Friday, January 27, 2006


Does anyone have or know of any reviews of: Colossians and Philemon by Marianne Meye Thompson? Eerdmans provides this preview: Colossians and Philemon have traditionally been overshadowed by other New Testament texts thought to express Pauline theology more clearly. In this notable commentary, however, Marianne Meye Thompson shows how these two epistles provide a unique formulation of the gospel in terms of creation and reconciliation rather than justification by faith. In Colossians she finds an overarching narrative of the Bible’s grand creation-redemption story and an important emphasis on the relationship between creation and Christology, while her exploration of Philemon casts brighter light on the significance of Paul’s familial metaphors for the church and the meaning of new humanity in Christ. Throughout her work on these two epistles, Thompson continually connects her insights to theological concerns, making this volume an excellent addition to the Two Horizons series.
But are there any actual reviews available? And what, is the best commentary on Colossians available? And if possible, why do you think that?
Thanks much, ciao


Who were the strange people who called themselves “Christians”? what was the “kingdom” to which they claimed allegiance? And why did they stubbornly refuse to offer the usual, patriotic sacrifices to Augustus Caesar and, in so doing, willingly go to their deaths? These were the questions that most ancient Romans found hard to answer on the rare occasions when they came into direct contact with the unconventional sect of Christians, yet these subversive practices – the steadfast refusal to bow to false gods or pay homage to earthly powers – lay at the very heart of the early Christian faith. Emperor after emperor ordered campaigns of persecution against them. Roman authors branded them as “notoriously depraved” adherents of a “deadly superstition” that represented a direct threat to the moral majority of imperial Rome. Christians were hunted down in the slums and back alleys of Rome and other provincial cities. They were rounded up, beaten up, and condemned to execution for atheism and treason – that is, failing to participate in the state controlled cults of the gods of the Greco-Roman pantheon and abandoning honoured family values of pagan society.
On the surface, at least, the Christians appeared to be quite harmless. “The sum and substance of their fault or error,” observed the Roman jurist Pliny the Younger at the beginning of the second century C.E., after interrogating a number of suspected Christians, “Was that they were accustomed to meet on a fixed day before dawn and sing responsively a hymn to Christ as to a god, and to bind themselves by oath, not for any criminal purpose, but to abstain from fraud, theft and adultery and never make false promises or refuse to carry out a pledge when called upon to do so. When this ceremony was over, it was their custom to depart and to assemble again later to partake of food of an ordinary and innocent kind.”
This was only a part of the story. In close-knit communities and weekly assemblies, in which the Spirit moved people to burst into strange tongues and shouts of praise to Jesus the LORD and GOD the Father, early Christians rejected conventional career hopes, social ladders and civic honours. They fervently believed that the modern-day world of streets and market-places – the realm of tax collectors, loan agents, market inspectors, and imperial officials – could at any moment be rocked to its very foundations.
This was a Christianity without impressive churches, without authoritative clergy, without special outward trappings. Their hopes for a different kind of future for themselves and their children strengthened their faith in their impending redemption. Indeed, “Christianity” in its early decades was a network of a poor people and marginal communities in both cities and rural areas that a government, even a modern government, would have had a problem recognizing as a “religion” at all.
Early Christianity was in fact, a down to earth response to an oppressive ideology of earth power that had recently swept across continents, disrupted economies, and overturned ancient traditions. And this triumphant ideology of progress and development was expressed in many media: in the elegies of Latin poets, in the grandeur of Roman architecture, in Roman law-courts and statutes, in the technological triumphs of Roman engineering, and in the majestic, fatherly wave of every emperor’s hand. At the beginning of the second century C.E. – just at the time when Christianity was crystallising into a formalised, independent religion – a vast and growing publis was being taught to cooperate in the construction of a new global system of economics, culture, and civil administration, in which the figure of the emperor had begun to take on the qualities of a single, supreme god. That was why the early Christians were viewed as so subversive.
[1] Horsley R. and N. A. Silberman, The Message and the Kingdom, pg. 9-10

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Still Busy

This is proving to be a rather busy time for me... Even my study of Revelation has taken a dive. But I hope to bounce back soon. There's some good stuff going on in the Blogosphere:

Well, I've got a ton of stuff to do, none of which is actually that exciting, but I suppose someone's got to do it... Hope to make a serious come back - but that's an eschatological hope akin to Rev. 1!

Friday, January 20, 2006


Ted Hildebrandt of Gordon College has a nice collection of dozens of New Testament articles in .html, .doc, and .pdf formats: New Testament eSource Articles, ordered by author and by canonical order. These appear to be mostly from Bibliotheca Sacra, the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, Criswell Theological Review, Grace Theological Journal, and Westminster Theological Journal. (Hat Tip: Michael Pahl @ 1/19/200)

A bit of FUN

You must play: Pandamonium by Bill Dembski. I'm so snowed under with work, that I'll have to delay blogging for a short time.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Divorce & Remarriage - Hays

Primary Data

Mk 10:2-12; Matt 19:3-9; Luke 16:18 = Matt 5:31-32; 1 Cor 7:8-15

Thus, we have a multiply attested view in various sections of the Jesus-tradition. In his discussion of ten key issues where the Dead Sea Scroll are relevant to historical Jesus studies ["Jesus and the Dead Sea Scrolls" in Doris Donnely (ed.), Jesus. A Colloquium in the Holy Land with James D.G. Dunn, et al. Continuum, 2001. Pp. 27-44], Harrington briefly considers Jesus' teaching "no divorce":

By the criteria of dissimilarity and multiple attestation, the prohibition of divorce belongs to the corpus of Jesus' authentic sayings. It went against Jewish practice and even against the permission of the Scriptures (Deut. 24:1-4), and it appears in Mark (10:2-12), Q (Luke 16:18 and Matt. 5:31-32), and 1 Corinthians (7:10-11). Of course, one must take account of the exceptions introduced by Matthew (see Matt. 5:32 and 19:9) and Paul (see 1 Cor. 7:12-16). One must also ask how Jesus intended this teaching to be taken---whether as an ideal, a legal principle, a protection for women, a temporary measure (in the face of the coming kingdom of God), or whatever else. Nevertheless, it is fair to say that Jesus taught "no divorce."

I want to stress an [apparently] arbitrary point, yet one that makes exegesis more plausible. If one was to ask Jesus what his view of divorce was, it appears the answer would be: Divorce goes against the creative intentions of YHWH. But does that then logically entail a strict legal principle of no-one ever being allowed to divorce? I think that would be to apply to the Jesus material a certain analytically philosophical force that is [seemingly] absent in our 1st century worldview.
Another issue which makes exegesis more plausible is remaining close to the actual and not hypothetical data that we have. Hays seems to set himself up for this position when he assumes that because an author is silent on a particular view, or neglects to mention a particular view, that this automatically entails the opposite/rejection of the view that is noted. For example: Luke notes that Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery [16:18]. But does this then logically entail that a woman who divorces her husband commits adultery? If not, why not? Does it entail that, in Luke's view, women may not divorce? Just because Luke is silent does not mean he is affirming or denying any of these views. It just means that for an almost infinite amount of reasons, he has not included it or voiced his view about it. And to guess at the reasons amounts to unhelpful speculation that could deter exegesis. Hays and others assume to much when they argue from such silences.
Furthermore, this makes the claim that Matt's exception clause [19b] is merely redaction a questionable stance. Historically, if Mark's claim is accurate that the Pharisees came to test Jesus about this question, we may assume that Jesus' stance against divorce was well known and thus provoked attention. If it was well known then we may assume that Jesus may have taught against divorce at various occassions. On some occassions it was simply necessary for him to state his position: divorce is contrary to the creative intentions of YHWH. On other occassions that required more pastoral nuancing, there could be exceptions in extreme cases - such as πορνεια [sexual immorality: incest, bestiality, homosexuality, adultery, et. al. cf. Lev 18-20]. [I leave aside the contemporary question of whether or not we may infer that anything amounting to a similar break in marriage faithfulness [such as domestic violence] may be grounds for divorce.] Thus, I'm wary of Hays stating that this: represents Matthew's own causuistic adaptation of the tradition. This is of course historically plausible, but so is the position that the exception is part and parcel of the Jesus-tradition. Pronouncing a probable judgement on this matter, either way, seems unlikely.
Furthermore, the interpretive options available to us become even more varied and complex when we exclude silent inferrences. But I'll have to think about Loren's comments before I explore this issue further...

Monday, January 16, 2006

New Biblica articles!

Of all the new articles released on Biblica, this one seems the most relevent to New Testament studies.
R. Dalrymple, «These Are the Ones» , Vol. 86 (2005) 396-406.
The thematic features relating to John’s depiction of the righteous in the intercalations of Rev 11,3-13 and 7,1-17 as well as how these features might affect our understanding of Revelation 7,1-17 are examined. Four foci pertaining to the righteous are explicitly present in the account of the Two Witnesses (11,3- 13). All four foci, also, materialize in the description of the 144,000 (7,1-8) and the Great Multitude (7,9-17). However, when we examine Rev 7,1-8, we find that John only incorporates the first two of the four foci (Divine Protection and Witnesses) while in the account of 7,9-17, only the latter two appear (Enduring Persecution and Vindication of the Righteous). If, however, we read Rev 7,1-17 as the account of one group, then the thematic parallels with the intercalation of Rev 11,3-13 are retained.
There is another one in French for all those who speak it: J.-N. Aletti:, «Galates 1–2. Quelle fonction et quelle démonstration?» , Vol. 86(2005) 305-323. This article is an attempt to show the following: (1) Galatians 1,11–2,21 is a unified argument in which vv. 11-12 constitute the propositio; (2) Gal 2,14b-21 represent a short speech bringing the argument to its climax, and (3) Gal 2,16 takes up the Jerusalem agreement about Paul’s Gospel and not only fulfills a rhetorical function within the short speech of v. 14b-21 but also provides the thesis of the argument that unfolds in Galatians 3–4.

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Return of Primal

Well, I'm back in Africa. Summer Camp was outstanding. I may even post a few pics.
The most NB thing at the moment is that my email has changed. Primalhcc AT gmail DOT com is where I can now be reached with all those lovely questions, comments and articles! For some odd reason my last email provider decided to just delete my account, so I've lost all my email addy's. So if you could be so kind as to email me again [assuming of course that I know you, or at least know of you], that would be helpful in restoring my connections to the greater community!
Blogging will resume when I get back to work. I hope to respond to what's been going on in the Blogosphere and add some exegetical comments on the Apocalypse before returning to my first love, Jesus and the Gospels...