Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Free Articles...

There are some interesting [free] journal articles available, as noted by Rob Bradshaw

I've just picked out the ones that looked interesting to me. Goodness knows of what value and level of scholarship they may be. But hey, have a look-see... The article by Schnittjer looks most interesting [hint, hint, Eddie!]

Monday, November 28, 2005

Intertextuality and the Community Hypothesis

P.J. Williams has a quick reflection on Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus. Almost as an aside, he mentions that Ehrman accepts that 1 Tim 5:18 quotes Luke 10:7.
Sporadic as my brain is, I wonder if one could use intertextuality between the Gospels and New Testament literature to show that there was an early and wide circulation of the gospels? Would this be a further way of demonstrating Bauckham's thesis? Or would that just prove that Oral Tradition was prevalent in the early communities? What would it take to demonstrate that Paul used a gospel and not just oral tradition?


One thing I love about Auckland are my favourite second hand bookshops! I just wondered into one this morning and what do I find [and now own!]
  • Revelation - Osbourne
  • Romans - Dunn
  • Hearing the Whole Story - Horsley
  • Introducing Early Christianity - Guy [My former teacher]
  • According to the Scriptures - Dodd
  • The Essential Josephus - Maier

Plus, it cost me what Osbourne would have cost me if I bought it new, so that was simply nice. Bird's helpful advice that one should only buy books that one has either used, or will definitely use - has saved me a penny. The only ones I really need for my research is Horsely, but Maier on Josephus [with some nice colour photo's and captions] will be a nice help. Osbourne is headed back to SA soon so that I can begin reading the big three, and prepare a preaching series. And the rest will stay in NZ, with the rest of my library :(

I found Truth on Trial by Lincoln but decided that someone else needed it more than I did, and I won't read for ages to come... Merry Christmas Buddy! The rest will make good holiday reading! I'm half way through McKnight's Jesus and His Death, and will hopefully post on that soon. ciao

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Off to NZ

Well, I'm sitting in Dubai - waiting for my connecting flight to Auckland. Been reading Borgster again. Very good. But with the amount of work that I have to accomplish in this short space of time, blogging will slow down.
Mike, you're mail is on it's way. Keep your eyes off your new books and on the postbox...

Friday, November 18, 2005

The Intellectual

I'm reading a delightfully thoughtful book: The Intellectual by Steve Fuller.
One commentator writes that, Steve Fuller highlights the contributions that intellectuals can make to society, especially in a time of turbulence. “Like Batman scouring the skies of Gotham City for the bat signal requesting his services,” he writes, “the intellectual reads the news as hidden appeals for guidance from a desperate world.”

For those interested, there are two essays: So You Call Yourself an Intellectual? by Steve Fuller and a review by Douglas Kellner, which has a response by Fuller.
Back to: Ου πασ ο λεγων μοι κυριε κυριε, εισελευσεται εις την Βασιλειαν των ουρανων αλλ ο ποιων το θελημα του πατρος μου του εν τοις ουρανοις
- κατα μαθΘειον 7:21

Horsley on Jesus

One of my favourite scholars in the quest to discover Jesus, would have to be Horsley. His work was the first that I read which encouraged me to explore a counter-imperial thesis. His work is well researched and argued, and he offers a brief description of his work on the historical Jesus in these words (Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, pp. 207-208):

The focal concern of the kingdom of God in Jesus' preaching and practice, however, is the liberation and welfare of the people. Jesus' understanding of the "kingdom of God" is similar in its broader perspective to the confident hopes expressed in then-contemporary Jewish apocalyptic literature. That is, he had utter confidence that God was restoring the life of the society, and that this would mean judgment for those who oppressed the people and vindication for those who faithfully adhered to God's will and responded to the kingdom. That is, God was imminently and presently effecting a historical transformation. In modern parlance that would be labeled a "revolution."

The principal thrust of Jesus' practice and preaching, however, was to manifest and mediate the presence of the kingdom of God. In the gospel traditoins of Jesus' words and deeds, we can observe the kingdom present in the experience of the people in distinctive ways. Jesus and his followers celebrated the joys of the kingdom present in festive banqueting. In the healings and forgiveness of sins and in the exorcisms, individual persons experienced the liberation from disease and oppressive forces and the new life effected by God's action. Jesus' interpretation of the exorcisms, moreover, points to the broader implications of God's present action among the people. That is, since the exorcisms are obviously being effected by God, it is clear that the rule of Satan has been broken. But that meant also that the oppressive established order maintained by the power of Satan (according to the apocalyptic dualistic view of reality that was shared by Jesus and his contemporaries) was also under judgment. The old order was in fact being replaced by a new social-political order, that is, the "kingdom of God," which Jesus was inviting the people to "enter."

Indeed, Jesus was engaged in catalyzing the renewal of the people, Israel. Far from being primarily a "teacher" of timeless truths or a preacher of cosmic catastrophe calling for authentic "decision," Jesus ministered "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." He summoned the people to recognize the presence of the kingdom and to enter the kingdom, but if they did not respond to the historical crisis, he did not hesitate to pronounce judgment. It is precisely in the pronounced woes against whole villages or against the whole (sinful) "generation" that we can discern that Jesus was not simply addressing individuals but was calling for collective, social response.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Bio-Optic Organised Knowledge

Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organised Knowledge device—trade-named: BOOK.

BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It’s so easy to use, even a child can operate it.

Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere—even sitting in an armchair by the fire—yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM.

Here’s how it works: BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of recyclable paper, each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence.

Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now, BOOKS with more information simply use more pages. Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet.

BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it.

BOOK never crashes or requires rebooting, though, like other devices, it can become damaged if coffee is spilled on it and it becomes unusable if dropped too many times on a hard surface. The “browse” feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an “index” feature, which pin-points the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional “BOOKmark” accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session—even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers.

Conversely, numerous BOOK markers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK. You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with optional programming tools, Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Styli (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave. BOOK’s appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking to invest. Look for a flood of new titles soon.
Thanks to Michael Pahl
for this exciting find...

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?

To which race of Middle Earth do you belong? brought to you by Quizilla What ever this means?

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Jesus in Context

Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study by Darrell L. Bock and Gregory J. Herrick.
Crucial to a proper understanding and interpretation of Scripture is an awareness of the historical, cultural, and religious context in which the Bible was written. But the passing of two millennia often prevents the modern student from fully understanding the significance of various actions and teachings of Jesus in the Gospels. For instance, the controversy over Jesus's healing on the Sabbath must be understood against the backdrop of the Mishnah's detailed list of forbidden Sabbath activities.

The diligent researcher can cull such information by poring through numerous early Jewish and Christian texts or by referencing Strack and Billerbeck's six-volume Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und Midrasch. But in Jesus in Context, Darrell L. Bock and Gregory J. Herrick have identified and compiled into one handy volume the key extrabiblical texts that provide the necessary cultural background for understanding passages in the Gospel narratives. Brief comments from the editors precede each selection, noting its relevance to the biblical text.
Anyone used this? I'm trying to follow Bird's advice that one should probably only buy books that one has used [or that one KNOWS one is going to use lots, regardless of position]... Martin Hengel gives it a favourable thumbs up. What say you all in Blogsphere?

Friday, November 11, 2005


Pardon the rant but the news that Bible Centre is dodge for producing copy-righted material has left me in a rather bad mood. The elation I experienced yesterday, at finding a much needed resource that would help me out loads, has now been thoroughly destroyed. Back to the drawing board and driving to the library!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Hermeneutics & Authority

Hermeneutics and Authority are massive issues in both Church and Theology in the contemporary world. While hermeneutics is both a science & an art, the question of authority and how these two relate is a philosophy. A philosophy that is being seriously discussed and debated. In his book Slaves, Women & Homosexuals: Exploring the Hermeneutics of Cultural Analysis, William J. Webb draws out some of the serious problems with interpreting the scriptures based on a purely literalist method. He leads you through the maze of interpretation that has historically surrounded understanding of slaves, women and homosexuals, and he evaluates various approaches to these and other biblical-ethical teachings. You can read a few chapters online:
I mention this book here cause I'm grappling with Eddies paper: Authority and Hermeneutics. It looks set to be an engaging read by my very own nemesis, who I will be taking out for a serious Hot Choc @ C I M A cafe in Auckland, in just a few weeks from now, where we will discuss EVERYTHING from hermeneutics to Jesus studies to the emerging church to snow-boarding!

Friday, November 04, 2005

Jesus and the Ossuaries

Craig Evans' new book Jesus and the Ossuaries: What Jewish Burial Practices Reveal about the Beginning of Christianity is a tour of 1st century history unlike many others. [See The Intro]
The recent discovery and exhibition of an ancient Jewish ossuary (a burial box) that bears the inscription "James the son of Joseph, brother of Jesus" has stunned scholars and public alike. Could it really be that this small stone box actually contained the bones of James, the brother of Jesus Christ?
While the preliminary scientific and paleographic study suggests that this ossuary may well be authentic (i.e., datable to the first century) and may well refer to James, the brother of Jesus, whose leadership to early Christianity in Jerusalem has become public, what is still shrouded in mystery is that this ossuary is only one of several that shed important archaeological light on the historical Jesus and the origins of Christianity. In Jesus and the Ossuaries Craig A. Evans helps all readers, expert and layperson alike, understand the importance of this recent find for the quest for the historical Jesus and any historical reconstruction of early Christianity.
Evans provides an overview of the most important archaeological discoveries, including those near the Dead Sea, before summarizing archaeological findings relevant to first-century Galilee and Judea.Against this backdrop, Evans then provides a detailed study of nine other inscriptions (six on ossuaries, three on stone slabs) thatpertain in one way or another to the historical Jesus and the arguments for and against the authenticity and identification of therecently discovered James Ossuary (the tenth major inscription).Evans concludes his volume with a measured consideration of the historical, exegetical, and apologetic value of the archaeologicaldata afforded by the several inscriptions.

Shopping List

Bryan Lee notes what books he intends to buy at SBL this year and wants to know what others are getting. While I don't have the luxury of going to SBL [not yet at least] I do have the privilege of getting some books when I return to New Zealand for Christmas.
  • Sean Freyne: Galilee: From Alexander the Great to Hadrian
  • Scot McKnight: Jesus and His Death
  • G. R. Beasley-Murray: Jesus and the Kingdom of God
  • E. M. Smallwood: The Jews under Roman Rule
  • John Nolland: The Gospel of Matthew
  • R. David Kaylor: Jesus the Prophet
These should keep me out of mischief for at least a shortish time. Well, at least until I get back to South Africa! January will be a hectic month with Summer Camp and various speaking engagements...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

κατα μαρκον 12:38-13:2

It has long perplexed me that so many have used the Widow's Mite to teach on sacrificial giving & obedience [even tithing!]. The issues at hand are not just about extracting a nice story about a women who gives up everything in obedience to the law [or interpretations of that law!]. Rather it is about how to understand this episode within a narrative context that stretches back to Jesus denouncing the scribes for their exploitation of widow's so that their status may be enhanced and upheld. The episode also stretches forward to Jesus' exit of the temple and an announcement of judgement upon the whole temple system.
Commentators such as Lane & Gundry have held that the widow is exemplary of sacrificial giving and is to be commended for her obedience. They contrast the righteousness of the scribes compared with that of the widow. While I admit there is certainly a contrast - this does not seem to be the primary concern of Mark's pericope.
Their interpretation flies in the face of the context, both narrative and [dare I say], historical. In our story, the widow holds nothing back but sacrifices her very life [Βιον]. And for what? So that the religious elite can look flash in their fancy outfits. So that they can have the best seats at their exclusive gatherings. And so that they can enjoy the best, the finest at the banquets they have. And what becomes of this widow’s life? What becomes of all that she had? It is sacrificed to feed their greed. So what becomes of her?
The options are many and varied. Maybe she becomes a hooker to support herself. Maybe she becomes a beggar? Possibly a servant, or worse a slave? Maybe she has a rich brother who will take her in and care for her needs. Maybe she will be lucky enough to find another husband who will support her. Or maybe she will end up like many others - marginalized and extricated.
Fitzmyer reminds us that in Mark Jesus asserts that human needs take precedence over religiosity (as seen in 3:1-5 [healing on the Sabbath], 7:10-13 [the qorban tradition, by which elderly parents may be denied support from their adult children], and 12:28-34 [where loving God and neighbour is worth more than burnt offerings]). He concludes: “given such a reaction of Jesus in other parts of the Marcan Gospel, would the Marcan Jesus become enthusiastic about and praise the widow’s contribution, when it involved ‘all that she had to live on’? The Corban-saying seems to set limits to the interpretation of Jesus’ words in this episode.[1] With the Markan context in mind, Wright says “Her religious thinking has accomplished the very thing that the scribes were accused of doing… She has been taught and encouraged by religious leaders to donate as she does, and Jesus condemns the value system that motivates her action.”[2]
It appears to me that Mark often sets up Jesus as teaching, and then directly offers a situation that illuminates and explains the teaching in concrete details. In 1:14-20 Jesus teaches the Kingdom & calls disciples; 1:21-27 exorcises demons and the crowds are amazed at his teaching & authority; 1:39-40 Jesus goes about teaching and then heals. The list goes on, so that when we get to 12:38-13:2 it seems almost natural to see this as the patter Mark has set: teaching/announcements with a concrete example that demonstrates and explains what has been said. As Belo has noted: “The Messiah is occupying the temple and holding a protest meeting against the dominant ideology.”[3] Thus, in both word and praxis which mutually interpret each-other.
So given this info, is Jesus commending the widow's sacrifice or merely using this scenario as a concrete example of scribes who rip off people so that they can enjoy the finer things in life - with the prestige that it offers? Why would Jesus commend this woman for supporting a system that ultimately leads to her demise? And why would Jesus leave the temple courts, with a pronouncement of Judgement on the Temple? These rhetorical questions should offer us a definitive understanding of Mark 12:38-13:2 and what Jesus meant to convey.
[1] Fitzmyer, Luke, 2:1321
[2] Wright, A. G. “The Widows Mites: Praise or Lament? – A Matter of Context” CBQ 44 [1982] 256-65. See also C. A. Evans Mark 8-16 who concurs with Wright. [3] Belo, F. A Materialist Reading of the Gospel of Mark [Orbis, 1981] pg. 192
There appears to be some good discussion on the radical nature of Jesus' announcement and call: See Ben Myers, Privileged westerners and the call of Jesus and Michael Jenson, "Jesus the exemplar": what could that mean?

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Jesus and His Death

Ben Myers may be a lucky blogger because he got a copy of Jesus Remembered, but my MOM is the coolest in the world, cause she got me a copy of Jesus and His Death by Scot McKnight! [For those who want a foretaste there is a brief snippet available here.]
I'm really looking forward to reading this book, given my interest in the discussion. I read his chapter on Jesus` Death in Scholarship which was most enlightening. So here's hoping to a great read!
Table of Contents
----Part One: The Debate
1 The Historical Jesus, the Death of Jesus, Historiography, and Theology
2 Jesus` Death in Scholarship
3 Re-enter Jesus` Death
----Part Two: The Reality of a Premature Death
4 The Leading Foot in the Dance of Atonement
5 A Temporary Presence in God`s Providence
6 Jesus and the Prophetic Fate
----Part Three: A Ransom for Many
7 The Authenticity of the Ransom SayingExcursus: The Son of Man
8 Jesus and the Scripture Prophets
9 The Script for Jesus
10 Jesus and the Servant
11 The Passion Predictions
----Part Four: Jesus and the Last Supper
12 Pesah in Jewish History
13 Pesah and the Last Supper
14 This Bread and This Cup
15 Jesus and the Covenant
16 "Poured Out" and Eschatology
17 Conclusions
Excursus: Chasing Down Paul`s Theological Ship
Works Cited
Scripture Index
Author Index
Subject Index