Wednesday, December 24, 2008
I appreciate all of you who have taken the time to read, comment, and visit my humble, little blog. I hope to have some interesting things in store for 2009, and am looking forward to see what's in store on the many blogs I visit and yet to have visited in the coming year.
So once again, Christmas blessings to you and yours.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
The first I discovered was via YouTube, and is taught by a Jeff A. Jenkins and is comprised of 39 classes and the first class can be accessed here:
The second resource I discovered was from Jim Hamilton, who has an excellent post on how to prepare for second semester Greek. The resource is Ted Hildebrandt, who posts 28 video lessons along with mp3 files for Greek vocab.
I applaud those who are offering these types of resources, as this is yet another move in the right direction, making seminary-level resources available to the wider public. Make sure you check these out!
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
In the Spring of 1981, as a doctoral student in Nottingham, England, I piled Kris and our two kids, Laura and Lukas, into our small car and drove to Buxton. Professor F.F. Bruce, perhaps the most widely known evangelical scholar of the previous generation and a specialist on Paul, had invited our family to his home for some late-afternoon tea. When we arrived, we were welcomed into the home by Professor Bruce, and we sat in the living room for about two hours. During that time our son managed to spill a glass of orange squash on the Bruce's rug, which Professor Bruce dismissed with a 'whatever can be spilled has been spilled on that rug.'
During a break, as Kris was talking to Mrs. Bruce, I asked Professor Bruce a question that I had stored up for him (and I repeat our conversation from memory): 'Professor Bruce, what do you think of women's ordination?'
'I don't think the New Testament talks about ordination,' he replied.
'What about the silencing passages of Paul on women?' I asked.
'I think Paul would roll over in his grave if he knew we were turning his letters into torah.'
Wow! I thought. That's a good point to think about. Thereupon I asked a question that he answered in such a way that it reshaped my thinking:
'What do you think, then, about women in church ministries?'
Professor Bruce's answer was as Pauline as Paul was: 'I'm for whatever God's Spirit grants women gifts to do.' (italics original; 206-207)
All I can say is 'wow'! Oh yeah, and another thing...go pick up this book!
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Speaking of that situation, one person who was immensely helpful was Nijay Gupta. Nijay really went out of his way with the introductions and was plugging me to Dr. Barclay the entire conversation. Nijay and I also ran into each other on countless occassions and it was a real pleasure getting to know him at this conference. We even had Indian food with the Ashland contingent my final night at SBL. I took Nijay's recommendations (due to my sensitive stomach), but sadly, I fell ill in my hotel room later that evening (Don't worry Nijay, I won't hold it against you, lol!). Nevertheless, and I sincerely mean this, Nijay has a brilliant mind and a bright future as a NT scholar, and he is definitely one that will be heard from in the years ahead.
There were many other memorable moments at this year's meeting such as meeting Sigurd Grindheim (solely by chance), Brant Pitre, Michael Barber, and Joel Willits just as they were leaving Monday afternoon, dining with Michael Gorman and David Capes, listning to a really interesting papers by David Lincicum and Joel Green (IBR meeting) just to name a few.
Disappointments included Eerdmans lack of stock (i.e. the new Festschrift for Richard Hays; Daniel Kirk's Unlocking Romans) including several that should have debuted at SBL including Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the God of Israel: God Crucified and Other Studies on the New Testament's Christology of Divine Identity; James Dunn's Beginning from Jerusalem: Christianity in the Making, Volume 2. The weather was extremely cold, preventing me from exploring much of the city, something I relished in San Diego last year. Gift shops were a hassle as I was attempting to find a souvenir for my wife without the Celtics, Red Sox, or Patriots logos emblazoned on it.
The group I felt worst for was IVP. Apparently five skids worth of books got lost in warehouse transfers, never making it in time for SBL. Fortunately for them they at least had their left over stock from ETS available for purchase. I was told they were giving away really cool messenger bags this year, but they too were lost on the way to SBL.
All in all I had a great time and look forward to next year's extravaganza in New Orleans.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Some of personal highlights was having a good conversation with John Barclay of Durham University about the possibility of PhD work there in the not so distant future. Moreover, his paper in the Pauline Soteriology section entitled "I Will Have Mercy on Whom I Will Have Mercy: Paul and Other Jews on Grace in the Desert," was fascinating and seemed to coincide with interests I have in a possible dissertation project.
Another highlight on meeting with a scholar was having a chance to chat with Ross Wagner of Princeton Theological Seminary. He, too, was very encouraging and seemed to take an interest in my idea for doctoral research. It was from him, that I heard about the above-mentioned Pauline Soteriology section, inviting me to come.
The last thing I will mention on this post is that I shared a room with two outstanding guys, Justin Dombrowski, a PhD student in classics from Columbia University, and Daniel Kirk of Sibboleth fame and the man who has finally 'unlocked Romans.' I had a great time with them both, and I know you will be hearing their names for many years to come in their respective fields.
I'll have more to say on subsequent posts in the days to come.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Here is an interesting story about the possibility of a copy of a letter discovered by the Dallas Historical Society in their archives from Abraham Lincoln to a mother, Lydia Bixby, who was believed to have lost 5 sons in the Civil War. The letter, written in November of 1864, was featured in Saving Private Ryan.
To read more click here.
I know this has been all over the biblioblogosphere already, but as one who aspires to do a PhD and had Baylor has one of the few schools I planned on sending an application to, I am very excited to hear that Bruce Longenecker will be coming to Baylor to assume their chair in the Religion Department!
I planned on getting ready for my GRE's soon after the new year, now this gives me even more incentive. Of course that is probably the idea of hundreds of other applicants as well. Oh well, a guy can dream can't he?
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Oh well, enough of this bizarre rant. I have an SBL book wish list to make out, travel plans to hash out, and deciding what warm clothes I want to take with me. On the bright side, I'm looking forward to seeing some of my fellow bibliobloggers, running into Mike Bird as he once again receives free books for his birthday, see Scot McKnight grab ungodly amounts of books (I know, bad use of the adjective there!), decide which one of Ben Witherington's 75 latest releases to buy, and try to make a 6:00 am flight back Tuesday morning to cold, possibly snowy, Ohio.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Many thanks are due to Emily Varner for sending me a review copy.
Walter C. Kaiser Jr., Darrell L. Bock, Peter Enns
Eds. Kenneth Berding, Jonathan Lunde
Three Views on the New Testament Use of the Old TestamentGrand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008. Pp.
Softcover. $16.99 ISBN:0310273331
There is no doubt that within the sphere of New Testament studies, that the New Testament's use of Old Testament scriptures is one of the most intriguing and debated topics in the guild today. With that recognition, Zondervan's Counterpoints series has offered their latest, Three Views on the New Testament use of the Old Testament. It must be stressed at the outset that the three views represented here are in no way comprehensive, but nevertheless for those who want to get acquainted with some of the key points in the debate this is a helpful entree.
The book begins with an excellent introduction by Jonathan Lunde, one of the co-editors of this volume. This may have been the most important chapter in the book as Lunde deftly lays out introductory and terminological issues that will be addressed by the three contributors. Lunde introduces the reader to the five orbiting questions that center around the relationship between the OT and NT authors' intended meanings: 1) Is sensus plenior an appropriate way of explaining the NT use of the OT? 2) How is typology best understood? 3) Do the NT writers take into account the context of the passages they cite? 4) Does the NT writers' use of Jewish exegetical methods explain the NT use of the OT? and 5) Are we able to replicate the exegetical and heremeneutical approaches to the OT that we find in the writings of the OT? (10-12) Next, Lunde looks at each of the questions in more detail (13-35). One of the best sections follows this section as Lunde explores "The Interpretive Assumptions of the NT authors" (35-39). The first assumption is that Jesus is the one in whom the Scriptures point to and find their fulfillment (36-37). The second naturally flows from the first in that the Messiah has arrived and has been vindicated, causing the NT writers to assume they are "living in the days where Scripture finds its fulfillment" (37). Thirdly, corporate solidarity or more explicitly the idea of "the one in the many" where a figure can represent a group allow the NT writers to speak this way of Jesus as seen in the titles of "Son of God", "Servant", "Son of Man", etc. (37-38) Fourth, there is a pattern, or "undergirding typology" that begins with the premise that since God is sovereign in history and true to his character, his actions in prior history will be consistent with those in subsequent history.(38-39) Finally, the Scriptures have been fulfilled only in an inaugurated sense. The consummated fulfillment is yet to come (39). Closing this chapter, Lunde describes briefly with what each viewpoint the contributors will argue (40-41). Walter Kaiser argues for what is deemed the "single meaning, unified referents view". This view argues that what the OT author intends by his words is consistent with what the NT author intends. This even extends to the referents in the text.
That is to say, in addition to any prior reference, the OT writer is to be understood as ultimately having the same people or events in mind when he writes his text as the NT author does when he refers that text to Jesus and the community defined by him. (40)
The second viewpoint, "single meaning, multiple contexts and referents" is the view defended by Darrell Bock. This view shares the premise of the first, namely, that there is a singular meaning shared by the OT and NT writers when the latter cites the former, but
The third and final viewpoint, defended by Peter Enns is "fuller meaning, single goal". This view suggests that the NT writers perceive new meanings in OT texts that are not necessarily closely related to the meanings intended by the OT authors (40-41).
...the words of the OT authors frequently take on new dimensions of significance and are found to apply appropriately to new referents and new situations as God's purposes unfold in the larger canonical context-referents that were often not in the minds of the OT authors when they penned their texts. (40)
These new meanings are legitimized by appealing to the NT authors' single-minded conviction that the Scriptures point to and are fulfilled in Christ. Advocates of this view are careful not to deny the importance of the grammatical-historical study of the OT authors on their own terms. But since the NT writers assume that Jesus is the goal to which the OT story is moving, they perceive this meaning in OT texts, even when their OT authors did not have that meaning in mind when they wrote. (emphasis original; 41)
In order to make this review manageable, I will not discuss in detail the exegetical case studies that each author uses to defend their viewpoint, but rather I will provide my overall impression of each contributor's argument. Kaiser begins the debate (45-89), by defending "the single meaning, unified referents view." Regarding sensus plenior, Kaiser rejects this notion because it relegates the human author to at best, a secondary level (49), while the OT's original audiences would have curiously been left out of what Kaiser deems "deeper meanings," and would in fact accuse, the NT writers of eisegesis if "there is no signal from the original writers that more was stored in the words than appeared on the surface meaning..."(51). After rejecting the notion of sensus plenior in a canonical reading (52-54), and the NT passages that appear to support it (54-60), Kaiser shifts to the question of whether the NT authors respect the OT context from which they are citing. Kaiser answers in the affirmative, refuting the idea of the OT is reread in light of the NT. He cites case examples such as John 13.18 in Psalm 41.9, Amos 9.9-15 in Acts 15.13-18. Respect for the context of the OT is seen in both the immediate literary context and the antecedent "promise plan" context (a clear indicator of Kaiser's view in his Biblical theology). More explicitly the Promise Plan of God is defined by Kaiser thusly:
The Promise-plan is God's word of declaration, beginning with Eve and continuing on through history, especially in the patriarchs and the Davidic line, that God would continually be (in his person) and do (in his deeds and works) in and through Israel, and later in and through the Church, his redemptive plan as his means of keeping that promised word alive for Israel, and thereby for all who subsequently believed. All in that promised seed were called to act as a light for all the nations so that all the families of the earth might come to faith and to new life in the Messiah. (63, n.30; italics original)
I do not find Kaiser convincing on his exegesis of the texts mentioned above. It seems to me that exegetical gymnastics are performed to demonstrate his defense of the single meaning unified referents view. Moreover, Kaiser believes that appealing to Second Temple interpretive methods is misguided, arguing that "one would be hard-pressed to find any convincing apologetic value for validating the messianic or doctrinal claims based on the use of such interpretive procedures as midrash, pesher, allegory, even psychological impositions on the OT text" (73). It is comments like these that show Kaiser's main objective is to protect the NT author's from what he perceives as the illegitimate use of OT texts, while coloring his interpretations of key texts that in the end, demonstrate that there are better interpretations to be found elsewhere (e.g. Psalm 16 in Acts 2.25-33 and Paul's use of Deut 25.4 in 1 Cor 9.7-10). Finally, Kaiser argues that we can follow the NT writers in their use of the OT, because they "argued most carefully when they cited the OT as an authority for apologetical and doctrinal reasons" (88). Kaiser revealingly bemoans that NT scholars have relegated the OT to back seat status in favor of extrabiblical literature, forcing "patterns on biblical studies that do not always represent the fairest way to set the problems up in the first place" (89). Needless to say, I believe this comment is an unfair assessment of the state of current NT scholarship. It also stands to reason that NT scholars must interact with studies closely tied to their historic and cultural mileu in order to better understand the interpretive activities of the NT authors.
Turning to Bock's viewpoint (105-158), "single meaning, multiple referents and referents" makes to this reviewer, better sense than the previous viewpoint. Bock states "The key premise of this essay is that God works both in his words and in revelatory events that also help to elaborate his message" (107; italics original). Bock rightly, considers the historical backgrounds of interpretive activities of the Second Temple era (107-111), and sketches six theological presuppostions that influenced the way NT authors utilized the OT: (1) The Bible is God's Word; (2) The one in the many (corporate solidarity); (3) Pattern in history (correspondence or typlogy); (4) These are the days of fulfillment; (5) Now and not yet (the inaugurated fulfillment of Scripture); (6) Jesus is the Christ. Bock is mostly correct when he points out that the first 3 assumptions were shared by both Jews and Christians, while the last 3 were held by Christians alone. Enns rightly points out that the fourth assumption was shared by the exegetes at Qumran, but I digress (162). For Bock, sensus plenior is defensible in the sense that the OT writers could not see the ultimate sense that their writings would take in the NT. Bock refers to this phenomenon as "the progress of revelation" (114). As God progressively discloses his plan throughout history, "the force of earlier passages in God's plan becomes clearer and more developed," and "this increase in clarity often involves the identificcation of new referents , to which the initial references typologically point forward" (114). Bock identifies the two ways of reading Scripture that spring from this notion, mainly, "the historical-exegetical" and the "theological canonical" where concerning the latter, "the progress of revelation may 'refract' on a earlier passage so that the force of the ealier passage is clarified or developed beyond what the original author could have grasped" (116). More specifically, Bock agrees with those who would view that the NT meaning can develop and compliment what the OT meant, without denying what the OT originally affirmed (116). Next, Bock helpfully discusses the ways in which the NT uses the OT (118-121). Fast forwarding a bit, Bock concludes his exegetical outworkings (125-146) of the "single meaning, multiple contexts and referents" with this conclusion:
There is a sense (a basic principle or subject matter) in which meaning is stable. There is a fundamental meaning to the text. Such meaning can be clearly stated. What can shift is that to which the meaning applies. Linguistically this shift of meaning is associated with what is called the referent, since a new context often means fresh referents. However, in that later application of meaning, the original meaning is still at work and it is still developing. What is more, once the additional meaning becomes clear, that later meaning can refract in a way on the earlier text to give it fresh understanding. All of this development is the function of multiple contexts being at work with the meaning, a factor that impacts the theological force and application of the textual meaning, giving that meaning additional depth (146; italics original).
As attractive as Bock's proposal is, it still comes off as a bit strained at times. Particularly his treatment of Hosea 11.1 in in Matt 2.15 (120). Bock's conclusion in is brief treatment states:
(120, italics original).
Jesus' reenactment of the nation's exodus experience invokes the pattern of God working for his people again. So, the TYPOLOGICAL-prophetic connection can be made when one recognizes that the exodus itself is a 'pattern' image for salvation and that Jesus as King (and as the 'one in the many') is able to represent (and thus recapitulate) the nation's history
Finally, Peter Enns defends the "fuller meaning, single goal" viewpoint. This is a viewpoint that I most resonated with, as Enns begins his essay by cautioning the reader to not attempt to resolve the 'hermeneutical tensions' that use of the OT by NT authors may entail. Enns also satisfactorily nods in the direction of sensus plenior in not denying that Scripture has dual authorship, both God and the human writer, while questioning
...what the relationship is between what God intends to communicate through a given OT author at that particular moment in redemptive history, and how that comports with how NT authors, likewise inspired by God, reflect on those OT passages in light of Christ's coming (168).
Next, Enns turns his attention to Second Temple Literature. Of all the authors, Enns makes his argument that Second Temple interpretive techniques such as pesher, midrash, etc., should hold a place of importance due to the historical settings of the NT authors. Enns is also keen to note that there is a main difference in how the NT authors saw their interpretive task vis-à-vis Second Temple interpreters not so much in their style but more in their focus, i.e. "the relentless focus on bearing witness to the crucified and risen Christ. ...what provides the grand coherence of the NT is the conviction that Jesus is the climax of God's covenant with Israel" (178).
Enns labels this method of interpretation as Christotelic. Enns explains:
To read the OT "Christotelicly" is to read it already knowing that Christ is somehow
the end (telos) to which the OT story is heading; in other words, to read the OT in light of the exclamation point of the history of revelation, the death and the resurrection of Christ (214; italics original).
Enns also, correctly in my view, sees that we as interpreters can replicate, not in the methods used by the NT authors, but rather "more in terms of their hermeneutical goal"(i.e. their Christotelic reading; 216). Enns' interpretations of key passages (e.g. Gen 13.14-16 in
Gal 3.15-29; Hosea 11.1 in Matt 2.15 ) seemed to make the best sense exegetically and historically when recognizing that NT authors adapted the hermeneutical mechanics of their Second Temple neighbors. After all, these cultural influences do not occur in a vacuum.
In summation, I would like to commend the authors and editors on this fine edition to the Counterpoints series. I believe that Three Views of the New use of the Old Testament would be a great supplement to any introduction to a Biblical hermeneutics course. This is not of course, the most comprehensive treatment of the use of the NT by the OT, but neither does it claim to be. I would recommend that any reader approaching this text should primarily engage the last two contributors, Bock and Enns, as I believe they advance the discussion the most, both in the defense of their methodologies and their critique of one another.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
The man, his mission and his message. I admit, I much prefer the U.S. title, as this latter is a bit corny (despite the corny title to this blog post!). Also the U.S. cover(on the left) is superior to the U.K.'s (on the right):
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Joseph's Dilemma: "Honor Killing" in the Birth Narrative of Matthew
Eugene, OR: Cascade Books, 2009. Pp. 104
Paperback. $13.00 ISBN 1556358253.
On the Special Laws, 3.11, 31, 52–53, 58, 72–73; Hypothetica 7.1; On Joseph, 43–44; and the Mishnah: Sanhedrin 7.9; 9.1; pp.51-52). Marohl concludes the chapter by investigating how the OT prophets utilized the metaphors of adultery and honor killing to speak of Israel's waywardness (e.g. Hos 2:2-3; Ezekiel 16:35-43; pp.52-53), and how early Christian interpretations support the author's reading of Matt 1.19 (e.g. Protevangelium of James 13:1-14:8; Patrologiae Cursus Completus, 56:633; Chrysostom, Homilies on the Gospel of St. Matthew 4.7; pp.53-60).
Mary and her unborn child face expected death, the author of Matthew tells
another story of violence and murder. The story is dramatic and continues
to capture the imaginations of all who hear the account. It is easy to imagine
Herod’s men searching for and killing all male infants. The story makes
clear that this is a moment of expected death. However, just as an angel of
the Lord visited Joseph in the midst of his dilemma, again an angel of the
Lord visits Joseph in the midst of Herod’s violent plan. Just as Mary and her
unborn child were granted unexpected new life, Jesus is again spared and
new life prevails (66).
death, they will experience a surprising, unexpected new life in him"(68). Also, Jesus' teaching via use of the parabolic method is also explored as the author points to the example of the "Parable of the Lost Sheep" (18:12-20), noting that "in this parable, there is great rejoicing when the expected loss, the expected death, of one sheep turns into the unexpected discovery, the unexpected new life, of the animal"(69). Marohl also sees this theme in Jesus' commissioning of the disciples in 10:5-15. They too, are expected to bring "unexpected new life to those expecting and experiencing death"(69). Finally, a discussion about Jesus' death and resurrection (Matt 26-28; 69-71) rounds the discussion out as the author astutely concludes:
The birth of Jesus and his death and resurrection make perfect “bookends”
for the theme of new life. It is expected that Jesus will be killed while
still in the womb. As Joseph agonizes over his dilemma, he is visited by an
angel of the Lord. From this situation of expected death comes unexpected
new life. The theme weaves throughout the ministry of Jesus. Both literally
and metaphorically, new life emerges from death in the deeds and words
of Jesus. Again at the end of the story, unexpected new life triumphs over
death, even death on a cross (70-71).
Saturday, October 18, 2008
Matthew J. Marohl, Assistant Professor of Religion, Augustana College (PhD University of St. Andrews), has offered up a striking proposal concerning the Matthean birth narrative (1.18-25). It is with particular focus that Marohl zeroes in on what he deems "Joseph's Dilemma" (xii; i.e. 1.19) and hence, provides the title for this monograph. As stated above 1.19 provides the interpretive crux to Marohl's proposal and reads:
Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly (NRSV).The questions for Marohl are twofold: 1) Does Joseph suspect Mary of adultery?; and 2) What are Joseph's options, if Mary is found guilty? (xii) As Marohl notes, the majority of interpreters agree that Joseph has one option, that of divorce, so Joseph's dilemma then becomes whether the divorce will be public or private. This for Marohl, does not do Joseph's dilemma justice. Instead the author argues that "In this book, I will argue that early Christ-followers understood Joseph’s dilemma to involve an assumption of adultery and the subsequent possibility of killing Mary. Worded differently, Joseph’s dilemma involves the possibility of an honor killing. If Joseph reveals that Mary is pregnant she might be killed. If Joseph conceals Mary’s pregnancy, he will be opposing the law of the Lord. What is a “righteous” man to do?" (xii). Marohl anticipates that some will reject this thesis outright, deeming it heretical. Undaunted, the author varnishes the next part of his thesis, namely, "that this reading actually introduces an important Matthean theme—from expected death comes unexpected new life"(italics original; xii-xiii).
Joseph's Dilemma is structured around four chapters. In the first chapter (1-20), Marohl discusses the reality of modern honor killings. This well-organized chapter begins by noting that honor killings is a "difficult" topic to discuss due to the inherit nature of the act, the danger and tendency to develop an attitude of cultural superiority (neocolonialism), and the kinds of evidences that are presented (namely, ethnographies, magazines, and newspapers) instead of scholarly resources (namely, government statistics, legal rulings, and scholarly journal articles; 1-2). Next, Marohl gives a helpful, succinct summary of the honor/shame culture of the ancient world (2-4), noting that two factors in honor/shame discussions shed light on "honor killings": 1) The challenge/riposte exchange for acquired honor, and 2) The emphasis Mediterranean families place upon collective or family honor. Following this section, Marohl defines what "honor killings" are: "Honor killing is the practice of killing girls and women who are thought to have endangered a family’s honor by allegedly engaging in sexual activity before (or outside of) marriage" (5). This definition merely scratches the surface however, as "Honor killings are also executed in instances of rape, child sexual abuse, and even perceived flirting. Moreover, mere allegations of improper behavior on the part of a girl or woman are often enough to defile a family’s honor and 'warrant' an honor killing" (5). Marohl spends some time discussing where these killings are reported (e.g. Egypt, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel [among Arab Israelis], Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Turkey, Yemen, and the UK [among Middle Eastern refugees and immigrants]; 6) and the difficulty of estimating the amount of honor killings that take place due to the fact that honor killings are often considered a "private family affair" (6; The United Nations estimates 5,000 women are killed each year in the name of family honor; n26). Skipping ahead a bit, one of Marohl's most insightful observations in this chapter is that honor killings cannot be blamed on religion or ethnic background as Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Jews, and Muslims all practice this heinous act. Rather honor killings are practiced due to "the centuries old patriarchal concern for power over women and their reproductive rights"(17).
Chapter 2 is entitled "Joseph's Dilemma" (21-37). Marohl begins by discussing the three most common interpretations regarding Joseph's reaction to Mary's pregnancy: 1) Joseph suspects Mary of adultery; 2) Joseph suspends all judgment; 3) Joseph is aware of Mary's conception via the Holy Spirit and his filled with awe and afraid to take Mary as his wife (23). There are obvious flaws regarding the second two proposals, specifically the third option as Joseph is not made aware of Mary's miraculous conception until vv. 20-21. For Marohl's thesis to be correct, the first proposal is the only viable option. Most scholars suggest that Joseph's only option was divorce and appeals to Deut 22.13-21 are anachronistic. Regarding the last point, scholars usually make the point (e.g. R.T. France) that this punishment is anachronistic without offering any documentation, although Luz and Gundry attempt to do so with the studies of Hermann Leberecht Strack and Paul Billerbeck (Strack and Billerbeck, Das Evangelium Nach Matthäus Erläutert aus Talmud und Midrasch. Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud und
Midrasch. Munich: Oskar Beck, 1922; 1.50–53). Marohl notes:
Unfortunately, Strack and Billerbeck do not claim that stoning was no longerJoseph’s dilemma is often portrayed by scholars as involving the choice between divorcing Mary and bringing her before a court of law to be tried and sentenced. While the proscribed stoning of Deut 22:23–24 is inferred by the latter option, it is usually not made explicit by interpreters, who instead insist that Joseph will divorce Mary. These interpretations often reinforce the idea that the honor of Mary is at stake (emphasis mine). Yet others (e.g. Warren Carter and Daniel Harrington) do not dismiss the possibility of stoning (Deut 22:23-27), but in the end come out in favor of Mary's honor being defended by Joseph's action of divorce. The remainder of the chapter looks at the work's on the "infancy narratives"(30-34) including those of Raymond Brown (Birth of the Messiah), Jean Daniélou (The Infancy Narratives), R. T. France, (“Scripture, Tradition, and History in the Infancy Narratives of Matthew"), and René Laurentin, (The Truth of Christmas ), while social scientific interpreters Bruce J. Malina and Richard L. Rohrbaugh (34-37; Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels) work is critiqued in that they helpfully sketch the honor/shame dynamics of Matt 1:19, while never considering the possibilty of "honor killing" as a real option, again coming out on the side of Mary's honor. This talk of Mary's honor being at stake misreads the dynamics of Meditteranean families as Marohl concludes the chapter with this note:
practiced in the first century. In fact, the opposite claim is made. In their
commentary on Matt 1:19 in light of the Mishnah and Talmud, Strack and Billerbeck explain that it was not permitted to kill a minor if she committed adultery. However, they further note, that a girl who has committed adultery and is at least 12 years, 6 months, and 1 day old, may be killed by either stoning or strangulation. In other words, the evidence that Luz does provide in no way claims that stoning was no longer practiced in the first century (28).
In the situation of adultery, it is the honor of the threatened family that is in jeopardy, not that of the offending girl. In cases both ancient and modern, it is the family honor that must be defended, even to the point of death (37).
Over the next couple of days, I hope to post on part II of this review. Chapter 3 will discuss the ancient evidence of honor killings, while chapter 4 will focus on the second part of Marohl's thesis, namely, how Joseph's option of performing an "honor killing" fits the Matthean motif of "from expected death comes unexpected life."
Stay tuned and feel free to share your thoughts.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Monday, October 13, 2008
In many ways, what makes 1 Peter difficult to read as Christian Scripture is this initial attempt on the part of Peter to identify his audience. First Peter is addressed to folks who do not belong, who eke out their lives on the periphery of acceptable society, whose deepest loyalties and inclinations do not line up very well with what matters most in the world in which they live. This is not the sort of life that most people find attractive. In terms of our ability to genuinely understand 1 Peter, all of the linguistic skills we might develop, all of the material on historical background we might accumulate-none of this will make up for the basic reality that, as a whole, we resist the possibility that this letter is addressed to us, that we might be cast as "nobodies in the world." The problem is theological. What separates us from 1 Peter is not "the strange world of the Bible" as much as its unhandy, inconvenient claims on our lives...1 Peter invites a reading among those who are ready to embrace the identity and status of exiles in dispersion. (Joel B. Green, 1 Peter, The Two Horizons New Testament Commentary, [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007] 18.)
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Many thanks are in order to Bobby Koduvalil at Hendrickson Publishers for this review copy!
Newman, Barclay M., ed.
The UBS Greek New Testament: A Reader’s Edition
Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2007. Pp. x + 704.
Cloth. $69.95 ISBN 1598562851.
Many harsh realities exist in biblical language acquisition. As one encounters the biblical languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, & Greek) it is tough not to feel as though one is sojourner in a strange land. Alphabets are at best vaguely familiar, while vocabulary and the different parts of speech can be even larger obstacles for the learner. Once the beginning student begins to read for the first time, syntax and context sensitive vocabulary can be tremendous stumbling blocks. As the student begins to feel more at home with their BHS or NA27/UBS4, the often sad conclusion is that he/she finishes their respective coursework in Hebrew/Greek, never to keep up with the good work that has begun. Many such tools exist to help the student rekindle their biblical language acquisition, some of which I have highlighted on this very blog.
Among the best out there is the recent contribution by Barclay M. Newman as he has provided those students who desire to develop reading facility of their Greek New Testament's. As Philip Towner states in the preface:
"The bottom line is this: to master the skill of reading the Greek New Testament there is simply no substitute for linear and sustained reading. This tool will aid the student and scholar in achieving this goal" (8).
Given the above quotation, one may wonder what makes the Reader's Edition so useful. Well, here are some of the volume's unique features:
- All words occurring 30 times or less are given their lexical form and defined with a running dictionary at the bottom of the page.
- All words occurring more than 30 times in the GNT are given an appendix in the back of the book.
- Definitions are given according to context, preventing the reader from the struggle of deciding on which gloss may be best.
- Where a word has a meaning different from its usual definition elsewhere in the NT, the broader meaning is provided.
- Where scholars show significant disagreement over the meaning of a word, the alternate suggestions are included.
- Each word is assigned a number which corresponds to the number in the running dictionary at the bottom of the page. Moreover, the numbering system begins anew with each turn of the page.
- Occasionally, idiomatic word combinations are defined. (e.g. John 2.7̔̔ έ́́́́́́́́́́̓́́́̓̓́̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̓̓̓̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔ως ανω is defined as "to the brim" [253 n.33]).
- Unusual verb forms are given their root form as well as their parsed form.
- The dictionary identifies these specific parts of speech:
Verbs: Present indicative active first person singular, except where only passive and/or middle forms occur in the NT.
Nouns: Lexical form, genitive ending, article.
Adjectives: Lexical form, alternate nominative endings.
Adverbs, prepositions, and particles: Fixed form.
On a personal note, while I was teaching my 12 week class on Romans, I found my reading greatly enhanced using the UBS Reader's Edition. Many words I normally would have fumbled over, inhibiting and frustrating my reading, were given a major boost, knowing that I could get through a major discourse without spending an hour getting to the end of the unit, encouraged me greatly. This tool is not a "crutch" if used properly. I agree with Towner's assessment that "This tool will help the reader 'graduate' to independent reading of the UBS Greek New Testament/Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece sooner rather than later" (8).
I would be remiss if I did not mention one item of concern in closing. I was perusing through 1 Thessalonians 5.26 when I came across the phrase εν φιληματι ̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔αγιω ("with a holy kiss"). I was surprised to find that the noun φιλημα was unnumbered and undefined at the bottom of the page. Since φιλημα only occurs rather infrequently elsewhere (LXX: ʹ̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔̔Prov 27:6; Song 1:2; Luke 7:45; 22:48; Rom 16:16; 1 Cor 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12; 1 Thess 5:26; 1 Pet 5:14), I was left wondering where else errors may have occured in this work. What is more remarkable however, is that in a task as monumental as the one Newman undertakes, that these kinds of errors do not occur more frequently.
Newman is to be commended for a fine piece of work, one that every student with at least a year of Greek under his/her belt should keep readily available and read daily.(Disclaimer: I apologize for my lack of Greek accents and breathing marks. I could not get them to work properly!)