"The object of all good literature is to purge the soul of its petty troubles." ~ P.G. Wodehouse

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bonhoeffer on Table Fellowship

Some of Bonhoeffer's comments on table fellowship are an especially good challenge of what the mealtime can be.

Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community"The fellowship of table has a festive quality. It is a constantly recurring reminder in the midst of our every day work of God's resting after His work, of the Sabbath as the meaning and goal of the week and its toil. Our life is not only travail and labor, it is also refreshment and joy in the goodness of God. We labor, but God nourishes and sustains us. And this is reason for celebrating...Through our daily meals He is calling us to rejoice, to keep holiday in the midst of our working day." Life Together, 68.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Caldecott on the Liberal Arts, again

Beauty for Truth's Sake: On the Re-enchantment of EducationI have recently finished reading Stratford Caldecott's, Beauty for Truth's Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education. The first chapter on the Liberal Arts continues to be the most interesting for me, but the rest of the book brings together the importance of beauty's place in education. So much of the world whether music, mathematics, science, or architecture has beauty and order to it, as Caldecott has shown. It is an excellent book and a good argument for the place of religion in education.


After I finished the book, I thumbed through it for the places I had highlighted. This passage on page 28 still strikes a chord with me:

"The sheer amount of information available in every discipline is far too great to be mastered by one person in an entire lifetime. The purpose of an education is not merely to communicate information, let alone current scientific opinion, nor to train future workers and managers. It is to teach the ability to think, discriminate, speak, and write, and, along with this, the ability to perceive the inner, connecting principles, the intrinsic relations, the logoi, of creation, which the ancient Christian Pythagorean tradition (right through the medieval period) understood in terms of number and cosmic harmony."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Economist on the iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch

I must say that this is the highlight of my day if not my week. I have been bothered for weeks by the late arrival of my weekly Economist, but as a subscriber, I can have access to each week's full edition of the Economist on my iPod Touch from 4pm Eastern Standard Time on Thursdays. That beats the typical Tuesday/Wednesday arrival of the magazine.

All that is needed is the Economist app which can be downloaded for free. Then every Thursday late afternoon the current week's edition downloaded to my iPod Touch. I can then take it with me everywhere without needing an internet connection. And that isn't everything: there is even an audio version of every article. The Economist in the gym, on the road, on a walk.

So, on to "How to Cut the Deficit"...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

SBL Greek New Testament

The Society of Biblical Literature Greek New Testament has just been announced by SBL and is now available as a free download. It is currently available for Logos users. The pdf version is coming soon.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Longer Ending of Mark

A friend of mine asked me about the longer ending of Mark today. Mark 16:9-20 poses an interesting question because they are missing from some important early witnesses. There are also a additional verses found in some manuscripts (See Metzger, Textual Commentary on the New Testament, pp. 102-6).

As I was looking back through Mark 16:9-16 today, I was reminded about how this passage is such a collage of resurrection appearance episodes found in Matthew, Luke, and John. Mary Magdalene appears to Jesus as in John. There is an echo of the Lukan Emmaus story in Mark 16:12-13. Jesus gives the disciples a Matthean-like Great Commission, along with some pieces about the handling of serpents (which may reflect knowledge of Acts 28:3-6). The ascension of Jesus in Mark 16:19 also appears to indicate knowledge of Luke 24 and Acts 1, especially the final verse about the disciples preaching.

Recently, I have also noticed a couple features that may add to further evidence of Johannine influence. First, the deeds in 16:17-18 are called signs. Jesus' actions referred to as signs in John's Gospel. And second, Mark 16:9-16 is the only place in the Synoptic Gospels where the narrator uses the verb pisteuo. The verb is actually used three times vv. 14, 16, 17. In John, pisteuo is often used by the narrator.

These pieces of evidence along with the questionable manuscript history of Mark 16:9-20 suggests that this passage was added to Mark after its original writing and that the author of it most likely made use of the gospel traditions in the other three gospels.

For further reading, see Perspectives on the Ending of Mark: Four Views published by Broadman & Holman.

Friday, November 5, 2010

30th Annual Holocaust Education Week

Holocaust Education Week continues here in Toronto and on Monday, November 8th at 7:00pm Tyndale will be hosting one of the sessions. The session is entitled "My Personal Testimony." Holocaust survivor Sally Wasserman who was born in Katowice, Poland in 1935 will be telling of her experience. The evening should be an excellent opportunity to hear firsthand some of the horrible events that was the Holocaust.

The description of her story can be found here and reads as follows:
"When the war started, her family was expelled from their town and went to live in her father’s hometown, Dombrova. He was soon taken away and they never saw him again. When the Dombrova Ghetto was established, Sally, her mother and her young brother were forced to move to the ghetto. When the ghetto was liquidated, Sally’s mother hid her with an elderly Polish Gentile couple until liberation. She was 11 years old when she left Poland for a DP camp in Germany. There, she and 92 other Jewish orphans were sent to New York. Her mother’s sister then brought her to Canada in 1947."

This program is generously co-sponsored by Leonard & Eileen Gold for the children who were never given a chance to speak.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

NIV2011 Available on the Web

The NIV2011 which is to replace the 1984 NIV and the TNIV is now available at www.BibleGateway.com. This change was announced in September 2009. It seems that Zondervan felt that there had been too much backlash against the TNIV, but they still wanted to have a gender inclusive version of the NIV. The NIV2011 is an attempt at a compromise. We shall see how it turns out. The initial discussion on the text at Evangelical Textual Criticism implies that the NIV2011 is closer to the TNIV that the NIV 1984. I will have to do my own checking, but I am aware that compared to the more recent translations, such as the NLT2004 and ESV, the NIV 1984 is the least gender inclusive. This should come as no surprise since it was translated before there was much of a gender inclusive discussion.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Edition of the Greek NT: SBLGNT

Logos Bible Software and the Society of Biblical Literature have just announced a new edition of the Greek NT. Mike Holmes edited the new version, and you can read Mike's announcement here. He provides some of the details of the editorial aspect of the project. Further information can be found at www.sblgnt.com. Hardcopies will soon be available through SBL, but the SBLGNT will also be available as a free download! There are lots of things happening these days in the textual critical field.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers

Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions
Before my classes, I often read a prayer from the book Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. There is something about reading the words of Christians from an earlier time that removes us from our view of the world and faith. The same is true of prayers before the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries too, even though these are post-Reformation prayers!

Every once in a while, one of the prayers will particularly stand out to me. That was the case with the prayer from yesterday: "The Life Look" (p. 54). One of the lines goes as follows: "I want no other rock to build upon than that I have, desire no other hope than that of gospel truth, need no other look than that which gazes on the cross."

The prayer ends with these words: "O God, hear me, do for me more than I ask, think, or dream."

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Israel Study Tour

Two professors from Tyndale Seminary, Rebecca Idestrom (OT) and Ian Scott (NT), are leading an Israel study tour May 15-June 5 2011. This is a for-credit course for Tyndale Seminary and UC students. All of the information can be found here

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

NLT Revision. Who knew?

Holy Bible Text Edition NLT (Bible Nlt)Until just yesterday, I did not know that the New Living Translation (NLT) has been revised. I was under the impression that the NLT was a free translation that was closer to its roots in the Living Bible paraphrase than to a formal equivalence or even a dynamic equivalence. Well, it turns out that on closer inspection, the NLT has been revised, and the revised version can be placed in the dynamic/functional equivalence category.

The NLT was originally published in 1996 by Tyndale House Publishers. After the publication, an eight year review process of the translation was begun, which ended with the publication of the revision in 2004. The new version is still called the NLT and not the RNLT. Thus, you wouldn't know there was a revision unless you read the prefaces to NLT 2004 edition or for some odd reason ended up comparing the NLT 1996 with the NLT 2004 (as I did yesterday).

The move from a free translation to a dynamic or functional equivalence translation can be seen in 1 John 5:3.

NLT 1996: "Loving God means keeping his commandments, and really, that isn't difficult."

NLT 2004: "Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome."

The interesting thing is that the revised verse is now essentially the same as almost any other mainline translation. This highlights first of all that this is essentially what the Greek says, but it also raises the question: "Why do we have (or need) so many translations?"

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Inauguration Weekend at Tyndale University College and Seminary

With the upcoming installation of our new president Dr. Gary Nelson here at Tyndale University College and Seminary (September 30), there are a number of activities that will be taking place.

Thursday, September 30th from 12pm-1pm, Dr. Jennifer Powell McNutt, Assistant Professor of Theology and Church History at Wheaton College, will be giving a presentation on her research on John Calvin and his successors in 18th century Geneva. Considering her work in some of the archives in Geneva, this presentation should be of interest to faculty, staff, students, and visitors.

Thursday evening at 7:30pm will be the installation of Dr. Gary Nelson. This will be held at the Bayview Campus Chapel.

Friday, October 1st, Tyndale is hosting a day long conference entitled "Tyndale Thinks & Writes" (Find details here). There are two morning addresses. The first entitled "The Role of the University in the 21st Century" will be given by Dr. David Barnard, President of the University of Manitoba. The second given by Dr. Anna Robbins, Senior Lecturer at the London School of Theology is "Can Societies Repent? Reflections on Ethics as Apologetics and the Moral Development of Society". The afternoon is scheduled with concurrent sessions where Tyndale faculty will be presenting their most recent research and publications. I will be chairing the session where my colleague Dr. Daniel Driver will be presenting on his book: Brevard Childs, Biblical Theologian: For the Church's One Bible (FAT II/46; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2010).

It should be a good weekend of festivities.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The King James Bible, 400th Anniversary

Tommy Wasserman has posted some information at Evangelical Textual Criticism about events taking place next year around the 400th anniversary of the completion of the King James Bible (1611-2011). There is no doubt that the King James Bible has profoundly shaped the English language. What should also not be forgotten is the debt that the King James translators owe to the earlier translation work of William Tyndale.

David Daniell states in the opening paragraph of his biography of William Tyndale (William Tyndale: A Biography (Yale Nota Bene): "William Tyndale gave us our English Bible. The sages assembled by King James to prepare the Authorised Version of 1611, so often praised for unlikely corporate inspiration, took over Tyndale's work. Nine-tenths of the Authorised Version's New Testament is Tyndale's. The same is true of the first half of the Old Testament, which is as far as he was able to get before he was executed in Brussels in 1536."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Gospel of John and Intimations of Apocalyptic Follow-up, Finally

Now, almost two months since the colloquium at the University of Bangor, I will offer some final comments on the well-run colloquium that was put on by Catrin Williams and facilitated by Hazel Thompson.

Attending a small, intimate conference on a single topic is of so much more value than any large conference with multiple sessions. With everyone in attendance for all the papers, it is possible to have ongoing discussion about certain topics and for links to be made and suggested between papers.

One thing that is abundantly clear to me is the continual need to address the definition of 'apocalyptic' and 'apocalypse'. These words, particularly the former, are often used in various ways that can cause confusion about what is being discussed. Numerous texts that are not generally considered apocalypses can be fit under the heading of 'apocalyptic' and there usually is no rationale as to why this is the case. Clearly, texts can have 'apocalyptic' material, but what makes this material 'apocalyptic' and how then does the text refer to the 'apocalypses'? Imposing modern scholarly definitions on ancient documents is inherently problematic, but I am more and more convinced that setting up some definitional parameters is necessary for useful debate and dialogue. Some of that dialogue can and should include the debate about the definition itself and the process of arriving at that definition, but the definition itself offers a starting point for discussion. Without it, I think that discussion can quickly become ambiguous.

Regarding the Gospel of John and Apocalyptic literature, the relationship between Revelation and the Gospel is an entirely important and necessary topic, even if not all scholars see Revelation as Johannine. Such a comparison highlights similarities and contrasts between them. Ian Boxall and Jörg Frey each presented papers that drew together Revelation and John. Christopher Rowland gave an intriguing paper with William Blake's illustrations of the Book of Enoch, especially at the end of long day of papers. His forthcoming book on Blake will be worth a read. Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer and Loren Stuckenbruck finished off the colloquium with papers focusing on the presence of evil in John and apocalyptic literature. The 'ruler of this world' played an important part in both papers, as it should. Clarification of this figure may occupy further study since there seems to be no consensus and some parallels in other Jewish literature.

The revised papers will be published by T&T Clark. The book will be an appropriate continuation of the discussion begun by John Ashton in Understanding the Fourth Gospel, and hopefully it will spark further scholarship on the Gospel of John and its relationship with apocalyptic literature.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Lugioyo on Bucer and Justification

My good friend Brian Lugioyo's book Martin Bucer's Doctrine of Justification: Reformation Theology and Early Modern Irenicsim has recently been published by Oxford University Press in the Oxford Studies in Historical Theology series.

Not only is this excellent scholarship on Bucer, but Bucer's views on justification are entirely relevant for the current justification debate. It is unfortunate that Bucer has been overshadowed by Luther and Calvin.

The description of the book is as follows:
Martin Bucer has usually been portrayed as a diplomat who attempted to reconcile divergent theological views, sometimes at any cost, or as a pragmatic pastor who was more concerned with ethics than theology. These representations have led to the view that Bucer was a theological light-weight, rightly placed in the shadow of Luther and Calvin. This book makes a different argument.

Bucer was an ecclesial diplomat and a pragmatic pastor, yet his ecclesial and practical approaches to reforming the Church were guided by coherent theological convictions. Central to his theology was his understanding of the doctrine of justification, an understanding that Brian Lugioyo argues has an integrity of its own, though it has been imprecisely represented as intentionally conciliatory. It was this solid doctrine that guided Bucer's irenicism and acted as a foundation for his entrance into discussions with Catholics between 1539 and 1541. Lugioyo demonstrates that Bucer was consistent in his approach and did not sacrifice his theological convictions for ecclesial expediency. Indeed his understanding was an accepted evangelical perspective on justification, one to be commended along with those of Luther and Calvin. 


The comments include the following from Irene Backus, Professor of Reformation History, University of Geneva :
"For Martin Bucer the doctrine of justification through faith and love of neighbor was a fundamental of Christian faith. Brian Lugioyo argues that Bucer's understanding of this doctrine was not the result of a 'mediating theology,' as commonly believed, but had its own distinctive characteristics. By analyzing Bucer's commentary on Romans, and his articles on justification in the Interconfessional Colloquies of 1539-41, Lugioyo sheds new light on Bucer and the confessional unionism of the period. This is a major contribution to a renewal of Bucer studies."

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dorothy Sayers on the Liberal Arts

"Is not the great defect of our education today--a defect traceable through all the disquieting symptoms of trouble that I have mentioned--that although we often succeed in teaching our pupils "subjects," we fail lamentably on the whole in teaching them how to think: they learn everything, except the art of learning.-- Dorothy Sayers, "The Lost Tools of Learning"

I have placed a link to this excellent essay under the Liberal Arts heading in the right column.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Conference on Apocalypticism

There is a day long Conference in Uppsala entitled "Faces of Apocalyptics". There are three papers and two are by John Collins and Adela Yarbro Collins. If Sweden were only closer...

"Apocalyptics", by the way, is being used to refer to "Apocalypticism". Another example of the slippery use of the terminology related to apocalypses.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Group Prayer Pet Peeves

If you've ever prayed in a group in a North American context you have probably experienced some of this.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Liberal Arts: Beauty for Truth's Sake

I will come back to the Gospel of John and Intimations of Apocalyptic colloquium. It was an excellent colloquium.

I just read this inspiring selection yesterday:

“At the heart of any culture worthy of the name ['culture'] is not work but leisure, schole in Greek, a word that lies at the root of the English word ‘school.’ At its highest, leisure is contemplation. It is an activity that is its own justification, the pure expression of what it is to be human. It is what we do. The ‘purpose’ of the quadrivium was to prepare us to contemplate God in an ordered fashion, to take delight in the source of all truth, beauty, and goodness, while the purpose of the trivium was to prepare us for the quadrivium. The ‘purpose’ of the Liberal Arts is therefore to purify the soul, to discipline the attention so that it becomes capable of devotion to God; that is, prayer.” – Stratford Caldecott, Beauty for Truth’s Sake: On the Re-enchantment of Education, p. 90.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

John's Gospel and Intimations of Apocalyptic, University of Bangor

Day 1. We had some excellent papers to start off the first day of the colloquium.

John Ashton commenced the precedings with a well-written look at some of the historical traditions behind the connections between the Gospel of John and the apocalyptic genre. I find it fascinating that this sort of discussion always brings us to 1 Enoch. There are different views regarding what we do with any sort of connection between 1 Enoch and John, but the two texts have surprising similarities. One of the other questions that arises is whether the Fourth Evangelist is consciously replicating an apocalyptic structure or if such a structure was just part of his worldview.

Judith Lieu gave the next paper and discussed the issues of text and authority. She raised some excellent questions about writings in apocalypses (such as heavenly tablets) and the relationship these writings have with the written apocalypse. In relation to John, this comes to a head specifically in 20:30-31 and 21:24-25. The Gospel is a book and we find a reference to other books whether actually written or not. There are no conclusions here, but we are again left with some interesting connections between John and apocalypses.

April DeConick's paper addressed the relationship with the Gospel and Gnosticism. Discussion centered around John 8:44 and the Father of lies and gave us plenty to think about and discuss.

Tomorrow will be more papers. We begin with Ian Boxall and the relationship between the Gospel and Revelation.

Monday, July 19, 2010

John's Gospel and Intimations of Apocalyptic, University of Bangor

John's Gospel and Intimations of Apocalyptic Colloquium sponsored by the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Bangor and the Bible Society begins tomorrow afternoon with a paper by John Ashton entitled 'John and Intimations of Apocalyptic: Looking Back and Looking Forward'. The colloquium as a whole will be exploring the ways in which the Gospel of John reveals connections with apocalyptic literature and apocalypticism. This relationship has been argued by Ashton in Understanding the Fourth Gospel (2nd ed.; OUP, 2007), but not many scholars have undertaken a serious examination of the connection.

Highlights of the programme for me include the papers by John Ashton, Judith Lieu, April DeConick, Jorg Frey, Christopher Rowland, and Loren Stuckenbruck. It looks to be an interesting few days.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Translation of 1 John 3:19-20

1 John 3:19–20 reveals some translations differences between the NIV, NASB, and ESV.

  • Greek: ‘And by this we know that we are from the truth, and we reassure our heart before him hoti if our heart condemns us for [hoti] God is greater than our heart and he knows all things.’
  • NIV: ‘This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence whenever our hearts condemn us. For God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.’
  • ESV: ‘By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is great than our heart, and he knows everything.’
  • NASB: ‘We shall know by this that we are of the truth, and shall assure our heart before him, in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.’
The word hoti (‘for’, ‘because’) is used twice here. I have left the first one untranslated in the Greek translation. The NIV, ESV, and NASB translated the word similarly as ‘whenever’ and ‘whatever’. The question is does the word divide the phrase ‘our heart condemns us’ from v. 19 (ESV) or does it complete the thought of v. 19 before moving on to ‘for God is greater’ (NIV, NASB). The question ultimately comes down to a decision about early manuscripts which were written in Greek in all capital letters (uncials) with nospacesbetweenthewords. So we can have here either hoti eav (‘for if’, ‘because if’) or ho ti eav (‘whatever’, etc.). In this case, I think that the NIV and NASB are correct.

As to whether it is best to use ‘whatever’ or ‘whenever’ in English, vv. 17–18 speak of not closing our gut to our siblings and to loving in word and deed. Verse 19’s discussion of having ‘our heart’ condemning us is related to this loving in word and deed and looking after brothers and sisters. I, therefore, do not think that this is a time issue of ‘whenever’ but an event or specific instance of loving (‘whatever’). The reference to God knowing all things (panta; v. 20) is further evidence of this.

Thus, I would suggest a translation similar to the NASB: ‘And by this (loving in word and deed and not rejecting those brothers and sisters in need) we know that we are from the truth, and we reassure our heart before him, in whatever our heart condemns us, because God is greater than our heart and he knows all things.’

Monday, July 12, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

World Cup Final

Scoreless at half. Netherlands and Spain was the final I wanted to see from the beginning of the World Cup. Not an exciting match so far, but the Dutch are disrupting Spain's passing style. Who will score? Golden Boot to Villa or Sneijder?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Everybody Sins (1 John 1:8)

In my online course on the Johannine Epistles, we were looking at the apparent contradiction between 1 John 1:8 and 3:6 this last week. The first texts states: 'If we say that we do not have sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.' 1 John 3:6 says, 'Everyone who remains in him does not sin. Everyone sinning has not seen him or known him.' Ultimately the context of these two passages is important for understanding what is being said. Both are in a context that mentions the importance of living or walking as Jesus did, imitating him.

The other piece from both passages, especially 1:8, is that everyone sins. The New Testament makes clear that sin is part of the human condition (Rom 3:23). I just ran across an interesting passage from the Testament of Abraham which makes this same point. In chapter 10, Michael the archangel takes Abraham on a tour of the world. As they travel along, Abraham sees various sins taking place or about to take place--men sharpening swords, sexual immorality, and robberies. When Abraham sees the sins he calls on God to destroy the sinners, and God does so. After the third time this takes place, God says to Michael: 'O Michael, Commander-in-Chief, command the chariot to stop and turn Abraham away, lest he should see the entire inhabited world. For if he were to see all those who pass their lives in sin, he would destroy everything that exists' (10:12-13). This raises a number of other questions, but the point of this statement is clear: everybody sins or has sin. The Second Temple Jewish text of the Testament of Abraham has a similar view of humanity as does the New Testament.

Citation from E.P. Sanders, 'Testament of Abraham', Old Testament Pseudepigrapha vol. 1.

Monday, June 28, 2010

World Cup Update

After Sunday's games, I do not see how FIFA can continue to avoid video technology or at least two more officials (one at each goal line). Lampard's disallowed goal and Tevez's offsides for a goal (which he has admitted to) were game changers. Both were unfortunate and unnecessary. Hopefully something will change. It would be horrible to see any other matches decided this way.

The South American teams have done extremely well at the World Cup. All five made it through to the round of 16. Only one is currently out--Chile after being defeated by another South American team Brasil. It looks like we could be headed toward a Brasil vs. Argentina final. I would rather see the Nederlands there. We shall see. It will be an exciting week.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

World Cup Update

I have to say that the early exits of France and Italy, the finalists from 2006, makes for a much more interesting tournament. Well done to Paraguay, Slovakia, Uruguay, and Mexico. The Kiwis did not lose a game and finished ahead of the defending champion Azzurri. A great tournament for the New Zealand All Whites!

Codex Alexandrinus 1 John 1:7 Reconstruction Attempt

Here is my attempt at a reconstruction of Codex Alexandrinus' 1 John 1:7 with allelwn. Any such reconstruction like this is arbitrary in choosing of letter size. I have kept open the possibility of a longer line as in 1:5 which trickles into the margin. A comparable example can be seen at 2:7 in the same colum with 1:7. The scribe also has a tendency to make the characters smaller if need be as the line nears the margin. My reconstruction does face difficulties with the third line down (1:8) where there is indication of smaller letters being used sooner. This suggests that the margin did not extend as far as my reconstruction would necessitate. However, I still think allelwn should not be ruled out as a possibility (e.g., note the eleventh line from the bottom in the same column). Further study of the scribal habits in Alexandrinus would help in answering this question.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ciampa on 1 John 1:7 in Novum Testamentum

In Novum Testamentum 52 (2010) 267-271, Roy Ciampa (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) has a brief article on the reading of Codex Alexandrinus where the NA27 text has met' allelwn ('with one another'). The textual apparatus in NA27 indicates that Alexandrinus has evidence of the reading met' autou ('with him'). Ciampa points out that in actuality Alexandrinus has no evidence of anything following me. (See the manuscript here at the nttranscripts.uni-muenster.de site.) Most textual critics have assumed that allelwn will not fit on the line and thus autou be a better option. Ciampa contends that meta ths ('with God') should be another option listed among the possible readings of A at 1 John 1:7. These are clearly all options; however, I am not completely convinced that it is impossible for characters of allelwn to fit. The margins are clearly fluid as Ciampa notes, and in the preceding column, it is clear that the scribe is willing to squeeze the characters onto the end of a line. I will have to take a closer look at the manuscript before making a final judgment. This is one of those textual cases where there is not much to go on.

See the reconstruction by Wieland Willker in his comment at Evangelical Textual Criticism. Unfortunately, the reconstruction that he lists does not show the full page. Some of the lines toward the bottom of the page are longer.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Updated Journal List

The Journal section has been under construction for some time. I have finally updated the list. I will probably add to it in the future. If anyone notices any key journals I have left off, please let me know.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Saul-Paul of Tarsus

There are certain circles in which it is commonly thought and taught that Saul was Paul's Jewish or Aramaic name and Paul was his Greek name. Thus, when Paul became the apostle to the Gentiles, Acts uses the Greek Gentile version of the name (Paul) and the Jewish version (Saul) then disappears. The situation is actually a bit more complicated, as a brief perusal through NT surveys quickly shows.

In their recent publication The New Testament in Antiquity (Zondervan, 2009), Wheaton College faculty Gary Burge, Lynn Cohick, and Gene Green explain the Saul-Paul name question as follows: 'Paul was a Jew and also a Roman citizen..., born in the free city of Tarsus, the capital of the province of Cilicia. As a Roman Paul would have had three names: praenomen, nomen, and cognomen. A Roman's cognomen acted as a surname and, in the apostle's case, this was the Latin Paullus (Gk. Paulos), which identified him as a member of the Paulli family. He was known also as Saul (Gk. Saulos, a transliteration of the Semitic Shaul.... The name was likely his supernomen, a kind of nickname used chiefly with Jews' (p. 251).  

Robert Gundry in his Survey of the New Testament (4th ed.; Zondervan, 2003) does not speculate on where the name Saul comes from, but he is also of the opinion that Paul is the surname. Gundry states that Paul's praenomen and nomen 'have not survived' (pp. 312-13).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

World Cup Update

The Swiss have just upset Spain 1-0 in the second group H match. In my mind, Spain have what it takes to win the cup, but not if they keep this up. They need to win group H (Honduras, Chile, Switzerland, and Spain) in order to avoid Brasil in the second round, but that assumes Brasil wins group G. Brasil's defeat of North Korea yesterday 2-1 was not as convincing as most expected. See more details of the Spain-Swiss match at BBC Sport.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

More from Life Together, Bonhoeffer

For Christians the beginning of the day should not be burdened and oppressed with besetting concerns for the day's work. At the threshold of the new day stands the Lord who made it. All the darkness and distraction of the dreams of night retreat before the clear light of Jesus Christ and his wakening Word. All unrest, all impurity, all care and anxiety flee before him. Therefore, at the beginning of the day let all distraction and empty talk be silenced and let the first thought and the first word belong to him to whom our whole life belongs. "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light" (Eph. 5:14).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Some Thoughts from Bonhoeffers' Life Together (Gemeinsames Leben)

If we were to learn again something of the praise and adoration that is due the triune God at break of day, God the Father and Creator, who has preserved our life through the dark night and wakened us to a new day, God the Son and Saviour, who conquered death and hell for us and dwells in our midst as Victor, God the Holy Spirit, who pours the bright gleam of God's Word into our hears at the dawn of day, driving away all darkness and sin and teaching us to pray aright--then we would also begin to sense something of the joy that comes when night is past and brethren who dwell together in unity come together early in the morning for common praise of their God, common hearing of the Word, and common prayer.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

John Ashton, Understanding the Fourth Gospel -- Second Edition


I have recently finished reading through John Ashton's second edition of his work Understanding the Fourth Gospel (OUP, 2007), and it is not merely the Technicolor version of the original publication (1991), although it may look that way. His introduction has had a significant overhaul in the second edition that streamlines the discussion, but the first edition's introduction may offer further background for readers on the state of play prior to Ashton, especially regarding Bultmann's contribution. The second edition has some rearrangement of chapters and four new excursuses.

John Ashton's overall study remains the same: he argues for the importance of the theme of revelation in John's Gospel and disagrees with Bultmann's conclusion that all Jesus reveals is that he is the Revealer. Ashton concludes that the mode of the revelation, the gospel, has a part to play in the revelation. For the Fourth Gospel, revelation is not just about Jesus' words or the telling of heavenly revelation. The revelation is acted out in the life of Jesus, in the logos ensarkos (the Word enfleshed). Jesus acts and speaks what he has seen and heard from the Father. Because of the importance of action as well as word, the Evangelist has used the gospel form to proclaim this revelation. In this way, as Ashton states: 'the medium is the message' or the mode of the revelation is the revelation.

Two other points of interest that run throughout the book are Ashton's emphasis on the importance of diachronic study of the Gospel and what he sees as the two-level nature of the Gospel (á la Louis Martyn). These two points have obvious relationship with each other. Ashton contends strongly for the importance of the diachronic study of John along with synchronic study. He finds narrative approaches that only address the text of the Gospel (synchronic) to be unhelpful. For him, proper study of the Gospel of John means making judgments about the development of the text and of the author(s) or community that were involved in its development. Ashton makes this same argument in 'Second Thoughts on the Fourth Gospel', in Tom Thatcher (ed), What We Have Heard From the Beginning: The Past, Present, and Future of Johannine Studies (Baylor, 2007). The first 140 pages of Understanding are his argument for this approach, his explanation of this community, their struggles with 'the Jews', and their connection to the Gospel. He then uses this background throughout the rest of the book to interpret the Gospel and explore the theme of revelation within it. Ashton has shown some of the pitfalls of narrative approaches in that they are often unconnected from history, but if his description of the situation and reason for authorship of the Gospel are incorrect, this negatively influences the interpretation of the Gospel. A faulty lens can lead to misunderstandings of the text. Narrative approaches or world within the text approaches sometimes purposely avoid the historical questions either because what Ashton has done in Understanding takes too much effort or because the difficulty of coming to an accurate conclusion is recognized as the problematic exercise that it is. Ashton makes a important call not to forget the development or at least the situation of writing in our exegetical endeavors, but I think we must likewise be careful in the application of any historical models.

[Comments on John Ashton's The Gospel of John and Christian Origins (Fortress, 2014) may be found here.]

Friday, June 4, 2010

World Cup Injuries!

This is supposed to be a blog about biblical studies, theology and the liberal arts, but considering that the World Cup merely 6 days, 12 hours and >12 minutes away (EDT) and the blog's name, I cannot help but comment. Today's news was full of two big injury reports and a third smaller one. Rio Ferdinand, current captain of England, had a knee injury in England's first South African training session and has been ruled out of the World Cup. Didier Drogba the captain of Ivory Coast and one of Africa's biggest hopes in the first World Cup played on African soil broke his arm near the elbow in a friendly against Japan. He has not been ruled out, but he may not play. And Jozy Altidore of the USA has had an ankle injury. He will most likely make the World Cup. The first two of these injuries to the captains of contending nations may have important consequences. An Ivory Coast without Drogba is unlikely to make it out of the Group of Death (Portugal, Brazil, North Korea). We shall see.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Latest Issue of New Testament Studies

The latest issue from New Testament Studies is now available. There are two articles that pique my interest: the article on Mary and Joseph's accommodation in Bethlehem and especially the article by Neilsen on glory in John's Gospel.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Jubilees and the Definition of 'Apocalypse'

The Book of Jubilees is included in the list of Jewish apocalypses by John Collins in his Apocalyptic Imagination (also in his 1979 article in Semeia). I am not sure that any would dispute its inclusion; however, the inclusion of Jubilees does seem to stretch the genre. The book does not include visionary or ascent experiences that most would expect of an apocalypse. The content of Jubilees is primarily the retelling of Israel's history from creation to Moses. This retelling (or rewritten scripture as it is often called) contains a heavy emphasis on keeping the law. We then must ask: What makes Jubilees an apocalypse? Jubilees can be considered an apocalypse because of the the framework in which the retelling occurs. The text begins with Moses' ascent up Mount Sinai where God tells him to write what he is told. The rest of Jubilees reports God's revelation to Moses. As far as the definition of 'apocalypse' is concerned, we find in Jubilees revelation mediated by a heavenly being to a human recipient. The revelation, among other things, includes information concerning eschatological salvation--keeping the law. Still, Jubilees poses some difficulties which are pointed out by Collins. The text is ambiguous at times whether Moses is receiving the revelation from God himself or from the 'angel of the presence' (cf. 4 Ezra). Another difficulty is that at the end of Jubilees there is no return to the apocalyptic framework with which it began. Moses does not return from the mountain. He is not told to bind up or reveal what he has been told, etc. Jubilees fits the genre definition, but it shows the flexibility of the definition.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Definition of Apocalypse

Reading through the Jewish apocalypses again, I have found the definition of apocalypse given by the SBL Genre Group back in 1979 to be entirely appropriate. John Collins has been one of the main proponents of this definition, which states that an apocalypse is "a genre of revelatory literature with a narrative framework, in which a revelation is mediated by an otherworldly being to a human recipient, disclosing a transcendent reality which is both temporal, insofar as it envisages eschatological salvation, and spatial insofar as it involves another, supernatural world" (Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Literature, 2nd ed. 1998, p. 5).
       There have been a number of suggested additions to the definition, but this is the essential starting point for any discussion of "apocalypse" and therefore also of the adjective "apocalyptic".

Friday, May 14, 2010

New Testament Journals

There was a great post at Evangelical Textual Criticism yesterday 13 May 2010 on ranking New Testament journals. I generally agree with the rankings, although Peter Head is correct to point out that Fitzmyer's list is twenty years old. See the comments about the difficulty of ranking purely NT journals with journals with broader subject matter. JSNT should definitely be included to the list. They do have a great editor.