Friday, February 27, 2009

OUP Sale at Dove

Some of these titles look pretty good (alright, a lot of these titles look pretty good):

Ashton, John
Understanding the Fourth Gospel
(Oxford University Press, 2007)
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Bryan, Christopher
Render to Caesar: Jesus, the Early Church, and the Roman Superpower
(Oxford University Press, 2005)
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Conway, Colleen M
Behold the Man: Jesus and Greco-Roman Masculinity
(Oxford University Press, 2008)
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Dunderberg, Ismo
Beloved Disciple in Conflict? Revisiting the Gospels of John and Thomas
(Oxford University Press, 2006)
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Ehrman, Bart D
New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 4th ed
(Oxford University Press, 2007)
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Elliott, J K (ed)
Apocryphal Jesus: Legends of the Early Church
(Oxford University Press, 2008)
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Elliott, J K (ed)
Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature
(Oxford University Press, 2005)
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Friesen, Steven J
Imperial Cults and the Apocalypse of John: Reading Revelation in the Ruins
(Oxford University Press, 2001)
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Gregory, Andrew Christopher Tuckett (eds)

The New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers
Volume 1: The Reception of the New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers
(Oxford University Press, 2006)
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Volume 2: Trajectories through the New Testament and the Apostolic Fathers

(Oxford University Press, 2006)
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Hill, Charles E
Johannine Corpus in the Early Church
(Oxford University Press, 2004)
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Hodge, Caroline Johnson
If Sons, Then Heirs: A Study of Kinship and Ethnicity in the Letters of Paul
(Oxford University Press, 2007)
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Keefer, Kyle
New Testament As Literature: A Very Short Introduction
(Oxford University Press, 2008)
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Meech, John L
Paul in Israel's Story: Self and Community at the Cross
(Oxford University Press, 2006)
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Metzger, Bruce M Bart D Ehrman
Text of the New Testament, 4th edition
(Oxford University Press, 2005)
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Murphy-O'Connor OP, Jerome
Paul: His Story
(Oxford University Press, 2004)
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From the Oxford Early Christian Gospel Texts Series

Kraus, Thomas J Michael J. Kruger, Tobias Nicklas (eds)
Gospel Fragments
(Oxford University Press, 2008)
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Tuckett, Christopher M (ed)
Gospel of Mary
(Oxford University Press, 2007)
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Forthcoming Publications

Bagnall, Roger S (ed)
Oxford Handbook of Papyrology
(Oxford University Press, 2009)
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Save $30.01 (20%) NYP Due: 06/10/2009

Murphy-O'Connor OP, Jerome
Keys to First Corinthians: Revisiting the Major Issues
(Oxford University Press, 2009)
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Save $22.01 (20%) NYP Due: 04/15/2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas: How Can Such a Small Gospel Be So Much Fun?

Thanks to Mark Goodacre and Tony Chartrand Burke for pointing me in the direction of this hilarious animated short based upon Infancy Gospel of Thomas 9. As I occasionally discuss apocryphal gospels with my students, I'm going to recommend it to them. I hope they (and you, of course) enjoy it as much as I did!

Here is the text, as rendered by Harold Attridge and Ronald F. Hock in The Complete Gospels (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1994):

9:1 A few days later Jesus was playing on the roof of a house when one of the children playing with him fell off the roof and died. When the other children saw what had happened, they fled, leaving Jesus standing all by himself. 9:2 The parents of the dead child came and accused Jesus: "You troublemaker you, you're the one who threw him down." 9:3 Jesus responded, "I didn't throw him down - he threw himself down. He just wasn't being careful and leaped down from the roof and died." 9:4 Then Jesus himself leaped down from the roof and stood by the body of the child and shouted in a loud voice: "Zeno!" - that was his name - "Get up and tell me: Did I push you?" 9:5 He got up immediately and said, "No, Lord, you didn't push me, you raised me up." 9:6 Those who saw this were astonished, and the child's parents praised God for the miracle that had happened and worshipped Jesus.

Yay for Adela Collins!

No sooner did I mention her name on this blog than I discovered an upcoming conference in her honor! And one of my current professors, the remarkable Judy Kovacs, will be giving a paper on Clement of Alexandria. Maybe I'll play hooky for a couple days and head to Columbus. ;-)

Relevant Details:

The conference begins on Sunday night March 15th at 7:00pm with the keynote address by Loveday Alexander followed by a reception. This will take place at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio in the Centrum; the address for MTSO is 3081 Columbus Pike, Delaware, OH, 43015. As you pull in to the main entrance of MTSO, the Centrum is just to the right of the library (the first building you will see as you pull in); proceed up the stairs to the right of the library to the Centrum. (Please visit for directions to the school.)

Parking is free and ample.

On Monday the 16th, the program starts at 8:45am, and all sessions will take place on the campus of The Ohio State University at the Blackwell Inn, the conference hotel on campus. There is parking nearby at the Tuttle Parking Garage (G-8, building number 088 on the downloadable map found at The Blackwell is one block north of the garage (H-8, building 254 on the map). Directions to the Blackwell can be found at There are some construction issues that will force you to turn south from Lane Avenue onto Neil Avenue instead of onto Tuttle Park Place, where the Blackwell is located. But Neil Avenue intersects Tuttle Park Place right where the Blackwell is. See for a description of the detour. The easiest place to eat lunch that day will be at the Blackwell’s restaurant, the menu for which will can be found at There are other restaurants on Lane Avenue and even more on High Street, but you may need to drive to those.

On Tuesday the 17th, the conference moves back to MTSO, and begins 8:45am again. You will be welcome to join us for lunch at MTSO’s dining hall if you wish to do so. There will be no charge for lunch that day. Otherwise, there are some restaurants in downtown Delaware, which is about 3 miles north of the campus. The conference will end at 5pm.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: Actually Groundbreaking?

Nick Norelli notes that Chris Tilling has posted an extremely erudite and thorough review of Richard Bauckham's Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006). While I'm often skeptical of Bauckham's scholarly conclusions, I'm always impressed by the intellectual depth and rigor of his arguments, and I regret that I haven't had a chance to read the entire book (although I did read some rather extensive portions prior to the review session at the SBL Annual Meeting in 2007). Chris opines that it "is a major contribution to New Testament scholarship, a bomb thrown into the playground of ‘historical Jesus’ scholarship"; furthermore, it is "[p]erhaps the single most important book to have been written on the historical Jesus in decades... [and] will rightly be at the centre of the developing debate over the coming years." Although I must preface my comments with the reiteration that I have not read the book in its entirety, I'm deeply skeptical of these claims, particularly the last. The competition for this honor is simply too fierce; E.P. Sanders' Jesus and Judaism (the inaugural winner of the Grawemeyer Award in Religion) and the volumes of John Meier's A Marginal Jew series (the last of which will be released this spring) immediately come to mind. While it may be years before the matter can be definitively settled, Sanders' dramatic revival of Jesus' apocalypticism, together with Meier's meticulous journey throughout every aspect of his life and ministry, seem more likely to have a lasting influence.

The most significant source of my skepticism surrounding the overall impact of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, however, concerns its ability to transcend--or at least forcibly engage--disparate poles of New Testament scholarship. This was apparent to me at the review session which responded to the book at the SBL Annual Meeting. The reviewers (one of whom was Adela Collins, a professor of mine at YDS) were largely, if not completely, unconvinced by Bauckham's claims. Prof. Collins, in particular, pointed out that the establishment of a new literary category for the gospels does not remove the problem which the miracles pose for any post-Enlightenment exegete; they remain beyond the bounds of critical history, and must be accepted or denied as a matter of faith. In short, it appears that those who would have agreed with Bauckham's conclusions before the publication of the book embraced it enthusiastically, while those who would not, did not. The validity of its claims aside, this does not strike me as the mark of a groundbreaking work--which, by definition, should radically redefine the course of the discipline in which it appears. Albert Schweitzer's The Quest of the Historical Jesus, with its inescapable indictment of the "liberal lives of Jesus," is an obvious example of such a work; similarly, while many of conclusions given in Sanders' Paul and Palestinian Judaism have been strongly challenged or even dismissed, virtually every treatment of Pauline thought or the nature of Second Temple Judaism in the past three decades has been forced to respond to it in some way. Thus far, I do not see this sort of transformative power or monolithic shadow in store for Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.

New Testament Notes: Week 7 (Wednesday)

Notes on historical considerations surrounding Jesus' entry into Jerusalem, arrest, and excecution, from the last lecture before spring break... where has the semester gone???

RELC 122 Notes: 2/25

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

NYT Reviews The Fire Gospel

Michael Faber's latest novel revolves around the chance discovery of a new gospel containing an eyewitness account of the crucifixion of Jesus. I'm sure that it will be a great read (Faber's previous offering, the award-winning The Crimson Petal and the White, was excellent); as I perused the review, I was reminded of the controversies, claims, and counterclaims which swirled about in the wake of the publication of the Gospel of Judas by the National Geographic Society in 2006. Those were the days...

Books of The Times: A 5th Gospel Can Be Like a 5th Wheel

(Relatively) New From SBL: Movies, Noah, and Philo

Another publication announcement culled from the depths of my inbox. The first title looks especially good; I've become increasingly interested in cinematic depictions of biblical themes, and of Jesus in particular, in recent years.

Images of the Word: Hollywood’s Bible and Beyond
David Shepherd

Images of the Word: Hollywood’s Bible and Beyond is a collection of essays by leading international scholars in the field of Bible and film. Recognizing the increasingly global nature of both media and religion, the volume focuses on the ways in which the Bible is interpreted and visualized not only within Hollywood but also far beyond it. Cutting-edge analysis of films from France, Canada, Sweden, India, and elsewhere reveals that the Bible’s visualization is culturally rooted and contributes to the shaping of a particular culture, including its perception of the Bible itself. Essays range across the canon from Exodus to Ecclesiastes to Revelation, interacting with films of various national traditions and periods from Blackton’s Life of Moses (1909) to Karunamayudu (1978) to Cronenberg’s eXistenZ (1999). The volume engages the breadth of current scholarly interest in this interdisciplinary field, including the critical reading of “Bible films,” the exploration of biblical motifs and themes within contemporary cinema, and concluding responses to the essays from both a biblical scholar and a film scholar.

Paper $25.95 — ISBN 9781589832756 — 240 pages — Semeia Studies 54 — Hardback edition

Noah Traditions in the Dead Sea Scrolls: Conversations and Controversies of Antiquity
Dorothy M. Peters

As father of all humanity and not exclusively of Israel, Noah was a problematic ancestor for some Jews in the Second Temple period. His archetypical portrayals in the Dead Sea Scrolls, differently nuanced in Hebrew and Aramaic, embodied the tensions for groups that were struggling to understand both their distinctive self-identities within Judaism and their relationship to the nations among whom they lived. Dually located within a trajectory of early Christian and rabbinic interpretation of Noah and within the Jewish Hellenistic milieu of the Second Temple period, this study of the Noah traditions in the Dead Sea Scrolls illuminates living conversations and controversies among the people who transmitted them and promises to have implications for ancient questions and debates that extended considerably beyond the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Paper $29.95 — ISBN 9781589833906 — 276 pages — Early Judaism and Its Literature 26 — Hardback edition

Studia Philonica Annual XX, 2008
David T. Runia and Gregory E. Sterling, editors

The Studia Philonica Annual is a scholarly journal devoted to furthering the study of Hellenistic Judaism, and in particular the writings and thought of the Hellenistic-Jewish writer Philo of Alexandria (circa 15 B.C.E. to circa 50 C.E.). This volume includes articles, a special section on Philo’s De Abrahamo, a bibliography section, and book reviews.

Hardback $42.95 — ISBN 9781589833944 — 268 pages — Studia Philonica Annual 20


While scrolling through yet another sale announcement from Dove, I noticed this entry:
Hultin, Jeremy F
Ethics of Obscene Speech in Early Christianity and Its Environment
(Brill, 2008)
Hardcover List: $177.00 Dove Price: $149.99
Save $27.01 (15%)
Prof. Hultin is a member of the biblical studies faculty at YDS, and an all-around good guy. And I'm quite curious about his treatment of this subject (the book is a revision of his doctoral dissertation). But when a volume is $150.00 after a discount, something is rotten in the state of Denmark. I'm well aware that my grasp of economics leaves something to be desired, but surely Brill would actually increase their profit margins if they sold larger numbers of units at lower prices? After all, most academics follow Erasmus' dictum of purchasing books first, and food and clothing afterwards (my parents can attest to this fact)...

RBL Highlights: 2/24/09

Highlights from a previous Review of Biblical Literature, which I found skulking in the depths of my inbox:

John M. G. Barclay and Simon Gathercole, eds.
Divine and Human Agency in Paul and His Cultural Environment
Reviewed by Stephan Joubert

Maurice Casey
The Solution to the 'Son of Man' Problem
Reviewed by Paul Owen

David J. Chalcraft, ed.
Sectarianism in Early Judaism: Sociological Advances
Reviewed by Boris Repschinski

Mary Ann Getty-Sullivan
Parables of the Kingdom: Jesus and the Use of Parables in the Synoptic Tradition
Reviewed by Dan O. Via

Rowan A. Greer and Margaret M. Mitchell
The "Belly-Myther" of Endor: Interpretations of 1 Kingdoms 28 in the Early Church
Reviewed by Thomas J. Kraus

Yigal Levin, ed.
A Time of Change: Judah and Its Neighbours in the Persian and Early Hellenistic Periods
Reviewed by Oded Lipschits

Benjamin Edidin Scolnic
Thy Brother's Blood: The Maccabees and Dynastic Morality in the Hellenistic World
Reviewed by Lester L. Grabbe

V. George Shillington
An Introduction to the Study of Luke-Acts
Reviewed by Nils Neumann

Stanley D. Walters
Go Figure! Figuration in Biblical Interpretation
Reviewed by Paul Elbert
Reviewed by Richard S. Briggs

Monday, February 23, 2009

New Testament Notes: Week 7 (Monday)

Notes on the individuals with whom Jesus associated, and his miraculous deeds:

RELC122 Notes: 2/23

Awesomeness... And Its Many Repercussions

I was extremely flattered to discover that this blog was listed among the "Top 100 Theology Blogs" compiled by Jessica Merritt of (Check out the complete list here.) Jessica's analysis is brilliantly succinct: "This blog offers a good look at biblical studies." I couldn't have said it better myself. ;-) Perhaps one day I will actually achieve my dream of standing alongside Jim West, Nick Norelli, James McGrath, and the other giants at the top of the biblioblog world...

In celebration of this momentous ranking, I've made a few changes to the blog. The most obvious, of course, is a new template and color scheme. However, I've also added a link to a number of my articles, reviews, and notes, as well as a post archive, to the sidebar. Also, lists such as that prepared by Jessica always introduce me to a number of unfamiliar yet fascinating blogs, which have now been added to the blogroll. Thus you can expect to see some new faces (titles?) there over the next few days.

So tell your family, tell your friends, tell everyone... Confessions of a Bible Junkie is better than ever! ;-)

Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Brief Review

This is a brief review which I prepared for Prof. Harry Gamble's seminar on Paul in Modern Scholarship. As I only had two days to reread key parts of the book and write the review (someone else was originally scheduled to present, but had to leave town at the last minute), many other things could have been added or discussed in additional detail; perhaps I can expand it in my free time. Aww, who am I kidding? ;-)

Now if I can just master Nick Norelli's knack for getting publishers to send him books for free, I'll be in business...


E.P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1977). 627 pp.

E.P. Sanders’ magisterial reevaluation of ancient Judaism and its relationship to Pauline thought represents one of the most significant contributions to the scholarly study of religion in the latter half of the twentieth century, inaugurating the movement which became known as the “new perspective on Paul” (a moniker coined by his contemporary James Dunn in 1982). Like many novel works, it was not immediately embraced by the larger community; intense editorial criticism delayed its publication for nearly two years (Sanders 2004: 17). Its eventual appearance and reception, however, permanently altered critical conceptions on a number of major fronts, most notably the nature of Jewish faith and praxis during the Second Temple and early rabbinic periods. Interestingly, its structure and substance suggest that the proper nouns included in its title should be reversed; the enigmatic subject of Palestinian Judaism is taken up first, and is examined in much more detail than that of Paul. The heart of the survey is prefaced with the fundamental conceptual judgment that the most effective antidote to the erroneous assumptions surrounding the relationship between Judaism and Christianity in antiquity is an honest, full-fledged comparison of their religious “patterns,” a term which Sanders defines as “how getting in [to a particular religion or group] and staying in are understood” (italics original; p. 17). Such a project will not only illuminate the true quality of this relationship, but will also provide an increased understanding of each religion as an independent entity.

Sanders continues with a poignant overview of the all-too-familiar characterization of Judaism as a static and stale community trudging along the hopeless asymptotes of legalism and works-righteousness. It is “at best an inadequate religion and at worst one which destroys any hope of a proper relationship between God and man” (p. 35). This attitude was adopted in various forms by an overwhelming majority of scholars in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—including Emil Schurer, Wilhelm Bousset, and Rudolf Bultmann—and persisted despite the appearance of occasional critiques “by scholars who have known the material far better than any of its proponents” (e.g., G.F. Moore; p. 59). Sanders sets out to achieve its permanent annihilation by means of a comprehensive analysis of the extant textual sources, from the tractates of the Mishnah to the Dead Sea Scrolls to the apocryphal and pseudepigraphical literature. Or, to use Thomas Best’s more diplomatic assessment, he “seeks to convince New Testament scholarship as a whole that it has been talking all along about the wrong Judaism, a Judaism which in fact did not exist except as a convenient foil against which to prove the superiority of the apostle Paul” (Best 1982: 67). In any case, the results are striking. With the singular exception of the Wisdom of Ben Sira, a document likely written in the second century BCE which does not adopt a particularly universal or futuristic outlook, this corpus agrees on a fundamental point: “obedience maintains one’s position in the covenant, but it does not earn God’s grace as such” (italics original; p. 420). Here Sanders highlights the undeniable pervasiveness of the theme of the extension of divine mercy to the righteous, with its implicit corollary that their deeds, while certainly positive, have not been sufficient to merit their salvation. In place of the traditional misconceptions, he offers a summary sketch of the religious system actually supported by the sources, which was apparently prevalent throughout Palestine before the destruction of the Second Temple and which he terms “covenantal nomism” (p. 422):

1) The election of Israel

2) The bestowal of the Law
a. Divine implication: maintenance of the election
b. Human implication: requirement of adherence to the Law

3) The reward of obedience and the punishment of divergence

4) Provisions for atonement
a. Result: restoration of the covenantal relationship

5) Assurance of salvation to those who remain within the covenant due to obedience, atonement, and mercy

Although the term “covenant” is by no means omnipresent, and is especially scarce in the writings of the rabbis, this is attributed to its status as a matter of course; “the covenant was presupposed, and the Rabbinic discussions were largely directed toward the question of how to fulfill the covenantal obligations” (italics original; p. 421).

Sanders begins his comparatively brief treatment of Paul with an acknowledgment of the relevant sources—the seven letters which are generally classified as authentic, although the brief Letter to Philemon provides little grist for the religious mill—and a recognition of the “two readily identifiable and primary convictions which governed Paul’s Christian life” (p. 441): belief in the salvific lordship of Jesus Christ, whose eschatological reappearance was imminent, and in his own interrelated status as apostle to the Gentiles. Sanders’ emphasis upon imminent eschatology, as opposed to other elements such as justification by faith, is largely drawn from the earlier work of Albert Schweitzer, whose influence also appears in Sanders’ studies of the historical Jesus. The first conviction, that of the lordship of Christ, is clarified with the argument that an analysis of Pauline theology must begin with the apostle’s acceptance of Christ as savior, not with the theological conundrum of an inescapably sinful humanity and the arrival of Christ as solution. While the latter view, heavily dependent upon the organization of the Letter to the Romans (and reminiscent of Luther’s celebrated conscience pangs), was endorsed by Bultmann, Hans Conzelmann, and Gunther Bornkamm, Sanders opines that “[i]t seems likely… that Paul’s thought did not run from plight to solution, but rather from solution to plight… There is no reason to think that Paul felt the need for a universal savior prior to his conviction that Jesus was such” (p. 443). Pauline testimony to the character of the Christian community displays a number of features resonant with the newly defined covenantal nomism, including its assurances of salvation for its members and its requirement of observation of certain regulations, or atonement for disobedience, in order to remain within the elect. In the pithy terms of “getting in and staying in,” Paul holds that all are “out” until they accept Christ as savior, an act which may be represented as justification by faith or unity with Christ. Once “in,” members are required to conduct themselves appropriately, generally in accordance with Jewish ethical strictures. Paul breaks with covenantal nomism, however, in his rejection of the efficacy of the election and his qualified, piecemeal approach to the Law. Sanders dubs his pattern “participationist eschatology,” thus acknowledging his strongly eschatological worldview and his emphasis upon dying with Christ in order to “get in.”

Like many challenging and groundbreaking assessments, Sanders’ arguments received both lavish praise and vociferous criticism—and in a monograph of this breadth and magnitude, both are undoubtedly appropriate. As Best has noted, “After Paul and Palestinian Judaism, it should never again be possible to represent the view of first-century Judaism on a particular subject merely by citing the rabbinic passages mentioned at the appropriate spot in Strack-Billerbeck” (Best 1982: 71). But while Sanders must be commended for his leading role in the scholarly community’s radical reconsideration of its view of Judaism, his work did not emerge in a vacuum. He himself acknowledges that a number of previous commentators, including G.F. Moore, Samuel Sandmel, Krister Stendhal, and W.D. Davies, had developed and published similar ideas. Furthermore, his manipulation of the sources is occasionally questionable. It is extremely convenient that texts such as the Wisdom of Ben Sira and 4 Ezra (2 Esdras) are deemed to be irrespective of normative Judaism during this period, as their contents do not especially support his conclusions. The lack of a “treasury of merits” in the extant literature indicates that it was not relevant or applicable to its authors; the similar lack of references to the covenant, however, indicates that it was an absolutely ubiquitous concept (Best 1982: 73). Despite his repeated protestations against the polemical categorizations of traditional German scholarship, Jacob Neusner has accused him of employing a “Pauline-Lutheran theology” in his exegesis. The extensive treatment of the Mishnah, an anthology which was not codified before 200 CE, has incited questions of anachronism regarding its correspondence to Paul—although Sanders has responded that, as he was not engaged in a search for the sources of Pauline thought, such questions are unwarranted (Sanders 2004: 17). Finally, this ambitious comparative project does not significantly address the texts which are most precious to the rabbis and to Paul, and therefore could potentially provide a wealth of material for objective comparison: those of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. Best is quick to point out that the index contains just two passages of citations of these texts, as opposed to more than twenty pages devoted to other Jewish and early Christian writings. Nevertheless, any legitimate consideration of recent developments in Pauline studies must include a full engagement with this seminal work.

Paul Firesale Redux

More exciting Pauline studies titles at attractive prices:

Schnelle, Udo
Apostle Paul: His Life and Theology
(Baker Book House, 2005)
Hardcover List: $49.99 Dove Price: $25.99
Save $24.00 (48%)

Paul's writings are centrally important not only for the establishment of the Christian faith but for the whole history of Western culture. In the original German, Prof. Udo Schnelle's work has recently established itself as a leading text in Germany. In Prof. Boring's translation, and with his bibliographic revisions, it now represents the state of the art in the English-speaking world. This comprehensive critical introduction combines historical and theological analysis. After essential methodological preliminaries, the first half of the book constructs Paul's biography: his pre-Christian life, his conversion, his missionary journeys, and the context of his writings. The second half is a synchronic exposition of the theological themes that run through his writings. Apostle Paul is an essential book for professors, students, clergy, and others with a scholarly interest in Paul.

Contents 1 Prologue : Paul as challenge and provocation 2 Sources and chronology for Paul's life and work : definite and hypothetical 3 The pre-Christian Paul : open-minded religious zealot 4 The call to be apostle to the gentiles : the new horizon 5 The Christian Paul : a Volcano begins to rumble 6 The apostolic council and the incident at Antioch : the problems remain unresolved 7 Paul's independent mission : the volcano erupts 8 Paul and the Thessalonians : consolation and confidence 9 First Corinthians : high and true wisdom 10 Second Corinthians : peace and war 11 Paul and the Galatians : discovery in conflict 12 Paul and the church in Rome : high-level encounter 13 Paul in Rome : the old man and his work 14 The presence of salvation : the center of Pauline theology 15 Theology : the God who acts 16 Christology : the Lord who is present 17 Soteriology : the transfer has begun 18 Pneumatology : the spirit moves and works 19 Anthropology : the struggle for the self 20 Ethics : the new being as meaning formation 21 Ecclesiology : the church as a demanding and attracting fellowship 22 Eschatology : expectation and memory 23 Epilogue : Pauline thought as enduring meaning formation

Grenholm, Cristina Daniel Patte (eds)
Reading Israel in Romans: Legitimacy and Plausibility of Divergent Interpretations
(Trinity Press International, 2000)
Paperback List: $34.95 Dove Price: $11.99
Save $22.96 (66%)

Applying the insights of reception theory to biblical criticism, the contributors to this volume propose a "scriptural criticism" which encourages scholars and ordinary believers to engage in a dialogue about their interpretations of particular texts. Grenholm and Patte suggest that the relationship between various theological and ecclesiastical readings of Romans can be clarified by discussing the ways that each interpretation is framed analytically, contextually, and hermeneutically. The inaugural volume in this series, this book applies "scriptural criticism" to Romans 4 and 9-11, examining the ways that Christians "read Israel in Romans" and relate to Jews. Each essay contains notes that indicate how, when, and in what way a given writer "frames" his or her interpretation of the text. Contributors to the volume include Thomas Parker and Robert L. Brawley, McCormick Theological Seminary; Joseph Sievers, Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome; G?nter Wasserberg, Christian Albrechts University, Germany; William Campbell, University of Wales; Mark Nanos, University of St. Andrews; Daniel Boyarin, University of California, Berkeley.

Longenecker, Bruce W
Triumph of Abraham's God: The Transformation of Identity in Galatians
(T & T Clark International, 1998)
Paperback List: $60.00 Dove Price: $17.99
Save $42.01 (70%)

This scholarly yet accessible study explores the various aspects of Paul's theology of divine triumph in the Book of Galations. For Paul, the divine invasion into "the present evil age" has resulted in the victory of God over competing suprahuman forces and establishment of a sphere of existence where God's reputation as the cosmic sovereign is displayed. Paul envisages Christian social interaction to be the stage upon which God's transforming power is performed and advertised. Accordingly, Paul calls his Galatian hearers not simply to a life unfettered by a ritualistic practice, but to a life of transformed existence through the power of the Spirit. Eschatological identity of this sort is the immediate consequence of the prior redemption of ethnic Israel, which the coming of Christ occasioned. In particular, Christian moral identity arises out of the "faithfulness of Christ" embodied in his loving and self-giving service. This feature is shown to be crucial to the theological and corporate enterprise that Paul envisages in Galatians, having a radical impact upon his understanding of the law, of suprahuman forces at odds with the will of God, and of validity in Christian readings of Scripture. This book concludes by considering the place of salvation history in Galations, by explaining Paul's theology in relation to the "Lutheran" and "new" perspectives on Paul, and by demonstrating how Paul's theology in Galatians may provide an important resource for contemporary theology concerning Christian identity and modern society.

Smith, Abraham
Comfort One Another: Reconstructing the Rhetoric and Audience of 1 Thessalonians
(Westminster John Knox, 1995)
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This unique study considers the exegetical and hermeneutical possibilities of analyzing the entire letter of 1 Thessalonians as a letter of consolation. Abraham Smith maintains that Paul wrote 1 Thessalonians with a full knowledge of the tradition of Greco-Roman letters of consolation and chose this genre to sustain members of the Thessalonian church. Smith explicates the social and literary conventions of this tradition and fully discloses why this particular rhetoric of care was employed. Showing how Paul's letter of consolation was understood in Paul's world and by subsequent generations, Smith demonstrates the usefulness of Paul's rhetoric of comfort for modern society.

Table of Contents Series Preface Preface Introduction 1 Charting a Course for Interpretation 2 Reconstructing Hellenistic Rhetoric 3 Determining the Genre 4 Reconstructing the Rhetoric 5 The Audience and Extra-Textual Evidence Conclusion Notes Bibliography Indexes

Stirewalt, M Luther
Paul, the Letter Writer
(Eerdmans, 2003)
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This engaging study shows how Paul's stylized use of the official Roman letter _ a form of communication of great social import in his day _ played a crucial role in his apostolic ministry, conveying both his self-identity and sense of authority. M. Luther Stirewalt describes the logistics of letter writing in the first-century Mediterranean world and shows how official letters served to substitute for speeches to an audience, to convey executive, official, or bureaucratic matters, or to bring complaints or petitions from citizens to officials. He then shows how Paul structured his apostolic correspondence after these models of writing, drawing evidence directly from seven Pauline epistles: 1 Thessalonians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon, Galatians, and Romans. Cutting a new angle on Paul's purposes, his ministry, and his pastoral concerns, Stirewalt's Paul, the Letter Writer will appeal to readers of the Bible and ancient history.

Contents 1. The Logistics of Ancient Greek Letter Writing 2. The Official Letter-Form and the Pauline Letters 3. The Letters 4. Paul and His Apostolic, Epistolary Ministry Appendix Bibliography Index of Scripture References

From the New Testament in Context Commentary Series

Wan, Sze-Kar
Power in Weakness: The Second Letter of Paul to the Corinthians
(Trinity Press International, 2000)
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This most recent addition to the popular Trinity New Testament in Context (NTC) commentary series, edited by J. Andrew Overman and Howard Clark Kee, focuses on the apostle Paul's refusal to match strength for strength with his detractors. Instead, Paul stresses that authentic Christian ministry is characterized by weakness and suffering, specifically the weakness and paradigmatic sufferings endured by the crucified Jesus. While not a rhetorical analysis of 2 Corinthians, this book nevertheless attends to Paul's rhetorical skills in resolving the Corinthian controversies. It attempts to show that Paul's theological formulations are best understood as products of rhetorical responses to controversial issues of authority and social location. The preponderance of disputed arguments and narratives in 2 Corinthians renders this letter highly unusual in the Pauline corpus and one of the most challenging for the biblical detective to unravel. Sze-kar Wan, therefore, has written a commentary that helps readers look closely at the texts relevant to the problem of dislocation, providing directional pointers that enable readers, on their own, to develop these pointers to their logical conclusions.

Due in March from Eerdmans. Fresh Perspective on Paul and Justification

Campbell, Douglas A
Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul
(Eerdmans, 2009)
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In much Pauline interpretation today a significant impasse has been reached. Scholars too often find themselves locked into one of two camps ' either Lutheran or New. Douglas Campbell here proposes a new, non-contractual, apocalyptic reading of many of the apostle's most famous and most troublesome texts. Campbell holds thatthe intrusion of an alien, essentially modern, and theologically unhealthy theoretical construct into the interpretation of Paul has disordered the broader interpretation of his thought and created many of the difficulties that scholars now struggle with.It has, in fact, produced an individualistic and contractual construct that shares more with modern political traditions than with either orthodox theology or Paul's first-century world. In order to counter-act that influence, Campbell argues that it needs to be isolated and brought to the foreground before the interpretation of Paul?s texts begins. New readings free from this intrusive paradigm become possible and surprising new interpretations unfold. The Deliverance of God proves itself a unique and very important work for those looking for an accurate reading of Paul's words.

Sex and the UMC

As my father so aptly commented, "Now, this should get interesting! Stay tuned..."

General Board of Church & Society announces series on 'Sex and the Church'

'Theology of Sexuality' will lead off monthly series in agency's e-mail newsletter Faith in Action.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) will present a series of articles that address critical aspects of human sexuality. The series, “Sex and the Church,” will run in GBCS’s electronic newsletter, Faith in Action, and will begin March 2 with “The Theology of Sexuality.”

Bishop Deborah Kiesey, GBCS board of directors president, and Jim Winkler, the social justice agency's chief executive, issued a joint statement announcing the monthly series.

“We see it almost every day in the news in one way or another: HIV & AIDS; rising divorce rates brought on by marital infidelity; teen pregnancy; homosexuality and homophobia. The topic is sexuality,” their statement says. “It is important for us and the Church to address this issue and its impact on all of us.”

“Sex and the Church” will provide theological, educational, scientific and sociological sustenance along with specific questions for dialogue and discernment, according to Kiesey and Winkler.

Kiesey and Winkler point out that the United Methodist Social Principles describe human sexuality as “God’s good gift to all persons.” “Yet we also know that on this the Church has often remained silent or been too polarized,” they declare. “So GBCS has recruited some outstanding resource people to share their expertise on a number of key topics within the framework of human sexuality.”

Dr. Traci West, professor of Ethics and African American Studies at Drew University Theological School, Madison, N.J., wrote the series lead-off article, “The Theology of Sexuality.” West leads sexual ethics seminars and participated in a study that concludes seminaries in the United States are not adequately preparing future clergy to deal with sexuality issues despite ongoing debates within their denominations, particularly on homosexuality.

“Sexuality has to do with the way in which our bodies, our spirit and our mind respond to other people and to the way we understand our bodies as sensual,” West said.

Among other scheduled articles in the series are “Teaching Abstinence in a World Awash with Sex,” “The Myths of Sex: Sex, HIV and Gender,” “Cheaters Think They Prosper: Myths about Marital Infidelity,” “Politics of Sex,” “What Every 21st Century Parent Needs to Know,” “Surviving Rape,” “A Black Woman's Guide to Sex and Spirituality,” “Clergy Living with AIDS and the Role of the Church,” and “Young People Speak out About Sex!”

Contributors to the series comprise persons from around the world. They include U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.); Kay Warren of Saddleback Church; Dr. Pauline Muchina, UNAIDS; the Rev. Debra Haffner, director of Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice and Healing; the Rev. Steven Baines of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice; the Rev. Gideon Byamugisha of Uganda; and Dr. Hamilton Mvumelwano Dandala of South Africa.

Mike Ratliff, director of the United Methodist Division on Ministries with Young People, and James Richie, author of denomination resource materials on sexuality, will collaborate on the April article: “Sexuality in the Church — Best Practices.”

Linda Bales, director of the Louise and Hugh Moore Population Project at GBCS, is coordinating “Sex and the Church.”

Kiesey and Winkler point out that sexuality plays a pivotal role in everyday lives. “It is an intrinsic part of our personhood and should be treated as sacred,” they say. “We are excited about this series because it will help provide needed education to our children and ourselves. We anticipate it may restore relationships, create new healthy ones and perhaps move people to act.”

At the very least, they say “Sex and the Church” can generate dialogue for United Methodists as they try to honor the sacredness of this important part of living.

“We invite you to read each article and encourage others to do the same,” their statement says. “And as always we welcome and appreciate your comments.”

Faith in Action appears on GBCS’s website, Information on how to obtain a free subscription to the newsletter, which provides a roundup of education, advocacy, analysis and commentary on social justice issues, is available on the website.