Eerdmans Summer and Fall Books

Eerdmans has recently updated their ‘coming soon‘ section of their website.  They have their book releases now from July to October (in the run up to SBL, no doubt!).

Here are some interesting items

Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul (July) – Douglas Campbell

In this scholarly book Douglas Campbell pushes beyond both “Lutheran” and “New” perspectives on Paul to a noncontractual, “apocalyptic” reading of many of the apostle’s most famous—and most troublesome—texts.

Campbell holds that the intrusion of an alien, essentially modern, and theologically unhealthy theoretical construct into the interpretation of Paul has produced an individualistic and contractual construct that shares more with modern political traditions than with either orthodox theology or Paul’s first-century world. In order to counteract that influence, Campbell argues that it needs to be isolated and brought to the foreground before the interpretation of Paul’s texts begins. When that is done, readings free from this intrusive paradigm become possible and surprising new interpretations unfold.

Jesus Research: An International Perspective (July)-  eds. J. Charlesworth and Petr Pokorny

In this collection twelve international scholars focus on current issues in historical Jesus research by seeking to understand Jesus in his world. Each writer examines different aspects of Jesus’ life and thought both in their historical and geographical setting and also within a religious and cultural context, bringing insight and understanding into Jesus and his world.

Contributors:

  • James H. Charlesworth
  • Carsten Claussen
  • Craig A. Evans
  • Klaus Haacker
  • Tom Holmén
  • Rudolf Hoppe
  • Ulrich Luz
  • Petr Pokorný
  • Stanley Porter
  • Brian Rhea
  • Jan Roskovec
  • Jens Schröter
  • Jonathan Soyars
  • Gerd Thiessen
  • Michael Wolter
  • The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (July)- Craig Keener.

    Fundamentals of New Testament Greek (July) Stanley Porter, Jeffrey Reed, and Matthew O’Donnell

    This first-year Greek textbook provides a comprehensive introduction to the grammar and vocabulary of the Greek New Testament. It discusses all the forms and basic syntax of Koine Greek, complete with extensive paradigms, examples, and explanations. Porter, Reed, and O’Donnell’s Fundamentals of New Testament Greek features pedagogically sound and linguistically informed techniques of language instruction. The volume introduces the individual words and grammatical details of Greek, sensitive to their frequency of use in the New Testament, reinforcing for students the elements that they will most often encounter. Grammatical forms, including the less common ones, are analyzed and explained in detail, often with illustrative examples from the Greek New Testament. The authors include complete paradigms and give numerous examples; the vocabulary list includes nearly one thousand words, which are introduced throughout the book’s thirty chapters.

    Students who complete this text will be able to move directly into Greek exegesis courses and more advanced Greek-language courses. Fundamentals of New Testament Greek will prove invaluable for gaining a thorough foundational understanding of New Testament Greek, including full exposure to the formation, accenting, and semantics of its complex verbal system.

    The First and Second Letter to the Thessalonians (NICNT; July) Gordon Fee

    In this commentary Gordon Fee aims first and foremost to offer a fresh exposition of the text of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. He shows the reader what is in the biblical text, what the text meant in the first century, and what it means now. Fee reveals the logic of each argument or narrative before moving on to the details of each verse, and he concludes each section with a theological-practical reflection on the meaning of the text today. Among other things, Fee explores the occasion for writing for each epistle, restoring 2 Thessalonians to the place it deserves as a full companion to the first letter, rather than merely a tagalong to 1 Thessalonians.

    The Letter to the Philippians (Pillar; Sept.) G. Walter Hansen

    In this clear, concise exegetical commentary, G. Walter Hansen offers rich exposition of the text of Philippians as well as wisdom and maturity in its application. In so doing he emphasizes partnership — the social and corporate dimensions of community — in the progress of the gospel.

    “With themes and emotions so varied, the letter to the Philippians needs a commentator with a sure grasp and a warm heart. . . . Hansen writes with admirable clarity and simplicity, even when he is unpacking notoriously complex matters.”
    — D. A. Carson (from the preface)

    The Historical Jesus of the Gospels (October/Nov.) Craig Keener

    The earliest substantive sources available for historical Jesus research are in the Gospels themselves; when interpreted in their early Jewish setting, their picture of Jesus is more coherent and plausible than are the competing theories offered by many modern scholars. So argues Craig Keener in The Historical Jesus of the Gospels.

    In exploring the depth and riches of the material found in the Synoptic Gospels, Keener shows how many works on the historical Jesus emphasize just one aspect of the Jesus tradition against others, but a much wider range of material in the Jesus tradition makes sense in an ancient Jewish setting. Keener masterfully uses a broad range of evidence from the early Jesus traditions and early Judaism to reconstruct a fuller portrait of the Jesus who lived in history.

    Engaging Economics: New Testament Scenarios and Early Christian Responses (Oct/Nov.) eds. Bruce Longenecker and Kelly Liebengood

    Engaging Economics exposes economic dimensions of the theology of the early Jesus movement, as reflected both in the texts of the New Testament and in the reception of those texts within the patristic era. Under these two considerations, the contributions demonstrate that an economic dimension was an integral component of this early movement and indicate how, in later centuries, that economic dimension was either further developed or ignored altogether.

    Notes on Ephesians commentaries

    In the last couple of months I have been doing some research in Ephesians.  This is an exciting letter to study, not only for its robust theology, but also because of its history of scholarship.  There are still so many mysteries (!) in this letter – its purpose, setting, authorship, thesis statement, etc…  I am still awaiting a convincing argument for what this letter is really all about!

    Nevertheless, there are many good resources and I will briefly share my thoughts on them.  Rather than ‘rank’ them, I will discuss the strengths (and weaknessess sometimes) of each.  When a commentary is consulted, usually it has a particular hermeneutical or methodological angle (social, historical, literary, reader-response, rhetorical, theological, etc…).

    Markus Barth (Anchor): This is one of the best commentaries on Ephesians out there, first for its detail and theological depth; also, Barth is engaged in the discussion of politics and how the message of Ephesians relates to modern social issues.  Also, because he endorses Pauline authorship, there is a kind of coherence in his commentary that is not often found among those who argue of pseudonymity.

    Peter O’Brien (Pillar): I would say that this commentary is excellent for its overall approach to Ephesians and the cogency of his argumentation in his exegetical analysis.  I would say this commentary is marked by a deep grammatical/discourse interest and literary issues.  There is attention to parallel ancient sources.  Also, this series is marked by theological interest and pastoral insights.  This is a commentary I always turn to for sound advice, but I don’t always agree with him.

    Lincoln, A. (WBC): If there is a kind-of trinity of Ephesians commentaries, Lincoln completes the set (along with O’Brien and Barth).  Again, he argues that Ephesians is pseudonymous, but his knowledge of ancient cosmology (also protology, eschatology) brings to the discussion a better understanding of the theological worldview of the author.  Also, for as much as people complain about the format of the WBC, the section-by-section bibliographies are priceless.

    MacDonald, M. (Sacra Pagina): This commentary is often overlooked, but M.M. offers an impressive sociological reading of Ephesians.  Though I disagree with her on authorship (she is pro pseudonymity), she argues that Ephesians seems like it promotes an introversionist (sectarian) worldview (similar to the DSS), but practically urges believers to maintain their life in the world (as in the household codes).  Here I think she is spot on.  Her socio-rhetorical kind of engagement with the text often answers the kinds of questions I am asking, but, again, I don’t always agree with her answers.  I am happy to see her questions being asked!

    Ben Witherington (Eerdmans): Again, a socio-rhetorical approach.  He is more conservative than MacDonald, and also is more interested in theology and application.  In recent years he has become more and more convinced that rhetorical criticism should play a central role in interpreting Paul’s letters.  Thus, he focuses on Ephesians as epideictic rhetoric.  This, in some ways, sets aside the life-setting of the epistle and focuses on the theology.  I am not entirely satisfied with this, but I recognize my own tendency to read too much behind Paul’s words (opponents, reactions to problems, etc…).

    I happily consult Schnackenburg, Snodgrass, and the excellent work of Thorsten Mortiz on Ephesians.

    Concerns: I think the ‘identity formation’ view of Ephesians, where it is addressing no problems and is simply generalizing the message of Colossians for a wider audience does not account for some serious aspects of the letter such as the strong militaristic/combatitive language in chapter 6.  If Ephesians bears significant resemblences to the DSS and apocalyptic literature, it is worth keeping in mind that many of these texts (but not all) are crisis-driven (here I am agreeing with David Hellholm).  That is not to say that the level of persecution is as serious as in Revelation, but there is enough reason, I think, to press further than ‘identity formation’ as the purpose, unless we can recognize that this objective meets the need of a confused, frustrated, new people of God trying to live in the world and not be of the world.  Here, again, I think MacDonald is closer than most.  Incidentally, she draws from John Elliott’s approach to 1 Peter (contra Balch).  I think this comparative analysis is very useful and we do not need to reinvent the wheel by going through the issues in Ephesians that overlap with 1 Peter.

    For my further thoughts…well, I may post more on Ephesians.

    Greg Beale leaving Wheaton? Biblical Studies chair vacancy…

    UPDATE: Beale is leaving for Westminster Theological Seminary.  In an interview, he talks about ‘coming home’ theologically when he thinks about his move to WTS.  He also feels this is a good time to go to WTS in light of recent events there (which seems to be in relation to Peter Enns).  There will, no doubt, be discussions about how this move will affect the direction that WTS is going in (as in securing its convervative positions).  I am interested also, though, in the direction that Wheaton will go.  Whomever they hire will probably be an important leader in their graduate school and will be supervising phd students.  We will see…
    Wheaton College
    Department of Biblical and Theological Studies

    WHEATON COLLEGE seeks candidates for the Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies.

    This endowed position is a full time, tenure-track appointment to begin in August 2010.

    The successful candidate will have a Ph.D., evidence of outstanding teaching, and a distinguished record of research and scholarship in New Testament studies.

    The position involves mentoring doctoral students, teaching doctoral seminars and playing a leading role in the master�s program in biblical exegesis. Teaching load involves 12 semester hours per year.

    Application forms will be sent to promising candidates.

    Wheaton College is an evangelical Christian liberal arts college whose faculty affirm a Statement of Faith and adhere to lifestyle expectations. The College complies with federal and state guidelines for non-discrimination in employment.

    Women and racial ethnic minorities are especially encouraged to apply.

    Send letter of interest and curriculum vita to:
    Ann Gerber,
    Wessner Chair Search Committee,
    Wheaton College,
    Wheaton,
    IL  60187-5593,

    or via email to:
    Wessnersearch@wheaton.edu.

    Application deadline: September 30, 2009.

    Review of G.D. Fee’s Galatians Commentary (Part II)

    In the earlier part, I simply introduced the commentary by Fee.  Now I will press on to comment on the content and theological perspective of Fee’s excellent commentary.

    On introductory issues, Fee has little to say.  He favors the Southern Galatians view just slightly (with the mentioning of Barnabas being the tipping factor).  More controversially, Fee places Galatians between the writing of 2 Cor. and Romans – for a number of reasons, but it includes the close relationship between Romans and Galatians.  He does not expand upon all the reasons, but he has taken this approach in his earlier works and I am sure he offers some explanation there.  In the end, he explains that such differences of opinion on the dating and the location of the readers does not greatly affect the interpretation of the epistle.

    One thing to take notice of, in Fee’s method of interpretation, is his eye for the word-order of the Greek sentences.  For example, in the salutation he sees the order of ‘grace and peace’ (1.3) to be purposeful in order – as peace results from grace.  Fee is attributing to Paul, here, a high level of intentionality even in perfunctory sorts of parts of the letter.  I have no problem with this assumption and he makes some interesting points, though it is difficult to know for sure.

    I think an exegetical conundrum in Galatians is the actual point of the personal narrative in chs. 1-2.  Why does Paul spend so much time discussing where he has been, who he has been with, and all that?  Fee’s perspective is helpful:

    His point in [1.13-24] was to capitalize on what his detractors saw as a defect, namely, that they came from Jerusalem but Paul had not.  But what they saw as a defect Paul saw as to his great advantage.  His gospel came directly from Christ and therefore had nothing to do with “men,” either in terms of source of approval’(55)

    Another issue that Fee touches upon is how to translate and interpret the challenging Greek word sarx.  He aptly explains that, for Paul, being ‘in the flesh’ means: ‘to live according to the values and desires of life in the present age that stand in absolute contradiction to God and his ways’ (108).

    Now the question you have been waiting for – what about the New Perspective and the question of the law?  Fee seems quite supportive of the fundamental convictions behind the New Perspective on Paul and the issues in Galatia.

    ‘At issue…is not how people gain their salvation, but whether “saved people” must also adhere to the law’ (81); ‘the primary issue of this letter is not “justification by faith,” but Gentile inclusion as Abraham’s – and therefore God’s – true children and thus rightful heirs of the final inheritance.’ (151)

    He also seems quite close to the views of J.D.G. Dunn when he highlights the boundary-marking nature of the law.  Here he is insistent that the law was given for social and moral reasons, rather than soteriological ones (see 189).

    One of the issues that Fee discusses is the perennial problem of translating dikaioo into English.

    ‘interestingly, the word “absolve,” in the sense of “to grant pardon for” would seem to come closest to [an English equivalent], but it is a word Protestants are loathe to use because of what they perceive to be abuses in Roman Catholic use of the word’ (83)

    He finds ‘acquit’ to be inappropriate as it means no verdict of guilt is involved.  In Fee’s mind, this kind of thinking can lead to problems.  Sin is there, guilt is there, but it has been pardoned, not treated as non-existent in the first place.

    On the matter of pistis christou – ‘faith of Christ’ – Fee argues for the objective genitive (‘faith in Christ’).  One point he makes is that Mark 11.22, exete pistin theou, would have clearly meant ‘have faith in Christ’, not ‘have the faith of Christ’.

    One of the more interesting discussions in Fee’s commentary is his treatment of Gal. 3.12 with the quote from Lev. 18.5.  Here, when some say the issue is ecclesiological and others that it is soteriological, Fee argues that it is primary eschatological (this is my paraphrasing of his views).  If one is to choose to carry out the works of Torah, then one is choosing a life that involves going back to an outdated paradigm of religious life.  Moreover, one is choosing this paradigm that was never intended to save or to make one righteous.

    Fee underscores Paul’s point that one cannot pick and choose which laws to follow and which to ignore for the Galatians.  It is all or nothing.  One cannot mix and match ‘faith in Christ’ elements with ‘works of law’ elements.  If one decides to take on parts of the law – they decide to carry out the whole thing (thus Gal. 3.12).  He follows up with an important point: ‘The plain assumption in all of this, one should note at the end, is that people can do “the righteousness” found in the law, understood as observable behavior…The curse is that they must do so, and thus they are excluded from Christ’ (118).  Well said, Gordon.

    A serious concern that one could issue with Fee’s intepretation is that it could seem to reject the importance of the OT altogether.  This could be fuel for supporting a kind of Marcionism.  But, Fee makes an important clarification.  The law is still useful as a reminder of God’s desire of morality and virtue, but the law’s role of ‘hemming in human conduct because of trangressions’ has been made obsolete by the advent and endowment of the Spirit.  The Spirit is able to bring about the kind of righteousness God desires (a function not available to the law).

    While we are on the topic of ethics, Fee has an excellent discussion of the moral discourses in the last couple of chapters of Galatians.  A nice pithy quote, though, comes from his summary of Pauline ethics:

    ‘God’s glory is their purpose, the Spirit is their power, love is the principle, and Christ is the pattern’ (232)

    I will end with probably one of the most perplexing issues in Galatians – Paul’s use of OT imagery and, especially, the discourse on Hagar and Sarah.  Is it reasoned allegory?  Some kind of typology?  What do we do with it?  Can be learn how do to that?  What Paul just making it up as he went along?  With respect to Gal. 4.21-5.12, Fee has these wise words:

    ‘Paul was inspired by the Spirit in ways that we are not; and this passage was not written to give us an example of “how to do Scripture” (197) ‘we simply do not know enough about their situation to know how much, if any, of this paragraph is in direct response to what was being argued by the agitators themselves’ (197)


    New Expository Times issue

    July 2009 – see HERE.

    In the new ExT issue, there is an interesting article by David Sim on the history of the interpretation of Matthew’s Gospel.  Here is the abstract (the title is: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE GOSPEL OF MATTHEW):

    The Gospel of Matthew, the most influential Gospel in the ancient Christian Church, has lost its primary position in the modern world. It has been replaced by John as the most popular Gospel, and it is challenged by Mark for second position. This study seeks to explain Matthew’s fall from grace by isolating a number of the Gospel’s features that are deemed to be either offensive or problematic by modern interpreters.

    There are also some nice reviews, such as Paul Foster’s take on Eddie Adams’ new The Stars Will Fall From Heaven monograph; and Stephen Chester’s review of J.K. Riches’ commentary on Galatians.

    Review of G.D. Fee’s Galatians Commentary (Part I)

    Gordon Fee is not someone that I expect that I need to introduce to most of my readers.  His work on the Holy Spirit, textual criticism (and NT exegesis in general), Philippians, 1 Corinthians, the Pastoral Epistles, and ecclesiology is well-known.  Most recently, he penned a mammoth volume on Paul’s Christology, a work that will likely be a standard reference tool on that subject for years to come.

    We are fortunate to have a new commentary on Galatians (Pentecostal Commentary series; Deo publishing, 2007) from Fee.  This epistle gives us depth of insight into the apostleship of Paul, the Jew-Gentile issues, his relationship with Jerusalem/Peter/James, and, of course, the Holy Spirit and Christian ethic.  What a delight to have Fee’s perspective on such matters.

    First – about the type of commentary.   It is in a series that is by pentecostals and speaks into the pentecostal community.  Fee is insistent, though, that his is not a ‘Pentecostal commentary’, but, rather, it is an exegetical commentary written by a NT scholar who happens to be a pentecostal.  He does not feel the need to support particular pentecostal doctrines.  In fact, when he does address pentecostals directly, his comments are more critical (as a fellow pentecostal) rather than sycophantic.

    The format and style of the commentary immediately demonstrates that it is not of the same depth and critical-engagement as the ICC, Anchor, or NIGTC.  He spends no more than 10 pages on the ‘introduction’ (date/place/purpose/themes).  The commentary proper involves a standard pericope-by-pericope discussion followed by a ‘reflection’ (on theological issues and applications) and ‘response’ (which directly applies the teaching to the reader with penetrating questions and other thoughts).

    Again, this is not a place to turn to for detailed comment or for an extensive bibliography.  On the other hand, it is helpful when someone has a short bibliography because he (or she) divulges the most salient books and articles.  It is worth reproducing here what books Fee consulted most often for Galatians:

    Barclay, J.M. G. Obeying the Truth (1988)

    Betz, H.D. Galatians (Hermeneia; 1979)

    Bruce, F.F. Galatians (NIGTC; 1982)

    Burton, E.D. Galatians (ICC; 1921)

    Dunn, J.D.G. Galatians (BNTC; 1993)

    Hansen, G.W. Galatians (IVPNT; 1994)

    Lightfoot, J.B. Galatians (1865)

    Longenecker, R.N. Galatians (WBC 1990)

    Martyn, J.L. Galatians (AB; 1997)

    Matera, F. Galatians (SP; 1992)

    Witherington, B. Grace in Galatia (1998)

    In the next segment of this review I will discuss the actual content of the commentary and Fee’s contributions to the various exegetical enigmas in Galatians.

    Festschrift for EP Sanders

    I just came across the new FS for EP Sanders (See HERE).

    Contributors include: Fabian E. Udoh, D. Moody Smith, E. P. Sanders, Jouette M. Bassler, Shaye J.D. Cohen, Albert I. Baumgarten, Cynthia M. Baker, Israel J. Yuval, Martin Goodman, Eric M. Meyers, Jürgen Zangenberg, Seán Freyne, Peter Richardson, Adele Reinhartz, Paula Fredriksen, Stephen Hultgren, John P. Meier, Craig C. Hill, Heikki Räisänen, Richard B. Hays, Stanley K. Stowers, John M. G. Barclay.

    Quite a list of who’s who in Judaism and NT studies.

    Here is the description

    For nearly four decades, E. P. Sanders has been the foremost scholar in shaping and refocusing scholarly debates in three different but related disciplines in New Testament studies: Second Temple Judaism, Jesus and the Gospels, and Pauline studies. This collection of essays by an impressive array of colleagues and former students presents original scholarship that extends—or departs from—the research of Sanders himself. Both apologists and dissenters find their place in this volume, as the authors actively debate Sanders’s innovative positions on central issues in all three disciplines.

    The introductory group of essays includes a substantive intellectual autobiography by E. P. Sanders himself. The next three parts examine in turn the three areas in which Sanders made his important contributions. The essays in part 2 engage Sanders’s notion of “common Judaism.” Those in part 3 deal with issues that Sanders raised respecting the historical Jesus and the Gospels. And the essays in part 4 debate Sanders’s contention that participation in Christ, rather than justification by faith, is the central theme of Paul’s soteriology. The volume concludes with a bibliography of Sanders’s works.