Archives For NT

Larry Hurtado writes of a freshly minted PhD with research promise from Edinburgh who will return to his home country to take up a post that lacks the resources to provide a robust research environment. He envisions a means of supporting such scholars in their research and makes a plea:

…for a charitable trust or foundation, a well-off individual, or a body of committed individuals to take up this vision:  A scheme to which scholars such as my excellent student can apply to have the opportunity to take an extended research leave, relocating to a place where they have access to an excellent library and opportunities to confer with other scholars in their subject.

It is a shame to invest in helping students get their PhD and then simply leave them immersed ever thereafter in the heavy teaching and administration duties in their home setting in countries that lack adequate research facilities.

Thanks to Accordance for allowing me to review what I have found to be the most powerful electronic version of the NA28 available at the present time.

In the video below, I demo and review some of my favorite features. Accordance users may also pick up a tip or two on using the software in general (e.g., cmd-J in the search bar will yield possible search terms).

In short, you will not find a more searchable, usable NA28 module on another software platform. And importantly, the Accordance version essentially includes everything the print edition has, including the introductions and appendices (I’ve written on the importance of the appendices elsewhere).

A word about other versions: At time of writing, a full NA28 with apparatus is not yet available in either BibleWorks or Logos. BibleWorks has the NA28 tagged text (I have it)–BW is working on releasing the apparatus–but in contrast to the Accordance module, its tagging is primarily morphological and it does not include the introduction or appendices. The Logos version is under development and will include the apparatus, but all indications are that it will not include the introduction or appendices.


King-Jesus-WifeThe latest issue of the Harvard Theological Review (free from here) has the long awaited articles regarding various analyses of the so-called Gospel of Jesus’ Wife papyrus, including a point-countpoint-counterpoint between King and Depuydt (TOC below). From Harvard Magazine:

The April 2014 issue of the Harvard Theological Review (HTR) includes King’s article (originally slated to be published in January 2013) discussing the fragment and its importance to understanding early Christian debates about whether wives and mothers could be disciples of Jesus. The issue also contains a counterpoint by professor 
of Egyptology and ancient Western Asian studies Leo Depuydt of Brown University, who writes that he is certain that the text is a modern forgery. Depuydt’s analysis, which predates the scientific findings, points out that a forger could have written with lampblack on ancient papyrus. Infrared microspectroscopic analysis of the ink and papyrus, however, found nothing to suggest that they had been “fabricated or modified at different times.” In a rebuttal, King finds Depuydt’s textual analysis unpersuasive.

The Magazine further summarizes:

Now the scientific dating of the papyrus and the ink (which is not ink at all, but rather lampblack, a pigment often used in ancient Egypt for writing on papyrus) indicate that both are consistent with an ancient origin.

Because the fragment is so small, carbon-dating it proved troublesome. Researchers at the University of Arizona called into question their own results—which dated the papyrus to several hundred years before the birth of Christ—because they were unable to complete the cleaning process on the small sample of papyrus with which they were working, and felt that might have led to spurious results. A second carbon-dating analysis undertaken by Clay professor of scientific archaeology Noreen Tuross at Harvard and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute dated the papyrus, and a separate one (also believed to be of ancient origin) with text from the Gospel of John to approximately A.D. 700 to 800.

The relevant articles to GJW in this issue HTR 107.2:

Karen L. King, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife . . .’”: A New Coptic Papyrus Fragment (131-159).

Malcolm Choat, “The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife: A Preliminary Paleographical Assessment” (160-162).

James T. Yardley and Alexis Hagadorn, “Characterization of the Chemical Nature of the Black Ink in the Manuscript of The Gospel of Jesus’s Wife through Micro-Raman Spectroscopy” (162-164).

Joseph M. Azzarelli and John B. Goods and Timothy M. Swager, “Study of Two Papyrus Fragments with Fourier Transform Infrared Microspectroscopy” (165-165).

Gregory Hodgins, “Accelerated Mass Spectrometry Radiocarbon Determination of Papyrus Samples” (166-169).

Noreen Tuross, “Accelerated Mass Spectrometry Radiocarbon Determination of Papyrus Samples” (170-171).

Leo Depuydt, “The Alleged Gospel of Jesus’s Wife: Assessment and Evaluation of Authenticity” (172-189).

Karen L. King, “Response to Leo Depuydt, ‘The Alleged Gospel of Jesus’s Wife: Assessment and Evaluation of Authenticity.’ ” (190-193).

I am nearing the halfway point of Watson on a close read (i.e., every word, every footnote), and I found Markus Bockmuehl’s recent JTS review to be a nice summary overall. I also agreed with many of the his critiques. One small point I wish Bockmuehl would have expanded (even with just an extra sentence):

In particular, the argument from the implausibility of non-Markan, non-Q ‘coincidences’ may well attract critical attention from the friends of Q. But from another perspective it also seems less compelling the more one accepts the influence of a lively culture of individual and collective memory and performance…

GospelWritingBockmuehl follows this up by noting how little Watson deals with orality and memory–a criticism with which I agree. But this bit I’ve reproduced above seems to me unclear. The first sentence is true enough. But the second only partially. On one hand I agree. For example, the ‘coincidence’ (on the 2ST) that Matt and Luke both include genealogies (independent of one another) could be tempered by allowing for the influence of orality/memory. On the other hand, collective memory, orality, or performance seem to me unable to forcefully explain why, according to Watson, Luke and Matthew both favor the Q structure over Mark. Watson’s big point in the relevant section is that Matthew and Luke agree strikingly often in how they incorporate non-Mark material into the Markan framework–a coincidence if in fact Matthew and Luke did not ‘know’ each other.

So yes, I think a few of Watson’s Q ‘coincidences’ can be tempered when considering orality and collective memory, but other ‘coincidences’ less so, especially those dealing with authors’ editorial procedures that follow from 2ST.

A few other excerpts from Bockmuehl:

Heuristically if perhaps unwittingly, Watson’s position on Thomas resembles the approaches of Robinson, Koester, Funk, Crossan, and others who believed that the earliest gospel sources consisted primarily of disembodied sayings with at this stage little or no interest in the person of Jesus or in ‘what he did and suffered’ (which for Aristotle defined history, Poetics 1451b 11).

…At the same time, the ‘authoritative core’ argument matters especially for the four gospels. Questions of their early date, apostolic attribution, and content may of course be historically contestable; but they did in fact matter to second-century Christian writers—and the answers given did not apparently vary over time. But those ancient questions and answers are here dismissed as (it seems) methodologically irrelevant, historically worthless apologetic after the fact.

…Conversely, and perhaps more importantly, the second and third centuries already produce scholia (or indeed commentaries) on John, Matthew, and Luke—whereas it is presumably significant that none of the apocryphal gospels ever appears to have attracted any commentary tradition.

…And yet there is not a shred of evidence that any of the four gospels were ever serious candidates for exclusion (even Mark, who was rarely read; or John, whom a few crotchety anti-Montanists in Rome apparently disliked)—or, conversely, that any others (even Thomas!) were ever seriously considered for inclusion or achieved remotely comparable breadth of literary circulation, liturgical reception, or exegetical comment.


Anthony Le Donne, not only a self-described ‘moderate success’, but also hilarious, has compiled some business cards of biblical studies folks you may recognize. A few of my favorites:

Keith Enns Gupta Hurtado Moss Le-Donne

For those who may be interested, over at the New College Readers Blog I have contributed a summary of chapter 3 of Watson’s Gospel Writing.

Overall I am enjoying some of the broad epistemological/hermeneutical questions Watson raises, but I find a number of his detailed arguments about gospel origins problematic. More on this later.

Wayne Coppins’ Blog

January 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

I was delighted to discover that Wayne Coppins is blogging (via Christopher Skinner), and a quick perusal had me subscribing immediately.

I also perused his “Roadmap for Aspiring New Testament Scholars” which is full of useful information for folks at various stages of their academic career, especially early stages. One part I enjoyed was a recollection of advice Martin Hengel gave to Coppins which I quote at length:

1) Sit down and write your dissertation;

2) Make a selection of the most important works from the secondary literature, and give priority to the full range of relevant primary sources;

3) The real art of a scholar resides in the ability to improve what s/he has written.

In putting the first point first – “Sit down and write your dissertation!” – I understood Hengel to be conveying to me that I needed to get on with the work rather than endlessly worrying that I was not ready or it was not yet perfect. This was constructive as an answer to my perfectionist tendencies, which tend to result in paralysis.

For me, the second point proved especially helpful: “Make a selection of the most important works from the secondary literature, and give priority to the full range of relevant primary sources.” First, this freed me up to begin developing my thinking in relation to a selection from the massive secondary literature, rather than feeling that I should first read everything out there. This was constructive insofar as the process of reading and reading and reading and reading had the effect of making me feel overwhelmed, whereas beginning to develop my thinking in relation to a selection of sources proved more manageable. (Plus, had I adopted it at the outset, this strategy might have saved me from spending a whole year reading – and photocopying! – everything about one topic, only to realize later that I did not want to continue working on that research question.) Secondly, it reinforced my conviction that fresh thinking often takes place through interaction with the primary texts, though I would also want to stress as a corrective that it is often the secondary literature that helps us to inform and reshape our thinking in such a way that we can interact competently with the primary sources.

Hengel’s third observation – “The real art of a scholar resides in the ability to improve what s/he has written” – likewise served to constructively disable my perfectionist tendencies by driving home the point that researching and writing a PhD is a multi-stage process. In other words, it freed me up to allow myself to produce flawed work, with the understanding that I would indeed have the opportunity to improve what I had written, and that I might be better able to do so if I allowed my argument to develop further before attempting to go back over it. Similarly, I can remember Graham Stanton once looking over my draft work and then saying something like, “Well, this is not what we want, but let’s press on and we can return to it”; his point being that now was not yet the time for revision, and that I should be free to move on.

In the introduction to this review I mentioned that a basic version of Logos 5 is free for some users. Having recently updated to this free version (from Logos 4), I want to comment on some of the features new to version 5. Note that these features should be available in all versions of Logos 5.

A general observation, to begin: I anticipate these new features will be most helpful to pastors, students, and lay persons, while advanced students and certainly scholars will have the skills and resources to get at the information through other/better means.

Topic Guide. A “quick and dirty” search for digging into a topic. It will return results from any dictionaries/encyclopedias in your library, suggest similar topics, and link to some other resources such as illustrations for use in a PowerPoint or the Bible Facts (another new feature) which brings together various resources on certain topics.

Sermon Starter. This is similar to the Topic Guide, but the results it returns include resources often used in the preparation of a sermon (e.g., outlines, media, commentaries, illustrations, images designed for PowerPoint [specific to your passage or topic], links to related sermon text and audio.

I am not fond of the links to other sermons since, with all respect to those authors/speakers represented, they do not necessarily reflect diligent study and work on the texts.

Clause Search. This is a Bible search that can handle multiple terms with specific tags such as “verb” and “subject.” Searches for “God” as the subject will also return instances where God is speaking as subject, even where the noun “God” does not appear.

Timeline Upgrade. Bigger and better.

Bible Sense Lexicon. This is a sort of ‘smart’ lexicon that can especially help students or pastors who do not know the original languages understand an original word or phrase, as well as the significance of its syntax in the original sentence. I should note, however, that there is no equal substitute for knowing the original languages and, therefore, being able to use the best tools and commentaries available. One can also search a specific sense of a word (e.g., where ‘hand’ refers to power in the OT). Here’s a demonstration:

In the next post, I’ll be more specific about the features of Logos I find most beneficial for my work.

Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.

The print editions of the Nestle-Aland Greek texts include a lot of helpful information that most electronic editions in Bible software do not include (it is available via Accordance). Students with print editions may need to be reminded of this, too, as it easy to forget, not least when first learning to navigate these critical editions.

I managed to neglect the introduction (to the UBS4) when I started my first year Greek course a little over a decade ago. How?! This was the first thing I read when the NA28 landed on my doorstep in late 2012, and it was quite helpful to orient me to changes/new features of the 28th edition.

If you have not read the introduction to your Greek text for a while—and certainly if never!—do it. Students, pastors, and scholars alike would do well to re-visit the intro year by year.

And those appendices—so much information is packed into these final pages. Important information about the manuscripts used in the edition, readings of minor variants, a list of citations and allusions the NT makes of earlier texts, and a more complete section on abbreviations.

Here is one example of how I use an appendix. I am reading through the LXX of Isaiah (for research I am doing in Luke), so I keep Appendix III—Loci Citati vel Allegati (Passages cited or alluded)—open, to observe where the editors believe the Gospels and Acts cite or allude to the passage in Isaiah I am reading.

For more on how to use the NA28, one could consider David Trobisch’s User’s Guide (though Dirk’s review makes me hesitate to recommend it). I have not used it myself and don’t plan to. But by all means, start with the introduction.

Thanks to Baylor Press for allowing me an opportunity to review Matthew W. Bates, The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation: The Center of Paul’s Method of Scriptural Interpretation (Waco: Baylor University Press, 2012).

This monograph is a revision of Bates’ doctoral work done under David Aune at the University of Notre Dame. Bates begins in the first chapter with a historical survey of relevant literature and revisits and engages various viewpoints at the end of the book, chapter 6. Chapters 2 and 3 examine Paul’s own statements about Scripture and a few hermeneutically significant passages. Chapter 4 introduces prosopological exegesis before looking at Paul’s own employment of that method in chapter 5.

The monograph is wide-ranging, at times feeling disjointed, yet makes two important (and related) claims: (1) Paul’s hermeneutic is centered on the apostolic proclamation, and (2) Paul’s hermeneutic makes use of prosopological exegesis–the practice of ancient readers discerning various voices behind their Scriptures–a practice exemplified “…not just in early Christian circles, but also in philosophical paganism and Hellenistic Judaism in literature contemporaneous with Paul” (p. 215), as Bates helpfully shows in chapter 4.

Bates uses a diachronic intertextual method (explained nicely with related terms defined on pp. 53–55) whereby he focuses on Paul’s exegesis in the context of other early Christian interpretations of Scripture, including later writers. In this way, he both appreciates Hays’ method and goes beyond it (following Kristeva farther, as it were):

Hays’ intertextual model obscures the need to look beyond the source text to coeval and subsequent texts within a fully healthy intertextual model (p. 51).

This problem pervades much of the work on “OT in NT” studies, according to Bates. His inclusion of Christian “co-texts,” “post-texts,” and “inter-texts” is especially evident in chapter 5 where examples of prosopological exegesis are examined in Paul.

Two chapters are given to Paul’s own statements about his hermeneutics and the Scriptures (e.g., 1 Cor 15:3–11; Rom 1:1–6), and when taken together with a look at Paul’s use of prosopological exegesis, Bates argues that

…Paul received, utilized, and extended an apostolic, kerygmatic narrative tradition centered on certain key events in the Christ story as his primary interpretative lens–a narrative traditions that already contained a build in hermeneutic. …From Paul’s perspective, this christocentric narrative can be described as apostolic in origin and kerygmatic in content and function (pp. 56–57).

Thus an examination of Pauline texts about the Scriptures/hermeneutics (esp. 1 Cor 15:3–11 and Rom 1:1–6 ) shows that Paul’s hermeneutic is dependent on “pre-Pauline protocreedal materials” that are both apostolic and kerygmatic. From this Bates synthesizes a “mastery kerygmatic narrative” that informs Paul’s hermeneutic (eight stages) and extends it (to twelve) as follows (p. 108):

  1. preexistence
  2. human life in the line of David
  3. death in behalf of our sins
  4. burial
  5. existence among the dead ones
  6. resurrection on the third day
  7. initial appearnaces
  8. installation as “Son-of-God-in-Power”
  9. subsequent appearances to others
  10. appearances to Paul
  11. apostolic commissioning
  12. mission to the nations

Bates is to be commended for offering a genuinely new way of understanding Paul’s hermeneutic, introductions to the important notion of prosopological exegesis, the significance of precreedal material on Paul’s hermeneutic, and the significance of post-NT Christian texts for understanding Paul’s hermeneutic. The argument occasionally loses focus, but most often when it does, a nugget or two is still to be found.

One last quibble: Schleiermacher, Harnack, Schweitzer, and Bultmann are characterized as having an “unhermeneutical Paul,” by which Bates means something like a Paul who is “…driven to the scriptures only by external pressures” (p12). While the description has some heuristic value, this brief section on these earlier scholars did not give confidence that the author was sufficiently familiar with those he was summarizing.