Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Johannine Monograph Series: An Interview with Paul Anderson

Paul N. Anderson
Paul N. Anderson, Professor of Biblical and Quaker Studies at George Fox University, along with R. Alan Culpepper, Dean of the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, have spearheaded a unique and important series for students of Johannine literature, The Johannine Monograph Series, Wipf & Stock.

I had the pleasure and honor of interviewing Paul Anderson about this important series. Without further ado, on to the interview.

1. How did the Johannine Monograph Series (JMS) come about?

 Thanks, Matthew, for asking. The field of Johannine studies is a broad and extensive field, and as we do our work using various methodologies in international settings, having access to “the classics of the field” is vital for first-rate scholarship to continue. And, even monographs of monumental significance go out of print or are sometimes hard to come by, so I asked Alan Culpepper if he would join me in championing a Johannine Monograph Series that would seek to get some of the most important Johannine works back into print. We also have chosen to introduce each book with a foreword, situating its place and impact within the larger field of study, so those essays not only serve the volume being introduced, but they also provide something of a Forschungsbericht (research report) as state-of-the-art updates on the field of Johannine studies. Formative in my thinking here was the superb “Lives of Jesus” Series edited by Leander Keck in the 1970s, published by Fortress. And, of course we’re delighted that Wipf & Stock has agreed to sponsor the series and to keep things in print! We could not have found a more serviceable and innovative publisher.

2. Discuss the purpose and vision of the series.

Right; here’s our vision statement, featured in the front matter of each of our volumes: The vision of The Johannine Monograph Series is to make available in printed, accessible form a selection of the most influential books on the Johannine writings in the modern era for the benefit of scholars and students alike. The volumes in this series include reprints of classic English-language texts, revised editions of significant books, and translations of important international works for English-speaking audiences. A succinct foreword by one of the editors situates each book in terms of its role within the history of Johannine scholarship, suggesting also its continuing value in the field. This series is founded upon the conviction that scholarship is diminished when it forgets its own history and loses touch with the scintillating analyses and proposals that have shaped the course of Johannine studies. It is our hope, therefore, that the continuing availability of these important works will help to keep the cutting-edge scholarship of this and coming generations of scholars engaged with the classic works of Johannine scholarship while they also chart new directions for the future of the discipline.

3. What are the criteria for a volume to be considered in the JMS?

Our criteria are fluid; we want to be sure that some of the most important Johannine works continue to be maintained in print, especially ones that continue to inform the best of Johannine studies. Such factors as whether a book is out of print and whether we can also secure the rights to publish the work also play roles in how things develop, of course. For non-English works, the capacity for translation is a factor, and for works deserving a revised edition, we’re happy to also consider such possibilities. Michael Theobald’s Herrenworte im Johannesevangelium is an example of the former, and David Wead’s Literary Devices in John’s Gospel is an example of the latter.

4. Was it a slam-dunk in choosing Rudolf Bultmann’s The Gospel of John: A Commentary, to be the first release in JMS?

Well, Bultmann’s monograph came onto the horizon after we’d already decided to try to get Moody Smith’s Composition and Order of the Fourth Gospel back into print. After we began working on it, though, things came together with the German publisher, the American publisher, and the translators so that it made sense to feature it as Volume 1, with Smith’s analysis of Bultmann’s commentary on John being Volume 2 in our series. An amazing one-two punch! And, Käsemann’s A Testament of Jesus will be Volume 4, with Richard Cassidy’s John’s Gospel in New Perspective having come out just last month as Volume 3.

5. In the Foreword (i-xxviii), you state that Bultmann’s commentary “is arguably the most important New Testament monograph in the 20th century, perhaps second only to The Quest of the Historical Jesus by Albert Schweitzer” (i). What aspect(s) of Bultmann’s John remain influential in scholarship? 

Yes, that’s an audacious claim, but here’s my judgment. First of all, I think it is arguable that Rudolf Bultmann was the leading New Testament scholar of the 20th century; the exegetical, scientific, theological, and existential quality of his work really remains unsurpassed in terms of its mastery and its reach. And, The Gospel of John: A Commentary, especially when combined with his Theology of the New Testament (featuring a major section on John in the second volume—note the excellent volume on Bultmann’s NT theology just out by Longenecker and Parsons, eds.) and his related New Testament works, is clearly his most technical, exegetical, and interdisciplinarily innovative work. Just look at the footnotes! In my earlier analyses of John’s Christology, tradition, and potential contribution to Jesus studies, Bultmann’s role is undoubtedly central to scholarly approaches to all of those larger issues, and in that sense, it extends beyond Johannine studies to History-of-Religions Criticism, the history of early Christianity, Jesus studies (or the dearth thereof), biblical theology, gospel relations, and source and redaction criticism. Bultmann even contributed to new literary theories in seeing the Beloved Disciple as a rhetorical device connecting Hellenistic Christianity with its “mother,” Jewish Christianity. As Haenchen quipped, Bultmann’s work has been like a giant oak tree in Johannine studies, denying the growth of alternative approaches under its shade. Then again, in my own analysis of Bultmann’s theory (in addition to the 12 K-word forward to his commentary, see especially my new introduction and epilogue in the third printing of The Christology of the Fourth Gospel, Eugene: Cascade Books, 2010), I have tested all of his source-critical criteria referenced throughout his entire volume using John 6 as a case study, and the evidence for alien sources underlying John 6 is completely lacking. It is even non-indicative, although we do indeed have a narrator. However, the contributions of the final editor seem (with Brown, here) to be augmentative and conservative rather than theologically intrusive. I do see that person (with Bultmann; I call him a “compiler”) as plausibly the author of the Johannine Epistles, and I concur with Bultmann that John’s narrative is not dependent on the Synoptics. It has its own story to tell, which in some ways sets the record straight over and against the Markan renderings. So, in considering the impact of Bultmann’s work on source-critical, redaction-critical, history-of-religions-critical, and theological-exegetical New Testament scholarship in recent decades, his commentary on John stands out as preeminent in the 20th century—among those who have agreed with him as well as among those who have not. I reside, of course, in both camps.

6. What other volumes can readers expect to see from JMS?

 As mentioned, Moody Smith’s Composition and Order of the Fourth Gospel is in process, and it should be out in a couple of months or so; Richard Cassidy’s John’s Gospel in New Perspective just came out last month, and it includes a new essay on slavery in the Roman era as well as my analysis of six or seven crises in the Johannine situation, of which the Roman-Johannine dialectic is a highly significant one. Other works that are “on deck” include: The Prophet-King by Wayne Meeks, Bread from Heaven by Peder Borgen, and several other books, including the two books mentioned above by Wead and Theobald and the controversial monograph by Käsemann. If anyone has a suggestion of other books to include in the series, do let me know. Our purpose is to make available on a continuing basis some of the best and most significant of Johannine monographs in service to scholars and students alike, and we are greatly appreciative of the high place of prominence that Wipf & Stock has given this new, innovative series. And, thanks, Matthew, for the interest and for the ways you are furthering the good work of biblical studies through your website and other endeavors! It’s a high privilege indeed to be working together in furthering the good work.

Monday, March 23, 2015

David deSilva's Recent Revelation Lecture in Lebanon

Last February 26th, David deSilva gave a lecture entitled "A Political Reading of the Book of Revelation" at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Lebanon. His lecture is followed by two responses from local theologians. Watch the video above and enjoy.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Richard Longenecker's Paul, Apostle of Liberty Reissued?

Richard Longenecker, one of the eminent New Testament and Pauline specialists of the past fifty- plus years, has a busy fall ahead. Not only does Longenecker's long-awaited Romans commentary await the eager hands of scholars and students alike, but it appears that his Paul, Apostle of Liberty is getting another run. Originally, (so far as I can tell) Paul, Apostle of Liberty was published in 1964 by Harper and Row. Baker picked it up in a reprint in 1980, while Regent College Publishing did the same in 2003. Now it appears that it is Eerdmans turn (October, 2015). This volume includes a foreword by former student and top Pauline scholar in his own right, Douglas Campbell, Professor of New Testament, Duke Divinity School.

I cannot think of a scholar I admire more than Richard Longenecker. His work his always top shelf (I love his Galatians commentary), so this volume will be a must have for those who have yet to purchase previous editions.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Brant Pitre's Jesus and the Last Supper

Brant Pitre, Professor of Sacred Scripture, Notre Dame Seminary, New Orleans, and author of one of the best historical Jesus books I have read in some time, Jesus, the Tribulation, and the End of Exile: Restoration Eschatology and the Origin of the Atonement (Mohr Siebeck; Baker Academic; 2005),is getting ready to release his latest offering, Jesus and the Last Supper (Eerdmans, Nov 2015).

Details are scarce but the book will be 560 pages long and retail for $55.00.

Brant is a first-rate scholar and this book will set a high mark for all future work and research on the Last Supper.

Friday, March 20, 2015

James Dunn and Volume III of Christianity in the Making

One of the most remarkable series on the origins of Early Christianity, Christianity in the Making, authored by one of the most remarkable New Testament scholars in the world today, James D.G. Dunn, is set for a third volume by the end of this calendar year, Neither Jew nor Greek: A Contested Identity.

Although details are sparse at the moment, I did discover that the volume will retail for $60.00 and weigh in at a robust 816 pages.

James and Meta Dunn with me at the Johannine Literature Conference

I  remember Professor Dunn speaking to me  about this volume   back in November 2013 at the Johannine Literature conference in Baltimore, MD. At that time, he was still in the writing and revision stages. I am extremely excited to see this volume is about to see the light of day.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Fridays with Fee: Part V

Today's edition of "Fridays with Fee" will be a bit different. In this post I want to highlight a few quotables of a single verse, 1 Cor 4:7:"For what makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?"

1 Cor 4:7 is part of a larger unit, 4:6-13, in which Fee labels "The Marks of True Apostleship".  Here are some of Fee's incisive comments regarding this verse:

"Their (the Corinthians) pride in persons reflects a lack of proper perspective, a lack of gratitude. The Fall has given us all too high a view of ourselves, with a correspondingly low view of others." (186)

If the first question marks the Corinthian conceit as presumptuous, the second marks it as ungrateful--and is singularly devastating: 'What do you have that you did not receive?' This is an invitation to experience one of those rare, unguarded moments of total honesty, where in the presence of the eternal God one recognizes that everything--absolutely everything--that one 'has' is a gift. All is of grace; nothing is deserved, nothing earned. Those who so experience grace also live from a posture of unbounded gratitude. (186; italics original)

"Grace leads to gratitude; 'wisdom' and self-sufficiency lead to boasting and judging. Grace has a leveling effect; self-esteem has a self-exalting effect. Grace means humility; boasting means that one has arrived." (186)

Saturday, March 7, 2015

C.E.B. Cranfield and the Quote of the Day

In an brief note, "Reflection 3: Revisiting ‘the works of the law’ in Romans 3:20" written in 2010 for Theology in Scotland (vol. XVII, no.1: 71-82), C.E.B. Cranfield notes that despite the fact that Galatians is undoubtedly Pauline and also the shortest of the Hauptbriefe, it should not be used for a gateway into Paul's theology due to the emotional nature of the epistle. His quip on why interpreters should look elsewhere for a better understanding of Paul's theology is worth quoting:

"If a friend or colleague shows signs of being under special stress, the courteous and generous reaction is to allow that person space. It can scarcely be said that Paul has received this sympathetic courtesy." (79)

Duane Liftin's Paul's Theology of Preaching

One forthcoming title I have had my eye on is Duane Liftin's Paul's Theology of Preaching: The Apostles Challenge to the Art of Persuasion in Ancient Corinth (InterVarsity Press; July 2015). Liftin, professor emeritus of Wheaton College, examines 1 Cor 1-4 in light of ancient rhetorical conventions, demonstrating Paul's unique approach, namely, a persuasion based upon the Holy Spirit in eliciting a proper response to his preaching in Ancient Corinth.

Here are some of the particulars:

Retail: $40.00
Pages: 400


List of Excurses
 Introduction Part I: Greco-Roman Rhetoric
 1. The Beginnings
 2. The Goal of Rhetoric
 3. The Power of Rhetoric
 4. The Reach of Rhetoric 
 5. The Genius of Rhetoric
 6. The Appraisal of Rhetoric 
 7. The Hazards of Rhetoric
 8. The Rewards of Rhetoric
 9. The Grand Equation of Rhetoric Part II: 1 Corinthians 1—4 
10. Paul and Rhetoric in Corinth 
11. The Setting of 1 Corinthians 1—4 
12. Paul's Argument Introduced: 1 Corinthians 1:1-17 
13. Paul's Argument Begun: 1 Corinthians 1:17-20 
14. Paul's Argument Encapsulated: 1 Corinthians 1:21 
15. Paul's Argument Continued: 1 Corinthians 1:22—2:5 
16. Paul's Argument Completed: 1 Corinthians 2:6—4:21
 Part III: Summary and Analysis 
17. Paul's Ministry Model
18. Final Questions 
19. Appropriate Strategies 
20. Conclusion: The Pauline Model 
 Appendix One: Paul, Apollos and Philo
 Appendix Two: The Book of Acts Appendix
 Three: Paul's Epistemology 
Appendix Four: Implications for Preaching Appendix
 Five: Broader Implications
 Works Cited
 Author Index 
Scripture Index 


In Paul's Theology of Preaching, Duane Litfin sets forth the Greco-Roman context of ancient Corinth, where the citizens of the city regarded themselves as 'connoisseurs of eloquence.' . . . It was a context where the Apostle Paul's preaching simply did not measure up—and came under withering criticism from some in the Corinthian church. The apostle's resulting defense set it down once and for all that those who preach the gospel are called to proclamation, not rhetorical persuasion. As such, it provides a needed corrective to preachers who uncritically assume that their calling is to persuade their hearers of the gospel. This important, beautifully written book deserves careful reading and wide discussion in the church and the academy." —R. Kent Hughes, senior pastor emeritus of College Church in Wheaton, IL

 "In this wise—and provocative—study of Paul, Duane Litfin demonstrates that the apostle's intended meaning has often been seriously obscured by seeing him as engaged in various 'rhetorical ploys.' Making his case with a thorough grasp of ancient rhetoric, as well as with a profound commitment to the church's call to proclaim the gospel with clarity, Litfin exposes the confusion in the kind of preaching that aims at 'results' rather than being founded in an uncompromising desire to be obedient to the biblical text." —Richard J. Mouw, president emeritus and professor of faith and public life, Fuller Theological Seminary

 "This book does something too little seen in biblical studies today: it brings together deep learning and contemporary pastoral wisdom. A fresh look at Paul's theology of preaching and what it means for our proclamation of the gospel today." —Timothy George, founding dean of Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, general editor of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture

 "Duane Litfin has identified in Paul and 1 Corinthians 1–4 the kind of rhetoric that I can wholeheartedly endorse. This is not a rhetoric of persuasion that is cozying up to those in Corinth, but Paul is demonstrating a rhetoric of proclamation that relies upon the Holy Spirit for response. This book provides an important introduction to preaching and rhetoric that makes crystal clear that Paul was doing something very different from the rhetoricians around him. Litfin also provides numerous important practical implications and observations. I think that both scholars and pastors will benefit greatly from reading this book." —Stanley E. Porter, president, dean and professor of New Testament, Roy A. Hope Chair in Christian Worldview, McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

Thursday, March 5, 2015

C.E.B. Cranfield (1915-2015)

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Charles Cranfield (1915-2015), former professor emeritus of Theology at Durham University (1950-1980). Cranfield is best known for his classic Romans commentaries in the ICC, and his excellent Mark commentary in The Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary series. Cranfield's service extended well beyond scholarship and the classroom however, as he also served as an Army chaplain in WWII and as a pastor to POW's.

I leave you with two quotes from his most famous of works:

Commenting on Mark 1:1:

We take it therefore that the basic idea in εὐαγγέλιον here is that of the announcement of good news by Jesus (Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ subjective genitive). But Jesus was not only the herald of good tidings; he was also himself the content of the good tidings he announced, as every section of Mark is eloquent to proclaim (The Gospel According to St. Mark; The Cambridge Greek Testament Commentary; 36.)

Commenting on the history of scholarship on the Epistle to the Romans:

The student of the epistle who consults but a single commentary is perforce involved to some extent in a conversation with St Paul but also with this long exegetical tradition; for every reputable commentary carries a great deal of this tradition-- even if the commentator is himself largely ignorant of the more distant sources of the things which he says. But to gain something more than an altogether superficial knowledge of the course of tradition is to learn a deep respect and affection for, and gratitude to, those who have laboured in the field before one, irrespective of the barriers between different confessions, theological and critical viewpoints, nations and epochs; to learn to admire the engagement with Paul's thought of some of the greatest minds from the third to the twentieth century, but also to be humbled by the discovery that even the earnest and least perceptive have from time to time something worth to contribute; to learn that it is naive to imagine that old commentaries are simply superseded by new ones, since, even the good commentator, while he will have some new insights of his own and will be able to correct some errors and make good some deficiencies of the past, will also have his own particular blind spots and will see less clearly, or even miss altogether, some things which some one before him has seen clearly; and, above all, to learn that all commentators (including those who in the next few pages will be most highly praised and also--and this is perhaps the most difficult lesson for any commentator to grasp--oneself) have feet of clay, and that therefore both slavish deference to any of them and also presumptuous self-confidence must alike be eschewed. (Romans I:I-VIII; 31-32)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Marianne Meye Thompson's Forthcoming John Commentary

To the writing of commentaries there is no end. For some, this is problematic. For me, however, I enjoy the cacophony of voices that contribute to our understanding of any biblical book. That is not to say that all commentaries are equal. Like any other form of writing each contribution has its plusses and minuses, as no commentary can possibly cover every interpretive dilemma.

With that caveat aside, one such contribution that I have been looking forward to is Marianne Meye Thompson's on the Gospel of John. She is the George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, and her  John: A Commentary in  the New Testament Library Series (Westminster John Knox Press) is certain to join the ranks of some recent great commentaries on John's Gospel such as Michaels' in the NICNT.

Here are some of the particulars:

Price: $60.00

Hardcover: 568 pages 

Publisher: Westminister John Knox Press 

(November 6, 2015)

 Language: English ISBN-10: 0664221114

Almost from the earliest days of the church, John's distinctive presentation of Jesus has provoked discussion about its place among the other Gospels. One cannot help but see the differences from the Synoptics and wonder about the origins and character of John. In this new volume in the New Testament Library series, Marianne Meye Thompson explores the ministry and significance of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the Gospel of John, paying special attention to the social, cultural, and historical contexts that produced it. John's Gospel, Thompson posits, is the product of a social-cultural world whose language, commitments, and contours must be investigated in order to read John's narrative well. In doing so, Thompson studies the narrative, structure, central themes, and theological and rhetorical arguments found in the Fourth Gospel. Thompson's expert commentary unpacks and illuminates John's unique witness to Jesus--who he was, what he did, and what that means. The New Testament Library series offers authoritative commentary on every book and major aspect of the New Testament, providing fresh translations based on the best available ancient manuscripts, critical portrayals of the historical world in which the books were created, careful attention to their literary design, and a theologically perceptive exposition of the biblical text. The contributors are scholars of international standing. The editorial board consists of C. Clifton Black, Princeton Theological Seminary; M. Eugene Boring, Brite Divinity School; and John T. Carroll, Union Presbyterian Seminary.

HT: Nijay Gupta