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

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.