Volume 16 (2020)
This volume is now available in print from Wipf & Stock Publishers
The Synonymous Rendering of Aristotelian φιλέω with ἀγαπάω in the Gospel of John
Andrew R. Talbert
Caldwell Academy, Greensboro, NC, USA
The resolution to the apparently synonymous usage of the φιλία/φιλέω and ἀγάπη/ἀγαπάω word clusters in the Gospel of John lies in the Aristotelian discourse about ‘friendship’, as the author of the Gospel sees it intersect with the Christ-event. The Gospel author coordinates the Hellenistic preference for φιλέω and Jewish-Christian preference for ἀγαπάω as the highest forms of love, yet revises Aristotelian φιλία by subsuming it under Christian ἀγάπη, by dissolving Aristotle’s view of unequal friendships and by reconfiguring divinization as the greatest good one should desire for a friend, against Aristotle’s own view. The two terms are rendered fully synonymous by the Gospel’s conclusion, but especially in light of the death and resurrection— the divinization of Jesus— and in the discourse between Peter and Jesus in John 21, thereby bringing together Athens and Jerusalem.
'His Blood on Us and on Our Children' (Mt. 27.25) is Modeled on Oedipus's Unwitting Kinship Oath to His Father in Sophocles' Oedipus Tyrannus
Andrew Simmonds
White Plains, NY, USA
Once one realizes that the people’s oath, 'His blood on us and on our children' (Mt. 27.25), is an oath of kinship with Jesus, that ironically accepts Jesus’ offer of his blood, it becomes apparent that the oaths of Pilate and the Jewish people have the same formulae as the oaths of Oedipus and the Theban people in Sophocles’ Oedipus Tyrannus. Both narratives present a foreign tyrant interacting with a subject domestic community exchanging distinctive two-part oaths of complete non-involvement and complete involvement. These particular formulae are not found combined together anywhere else in ancient literature, though innuendo of incest by powerful politicians was common. And, classical allusions, particularly of Theban material, were highly fashionable as a relative safe haven for anti-imperial Roman political criticism. Contemporaneous with Matthew, Statius alludes to Caesar Domitian as Oedipus.
Pomponia Graecina: How Could She Have Heard about Christians and What Did 'Christian' Mean?
Michael J.G. Gray-Fow
Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee, WI, USA
This paper addresses two questions in connection with a Roman lady of around 57 CE who has been claimed to be an early Christian at various times. That she was one is ultimately unknowable given the very limited information we have from Tacitus. However, it is possible to ask how a person of her exalted rank might have heard about Christians and what exactly it meant to be a Christian in Rome at that time. The paper looks at not just how she might have heard about Christians but who she would have been likely to listen to, and what ‘Christian’ could have meant before councils and creeds and even the Gospels.
Romans 14 and Impurity in the Mishnah
Doosuk Kim
McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON, Canada
This essay proposes a plausible interpretation of how Paul deals with the dietary and purity matters in Romans 14 against a Jewish backdrop, particularly based on rabbinic sources. Through the reading of rabbinic texts, this study will suggest that Paul’s notion of ‘nothing is unclean’ is not a novel notion but is in keeping with certain streams of rabbinic thought. Paul, however, suggests a modified view in which food is of less importance to the kingdom of God than the unity of the religious community. In this regard, Paul does not subvert or dismiss Judaism, but against his Jewish, Pharisaic backdrop, Paul proposes a new moral standard for the Christian community in Rome that values the unity of their religious community.
Jerome's View of the Connection between the Priscillianists and Pelagians
Stuart Squires
University of St. Thomas, Houston, TX, USA
Jerome claimed that the Pelagians were the intellectual offspring of Priscillian. There is absolutely no evidence to support this claim, however. Why would he make such a statement when there is no evidence of any direct or indirect influence of the Priscillianists on the Pelagians? This article explores what connections Jerome may have made in his mind between the two in order to fully understand the Pelagian controversy from his perspective. We will see that he perceived two important connections between these groups: first, he saw a similarity in their claims of perfection; secondly, he saw inappropriate relationships between men and women in both parties.
Flipped Scripts in Hermas's Erotic Dreams: A Reading of the Shepherd's Virgins in Light of Roman Oneiric Literature
Jeffrey M. Hubbard
Yale Divinity School, New Haven, CT, USA
This article examines an often-overlooked literary family to which the Shepherd of Hermas belongs: Roman oneiric literature. Following the methodological suggestions of Patricia Cox Miller, I suggest that the erotic visions which permeate the Shepherd are best interpreted in light of Roman fascinations with the meaning of dreams, especially sexual dreams. By placing the Shepherd in conversation with Artemidorus’ Onirocritica, and Michel Foucault’s influential analysis thereof, I argue that Hermas’s provocatively erotic yet chaste visions are employed to craft a new kind of Roman dream, one that is distinctively Christian. My argument proceeds in essentially two parts. First, I situate the Shepherd in its context of Roman oneiric literature with a close reading of Artemidorus and his acclaimed interpreter, Foucault. I establish that the average Roman male expected to have sexual dreams that portended his success or failure in public life. Secondly, I demonstrate the ways in which Hermas’s erotic dreams also correspond to his position in his community, and argue that Hermas’s submission to the women of whom he dreams represents a Christian reformulation of a familiar Roman topos.
Lord Raglan's Hero and Jesus: A Rebuttal to Methodologically Dubious Uses of the Raglan Archetype
Christopher M. Hansen
Saginaw Valley State University, University Center, MI, USA
This article critiques the use of the ‘Raglan Hero Archetype’ as a reference class in recent mythicist literature attempting to demonstrate that Jesus likely never existed. This article provides a number of reasons why the usage of the archetype by mythicists is unconvincing: (1) mythicists fail to account for historical figures who are Raglan heroes, instead relying on a selection bias (choosing only mythical figures to compare Jesus to on the list); (2) many points in the archetype that mythicists claim that Jesus fits, he actually does not (at least not without debate); (3) the archetype fails to be convincingly applied outside of Greco-Roman literature; and (4) most of the points on the archetype scale are so general that any number of historical rulers would fit them. It is concluded that the Raglan Archetype cannot be used as a reference class for determining Jesus’ (non)existence.
The First Pauline Chronologist? Probably Not: A Review of Ryan Schellenberg's 'The First Pauline Chronologist' from a Bayesian Perspective
Nathan Nadeau
McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Theories and tools in the philosophy of history, specifically those concerning epistemology, are helpful for structuring reasoning about the plausibility of historiographic hypotheses in New Testament studies. Since the epistemology attending such investigations is probabilistic in nature, a Bayesian approach is especially useful. In this article I appropriate such tools to critically engage Ryan Schellenberg’s 2015 article ‘The First Pauline Chronologist?’, wherein he presents an argument for the dependency hypothesis—that the author of Acts knew and used the Pauline corpus⸺regarding the topographical and toponymical data in Paul’s itinerary in Acts 15.36–20.16. I introduce and commend Bayesian reasoning as a useful tool for historical epistemology, summarize and represent Schellenberg’s argument along a Bayesian framework and apply critical insights from this framework to evaluate its final plausibility. I show that Schellenberg’s hypothesis is especially impaired where he attempts to strengthen it: in his consideration of evidence beyond his initial scope.
Defending Multilingual Galilee from its Literary and Archaeological Objections
Sanghwan Lee
Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX, USA
In his influential monographs, Mark A. Chancey rejects the multilingual Galilee based on two grounds: (1) the incorrect use of artifacts and (2) the absence of Hellenistic archaeological evidence in Galilee. He concludes that Greek was not common in Galilee prior to the Roman occupation, thereby promoting the Aramaic hypothesis. This article responds to these objections, arguing that they are not sufficient to promote Chancey’s Aramaic hypothesis. Ultimately, I demonstrate that Greek must have been more common in Galilee than Chancey suggests.
Wedding Torches
Craig S. Keener
Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, KY, USA
Based on early modern Palestinian village practices, Joachim Jeremias argued that the λαμπάδες of Mt. 25.1 refer not to the typically small lamps, but torches. While rightly following Jeremias’s judgment in this case, commentators have usually neglected the widespread ancient evidence for nuptial torches. This article provides a sampling of the many references to such torches in ancient sources.