Articles in TynBul 50.2 (Nov.1999)

Marriage and sexual fidelity in the papyri, Plutarch and Paul

G.W. PETERMAN (Palm Beach Atlantic College)

A well known double standard existed in the Roman perspective on sexuality within marriage: extra-marital sex is expected for men (within reason) but wholly condemned for women. Although pockets of dissent are evident, this double standard is generally accepted at all levels of society, being seen in papyri and in literary sources. If a married Roman couple were converted to Christianity, significant changes would need to take place because Paul teaches sexual equality within marriage.

The Homonoia coins of Asia Minor and Ephesians 1:21

JOHN PAUL LOTZ (St. Edmund's College, Cambridge)

During the later half of the first century A.D., the political climate in the Greek East was characterised by tensions arising from the competition for titles and status between the leading cities of the eastern provinces, especially in Asia Minor. Ephesus, Smyrna, and Pergamon in particular nurtured tense rivalries over the title of prôtê Asias, a designation for primacy in the provincial council of Asia Minor (koinon Asias). Orators and politicians tried to counter the potentially negative consequences these competitions could have on what political power remained to these Greek cities by exhorting the virtues of 'political concord' (homonoia) in speeches, inscriptions and coins. The homonoia coins of Asia Minor offer us in important insight into the tensions and vicissitudes of city politics in late first century Asia Minor, and help broaden our understanding of the socio-political background and context that Paul and his disciples spoke to. Of special interest will be how the homonoia coins of Asia Minor help us in our interpretation of certain symbols and images that occur in Ephesians 1:21, and how these speak to the persistent struggle to achieve peace and concord in the cities of the Greek East under the Roman 'peace', where, according to the writer of the epistle, Caesar and his empire fail to deliver precisely that which Christ and his church are offering: peace and unity.

Women in public life in the Roman East

R.A. KEARSLEY (Macquarie University, Sydney)

Iunia Theodora and Claudia Metrodora were female benefactors who possessed Roman citizenship and who lived in cities of the Roman East around the middle of the first century A.D. Both used their wealth and high social standing to assist their fellow citizens and to improve the circumstances of their lives. Claudia Metrodora displays the characteristics of a civic patron by the manner in which she financed festivals and buildings associated with her native city and with the religious league of the Ionian cities. Iunia Theodora lived at Corinth during the period of Paul's activity in that region. Her activity is described as relating to political and, possibly, commercial patronage. She is described by a cognate of the word prostatis, the term which is applied to Phoebe with respect to the church at Kenchreai and to Paul himself (Rom. 16:1-2). The inscriptions relating to these two female benefactors permit an exploration of the ways in which wealthy women might exercise patronage in a civic or wider spheres.

Gallio's ruling on the legal status of early Christianity

B.W. WINTER (Tyndale House, Cambridge)

The purpose of this article is to examine in detail Luke's succinct account of the unsuccessful criminal action by some Corinthian Jews against Paul before the governor of Achaea. This is done in order to understand the nature of the case against Paul, Gallio's legal reasons for rejecting it, the implication of that ruling for early Christians, and the defence Paul mounted in subsequent Roman criminal proceedings.

Hebrews 6:4-8: A socio-rhetorical investigation (Part 2)

D.A. DESILVA (Ashland Theological Seminary, Ohio)

The first part of this essay established the importance of patron-client roles and expectations for the argument being advanced in Hebrews 6:4-8. Having been privileged to receive such gifts from God, the addressees could not now respond in such a way as would bring dishonor on their patron. Such a course would not only be unjust, but also ultimately disastrous. This second part now considers the ideological texture of the passage, particularly how the author re-engineers the parameters within which the hearers are to consider what will be advantageous for them. The real danger to their safety comes not from perseverance with a marginalized group, but from disloyalty to the patron-client bond God has formed with them. The author thus significantly advances his agenda of motivating perseverance to the end of the journey begun at their conversion and baptism. Finally, the theological debates concerning Heb 6:4-8 are critiqued in light of the social context of patronage: 'eternal security' and 'impossibility of restoration' are both seen to be positions that ultimately transgress the dynamics of a carefully nuanced system.

Mirrors in James 1:22-25 and Plato, Alcibiades 132c-133c.

N. DENYER (Trinity College, Cambridge)

James compares someone who hears the word, but does not do it, to a man who has seen his face in a mirror. There is a stock of putatively parallel passages from biblical, rabbinic and pagan literature. A more promising parallel to James' comparison occurs in Plato's so-called Greater Alcibiades.

The corporate Christ: Re-assessing the Jewish background

A. PERRIMAN (The Protestant Church, Sultanate of Oman)

The corporate personality hypothesis is still a frequent recourse in Pauline scholarship. Despite some quite damaging criticism from Old Testament scholars it remains, in one form or another, a popular means of accounting for Paul's understanding of the relation of believers to the risen Christ. This essay undertakes a re-assessment of the empirical data for the hypothesis. It comes to the conclusion that Paul is unlikely to have had at hand in Judaism a conceptual model for the inclusion or incorporation of believers in Christ. The phenomena that have commonly been taken as evidence for the concept either have simply been misread or may be explained by reference to other less speculative aspects of Jewish thought and literary method.

Paul, the Devil and 'unbelief' in Israel

M. UDDIN (Ridley Hall, Cambridge)

The theme of this article is a consideration of Paul's theological understanding of the underlying causes of Israel's 'unbelief' with reference to the message of his gospel. An examination of 2 Corinthians 3:1-4:6 and Romans 9-11 indicates that Paul attributed the cause(s) of Jewish 'unbelief' not only to God and Israel itself but also to the 'Satan' figure. This raises the question of the coherence of a particular aspect of Paul's theology; in other words, does his thinking about this matter really make sense? The influence of intertestamental Jewish apocalypticism upon Paul as a former Pharisee and then Christian apostle provides a useful (and, arguably, necessary) tool in the task of evaluating the apostle's theological coherence concerning Israel's large-scale (but certainly not total) rejection of his gospel. While the major aim of the article is a consideration of Paul's coherence concerning this issue within his own time-frame, one cannot entirely lose sight of the hermeneutical problem for readers today when faced with this challenging aspect of Paul's outlook.

Review article: The use of Rabbinic sources in Gospel studies

D. INSTONE BREWER (Tyndale House, Cambridge)

New Testament scholars tend to avoid rabbinic sources because of the problem of dating. This is a genuine problem, but it is not insurmountable. The work of Neusner and others has highlighted this problem but it has also indicated some ways to deal with it. This review article looks at three recent books which demonstrate the usefulness of rabbinic background for studying the Gospels. All three have dealt with the problem of dating, with varying success. Brad Young has produced a useful book on the Parables, though he tends to compare them with the theology of post-Temple Judaism. Roger Aus' studies sometimes suffer from parallelomania, though his investigation of the woman caught in adultery is masterful. Maurice Casey's search for the Aramaic behind Mark leads him into creative and sometimes compelling arguments based on rabbinic texts. All three clearly believe that they can identify early rabbinic material and deal with it critically, and on the whole they appear to have succeeded. They have employed traditional scholarship, historical criticism and literary criticism. New Testament scholarship would greatly benefit from the additional use of redaction criticism of rabbinic material, as developed by Neusner and others.

Angel of the LORD: Messenger or euphemism?

S.L. WHITE (General Theological Seminary, New York)

The figure of the 'angel of the LORD' as a messenger is a familiar one throughout the Bible. But in a number of passages the angel speaks, acts, and is addressed not as a messenger, but as God himself. In some passages the text switches from angel of the LORD to God, and in others there is a juxtaposition of God and the angel of the LORD. This paper suggests that the phrase 'angel of the LORD' is a euphemism for God used both to create tension in the narrative and to emphasise the transcendence of Yahweh.

Dissertation Summaries

A reconsideration of pseudepigraphy in early Christianity


This thesis examines the use of pseudepigraphy within Christianity during the first and second centuries A.D. In particular, it assesses the common claim that pseudepigraphy was seen simply as an accepted literary technique. Two methodological principles guide this investigation. First, early-Christian pseudepigraphy is viewed in its historical context, thus, for example, it is first-century views of Isaiah which are relevant, not modern understandings of the development of Isaiah. Second, this thesis examines discourse about authorship, authority and pseudonymity within ancient texts, rather than deducing attitudes to pseudonymity from texts which modern scholarship has identified as pseudonymous. These principles separate it from many other investigations of the topic.

Marcus Magus


The dissertation is the first study of the Valentinian Gnostic Mark the Magician. Despite the number and quality of sources, Mark, and his Valentinian doctrine and rites have been neglected in modern research, in contrast to his famous predecessors and contemporaries like Valentinus or Basilides, who have both been the subjects of monographs.

The Church in the Gospel of John


The view of the Church in the Gospel of John has been a volatile issue in Johannine studies for the last several decades, with the discussions focused on the following issues. The first issue, arising from John's failure to use traditional ecclesiastical terms found in other New Testament writings or to mention church order or sacraments, is whether there is a concrete ecclesiology in John. At the beginning of the 1970s, many scholars reached the conclusion that a theology of the Church does exist in John. Thus, a second issue concerns distinctively Johannine expressions of ecclesiology. A third main issue of Johannine ecclesiology is its Sitz im Leben of Johannine ecclesiology. This focuses on the social history of the Johannine community in which the Johannine idea of Christian community originated. Related to this issue, it has been claimed by a majority of scholars that the distinctive Johannine ecclesiology originated from a concrete, living community which was sectarian in nature, removed from most of the other Christian communities in the late first century.

Jeremiah 32 in its Hebrew and Greek recensions


It is widely accepted that the Masoretic Text and Septuagint Version of Jeremiah reflect different Vorlagen, but no final consensus has been reached on the relationship between them. This thesis enters the debate by undertaking a close study of the text of chapter 32, with two questions constantly in mind. Firstly, can a given variant be traced back to the LXX Vorlage (henceforth LXXV), or it is to be seen as a creation of the translator? Secondly, where a variant is judged to arise from LXXV, can a decision be made as to whether it is prior or secondary to the reading of MT?


Articles in TynBul 50.1 (May.1999)

The Psalm quotations of Hebrews 1: A hermeneutic-free zone?

S. MOTYER (London Bible College)
The Old Testament quotations in Hebrews 1:5-13 pose a serious challenge to an evangelical hermeneutic that seeks to be self-conscious and responsible in its handling of biblical texts. These quotations appear, in contrast, wilful and arbitrary in their application to Christ. Assuming that some kind of hermeneutic steers them, even if it produces wilful and arbitrary results, this essay reviews the various suggestions about its nature, and then proposes a version of typology as the guiding hermeneutic - a version which might even be termed 'deconstructionist' in its underlying rationale.

Spirituality in offering a peace offering

N. KIUCHI (Tokyo Christian University)
Study of the symbolic meaning of the offerings in Leviticus has been hampered by the fact that the text rarely spells out the significance of the rituals or rites. This study proposes an approach to the text of Leviticus that, taking the peace offering as an example, investigates the motive of the offerer. On the basis of explicit references in Leviticus 7:12 and 7:16 to three kinds of motive it is argued that Leviticus 3 has the purpose of turning the Israelites to the Lord, and that the shedding of blood symbolises the atonement for general sinfulness. This leads to the conclusion that the motive or purpose of an offerer and the ritual are inseparable, and that the prescriptive text of Leviticus 3 itself assumes that the inner motive of an offerer must be expressed outwardly in making a peace offering.

Hebrews 6:4-8: A socio-rhetorical investigation (Part 1)

D.A. DESILVA (Ashland Theological Seminary, Ohio)
Socio-rhetorical interpretation pursues a richly textured exegesis of Scripture through co-ordinating multiple methods of reading and investigating texts. This interpretive model is put to the test as it is applied to Hebrews 6:4-8. In this, the first instalment of a two-part article, Hebrews 6:4-8 is analysed within the contexts of classical rhetoric, Jewish and Graeco-Roman intertexture, and prominent aspects of the first-century social and cultural environment. This passage presents an argument 'from the contrary' supporting the author's deliberative agenda of promoting commitment to Jesus and fellow believers, drawing heavily on the social codes of patronage obligations as well as a wide spectrum of intertextual resources. Perseverance is shown to be the only just and expedient course of action, since it alone preserves obligations of gratitude. Part 2 of this article (to appear in Tyndale Bulletin 50.2) will examine the ideology promoted within the passage and how it contributes to the author?s rhetorical goals. A final section will attempt to answer the questions raised by the investigation of the social context of ancient patronage for the appropriateness of such ideological constructs as 'eternal security' or 'unpardonable sin' when applied in an absolute sense to the dynamic relationship between God and God's clients.

Trust in the LORD?: Hezekiah, Kings and Isaiah

J.W. OLLEY (Baptist Theological College, Western Australia)
The Hezekiah narrative (2 Kings 18-20 // Isaiah 36-39) is unique in the Former Prophets in its repeated use of batach 'trust, rely on'. An exploration of the context and content of batach in the narrative and elsewhere in Isaiah, Psalms, Proverbs and other prophetic literature points to a consistent pattern of true and false grounds for 'trust'. In particular there is no basis in the 'inviolability of Zion'. The drama of the narrative is sharper in the context of Isaiah and may have been shaped soon after Sennacherib's death, with possible wisdom influence. At the same time, the redactor of Kings has seen 'trust' as a key feature in Hezekiah's reign. The relevance of the narrative to readers of the canonical Kings and Isaiah is also considered. There is significance for all in the worship of YHWH alone together with humble obedience. It is his honour that is affirmed among the nations.

Paul, eschatology and the Augustan age of grace

J.R. HARRISON (Wesley Institute for Ministry and Arts, Sydney)
This article proposes that Paul worked on two cultural fronts in describing the reign of grace (Rom. 5:12-21) and the new creation (Rom. 8:18-39). Paul?s references to the 'two ages', the fall of Adam and the new creation, were fundamental to Jewish apocalyptic eschatology. However, Paul's language of grace in Romans 5, with its emphasis on excess and abundance, would have evoked imperial associations. In the first century, the eschatological age of Augustus marked a watershed in beneficence. Paul's point to the Roman Christians was plain: Christ's grace surpassed the very best the Caesars had to offer.

The spirit of prophecy and Pauline pneumatology

A. HUI (China Evangelical Seminary, Taipei)
The present article assesses the relationship of the concept of the Spirit of prophecy in Judaism to Pauline pneumatology. Since the functions and effects of the Spirit of prophecy in Judaism are disputed, the scholarly debate is reviewed, followed by a comparison of the Jewish concept and the Pauline view of the Spirit, demonstrating points of commonality and difference.

Ecclesiastes and the end of wisdom

M.A. SHIELDS (University of Sydney)
Many readers of Ecclesiastes have contrived to discover orthodox meaning for the words of Qohelet. An examination of two such readings reveals the shortcomings of both and paves the way for an alternative understanding of the book. Close analysis of the epilogue reveals that, although partially favourable towards Qohelet himself, the epilogist is unequivocally critical of the sages as a group. It appears that the epilogist may thus have employed Qohelet's words in order to reveal the failure of the sages and warn their prospective students to adhere to the commands of God. The book of Ecclesiastes thus functions as a tract designed to discredit the wisdom movement, using the sage Qohelet's own words in order to do so.

Review article: Galatians, by Philip F. Esler

M. BONNINGTON (St John's College, Durham)
Philip Esler's new contribution to the Routledge NT Readings series is one of the boldest and most comprehensive attempts to use social scientific methods to shed new light on a NT text. In his study of Galatians, Esler examines a letter that has been subject not only to much renewed theological analysis in the light of the 'new perspective on Paul' but has also be a central locus of rhetorical criticism.

New Testament pseudonymity and deception

This study provides afresh an answer to the question: 'If pseudonymous letters exist in the New Testament, what can be said about their intention and reception?' Chapter 1 provides a survey of scholarship, which shows the need for the present inquiry.
Three views currently dominate the issue: (1) they were not written to deceive their readers regarding their authorship, but nonetheless their readers were deceived; (2) they were not written to deceive their readers, and they did not in fact do so; and (3) they were written to deceive their readers and they were successful in doing so.
A fourth alternative, standing in contrast to the previous three, is that no pseudonymous works exist in the NT.

Translating the Bible

Developments in translation theory have externalised processes used intuitively by translators for centuries. The literature on Bible translation in particular over the last half century is dominated by Eugene A. Nida and his protégés in the United Bible Societies (UBS) and Wycliffe Bible Translators whose work is informed by a wealth of inter-cultural experience.
This thesis is a critique of the Dynamic Equivalence (DE) theory of translation propounded by Nida, exemplified in the Good News Bible (GNB), and promoted in non-Western languages by the UBS.