Jul 29, 2016

Creation, De-Creation, and Re-Creation in Ezekiel

Michael G. McKelvey, in discussing the message and theology of Ezekiel to be intimately tied up with the narrative pattern of creation, de-creation, and re-creation. McKelvey writes,
In light of the preceding outline and discussion, the thematic structure of the book of Ezekiel appears to follow a larger, recurring pattern in Scripture. The pattern can be described as creation, de-creation, and re-creation, and is notably seen in the first three chapters in Genesis where God creates (Genesis 1–2), where man through disobedience de-creates (Gen. 3:1–19), and where God promises to re-create (Gen. 3:15). The pattern continues with the flood narrative (Gen. 6:1–9:17), Moses’ birth narrative (Ex. 1:8–2:10), the Exodus and Red Sea crossing (Ex. 3:1–5:18), and Israel’s crossing of the Jordan (Joshua 3–5). At the macrolevel the entirety of Scripture follows this framework; from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22, a clear pattern of creation, de-creation (fall), and re-creation (redemption) reoccurs throughout the whole of God’s Word.

Apparently, the book of Ezekiel also follows this arrangement, Ezekiel 1 displays God’s glory among the people whom he has made for himself. Then God’s glory leaves the temple, the city, and the people, signifying the removal of his presence (cf. the driving of Adam and Eve out of the garden away from the presence of the Lord in Gen. 2:22–24). The prophet concludes the book with the promise of the glory of God returning to the temple (Ezekiel 43) and, in the final verse, of the Lord dwelling in the midst of the city: “And the name of the city from that time on shall be, ‘The LORD Is There’” (48:35). Therefore, the book’s outline is intimately tied to its message: The people whom God has created will be de-created because of their sin, but they will one day be re-created to dwell with God, and he with them, forever.
Michael G. McKelvey, “Ezekiel,” in A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the Old Testament, ed. Miles V. Van Pelt (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), 312–13.

Jul 28, 2016

The Approach of Early Christian Commentators

"Early Christian commentary, whether Alexandrian or Antiochene, focused on the world of the Bible, its vision and understanding of the created world. Patristic commentary did not start with the world or life and then go to the Bible for understanding, whether it be historical or theological, as later modern commentators will do. The difference which represents a major shift in modernity is what John O’Keefe and R. R. Reno have called “the sanctified vision.” Early Christian commentators understood Holy Scriptures as indeed the revelation of God, not the thing that points revelation. Their commentating on the Bible therefore, sought meaning within the text, not from it. Early commentators saw all Scripture as relevant, even the seemingly mundane details, because of the Christian assumption that “the text is the verbal form of divine pedagogy,” all of it aiding in the development of the Christian life. As a result, in practice this looked like an intensive reading that focused on connections between words, images, and phrases, associating them with one another and building up a world of cross-links that evoke many layers of meaning. This moving across the text of the Bible, not past it, is what makes early commentary feel so different and foreign to modern readers. It is based on an entirely different worldview, one of universal interconnectedness, and a higher theology of Scripture, than later readers will possess."

Mark Gignilliat and Jonathan T. Pennington, “Theological Commentary,” in A Manifesto for Theological Interpretation, ed. Craig Bartholomew and Heath A. Thomas (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2016), 241.

Jul 27, 2016

The Mosaic Law and the Christian

Clint Archer has a good post here on the issue of the Mosaic Law and the Christian.

Jul 26, 2016

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 but unfortunately you must be a SBL member.

Marvin L. Chaney, Uriah Y. Kim, and Annette Schellenberg, eds.
Reading a Tendentious Bible: Essays in Honor of Robert B. Coote
Reviewed by Stewart Moore

Stephen L. Cook
Reading Deuteronomy: A Literary and Theological Commentary
Reviewed by Timothy M. Willis

John R. Donahue
Seek Justice That You May Live: Reflections and Resources on the Bible and Social Justice
Reviewed by Walter J. Houston

Randall X. Gauthier
Psalms 38 and 145 of the Old Greek Version
Reviewed by Phil J. Botha

Dennis Hamm, SJ
Philippians, Colossians, Philemon
Reviewed by Lynn H. Cohick
Reviewed by Roy R. Jeal

Jaeyoung Jeon
The Call of Moses and the Exodus Story: A Redactional-Critical Study in Exodus 3-4 and 5-13
Reviewed by Danny Mathews

Adam Marshak
The Many Faces of Herod the Great
Reviewed by Erich S. Gruen

Eric F. Mason and Troy W. Martin, eds.
Reading 1-2 Peter and Jude: A Resource for Students
Reviewed by Andrew M. Mbuvi

Paul Overland
Learning Biblical Hebrew Interactively
Reviewed by Jeremy M. Hutton

Paul L. Redditt
Reviewed by Lester L. Grabbe

Isaac S. D. Sassoon
The Status of Women in Jewish Tradition
Reviewed by Sarah Shectman

Sigmund Wagner-Tsukamoto
The Economics of Paradise: On the Onset of Modernity in Antiquity
Reviewed by Gerda de Villiers

Robert W. Wall and David R. Nienhuis, eds.
A Compact Guide to the Whole Bible: Learning to Read Scripture's Story
Reviewed by Dirk G. van der Merwe

Jul 25, 2016

Review of Vanhoye's Hebrews Commentary

Albert Vanhoye, The Letter to the Hebrews: A New Commentary, trans. Leo Arnold (New York: Paulist, 2015).

Serious academic students of the book of Hebrews are familiar with the work of Vanhoye and especially his seminal studies on the structure of the book. So it is with some anticipation that one dives into this commentary, some of which is derived from his earlier 2010 L’Epitre aux Hébreaux: Un prêtre différent (p. ii). Although there are several ways to examine this commentary, it might be helpful to begin with what it is not. This commentary is not a devotional commentary. There are very few, if any, devotional thoughts here. Nor is this work exegetically critical. While it does interact occasionally with the Greek text, it does not do so consistently. This work does not interact much with other commentaries or secondary literature. I counted only 14 footnotes and only eight of those refer to other sources. The bibliography is brief (2½ pp.), with about half of the entries related to the author’s own work. But these comments are not intended to imply that Vanhoye is not exegetically capable or critically unaware. His previous scholarship and insightful remarks throughout imply otherwise. This volume is not really for the casual lay-reader. 

Keeping this in mind, what Vanhoye has written is a readable, helpful volume that provides a penetrating analysis of the text. Commentaries are not typically like novels where ideas can creep up on you, but every now and again this commentary would surprise me with a simple yet profound insight on the text. Two examples might suffice. The first is from remarks on 1:10 and the second related to 4:12–13.
What is astonishing is that the author does not hesitate to ascribe to the ‘Son’ what Genesis ascribes to God. In the exordium he showed the Son as the mediator of creation (Heb 1:2), as do other texts of the New Testament also (John 1:2; 1 Cor 8:6; Col 1:16). Here he goes further; he shows the Son as author of creation. No stronger statement in the whole of the New Testament concerning the Son (p. 67).

It may be noticed here that the author inverts the order of the judicial proceedings, which normally start with the inquiry, continue to the judgment and the sentence, and end with the execution of the sentence. On the contrary, the author speaks first of the sword ready to carry out the sentence; then he talks about judgment, and at the end he has some reflections on the capacity to make the inquiry (pp. 94–95).
I like this commentary and am glad to have it in my library. But I am not sure where it fits within the numerous volumes on Hebrews available today. It will not likely be the resource one turns to for in-depth exegetical study, nor is it suited for devotional study. So it will likely be most useful as a supplementary resource for those who enjoy studying Hebrews. 

Thanks to the kind folks at Paulist Press for providing the volume used in this unbiased review.