More Abstracts available for British NT Conference seminars

We have awaited three groups posting their abstracts and paper titles for the British NT conference (Durham, Sept 4-6).  Two have posted recently.

Paul Seminar

Session 1:

Dr. Paul Ellingworth (Aberdeen)
‘”Nobody Knows de Trouble I Seen”: Hardship Lists in Paul and Elsewhere’The paper surveys discussions of Paul’s hardship lists from 1910 to 2007; analyzes the lists’ distinctive vocabulary and discourse structure; and briefly comments on their christological implications.
Professor George van Kooten (Groningen)
‘Paul and Pagan Traditions of Jewish Misanthropy’Normally, Paul’s depiction of the Jews as those ‘who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, displeasing God and opposing everyone by hindering us from speaking to the nations so that they may be saved’ (1 Thess 2.14-16) is first and foremost explained from an inner-Jewish perspective with the aid of O.H. Steck’s ‘Israel und das gewaltsame Geschick der Propheten’ (1967). Yet the latter part of his characterization of the Jews as ‘opposing everyone’ (kai pasin anthroopois enantioi) also calls for explanation in terms of particular pagan views on the Jews as misanthropists. In this paper I shall argue that in his letter to the ex-pagan Christian community at Thessalonica, Paul seems to draw on these anti-Jewish traditions. Although his aim is to argue that the ex-pagan Thessalonians suffered the same things from their own pagan compatriots as the Christian churches in Judea did from the Jews, it seems as if Paul draws upon distinctively pagan portrayals of Jews as opposed to everyone. It seems as if Paul tries to enhance his own universalist, Christian form of Judaism by portraying non-Christian Jews as ‘anti-globalist’, ethnocentric misanthropists who hinder him ‘from speaking to the nations’. In this paper I shall trace the anti-Jewish traditions Paul draws upon, explain how they fit in Paul’s universalist programme and reflect upon how Paul would have seen his own pre-Christian, ‘zealous’ involvement in the persecution of the Christian churches.

Session 2: Joint session with Acts Seminar

Paul’s Damascus Road experience
Papers by Dr Barry Matlock (University of Sheffield), from the perspective of the Pauline letters, and Tim Churchill (London School of Theology), from the perspective of Acts Response by Prof Loveday Alexander (University of Sheffield)

Download Churchill Paper
Download Matlock Paper

Session 3: Extended discussion seminar

Professor Dale B. Martin (Yale)
‘Angels, demons, and Paul’For the plenary session, Martin will present the materials on the relationship between angels and demons in pre-Pauline Jewish writings (LXX, 1 Enoch, Jubilees, Josephus) and make the point that for Paul these two beings are in different ontological categories, and that it was only after Paul that Christians began trying to put together demons and angels, making demons “fallen angels” and so forth. If we see Paul as assuming that demons are different ontological beings from angels we may view his cosmology a bit differently.

Then for the Paul seminar, Martin wishes to move the discussion more explicitly to whether this would affect the interpretation of the principalities and powers in Paul. Since it is easy to have a debate and discussion about whether those references in Paul refer to “supernatural” or human forces, or both, one possibility is to take the seminar into a discussion on that and how that would affect a reading of Paul’s politics.

So the plenary session would constitute mainly my presenting my research on the lack of identity between angels and demons in Judaism, suggesting that such was also the case for Paul. And the seminar would take off from there into a free-wheeling discussion of principalities and powers and politics in Paul, and whether those could be interpreted “cosmically” as well as politically.

In his response, Stuckenbruck will engage his recent research on apocalyptic traditions, and especially the influence and reception of the Fallen Angels Tradition in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity.

No paper will be distributed in advance for this session, as Martin’s paper will be presented in full on Friday afternoon.

New Testament and Second Temple Judaism Seminar

Session 1:

Preston Sprinkle
‘Beyond Covenant Nomism: Revisiting Palestinian Judaism in Light of Pseudo-Philo’s Biblical AntiquitiesThe impact that E.P. Sanders’s Paul and Palestinian Judaism has had on scholarship is well known, evinced by the 30 year wake of variegated responses. Scholars have examined and re-examined many Early Jewish books to vindicate, correct, or modify Sanders’s proposed soteriolgical framework of “covenant nomism.” Yet within this discussion one Palestinian work from this era has received little attention: Pseudo-Philo’s Biblical Antiquities (L.A.B.). This paper will examine L.A.B. in order to see if its soteriological structure exhibits “covenant nomism.” In particular, I will consider four key issues in the book: (1) the conditionality of the covenant, (2) the necessity of repentance in restoration, (3) the basis of God’s election of Abraham, and (4) whether or not God will judge the righteous on the basis of their deeds. In the end, I will suggest that not only does the book exhibit a framework akin to “covenant nomism,” but that it may go beyond it.

Session 2:

J. R. Dodson
‘Cosmology and the Personifications of Creation in Wisdom and Romans’Creation plays a critical role throughout Wisdom and Romans and, in fact, both authors refer to Creation with similar senses and statements. This paper shall specifically compare these two authors’ personifications of Creation beginning with their Greco-Roman backdrop, where we shall demonstrate that debate surrounded the topic of Creation during the time of our authors. After surveying this debate on the nature of Creation, we can then see where the sage and Paul fall within it. Next, we shall investigate the OT sources from which they draw, comparing the manner in which each author employed these sources, following this with a discussion of where and why the sage and the apostle personified Creation. Finally, we shall conclude with the significance of our comparison of Creation in the two accounts, namely that it reveals foundational premises of the respective authors. For the sage, the climax of God’s work is his creation of the incorruptible Cosmos who has in the past and will in the future fight for the righteous. For Paul, it is the “already but not yet” work of God, who submitted the world to corruption, from which Creation eagerly awaits redemption with the righteous.

Session 3:

John Byron
‘Cain’s Rejected Offering: Interpretive Approaches to a Theological Problem’The story of Cain and Abel records the first ever offering made to God. The question that quickly rises to the surface when reading Genesis 4:3-7 is: what was wrong with Cain’s offering? Why did God reject it? God’s seeming capriciousness in rejecting one sacrifice over the other creates a theological problem. The problem is compounded by Abel’s murder. Since Cain’s act of fratricide is precipitated by God’s unexplained rejection of the sacrifice which resulted in Cain’s anger, God becomes complicit in the act. These problems opened the door for ancient interpreters to expand and rework the story in a way that exonerated God of appearing capricious and, by extension, complicit in Abel’s murder. The following article traces the interpretive approaches used by Jewish and Christian exegetes to respond to a theological problem created by gaps in the narrative.