2013 SBL presentations

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.

4 thoughts on “2013 SBL presentations

  1. Thanks for that, Nathan. Are you able to post the abstract of your other paper too?

    Am I right in thinking that one way that people were rewarded in the present life was by being honored by their fellow believers (1 Cor 16:15-18; 1 Thess 4:12-13)? If “Luke” was a companion of Paul then we might expect them to be aligned on this issue. Is that what we see?

    You cited Tabitha. I have argued that she was given her name to honor her for her generosity. This would fit with your analysis, I think. See here:

  2. Thanks for commenting, Richard. That’s a very fascinating suggestion re Tabitha! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I need to ponder this…

  3. Nathan,
    This may seem off-topic but I don’t think it ultimately is. I posed this question to a biblical scholar recently regarding the sermon on the mount. It seemed as if your summary above may have something to say to it (btw, I’m a fellow Duke seminary graduate (2002)):

    It seems to me that many readings (in the tradition and the pulpit) emphasize these as being a type of a-temporal spiritual stance. Is it possible to read them, though, as referring to a temporal stance? What I mean is that, is it possible to read these as the ‘detachment’ any soldier must experience in battle, with the aim being that once the battle is over then you ‘inherit’ the spoils. It seems if we read them this way then resurrection day becomes the goal and Christ is pointing who, today, is ‘on the right side’ (the meek, the humble, etc…). The reason I like this is that it seems to capture the second portion of the sayings (maybe better?): “…they shall obtain; …they shall be satisfied; etc….”. When it is a-temporal it seems these become principles rather than ‘marching orders’ (so to speak).

  4. Hi Brad,
    If I understand the distinction you are making I would respond that in this literature I think it is probably both.

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