Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Dom Henry Wansbrough has lots of materials available. Check out his Booklets for some great teaching materials, including a new Introduction to Mark (Word Document), 2006. [HT: Mark Goodacre]
Thanks to those who are sending in their reflections on James. Again, the invitation is open to anyone. I've had such a splendid response so far, so thanks to all. And keep them coming!
For more info, see: An Invitation to James.

Friday, June 23, 2006

πιστις in Matt & James

Jason Hood has an excellent post on πιστις in Matt's Gospel. I concur heartily with his conclusions, and think that one should almost never distinguish to sharply between faith as belief and fidelity. This almost always seems to obscure the text.
As I write on James, I note that: "James uses the word [πιστις] to denote a trusting of God that produces a life of obedience towards God." Fidelity and Belief are two sides to the same coin, and should not be arbitrarily seperated. Yes, one can be observing one side of the coin, or the other. But they remain as close to each other as ever. Faith that is not faithful is like water that is not wet...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Colossian Hymn

Larry Hurtado briefly discusses the Colossian hymn/poem in his massive study: Lord Jesus Christ. Drawing on the work of Christian Stettler, Der Kolosserhymnus: Untersuchungen zu Form, traditionsgeschichtlichem Hintergrund und Aussage von Kol 1,15-20 WUNT 2/31 (Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000) Hurtado comes to the following conclusions:
  • On account of the self-contained nature of the passage, its compact phrasing, and its cadences (more evident in the Greek than in translation), 1:15-20 is widely thought to be a devotional poem or “hymn.”[1]
  • Unity and coherence speak against adaptation of an existing hymn.
  • Probably originated in the context of Christian worship.
  • Conceptual categories most likely derived from Greek speaking Jewish circles [LXX].
  • Stettler characterizes this as a “Christ-Psalm” lauding Jesus in the cadences of the Psalter.

What is most interesting to note is the lack of attention paid to προτοτοκος. Hurtado does not even entertain the thought that the mutation/explosion among early Christians as to the worship of Jesus, may have gone astray from monotheism to an adoptionistic Christology [a thought entertained by Dunn in Christology in the Making?]. Unless προτοτοκος is adequately dealt with, this conclusion remains a distinct possibility. Col 1:15-20 must be carefully exegeted to see if this conclusion is warranted. Failing that, an analysis of devotion to Jesus within a monotheistic framework remains incomplete.

I hope to address προτοτοκος in an upcoming blog...
Your thoughts?

[1] Hurdato, Lord Jesus Christ, pg. 505

Biblica Articles

Wim J.C. WEREN, «The Macrostructure of Matthew’s Gospel: A New Proposal» , Vol. 87(2006) 171-200. The weakness of the proposals concerning the macrostructure of Matthew’s Gospel made by Bacon and Kingsbury is that they depart from rigid caesuras, whilst a typical characteristic of the composition of this Gospel is the relatively smooth flow of the story. On the basis of the discovery that the various topographical data are clustered together by means of three refrains we can distinguish three patterns in the travels undertaken by Jesus. This rather coarse structure is further refined with the use of Matera’s and Carter’s distinction between kernels and satellites. Kernels are better labelled as “hinge texts”. The following pericopes belong to this category: 4,12-17; 11,2-30; 16,13-28; 21,1-17; 26,1-16. Each of them marks a turning point in the plot and has a double function: a hinge text is not only fleshed out in the subsequent pericopes but also refers to the preceding block. It is especially these “hinge texts” that underline the continuity of Matthew’s narrative and should prevent us from focussing too much on alleged caesuras.

Peter SPITALER, «Doubt or Dispute (Jude 9 and 22-23). Rereading a Special New Testament Meaning through the Lense of Internal Evidence» , Vol. 87(2006) 201-222. The middle/passive verb diakri/nomai occurs twice in Jude’s letter. It is usually rendered with the classical/Hellenistic meaning “dispute” in v. 9, and the special NT meaning “doubt” in v. 22. Beginning with a brief discussion of the methodological problems inherent in the special NT meaning approach to diakri/nomai, this article offers an interpretation of vv. 9 and 22 based on the letter’s internal evidence. The content of Jude’s letter permits diakri/nomai to be consistently translated with its classical/Hellenistic meaning, “dispute” or “contest”.

Robert L. MOWERY, «Paul and Caristanius at Pisidian Antioch» , Vol. 87(2006) 221-242. A recently-published Latin inscription from Pisidian Antioch refers to four benefactions that a prominent citizen named Caristanius had provided to fulfill a vow on behalf of the emperor Claudius. Since this inscription refers to the year 45/46 CE, it refers to benefactions that may have been provided near the time when Paul arrived in the city. After surveying the contents of this inscription and reviewing scholarly opinion concerning the date when Paul arrived, this paper reflects on the ethnic diversity of first century Pisidian Antioch, the religious beliefs reflected in Caristanius’ vow, the likely impact of his benefactions on the residents of the city, and the possibility that he may have been one of “the leading men of the city” mentioned in Acts 13,50.


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Invitation to James

Earlier this month I issued An Invitation to James. Thank you to those that have responded and this is a little reminder that studies are due within the next 9 days...
Richard Bauckham on James arrived, so I'll be plundering my way through that soon! For those who don't know what's going on, we finally decided that we [PRIMAL, the church I lead] would work through The Epistle of James this winter [July/August for those in the Southern Hemisphere]. So I issued an open invitation to one and all to write a 1pg reflection on either James' life, teaching, epistle or anything else relating to James and his mission.
The target audience is a group of uni students. No Greek or Hebrew, unless you explain it. The guiding principle is J.I. Packers "Theology is for Doxology: That is, the praise of God and the practice of Godliness." You may email your reflections to me: primalhcc AT gmail DOT com... No attachments please, unless you arrange it with me first... This gives you some time to offer a thought or meditation on this enigmatic letter. Recognition will be given to each contributor, put a little precis of yourself at the bottom of your piece.
If you're keen, get writing and I may even post a few of them that are really good...

NT Theology?

My nemesis, Eddie, asks this absurd question: Is NT theology really just a series of Christian and Ecclesial footnotes to the Hebrew scriptures? I should think not. But then again, I'm a NT Geek, so I have to say that! But seriously now.
Can we really relegate the incarnation to a footnote? Can we relegate the Coming of God in his Spirit, poured out on all flesh, to a footnote? Can we relegate the unveiled identity of God in the trinity to a footnote?
While the Hebrew scriptures provide the [sufficient?] necessary (?) background for adequately understanding the meaning and message of the NT, it is by no means the crown of revelation. That belongs strictly to the NT in describing the impact of Jesus and the Spirit. I think Goldingay is providing an unnecessary reaction to the stark neglect of studying the Hebrew scriptures by NT scholars. Although the study of intertextuality has become more popular, there is still a need for NT Scholars to know and understand the entire Hebrew worldview and story so as to better understand the NT.
That's why I think it's vital that NT Scholars read good books on the Hebrew scriptures. Not necessarily massive tomes, though I hope to one day soon attempt to read Brueggemann's Theology of the Old Testament, but good solid books that aid our reading of the NT.

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Christian scholarship is the human race’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the New Testament, to ensure that one can continue to be a Christian without letting the New Testament come too close.

Kierkegaard Journals and Papers, Vol. 3 (Indiana University Press, 1975) pg. 270

There have always been scholars who lived by God’s word as they heard it in scripture just as earnestly as they studied the texts. But in all honesty it has to be acknowledged that biblical scholarship does pose a temptation, both for scholars and those who read their books: the temptation to substitute study for faith and action.

Bauckham, James (Routledge, 1999) pg. 5

Why I Love...

My guest-entry over at Faith & Theology is up.

Be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

fides quaerens intellectum

Shock of my life! Scot McKnight alerts us to the new quiz: Which theologian are you? To my utter surprise, I scored as most like Anselm! Not a bad outcome, just not what I was expecting. I'm glad Jurgen Moltmann was 2nd on my score with an awkward John Calvin 3rd but a delightful Karl Barth in 4th place. [Mental note to self, you still have traces of Calvinism within your theological DNA which must be swiftly eradicated or celebrated. Decide NOW!] Look at all those Calvinists? SHOCKING!!! :)
Anselm is the outstanding theologian of the medieval period.He sees man's primary problem as having failed to render unto God what we owe him, so God becomes man in Christ and gives God what he is due. You should read 'Cur Deus Homo?' Anselm 100%
J. Moltmann 80%
John Calvin 60%
Karl Barth 53%
Charles Finney 47%
Paul Tillich 47%
Friedrich Schleiermacher 33%
Augustine 33%
Jonathan Edwards 27%
Martin Luther 13%
So? What are you?

Pseudonomity/Pastoral Epistles & GUTS!

Derek Brown has an insightful post on The House that Pseudonymity Built. He notes that it is almost as if in the academic world there are three strata within the Pauline corpus:
  1. "Authentic" Pauline works: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, Philippians, and Philemon ("the seven").
  2. "Not really Pauline but they're pretty good anyways": Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians.
  3. "Equivalent to illegitimate children" epistles: 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus (aka "the Pastorals").

Yet I wonder if Wright is onto something about the authorship of the "Deutero-Paulines" as noted by Mark Owens. I know my former teacher George Wieland was dismayed when his supervisor Howard Marshall stated that he was pretty convinced that the Pastorals are pseudonomous.

But what of Derek's point that these letters have been relegated to the margins of studies? I fear, unless the route taken by Wright has any merit, the field will probably stay as it is... And if Mark Goodacre is right, then scholarship will seek to specialize in the Pastorals as a subset of Pauline studies, and the chasm will widen... Unless of course we heed Mark's advice and become more couragous and publish in other areas too...
So shall Derek restore the balance to the force and research Christology in the P.E. arising out of a 2nd Temple Judaistic context? Or shall he research something completely different yet still have the guts to publish on the importance of the P.E.? Only time will tell...

Old School Articles...

There are a stack of older Evangelical articles on the New Testament hosted by Ted Hildebrandt at: New Testament eSources Articles. Some decent articles, especially by Bruce, Bock and Ellis. Check it out...

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Mary - Still a Virgin?

Scot McKnight comments on the "perpetual virginity" of Mary. James Darlack responds with a view from Anne Rice's work, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt.

Rice develops the story of Mary's perpetual virginity from Joseph's standpoint rather than from some view that Mary was "holier than thou." If I can recall correctly, Joseph asks in essence, "How can I 'touch' someone who has given birth to the Son of God?" From that standpoint, I guess perpetual virginity takes on a more "human" explanation. Given that Joseph could have very well fathered Jesus 'brothers and sisters' in a previous marriage, I don't have too much of a problem with the idea. Either way, my faith does not stand or fall on the concept.

This though begs the question of whether it makes sense of the language that the gospel writers use to portray Jesus' siblings? Mark 6:3 is clear:
Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?
Would this language be used of extended family? It appears, from this context, unlikely.

Richard Bauckham [Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1990)] makes the following case for the relatives of Jesus: From the NT and other reliable early sources, especially the second-century writer Hegesippus, who preserves Palestinian Jewish Christian traditions, the following relatives from the generation of Jesus’ parents onward are known:

  • Jesus’ mother Mary and adoptive father Joseph.
  • Joseph’s brother Clopas (Hegesippus, quoted in Eusebius Hist. Eccl. 3.11; 3.32.6; 4.22.4).
  • "Mary of Clopas" (Jn 19:25) is probably his wife. He may well be the same person as Cleopas (Lk 24:18). Clopas is a Semitic name and Cleopas is a Greek name; Jews of this period frequently used both a Semitic name and a Greek name that sounded similar.
  • Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, was a relative of Jesus’ mother, Mary, according to Luke 1:36 (the precise relationship is not specified).
  • Jesus’ four brothers: James, Joses (or Joseph; Joses is an abbreviated form), Judas (or Jude, an English variant of the name that is sometimes used for this brother of Jesus) and Simon (Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3).
  • Jesus’ sisters (at least two: Mt 13:56; Mk 6:3). Later sources, perhaps correctly, name them Mary and Salome (Protev. James 19.3—20.4; Gos. Phil. 59.6-11; Epiphanius Haer. 78.8.1; 78.9.6).
  • Simeon (Simon) son of Clopas (Hegesippus, quoted in Eusebius Hist. Eccl. 3.11; 3.32.6; 4.22.4).
  • Zoker and James, two grandsons of Jesus’ brother Jude (Hegesippus, quoted in Eusebius Hist. Eccl. 3.19.1-3.20.7; 3.32.5–6; and in Paris MS 1555A; Bodleian MS Barocc. 142).
  • Abris, Abraham and his son James, three descendants of the family of Jesus. They are named in medieval chronicles, which may preserve early sources, as bishops of Ctesiphon-Seleucia in central Mesopotamia in the second century.
  • Conon of Magydos, martyred in 250–51, was probably a descendant of the family of Jesus (Martyrdom of Conon 4.2).

Thus, while I can concur with Darlack's conclusion that it makes no difference to faith, the question of historical plausibility remains a serious critique of Rice's view.

UPDATE: Scot McKnight has another post which interacts with Bauckham's critique of J.P. Meier.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Quote of the day...

Naïve faith can mean a life not lived in accord with the kingdom of God.
– Chris Tilling.

Bock On Blog

Darrell Bock, author of those lovely Baker Exegetical Commentaries on Lukas has his own blog! Be sure to check it out, as he blogs through various issues surrounding Da Vinci, Missing Gospels and whatever else he feels like...

Exegesis or Authenticity

Mike Bird reviews Brant Pitre work Jesus, the Tribulation and the End of the Exile (WUNT 2.204; Tubingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 2005). I'm desperately waiting for my copy to arrive [but will have to wait till AUGUST!]. This looks like a cracking read with lots of LONG insights and LONG arguments.
Bird notes one quibble he has with the work, and it is something I have pondered lately: In discussing the various passages for his thesis, Pitre typically exegetes a passage before discussing its authenticity. That can give the impression that "authenticity" is merely an afterthought to his exegesis, and he doesn't pay as much attention as he should to the redactional activity of the Evangelists.
I note that many historians first work out if a saying is authentic, and then try and exegete the text. But in doing it this way, doesn't one assume what the text means, and then judge its authenticity? How can it not be so? Thus, I am of the view that one must first fully exegete the passage, in both its historical and literary form and then once one has determined its meaning, decide on its authenticity. Otherwise, one is doomed to assume what the text means, judge its authenticity and then possibly neglect a key piece of evidence for one's hypothesis.
Furthermore, the criteria assume one has determined the meaning of a text and thus can judge whether or not a logion or pericope is (a) embarassing; (b) coherent; (c) discontinuous. Only multiple attestation can be used without determining its meaning. And even then, I suspect that exegesis might be used to see whether or not a saying is similar to another source.
I hear what Bird is saying about authenticity being an afterthought, but can we do it any other way? We have to start with what we've got: gospel testimonies that appear to be relaying teachings and events from the life of Jesus of Nazareth. This material may have been redacted/adapted to a situation. But we must first deal with what we have, and then seek to move closer to the historical Jesus.
So how can one not first do exegesis and then judge its authenticity?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Colossians & Devotion

Thinking through Colossians recently has persuaded me that Hooker's thesis about the problems and thus the purpose of Colossians is fundamentally correct, though we may demur on specific details. Larry Hurtado has written that:

Without detracting in any way from the significance of the christological affirmations expressed in Colossians, however, the text is not in fact primarily an exercise in doctrinal development or speculative innovation. Instead it mainly represents a practical concern to motivate and reinforce the behaviour of the intended readers, both devotionally and in the wider scope of their lives, so that they should aim to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (3:17; and similarly Eph. 5:20).
[Hurdato, Lord Jesus Christ, pg. 510]
With this in view, we must contend that Colossians was written as a pastoral exhortation to a fledgling community of faith, trying to make its way in an imperial and pagan context. "Devotion" to Jesus was Paul's central concern. Either to persuade Gentiles to adopt Jesus as LORD and thus abandon all other claims to authority over their lives or to encourage those who have pledged allegiance to the King to work this out in every area of their lives. Devotion to Jesus is thus the theme of Colossians and its central concern. It is an exhortation to a theology of, a praxis for and a relationship with the Creator and Redeemer: Jesus the Messiah.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

SBL Book Reviews for NT Students

Lincoln, Andrew T. The Gospel According to Saint John Reviewed by Craig Keener
Patella, Michael F. The Gospel According to Luke Reviewed by Joel Green
Riches, John and David C. Sim, eds. The Gospel of Matthew in Its Roman Imperial Context Reviewed by Markus OehlerStepp,
Perry L. Leadership Succession in the World of the Pauline Circle Reviewed by Ronald Clark

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Quote of the Day

The incarnation implies that the story of Jesus is not only a possible subject for historical research, study, and criticism, but demands all of these. We need to know who the Jesus of history was, as well as the content of his message. We may not avoid the offence of the incarnation. And if one objects that we fail to apprehend the essential nature of faith if we make historical knowledge the object of faith, and that faith is in this way offered up to such dubious, subjective, and hypothetical study, we can only reply that God has offered up Himself. The incarnation is the self-offering of God, and to that we can only bow in assent.

Joachim Jeremias, ‘The Search for the Historical Jesus’, repr. in Jesus and the Message of the New Testament ed. K. C. Hanson (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2002), 8.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Quote of the Day...

When Jesus said, "Love your enemies"
i think He probably meant don't kill them!

Friday, June 02, 2006

Biblical Studies Carnival VI

Ben Myers has done a fantastic job in collecting all the various posts that may be of interest to those in our various guilds. Be sure to check out the Biblical Studies Carnival VI !

Thursday, June 01, 2006

An Invitation to James

Leading P R I M A L is so much fun... After lamenting my ignorance about James and his place in early Christianity my friends sent word that help was on the way... Richard Bauckham on James!
We finally decided that we would work through The Epistle of James this winter [July for those in the Southern Hemisphere]. So here's an open invitation to one and all to write a 1pg reflection on either James' life, teaching, epistle or anything else relating to James and his mission. The target audience is a group of semi-postmodern uni students. No Greek or Hebrew, unless you explain it. The guiding principle is J.I. Packers "Theology is for Doxology: That is, the praise of God and the practice of Godliness." You may email your reflections to me: primalhcc AT gmail DOT com... No attachments please, unless you arrange it with me first...
This gives you ONE month to offer a thought or meditation on this enigmatic letter. Recognition will be given to each contributor, put a little precis of yourself at the bottom of your piece. We make no money off this, so sorry but there's no profit being made here. In fact, part of their job is to re-translate their own study into a booklet that they will then use to teach in the townships - which then has to be translated into two African languages... We're almost on the cutting edge of cross-cultural ministry in South Africa!
So if you're keen, get writing. It should be fun... We only need 25 studies, so first come-first in. Unless you write something that is simply to good to leave out. Then I'll delete my contribution and make space for those who actually know something about James...