Articles in TynBul 62.2 (November 2011)

Incongruity in the Gospel Parables
David Seccombe (North-West University, Potchefstroom & George Whitefield College, Cape Town)  

Evidence is given of deliberate use of incongruity and the outright bizarre in some of the gospel sayings and parables. This is sometimes smoothed away by translators and commentators, who appear uncomfortable with it. Yet it has the marks of being one of Jesus' characteristic teaching devices, the tendency of the transmission being to smooth out discordancies. With this in mind the parable of the leaven is re-examined, and it is argued that it contains three incongruities which strongly suggest its authenticity and could have made it a startling piece of communication for its original listeners. The results gained are employed to clear the way for a correct approach to the parable of the ten minas.

God's Love According to Hosea and Deuteronomy: A Prophetic Reworking of a Deuteronomic Concept?

Carsten Vang (Lutheran School of Theology in Aarhus, Denmark) 

One of the most evident shared themes between the books of Hosea and Deuteronomy is the theme of God's love for Israel. The usual scholarly explanation goes that Hosea fathered this notion which later was taken up in the Deuteronomy tradition. A close scrutiny of this theme in Hosea and Deuteronomy establishes that the lexical and structural agreements in the theme are considerable. However, it also reveals some major differences within the thematic parallel. The simplest solution seems to be that Hosea has reused an available Deuteronomic concept.

Getting Romans to the Right Romans: Phoebe and the Delivery of Paul's Letter
Allan Chapple (Trinity Theological College, Perth)

How did Romans reach the people for whom it was intended? There is widespread agreement that Phoebe was the bearer of the letter (Rom. 16:1-2), but little investigation of or agreement about the exact nature of her responsibilities. By exploring the data available to us, especially tha found in Romans 16, this essay provides a reconstruction of the events surrounding the transport and delivery of the letter to the Roman Christians. In particular, it proposes the following:
·     Phoebe conveyed the letter to Rome, probably by sea;
·     the church in Rome at this time consisted of house-churches;
·     Phoebe was to deliver the letter first to Prisca and Aquila and their house-church;
·     Prisca and Aquila were to convene an assembly of the whole Christian community, the first for some time, at which Romans was to be received and read;
·     Prisca and Aquila were to be asked to arrange for copies of Romans to be made;
·     Phoebe was to deliver these copies to other house-churches; and
·     Phoebe was to read Romans in the way that Paul had coached her at each of the gatherings to which she took it.

Form and Meaning: Multi-Layered Balanced Thought Structures in Psalm 24:4
Rodney K. Duke (Appalachian State University)     
p. 215

The complex literary artistry of Psalm 24:4 reveals it to be the focal point of this song of procession to worship.  Standing in a catechism-like section, this verse provides the answer to the question about those qualified to approach God.  This text exemplifies how artistic form was used to set this verse apart, complement the content, and highlight its theological message.  It employs four levels of balanced thought structures that emphasizise the total purity that is expected from one who would draw close to God.  . Theologically this verse functions as a call to holiness in response to God''s grace.

Isaiah 1:26: A Neglected Text on Kingship
Gregory Goswell (Presbyterian Theological College, Melbourne)    
p. 233

In recent studies of the theme of kingship in the book of Isaiah, Isaiah 1:26 has been neglected. This article seeks to demonstrate that this text is relevant to the theme. The future of leadership within the city of Jerusalem-Zion as forecast in Isaiah 1:26 is theocratic in shape, with Davidic kingship notably absent. The judges and counsellors spoken of are leaders appointed by Yhwh the King and act as judicial officers under him. The setting of Isaiah 1:26 in Isaiah 1, the immediate context of the section 1:21-26, the absence of any mention of kings in Isaiah 2–4, and the portrayal in the first half of Isaiah's prophecy of Judaean kingship as a dying institution, all confirm this reading. Isaiah 1:26 is one of a number of texts in the first half of Isaiah that prepare the reader for what would otherwise be a radical shift to an exclusive focus on divine kingship in Isaiah 40–66.

Hebrews 3:6b and 3:14 Revisited
Andrew J. Wilson (Kings College, London)
p. 247

Hebrews 3:6b and 3:14 have been central to Reformed interpretations of the warnings in Hebrews for several centuries. Today, however, there is something of an impasse in scholarship: on one side, there are those who see these verses as an interpretive key to the letter, and thus understand the warnings to refer to spurious or false believers; on the other, there are those who argue that since Hebrews warns real believers away from real apostasy, these two verses cannot mean what, at a grammatical level, they appear to mean. In this paper, I appraise the scholarly discussion so far, identify three key issues relating to grammar and context, and then propose a way through the impasse that has not been considered in modern scholarship.

Jesus of Nazareth's Trial in the Uncensored Talmud
David Instone-Brewer (Tyndale House, Cambridge)
p. 269

The Munich Talmud manuscript of b.San.43a preserves passages censored out of the printed editions, including the controversial trial of 'Yeshu Notzri'. Chronological analysis of the layers in this tradition suggests that the oldest words are: 'On the Eve of Passover they hung Jesus of Nazareth for sorcery and leading Israel astray.' This paper argues that other words were added to this tradition in order to overcome three difficulties: a trial date during a festival; the unbiblical method of execution; and the charge of 'sorcery'.

The Thought in John 1:3c-4
John Nolland (Trinity College, Bristol)         
p. 295

With a working assumption that the final words of verse 3 belong with verse 4, the article seeks to clarify the thought in the three clauses making up verses 3c-4. It concludes that the thought expressed is this: the mystery of animate life, existing as it does 'in the Logos', shines as a light upon humanity, a light intended to light up the divine presence in the world in that it reveals the presence and working of the Logos. A second alternative is possibly viable: creation is life-giving, and the life it gives acts as a light revealing the Logos.

The Royal Promise in Genesis: The Often Underestimated Importance of Genesis 17:6, 17:16 and 35:11
Daniel S. Diffey (Southern Baptist Theological Seminary)   
p. 313

There are three specific instances in which a royal promise is made to an individual in the book of Genesis. Scholarship has largely viewed these as incidental within the larger framework of the major themes found in the book of Genesis. This short note seeks to correct this misunderstanding by demonstrating that the promise that kings will come from Abraham, Sarah, and Jacob is integrally linked with the themes of fruitfulness, seed (offspring), and land. Thus, the theme of kingship is a much more important theme than is often held.

Dissertation Summaries:         

Spiritually Called Sodom and Egypt: Getting to the Heart of Early Christian Prophecy through the Apocalypse of John
Andy Harker (Nairobi, Kenya)          
p. 317

This work engages with and refreshes the debate regarding the nature of early Christian prophecy – ­a debate that has become somewhat deadlocked and stale­ – by placing Revelation at the centre of the debate and finding there a tertium quid challenging both sides of the debate. It is argued that Revelation is much more likely to be representative of regular early Christian prophecy than is often assumed and that what constitutes John's prophecy (and potentially early Christian prophecy generally) as prophecy is essentially the way in which the text moves the affections­ – by a particularly powerful use of allusive metaphor to 'name' features of the contemporary world in such a way that the referent is completely swallowed up by the allusion.


Articles in TynBul 62.1 (May 2011)

The Ostracon from the Days of David Found at Khirbet Qeiyafa

Alan Millard (University of Liverpool) p.1

A newly discovered ostracon at Khirbet Qeiyafa which dates from about 1000 BC is a welcome addition to the meagre examples of writing which survive from that period. The letters are difficult to read and the language may be Hebrew, Canaanite, Phoenician or Moabite. Translations range from a list of names to commands concerning social justice. The simplest explanation is that this is a list of Hebrew and Canaanite names written by someone unused to writing. They help to suggest that writing was practised by non-scribes, so the skill may have been widespread.

The Retroactive Re-Evaluation Technique with Pharaoh’s Daughter and the Nature of Solomon’s Corruption in 1 Kings 1–12

Yong Ho Jeon (Trinity College, Bristol) p.15

In the Solomon narrative in Kings (1 Kgs 1–12), Solomon’s faults are explicitly criticised only in 1 Kings 11, in relation to his marriage with foreign women. However, his intermarriage with Pharaoh’s daughter appears in earlier parts of the narrative (1 Kgs 3:1; 7:8; 9:16, 24) without any explicit criticism. Using a ‘reader-sensitive’ approach, which presumes that the author of the narrative tries to exploit the reader’s reading process and prior knowledge, we show that the writer is using a ‘retroactive re-evaluation technique’ in his reference to ‘Pharaoh’s daughter’ (the technique means that the author guides his reader to re-evaluate previous passages in light of new information). Additionally, through a theological reading of the narrative, the nature of Solomon’s corruption is revealed as his ‘return to Egypt’. This fits well with the ‘retroactive re-evaluation technique’, explaining why the references to ‘Pharaoh’s daughter’ are arranged in the way that they are.

Forked Parallelism in Egyptian, Ugaritic and Hebrew Poetry

Richard Abbott (Trinity College, Bristol) p.41

A particular pattern of tricolon or triplet, sometimes known as forked parallelism, has been identified in Ugaritic and early Hebrew poetry. It has been suggested that it is a characteristic style of Canaanite or ancient Semitic poetry, and noted that in the Hebrew Bible its use declines dramatically outside the archaic and early examples of poetry. Hence it can be seen as a stylistic indicator suggesting authentic early composition of some portions of the Hebrew Bible. This paper shows that the pattern was also used as a regular feature in some genres of Egyptian poetry from the Old Kingdom through to the end of the New Kingdom. At that time it appears to have ceased being a device regularly used by Egyptian poets, in parallel with their counterparts in the Levant. Thus the use, and subsequent decline, of this pattern in Israel is a local reflection of a wider aesthetic choice rather than an isolated phenomenon. The structural uses of this and some other triplet patterns are reviewed, and some clear poetic purposes identified. This review also highlights some differences between the typical poetic use of triplets in Ugaritic, Hebrew and Egyptian. Some typical triplet patterns used in Ugaritic and Hebrew are not found in Egyptian sources.

Lamentations and the Poetic Politics of Prayer

Robin Parry (Wipf and Stock Publishers) p.65

The first half of this paper seeks to make explicit the political dimen¬sions of the text of Lamentations. The poetry vividly depicts the political use of violence in the destruction of a society. Judah is ruined politically, economically, socially, and religiously by the Babylonians for political ends. In the second half of the paper I argue that Lamentations contributes to our theo-political reflections not so much in its provision of new conceptual categories, nor even in its sharpening of categories already in place but rather in its power for shaping the emotional, ethical-political response of its audiences (human and divine). The readers are invited to bring political calamity into God’s presence and to seek salvation; they are encouraged to look with merciful eyes at victims of political violence even if those victims are not ‘innocent’; they are encouraged to see political evil for what it is and to speak its name; they are guided towards becoming honest-to-God lamenters and God-dependent pray-ers who hunger and thirst for righteousness.

The Apocalyptic Vision of Jesus According to the Gospel of Matthew: Reading Matthew 3:16–4:11 Intertextually

David Mathewson (Gordon College, Massachusetts) p.89

There has been much discussion on the relationship of Jesus to apocalyptic. What has been missing is a demonstration that Jesus participated in what is at the heart of literature labeled ‘apocalyptic’: a visionary experience of a transcendent reality. This article argues that Jesus’ post-baptismal experience and the temptation narrative that follows, particularly as recorded in Matthew 3:16–4.11, portray Jesus as undergoing such an apocalyptic visionary experience which resembles closely the visionary experience of early Jewish and Christian apocalypses. Thus, with the opening of the heavens to the final temptation, Matthew 3:16–4.11 depicts a third person account of a sustained visionary experience modeled intertextually after classic apocalyptic seers (Ezekiel, Isaiah, Enoch). Jesus’ apocalyptic vision functions to authenticate Jesus’ role as divine spokesperson for God and provides a perspective for the struggle that will ensue in the rest of Matthew.

Paul’s Common Paraenesis (1 Thess. 4–5; Phil. 2–4; and Rom. 12–13): The Correspondence between Romans 1:18-32 and 12:1-2, and the Unity of Romans 12–13

Seyoon Kim (Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena) p.109

First Thessalonians 5:12-24; Romans 12:9-21; and Philippians 4:2-9 show close parallels, while their wider contexts (1 Thess. 4–5; Rom. 12–13; and Phil. 3:17–4:9) also display a substantial parallelism. This observation leads us to affirm Paul’s common paraenesis (cf. 1 Cor. 4:17), and helps us see what he considers the fundamental way of Christian existence (cf. Gal. 5:22-25). Then, this observation helps us also see (a) the correspondence between Romans 1:18-32 and 12:1-2; (b) the unity of Romans 12–13 as a whole, in which Romans 12:1-2 and 13:11-14 form an inclusio, which are, respectively, the thesis statement and the concluding statement about the Daseinsweise of the redeemed in contrast to that of fallen humanity in Romans 1:18-21; and (c) the consistent line of Paul’s thinking in Romans, which is sustained through his Adam-Christ antithesis (5:12-21). Finally, the notion of Paul’s common paraenesis enables us to conduct a comparative study of the paraenetical sections of the various epistles of Paul and to appreciate the distinctive elements in a given epistle (e.g. the extended elaboration of the theme of ‘living peaceably with all’ in Rom. 12:14–13:10) in terms of the particular needs of the recip¬ients of that epistle.

The Christology of Titus 2:13 and 1 Timothy 2:5

J. Christopher Edwards (University of St Andrews) p.141

This article makes an acute observation about the strong similarities between Titus 2:11-14 and 1 Timothy 2:1-7. These similarities are significant because they suggest that it is not valid to translate Titus 2:13 as: ‘The glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ.’ This traditional translation affirms Jesus’ deity by ascribing to him the title of θεός.

A Brief Response to ‘The Christology of Titus 2:13 and
1 Tim. 2:5’ by J. Christopher Edwards

Murray J. Harris (Cambridge, New Zealand) p.149

We can be grateful to Dr Edwards for reminding us of part of the Old Testament background of the ransom logion and for highlighting the similarity of Mark 10:45, 1 Timothy 2:6, Titus 2:14, and Barnabas 14:6.
In its essence, Dr Edwards’ view seems to be that the similarities between 1 Timothy 2:1-7 and Titus 2:11-14 are so great that it is unlikely that their Christologies should not also be identical. Then, since θεός and Χριστὸς ’Ιησοῦς are clearly distinguished in 1 Timothy 2:5, they should also be distinguished in Titus 2:13. So the common translation that ascribes the title ‘our great God and Saviour’ to Jesus Christ ‘is not valid’.

Dissertation Summaries

The Glory of Yhwh in the Old Testament with Special Attention to the Book of Ezekiel

Pieter De Vries (University of Amsterdam) p.151

This study focuses on the use of כָּבוֹד in the Old Testament and especially in the book of Ezekiel. The specific approach of this study is not only to analyse כָּבוֹד itself but also its most important synonyms as well as its main equivalent in Aramaic, יְקָר. Biblical texts are approached from a canonical perspective, and the synchronic approach prevails over the diachronic.

The Johannine Discourses and the Teaching of Jesus in the Synoptics: A Comparative Approach to the Authenticity of Jesus’ Words in the Fourth Gospel

Philipp Fabian Bartholomä (Landau, Germany) p.155

The main subject of this dissertation is the correlation between the alleged relationship of the Johannine discourses with the teaching of Jesus in the Synoptics on the one hand and the assessment of the authenticity of Jesus’ words in the Fourth Gospel on the other. Generally speaking, the Johannine discourses have received comparatively little attention as reliable and thus valuable sources for the teaching of the historical Jesus, not least owing to the fact that even a cursory glance at John and the Synoptic Gospels reveals obvious differences between how Jesus’ words are presented. These differences have frequently been perceived as too great to accept the Johannine discourses as authentic representations of Jesus’ teaching, especially when placed alongside Matthew, Mark, and Luke.