
  13. Philippians; Romans 1-8
  14. Romans 9-16
  15. 1 Corinthians 1-10
  16. 1 Corinthians 11-16
  17. Galatians; James
  18. 1 Peter; 1 Timothy
  19. 2 Timothy; Titus
  20. Jude; 2 Peter
  21. 2 Corinthians 1-7
  22. 2 Corinthians 8-13
  23. Luke 1-8
  24. Luke 9-16
  25. Luke 17-24
  26. Acts 1-10
  27. Acts 11-19
  28. Acts 20-28
  29. Hebrews 1-7
  30. Hebrews 8-13

Translation tips:

  1. Find the Nominatives: If subj and pred nom., a) pronoun, b) articular, or c) proper name is probably the subject
  2. Find the Verb: Note if a) Transitive (->D.O. or passive), b) Equative (->P.N.), or c) Intransitive
  3. D.O., I.O., and/or P.N.
  • Translate from punctuation to punctuation
  • Translate modifiers last (participles, infinitives, prepositions, genitives, etc.)

Here are a few important things I recommend doing in preparation for a New Testament PhD:

  1. If you are currently in seminary or another MA program and are planning to just go straight through, get lots of rest before you come.  Recharge those batteries before jumping in again.  It’s better to hit the ground running than to be run into the ground before you start.  I had a 3 year break, so that wasn’t an issue for me. 
  2. Read through the entire NT in Greek–Here’s a proposed reading list from easiest to hardest I got from Dan Wallace.  We do surprisingly little Greek reading in seminary (in the grand scheme of things), even at DTS–I can only imagine it at other seminaries.  Get Zondervan’s Reader’s Greek New Testament.  This has revolutionalized my Greek reading, making it so much easier.  I’m about 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through, and I spend about 3 hrs a week (~1 chapter a day) just trying to make it through this goal.  But I wish I were doing that directly in my area of study and not just the basics first.  Tools I use: RGNT, a parsing chart, a note card with prepositions, and an analytical lexicon.  (Parsing chart: I use one from BibleWorks that has the Greek verb paradigms on one side and the Hebrew on the other, always free at their stand at ETS or SBL.  Prepositions: has those that use multiple cases or hard to remember (e.g.,  περι).  Analytical lexicon: I’ve got one that’s 20 yrs old, but it’s got every inflected word in the GNT and it gives its parsing, etc.  It’s for those oh so frequent irregular verbs.)  I’ve gotten to where the Analytical Lexicon is not as necessary, but it’s good to use it up front when you don’t know a word/form.  You’ll just keep seeing over and over again, so you might as well understand it.  Also getting down into the 10 (or even 5) word occurances in the NT would be helpful, see Trenchard’s list or even better–buy a PDA and use PDA Scholar’s flash cards–there are several lists that come with the program (Greek, Hebrew, German, French, Arabic, etc.).  It would be well worth your money.
  3. Learn German, at least get the basic paradigms and grammar down so you can read with a dictionary.  There’s just so much NT study (esp. in Pauline studies) that’s in German, and you’re only hobbled by your lack of ability to work with those texts up front.  We’re using Manton’s Intro to Theological German.  It’s a totally horrible format for lots of things, but it does get through the major points in a quick manner.  A couple of students here have recommended April Wilson’s German Quickly, noting that although it is humanities based, it has quite a few theological texts to translate.  Once you go through that, Ziefle’s Modern Theological German: Reader and Dictionary is really helpful to get you through some texts (biblical and theological).  I did some self-study before coming to the UK with Reading German (Coles & Dodd)–recommended by the German teacher at DTS.  It was helpful, but I could see it as a good follow-up to Manton’s book because it goes into a good bit more detail.  Also, it’s not focued on Theological German.  Again PDA Scholar is a must for vocab. Here is an extensive list of German-English Vocab that I pulled together.
  4. Do as much primary text background reading as you can–OT and NT Apocrypha, DSS, OT and NT Pseudipigrapha, Apostolic Fathers, Mishnah, Josephus, Philo, Nag Hammadi, Plato, Greco-Roman historians, etc.  These texts inform so much of the general knowledge of the biblical scholar, it would help so much more to have a good idea of some of these writings in advance.[Update: I did a post ranking various texts in order of priority. See also Mike Bird’s recommendations for getting up to speed on Greco-Roman backgounds.]

So far that’s about it.  You could always read more, but you’ll get time for that when you’re here.  That’s why you’re coming, right?

p.s. I had planned to do more with the German and Greek, and wasn’t disciplined enough.  Write out a plan and give it to somebody to keep you accountable.  Heck, do what I did–go with less $$ for a few months and only work 4 days a week, so you can have an extra day to beef up your language skills.  (One caveat, get your spouse’s approval first.)  That way you can take full advantage of your study time here, and not have 20%+ of your study time filled with preparing-to-study-time.  Also, moving overseas, if that’s in the plans, does take a bit of preparation, so that extra day a week also helps in that area as well.

I added a couple of pages: 1) recommendations for preparing to move, thanks to my wife, and 2) issues about setting up house once here.

I met with John (Barclay) today for an end of term superving session.  A central part of our session was refining the direction of my thesis now that we’ve been through several of Paul’s letters and through several Pauline interpreters.  He pressed me to define the question (and sub-questions) that I am attempting to answer.  (After I got here I learned that the primary thing that they are looking for is a good set of questions, not some good proposed analysis, in a thesis proposal.)  So we ended up with something like this for my main question:

In what ways does the Pauline conception of the relationship of the believer to Christ anticipate/prefigure(?) later notions of theosis?   My sub-questions and the relative space I entend to spend on them:

  • What are later notions of theosis?  (~20%)  — I’ll probably pick a couple of test cases: one 2nd/3rd century (maybe Irenaeus or Clement of Alexandria) and the other say 6th century (possibly Maximus the Confessor).
  • What are the Pauline notions of the relationship between the believer and Christ? (~60%)  — Focusing on 1) Undisputed letters and 2) Colossians/Ephesians; divided between exegetical and thematic analyses.
  • What are the similarities/differences between Pauline conceptions and later notions of theosis? (~20%)

As you can see I am taking more of a history of interpretations approach rather than a history of religions (whether Jewish, Hellenistic, apocalyptic, mystic, or whatever).  These historical factors will inform my analysis but my opinion is that these have been overworked and don’t offer that much room for study.  Fortunately, John is in agreement with that opinion.  My goal is to see how those later interpreted Paul and how their questions can help inform our analysis of his work.

der Schnee — snow

Das ist doch Schnee von gestern.  — That’s yesterday’s news.  (lit. That’s snow from yesterday.)

We discussed this in the NT seminar last Monday.  The Proto Evangelium of James (or Proto Gospel of James) recounts the birth/life of Mary and the birth of Jesus.  It was written sometime in the late 2nd c. (150-200 A.D.).  It was discounted by Jerome so the Latin church dissmissed it, but it was very popular in the Greek church.

The story is interesting in that Mary’s parents (Joachim and Anna) were childless and Anna prayed in the temple for a child (~Elkana and Hannah=>Samuel) in OT.  Based on God’s blessing they conceive and raise Mary in a “sanctuary” type setting (preserving her holiness).  At 3 she was given to the temple (~Samuel) and was raised there until her 12th birthday.  At that time her monthly uncleaness would defile the temple so she needed a husband.  They drew lots of widowers and the lot fell to Joseph, who happened to have other children (that is why Jesus has half-brothers and Mary remained the ever-Virgin). 

Mary helps in the sewing of the temple veil to the Holy of Holies.  Gabriel comes to announce the birth of Christ, but later Mary forgets.  Joseph has been on long trip and returns to find his wife pregnant.  The priests are going to punish them, but by passing the test of a poisonous drink, the two are proclaimed innocent.  They head to Bethlehem and on the way there the baby comes and is born in a cave.

The Magi come (very similar to Matt. 2).  Herod starts killing the children, and they flee to Egypt.  Herod kills John the Baptist’s father Zachariah at the temple for not telling where the baby John is.  As a result, the Greek church interpreted the Zachariah murdered between the alters in Mat. 23 as being John’s father. 


Mary was not declared the Theotokos (or bearer of God) until the 5th century.  Before then there was not much in the way of veneration to Mary; however, after that it flourished quite a bit.  It is interesting then that this was written so much before that when there was relatively little interest in Mary. 

I have been to the Church of St. Ann in Jerusalem, and I wondered how they knew what Mary’s mother’s name.  Now I know.  It is interesting that Joseph remains a minor character in this story like that of the Gospels. 

verlieren  —  to lose

Ich habe all meinen Mut verloren.  —  I lost my heart.  (lit. I lost all my courage.)

back by popular demand…

der Mut  — courage

Dazu gehört viel Mut.  — That takes a lot of courage.

This makes me glad to be a Baptist. 


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