After receiving a recent review of our book Reading Mark in Context: Jesus and Second Temple Judaism, we wanted to make the table of contents more accessible. We are quite pleased with the significant line-up of excellent Gospels scholars.

Foreword: N. T. Wright

  1. Rule of the Community and Mark 1:1–13: Preparing the Way in the Wilderness (Rikk Watts)
  1. The Parables of Enoch and Mark 1:14–2:12: The Authoritative Son of Man (Kristian A. Bendoraitis)
  1. Josephus and Mark 2:13–3:6: Controversies with the Scribes and Pharisees (Mary Marshall)
  1. The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs and Mark 3:7–35: Apocalyptic and the Kingdom (Elizabeth E. Shively)
  1. 4 Ezra and Mark 4:1–34: Parables on Seeds, Sowing, and Fruit (Klyne Snodgrass)
  1. The Testament of Solomon and Mark 5:1–20: Exorcism and Power over Evil Spirits (Michael F. Bird)
  1. Mishnah Zabim and Mark 5:21–6:6a: The Rules on Purity (David E. Garland)
  1. Josephus and Mark 6:6b–29: Herod Antipas’s Execution of John the Baptist (Morten Hørning Jensen)
  1. 4QConsolations and Mark 6:30–56: Images of a New Exodus (Holly Beers)
  1. The Letter of Aristeas and Mark 7:1–23: Developing Ideas of Defilement (Sarah Whittle)
  1. Jubilees and Mark 7:24–37: Crossing Ethnic Boundaries (Kelly R. Iverson)
  1. The Damascus Document and Mark 8:1–26: Blindness and Sight on “the Way” (Suzanne Watts Henderson)
  1. Sirach and Mark 8:27–9:13: Elijah and the Eschaton (Sigurd Grindheim)
  1. Tobit and Mark 9:14–29: Imperfect Faith (Jeanette Hagen Pifer)
  1. Rule of the Community and Mark 9:30–50: Discipleship Reordered (Jeffrey W. Aernie)
  1. Mishnah Giṭṭin and Mark 10:1–12: Marriage and Divorce (David Instone-Brewer)
  1. Eschatological Admonition and Mark 10:13–31: Riches, Poverty, and the Faithful (Mark D. Mathews)
  1. Rule of the Congregation and Mark 10:32–52: Glory and Greatness in Eschatological Israel (John K. Goodrich)
  1. 1 Maccabees and Mark 11:1–11: A Subversive Entry into Jerusalem (Timothy Gombis)
  1. Psalms of Solomon and Mark 11:12–25: The Great Priestly Showdown at the Temple (Nicholas Perrin)
  1. The Animal Apocalypse and Mark 11:27–12:12: The Rejection of the Prophets and the Destruction of the Temple (David L. Turner)
  1. Josephus and Mark 12:13–27: The Sadducees, Resurrection, and the Law (Jason Maston)
  1. Psalms of Solomon and Mark 12:28–44: The Messiah’s Surprising Identity and Role (Mark L. Strauss)
  1. The Parables of Enoch and Mark 13:1–37: Apocalyptic Eschatology and the Coming Son of Man (Jonathan T. Pennington)
  1. Mishnah Pesaḥim and Mark 14:1–25: The Passover Tradition (Amy Peeler)
  1. The Babylonian Talmud and Mark 14:26–52: Abba, Father! (Nijay K. Gupta)
  1. The Parables of Enoch and Mark 14:53–73: Blasphemy and Exaltation (Darrell L. Bock)
  1. Philo of Alexandria and Mark 15:1–15a: Pontius Pilate, a Spineless Governor? (Helen K. Bond)
  1. 11QTemplea and Mark 15:15b–47: Burying the Crucified (Craig A. Evans)
  1. 2 Maccabees and Mark 16:1–8: Resurrection as Hope for the Present (Ben C. Blackwell)

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Simon J. Joseph (University of California, Los Angeles) has reviewed our Reading Mark in Context: Jesus and Second Temple Judaism in the Review of Biblical Literature.  He has some fair notes about the volume and ends his review thus:

Relocating the Gospel of Mark in its wider Jewish context, the essays in Reading Mark in Context introduce readers to the study of Mark within the literary, historical, and theological contexts that it both drew from and distinguished itself from. Although many of the essays reinscribe Mark’s promise/fulfillment paradigm (in which Jesus fulfills Jewish messianic prophecies), that is to be expected given the authorial Tendenz of the Markan narrative . The goal of this volume was not to distinguish between the Markan Jesus, a historical Jesus, and the Jesus of history but to illuminate the literary world of the Markan narrative. The editors and authors are to be commended for this collection of well-written and accessible essays, each of which illuminates the Markan context without unnecessarily complicating its discussion with questions of literary dependence. Readers will appreciate the introduction outlining the volume’s methodological approach and structure, along with its brief overview of Second Temple literature and a helpful glossary of key terms. I strongly recommend these essays for “beginning and intermediate students” of the gospels, not simply because they successfully contextualize the Markan texts in their wider literary contexts, but more so because they drive home the important message that a contextual reading of Mark requires attending to the creative complexity of its relationship with(in) Second Temple Judaism.

Rob Bradshaw’s full time job is librarian at Spurgeon’s College in London. But he also has a passion for making theology available on the Internet. Here is the website you need to know: https://theologyontheweb.org.uk Rob has digitized 40,000 articles from dozens and dozens of journals. Some you have heard of. Some you have not. But […]

via Theology on the Web — A Word in Edgewise

One of the basic differences between an ancient social imaginary and a modern one is the way that hierarchies work. In an ancient setting hierarchies are presumed and in the modern hierarchies are questioned. It’s not that hierarchies don’t exist in the contemporary world, but moderns tend to question and rebel against hierarchies of various sorts–racial, gender, etc. I’ve been doing some reading in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, and found a great example of an ancient perspective. What’s important is that hierarchy in not necessarily always good–so monarchy vs tyrant–but a good hierarchy is better than none–so monarchy better than democracy.

Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 8.10

There are three kinds of constitution, and an equal number of deviation-forms–perversions, as it were, of them. The constitutions are monarchy, aristocracy, and thirdly that which is based on a property qualification, which it seems appropriate to call timocratic, though most people are wont to call it polity. The best of these is monarchy, the worst timocracy. The deviation from monarchy is tyrany; for both are forms of one-man rule, but there is the greatest difference between them; the tyrant looks to his own advantage, the king to that of his subjects. For a man is not a king unless he is sufficient to himself and excels his subjects in all good things; and such a man needs nothing further; therefore he will not look to his own interests but to those of his subjects; for a king who is not like that would be a mere titular king. Now tyranny is the very contrary of this; the tyrant pursues his own good. And it is clearer in the case of tyranny that it is the worst deviation-form; but it is the contrary of the best that is worst. Monarchy passes over into tyranny; for tyranny is the evil form of one-man rule and the bad king becomes a tyrant. Aristocracy passes over into oligarchy by the badness of the rulers, who distribute contrary to equity what belongs to the city-all or most of the good things to themselves, and office always to the same people, paying most regard to wealth; thus the rulers are few and are bad men instead of the most worthy. Timocracy passes over into democracy; for these are coterminous, since it is the ideal even of timocracy to be the rule of the majority, and all who have the property qualification count as equal. Democracy is the least bad of the deviations; for in its case the form of constitution is but a slight deviation. These then are the changes to which constitutions are most subject; for these are the smallest and easiest transitions.

One may find resemblances to the constitutions and, as it were, patterns of them even in households. For the association of a father with his sons bears the form of monarchy, since the father cares for his children; and this is why Homer calls Zeus ‘father’; it is the ideal of monarchy to be paternal rule. But among the Persians the rule of the father is tyrannical; they use their sons as slaves. Tyrannical too is the rule of a master over slaves; for it is the advantage of the master that is brought about in it. Now this seems to be a correct form of government, but the Persian type is perverted; for the modes of rule appropriate to different relations are diverse. The association of man and wife seems to be aristocratic; for the man rules in accordance with his worth, and in those matters in which a man should rule, but the matters that befit a woman he hands over to her. If the man rules in everything the relation passes over into oligarchy; for in doing so he is not acting in accordance with their respective worth, and not ruling in virtue of his superiority. Sometimes, however, women rule, because they are heiresses; so their rule is not in virtue of excellence but due to wealth and power, as in oligarchies. The association of brothers is like timocracy; for they are equal, except in so far as they differ in age; hence if they differ much in age, the friendship is no longer of the fraternal type. Democracy is found chiefly in masterless dwellings (for here every one is on an equality), and in those in which the ruler is weak and every one has licence to do as he pleases.

I confess that I enjoy languages, and I’ve always had a had an interest in German because my dad spent time in Germany in the air force and always had a German grammar on a bookshelf while I was growing up. So, learning German wasn’t a task that I found oppressive. That said, I find that it is harder and harder to convince students that the effort is worth the payoff, and I see that more and more PhD theses are engaging German less and less. So is German worth it?

I found it to be so in the last week or so, and so I thought I’d pass along the experience. Chris Eberhart, Matthias Henze, and a couple of others hosted a conference on covenant here in Houston just before SBL. Through the various sponsors, it turned out that about 90% of the conference presenters were German. Of course, they conceded to the current winds  by presenting in English, but some discussion naturally occurred in German. So without facility in German, I’d have been lost. It turns out too that instructions about presenting in English didn’t make it around to all (or were not heeded?), and one of the presentations was in German. Though my listening is not attuned as my reading, I was able to keep up because I still make an effort to keep it fresh. While this example isn’t a common occurrence, this facility allows me to participate at a level not otherwise accessible.

More to the substance of the issue, different types of conversations go on within different language groups. For instance, when I was working on glory in Romans, I found that there was a discussion that took place almost singularly among German-language scholarship about the relationship of glory and righteousness. Of course, you don’t know that that discussion is there unless you have access to it through language facility.

Perhaps in another decade or two English will so dominate that facility in modern research languages will go by the wayside among NT scholars. But until then I’m holding up the banner.

In case you wonder how I keep up my German: I regularly read German novels on a Kindle with the dictionary set to a German-English dictionary so I can click on a word on the fly and get the translation. I don’t look up everything since my focus is more the story, but it keeps me in it regularly.

One of the great aspects of the internet is the access to books that are no longer under copyright, but they are of course by nature very old. Over the past several years I’ve started to hear more and more about contemporary open access (text)books that are coming available. Some are written primarily as open access online, such as Nijay Gupta’s Intermediate Biblical Greek Reader: Galatians and Related Texts. Others, however, are conversions of print books that have been released or edited for an online setting.

That appears to be the basis of this open access German textbook: A Foundation Course in Reading German, by Howard Martin, revised and expanded as an open online textbook by Alan Ng. The descriptor notes “This open textbook is currently maintained by Dr. Alan Ng and Dr. Sarah Korpi to support the University of Wisconsin online course German 391.”

After poking through it, I found the explanations clear and the examples helpful. Let me give an example: One thing that I have struggled to find with textbooks is a good introduction to “lassen” since it can communicate various things. While short and (appropriately) to the point, this lays things out clearly: https://courses.dcs.wisc.edu/wp/readinggerman/verbs-function-like-modals/

Hopefully those studying will find it helpful.

 

My good friend David Capes lost his son Daniel Capes recently to cancer. This endowed scholarship is a wonderful way to help his life continue to impact others. I commend you to participate.

A Word in Edgewise

Since our son, Daniel, died ten weeks ago, Cathy and I have established  The Daniel Ryan Capes Endowed Scholarship in Writing at his alma mater, Houston Baptist University.  It will be available to worthy junior or senior writing majors beginning fall semester 2020.  To fund the scholarship we will need to raise a minimum of $75,000 over the next three years.

Daniel and Toby 2 Daniel and his son, Toby (Summer 2018)

Daniel graduated from HBU in 2006 with a degree in writing.  His first job was as a technical writer on NASA’s Constellation project.  But his real passion was to become a story-writer for video games. His dream came true when he was able to use his writing skills to work with TimeGate, SixFoot, and Cryptic Studios creating story lines for various games.  Daniel loved a good story and a good movie; he knew the power of stories to instruct us, entertain us, and express our deepest…

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I (Ben) got interviewed a few weeks ago by David Stark for a blog series he’s doing on how to write when you’ve got multiple projects and commitments. Though a few weeks old, I’m just now posting about it myself because of a paperwork bomb that blew up here at HBU and sucked up an inordinate amount of my time. Perhaps you might find something helpful…

https://www.jdavidstark.com/pro-tips-for-busy-writers-ben-blackwell/

Perhaps you might know this but Forrest Gump is a modern take on Voltaire’s Candide, which was a critique of Leibniz’s monergistic perspective. While the movie Forrest Gump does not directly address monergism and synergism, the key theme is a debate between destiny and chance.

I had a student pull together key clips to pull this out several years ago. YouTube must be recommending it because it’s gotten a lot of recent comments, so I figured I’d pass along the clip as well:

If you are interested in further ideas about monergism and synergism in the Christian tradition, check out my forthcoming book where we compare and contrast how this works in regard to various perspectives on sin and salvation: Engaging Theology: A Biblical, Historical, and Practical Introduction.

Christosis CoverGot word that the Paul within Antiquity group at the upcoming Catholic Biblical Association will be discussing my book Christosis. I have learned to have much more tempered expectations about any doctoral thesis/dissertation having wider attention and longevity, so I can’t complain that it is getting wider attention. I am biased but I do think it’s the best book on Paul and theosis out there.

Michael Barber and Brant Pitre are heading up the Paul within Antiquity group at CBA. They along with John Kincaid have a really nice book on Paul that will hit the bookshelves any day now: Paul, a New Covenant Jew: Rethinking Pauline Theology. It has so many virtues, but let me highlight one in particular. I think it has one of the clearest explanations of the major approaches to Paul that I’ve read. That clarity and substance is then applied to their own reading of Paul.