Aug 18, 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.
Reinhard Achenbach, Rainer Albertz, and Jakob Wöhrle, eds.
The Foreigner and the Law: Perspectives from the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East
Reviewed by Bradford A. Anderson

David A. Bergen
Dischronology and Dialogic in the Bible's Primary Narrative
Reviewed by Sara Koenig

Georg Fischer
Die Anfänge der Bibel: Studien zu Genesis und Exodus
Reviewed by Frank H. Polak

Bonnie J. Flessen
An Exemplary Man: Cornelius and Characterization in Acts 10
Reviewed by Jean-François Racine

John Goldingay
Key Questions about Biblical Interpretation: Old Testament Answers
Reviewed by John E. Anderson

Feidhlimidh T. Magennis
First and Second Samuel
Reviewed by William L. Lyons

Elizabeth A. McCabe, ed.
Women in the Biblical World: A Survey of Old and New Testament Perspectives
Reviewed by Ginny Brewer-Boydston

James D. Nogalski
The Book of the Twelve
Reviewed by Lena-Sofia Tiemeyer

Christian Smith
The Bible Made Impossible: Why Biblicism Is Not a Truly Evangelical Reading of Scripture
Reviewed by Craig L. Blomberg

Dieter Zeller
Jesus - Logienquelle - Evangelien
Reviewed by John S. Kloppenborg

Aug 17, 2012

Paul as Letter Writer

The confidence that some interpreters have about what Paul knew, or used, literarily (e.g., rhetorical handbooks and the like) has puzzled me. I am bit more comfortable with the following approach.

"It is difficult to envision Paul sitting down with a dog-eared copy of Pseudo-Demetrius or Pseudo-Libanius as he scolds the Galatians or answers questions posed by the Corinthians. Elements of most of the letter types listed in the handbooks are nevertheless present in his letters. These types are akin to the basic chords, rhythms, and harmonies that a skilled musician varies, builds on, amplifies, and inverts in improvisational jazz. However spontaneous it may sound, they do not create new music out of thin air or without mastery of the fundamentals. Paul is likewise fluent in the fundamentals of letter writing. The way he manipulates, combines, conforms to, or subverts the familiar genres and subgenres displays his literary virtuosity."

Patrick Gray, Opening Paul's Letters: A Reader's Guide  to Genre and Interpretation (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2011), 52.

Aug 16, 2012

Preaching and the Questions of Life

“Sometime sermons raise more questions than they answer. That can happen when you are listening to God. The mysteries of life will not be entirely resolved this side of heaven. But God encourages us to come to him with our questions. Good preachers understand the ancient rubric: ‘faith seeking understanding.’ We trust God, but we’ll do our level best to understand what he is doing. After all, that is the reason he gave us his Word.”
Kenton C. Anderson, Choosing to Preach (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 163.

Aug 15, 2012

Decision-Making and God's Will

Andy Naselli has a helpful post on decision making and God's will here.

Preaching and Application

Trevin Wax has a good interview with Jonathan Leeman here.

Qumran and Acts 1-2

In the recently published The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible, James VanderKam suggests some interesting possible parallels between Jubilees-Qumran tradition and Acts 1–2. After a lengthy discussion VanderKam offers the following summary.

"Summing up, there is little in Acts 2 that recalls explicitly what the scriptures say about the festival of Weeks, but sundry kinds of evidence indicate that, in writing his account, the author drew upon exegetical traditions that had accumulated around the festival in some Jewish circles, including especially ones attested in Qumran texts.
a. The Jubilees-Qumran tradition shows that by the second pre-Christian century the festival of Weeks was intimately associated with the Sinai stories from Exodus, especially with the covenant between God and Israel. The festival of Weeks was the occasion for making and remembering the biblical covenants and for renewing the great pact made at the mountain.

b. Acts 1 uses language for Jesus’ ascension that reminds one of Moses’ ascent of Mount Sinai to receive the Torah and make the covenant.

c. Summaries of the ideal fellowship in the scrolls and Acts 2:42-47; 4:32 (cf. 1:14) are modeled on the notion that Israel at Sinai was harmonious, a people that accepted the Torah without dissent and lacked the defects that otherwise disrupt society. Exodus implies as much, and later sources expanded upon the theme.

There are, of course, important differences between the Sinai stories as read in some Jewish sources and the account in Acts 1–2. So, for instance, the gift at Sinai was the divine word, the Torah, while in Acts 2 it was the divine Spirit.

Not all of the elements in Acts 1–2 arose from Jewish elaborations on the Sinai chapters. There are unique elements in the New Testament account, and it is possible that other scriptural material, as later understood, contributed to the shaping of Acts 1–2. But the evidence demonstrates that in Acts 1–2 the writer was heavily influenced by Jewish traditions about the festival of Weeks, prominently including ones known from the Dead Sea Scrolls."

James C. VanderKam, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Bible (Grand Rapids:Eerdmans, 2012), 155-56. 


Aug 14, 2012

The Gospel of Luke and Table Fellowship

Peter Mead has some interesting thoughts here of table fellowship in the Gospel of Luke.

Aug 13, 2012

Reading the Psalms in Three Dimension

It seems to me that the Psalms typically point in three directions. The Psalmist/Psalms look backward to Israel’s history or the psalmist’s personal history, inward to the thoughts and feelings of the psalmist, and forward to a future deliverance and/or restoration. In sum, the psalms serve as a great reminder what He has done, what He is doing, and what He will do. As a reader of the psalm, I think that appreciating these three dimensions only adds to the richness of these wonderful texts.

Aug 12, 2012

The Limits of Heilsgeschichte and Promise-Fulfillment

Heilsgeschichte and promise-fulfillment are helpful ways of reading through the Old Testament in light of the New. However, John Bright provides some needed caution for avoiding either of these as hermeneutical magic bullets.

"The truth of the matter is that, however legitimate it may be—and is—to understand the relationship of the Testaments in terms of Heilsgeschichte or promise-fulfillment, neither formulation, unless defined very broadly indeed, is alone adequate to cover the case. Certainly the whole Old Testament cannot neatly be classified as promise, the whole of the New as fulfillment. If there is promise in the Old testament, there is also an element of fulfillment; and if there is fulfillment in the New Testament, there is also promise of things yet to come. More than that, there is much in the Old Testament that only by stretching terms beyond recognition can be labeled promise, and much more that is indeed promise but that finds no fulfillment in the New Testament or elsewhere—and indeed not a little that is abrogated in the New Testament. equally, the entire Old Testament cannot be subsumed under the rubric of Heilsgeschichte: there is much in it that fits in that category loosely, or not at all. The Old testament both is , and is not a Heilsgeschichte. It is, in that it focuses upon that saving purpose which announces as accomplished in Jesus Christ. But the history of Israel, of which the Old testament also tells, was not in itself a Heilsgeschichte but a very human history, and like all human history marked by nobility and greatness, yes, but also by sin and stupidity, questioning and rebellion, tragedy and  frustration of hope. It is a history that led on to Christ—and equally to the rejection of Christ."

John Bright, The Authority of the Old Testament (London: SCM Press, 1967), 196.