Jul 28, 2012

Women in Acts

The frequency and significance of women in Luke–Acts is generally recognized by interpreters. It is often suggested that this prominence of women is part of Luke’s overall strategy of inclusion of the marginalized. This is probably correct, but is interesting that while many women are named, there are also a number of women who are unnamed as can be seen in these two lists.
Named women: Mary mother of Jesus (1:14), Sapphira (6:1), Tabitha/Dorcas (9:36), Rhoda (12:13), Mary the mother of John Mark (12:12, 25), Lydia (16:14), Damaris (17:34), Priscilla (18:2, 18, 26), Diana? (19:24, 27-28, 34-35), Drusilla (24:24), Bernice (25:13, 23; 26:30).
Unnamed women: Paul’s sister (23:16), Pharaoh's daughter (7:21), Timothy’s mother (16:1), demon-possessed slave girl (16:16), Phillip’s daughters (21:9).
I am not sure what the ultimate significance (if any) of this is, but I did find it intriguing.

Jul 27, 2012

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews can be accessed by clicking the links below.

Coleman A. Baker
Identity, Memory, and Narrative in Early Christianity: Peter, Paul, and Recategorization in the Book of Acts
Reviewed by Jean-François Racine
John Choi
Traditions at Odds: The Reception of the Pentateuch in Biblical and Second Temple Period Literature
Reviewed by John Engle
John Drane
Introducing the New Testament
Reviewed by Nijay Gupta
John Paul Heil
Philippians: Let Us Rejoice in Being Conformed to Christ
Reviewed by Peter-Ben Smit
Reviewed by Todd D. Still
Scott C. Jones
Rumors of Wisdom: Job 28 as Poetry
Reviewed by Edward L. Greenstein
Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Z. Brettler, eds.
The Jewish Annotated New Testament
Reviewed by Stephen Moyise
Michael E. W. Thompson
Where Is the God of Justice? The Old Testament and Suffering
Reviewed by Pekka Pitkanen
J. Brian Tucker
You Belong to Christ: Paul and the Formation of Social Identity in 1 Corinthians 1-4
Reviewed by Maria A. Pascuzzi
Julie Woods
Jeremiah 48 as Christian Scripture
Reviewed by Frederik Poulsen

Jul 26, 2012

A Return to Biblical Preaching

Although the following was published by John Bright in 1967, I think that the message still needs to be heeded.

"But first a plea—and perhaps a rather homiletical one—that ought not to be necessary., but unfortunately is: a plea for a return to biblical preaching generally, which is to say, to preach based on the authority of the biblical Word. The overriding concern in the entire discussion, and the one that caused it to be undertaken in the first place, has been that such preaching be done. The strength of the church lies in the gospel it proclaims—thus in its preaching—today, as it always has. And since the church stands under the authority of the Word, it follows that the best preaching—nay, the only proper preaching—is biblical preaching. Only biblical preaching carries with it the authority of the Word.If therefore, the Christian pulpit is ever to regain the power and respect which rightfully belongs to it, it will be through a return to biblical preaching."

John Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament (London: SCM Press, 1967), 162. 

Jul 25, 2012

Qoheleth: Realist or Pessimist?

"Where Qoheleth stands apart from the wisdom of Proverbs is that he assumes an intensely personal perspective. Proverbs is essentially collective in its ethic, being an anthology of sayings from many sources and taking as its yardstick social values: respect, honour, wealthy, posterity. It accords authority to society as a whole and to the tradition of wisdom sayings. Qoheleth does not. He observes on his own authority, and he is overwhelmed by the fact of his death, presumably his own most of all. Does he, then,  have any practical advice to offer? despite the fact that he regards it as preferable not to have been born, he apparently does not advocate suicide, or even despair. He is more of a realist than a pessimist. seven times he makes a specific recommendation to be happy, enjoy life, eat and drink, have a cheerful heart. But he does not suggest that this can be done by abandoning oneself to the life of dissipation.  Joy is to be found in eating and drinking, to be sure, but as regular human activities not in the sense of revelry. He enjoins pleasure in work also. The proper response to life, according to life, according to Qoheleth, is to accept it, and while one has the opportunity, make the most of it."

I don't agree with everything above, and I would suggest that Qoheth's theology plays a part in his perspective. I might slightly rephrase the point that Qoheleth is more a theological realist than a secular pessimist.

Philip R. Davies and John Rogerson, The Old Testament World, 2nd ed. (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2005),193.

Jul 24, 2012

Christian Faith and the Historical Veracity of the Bible

“If orthodox Christian faith based on the Bible does not require its foundational events to be real and historical, one must ask, Why have anti-Christian polemicists for nearly two thousand years—from the second-century Gnostics and philosophers to Enlightenment philosophers, as well as their followers in German and other continental higher critics and recent postmodern hermeneuts—been so obsessed with undermining the Bible’s historicity and accuracy, along with ridiculing the supernatural? Obviously they think historicity matters, and in their mind if the Bible is shown to be inaccurate and filled with errors, its message is invalidated.”

James K. Hoffmeier, “Why a Historical Exodus Is Essential for Theology,” in Do Historical Matters Matter to Faith: A Critical Appraisal of Modern and Postmodern Approaches to Scripture, ed. James K. Hoffmeier and Dennis R. Magary (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 133.

Jul 23, 2012

The Name of Jesus

The name of Jesus is a notable feature of the Book of Acts. Baptism (2:38; 8:16; 19:5), forgiveness (10:43), Healing (3:6, 16; 4:10), salvation (4:12; 22:16) is said to be in the Name of Jesus. Demons are cast out (16:18), signs and wonders are performed (4:30), and teaching/preaching (4:18; 5:28, 40; 8:12; 9:28) is performed in the Name of Jesus. I would suggest that the name of Jesus can emphasize one of five aspects of the person and work of Christ.

1. The name of Jesus can emphasize his authority, namely, that which is based upon or accomplished by the authority of Jesus (e.g., Acts 16:18).

2. The name of Jesus can emphasize agreement, that is, that which is in agree with the plan and purposes of Jesus (e.g., Acts 22:16).

3. The name of Jesus can emphasize his ability, that is, that which is done by the power of Jesus (e.g., Acts 4:10).

4. The name of Jesus can emphasize association, that is, that which is done in identification with Jesus (e.g., Acts 2:38).

5. The name of Jesus can emphasize his accomplishments, namely, that which is done on the basis of what Jesus has done (e.g., Acts 10:43).


F. F. Bruce on Dissertations

The recent biography on F. F. Bruce contains the following observation about dissertations. I am not sure that Bruce's point is not even more true today.

"As, generation after generation, German students submit dissertations for the doctorate of their faculty, they have the choice of confirming old views or presenting new ones. Naturally, more “kudos” attaches to the publication of a new theory than to the re-establishment of an old one, and the most brilliant and ambitious students will seek to put forth “some new thing.” In some faculties the results of this tendency are wholly beneficial, but in such subjects as classical literature or biblical theology this is not always so. The number of probable hypotheses in these realms is limited, and as these have long ago been exhausted, the chances are that improbable hypotheses will multiply." 

Tim Grass, F. F. Bruce: A Life (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), 106.