Tuesday, February 28, 2006

SBL Proposals

I can tell that there are others getting together their proposals for the SBL Annual Meeting in Washington DC today ahead of the midnight deadline because they are coming through regularly at the moment for the Synoptics Section. Stephen Carlson has a cracker of a proposal for the TC section, in which he's on the trail of another forgery, and Jim Davila has a session of the SBL Pseudepigrapha Section devoted to his new book. Now I am strongly reminded of the need to get my proposal(s) together in time.

Review of Biblical Literature latest

I've had no time for regular blogging recently, with travel to and from Nebraska, late nights grading mid-terms, re-negotiating the email mountain and all the other usual chores, but there's always a moment spare to note the latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the NT heading:

Davies, W. D., and Dale Allison
Matthew: A Shorter Commentary: Based on the Three-Volume International Critical Commentary
Reviewed by James Sweeney

Epp, Eldon Jay
Junia: The First Woman Apostle
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Yee, Tet-Lim N.
Jews, Gentiles and Ethnic Reconciliation: Paul's Jewish Identity and Ephesians
Reviewed by Eung Chun Park

And under "General and Other" there is material of interest too:

Berlinerblau, Jacques
The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously
Reviewed by Paul Sanders

Madigan, Kevin and Carolyn Osiek, eds.
Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History
Reviewed by Mary Coloe

Madigan, Kevin and Carolyn Osiek, eds.
Ordained Women in the Early Church: A Documentary History
Reviewed by Glenna Jackson

Vander Stichele, Caroline and Todd Penner, eds.
Her Master's Tools?: Feminist and Postcolonial Engagements of Historical-Critical Discourse
Reviewed by Erin Runions

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Lecturing in Nebraska

On Thursday I will be giving the Swan Lecture at Nebraska Wesleyan University. It's open to the public:

Swan Lecture: "When Prophecy Became Passion: the Death of Jesus and the Birth of the Gospels"

Thursday 23 February 2006, 1 p.m., Callen Conference Center (More here).

I travel tomorrow (Wednesday). I will take the blogging machine with me, but I don't know how much opportunity I will have to use it because I will also have a bunch of mid-term papers with me to grade (= to mark).

Review of Biblical Literature Latest

Latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the NT heading:

Blomberg, Craig L.
Contagious Holiness: Jesus' meals with sinners
Reviewed by James Crossley

Chétanian, Rose Varteni, ed.
La Version Arménienne Ancienne des Homélies sur les Actes des Apotres de Jean Chrysostome Homélies I, II, VII, VIII
Reviewed by Robert Charles Hill

Herzog, William R., II.
Prophet and Teacher: An Introduction to the Historical Jesus
Reviewed by David Miller

Theobald, Michael
Studien zum Römerbrief
Reviewed by Heike Omerzu

Friday, February 17, 2006

Forgotten Criteria in the Jesus Quest II: View Common to Friend and Foe

I blogged last week on the first Forgotten Criterion in the Quest for the Historical Jesus, accidental information. This comes from a suggestion made almost thirty years ago by Michael Goulder. The suggestion is that we are on secure ground when someone like Paul gives away material that he is taking for granted, assuming as given between himself and his audience in an argument or discussion about something else. I don't think that enough people have reflected on just how strong the Pauline evidence here is, especially the evidence from 1 Corinthians, and I would like to return to this in a future post. As far as I am aware, no one has developed Goulder's interesting suggestion about this as a criterion in the historical Jesus quest. I suspect that part of the problem there is that Goulder's article was only a sketch, and it appeared in a book (The Myth of God Incarnate) that was notorious at the time for its theological reflections on the incarnation, in which Michael Goulder's comments on the historical Jesus were quickly forgotten. Goulder himself never developed those ideas in print, except in one place, a book review of Ben Meyer's Aims of Jesus, in which he commented on the similarity between Meyer's "indices" and his criteria.

In this post, I would like to bring forward another forgotten criterion in the search for the historical Jesus, the view common to friend and foe. I have looked through several discussions of criteria in historical Jesus research and have not found, yet, a single reference to this criterion, let alone any engagement with it. More is the shame, because here we are on solid ground.

E. P. Sanders and Margaret Davies, Studying the Synoptic Gospels (London: SCM; Philadelphia: Trinity Press International, 1989):
At first it seems that all the evidence is biased towards jesus. It is, however, extremely important to note that, while we have for Jesus no equivalent to Aristophanes on Socrates, we can discern in the gospels that he offended many and that he was executed on a serious charge. That is, the gospels, though biased in his favour, give us a glimpse of the views held by those who were biased against him.

Once we can discern both favourable and unfavourable portraits of Jesus, we can ask what is common to both portraits and we may have considerable confidence that what is common is historically sound . . . (302).

. . . .The gospels are based on 'propaganda', bias (in this case, in a good cause). We would understand more about Jesus and his impact -- or lack of it -- if we knew what his enemies thought. What friend and foe agreed on is presumably reliable material. Two facets of his career and message stand out as proved on this basis.

1. Miracles. In Jesus the Magician Morton Smith pointed out that we possess the enemies' view of Jesus as a miracle-worker. He was a magician. He could, they granted, cast out demons, but he did so by invoking Beelzebul . . . . (330)

This discussion gets ignored, I would guess, for the same reason that many others of the gems in Studying the Synoptic Gospels get missed (e.g. the best discussion of form-criticism available anywhere, brilliant discussion of the Synoptic Problem). For some reason that I have never been able to fathom, scholars do not seem to read this book. Sanders's second example of this criterion (or "test", as he calls it) is the king / kingdom material, and I am less sure of the historicity of the kingship material in Mark's Passion Narrative than Sanders is, and I don't want to take away from the discussion of a strong criterion by bringing in a less certain example. But I would want to add other elements in the tradition that this criterion helps us with, on which more anon.

Update (Sunday, 17.55): Gary Greenberg emails: "I think this criterion needs stronger controls. The example cited doesn't really show that the foes had the view attributed to them. It is a polemic written long after the event by someone who was not a witness and it may be an invention or misrepresentation of what was said. What I suggest may be more useful is where a view is attributed to a foe contemporaneous with the author, say as in the disputes mentioned in Paul's letters between Paul and the Jerusalem Church or factional disputes in the Churches founded by Paul. While not a perfect control, it seems to exert more pressure on the author to come closer to what the opponent says than if he were writing about someone who wasn't around to respond."

See also the comments. I will comment on these points when I next have a moment.

Hays on da Vinci Code

This is not a topic I often (ever?) blog about, but there's some local interest here so I thought I'd mention it. It's from the Biblical Recorder and link spotted on the Duke Divinity School website:

"Da Vinci Code" roundtable highlights conference
From contributed reports
WAKE FOREST - More than 1,000 people ranging from high school and college students to seminary students, faculty and curious visitors gathered at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary Feb. 3-4 to hear scholars discuss Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code and the issues it raises regarding the reliability of the New Testament . . . .

. . . . Featured in the panel discussion were Norman Geisler, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary; University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill professor Bart Ehrman, the chairman of the school's Department of Religious Studies; Duke University Divinity School associate professor of New Testament Richard Hays; and Southeastern professor of New Testament Andreas Kostenberger . . . .

. . . . Hays was even less complimentary of the book.

Calling The Da Vinci Code "dreadful literature," "full of egregious historical errors," "a teeth-grinding experience," and "deeply confused theologically," Hays noted that it also has a readily observable anti-Catholic bias.

"It is characterized from start to finish by a virulent anti-Catholicism, a terrible bias against the Catholic church as an institution," said Hays, who belongs to the United Methodist denomination. "I find this a deeply morally offensive view on these grounds, and I should make clear that I'm not a Roman Catholic." . . . .

. . . . Perhaps the most contested question for panelists involved the New Testament as it relates to history and reliability. While Kostenberger and Geisler contended strongly for biblical inerrancy, both Hays and Ehrman found that explanation wanting.

"While the New Testament gospels do bear witness to the historical record of Jesus, they bring a theological witness, not a historical witness, to record," Hays said, adding that the New Testament contains "factual discrepancies that cannot be swept under the rug by any honest reader."

Ehrman, an agnostic who said that he formerly held to scriptural inerrancy while a student at Moody Bible College, told listeners that he changed his position during his studies at Princeton University, realizing that "God did not want me to throw away my mind." He urged students to read the New Testament to judge for themselves whether it contains errors . . . .
Well, I suppose it shows that discussions of Brown's wretched book at least get people engaging in some useful and interesting discussions.

Library of New Testament Studies Page update

I've made some minor changes to the Library of New Testament Studies page which I host here on the NT Gateway. It's only a very basic information page still, but at least the information is now accurate. I've adjusted my details, from Birmingham to Duke. If anyone has sent emails to my old email address at Birmingham, they will have bounced -- it was switched off a month or two ago. I've also changed the name of the page to Library of New Testament Studies to reflect the name change from Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement Series. There are several more major things I will add in due course: the names of the editorial board, a comprehensive back list of JSNTS / LNTS volumes and, I hope, a space where we can push out the latest news on new volumes quickly and efficiently.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Schottroff on the Parables

This is new from Fortress Press:
Envisioning the Reign of God Through Parables

MINNEAPOLIS (February 14, 2006)— The Parables of Jesus from Fortress Press envisions the reign of God through parables—and the social structures they imply.

In this startling work, Luise Schottroff proposes an alternative reading of Jesus' parables. Her work decries the traditional allegorizing of Jesus' stories, with their easy identification of God as one of the characters in the stories.

"A far-ranging, stimulating, and provocative volume that proposes a holistic and integrated approach to the parables. A special strength of the volume can be found in Schottroff's concerted effort to set the parables in the tradition of Jewish parabolic literature."
William R. Herzog II, Colgate Rochester Divinity School

"This book is a brilliant combination of social history, literary acumen, and feminist/liberationist perspectives. It is a 'must read' for anyone, scholar, pastor, or student alike, who has ever tried to interpret or preach from the parables."
Mary Ann Tolbert, Pacific School of Religion and the Graduate Theological Union

Luise Schottroff is an internationally-renowned New Testament scholar who has pioneered both feminist criticism of the New Testament and bold social-justice readings of the Gospels. She currently teaches at Union Theological Seminary, New York City. She is the author of twenty-two books, including Feminist Interpretation: The Bible in Women's Perspective (1999).

The Parables of Jesus

By Luise Schottroff, translated by Linda M. Maloney

Format: Paperback, 6” x 9”, 288 pages
Item No: 0-8006-3699-6

Price: $18.00

Publisher: Fortress Press

To order The Parables of Jesus call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the web site at www.fortresspress.com. To request review copies (for media) or exam copies (for potential classroom use) please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or e-mail toddb@augsburgfortress.org. For speaking engagements and interviews call Bob Todd at 612-330-3234 or e-mail toddb@augsburgfortress.org.

Wrightsaid latest

The N. T. Wright page has the latest Wrightsaid Q and A session, in which Tom Wright answers the punters' questions on matters Biblical, theological and biographical:

Bishop Tom Wright responds to Wrightsaid questions (February 2006)

Includes: is God the Father YHWH, or is the entire Trinity YHWH? And an interesting question on Wright's views on the context group, featuring this enjoyable line:
What they succeed in doing, and what we need to pay close attention to, is joggling us out of our comfortable assumptions that, as I think Neyrey puts it, the ancient Mediterranean world was much like ours except without electronic toys.

Update (12.17): Loren Rosson comments on The Busybody.

[This is the 2,000th NT Gateway blog post]

Monday, February 13, 2006

Busybody Book Reviews

Don't miss a couple of very interesting book reviews on Loren Rosson's blog The Busybody:

The Rolling Gospel of Thomas
Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas, by April DeConick. T&T Clark International, Dec 2005. ISBN 0-567-04342-8.

Social Science Commentary on the Letters of Paul
Social Science Commentary on the Letters of Paul, by Bruce Malina and John Pilch. ISBN 0-8006-3640-6.

As often, Loren is up to speed on the latest stuff and has read and digested these two books and has some very helpful reflections. I am inclined to agree with Loren on DeConick, which I have read (I edit the series in which it appears) and plan to comment on myself in due course. I have read some of Malina and Pilch too, and there has been a little discussion of it on Corpus-Paulinum, particularly in relation to the claim that Paul was not apostle "to the Gentiles" but to Greek Israelites. It would take a lot to convince me of that, and so far Malina and Pilch have not done so.

Update (17 February): Stephen Carlson comments on DeConick in Hypotyposeis.

John Lyons' new blog

Another British New Testament scholar has joined the blogging community ("assimilated to the blogosphere" as Jim Davila would say):

Reception of the Bible
So what does interest me? Real readers of the Bible interest me. I was trained to do historical critical work on ‘original meanings’ and still do it occasionally. I also teach such approaches. But what really interests me is seeing how people encounter texts and what they do with them.
The author is John Lyons, Lecturer in New Testament in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bristol. The blog begins with some enjoyable reflections on "Why blog?", from which the above quotation is taken (and you don't have to be concerned about my family, John; they all spend as long staring at computers as I do, and my wife Viola spends longer blogging than I do). John goes on with two posts on Jonathan Edwards (second here), the eighteenth century American evangelical, and not the contemporary British triple-jumper-come-TV presenter, about whom, I must admit, I know more. Anyway, a warm welcome to the blogosphere, John.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Historical Jesus Forgotten Criteria I: Accidental Information

I am doing some thinking about the notorious "criteria" for dividing authentic from inauthentic material in Historical Jesus research, brought on because I am in the middle of teaching this at the moment. Having re-read various of the scholarly discussions of criteria, I have been struck by a couple of promising and helpful criteria that are missing in recent literature. The first of these is particularly badly represented in the literature. Indeed, the only person I know who mentions it is Michael Goulder, almost thirty years ago:
Accidental Information. “Paul is trying to tell the Corinthians that Jesus rose from the dead, and he says, ‘He appeared to Cephas’: he tells us by accident that there was a man known as Cephas, and this is therefore dependable. Detection, both criminal and historical, is largely based on this criterion.” (Michael Goulder, “Jesus: The Man of Universal Destiny” in John Hick (ed.), The Myth of God Incarnate (London: SCM, 1977): 48-63, 50).
I need to think about this a little more, but I reckon that this is actually a criterion people are often working with without realizing it. The problem with Goulder's discussion is that it is only a sketch, and he gives few examples of this kind of material, where early Christian writers reveal information en passant, but he also points to "the Twelve" in 1 Cor. 15.5 as another example (Goulder, "Jesus": 54). One might add other information that Paul provides in passing, like the fact that Jesus had brothers who were married (where the point is that people have a right to take a believing wife on mission, 1 Cor. 9.5), or likewise that Cephas was married (also 1 Cor. 9.5). And I reckon the criterion could be applied to some of the Gospel material too, e.g. that Jesus had a house in Capernaum (Mark 2.15)?

Update (14 January, 09.48): thanks for all the comments on the post, several of which show that some more clarity is required in defining this criterion. Goulder's point, as I see it, is that a given author will give away information that is shared by him/herself and his/her audience in the course of constructing an argument about something else. So when Paul says "Have I not got the right to take a believer as wife . . . as do the brothers of the Lord" (1 Cor. 9.5), the information here provided en passant is "Jesus had brothers" and, what's more, "Jesus' brothers were married". His point is not to convey this information; he is not narrating this information, or making it available afresh to readers who previously knew nothing of it. Rather, it is shared information that Paul can take for granted, but which gets conveyed (to us as historians) while he is relating other information as part of an argument. To try to make the point more clearly still, Paul's point in 1 Cor. 9.5 only makes sense if it was reasonably widely known that Jesus had brothers who went on mission. The argument takes for granted that there were such people, and the assumption is necessary for the argument to work. It is not the point of the argument.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Lots of blogs of interest

There are lots of new blogs of interest in our area. Here are the latest additions to my blogroll:

Bible and History Lists Comments
To collect various notes and comments of mine regarding list posts on various Bible and Ancient Near East related lists
Yitzak Sapir

This one was via Paleojudaica. The next is one I spotted myself while surfing:

Markus McDowell's Blog
Teaching, researching, and writing about the Second Temple period and early Christianity

Mark McDowell is Assistant Professor of New Testament at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California, and his homepage has publications list, class materials and so on.

This one has been posted in various places (e.g. Bible Software Review Weblog) and will be of interest to Mac enthusiasts, and especially Accordance enthusiasts (and there are lots of those):

Accordance Blog
News, How-tos, and assorted Views on Accordance Bible Software.

The authors appear to be Helen Brown and David Lang.

The next one has stalled a bit after its first week of postings at the beginning of the year, but it's worth mentioning in case it returns again:

Biblia Theologica
Biblical and theological postings of varied lengths by a student of the New Testament and of Biblical Theology
A. B. Caneday

The author is professor of New Testament Studies & Biblical Theology at Northwestern College, Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA. This one was noticed by Michael Bird on Euangelion.

Next up is another recommendation of Michael Bird on Euangelion:

Sundry thoughts on Biblical Studies, History, Philosophy, Greek, Textual Criticism and Literature
Eric Sowell

If the name sounds familiar, it is because Eric already has a tech blog called The Coding Humanist.

A third recommendation from Michael Bird on Euangelion is:

Gospel of Matthew
Blogging on the New Testament (especially its first book) and other things
J. B. Hood

The author explains "This blog is a forum for my thoughts and those of others with similar interests. I'm currently pursuing a PhD in New Testament from Highland Theological College, University of Aberdeen, and Matthew's Gospel (the subject of my dissertation) will be a key theme."

Back to Jim Davila's recommendations on Paleojudaica, with his characteristic "assimilated to the blogosphere" header is:

Christian Brady
The Name - "Targuman" comes from my field of study (that of the targumim, the Aramaic versions of the Bible) but the full story is a little better than just that. Back when eWorld was a reality I had an email address that attempted to reflect my field, "otman" for "Old Testament." But that was only part of my field and my undergraduate supervisor suggested "meturgeman" (the one in the synagogal service who would translate the Hebrew reading into Aramaic). That seemed to lack the super hero quality I was looking for, so I settled for "Targuman." Now I just need a "T" to sew on my chest...

The Purpose - I intend to follow Ralph's lead and simply post that which is of interest to me. Sometimes scholarly and theological at other times Mac related or political. Who knows? (Yab -- yet another blog)
The next is one I thought I had added to my blogroll, but it turns out I had not. It was mentioned by Jim Davila in Paleojudaica back in December:

Observatório Bíblico
Blog sobre estudos acadêmicos da Bíblia. Associado à Ayrton's Biblical Page. A weblog about academic studies of the Bible
Airton José da Silva

A good one for practising your Portuguese, and nice to see a few links to this blog there too.

It also emerges that I had not linked to this before now:

My research topic (under the supervision of Max Turner) concerns the christological significance of the language Paul used to decribe the relationship between risen Lord and believer
Chris Tilling

I think I was put off by the fact that the blog was originally called "Brain poo", surely one of the worst blog titles in living memory, now happily adjusted to Chrisendom (minus the "t"). It was blog of the month on Biblioblogs.com

I have also dropped one or two of the blogs that have stalled into limbo.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Hearing Mark's Endings

Another book I was delighted to hear about was this one:

Hearing Mark's Endings: Listening to Ancient Popular Texts through Speech Act Theory
by Bridget Gilfillan Upton

ISBN 90 04 14791 8
Hardback (xviii, 246 pp.)
EUR 95.- / US$ 128.-
Biblical Interpretation Series, 79

This is one I've not read yet, but I am looking forward to doing so, and I would like to offer my congratulations to Bridget on the publication (which has some cracking endorsements on the Brill website). (Spotted on Evangelical Textual Criticism).

Ancient Compositional Practices and the Synoptic Problem

Allow me to echo Stephen Carlson's notice on Hypotyposeis of the good news that the following is out:

Ancient Compositional Practices and the Synoptic Problem
R. A. Derrenbacker, Jr.

It's published by Peeters (BETL, 186) and mentioned in Bob's Blog. I read (own) a copy of the dissertation on which the book is based, and I am looking forward to reading this (even if Bob does underestimate the strength of the Farrer theory).

Biblical Studies Carnival

I missed the boat on this one and didn't submit anything to Tyler Williams on time; and I have almost missed the boat even in mentioning it in time, but not quite. So here, belatedly, is notice of Biblical Studies Carnival II. The carnival idea is new to me, and intriguing. The idea is that bloggers submit their favourite posts in a given month to a host who makes his or her own selection and posts annotated links to them. I don't know where the term "carnival" comes from in this context, but it's rather a nice one and evokes images of smiling faces, crowds and waving flags that is a fun way to celebrate what are sometimes quite serious academic blog entries. Anyway, it looks like Tyler has got a whole bunch of hosts lined up for future Biblical Studies Carnivals, and it is to be a monthly phenomenon. So a big thanks to Tyler and to all those who have contributed, and I promise to try to contibute myself in the future.

Scholars: H

I have refreshed the NT Gateway Scholars: H page -- a new URL for Charles Hedrick, changed details for KC Hanson and deletions of Peter Hofrichter and Bernard Heininger, neither of whom can I find.

Roy Ciampa's Resources for New Testament Exegesis

Latest update to the NT Gateway page of Biblical Resource Index Pages is the following:

Resources for New Testament Exegesis
By Roy E. Ciampa: very useful series of links to materials on New Testament exegesis originally prepared for students at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, but this is not just an index page. Special features include a set of reference charts for NT textual criticism, tutorials for using several software and web resources, and some creative links to resources available at Amazon.com (including translations of early Jewish literature, scripture indices, Aland's chart of synoptic parallels.

Roy Ciampa is at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

While updating the page, I noticed that Jerry Truex and Loren Stuckenbruck's Webnexus has finally bitten the dust. It had not been updated for several years, but now the link has gone too, a shame because it was a great resource, and once upon a time a Featured Link (February 2000).

Apostolic Fathers links update

Speaking of the apostolic fathers, thanks to Jamie Phelps for pointing out that the UPenn link to Lightfoot's translation of the Apostolic Fathers is no longer functional. I've now removed that from the NT Gateway Early Church and Patristics Page and have replaced it with a link to Rick Brannan's Apostolic Fathers Look Up Tool.

The New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers

Thanks to Katharine Hellier of Oxford University Press for sending these over:

The Reception of the New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers

Edited by Andrew Gregory and Christopher Tuckett

* Detailed, clearly focused, up-to-date and comprehensive surveys of the books of the New Testament that may have been used by each of the Apostolic Fathers

1 December 2005 | £55.00 | Hardback | 389 pages
For more details, visit: http://www.oup.co.uk/isbn/0-19-926782-0

Trajectories through the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers

Edited by Andrew Gregory and Christopher Tuckett

* Wide-ranging essays looking at the development of Christianity as seen in sources both within the New Testament and in other early Christian literature

1 December 2005 | £65.00 | Hardback | 524 pages
For more details, visit: http://www.oup.co.uk/isbn/0-19-926783-9

The New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers

Edited by Andrew Gregory and Christopher Tuckett

1 December 2005 | £100.00 | Hardback | 928 pages
For more details, visit: http://www.oup.co.uk/isbn/0-19-926784-7

N. T. Wright podcast

It's not every day that you can get a podcast featuring a prominent N. T. scholar, but the N. T. Wright Page alerts us to this:

N. T. Wright and New Insights on Paul
What did the phrase 'Son of God' mean to a first century Jew? What did it mean to a first century Roman? Bishop N.T. Wright, the most inflential New Testament scholar in the English-speaking world, talks with Jerry about his new book, "Paul."

To recieve [sic] this Podcast, click here.

It is an interview with a certain Jerry Bowyer. I've not listened to it myself yet, not having caught up with more leisurely, non NT podcasts that remind me of England, but I'm sure this will be of interest to many.

So who will be the next NT scholar to podcast, or be interviewed on a podcast? Ehrman? Pagels? Crossan?

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Jesus the Craftsman and the Evidence from Paul

I was thinking this morning about Jesus as a τέκτων, a craftsman, and it occurred to me that the fact that Jesus was known (at least by Mark, 6.3) to have worked with his hands could have provided Paul with a useful argument in 1 Cor. 9. The background of that chapter appears to be that Paul has been criticized for earning a living and so not sponging off the Corinthians when he was on mission there. It seems that his apostolic credentials have been called into question, that apostles would be expected to earn their living by preaching the gospel, and that Paul and Barnabas are exceptions to this rule. I have always felt a bit sorry for Paul here, working hard with his hands in between his missionary activity, and then getting criticized for it. But what I began to wonder today was about one of the arguments that Paul did not use.

Paul could have said in this context, "Did not the Lord himself work with his hands? Was he not a craftsman?" Or something like that. This might have been quite a useful point for Paul in a context where he is up against the practice of the apostles, Cephas, even Jesus' own brothers (cf. 1 Cor. 9.5), and where there is apparently a command of the Lord (9.14) that these people are under, to the effect that evangelists should earn their living by evangelizing. So why does he not appeal to that precedent? What are the possibilities? Here are a few options:

(1) Paul did not know that Jesus was a craftsman. He had never thought to ask Peter, James or anyone else, and they had not volunteered the information.

(2) Jesus was not a craftsman; Mark 6.3 is not a reliable tradition.

(3) Paul knew the tradition but did not think to use it in this context, especially as he is up against the practice of those who actually knew Jesus, and who were quoting his words.

(4) Jesus was not (thought to have been) a craftsman during his active, itinerant mission. He began his mission in Capernaum, but he had only been a craftsman in Nazareth and its surrounds. If this was (thought to have been) the case, it would have been counter-productive for Paul to have brought up Jesus' job, because the natural answer would be: "Yes, and the Lord did not work with his hands when he was preaching the gospel, for he said 'Let the one who preaches the gospel get his living by the gospel.'"

I think (3) is perhaps the most likely, but option (4) ought to be entertained too. The Mark 6.1-6 story, in which the reference occurs, assumes that Jesus' job was known to his audience in Nazareth. Was it perhaps associated with Jesus in Nazareth, and does Jesus' move to and activity in Capernaum coincide with his gospel-preaching activity, according to which he now lives off others? The tradition in Mark 3.21 and 31-5, where Jesus' family come to restrain him might then reflect a time when Jesus was no longer a craftsman at home in Nazareth, but now a charismatic on a mission, and they think he is mad, having left the family home and business.

Or perhaps not. Just a thought.

Incidentally, one of the things that got me thinking about this area was a post from a while ago by Michael Bird of Euangelion on Jesus the Stonemason, which discusses translations of Mark 6.3 and refers to an interesting recent article by Ken Campbell in a journal I don't think I've read before, I'm ashamed to say, called Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, "What was Jesus' Occupation?", JETS 48.3 (2005): 501-20. The second half of the article is a rather uncritical lumping together of Synoptic data en masse in the search for the imagery used in Jesus' teaching (with no reference to the carefully sifted itinerary of imagery in Goulder's sadly underrated and underused Midrash and Lection in Matthew), but the first half was a clear and very useful working through the lexical evidence on the meaning of τέκτων in Greek literature, making it pretty clear that the term on its own without qualification should be translated something like "craftsman". "Carpenter" or "stone-mason" or "metal worker" would all be too specific.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bible Films Blog

One of the latest additions to my Blogroll is:

Bible Films Blog
Looking at film interpretations of the stories in the bible - past, present and future as well as current film releases with spiritual significance, and odd bits and pieces on the bible

The author is Matt Page and we have corresponded for some years now on Jesus films; I don't think we have ever met (though Matt lives in my birth county of Leicestershire). Matt has lots of interesting things to say about the Bible in film, and his knowledge on the subject is second to none. There is already a ton of interesting stuff on the Bible Films Blog and I am looking forward to digesting it when I get a moment (one of these days I will be able to find a spare moment) and, I hope, adding some comments.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Matt.

Review of Biblical Literature latest

Latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the NT heading:

Becker, Eva-Marie, ed.
Die antike Historiographie und die Anfange der christlichen Geschichtesschreibung
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Khiok-khng (K. k.), Yeo, ed.
Navigating Romans through Cultures: Challenging Readings by Charting a New Course
Reviewed by Johannes Loubser

Penner, Todd
In Praise of Christian Origins: Stephen and the Hellenists in Lukan Apologetic Historiography
Reviewed by Shelly Matthews

Seland, Torrey
Strangers in the Light: Philonic Perspectives on Christian Identity in 1 Peter
Reviewed by Fika Van Rensburg

Stare, Mira
Durch ihn leben: Die Lebensthematik in Joh 6
Reviewed by Michael Labahn

Court, John M., ed.
Biblical Interpretation: The Meanings of Scripture-- Past and Present
Reviewed by Stephen Moyise

Friday, February 03, 2006

"You say so" continued

This time last week I managed to find a little time to post on Jesus' answer to Pilate in Mark 15.2, "You say so", in response to Phil Harland on the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean blog. There are some useful responses now from Loren Rosson on The Busybody, "You Say So" and "You Say So" II: The Question of Messiahs, from Wayne Leman on Better Bibles, Translating συ λεγεις of Mark 15:2, and Stephen Carlson on Hypotyposeis, Morton Smith on Mark 15:2 ("So you say"). There are some particularly interesting and useful points made here, and I'd like to comment on some of them and to expand my own thoughts.

Stephen draws attention to a fascinating article by Morton Smith, “Notes on Goodspeed’s ‘Problems of New Testament Translation’,” JBL 64 (1945): 501-514 (which, incidentally, gives me the opportunity to mention for the first time, and belatedly, the fantastic new service to SBL members of the complete JBL back-catalogue at JSTOR). It's a cracking article, and on the case in point recommends the translation "So you say" "to preserve in English the ambiguity of the Greek, for it is only fair to the unlearned reader that the English text should present the same opportunities for misunderstanding as does the Greek". Stephen quotes the following segment from 308:
. . . The case of the answer to Pilate is exactly similar. For the Evangelists, of course, Jesus was a king. But when Pilate asks him if he is, they make him reply Σὺ λέγεις. And here their motive is clear, for, as John goes out of his way to explain, “Everyone that maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar.” If, then, Jesus had openly claimed to be a king, in Pilate’s hearing, he would have been guilty of, and accordingly executed for, lèse-majesté. But all the Gospels are at pains to make clear that Pilate found Jesus innocent and had him executed only as a favor to the Jews. With the historical truth of this account we are not here concerned. The historical motive, which concerns us, is perfectly clear, for it was one of the principal fulfillments of prophecy, one of the main points of the apostolic preaching, that the Messiah, should be cast out and effectively killed by his own people. Σὺ λέγεις, therefore, in these passages, must be an ambiguous statement capable at least of being misunderstood by Pilate. . . .
I think that there is another element to what is going on, though, and I am not sure about the statement that "For the Evangelists, of course, Jesus was a king." Well, yes and no. For Mark, Jesus was the Messiah, the one anointed, but what was he anointed to do or to be? Mark's answer is that he was anointed to suffer, to die, to be raised and to be exalted as Son of Man. I don't think he conceives of Jesus as a "king" during his life-time -- that would be a nonsense. His kingdom is in the future. Some of those present with him would not taste death before they had tasted it, but it was not here yet.

In other words, Mark is careful to distinguish between terms like "Messiah" and "King", one of which Jesus is willing to own if he can qualify it, and one of which he is not. The term "Messiah" is always and inevitably eschatological -- it points forward to a time in the future when Jesus will be acknowledged as king. He is anointed to rule, but he is not ruling yet; the kingdom is still in the future. I think that one of the reasons that we tend to miss this nuance is that we tend to make "Messiah" and "King" synonyms when they are not. David was an anointed one before he was a king, and Jesus is his son. This is where I find elements in Loren Rosson's post helpful, especially the reminder of the importance of distinguising between messiahs and kings, even if I am not sure how we would work out such issues in relation to the historical Jesus.

One of the remarkable things about Mark's Passion Narrative is that he does have repeated royal imagery, and the term "king" repeatedly occurs on the lips of his opponents. Is the crucifixion a kind of darkly ironic coronation -- is this when Jesus the Messiah becomes King, when his kingdom comes? I suspect that this is the right way to read Mark. Jesus is anointed to suffer and die and be raised, and only through that destiny does he finally become King -- but the full consummation comes when he returns as King.

But there is another element in the exchange with Pilate that is too easily missed if we focus just on "Messiah" and "King" terminology. Pilate asks Jesus if he is King of the Jews. But Mark's Jesus does not want to own that term since he is anointed not just to become a king of the Jews but also a king of all nations. Only consider the incident in the Temple, where in Mark the complaint is that the temple should be a house of prayer for all the nations (11.17).

Victor Paul Furnish at Duke: Kenneth W. Clark Lectures

Dr. Victor Paul Furnish, University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Southern Methodist University, will be presenting the 2006 Kenneth W. Clark Lectures on February 15 & 16. The lectures below are public, though word is that you'll need to get there early to secure a seat:

Wednesday, February 15, 2006 12:30 p.m Room 0014, Duke Divinity School
Lecture: No Fugitive Word: The Gospel According to Paul; Gospel and Theology in Paul's Letters

Thursday, February 16, 2006 9:00 a.m. Room 0016, Duke Divinity School
Lecture: No Fugitive Word: The Gospel According to Paul; Faith, Love, Hope

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Crossan and Wright on the Resurrection of Jesus

This press release just received from Fortress. I saw this book at the SBL, but it has just been officially released:

Crossan and Wright on the Resurrection of Jesus

MINNEAPOLIS (February 1, 2006)— Two of today's most important and popular New Testament scholars, John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright, air their very different understandings of the historical reality and theological meaning of Jesus' resurrection in The Resurrection of Jesus from Fortress Press.

The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N.T. Wright in Dialogue brings two leading lights in Jesus studies together for a long-overdue conversation with one another and with significant scholars from other disciplines, highlighting points of agreement and disagreement between them and explores the many attendant issues.

The Resurrection of Jesus is edited Robert B. Stewart, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Greer-Heard Chair of Faith and Culture.

Contributors include:

* John Dominic Crossan
* N. T. Wright
* Robert Stewart
* William Lane Craig
* Craig Evans
* R. Douglas Geivett
* Gary Habermas
* Ted Peters
* Charles Quarles
* Alan Segal

Format: Paperback, 6” x 9”, 224 pages
Item No: 0-8006-3785-2

Price: $18.00

Publisher: Fortress Press

To order The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N.T. Wright in Dialogue call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the web site at www.fortresspress.com. To request review copies (for media) or exam copies (for potential classroom use) please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or e-mail toddb@augsburgfortress.org. For speaking engagements and interviews call Bob Todd at 612-330-3234 or e-mail toddb@augsburgfortress.org.