Festschrift for Beale – From Creation to New Creation

I have mentioned before the new Festschrift for Dr. G.K. Beale entitled From Creation to New Creation: Biblical Theology and Exegesis, ed. by D.M. Gurtner & B.L. Gladd (Hendrickson, 2013). I will offer now the breakdown of essays as well as a few statements on chapters I have already read.

David F. Well writes a very appreciative foreword, and a preface and brief introduction are supplied by the editors.

The 14 chapters are divided into 3 sections: Old Testament (chs. 1-4), Use of the Old Testament in the New (cs. 5-11), and Biblical Theology (chs. 12-14).

Old Testament

“Eden: A Temple? A Reassessment of the Biblical Evidence” (Daniel Block). This is, perhaps, my favorite essay in this collection. Block picks apart the popular notion that the author(s) of Genesis intended to hint at the Garden of Eden being a temple (or that clear connections were drawn between the later temple and earlier Eden). For example, I always thought the connection was made strong by the mention of onyx (Gen 2:12), but Block retorts: “The reference to this gemstone in Gen 2:12 suggests no more than that this is a fabulous garden, analogous perhaps to the garden in Tablet IX of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which has trees bearing carnelian and lapis lazuli as fruit and is located at the mythic border between the human and supernatural world. The garden of Eden was indeed a luxurious place, separated from the everyday world, but this did not make it a temple” (p. 14). I am not fully convinced by Block’s counter-arguments, but I intend to be more cautious and circumspect when I link the garden with temple imagery and vice versa. 

“The Shape of the Torah as Reflected in the Psalter, Book 1” (C. Hassell Bullock).

“Narrative Repetition in 1 Samuel 24 and 26: Saul’s Descent and David’s Ascent” (John Currid and L.K. Larson)

“Samson and the Harlot at Gaza (Judges 16:1-3” (Gordon Hugenberger)

Use of the OT in the NT

“The Power and the Glory: The Rendering of Psalm 110:1 in Mark 14:62” (Richard Bauckham). Bauckham tries to explain why the Markan Jesus refers to God as “the Power” when referencing Ps 110:1 (Mark 14:62). Bauckham appeals to a trend in rabbinic literature where “the Power” becomes an “anti-anthropomorphic substitution” in view of  OT texts that mention to arm or mouth of God. Such a substitution serves the purpose of “protecting the transcendence of God from language that might otherwise seem to reduce him to the level of creatures” (p. 88-89). So, Bauckham argues that the mention of God’s “right hand” may have prompted this substitution. 

“Genesis 1-3 and Paul’s Theology of Adam’s Dominion in Romans 5-6” (Roy Ciampa). Ciampa argues against a recent argument that Rom 1-4 develops a Gospel message geared towards Jews, while Rom 5-8 more so for Gentiles. Instead, Ciampa shows how Rom 5-6 (in particular) tells a story that “continues to be closely tied to and based upon his interpretation of Scripture” (p. 105).

“Luke’s Isaianic Jubilee” (Daniel Gurtner)

“Genesis 15:6 in the New Testament” (Douglas Moo). This is more of a thematic and exploratory essay. It is remarkable how often Gen 15:6 comes up in the NT and how formative it is for NT theology. I am currently working on a project on faith in the NT, so I may have a longer critique of this essay on my blog at a later point. Let me just say this: I disagree quite strongly with Moo here, particularly how he distances faith from works and faithfulness. I would suggest that the issues involved in the proper study of this theme should not be resigned to such a short essay – generalities and undefended (or underdefended) statements abound. I was particularly disappointed with what I found to be a strained reading of James. Again, my academic “holy anger” was especially strong because I am getting into the nitty-gritty of faith/faithfulness language in the NT. I deeply respect Moo as an exegete and scholar, but we simply do not see eye-to-eye here. More to come…

“The Temple, A Davidic Messiah, and a Case of Mistaken Priestly Identity (Mark 2:26)” (Nicholas Perrin). Scholars have long scratched their heads trying to figure out why Mark names Abiathar as high priest during the “bread of the presence” event, when  Ahimelech  was the priest mentioned in 1 Sam 21:1-7. Perrin cleverly argues that Mark’s mention of Abiathar (and not Ahimelech) is intentional – Mark uses “Abiathar as an emblem of a rebellious and therefore failed priesthood” (175). Such intertextual resonances are hard to prove, but on face value I would take something clever like this (for Mark) over plain old sloppiness. 

“The 144,000 in Revelation 7 and 14: Old Testament and Intratextual Clues to Their Identity” (Joel R White)

“How Do You Read? God’s Faithful Character as the Primary Lens for the New Testament Use of Israel’s Scripture.” (Rikk E. Watts). Well, the title pretty much says Watts’ argument – many of the confusing and strange links NT authors make between OT texts and their own context may be the desire to demonstrate God’s faithfulness and constancy of character. Again, hard to prove in a short essay, but perhaps this may be a foretaste of a longer work in progress(?)

Biblical Theology

“The Tripartite Division of the Law: A Review of Philip Ross, The Finger of God” (D.A. Carson)

“From Creation to New Creation: The Biblical Epic of King, Human Viceregency, and Kingdom” (Christopher A. Beetham)

“Dare to Be a Daniel: An Exploration of the Apostle Paul as a Danielic Figure” (Benjamin Gladd). Gladd argues that both the Teacher of Righteousness and Josephus “display unique traits that closely resemble the character Daniel” (272). So, could it be that Paul did so as well? Looking at a few textual links, Gladd suggests that a link may lie in “their prerogative to acquire and mediate eschatological mysteries” (272). I have wondered myself if Paul intentionally aligned himself with an OT figure, but I did not find the connection to Daniel very strong. Actually, when I had considered this approach years ago, I thought Job would be a strong candidate.

Evaluation

Sometimes Festschriften end up being a hodge-podge of essays on a variety of subjects. The editors here did an admirable job avoiding that buffet approach. The themes touched upon here are quite central to Beale’s work and areas of influence. I recommend this work especially to those who are interested in the NT use of the OT.

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2 thoughts on “Festschrift for Beale – From Creation to New Creation

  1. Thank you very much for this review, Nijay. It helps a lot to get an idea of what is in a multi-essay volume like that. Regarding Paul’s Danielic self-understanding, I think there may be more to it that you probably give credit for, especially in Ephesians and maybe, Colossians. Give it some more thought!
    Annang

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