I have been too busy to note it here recently but my latest book, What Are They Saying About the Gospel of Thomas? has been mentioned, endorsed, and/or reviewed in a few places around the web (see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here). Yesterday, I was pleased to read Judy Redman’s sympathetic review. She seems to have gotten what I was shooting for – a way into Thomas studies for those on the “outside.” As she notes, since the entire book (per the series focus) is dedicated to discussing the views of other scholars, I spend very little space in the book discussing my own views. I have, however, decided that it’s probably time to write one more book about Thomas, and one that will consist of my own views about Thomas‘s date, theological outlook, and relationship to the NT. For now, it’s nice to have people appreciating what I’ve done with this little book.
Michael J. Kruger (Reformed Theological Seminary)
There has been an ongoing debate amongst biblical scholars about how to define the term ‘canon’. In recent years, one particular definitionthat canon can only be used to refer to books in a fixed, final, closed listhas emerged as the dominant one. Moreover, some scholars have argued that this is the only legitimate definition that can be used. This essay suggests that a single definition fails to capture the depth and breadth of canon and may end up bringing more distortion than clarification. Instead, the complexities of canon are best captured through using multiple definitions in a complementary and integrative manner.
Heptadic Verbal Patterns in the Solomon Narrative of 1 Kings 1–11
John A.Davies (Presbyterian Theological Centre, Sydney)
The narrative in 1 Kings 1–11 makes use of the literary device of sevenfold lists of items and sevenfold recurrences of Hebrew words and phrases. These heptadic patterns may contribute to the cohesion and sense of completeness of both the constituent pericopes and the narrative as a whole, enhancing the readerly experience. They may also serve to reinforce the creational symbolism of the Solomon narrative and in particular that of the description of the temple and its dedication.
‘Certainly this Man was Righteous’: Highlighting a Messianic Reading of the Centurion’s Confession in Luke 23:47
Matthew C. Easter (University of Otago)
This essay expands on common readings of the centurion’s confession of Jesus as dikaios (‘righteous’, ‘innocent’) in Luke 23:47. Many interpreters take the centurion’s words in Luke as his recognition of Jesus’ political innocence. While not denying a Lukan insistence on Jesus’ innocence, this essay argues for a fuller reading of the centurion’s words that accounts for the christological potential in his calling Jesus dikaios. Whether historically-speaking he knew it or not, this centurion in Luke’s narrative world stands as one of the first people to recognise the crucified Jesus as the Christ.
The Manumission of Slaves in Jubilee and Sabbath Years
Michael A. Harbin (Taylor University, Upland IN)
Debt in the Old Testament economy was problematic, and our understanding of it is even more problematic, especially with respect to debt slavery. It is suggested that several common misunderstandings have contributed greatly to the problem. First, the Hebrew word ‘ebedcan be translated servant or slave and in the latter case it can denote both debt slave and chattel slave. In many cases there is a failure to make these distinctions. Second, there is a tendency to categorise all debt the same, regardless of the size. Third, a misunderstanding of the purpose of the jubilee has led to confusion regarding its role with respect to slavery and the manumission of slaves. Specifically, while the sabbath year guidelines included debt slavery, the jubilee by its nature did not involve slavery at all. Because the land ‘sale’ was really a land-lease, there was no debt involved, and the Israelite who ‘sold’ his land was not enslaved. It is then suggested that one option for the Israelite who ‘bought’ the land was to employ the ‘seller’ to work the land as a hired hand, which would explain the admonition that he was not be viewed as a slave.
Pistis Christou in Galatians: The Connection to Habakkuk 2:4
Debbie Hunn (Dallas Theological Seminary)
The coherence of Paul’s argument in Galatians 2:15–3:14 depends upon strong links among the phrases. Therefore the reader who understands a single use of in the passage can correctly infer basic aspects of the others. Therefore ek pistews in Habakkuk 2:4, because it is cited in Galatians 3:11, informs the discussion about pistis Christou in Galatians 2:16, 20; and an Old Testament prophet speaks in a present-day controversy. Habakkuk, by using ek pistews to refer to the faith of Gentiles, testifies that pistis Christou in Galatians refers to human faith as well.
Early Christian Eschatological Experience in the Warnings and Exhortations of the Epistle to the Hebrews
Scott D. Mackie (Venice, CA) or (Venice, Calif.)
This essay examines the characteristics and rhetorical function of the many eschatological experiences found in Hebrews’ warnings against apostasy and exhortations to persevere. In these two contexts we see the vital connection of the author’s hortatory effort to the community’s eschatological experiences. Warnings of the dire consequences of forsaking the community are often substantiated by appeals to the community’s eschatological experiences, both past and present. Similarly, exhortations to persevere are frequently supported by reminders of past and present supernatural experiences. The primary experiential motif found in these exhortations pertains to the community’s identity as the family of God. This essay concludes with the novel claim that the author’s Christological doctrine, hortatory effort, and the community’s eschatological experiences are mutually interdependent.
The Affective Directives of the Book of Revelation
Andy Harker (Nairobi, Kenya)
In contemporary study of the Johannine Apocalypse both at the academic and popular levels there continues to be a strong bias towards questions of hermeneutics and semantics. This is true despite the calls of many commentators and pastors over the last two millennia to receive the prophecy as pictures to move the heart rather than puzzles to tease the mind. This paper adds volume and clarity to their call. The approach here is an emic oneHow does the text itself invite the recipient to engage with its words? Picking up on J.-P. Ruiz’s suggestion that Revelation is punctuated by ‘hermeneutical imperatives’ (sc. Rev. 1:3; 2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22; 13:9-10, 18; 17:9; 22:7, 18-19), this article argues that these texts are just as much, if not more, ‘affective imperatives’ or better ‘affective directives’. Thus to read the book in line with its own explicit directions is much more a matter of being moved at the level of the heart and will than of solving a hermeneutical conundrum.
Back Under Authority: Towards an Evangelical Postcolonial Hermeneutic
Peter H. W. Lau (Seminari Theoloji Malaysia)
A postcolonial approach is gaining acceptance by many scholars as a fruitful way of interpreting the Bible. Yet a postcolonial approach raises issues for those who hold a ‘high’ view of Scripture. Five issues will be demonstrated through an analysis of Mary Donaldson’s reading of the book of Ruth, with the outcome being that the authority of Scripture is decentred. Nonetheless, a postcolonial approach can still be usefully adapted by those with a ‘high’ view of Scripture. This article will present an alternative postcolonial reading of the book of Ruth that uses biblical theology to help maintain the central authority of the biblical text.
Affirming the Resurrection of the Incarnate Christ: A Reading of 1 John
Matthew D. Jensen (Sydney, Australia)
It is often claimed that 1 John contains no references to Jesus’ resurrection. However, for this claim to hold, a possible allusion to the resurrection in the opening verse of 1 John needs to be denied. There are three reasons given to discard this allusion. First, under the influence of the historical reconstructions that dominate the interpretation of 1 John, the opening verses of 1 John are often understood to affirm the incarnation and not the resurrection. Second, the allusion to the resurrection is rejected because of the similarity between the prologues of the Gospel of John and 1 John. Since John 1:1-18 affirms the incarnation, so too must 1 John 1:1-4. Third, the allusion to the resurrection is dismissed due to the apparent lack of other references to the resurrection in 1 John. The thesis proposes that 1 John affirms the resurrection of the incarnate Christ in the context of an intra-Jewish disagreement over Jesus’ identity. The thesis presents a reading of 1 John that flows from understanding the opening verses of the book to be affirming the resurrection of the incarnate Christ.
An Exploration of Early Christian Communities as ‘Scholastic Communities’
Claire Smith (Sydney, Australia).
In 1960, Edwin Judge described the early Christian communities as ‘scholastic communities’. Since then, he has continued to explore this aspect of early Christian communities. However, while his pioneering work in this field has become a standard point of departure for the socio-historical study of the early Christian movement, his ‘scholastic communities’ description has received scant attention. By contrast, scholarship on the formation and social character of early Christian communities is dominated by the search for antecedents, influences, and analogies or models from antiquity, none of which adequately accounts for the Christian communities, or recognises the priority of educational activities reflected in Judge’s characterisation. Moreover, the approach of these studies is problematic, because without a prior description of early Christian communities on their own terms, comparative approaches risk overlooking, distorting or misunderstanding aspects of early Christian communities that are not repeated in other social phenomena.
Lexical Dependence and Intertextual Allusion in the Septuagint of the Twelve Prophets: Studies in Hosea, Amos and Micah
Myrto Theocharous (Greek Bible College, Athens)
As the Septuagint is becoming increasingly important in studies of Second Temple Judaism, the interest of scholars is shifting away from the mere use of the version as an adjunct to the textual criticism of the Hebrew Bible. The process of sifting secondary readings in order to arrive at the ‘pure’ form of the Hebrew text has been the main preoccupation of textual critics for centuries. LXX readings were commonly retroverted into Hebrew in order to offer more pristine readings than have survived in the MT. Other ways of explaining deviations (e.g. translational factors, influence of late Hebrew/ Aramaic) were generally neglected and a different Hebrew Vorlagebehind the LXX was commonly assumed.
Text, Context and the Johannine Community: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of the Johannine Writings
David A. Lamb (University of Manchester)
This thesis examines the social context of the Johannine writings from the perspective of sociolinguistic theory of register. In particular, it considers the validity of the Johannine Community model. The idea of a distinct Johannine community lying behind the production of the Gospel and Epistles of John has become, to use Thomas Kuhn’s terminology, a paradigm within Johannine scholarship over the past fifty years. The key works in establishing this paradigm were the two large Anchor Bible commentaries on the gospel published by Raymond Brown in 1966 and 1970, and the slim volume published by J. Louis Martyn in 1968, History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel. Other scholars, from Wayne Meeks and his 1972 essay ‘The Man from Heaven in Johannine Sectarianism’ onwards, have used sociological insights to depict the Johannine community as a sectarian group, opposed both to wider Jewish society and to other Christian groups.