David Be’eri’s Useful Idiots

This is must reading.

Every archaeological discovery made in the City of David in the past twenty years can be measured in the dispossession and humiliation it has caused to the Palestinians of Silwan, in its contribution to the settlers’ aim of claiming the Temple Mount, and in its acquiescence in the contempt for scientific archaeology shown by David Be’eri and El’ad.

BNTS Call For Papers and Booking Opening

Dear Colleagues,

We will be opening booking for BNTC 2017 in Maynooth very soon.  The conference will run from Thursday 31st August – Saturday 2nd September 2017.  Registration is expected to be from 3pm with a reception at 5.30pm.
As part of the “Conference Fringe” there is an optional trip to Dublin on Thursday morning to Chester Beatty and the Book of Kells.  Those who wish to participate will be able to arrive in Maynooth on Wednesday 30th August.  A bus will take the group into Dublin (10 EUR), but you will return by train (which is very easy, and costs 8 EUR).  Entrance to the Book of Kells is 5 EUR.
The “down time” for this year’s conference will be on Friday evening, when a concert is due to be held in the magnificent chapel.
A reminder that the Call for Papers for the Conference is open.  Details are below, and also available on the website (click on seminar title for each individual call).  Proposals must be with Seminar Chairs by Friday 21st April 2017. Proposals for simultaneous short papers should be sent to me, but *not* to this email account. Instead use: p,midd…@chester.ac.uk.  A further reminder that those working on Hebrews now have a full session.
I will be in touch very soon about conference booking details.
Best wishes,
Dr Paul Middleton
Secretary, The British New Testament Society

I’m Not Trying To Make Anyone Who is a Member of SBL Mad…

But it is exceedingly troubling that the SBL continues to maintain that it strives for ‘diversity’ whilst simultaneously allowing people to make multiple presentations.  This literally is anything but a quest for diversity.  Instead, it is the corralling of intellectual contributions and the restriction of discussion to a much smaller group of participants.

For every presenter who offers two papers, their voice is weighted twice as much as those who have no place or opportunity.  The sad fact then is that instead of a diversity of voices (which the SBL pretends it wishes) the voices of fewer are given place.

Let me put it as simply as possible: there’s a certain measure of the egomaniacal in the minds of those who believe they deserve two hearings while others deserve none, and SBL enables it and empowers them whilst divesting others by allowing people to give two papers.

How can the SBL do the right thing, open up opportunities, and hear a wider diversity of viewpoints?  Do away with the permissions granted to deliver two papers.

If not, what can members of SBL do?  They can simply submit one paper.  Simple.  They can abandon the false notion that they deserve to ‘vote’ twice and simply ‘vote’ once.

Unless, of course, they think that what they have to say is so much more important than what everyone else has to say that they actually and factually believe that they are more worthy of a hearing than their peers (which, knowing some, they actually do believe).

Come on, SBL.  Stop talking about diversity of opinion until you stop the steamroller of multi-section presentations.  Until then, your protestations of concern for diversity just aren’t believable.

The Bee Stings the Watered Down ‘Gospel’ Of the Seekers

In an effort to appeal to those seeking some kind of spiritual significance in their lives, a large group within the Islamic State has begun a push to become more relevant and seeker-sensitive by watering down their traditionally-harsh message.

The movement will attempt to appeal more to seekers by offering coffee, giveaways, and relevant video clips at a number of planned community events, instead of just running with their usual, murderous message of death and destruction. “It’s not that we don’t believe our caliphate is destined to crush all who oppose Islam—we do, most assuredly,” authentically-unmasked ISIS insider Tariq al Hassan told reporters. “But we just feel we need to engage our culture in a way that speaks to their felt needs, rather than lopping their heads off or shooting them in the chest at the first sign of opposition.”

ISIS meetings within the new seeker-sensitive movement feel less like radical terrorist cells working themselves up into a furor, and more like a laid-back meeting at a local halal coffee shop. Potential new members will find themselves offered swag such as trucker hats, coffee mugs, and “Muhammed is my homeboy” t-shirts, while sipping lattes and listening to messages of love and acceptance in the hip, modern atmosphere. Gone are the public executions traditionally associated with such get-togethers, and in their place are short, practical messages, humorous life observations, and down-to-earth cell leaders who strive to be transparent and real with their followers.

When asked if, despite their softened message, the group still confirms that submitting to Islam is the only way to Allah, al Hassan refused to be pinned down. “We’re all on journey together, and maybe slaughtering infidels by the thousands is right to me—but is it right for you? That’s a question only you and Allah can answer together.”

That’s right- it wouldn’t happen.  Except among Christians.

Sometimes You Have to Leave the Sheep to Find a Sheep

‘Tell me. Suppose a man has a hundred sheep and one of them strays; will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go in search of the stray?  In truth I tell you, if he finds it, it gives him more joy than do the ninety-nine that did not stray at all.  Similarly, it is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.’ (Matt. 18:12-14).

So Jesus, to his disciples when he was asked who the greatest in the kingdom was.  His answer is really quite stunning for he doesn’t give any sort of answer that our world and its ideology would give.  He doesn’t say ‘it’s the wealthy guy’ or ‘it’s the popular girl’ or ‘it’s the best looking super model.’  On the contrary, his answer maintains that the greatest in the kingdom is the lowliest of servants and the smallest and the weakest and the humblest.  Which is exactly why Jesus concludes his answer with a suggestion to the disciples that it is sometimes best to leave the flock to pursue the little lamb gone astray.

Sometimes Christian’s think that all the efforts of the Kingdom of God should be utilized for their benefit and for their welfare.  They believe, for whatever reason, that God exists to serve them and the Church exists to meet their needs alone.  But Jesus sees things differently.  The aim of the Church is to reach the wandering.  Or, to put it quite plainly- the Church doesn’t exist to meet your needs- you exist as a member of the Church to meet the needs of others but most especially the need for salvation and rescue and reclamation of those who are lost.

The Father’s primary aim and goal isn’t your comfort, it is your salvation.  And the salvation of the little ones that far too many overlook because they are small, and quiet, and powerless.

The Old Testament in the New Testament Hawarden Conference 2017 Programme

Draft Programme

Wednesday 5th April

6.45 Dinner
Session 1 Chair: Susan Docherty
8.00 – 8.15 Welcome and Introductions
8.15 – 9.15 David Lees – Textual Ripples: A Different Methodological Approach

Thursday 6th April

From 8.00 Breakfast
Session 2 Chair: Steve Moyise
9.15 – 10.30 Joshua Coutts – The Catalyzing Role of Scripture for John’s Gospel
10.30 – 11.00 Coffee Break
Session 3 Chair: David Allen
11.00 – 12.30 Rikk Watts- Rethinking Context in the Relationship of Israel’s Scriptures to the NT: Character, Agency, and the Possibility of Genuine Change
12.30 – 1.00 Break
1.00 Lunch
Free Afternoon
3.30 – 4.10 Tea
Session 4 Chair: Susan Docherty
4.15 – 5.15 Bart Koet – A Tale of two Teachers: Jesus About Jesus and John the Baptist
5.15 – 6.15 Anthony Royle – The Vorlage of Paul’s Citation in Ephesians 5:14: New Horizons
6.15 – 6.45 Break
6.45 Dinner
Session 5 Chair: Steve Moyise
8.00 – 9.00 David Allen – What Makes ‘Two by Two’ Ark-etypal?

Friday 7th April

From 8.00 Breakfast
Session 5 Chair: Steve Smith
9.15 – 10.15 Kelsie Rodenbiker – Quotation vs Characterization: The Catholic Epistles and Old Testament Exemplars
10.15 – 10.45 Coffee Break
Session 6 Chair: Susan Docherty
10.45 – 11.45 Georg Walser – Quoted Text and Interpretation: Is There Always a Correspondence?
11.45 – 12.45 Hans Lammers – The Textual Form of the Quotation from Isaiah 6:10 in Mark 4:12: Influence from a Targumic Tradition or an Example of Inner-Gospel Exegesis?
12.45 – 1.00 Closing Reflections and Plans for Hawarden 2018
1.00 Lunch followed by departures


David Lees: Textual Ripples: A Different Methodological Approach?

In my research into the possible New Testament reception of the book of Esther, I have encountered difficulties by following more accepted methodological approaches such as Hays’ criteria. With the lack of NT scholarship that looks back to the book of Esther, one can enter circular arguments that are difficult to break out of (with regards to issues of volume and recurrence). As such, in this paper I will put forward the working hypothesis of a new methodology that, rather than looking back to the book of Esther, aims to travel forward with the book of Esther into the New Testament texts and world. To shape this, I propose the metaphor of textual ripples; each text is like a ripple or wave that travels outward from its original source interacting in different ways with different obstacles. Some ‘obstacles’ would be passed over and no interaction made, others cause the ripple to change direction, others may lead to ‘constructive interference’ where two or more waves converge, others may be more like a cliff face that cause a strong reaction with ‘textual spray.’ The context of the New Testament would determine the different forms of obstacle – accounting for the possibility that there may be no obstacle – and direct the researcher to evaluate whether there is textual evidence for this interaction. Rather than starting with a New Testament author and looking at what sources they use to shape their own text, this paper aims to open a conversation on how research can being with an Old Testament text and looking at how it may have rippled into, and reacted with, the New Testament context. This proposed methodology will be explored with a case study of the possibility that Esth. 8:17 can be identified in Gal. 2:14 through the word ιουδαιζω.

Joshua Coutts: The Catalyzing Role of Scripture for John’s Gospel

Many New Testament studies of intertextuality focus on how NT authors appropriate OT texts and themes. Observations are made on the hermeneutical principles which underlie the use of the OT, the interpretive tradition within which the NT authors operate, and the unique theological or stylistic motivations which may account for adaptations of the OT in new contexts. The comparison of texts has proven very instructive for answering such “how” questions, as we can observe similarities and differences in the use of the OT. Yet, often implicit in these discussions, are assumptions about why NT authors draw upon the OT. The question of what catalysts moved NT authors to draw upon the OT is more difficult to answer. Nevertheless, an attempt will be made in this paper to do so, with particular attention to John’s Gospel. There are likely several catalysts for John’s use of Scripture including an emerging Gospel tradition, the need to address problems such as Jewish obduracy, and the desire to legitimate the allegiance to Jesus of an emerging Jesus-community as contiguous with the narrative and promises of Israel. In addition to these, this paper will explore the possibility that Scripture in general, and perhaps particular texts of Scripture, were used against this emerging Jesus community (cf. John 5.39; 6.31; 7.52), and consequently had become a flashpoint around which the uniquely Johannine Gospel tradition coalesced.

Rikk Watts: Rethinking Context in the Relationship of Israel’s Scriptures to the NT: Character, Agency, and the Possibility of Genuine Change

Employing Collingwood’s notion of “historical imagination,” this paper seeks to imagine how the NT writers related to Israel’s Scriptures. Two assumptions appear foundational. First, as the eternal word of Israel’s unique and only God and creator, the faithful and unchanging Yahweh, the Scriptures were normative in revealing his character and in articulating his relationship with his creation and their relationship with him. If so, it makes better sense methodologically, to begin, not the with NT use of the OT, but Israel’s Scriptures’ normative shaping on the NT. Second, given Israel’s unique understanding of Yahweh and of his creation (gifting it with the possibility of genuine change) this relationship is primarily neither conceptual nor even literary but personal. Since persons are known through their agency (MacMurray), that is words and deeds over time, the fundamental orientation and “grammar” of this relationship ought to be historical and narratival. If so, “context” becomes a matter of where a given textually construed event fits into the larger narrative of Yahweh’s relationship to his creation and particularly what it says of his character and thus what Israel and the creation can expect of his future actions. This paper proposes that when viewed from this perspective the NT authors see what Yahweh has done in Christ to be both entirely consistent with his past and promised future interventions, and more profoundly revealing, of his character. We will examine some example texts, but hopefully allow considerable time for discussion.

Bart Koet: A Tale of Two Teachers – Jesus about Jesus and John the Baptist (Luke 7:18-35)

This paper poses a question about where we can find a great wisdom teacher who uses children’s rhymes to depict his teachings. Such a teacher can be found in Luke 7:31-35, where Jesus explains both his own teaching and John the Baptist’s and defends their teachings, albeit so different from each other, by referring to a children’s song. An analysis of the communication shows that in 7:35 there is a reference to the fact that all the people and even all the tax collectors choose the baptism of John and that therefore there is a possibility for the audience to become children of Wisdom by joining one of the teachers.

Anthony Royle: The Vorlage of Paul’s Citation in Eph. 5:14: New Horizons

The Vorlage of Ephesians 5:14 has been disputed by various scholars. The citation is introduced by the authoritative words “He (God) says”; however, there are no Scriptures that match the citation word for word, which has led to various hypothesises regarding its origin. Some scholars have noted similarities of phrases used in Ephesians 5:14 (Awake O Sleeper and rise from the dead) with Isaiah 26:19 (O dwellers in the dust, awake and sing or Joy) and Isaiah 60:1 (Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you). The difficulty with this view is that Paul’s citation uses a different tense in Greek to Isaiah LXX. Furthermore, the insertion of the title χριστον (And Christ will shine on you) in place of the Isaiah LXX’s more frequent title, κυριον (Isaiah 60:1), indicates that it is unlikely Paul was citing any known written text of Isaiah and that the Ωorlage is Christian in origin. In response, some scholars have speculated Paul used an unknown apocryphal source, and even a Gnostic writing, for his citation. The majority view is that Paul is citing an early Christian baptism hymn that was inspired by a Spiritual song (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16); however, the hymn is unlike any other creedal statement of the early church in the New Testament and the issue of baptism does not fit the context of Ephesians 5. As scholars have sought to propose a written Vorlage for Paul’s citation in past studies, this papers looks to new horizons of research that may lend to the evolution of Paul’s citation from Isaianic texts. I propose that the change of grammar, the conflation of texts, and the insertion of words in Paul’s citation from the LXX are impacted by three influences; rhetoric, social memory, and religious experience. Recent NT studies in these three areas have shown how they impact the citation technique of Paul and other NT writers, as well as their Jewish and Greco-Roman contemporaries. This paper seeks to highlight their importance to understanding the influence of Isaiah in Paul’s citation in Eph. 5:14.

Dave Allen: What makes ‘two by two’ ark-etypal?

In a recent article, Joan Taylor explores the accounts of Jesus sending disciples out 2 by 2, and concludes that this is an allusion to the Noah account of 2 by 2 entry onto the ark (with the implication that Jesus dispatches male and female ‘missionaries’ in such pairs). Taylor presents the allusion pretty much as an established given, and focuses more on the outcomes, so to speak, of the implied allusion. I would like to use her thesis on the mooted allusion as some sort of test case – what methodological assumptions does she make, and on what grounds does her proposal correlate with current OT/NT approaches?

Kelsie Rodenbiker: Quotation vs Characterization: The Catholic Epistles and Old Testament Exemplars

This paper examines the use of Old Testament (OT) exemplars by the seven-letter collection of Catholic Epistles (CE). Is their approach a matter of textual access, as some have suggested (e.g., Popkes regarding James)? I argue that, despite the diversity of authorship, dating, and theme within the CE, their use of exemplary OT figures is indeed strategic. There are fourteen OT quotations throughout the CE (primarily in 1 Peter), but eighteen exemplary figures. Significant connections to parabiblical/pseudepigraphal literature may be seen with regard to these figures (especially Enoch and Michael in Jude). However, read within the context of the canon they nonetheless evoke OT narratives. Further, because at least some of the CE can be shown to make use of textual material aside from their use of exemplars, I argue that access cannot be the only operative matter. I suggest, then, that the seven-letter collection presents a unique witness to the citation of OT figures alongside, and perhaps even in place of, quotations.

Georg Walser: Quoted Text and Interpretation; Is There Always a Correspondence?

When working with quotations from the Old Testament in the New, the correspondence between a quoted text and its interpretation can in some cases be very hard to comprehend. Mostly, this difficulty is due to the fact that we, of course, cannot know what was in the mind of the interpreter. However, in a few cases the quoted text is extant in various forms, and occasionally one of the variant readings seems to fit the interpretation better than the one found in the actual quotation. The question arises, if perhaps the interpreter had another version of the text in mind from the one quoted, when he made his interpretation. In Qumran there are some well-known examples, where this might be the case. This is also true for some interpretations in the Midrashim and in the early Church Fathers. But what about the New Testament? Are there any such examples in the New Testament, where the quoted text is not the text in the mind of the interpreter, i.e., the author of the New Testament text? And what could possibly be the reason for quoting one version of a text and presenting an interpretation of a different one?

Hans Lammers: The Textual Form of the Quotation from Isaiah 6,10 in Mark 4,12: Influence from a Targumic Tradition or an Example of Inner-Gospel Exegesis?

In the Gospel of Mark we encounter some 25 quotations from the Old Testament. An analysis of the textual form of all of these quotations shows that most of these depend on the LXX. In addition, the textual form of only a few quotations agrees verbatim with any of the extant LXX versions of the passage quoted. In some instances, we find a difference in textual form not accounted for by any OT version of the passage quoted which at the same time does result in a shift of meaning (e.g. Isaiah 6,10 in Mark 4,12; Isa 29,13 in Mark 7,7; Exod 20,17/Deut 5,21 in Mark 10,19; Zech 13,7 in Mark 14,27. In this paper, I will address one of these quotations, that of Isaiah 6,10 in Mark 4,12. Whereas there are several indications that the textual form of the quotation of Isaiah 6,9-10 in Mark 4,12 is dependent upon the LXX, the final clause exhibits a deviation not accounted for by any extant version of the LXX nor by the Hebrew of the MT. Several scholars have explained Mark’s textual form here (ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς) as dependent upon a tradition which eventually ended up in Targum Jonathan. Yet, Mark’s καὶ ἀφεθῇ αὐτοῖς as an interpretation of the LXX’s καὶ ἰάσομαι αὐτούς fits the narrative context remarkably well. Mark’s deviant textual form may therefore be due to influence from the narrative context, and present an example of what I call ‘inner-gospel exegesis’. Specifically, I will analyze the preceding unit 3,20-35 as part of the larger literary section 3,7 – 4,34 and show how the issue of not receiving forgiveness is linked to important characters: the scribes from Jerusalem (3,22) and Jesus’s relatives (3,20-21). Both are of the opinion that Jesus’ ministry of healing and exorcism is the result of his being possessed by an unclean spirit (3,30). This opinion is designated as blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, an offense that will never be forgiven (3,29-30). According to the Markan narrator, this rejection to acknowledge Jesus’ ministry as driven by the Holy Spirit places the scribes and Jesus’s relatives outside the ‘family’ of Jesus-followers (3,30-35). It is to ‘those outside’ that the quotation of Isaiah 6,10 is applied in a form deviating from the LXX but fitting the context perfectly. At the end of my contribution, I will present a tentative answer to the question whether Mark’s deviant textual form of Isaiah 6,10 is due to inner-gospel exegesis or that his view of Jesus’ ministry is best understood as a midrash on the deviant targumic rendition of this biblical passage. My answer is that we have here an example of ‘inner-gospel exegesis’. I will propose that in the other instances in Mark where we meet a variant textual form of an OT quotation but cannot explain it by referring to extant OT versions, we may be faced with the same phenomenon.

A Film About Karl Barth, In The News Again

I guess because of the Barth Renaissance presently sweeping the uni-lingual United States and the fact that a fellow named Peter Reichenbach has made a film about the guy.  But the American Barthians won’t be able to enjoy it, since 99% of them don’t do German, and that’s the language of the film.

Als «Kirchenvater» verehrt, als «Ketzer» geschmäht. Im Film «Gottes fröhlicher Partisan» zeigt Regisseur und Filmproduzent Peter Reichenbach den reformierten Basler Theologen Karl Barth als unbestechliche und unkonventionelle Persönlichkeit.

Auf dem Bildschirm erscheint die Schwarz-weiss-Fotografie eines unscheinbaren älteren Mannes. Dazu sagt die Stimme aus dem Off: «Er legte sich mit den Mächtigen seiner Zeit an. Für die einen war er der Kirchenvater des 20. Jahrhunderts, für die anderen ein Ketzer – der Schweizer Theologe Karl Barth.» So beginnt der Zürcher Regisseur und Filmproduzent Peter Reichenbach sein Porträt über Karl Barth, der zu Lebzeiten weltberühmt war, ein «Star», dem die Magazine «Time» und «Der Spiegel» ganze Titelgeschichten widmeten. Heute sei der Basler Theologe in Amerika und bei den christlichen Minderheiten in Japan und Korea bekannter als in Westeuropa, sagt im Film Niklaus Peter, Pfarrer am Zürcher Fraumünster und verheiratet mit Barth-Enkelin Vreni Peter-Barth. Ausserhalb theologischer Kreise kennt man Karl Barth bei uns kaum noch.