October 2007

Noted as the best ‘division 3’ play ever.


Does anybody out there know where there is an electronic or online copy of Irenaeus’ texts in Latin?  It doesn’t seem that he is covered in Migne’s PL since it starts with the 3rd century, and I can’t find anything with the Latin other than Sources Chretiennes.  It’s just so handy to have things electronically to search, so I’d love any help.  Thanks.

WWE Smackdown #21.  Well, not really.  This discussion began around the issue of the DaVinci Code (and neither are nice to Dan Brown), but it’s mostly about the Gospels–canonical and non-canonical–on their historical reliability, etc.  In the middle Richard Hays brought up a point about why the 4 gospels are accepted as authoritative and the others were not: Beyond the fact that they are earlier, he pointed out that they present the most continuity to the OT.  That is, the salvation-historical continuity of the message of the four gospels with Judaism is what the early church found compelling.  (This is especially true for Irenaeus–see especially his Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching which is very OT-NT focused.)  See here.

HT: Summa Philosophiae

I taught my first seminars this week–two seminar groups for NT Intro.  I taught 3 or so classes back in my MBA days, but I mostly lectured due to large class sizes (60+).  So doing teaching is not all new, but it was about 8 years ago when I led those.  (It is interesting that I didn’t even have a masters then and I was the sole grader and had final say on all grades, whereas here I can’t assess anything that counts towards the final grade.)

We discussed first-century worldviews based on quotes of about 10 miracle stories from Roman, Jewish, and Greek figures.  We then talked about the trouble of interpreting those stories.  Our key test case for modern interp was Bultmann.  I only had one student stand up for Bultmann and several were eager to rebut him as they affirmed the literal nature of miracles and the resurrection.  I brought up the fact that allegorical interpretation isn’t, at times, too far from Bultmann and that goes on all the time, so we have to be cautious how we nuance the argument.

I can say that these first year students impressed me.  I sat in on a first year (freshers) latin class for a week or two and my impression of English students was severely curtailed when they had trouble distinguishing parts of speech–like what is the word ‘is’?  These students however seemed to grasp the key issues and had a few comments that I hadn’t thought of.

John Barclay gave a paper on Monday evening at the NT Seminar about how the bible was used in the british abolitionist movement which came to fruition in laws passed in 1807 and 1834.  You can read the full version in the most recent, I believe, copy of Expository Times.  He focused on the dual influence of enlightenment moral philosophy and biblical themes.  The interesting item of note is that on the surface one can make a surprisingly strong argument for slavery based on biblical texts (e.g., Leviticus 25).  However, John noted strongly that a key influence in the application of biblical texts against slavery was the enlightenment moral philosophy with its emphasis on universal rights that allowed abolitionists to reframe slaves as ‘men’ and even more importantly ‘brothers’.  Accordingly, all the texts on how to treat one’s brother in the bible became relevant to all people regardless of race.  It does make one think about how strongly our current worldview determines our ability to interpret the bible. 

It also shows how much evangelicalism in the UK has a different DNA in many ways than that of the US.  In the UK evangelicals were (and are?) very active in social issues, and were the main movers for social change.  On the other hand, evangelicals in the US regularly toy with isolation from society rather than positive engagement. 

One item to note is that along with William Wilberforce, Granville Sharp was a key player in the abolitionist movement.  And as Dan Wallace will tell you, he also wrote an essay on taxation without representation, which also proved influential in a small conflict around 1776.  So he had three very influential essays in very different areas: abolition, taxation, and Greek grammar. 

Our microwave died a week or two ago.  We were about to buy another and I thought I should request one on Freecycle.  In about an hour we got an email from someone who was moving and wanted to get rid of an old one.  We picked it up Sunday (thanks Brad for the ride), and we’re back to normal again.  We’ve also gotten a bread maker through Freecycle and a tv stand among other things.  It’s international, so check it out to see if there’s a local group near you.  I suppose it’s about like Craig’s List, but you don’t have to pay for anything.  I think it’s a great idea and helps promote in small ways a life of simplicity.

Last Monday Francis Watson kicked off the NT Seminar this year with a paper on Paul’s dependence upon Isaiah 53 for his thought on the death of Christ.  Not only was this the first paper of the year, but this was Francis’ first activity as a staff member here at Durham.  This paper is the one he’ll be giving at SBL next month.  (Sorry in the delay of the post.  I’ve been a bit busier with term up and running.)

Although ‘a soteriological reading of Isaiah 53 is never made explicit in Paul’s texts’ (as say in Acts), Watson sees it as visible in the substructure of Paul’s theology.  Watson looks first at the two direct quotations from Is 53 in Paul: Rom 10.16-17 and 15.21.  In the former, there is no direct allusion to Christ as the Suffering Servant, but in the later the ‘concerning him’ can only refer to Christ.  Accordingly, we know that Paul knew this passage and made some connection between the two; however, the direct connection between the two at a soteriological level is still at a substructure level for Paul.  Watson’s thesis then is that the equation of the two ‘unlies every Pauline statement that assigns soteriological significance to the death of Christ.  Barely visible beneath the surface of Pauline discourse, its significance is absolutely fundamental.’  Quite a bold statement.

Watson then turned to specific lexical items that reflect Is 53, though he repeatedly argued that these are not either allusions or echoes because Paul was not pointing readers back to that text.  These lexical items are 1) Christ died ‘for us’, 2) the death of the Servant ‘for our sins’, 3) the ‘giving up’ of the Servant, and 4) the humiliation of the Servant.  He tracks different items in Paul’s langauge that reflect each of those thoughts.  However, some connections are only made tenously.  For instance with 1), the LXX tradition contains περι ημων in Is 53.4, but Paul almost universally uses υπερ ημων.  Watson pointed to a probable usage of περι ημων in 1 Thes 5.10 based upon his analysis of TC issues. 

While the connection between Paul’s language and Is 53 may be circumstantial, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that Paul used that text.  My question to Watson was how can we say that Paul’s thought was only mediated through this text.  I asked how frequent some of the the specific textual items that he used (e.g., 1 and 2) are found in other LXX literature, especially that of Leviticus.  Watson said he hadn’t looked fully at that yet and couldn’t say.  Others asked about why Paul wanted to keep this in the substructure rather than making it evident like other passages.  Unfortunately I can’t remember Watson’s response.  John Barclay asked about the difference of Paul’s emphasis on Sin (singular) as a power versus this passage that focuses on sins (plural) as telling against Watson’s thesis.  Watson thought that dichotomy was a little too strong.

It was a good paper, and defintely enjoyable for me since I’m looking at soteriolgy in Paul.  I’m glad Watson will be around more often, though he won’t physically move here until next summer.

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