Volume 13 (2017)
Zachary K. Dawson
McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON, Canada
This essay addresses two main questions: Why does the author of Acts invoke the Noahide laws in chapters 15 and 21, and what is the significance of their redundancy? By implementing a methodology that makes use of intertextuality theory and literary stylistics within the framework of Systemic Functional Linguistics, this essay argues that the Noahide laws were used in first-century Jewish contexts to promote the separation of Jews and gentiles. However, the author of Acts directly opposes this Jewish social value, which is evidenced in the book of Jubilees, and establishes a new use for the Noahide laws within Christian communities, which is to promote ecumenism between Jewish and gentile believers.
Craig S. Keener
Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY, USA
Drawing on decades of Middle East experience, Kenneth Bailey illustrated the flexibility yet essential reliability of oral tradition there. T. J. Weeden challenged many of Bailey’s details, especially his proposed setting for passing on tradition (the haflat samar) and Bailey’s traditions about nineteenth- century missionary John Hogg. These criticisms invite us to nuance Bailey’s model, but Weeden’s selective case does not undermine Bailey’s central insights. Although some of Bailey’s examples are weaker than others, he was correct in his overall sense that traditional Middle Eastern culture can standardize and pass on accurately key traditions about leading community figures. Studies of oral history and tradition suggest that Bailey’s experience concretely illustrates a particular setting presumably much closer to first-century Galilee than are the modern Western settings that many of us might otherwise take for granted.
Karl L. Armstrong
McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON, Canada
While some recent views of the date of Acts have been presented as conclusive, the methods in which these conclusions are drawn are not only suspect, but their neglect of the valuable arguments over the past century (and earlier) is inexcusable. This essay cross-examines the available evidence and arguments from among the three major factions to which scholars generally subscribe (with some overlap): early (pre-70 CE), middle (post-70 CE to around 80 CE) and late dating (90–130 CE). While the late dating proposals are fraught with difficulties, perhaps the greater tragedy is the persistent and uncritical acceptance of scholars who place Acts somewhere in the 80s CE. The author presents a new plea for an early date of Acts that not only precedes the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, and the summer of 64 CE, but is conceivably close to 62–63 CE.
Peter Cresswell
Devon, UK
Progress has been made in describing the work of different scribes in Codex Sinaiticus. But it is difficult to identify the use of, and points of transition between, different exemplars. An abrupt change in the pattern of use of nomina sacra, combined with the start of exaggerated ekthesis, indicates that the main scribe (scribe A) had been working with one exemplar for the whole of Matthew and the first half of Mark and had then switched to a second exemplar around the start of the transfiguration narrative. An intervention by scribe D for a single bifolium in Matthew has a pattern that differs from this scribe’s norm for nomina sacra, indicating that scribe D may here also have been working from another exemplar. Significant changes in Matthew made by the first corrector Ca and by an in-house scribe show that a less developed version was being modified in course of the manuscript’s production. This could help explain both the use of another exemplar by scribe D for his bifolium and the identified change of exemplar by scribe A, mid Mark.
Gregory Goswell
Christ College, Sydney, Australia
There is a new appreciation of the interpretive significance of the Catholic Epistles as a canonical unit. The conjoining of the Catholic Epistles suggests that early Christian readers recognised that these seven letters were related in important ways and threw light on each other. This collection serves to foreground the interplay between the writings of James, Peter, John and Jude and gives their interaction precedence over other possible intra-textual relations (e.g. the thematic links between 1 John and John’s Gospel) or canonical roles (e.g. reading James 2 as a corrective to a Pauline over-emphasis on faith). This way of ordering the books, together with their titles and internal breaks, reflect the understanding and insights of ancient readers, and there is no evidence that the letters of James or 2 Peter were written for any particular canonical slot or with a specific intra-canonical role in mind.
Karl L. Armstrong
McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Although the often-debated Ephesian Haustafeln (or household codes) continue to be prominent in both academic and church conversation, the various approaches have not considered important linguistic methodological innovations and insights. This essay primarily seeks to analyze the grammar and syntax of Eph. 5.21-33 in tandem with the author’s decision to employ specific words and grammatical features with respect to the tense, aspect, mood and voice of specific verbs (with ὑποτάσσω as the primary verb in question). A second goal is to examine the web of clausal relationships along with the vocabulary and forms of the household codes found elsewhere in the New Testament and contemporary Greco-Roman literature. The author proposes that the Ephesian household code presents a uniquely Christian vision of marriage that is characterized by love and mutuality—which represents a radical departure from the prevailing contemporary Greco-Roman codes.
Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter
Houston Baptist University, Houston, TX, USA and McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON, Canada
An early fifth-century Byzantine church has recently been uncovered near the north shore of the Sea of Galilee. Of special interest are the several Greek inscriptions that have been exposed. These inscriptions have relevance for church history and politics in the early Byzantine period, the role of women in the early church and phonology and spelling, particularly as they relate to Scripture. The last topic has relevance for contemporary scholarly discussions about new editions of the Greek New Testament (and perhaps also the Septuagint) that attempt to reflect phonologically-based spelling conventions in late antiquity rather than the later standardized spelling conventions that arose in the late medieval period in Europe.
Adam Booth
Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
Raymond Brown once wrote of Fourth Gospel’s “attempt to make Jesus intelligible to another culture…[by] presenting Jesus in a multitude of symbolic garbs.” In this paper, I consider the royal garb with which John dresses his protagonist. Would it have made him intelligible to inquisitive Hellenistic readers? Perhaps more importantly, would it have made him attractive? My contention is that a reader well-versed in Roman political thought (such as we find in Polybius, Cicero, Sallust and Tacitus) would have concerns about the idea of following a king, not so much because of a worry that this is a bad king, but rather that kingship itself is bad in the long term, and that the Fourth Gospel provides resources – whether crafted by its author, or fortuitous – to assuage such worries.