I’m glad to see that lots of libraries already have it, but I was beginning to feel like I was going to be the last person to see it. Here’s the first paragraph of the conclusion:
A sizeable stream of Matthean scholarship has been at pains to show that, like a good Kantian, Jesus did not use the hope of heavenly treasure to motivate his followers; that Matthew’s Lohngedanken can be fitted into a Pauline framework; that the parable of the workers in the vineyard is the hermeneutical key to everything else Jesus says – or, at the very least, that the parable of the workers in the vineyard was central for the historical Jesus. I have sought to show how unhelpful these claims are for understanding Matthew. The central burden of this study, however, has not been to rectify previous misunderstandings but to articulate Matthew’s vision of the divine economy in its late first-century Jewish context and also to show that some of the Gospel’s central claims about Jesus emerge from this conceptual matrix and should be understood in light of it. (p.199)
For more information go here.
Or to De Gruyter.
Amazon.de has the entire introduction available for preview. Click “hier reinlesen und suchen.”
I’ll be presenting in the Synoptic Gospels section and the Paul and Judaism consultation in Baltimore.
The title of my presentation for the latter is “‘I Seek Not the Gift, but the Interest That Increases in Your Account’: Almsgiving in the Pauline Corpus.”
Here is the title and abstract for the Synoptic Gospels section:
Payday Advances: the Intra-Synoptic Debate on the Deferral of Rewards
Discussions of eschatology in the Synoptic Gospels usually posit a gradual relaxation of eschatological tension from Mark to Matthew and then to Luke. Scholarship has focused on matters such as Matthew’s emphasis on the sustaining presence of Christ with the Church (Matt 1:23; 18:20; 28:20) and Luke’s alleged de-emphasis on a future return of Christ, but has neglected the intra-Synoptic debate regarding the question of when God will reward disciples for renouncing earthly possessions to follow Jesus. Will God reward disciples for their suffering now or will God withhold such comfort until return of the Son of Man? Mark says that those who renounce their possessions will receive a hundred times as much “now, in the present time, and in the age to come eternal life” (10:30). Matthew conspicuously omits any mention of recompense in the present, delaying all repayment until the “new age” (19:28-29). Matthew also claims that this coming repayment is imminent (16:27; cf. Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26). The First Gospel thus heightens the contrast between present suffering and future consolation and increases the hope that this consolation is at hand. Luke’s Gospel moves in the opposite direction: he repeats Mark’s promise that divine recompense will be enjoyed both “in the age to come” and “in this time” and then elaborates on this promise by depicting the immediate salvific effects of charitable deeds (19:8-9; Acts 9:36-10:48, esp. 9:39 and 10:2-4). This paper will examine this Synoptic debate in relation to the Tannaitic belief that certain good deeds, including almsgiving, earn a reward that accrues interest which is enjoyed in the present, while the principal is saved for the world to come (m. Peah 1:1; cf. b. Shab. 32a.). The Synoptic Gospels do not slide directly from fervent eschatological expectation to a more relaxed view. Though Luke expands Mark’s promises of present-day rewards, the disjunction in Matthew between present suffering and eschatological consolation is far more acute than has been recognized.
The new JBL is out and it contains articles by two friends of mine from Duke:
Already/Not Yet: Eschatological Tension in the Book of Tobit
P. Duk. inv. 727r: New Evidence for the Meaning and Provenance of the Word Προσήλυτος
Authors David M. Moffitt and C. Jacob Butera
Sure, there are other interesting articles, but I would start with these two.
Jesus’ three questions to Peter about love are followed by three commands: feed my lambs, feed my sheep. Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Only those who serve with love are able to protect!
From Pope Francis’s Inauguration Homily (HT: Rocco Palmo)
In English the most common form of the Lord’s Prayer begins, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” The phrase “hallowed be thy name” is a translation of ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου. It means something like “Let your name be sanctified” or “Please sanctify your name.” It’s the first of three petitions that mean roughly the same thing:
ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου
ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου
γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου, ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς
Let your name be sanctified;
Let your Kingdom come;
Let your will be done, as in heaven also on earth.
“Hallowed be thy name” obviously sounds rather archaic. (Is its origin the 1662 Anglican Book of Common Prayer?) I’ve long wondered if people think it is supposed to mean “hallowed is your name” or “Holy is your name,” and recently that suspicion has been confirmed by a number of theologians I’ve heard explaining it exactly this way. As a result, it is not understood as the first of three closely related petitions but as part of the initial address: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name [pause]; Thy kingdom come…”. The Greek prayer would suggest something more like this:
Our Father who art in heaven:
[petition 1] hallowed be thy name,
[petition 2] thy kingdom come,
[petition 3] thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
As noted above, “let your name be hallowed” means roughly the same thing as “let your kingdom come” and “let your will be done.” God hallowing God’s name means making the holiness of the name known to the nations. See Ezekiel 36:22-24:
Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord GOD: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. I will sanctify [= hallow] my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes. I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. (NRSV)
My article in Journal for the Study of the New Testament appeared today. Here’s the abstract:
Discussions of the parable of the workers in the vineyard (Mt. 20.1-16) tend to rely on two key assumptions: (1) the parable eliminates ‘merit’ and replaces it with ‘grace’; (2) the parable is the hermeneutical key to all of Matthew’s other discussions of rewards, if not the entire New Testament. This article challenges these assumptions and offers a reassessment of divine recompense in Matthew. Matthew 19.16–20.16 does not set aside ‘merit’ in place of ‘grace’ but contrasts generous wages faithfully repaid by God with even more generous wages. The Gospel as a whole emphasizes that disciples must earn treasure in heaven and forgive others their debts to enter the kingdom; those who refuse to work and who refuse to forgive will be damned. At the same time, however, God’s repayment of deeds is not according to strict desert, but goes far beyond what workers have earned.
This was a spin-off project from my book on Matthew, which should also appear sometime soon.
[[The following discussion is adapted from a post I wrote a while back at Duke Newt. This isn't lazy blogging, I promise! I want to follow up with a second part when I am able.]]
One way Christians all over the theological spectrum attempt to deal with troubling passages in the Bible is by emphasizing the difference between the writer’s historical context and our own. For instance, I once heard a theologian who wished to avoid making exclusive claims on behalf of Christianity explain away the exclusive claims of 1 John by arguing that 1 John is about the conflict within the Johannine community. 1 John does not, therefore, address contemporary inter-religious dialogue.
My intent here is not to say anything about 1 John or inter-religious dialogue, but to address this method of dealing with problem passages.
Every word in the Bible was originally addressed to someone else, to some situation other than our own. This point is well-known. But, if this is correct, then one of the tasks of those who accept these texts as normative or relevant for today is to ask how those words from the past can “leap the gap” – to use Richard Hays’s phrase – and address very different situations. This leap is necessary not only when the Bible seems foreign and obsolete, but also when it sounds familiar and comforting. This leap is an unavoidable consequence of reading words addressed to someone else as addressed to us. That is, this leap is an unavoidable consequence of having Scripture.
If I’m on the right track, then the otherness of the biblical writer’s context cannot, of itself, render a text irrelevant for contemporary questions. The question for those who read the Bible as Scripture is not whether a given biblical author speaks immediately to our situation – they never do. For this reason, I don’t see how arguments such as the one mentioned above can avoid special pleading.
I am not saying that historical context is irrelevant for reading the Bible as Scripture. Quite the opposite. I am saying that any attempt to limit the significance of a particular passage to its Sitz im Leben implies that there are some other passages which speak immediately and simply to contemporary situations.
One of the challenges of writing and teaching on the New Testament in English is the way δικαιοσύνη (dikaiosyne) and its cognates are translated with two different families of words in English: righteousness/righteous (words of old English derivation) and justice/ just/ justify (of French and Latin derivation). The NRSV translation of Rom 3:25-26 is a good example of the problem: God “did this to show his righteousness (τῆς δικαιοσύνης), because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous (δίκαιον) and that he justifies (δικαιοῦντα) the one who has faith in Jesus.” This translation, like most others, obscures the link between the attribute predicated of God and the action that God takes on behalf of others.
Some Anglophone scholars attempt to solve this problem by replacing the words of French and Latin derivation with awkward verbal forms of righteousness such as “rightwise.”
In my own writing I am tempted to solve the problem by taking the opposite route. Why not drop all “righteousness” language and use only the “justice” word-family? The advantages of this approach are many, it seems to me. Here are a few: 1) One would not need to invent any horrifying new verbs, since “justify” exists. 2) The words “righteous” and “righteousness” have come to possess almost exclusively negative connotations in everyday English. “Righteous” very nearly means “self-righteous.” 3) I suspect that most English speakers think of an inward state of rectitude when they hear “righteousness” but active, public goodness when they hear “justice.” Some will disagree with me of course, but on the whole I think early Christian δικαιοσύνη is usually closer to the latter.
There will never be a perfect solution to a problem like this because English words will never correspond exactly to words in other languages. So, unless my courage fails, I will henceforth rid my writing of all righteousness.
The background image for the website is from P46, a very early and very important – but also very quirky – collection of many of the letters attributed to Paul.
Here’s the image in all its glory. I’ve been working on this passage lately, so it seemed like an appropriate choice.
Last week a few students and I were reading through the first chapter of John’s gospel (for fun, during lunch). When we reached v.13 I wanted to show them the intriguing Latin variant which replaces οἳ οὐκ…ἐγεννήθησαν (who were begotten) with qui non…natus est (who [singular] was begotten), but I couldn’t find it in the apparatus. According to this reading, Christ is the one who “was begotten not of blood nor by the will of flesh nor by the will of a man but by God.”
As this review by Peter Williams explains, NA28 omits much of the versional evidence, which results in greater accuracy – some of the versional evidence in the NA27 was misleading. Still, I will miss having a handy window into reception history.