Daily Archives: 25 May 2012

The Evangelical Exegetical Commentary: Philemon

The other day I made mention of the EEC.  Today, a few observations on the book of Philemon in that series.

First, the introductory material (date, author, occasion, etc.)  is intelligently presented and readers are availed a number of hypotheses concerning such matters as provenance, occasion, and authenticity.  Nonetheless the volume’s author is willing to say ‘what he thinks’ too (which I for one appreciate).  So, for instance-

… we are tentatively inclined to follow the recent trend of interpreters who read the letter to Philemon as concerning a slave who intentionally sought Paul for intercession with his master (i.e., amicus domini) because we think it more likely that Paul wrote Philemon from Ephesus. Although the commentary proper does not assume this decision at every instance, the implications of this decision are explored at various places in the exegesis.

Second, the bibliography is an excellent mix of both older and more recent treatments of Philemon.  Here’s a small selection- notice the dates (which I’ve emboldened)-

  Bartchy, S. S. ΜΑΛΛΟΝ ΧΡΗΣΑΙ: First-Century Slavery and 1 Corinthians 7.21. SBLDS 11. Missoula, MT: Society of Biblical Literature, 1973.
———. “Philemon, Epistle to.” ABD 5:305–10.
Barth, M., and H. Blanke, The Letter to Philemon: A New Translation with Notes and Commentary. ECC. Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2000.
Baur, F. C. Paul, the Apostle of Jesus Christ: His Life and Work, His Epistles and His Doctrine. London: Williams & Norgate, 1875.
Beale, G. K. “The Old Testament Background of Reconciliation in 2 Corinthians 5–7 and Its Bearing on the Literary Problem of 2 Corinthians 6.14–7.1.” NTS 35 (1989) 550–81.
Beale, G. K., and D. A. Carson (eds.). Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2007.
Bradley, K. R. Slaves and Masters in the Roman Empire: A Study in Social Control. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1984.
Brown, R. E. An Introduction to the New Testament. ABRL. London: Doubleday, 1997.
Byron, J. “Paul and Slavery: 200 Years of Scholarship.” In Recent Research on Paul and Slavery. RRBS 3. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2008. 1–34.

Too many exegetes pretend that if something wasn’t written last month, it isn’t relevant.  That, of course, is utter nonsense.  Mining useful resources, regardless of their date, is wisdom, not folly.

Third, and most impressively, is the layout of the commentary proper.  Our author gives us:

The Original Text – 4 Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου πάντοτε μνείαν σου ποιούμενος ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν μου, 5 ἀκούων σου τὴν Aἀγάπην καὶ τὴν πίστινA, ἥν ἔχεις Bπρὸς τὸν κύριον ἸησοῦνB καὶ εἰς πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους, …

Textual Notes – 5 A … A The order of ἀγάπην καὶ τὴν πίστιν varies to πίστιν καὶ τὴν ἀγάπην in certain manuscripts (𝔓61, D, 323, 365, 629, 945, 1739, (1881), pc ar, b, vgmss, syp, Ambst). …

Translation – 4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, 5 because I hear of your love and faithfulness that you have in association with the Lord Jesus and for all the saints,  …

Commentary – 4 Εὐχαριστῶ τῷ θεῷ μου πάντοτε μνείαν σου ποιούμενος ἐπὶ τῶν προσευχῶν μου, “I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers.” The singular verb εὐχαριστέω (sg.: Rom 1:8; 1 Cor 1:4; Phil 1:3; cf. Eph 1:16; cf. pl.: 1 Thess 1:2; cf. 2 Thess 2:13; Col 1:3) begins Paul’s thanksgiving section. …

Biblical Theology Comments – There are at least two features of “Pauline Thanksgivings” that are intriguing and merit discussion in the context of Philemon. …

And finally

Application and Devotional Implications – If anyone warranted the excuse “I am too busy to pray,” perhaps Paul would have been that person. …

It is patently self evident that most academics will have no issue whatsoever with any of these sections, except the last two.  And will quibble and find fault, preferring to keep the biblical text enshrined as an artifact of antiquity fit only for curious museum-visitors.  But for Evangelicals the task of exegesis isn’t complete until the last two steps are taken.  Exegesis without application is equivalent to making a sandwich and then leaving it on the counter until it decays.  Hence, well done to both the author and the publisher for taking the required final steps.

If Philemon serves as an example of what is to come in future volumes in this series, it bodes well indeed.

The ‘Dilly the Dilettante of the Week Award’ Winner!

The Discovery ‘News’!  Well done!!!!!!  (and by ‘well’ I mean profoundly ignorantly and sub-intelligently) –

Jesus, as described in the New Testament, was most likely crucified on Friday April 3, 33 A.D.

The latest investigation, reported in the journal International Geology Review, focused on earthquake activity at the Dead Sea, located 13 miles from Jerusalem. The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 27, mentions that an earthquake coincided with the crucifixion:

“And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split and the tombs broke open.”

To analyze earthquake activity in the region, geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical and colleagues Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer of the German Research Center for Geosciences studied three cores from the beach of the Ein Gedi Spa adjacent to the Dead Sea.

Varves, which are annual layers of deposition in the sediments, reveal that at least two major earthquakes affected the core: a widespread earthquake in 31 B.C. and an early first century seismic event that happened sometime between 26 A.D. and 36 A.D.

So, basically, they suppose an earthquake took place in a 10 year span of time and lo and behold, this confirms for them the date of 3 April 33 AD (or perhaps, CE).  Dilettantism at its very finest!  Here’s your award, Discovery ‘News’!

How Do Churches in Maine Respond to Gay Marriage?

They take up an offering

Up to 200 churches in Maine plan to pass a collection plate on Father’s Day to raise funds to fight gay marriage. The state is holding a referendum on legalizing same-sex marriage in November, and the Protect Marriage Maine political action committee is stepping up efforts to raise funds and get support from evangelical leaders around the country, reports AP. Supporters of gay marriage say they have plenty of churches on their side, as well as other donors. Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes donated $100,000 to Mainers United for Marriage earlier this month. Maine passed a law legalizing gay marriage in the spring of 2009, but the measure was rejected 53% to 47% by the state’s voters that November.

Darned ‘activist Christians’.  What gives them the right to express their first amendment privileges anyway?  Those rights only exist for the minority opinion of society, activist judges, and lawmakers who disregard the will of the people who elected them…

Beyond Old and New Perspectives on Paul: Conference Video and Audio

English: This is a logo for King's College London.
A critically engaging conference based on Douglas Campbell’s book: The deliverance of God.
Held at King’s College London on December 16-17, 2011. This conference included presentation of major papers from Alan Torrance of St. Andrews University, Chris Tilling and David Hilborn of St. Mellitus College, and Douglas Campbell of Duke University. The conference served to critically engage Douglas Campbell’s proposals in The Deliverance of God: An Apocalyptic Rereading of Justification in Paul.

You can go here and watch sessions and / or listen to audio of the sessions.  With thanks to Chris *the Weirdo* Tilling for telling me about it.

Flugschriften: ‘Flying Texts’

A Flugschrift is, literally, a ‘flying writing’.  Flugschriften are flying writings or writings that fly off the press and into the public’s hands.  Flugschriften is the plural form of Flugschrift.

I mention this because these Flugschriften were to the Reformers what blog posts are to modern theologians and biblical scholars- quickly produced, aimed at the moment, addressing something immediate.  Luther and Zwingli in particular made great use of the (relatively fast) speed small volumes could be produced and distributed.

One such example of this sort of material is the witty and incisive and really scorchingly amusing Die göttliche Mühle which Zwingli commended to his friend Oswald Myconius on the 25th of May, 1521.  It (Die göttliche Mühle) was written by the virtually unknown Martin Seger of Marienfeld.

Emil Egli and Walther Köhler describe and discuss the booklet in Zwingliana 2/12 (1910).  The thing to take away from the production of such pieces is that 1) speed is of the essence when theological battles are being waged; and 2) wit and humor in brevity often make the point better than long and boring discourses.

The Catholic Church was, by the way, frequently portrayed in the 16th century as a Mill where the faithful were ground into powder by the greedy clerics, chief of whom was of course the super-greedy Pope.  Tobias Stimmer’s Mühle is a spectacular example of the genre-

Do You – In Your Heart – Hate Your Friends?

Then by all means, share this… yet another of the too many Facebook fiascoes.

Bizzare…

Some folk are just a tad unstable…