Bulletin for Biblical Research 22.1 (2012) – just released

Yesterday, I found the latest issue (22.1, 2012) of Bulletin for Biblical Research in the mail. I was pleased to see articles by my friend Joel Willitts and also my buddy Aaron Sherwood, who studied at Durham when I was there.

Joel’s article is a fascinating piece on “Messianism” in Matthew and the Psalms of Solomon. While many NT scholars are quick to contrast the two texts, Joel shows care in recognizing the similarities as well.

Aaron offers a discourse analysis on Eph 3:1-13 and demonstrates that Paul shows a very positive perspective concerning his imprisonment in these verses.

I am partway through reading Preston Massey’s article, “Disagreement in the Greco-Roman Literary Tradition and the Implications for Gospel Research.” If I understand his argument correctly, he shows that there are many examples of GR texts where the authors are explicitly trying to correct the historical errors of another text. Gospels scholars have long argued that when discrepancies in the Gospels appear, it is one Evangelist contesting another (like Matthew correcting, or disagreeing with Mark, Luke with Matthew; John with everyone). However, Massey (convincingly, I think) shows that we are missing explicit discussion in the canonical Gospels where one Evangelist says another one is wrong – and such overt statements are rather common in GR texts. That does not mean that we must conclude the Evangelists never disagreed, but Massey ends the article by advising caution. Do not use statements that imply “blantant” and “sharp” disagreement among the Evangelists, he advises. When the Evangelists have different information on a given historical detail, Massey refers to this as “variation” and not “contradition” or “disagreement.” The semantics are important!

Also, I have an article in this issue called ” ‘What Mercies of God?’ Oiktirmos in Romans 12:1 against Its Septuagintal Background.” I had long felt that, while Romans 12:1b is quite popular (“Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice…”), scholars miss the importance of 12:1a, “In view of God’s mercies…” It is the basis for this living sacrifice – but what does Paul mean by “mercies of God”? We would expect him to talk about grace or love. Why “mercies”? When  I set out on a study of oiktirmos in the Bible, the LXX yielded a rich resource of Jewish meaning based on God’s mercies for Israel. I identify three types of “mercies” of God in the LXX: the “mercy” of divine self-revelation, the “mercy” of covenantal forgiveness, and the “mercy” of deliverance from enemies. Paul seems to draw from these types (not rigidly, but they are a good starting place) and to address the issues the early Christian churches in Rome were facing by accessing this fund of theological meaning from the LXX. Because Romans 12:1 was a major focus in my dissertation, this article grew out of that research.

There are also some good reviews, especial strong praise for fellow blogger John Anderson and his monograph Jacob and the Divine Trickster.