August 2012

Cambridge University Press has begun advertising the forthcoming release (January 2013) of Mark D. Mathews’s monograph, Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful: Perspectives on Wealth in the Second Temple Period and the Apocalypse of John (SNTSMS 154). This release is very exciting. Mark is a fellow Durham grad; we started together in 2007 and submitted our theses within days of each other in 2010. Mark and I were also neighbors in Durham for two years. His doctoral work was supervised by Loren Stuckenbruck, so when Loren moved to Princeton in 2009, Mark and his family followed him there. Mark is now in full-time church ministry at Bethany Presbyterian Church, near Philadelphia.

Here are the book summary and table of contents:

In the book of Revelation, John appeals to the faithful to avoid the temptations of wealth, which he connects with evil and disobedience within secular society. New Testament scholars have traditionally viewed his somewhat radical stance as a reaction to the social injustices and idolatry of the imperial Roman cults of the day. Mark D. Mathews argues that John’s rejection of affluence was instead shaped by ideas in the Jewish literature of the Second Temple period which associated the rich with the wicked and viewed the poor as the righteous. Mathews explores how traditions preserved in the Epistle of Enoch and later Enochic texts played a formative role in shaping John’s theological perspective. This book will be of interest to those researching poverty and wealth in early Christian communities and the relationship between the traditions preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls and New Testament.

Table of Contents

Part I. Introduction: 1. The question of wealth in the Apocalypse
Part II. The Language of Wealth and Poverty in the Second Temple Period: Introduction
2. Dead Sea Scrolls: non-sectarian Aramaic documents
3. Dead Sea Scrolls: non-sectarian Hebrew documents
4. Dead Sea Scrolls: sectarian Hebrew documents
5. Other Jewish literature
Preliminary conclusions
Part III. Wealth, Poverty, and the Faithful Community in the Apocalypse of John: Introduction
6. The language of wealth and poverty in the seven messages – Rev 2-3
7. The present eschatological age – Rev 4-6
8. Buying and selling in Satan’s world – Rev 12-13, 18
9. Final conclusions.


Emanuel Tov is hanging out in Houston this autumn, and he’s offered to give a lecture at Houston Baptist University on ‘The Biblical Manuscripts among the Dead Sea Scrolls’.  It’s on October 22, 2012 at 7 pm in Belin Chapel.  Come join us.

Also, if you don’t have anything better to do, he’s running a Hebrew reading group on Friday afternoons at the Lanier Theological Library.


So we are familiar with Jesus being described as the son of David. However, a listener to BBC Radio 4 asked whether this might not be so significant because there could potentially have been many such descendants at the time. Of course, we recognise that this description carries a particular theological significance in the Bible, but it nevertheless raises an interesting question: how many descendants of David (assuming he was a historical figure) might there have been in Jesus’ day?

The startling and non-intuitive answer by evolutionary biologist Dr Yan Wong is that, mathematically speaking,

all of Jesus’ contemporaries [would] be descended from David… This is a good illustration of what’s been called the “genealogical paradox”

A mathematical possibility does not, presumably, tell us very much about actuality, although it is a very interesting idea (with implications for claims of common Abrahamic descent, etc.). For the full argument, and rather mind-boggling mathematics, see here. The podcast for the associated radio programme, More or Less, is also available for download.

Mark Goodacre has recorded the sad death of Christopher Evans (C.F. Evans), the former Lightfoot Professor here in Durham. Mark says,

His commentary on Luke (1990) is probably the best scholarly commentary on Luke available in the English language…

High praise indeed, and it is certainly an excellent commentary. If you haven’t already got it, the good news is that it is in the Summer sale at SCM Press for £10 plus postage (paperback – reduced from £50). There are also a number of other goodies.

Southeastern Theological Review has just published a roundtable discussion with Mike Licona about his recent monograph that stirred up so much debate over the last year: The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach.  Mike is coming onto the faculty of Houston Baptist this fall as a visiting professor.  I’m glad to say that HBU (which is where I work) is serving as a place of refuge where people have been run off because the previous institution tried to slice the bologna too thin.