Thursday, March 29, 2007

Herod as Associated King

J. Gnilka Jesus of Nazareth: Message and History (Hendrickson, 1997) pg. 28 makes the following statement:

Herod’s political position in the power structure of the Roman Empire is designated by the title “Associated king and friend of the people of Rome” (rex socius et amicus populi Romani).

Gnilka however, provides no reference for this quote, and I'm wondering if someone in the Blogosphere can help me with a reference or even a clue. Is it referenced in the German edition: Jesus von Nazaret. Botschaft und Geschichte, (Verlag Herder, Freiburg, 1993)?
Any help would be much appreciated.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Quote of Note

Bad exegesis is no less worse than bad conduct.
Tertullian, On Purity

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Eucharistic Aims of Jesus

Brant Pitre, author of Jesus, the Tribulation and the End of Exile, has a brief post on his new project, provisionally titled: The Eucharistic Aims of Jesus. Pitre's aims are expressed as:

[An] attempt [at] full-scale reassessment of Jesus and the Last Supper in light of the recent advances in Jesus research, especially restoration eschatology. You would be amazed at just how small a role the Last Supper has played in many of the major historical portraits of Jesus in the century and how people have failed to connect it with the rest of his public ministry (e.g., E. P. Sanders).

I asked Pitre if he was going to interact with McKnight's proposal, and the response was positive, even hinting at some critical engagement which will be interesting to participate in. If this new offering is anything like Pitre's first offering, we will have much to give thanks for.

More Articles

Biblica has posted some new article which will be of interest to many:

H. van de Sandt, «James 4:1-4 in the Light of the Jewish Two Ways Tradition 3,1-6» , Vol. 88(2007) 38-63.

The author of the Letter of James accuses his readers (Jas 4,1-4) of being responsible for war, murder and adultery. How are we to explain this charge? This paper shows that the material in Jas 1,13-21; 2,8-11 and 4,1-4 is closely akin to the teknon section in Did 3,1-6. The teknon section belonged to the Jewish Two Ways tradition which, for the most part, is covered by the first six chapters of the Didache. Interestingly, Did 3,1-6 exhibits close affinity with the ethical principles of a particular stream of Rabbinic tradition found in early Derekh Erets treatises. James 4,1-4 should be considered a further development of the warnings in Did 3,1-6.
This looks especially interesting given our interest in Jacobean studies.
A. Hock, «Christ is the Parade: A Comparative Study of the Triumphal Procession in 2 Cor 2,14 and Col 2,15» , Vol. 88(2007) 110-119.
There are also new articles available at J.G.R.CH.J. Be sure to look at these.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

James 5:6 - Is it James?

John Painter suggests that Jas 5:6's ο δικαιος is a reference to James himself, incorporated into the epistle by a later redactor. Painter writes:
This suggestion gains force if the epistle gathers together tradition originating with James the Just, presenting it in a way relevant to a new and later situation. In other words, the reference of James 5:6 would be understood in relation to the martyrdom of James the Just if the epistle appeared subsequent to that event, as we have suggested.[1]
The unlikely hood of this as a referent to James is firstly the notion of two-stage redaction, proposed by Painter, Martin and others is questionable. Johnson has noted, “all the usual criteria for positing a late dating for New Testament writings are absent… On the face of it, everything in the letter suggests an early dating rather than a late one.”[2] Thus, a hypothesis of redaction or even two-stage composition of James, seems unnecessary.[3] [As noted before, my conjecture is that if James was edited by a later redactor, the traces of this redaction are extraordinarily hard to detect and one could postulate that what the redactor has done is perhaps remove narrative sections from the epistle so as to make it more useful in a wider context. This would explain the awkward genre of James and the abrupt ending that has puzzled scholars for some time.] Bauckham notes that:
There are no serious arguments to weigh against the plausibility of the epistolary situation indicated by James 1:1. The letter can be read as what it purports to be: an encyclical from James of Jerusalem to the Diaspora.[4]
But Painter’s notion that the righteous one refers to none other than James himself persists. The question of course is hindered not just by authorial intent, but by reader response/understanding. Is it likely that the readers of our letter would think of James, any righteous one, or perhaps Jesus specifically when reading this verse? Can we imagine, and plausibly suggest, communities of Jewish-Christians listening to these words and thinking of a specific figure, namely, James? This historical scenario alone appears to be the strongest objection to Painter’s view. The ambiguity surrounding this as a reference to James is too large for us to ignore. If the author of our letter had meant to refer to James, we should expect that the reference be significantly clearer than a reference to “the righteous one.”[5]
However, history may tip our understanding towards Painter’s position due to the testimony of Eusebius, which suggests that James was commonly known as ‘the Just’.[6] Richard Hays carefully notes two interpretive options:
Hegesippus’s claim that James was universally known as ο δικαιος is one more embellishment in an account admittedly heavily embroidered with legendary hagiographic motifs. This source provides no reliable information about what James was actually called by his contemporaries. (2) Hegesippus’s account is indeed reliable on this point at least, and Luke has suppressed the information for reasons that parallel Lake and Cadbury’s embarrassment: ο δικαιος is a title that rightly applies to Jesus alone.[7]
Hays then begin to discuss reasons why the first interpretive option seems more likely.
I think there are good reasons for preferring the first of these explanations: the tradition about the epithet as a designation for James is attested neither by any of the several NT writings that mention him, including most tellingly even the Epistle of James, nor by Josephus. Even if the latter explanation that Luke has suppressed James’s characteristic title is correct, however – indeed, especially if it is correct - Luke bears witness to a stream of early tradition that reserves the epithet ο δικαιος for the eschatological deliverer, Jesus.[8]
Hays is probably correct in his comments about the account recorded in Eusebius. It still appears to me that the epithet of “the Just” could be a later accreditation to James, based on his life and ministry and the legend that developed surrounding James.[9] The question then becomes, how much later? The view that James is an earlier rather than later document still possesses enough explanatory power to suggest that when the epistle of James was written the title of ο δικαιος was used [as a title?] more frequently for Jesus than for James. Thus, Painter’s argument may have merit, depending on when one understands James to have been written and how plausible Hegesippus’s claims are understood. Given our understanding that James is early, it seems unlikely that the reference here is to James, even though later generations, (in the time of Eusebius & Hegesippus?), may have seen here an allusion to James.

[1] Painter, Just James, pg. 259
[2] L. T. Johnson “The Social World of James: Literary Analysis and Historical Reconstruction” in Brother of Jesus, Friend of God: Studies in the Letter of James L. T. Johnson (Eerdmans, 2004), pg. 110. Johnson notes the specific criteria as: “no institutional development, no sense of tradition as a deposit, no polemic against false teachers, no highly developed Christology, no delay of the parousia.”
[3] R. P. Martin, James (Word, 1988), pg. lxxiii.
[4] R. Bauckham, James (Routledge, 1999) pg. 25
[5] We shall analyse the titular notion of ο δικαιος in a forthcoming blog.
[6] Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, 2.23.4 which notes that James “the Just” was known as such “by all men from the Lord’s time to ours.” See also "Primary Sources on James the Just," James Tabor
[7] R. Hays, “Apocalyptic Hermeneutics: Habakkuk Proclaims ‘The Righteous One’” in The Conversion of the Imagination (Eerdmans, 2005), pg. 128. I am thankful to Professor Hays for alerting me to his discussions of this matter.
[8] Hays, “Apocalyptic Hermeneutics”, pg. 128
[9] Apocryphal literature about James suggests hagiographical legends developing. Cf. The Proto-Gospel of James; The “Letter of Peter to James” and its “Reception” both found in B. Ehrman, Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament (Oxford, 2003). See also "Non-Canonical References to James," J. Julius Scott, Jr.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

James 5:6 - Intro

This little verse is a linguistic grenade. Pull the pin and it explodes with a narrative that is both informative and instructive providing both hope and coherence to a somewhat perplexing section of James. Forsake it, and one is excluded from a treasure house of insight and wisdom. But it appears that the pin is stuck and if one is not careful, it will explode in all the wrong places or it will be relegated to the trash heap for recycling due to operation failure.
James 5:6 NRSV
You have condemned and murdered the righteous One, who does not resist you.
Who is this ambiguous “righteous one” to whom James refers? Exegetically we have several voices, none of them appearing conclusive. But the task remains to see which one is plausible, even probable, or if we are doomed to speculation. This discussion seeks to interact with various proposals such as that of John Painter in his interesting study Just James: The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition.[1] Painter’s thesis rests on several arguments many of which we will interact with later. His position on this matter is clearly stated when he writes:
The case of the righteous man in 5:6 is very likely intended to be understood as an autobiographical statement by the author.[2]
This is a very interesting proposal, and one that has many sympathisers. However, contrary to this thesis, [on the otherside of the exegetical choir] Richard Hays has suggested that this is a reference to the death of Jesus. Hays provides no arguments or reasons for this position but merely posits that:
If James 5:6 alludes – as I believe it does – to the death of Jesus, then it is “the rich” (not, e.g., “the Jews”) who are blamed for the death of Jesus. The shadow of the cross looms over the image of the wealthy who ‘have lived on the earth in luxury and pleasure.’[3]
However, if Painter or any other thesis is preferred, does that automatically disqualify Hays’ position? We shall have to investigate this carefully.
What makes Hays' proposal interesting is that scholars have long lamented the absence of any direct reference to the death of Jesus in James.[4] This is strikingly peculiar when compared with other early Christian literature.[5] Many contemporary commentators part ways with Hays' in suggesting this as a reference to the death of Jesus.[6] So what could lead Hays to such a judgement? We can only guess...
In the next few posts, I'll begin to explore Jas. 5:6, it's exegetical options and contemporary interpreters of this verse. We shall pay careful attention to Hays' position as it has caught my interest. We shall also question the connection between 5:1-6 and 5:7-11, as this question proves decisive in our analysis.
[1] John Painter, Just James: The Brother of Jesus in History and Tradition (Fortress, 1997) [2] John Painter, Just James, pg. 259 [3] Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament (Harper Collins, 1996), pg. 470 n.6 [4] For e.g., R. Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament, 2 vols., trans. K Grobel (Scribner, 1951-55) Vol.1 pg. 84. [5] Except perhaps for Acts, Jude, 2 Peter, the Didache 2 Clement and Hermas. [6] Hartin, Moo, Martin, Davids, Adamson, Ropes and Wall. But for a defence of this view see Andre Feuillet “le Sens du Mot Parousie dans l’Evangile de Matthieu” in David Daube and W. D. Davies, eds., The Background of the New Testament and its Eschatology (Cambridge University Press, 1964), pgs. 261-280. Unfortunately, my French is non-existent so I cannot interact with this essay.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Pinnock on the Spirit

The Other Hand of God: God’s Spirit in an Age of Scientific Cosmology
Download PDF
Clark H. Pinnock (McMaster Divinity College)
A very interesting read for those who are interested in contemporary thinking on pneumatology and science. For those of a theological persuasion this may open up some deep questions, which I'm always advocating. So enjoy...

Philosophy & Scripture

Fall 2006 Volume 4, Issue 1
Kirk Boyle University of Cincinnati Whose Apocalyptic Ruses?Derrida, Psychoanalysis, and Biblical Criticism
Simon Critchley The New School for Social Researchwith Yong Dou Kim The Need for Fiction in Poetry and Politicsan Interview
Merold Westphal Fordham Universitywith Brian Gregor Hermeneutics, Scripture, and Faithful Philosophizingan Interview