Archive for March 11th, 2009


Looavul… Luhvul…

Darrell Pursiful (aka Dr. Platypus) discusses one of the most charming aspects of speech throughout the state of Kentucky (and my hometown of Louisville in particular): its occasional removal or alteration of a syllable or two, often in the names of places, to create a new, seemingly inexplicable pronunciation. I can provide firsthand evidence of this practice: my paternal grandmother is from a small town in Marion County, the geographic center of the state. The name of the town is spelled “Lebanon,” but locals (and all others in the know) pronounce it “Leb-nin.” If you want to spend some time in Kentucky, you’d better figure this stuff out. 😉

Darrell also provides an image of a helpful banner placed throughout Louisville by the city’s tourism board; most people prefer one of the first two pronunciations listed there.


Polygamy in Second Temple Judaism

In his discussion of possible meanings of the phrase μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα (lit. “the man of one woman” or “the husband of one wife”) in 1 Timothy 3:2, Bill Mounce mentions the practice of polygamy:

Some hold that it [the phrase] is a prohibition against polygamy, i.e., married to one at a time. This argument is stronger than one might suspect from its near universal rejection. However, while polygamy was common in Judaism it was not common in Christianity, so it seems unlikely that Paul would have thought to prohibit something that rarely occurred.

Was polygamy “common in Judaism” at the time of Paul–or decades later, during the composition of the Pastorals? In “Marriage, Divorce, and Family and Second Temple Judaism,” published in Families in Ancient Israel (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1997), John J. Collins presents a thorough overview of the evidence, noting that it is mentioned by Josephus, Justin Martyr, and the Mishnah; it was apparently practiced by elites such as Herod and his sons; and the recent discovery of the Bathaba archive suggests that it may have spread beyond the upper classes of society to members of the Palestinian bourgeois. Nevertheless, while the legal wranglings of Bathaba and her fellow wife over the property of their late husband provide important evidence that polygamy was not limited to eminent figures such as the Herodians, the correspondence “remains a single instance and does not warrant any generalization about the extent of polygamy in second temple Judaism” (p. 122), and Collins does not dramatically depart from the relative consensus “that monogamy was the norm throughout the second temple period” (ibid, citing S. Lowy’s “The Extent of Jewish Polygamy in Tannaitic Times” [1958]). The fact that Justin Martyr is clearly engaged in a polemical dialogue with Judaism, and that the Mishnah often discusses past practices in a seemingly contemporary fashion, would support such a position.


The Brick Testament

Anyone looking to brush up their biblical literacy in a creative way should check out the Brick Testament. Ruben Dupertuis, one of my undergraduate mentors, gave a paper on it as part of SBL’s “Bible and Popular Culture” section a couple years ago. Fun!


Happy Anniversary, Codex Sinaiticus!

While mindlessly surfing the web last night, I discovered an inexplicable oversight: I neglected to mention that February 4 marked the sesquicentennial (that’s the 150th anniversary, for all you philistines out there) of the scholarly discovery of the priceless Codex Sinaiticus by Constantin von Tischendorf. Go drink a toast or gulp down a piece of cake in its honor… or check out the remarkable collaborative Codex Sinaiticus Project, which is slated for final completion in July 2009.

P.S. Don’t tell Jim West that I was reminded of this date by Wikipedia’s events feed, or I’ll be blacklisted from the biblioblog world! 😉


New From Baker/Fortress/WJK: More Good Stuff

Another recent announcement from Dove:

Aune, David E
Apocalypticism, Prophecy, and Magic in Early Christianity: Collected Essays
(Baker Book House, 2008)
Paperback List: $49.99 Dove Price: $39.99
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Renowned scholar David Aune, author of a leading commentary on the book of Revelation, here offers twenty studies on apocalypticism, the book of Revelation, and related topics. Several essays on the Apocalypse of John explore contextual relationships of the Apocalypse to apocalyptic literature. Other essays center on aspects of the content and interpretation of the Apocalypse itself by investigating issues such as discipleship, narrative christology, genre, and the problem of God and time. Essays on early Christian prophecy deal with charismatic exegesis in early Judaism and early Christianity, the relationship between Christian prophecy and the messianic status of Jesus, and the prophetic features found in The Odes of Solomon. Originally published in hardcover by Mohr Siebeck, this collection is now available in paperback.

Evans, Craig A N. T. Wright
Jesus, the Final Days: What Really Happened
(Westminster John Knox, 2009)
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What do history and archaeology have to say about Jesus death, burial, and resurrection? In this superb general reader book, two of the worlds most celebrated writers on the historical Jesus share their greatest findings. Together, Craig A. Evans and N. T. Wright concisely and compellingly convey the drama and the world-shattering significance of Jesus final days on earth. Certain to be a best seller during the Lent/Easter season and beyond!

Evans, Craig A Emanuel Tov (eds)
Exploring the Origins of the Bible: Canon Formation in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective
(Baker Book House, 2008)
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For those who want to go deeper in their understanding of the canon of Scripture, leading international scholars provide cutting-edge perspectives on various facets of the biblical writings, how those writings became canonical Scripture, and why canon matters. Craig Evans begins by helping those new to the field understand the different versions of the Hebrew Bible (Masoretic Text, Septuagint, Targum, Vulgate, etc.) as well as the books of the Apocrypha and the Pseudepigrapha. Later essays also help beginners by explaining “canon” and the development of canons in various Jewish and Christian communities, the much-debated tripartite canon of the Hebrew Scriptures, and questions of authority. But the book also includes insightful explorations and perspectives to challenge more advanced readers, starting with Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls expert Emanuel Tov delving into the complexities of biblical writing and moving into a critical investigation of the usefulness of extracanonical Gospels for historical Jesus research and an exploration of the relationship of Paul to the canonization process. The result is a thought-provoking book that concludes with discussion of an issue at the fore today–the theological implications of canon.

Hanson, K C Douglas E. Oakman
Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Contexts, Second Edition
(Augsburg Fortress, 2008)
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Hanson and Oakman’s award-winning and illuminating volume has become a widely used and cited introduction to the social context of Jesus and the early Jesus movement. This second edition updates all the discussions in light of more recent scholarship, improves clarity and readability of diagrams and maps, provides additional diagrams and images to enhance the book for student use, and includes new classroom resources, for professors and students, on a Companion Web site. Along with an overview of the ancient Mediterranean worldview, Palestine in the Time of Jesus explores major domains and institutions of Roman Palestine: kinship, politics, economy, and religion.

Holman, Susan R
Wealth and Poverty in Early Church and Society
(Baker Book House, 2008)
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Wealth and poverty are issues of perennial importance in the life and thought of the church. This volume brings patristic thought to bear on these vital issues. The contributors offer explanations of poverty in the New Testament period, explore developments among Christians in Egypt and Asia Minor and in early Byzantium, and connect patristic theology with contemporary public policy and religious dialogue. This volume inaugurates Holy Cross Studies in Patristic Theology and History, a partnership between Baker Academic and the Stephen and Catherine Pappas Patristic Institute of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology in Brookline, Massachusetts. The series is a deliberate outreach by the Orthodox community to evangelical, Protestant, and Catholic seminarians, pastors, and theologians. These multi-author books include contributors from all traditions but focus on the patristic (especially Greek patristic) heritage.

Horsley, Richard A (ed)
In The Shadow of Empire: Reclaiming The Bible as a History of Faithful Resistance
(Westminster John Knox, 2008)
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The Bible tells the stories of many empires. And many are still considered some of the largest of the ancient and classical world: the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and finally the Romans. In this provocative book, eight experts bring a critical analysis of these world empires in the background of the Old and New Testaments. As they explain, the Bible developed against the context of these empires, providing concrete meaning to the countercultural claims of Jews and Christians that their God was the true King, the real Emperor. Each chapter describes how to read the Bible as a reaction to empire and points to how to respond to the biblical message to resist imperial powers in every age.

Horsley, Richard A
Jesus in Context: Power, People, and Performance
(Augsburg Fortress, 2008)
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What difference did empire make for Jesus and his disciples? What difference did empire make for the broader social currents of which he and they were a part? What social roles did Jesus perform, what “little tradition” did he embody against the “great tradition” of Roman culture? What difference does it make for our understanding of Jesus if we attend to new kinds of evidence regarding popular movements, the dynamics of oral tradition, and reading history “from below”? Richard A. Horsley addresses all these questions and sketches a dramatic new picture of Jessus in light of recent approaches.

Kloppenborg, John S
Q, the Earliest Gospel: An Introduction to the Original Stories and Sayings of Jesus
(Westminster John Knox, 2008)
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Estimated to date back to the very early Jesus movement, the lost Gospel known as Q offers a distinct and remarkable picture of Jesus and his significance and one that differs markedly from that offered by its contemporary, the apostle Paul. Rather than privileging Jesus? death and resurrection as the salvific events, highlighting his battles with demons, or concentrating on his messianic program of healing, this Sayings Gospel presents Jesus as a prophetic critic of unbelief and a sage with the wisdom that can transform. In Q, the true meaning of the kingdom of God is the fulfillment of a just society through the transformation of the human relationships within it: debt relief, mutuality and reciprocity, nonretaliation, and the total rejection of the long-standing Mediterranean honor and shame codes. Though this document has never been found, Kloppenborg offers a succinct account of why scholars maintain it existed in the first place and demonstrates how they have been able to reconstruct its contents and wording from the two later Gospels that used it as a source: Matthew and Luke. Presented here in its entirety, as developed by the International Q Project, this Gospel reveals a very different portrait of Jesus than in much of the later canonical writings, challenging the way we think of Christian origins and the very nature and mission of Jesus Christ.

Pregeant, Russell
Knowing Truth, Doing Good: Engaging New Testament Ethics
(Augsburg Fortress, 2008)
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As we face new, complex, and controversial ethical issues in our lives, turning to the writings of the New Testament for guidance can be a bewildering experience. One reason this is so, says Pregeant, is that the New Testament writings belong to a distant and very different cultural world, where many of our contemporary questions simply weren’t imagined. Another reason is the open – ended character of language and the possibility – and desirability – of multiple and often competing strands of meaning in the New Testament writings. In Knowing Truth, Doing Good, Pregeant models a careful and sensitive approach to ethics in the New Testament writings. Instead of looking for “the New Testament answer” or “the early Christian view,” he calls us to own our responsibility for the ways we interpret the Bible and for the ethical decisions we make in the Bible’s name. Pregeant explores such topics as: * Madness in the Methods: On Learning to Treat the Text as Subject * The Ethics of the Jesus Movement * The Ethics of the Canonical Writings * Engaging New Testament Ethics

Rowe, C Kavin
Early Narrative Christology: The Lord in the Gospel of Luke
(Baker Book House, 2009)
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Despite the striking frequency with which the Greek word for kyrios (Lord) occurs in Luke’s Gospel, this study is the first comprehensive analysis of Luke’s use of this word. Rowe offers a careful exegetical discussion of all the passages in the Gospel that use kyrios for Jesus in order to trace the complex and deliberate development in Luke’s narrative of Jesus’s identity as Lord. Detailed attention to Luke’s artistry and use of Mark demonstrates that Luke has a nuanced and sophisticated christology. For Rowe, Luke’s use of kyrios for Jesus not only after the resurrection but throughout shows Jesus’s close association with the God of Israel. This book, now available in paperback, was first published in hardcover by Walter de Gruyter.

Wilson, Walter T
Pauline Parallels: A Comprehensive Guide
(Westminster John Knox, 2009)
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Paul’s letters to early churches form one of the largest and most theologically rich parts of the New Testament. Wilson examines each passage from every one of Paul’s letters-including those that some scholars believe were written by someone else-and show how they overlap and connect with passages from a broad spectrum of ancient literature. Parallels are drawn with other Pauline letters, New Testament and Old Testament writings, early Jewish literature such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the philosophical and religious works of Greece and Rome. In terms of its range of parallels, this book is the most complete study of its kind to date. Pauline Parallels: A Comprehensive Guide is sure to be invaluable resource for understanding Paul’s concepts for many years to come.

March 2009


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