Articles in TynBul 65.2 (Nov 2014)

'My Name Will Be Great among the Nations': The Missio Dei in the Book of the Twelve
Jerry Hwang (Singapore Bible College)

Recent OT scholarship has increasingly recognised that the Minor Prophets were compiled by Hebrew scribes to be read as a cohesive anthology. While acknowledging that each book of the Minor Prophets exhibits a distinctive individuality, scholars continue to debate how to interpret the collection as a coherent whole. In this vein, I propose that the major themes of the Minor Prophets-land, kingship, the move from judgement to salvation, and the relationship of Israel to the nations-find a unifying link in the missio Dei. The plan of God to redeem his entire creation is progressively unfolded in the Minor Prophets, in that the apostasy of God's people in God's land (Hosea; Joel) is but the first step in a history of redemption which culminates with the recognition by all nations that YHWH alone is worthy: 'For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations' (Mal. 1:11). As such, the missio Dei in the Minor Prophets not only provides a reading strategy for interpreting the collection as a unified Book of the Twelve; it also shows how the Minor Prophets make a unique contribution to an OT theology of mission.

The End of the Bible?: The Position of Chronicles in the Canon
Edmon L. Gallagher (Heritage Christian University)

Scholars have argued for the originality of the position of Chronicles at the end of the canon based on both external and internal considerations. As for the latter, various 'closure phenomena' allegedly indicate that Chronicles either was written for the purpose of concluding the scriptural canon or was redacted for that purpose. The external evidence includes the Talmudic order of books (b. Bava Batra 14b), various Masoretic manuscripts, and a passage from the Gospels (Matt. 23:35 // Luke 11:51). This paper argues that while Chronicles surely forms an appropriate conclusion to the Bible, the evidence to hand does not demonstrate that it actually took up its place at the end of the Bible before the rabbinic period.

Testimony in John's Gospel: The Puzzle of 5:31 and 8:14
Thomas W. Simpson (Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University)

Testimony is a central theme in John's Gospel and he has a developed view on how it works. This paper makes two contributions. First, I show the complexity and sophistication with which John handles different kinds of testimony in his narrative; this constitutes a category of evidence for the centrality of testimony not noted hitherto. Second, I address the central puzzle, namely the prima facie contradiction between 5:31 and 8:14. At issue is whether Jesus' testimony about himself requires corroborating testimony for it rationally to be believed. I argue that 8:14 has interpretative priority: according to John, no such corroboration is required.

The Letters of Claudius Terentianus and the New Testament: Insights and Observations on Epistolary Themes
Peter M. Head (Tyndale House, Cambridge)

Eleven papyrus letters from the early second century (P. Mich. 467-480 & inv. 5395) are studied in relation to parallel interests expressed within NT letters, on the topics of physical layout and formatting, discussions of health, the desire for news and the role of greetings, the role of the letter carrier and the use of letters of recommendation.

Paul's Conflicting Statements on Female Public Speaking  (1 Cor. 11:5) and Silence (1 Cor. 14:34-35): A New Suggestion
Armin D. Baum (Freie Theologische Hochschule, Giessen)

How could in 1 Corinthians women at the same time be permitted to prophesy (1 Cor. 11:5) and prohibited from asking questions (1 Cor. 14:34-35)? Read against their ancient cultural background the two texts reveal a common basic principle which lies behind both of them. According to Paul, female public speaking without male consent was unacceptable (1 Cor. 14:34-35) whereas female public speaking with male consent was tolerable if female chastity was preserved (1 Cor. 11:5).

Galatians 1-2 without a Mirror: Reflections on Paul's Conflict with the Agitators
Justin K. Hardin (Palm Beach Atlantic University)

Despite its dangers and pitfalls as an interpretive technique, mirror reading continues to enjoy pride of place as the preferred method for reconstructing the situation in Galatians. But does reflecting back the opposite of the text aid our understanding of Paul's letter, or does it merely distort the picture? In this essay, we will discuss Paul's conflict with the agitators in Galatians to reveal the inherent methodological problems of mirror reading this letter. Specifically, we will address the question whether the agitators in Galatia were questioning Paul's credentials, prompting Paul to write his lengthy narrative in Galatians 1-2. We will then evaluate recent scholars who have sought to retire the mirror in their interpretation of Paul's narrative, before ourselves providing a fresh reading of Paul's aims in Galatians 1-2. We will suggest that Paul was not defending himself (or his gospel or anything else) in Galatians. Rather, Paul was constructing a self-contrast with the agitators in an effort to persuade the Galatians to turn back to the one true gospel and to reject the judaising tactics of the agitators.

Dissertation Summaries:         

Canonical Interpretations of the Song of Songs
Rosalind S. Clarke (Stafford)

Traditional interpretations of the Song have recognised many allusions to the wider canon, which have been used as the basis for various kinds of allegorical readings. With the rise of alternative interpretations and a recent shift in focus towards methodological issues and ideological approaches to the Song, these canonical allusions have frequently been overlooked. Without advocating a return to allegorical interpretation, this thesis develops a canonical approach to the book, giving due attention to its literary, theological and ecclesiological nature. The Song proves to be a valuable test case for canonical interpretation since it is found in three distinct canonical contexts in the Hebrew Bible, the Greek Septuagint, and modern Christian Bibles.

Everything in Common?: The Theology and Practice of the Sharing of Possessions in Community in the New Testament with Particular Reference to Jesus and His Disciples, the Earliest Christians, and Paul.
 Fiona Jane Robertson Gregson (London School of Theology)

This study examines the practice and theology of sharing possessions in community in the NT by examining six diverse NT examples of sharing. The texts are chosen from across the Gospels, Acts and the Pauline Epistles in order to provide a range of examples of different kinds of sharing including variety in terms of: what is shared; the distance over which sharing happens; the geographical locations that sharing happens in; and practice. Each example is considered in its historical and cultural context before being compared with one or more non-Christian comparator examples to identify similarities and differences. These comparators are examples which show similar situations and practice, and which are likely to be known by or familiar to the community in the NT example (or which were used by others at the time as comparators). Having examined the NT examples and compared them with the non-Christian comparators, the thesis identifies common characteristics across the NT examples and consistent distinctives in how the early church shared possessions compared with the surrounding cultures.

Paul and Empire: A Reframing of Romans 13:1-7 in the Context of the New Exodus
Ovidiu Hanc (Queen's University of Belfast)

In Romans 13:1-7, Paul wrote the most emphatic New Testament passage on relations with civil authority. The primary aim of this dissertation has been to propose a rereading of this passage on civil authority by framing it in the context of Paul's rabbinic education, his high view of Scripture, his own self-understanding, and especially in the larger New Exodus paradigm that is present in Romans as the archetype of salvation.

Thomas Aquinas on Hebrews: The Excellence of Christ
Dana Benesh (Baylor University)

Due to the influence of his two great Summae, Thomas Aquinas' reputation as a 'systematic' theologian far surpasses his reputation as a biblical exegete. Yet his commentaries merit attention due to Thomas' ability to explicate Scripture, his contributions to the development of exegesis, and the fact that his commentaries reflect the same doctrinal and theological concerns as his better-known works. An examination of Thomas Aquinas' commentary on Hebrews is worthwhile, given the growing interest in pre-modern exegesis as well as the priority that Thomas assigned to the epistle. Organizing the entire corpus of Scripture according to the purposes of God, Thomas orders the Old Testament books in regard to God as king or Father and the New Testament books in regard to Christ and the church. In Thomas' scheme, Hebrews comes immediately after the four gospels. Among all the epistles, Hebrews is preeminent, according to Thomas, because it reveals the power of the grace of Christ as head of the church. The aim of this dissertation is to understand and appreciate Thomas' exposition of Hebrews in the context of his theological works and in the context of medieval exegesis.


  1. I enjoyed Justin Hardin's "Galatians 1–2 Without a Mirror". He shows that conventional understandings of Gal 1–2 are precarious, and he questions long-held assumptions such as the view that the agitators saw themselves as opponents of Paul. I found this refreshing.

    I wonder, though, whether he is too quick to retire the mirror. While the use of the mirror is indeed fraught with difficulties, it does not follow that none of Paul's statements were made to correct views held by the Galatians. Hardin says that mirror reading creates "the opposite" of Paul's statements, as if there is always just one unique view that Paul may be correcting. However, most of Paul's statements have many possible opposites, all of which need to be explored. Instead of abandoning the mirror, we should explore placing it at different angles.

    Hardin builds on Hunn in his treatment of 1:10. He rightly points out that 1:10 is a key verse and that all reconstructions must simultaneously explain how it links to the verses that come before and those following. He proposes that Paul gives his own history of not pleasing people, and that Paul does so to highlight that the agitators are, by contrast, people pleasers. I see two difficulties. Firstly, nowhere in Gal 1–2 does Paul say that the agitators are people-pleasers, and 6:12-13 comes too late to be the interpretive lens through which the Galatians were to understand Gal 1–2. Secondly, Hardin does not explain why Gal 1–2 focusses exclusively on Paul's relationship to the Jerusalem church leaders. Why does Paul not cite instances where he has failed to please people other than the Jerusalem church leaders? Paul asserts only his independence from only the Jerusalem leaders. He does not assert his independence from anyone else, and nor does he say anything else about the Jerusalem leaders. Whereas conventional views of Galatians do not explain the first "only" in the sentence above, Hardin does not explain the second "only".

    But what if the Galatians were thinking "We should be circumcised (like Timothy) because Paul believes in circumcision. The only reason he tells us not to be circumcised is because he is loyal to the Jerusalem church leaders, but he actually supports circumcision". This would explain why Paul focusses on the Jerusalem leaders and only in regard to the fact that he is not their messenger boy. This seems to solve the problems of Hardin's view, while retaining the advantages, such as the insights that the agitators did not consider themselves to be opponents of Paul, and that Paul's authority was not under attack. It also reconciles Galatians with Acts.

    Paul is not "furious" in this letter. Rather, he expresses emotion to convince the Galatians that he believes what he is writing, lest they think that he is writing it just to please the Jerusalem church leaders. Indeed, in 1:10 he denies that he is writing to please the Jerusalem church leaders.

    Or have I misunderstood something? Justin? Anyone?

  2. Thanks, Richard, for your keen eye and interaction with my work.

    Here are a few thoughts on your comments. Apologies in advance for any incoherent thoughts that result from my haste! :)

    1. My mirror reading criticisms are specifically against reconstructing what the “agitators” are doing/saying. In the article, I am arguing that we should stick with what Paul actually states and not attempt to reconstruct the other side of the phone conversation by assuming the reverse of what Paul states. Whether we should retire the mirror on every other issue (e.g. reconstructing the Galatians’ thoughts) is another matter that I didn’t seek to explore in the essay, but which certainly merits further consideration.

    2. It seems to me that Galatians 6.12-18 repeats the themes of Galatians 1–2 in a number of ways (curse/blessing, persecution, agitators v. Paul, preaching gospel), and I think Paul's picking up the pen at 6.11 is meant to signal that concluding section as the climactic expression of what Paul had begun in the body opening of 1.6-9. See, for example, that Paul has a similar method in Philippians 1 and 4 (“fellowship,” i.e. “money") and in 1 Corinthians 1 and 16 (their desire for Apollos is fully revealed and rebuffed in 16.12). See also Romans 1 and 15 (obedience of faith and Paul’s paradoxical tiptoeing boldness). My point is simply this: we are dealing with a carefully crafted letter where one should not be surprised to see themes introduced or hinted at in the opening to be discussed again in the closing. I think Galatians is no different and that we must therefore hear the beginning and end together. Admittedly, I simply assumed this point in the essay—but I do think there are good grounds for "hearing Galatians together," as it were. Perhaps further work needs to be done in this area.

    3. On my reading, the reason Paul focused on Jerusalem in Galatians 1–2 is simply because Peter becomes the foil for Paul, as we see in the climax of the narrative (2.11ff). Everything from 1.10 is building up to that fundamental point of hypocrisy and Paul’s confrontation—just as he’s now opposing the agitators and rebuking the Galatians.

    4. You suggested the possibility that the Galatians were wanting to be circumcised because Timothy had been. Two very quick points here in response: 1) because the Galatian believers had not yet been circumcised, I am not entirely convinced they really "wanted" to be circumcised (see my reconstruction in an earlier work on Galatians and the Imperial Cult); 2) for me, the chronology of your suggestion does not work. According to Acts, Timothy was circumcised only after the so-called Jerusalem Council of Acts 15. Because I think Galatians was written just before the Council, Timothy would have been uncircumcised at the time of the Galatian crisis. (It's an argument from silence, but worth noting that Timothy does not feature at all in Galatians as he does in so many other of Paul's letters--which I think speaks for the earliest date possible when Timothy had not yet joined Paul's mission). To be sure, I am well aware that many will think my chronology to be wrong, but I believe Bauckham, Witherington, Bruce, and others have made a good case for the view that Galatians 2.1-10 refers to an unreported meeting and is not Paul’s version of the council in Acts 15 (thus I think Gal 2.1-10 happened during the so-called famine-relief visit of Acts 11). But hear me clearly that the argument of my essay does not depend on the date of Galatians. I am simply responding to your suggestion that Timothy's circumcision might have in some way contributed to the crisis in Galatia.

    5. You mentioned that Paul was not furious in Galatians but have mentioned to me that Paul was rhetorical. I agree that Galatians is rhetorical, and yet I also believe that Paul's actual thoughts (dare I say emotions) on the crisis in Galatia guided his rhetoric.

    Thanks for your careful reading and interaction. I hope the above makes at least some sense! :)


Appreciations, constructive criticism and interactions with these articles are welcome. Rants are not.