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

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Oxford Bibliographies Online: An Excellent Tool

My colleague Daniel Driver directed my attention to Oxford Bibliographies Online (Biblical Studies). I have been looking around on the site and have only become more and more impressed. There are a signficant number of bibliographies and each one has been put together by top notch scholars in the various fields. You can search or browse alphabetically. The bibliographies name the author and the date the bibliography was posted. Each bibliography includes introductory information about the topic as well as introductory surveys, general overviews, and themes and topics related to the title topics. The specificity of these latter bibliographies continues to surprise me. All of the sources listed have a brief annotation as well as a links to World Cat and often to Google Preview. (I should mention that Oxford Bibliographies is only available through subscription which my university library has.)

The editor-in-chief of Oxford Bibliographies Online is Christopher R. Matthews who is also Editor of New Testament Abstracts and Associate Research Professor at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry. The editorial board includes a "Standing Board" of John S. Kloppenborg, Carol Newsom, and Marvin Sweeney, and a much larger "Founding Editorial Board".

Here are a few NT highlights: James K. Elliot on New Testament Textual CriticismDaniel J. Harrington on Matthew; John S. Kloppenborg on the Synoptic Problem and Q; Peter Davids on the Catholic Epistles. David A. deSilva has put together the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha bibliography. deSilva's bibliography lists sources for a significant number of specific apocryphal and pseudepigraphal works (e.g., 1 Enoch, 2 Baruch). The breadth of the topics covered can be seen in the following titles: Galilee, Passion Narratives, Apocryphal Gospels, Afterlife and Immortality, Jesus of Nazareth, Slavery, Interpretation and Hermeneutics, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality in the New Testament and Early Christianity.

A full list of articles and contributors can be found here. It includes articles that are forthcoming in spring 2011, fall 2011, and spring 2012. I am looking forward to the articles on the 'Gospel of John' by Gilbert Van Belle, 'Second Temple Judaism' and 'Pseudepigraphy' by Annette Yoshiko Reed, and 'Apocalyptic Literature' by Greg Carey. Others forthcoming articles include 'Septuagint' by Leonard Greenspoon, 'Sermon on the Mount' by Jonathan Pennington, 'Parables' by Kloppenborg, 'Christology' by David Capes, 'Early Christian Art' by Gerhard van den Heever, and the list goes on.

Oxford Bibliographies Online is and wil be an excellent tool for Biblical Studies.

Some example of the detail put into the categorization of the bibliographies can be seen in the table of contents for the Matthew and Synoptic Problem bibliographies below:

Gospel of Matthew, Daniel Harrington
Synoptic Problem, John Kloppenborg

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Comments by Ulrich Luz on Reception History

Studies in MatthewIn his book Studies on Matthew, Ulrich Luz has five essays at the end of the book that address questions of interpretation, and the primary interest with most of these is Reception History or how has the Bible been understood throughout the centuries. The following is a longer quote that I found thought-provoking from his essay entitled "The Significance of the Church Fathers for Biblical Interpretation in Western Protestant Perspective". The essay was originally published as "Die Bedeutung der Kirchenväter für die Auslegung der Biblel. Eine westlich protestantische Sicht", in : James D.G.d Dunn, Hans Klein, Ulrich Luz, and Vasile Mihoc (eds.), Auslegung der Bibel in orthodoxer und westlicher Perspektive, WUNT I/130 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000), pp. 29-52.

"...we are reminded by the patristic interpretations that behind the plurality of voices in the Bible itself and behind all the interpretations there is an interpretative community of which we ourselves are part, that is: the Church. For me the importance attached by the Eastern churches to patristic interpretation is a significant hermeneutic indicator of how fundamental the Church as interpretative community is for the reading of the Bible. I emphasize this as a Protestant, well aware that the Church as interpretative community carries little weight with us. Many of our clergy tend to preach their own Word of God; many of our theologians would like to see their own theology as gospel. Many of our exegetes, glad not to have an ecclesial magisterium set over them, are content with their own authority. I insist however that interpreting and understanding the Bible is a community process, and that in the end the Church and not the individual is the interpreting subject. This does not mean I am seeking to restrict or standardize interpretation. As a Protestant, regarded by most Christian churches as being outside the 'true' church right up to the twentieth century, it is not for me to say where the limits of what God will recognize as 'church' are. I am also aware how important it is that many people read the Bible and regard it as their heritage without having any desire to belong to a church. For me any theological 'canon within the canon' which narrows down and standardizes, no longer allowing itself to be questioned by the wealth of the Bible, and a magisterium which decrees what correct interpretation of the Bible is, without allowing itself to be qualified and corrected by the Bible, are not true to the gospel. As a Protestant exegete I want to give the biblical texts the opportunity to say all that they have to say, even if it goes against us and our churches." (pp. 305-306)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Goodacre on the Son of Man

Mark Goodacre posted a podcast entitled "Who is this 'Son of Man'?" over at NT Pod in early April. I have finally had time to listen to it, and as usual, he has done an excellent job introducing a NT topic (which is why I continue to make use of his podcasts in class). Goodacre points out that "the Son of Man" (ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου) was only spoken by Jesus and it is almost non-existent outside of the Gospels. So what did the phrase mean to Jesus? what did it mean to his followers? and why did early Christians essentially not use it? Such questions are why there is no end to scholarly discussion on the topic.

Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man: Revisiting the Book of ParablesI recognize that Goodacre is only giving an 11 minute introduction to a complex topic, but I did want to clarify a couple points. The Jewish Second Temple text the Similitudes of Enoch does make reference to a son of man figure and there are clear indications that Daniel 7 has influenced this text (chs. 46-48). Although Goodacre states that Similitudes is possibly later first century and after the time of Jesus, recent Second Temple scholarship has reached a consensus that the text is late first century BCE or early first century CE. Thus, it is plausibly prior to (or contemporary with) Jesus and therefore plausibly evidence of Jewish messianic understandings of the Danielic "one like a son of man" during Jesus' lifetime (see Boccaccini, ed., Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man).

Goodacre also mentioned that 4 Ezra speaks of "the son of man". This late first century text does reinterpret the Danielic son of man figure (see chs. 11 and 12), but 4 Ezra does not refer to "the son of man" or even "one like a son of man". The term used is a "something like the figure of a man" (13:3; Metzger's translation in OTP). I realize this is splitting hairs for some, but some scholars do make this a significant point. However, 4 Ezra does highlight the way in which it is the human-likeness of the visionary figure that Daniel draws attention to.

Again, I recommend listening to the podcast for a great introduction to this perennial NT topic.

Friday, May 6, 2011

The new Tyndale Magazine

Tyndale University College and Seminary have just relaunched the institution's magazine. It was formally titled "Connection", but has now been given the title "Tyndale: The Magazine". The new version is completely available online, but print copies will also still be published.