Archive for September, 2013

Two fragments of Hippolytus on Matthew

This afternoon I found myself thinking about Hippolytus, and came across a couple of fragments of his on two verses in Matthew. I thought I’d translate them and post them here:

Fragmentum in Matthaeum 6.11 

Διὰ τοῦτο ζητεῖν προσετάχθημεν τὸ πρὸς τήρησιν ἐξαρκοῦν τῆς σωματικῆς οὐσίας, οὐ τρυφήν, ἀλλὰ τροφήν, τὸ ἐλλεῖπον ἀναπληροῦσαν τοῦ σώματος, καὶ τὴν ἐκ τοῦ λιμοῦ κωλύουσαν θάνατον· οὐ τραπέζας φλεγμαινούσας καὶ εἰς ἡδονὰς ἐκμαινούσας, οὐδ’ ὅσα σκιρτᾶν τὸ σῶμα κατὰ τῆς ψυχῆς παρασκευάζει, ἀλλ’ „ἄρτον“, καὶ τοῦτον οὐκ εἰς πολὺν ἐτῶν ἀριθμόν, ἀλλὰ τὸν „σήμερον“ ἡμῖν ἀρκοῦντα.

Therefore, seek that we might be prescribed what is needed for the preservation of the bodily, not luxury but food, that which stops short of filling up the body, and which prevents death by starvation. Not tables swollen and driven mad for pleasure, nor things which prepare the body to leap against the soul, but ‘bread’, and this not for a great number of years, but sufficient for us ‘today’.

Fragmentum de distributione talentorum (Matth. 25.24)

Τούτους δὲ καὶ τοὺς ἑτεροδόξους φήσειεν ἄν τις γειτνιᾶν, σφαλλομένους παραπλησίως. καὶ γὰρ κἀκεῖνοι ἤτοι ψιλὸν ἄνθρωπον ὁμολογοῦσι πεφηνέναι τὸν Χριστὸν εἰς τὸν βίον, τῆς θεότητος αὐτοῦ τὸ τάλαντον ἀρνούμενοι· ἤτοι τὸν θεὸν ὁμολογοῦντες, ἀναίνονται πάλιν τὸν ἄνθρωπον, πεφαντασιωκέναι διδάσκοντες τὰς ὄψεις αὐτῶν τῶν θεωμένων, ὡς ἄνθρωπον οὐ φορέσαντα ἄνθρωπον, ἀλλὰ δόκησίν τινα φασματώδη μᾶλλον γεγονέναι, οἷον ὥσπερ Μαρκίων καὶ Οὐαλεντῖνος καὶ οἱ γνωστικοί, τῆς σαρκὸς ἀποδιασπῶντες τὸν λόγον, τὸ ἓν τάλαντον ἀποβάλλονται, τὴν ἐνανθρώπησιν.

Now these heterodox, someone might say, are similar, having erred in like measure. For either they confess a mere person has appeared as the Messiah in this life, but denied the talent of his divinity. Or confessing God, they refuse again the man, teaching that the visions of those who have seen are caused by hallucinations, as though a person was not actually carrying a person, but rather the appearance seemed merely so to them, as a vision. So also do Marcion and Valentinus and the gnostics – who tear away the flesh from the word – reject the one talent, which is the incarnation.

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New Series: The Apocrypha in the History of Interpretation

Over the past year or two, I’ve had the pleasure of working with some extremely talented people – chief among them my good friend Michael Law – in crafting a proposal for a series of volumes devoted the reception history of the apocrypha. I’m glad to report that the series has been taken on by Oxford University Press, and we have a stellar line up of contributors. The very notion of ‘apocrypha’ is itself a category of reception, so we are excited to see what light is shed on the nature of these books by the actual uses to which they have been put over the past two thousand years. We hope to have a companion website up soon, but in the meantime here is the series prospectus. As ever, feedback warmly welcomed.

The Apocrypha in the History of Interpretation

General Editors: Timothy Michael Law (Göttingen) and David Lincicum (Oxford)

Editorial Advisory Board:

Mark W. Elliott (St. Andrews)
Heidi J. Hornik (Baylor)
John C. Reeves (UNC Charlotte)
Christopher Rowland (Oxford)
Alison Salvesen (Oxford)

Oxford University Press
(Tom Perridge)

The Apocrypha in the History of Interpretation (AHI) is a series of scholarly monographs devoted to the history of the use and interpretation of the books of the so-called Apocrypha from their origins to the present day.

Interest in the reception history of Scripture has burgeoned in recent years. The publishing world has witnessed a flood of publications on the theme, ranging from de Gruyter’s sprawling Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception to more compact works like The Oxford Handbook of the Reception History of the Bible, from the several commentary series devoted to the history of interpretation to numerous monographs, scholarly articles and essays. But in the midst of this fertile interest, attention to the so-called Apocrypha has been strangely lacking. The Oxford Handbook only mentions it a handful of times in passing, while the Blackwell Bible Commentary series omits the Apocrypha from its current scope. The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture series devotes a single volume to the whole collection.[1]

The canonicity of the various books that make up the collections of the Apocrypha has been contested since antiquity, and this conflicting evaluation is reflected in the varying canons of Christianity to this day: Protestant, Roman Catholic, and the varieties of Orthodox churches in the east. But it is precisely this conflict of evaluation that makes the reception history of these books so interesting, and such a vital field of investigation. The present series of scholarly monographs aims to move beyond the bare question of canonical status to ask about the use, influence and interpretation of the constituent books of the Apocrypha, generously conceived, from the time of their inception to the present day. In this series, the highly contested term ‘Apocrypha’ will refer to those books included in the NRSV, which has struck a balance between Roman Catholic and Orthodox lists, and to the additional books of Enoch and Jubilees, which are regarded as canonical in the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and were important in early Judaism. Individual monographs have of course been devoted to elements of the reception of these books,[2] but there has as yet been no comprehensive attempt to grapple with this long and varied effective history.

The series is comprised of monographs devoted to books or clusters of books that make up the Apocrypha, intentionally inclusive of influential works whose status as Scripture has only been affirmed by select groups (e.g., 4 Maccabees, 1 Enoch and Jubilees).[3] As we could not envisage a sprawling and unmanageable series which includes all of the apocryphal and pseudepigraphal books in antiquity, we have chosen a restricted corpus of books which have functioned as Scripture in some significant ways in history. The precise shape of each monograph will naturally be determined by the reception history of the individual books: some will range widely in full consideration of works that have inspired homilies, liturgical forms, poems, plays, operatic librettos and works of art (e.g., Judith or 1-2 Maccabees), while our knowledge of the reception of other works is more lacunose (e.g., 1 Enoch or Jubilees). In all instances an attempt at a full but not exhaustive account of the reception history of these books will be made, taking into consideration the manuscript tradition as witness to the reception of these works; their interpretation in commentaries, liturgy, and theological treatises; multiple afterlives in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic tradition; and where possible the artistic inspiration they supply in music, sculpture, painting, drama, fiction and everyday life. Given the large amount of material, as a means of retaining focus the volumes will concentrate especially on the active reception of these books expressed in hermeneutical stances toward the texts as authoritative literature, even when that authority is in dispute. That is, the volumes will be concerned with intentional reception rather than effects, with Auslegungsgeschichte (broadly conceived to include artistic and liturgical forms) rather than Wirkungsgeschichte. Since our primary focus is on the history of interpretation, which seems to us an important foundation for an unprecedented series, the Nachleben of these books in the artistic, musical, and literary domains will be tributaries of the main stream. The resulting volumes should add considerably to our knowledge of the influence of these books, and provide a standard resource especially for scholars and advanced students of biblical interpretation and the histories of Judaism and Christianity, and secondarily to art historians, musicologists, medievalists, cultural historians, and all others interested in the preservation of religious history.

The initially planned volumes with confirmed contributors are as follows (volumes in bold have not been assigned):

The Apocrypha through Jewish and Christian History, 1: From Origins to Late Antiquity (T.M. Law, Göttingen)

The Apocrypha through Jewish and Christian History, 2: From the Middle Ages to the Present Day (Frans van Liere, Calvin)

Tobit (Alison Salvesen, Oxford)

Judith (Dan Machiela, McMaster)

Sirach/Ecclesiasticus (Brennan Breed, Columbia Theological Seminary, Atlanta)

Wisdom of Solomon (David Lincicum, Oxford)

1 Esdras = 2 Esdras in Slavonic = 3 Esdras in the Appendix to the Vulgate

2 Esdras = 3 Esdras in Slavonic = 4 Esdras in Vulgate Appendix (Lorenzo DiTommaso, Concordia)

1 Maccabees (T.M. Law, Göttingen)

2-4 Maccabees (David A. deSilva, Ashland Theological Seminary)

Baruch, Epistle of Jeremiah, Prayer of Manasseh, and Psalm 151 (Michael Graves, Wheaton)

Esther, with Additions

Additions to Daniel (Jennifer Barbour, Duke)

1 Enoch (Loren Stuckenbruck, Munich)

Jubilees (William Adler, North Carolina State University)

*Note: Additional volumes may be commissioned to gather some of the smaller works whose stories, themes, or entire forms that have been treated as Scripture at various points in various communities (Ascension of Isaiah, Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, Psalms of Solomon, etc.).


[1] Sever J. Voicu, ed., Apocrypha (Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2010).

[2] By way of example: J. Gamberoni, Die Auslegung des Buches Tobias in der griechisch-lateinischen Kirche der Antike und der Christenheit des Westens bis um 1600 (SANT 21; Munich: Kösel, 1969); Bruce Metzger, An Introduction to the Apocrypha (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977), esp. 175-238; Margarita Stocker, Judith – Sexual Warrior: Women and Power in Western Culture (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1998); D. Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, Christian Memories of the Maccabean Martyrs (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

[3] Apart, then, from the addition of 1 Enoch and Jubilees, this corresponds to the contents of the Apocrypha in the Oxford Bible Commentary.

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Oxford New Testament Seminar, Michaelmas 2013

As we prepare again for the term in Oxford, here is the programme for the Senior Seminar, this Michaelmas. Those who can make it to Oxford are, as always, more than welcome to join us and to stay for tea.

Senior New Testament Seminar

Michaelmas Term 2013

The Stafford Crane Room, Keble College

Fridays 2.30-4.00 pm

(please note new day and time)

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25 October (2nd week)

Prof. Markus Bockmuehl (Keble)

The Gospels on the Presence of Jesus

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8 November (4th week)

Prof. James D. G. Dunn (Emeritus, Durham)

The Earliest Interpreters of the Jesus Tradition:

A Study in Early Hermeneutics

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29 November (7th week)

Dr. Ward Blanton (Kent)

 ‘Gay Jokes’ in Romans 1? Reflections on Philosophical Invective

*

6 December (8th week, 2.30-6.00pm, the Pusey Room, Keble)

Marking the Retirement of Prof. Christopher Tuckett

Prof. Tobias Nicklas (Regensburg)

What Christian Apocrypha Tell Us About the History of the Canon

Dr. Mary Marshall (Oxford)

‘The Leaven of the Pharisees’: A Case Study in Recognising the Evangelists

Please direct any questions to David Lincicum (david [dot] lincicum [at] theology [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk) or Mary Marshall (mary [dot] marshall [at] theology [dot] ox [dot] ac [dot] uk). 

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Digital Classics in the History of New Testament Research

So you want to learn more about the history of New Testament exegesis, but don’t want to buy an entire library or devote the rest of your life to reading German? Here are 20-ish places to start, including some key works by influential scholars and theologians from the 17th through the 19th centuries, all in English translation and freely available online. I present them here in rough chronological order. Needless to say, there are many important works that have not been translated (apparently no one has ever translated J. S. Semler, for example – his 4 volume Abhandlung von freier Untersuchung des Canon would still be worth an English translation), or whose translations are not freely available online. There are also various gems of translation that don’t quite make this list, but are still interesting (e.g., this volume which includes some extracts from Gesenius, Michaelis, J. G. Eichhorn and others). One should also note that in some cases more recent translations exist that are improvements on those listed here, but are, again, not freely available online.

For the broader narrative context in which these works fit, see, for example, H. G. Reventlow, The Authority of the Bible and the Rise of the Modern World; idem, History of Biblical Interpretation (4 vols.);  W. Kümmel, The New Testament: The History of the Investigation of Its Problems; Roy A. Harrisville and Walter Sundberg, The Bible in Modern Culture: Theology and Historical-Critical Method from Spinoza to Käsemann; S. Neill and N. T. Wright, The Interpretation of the New Testament, 1861-1986; W. Baird, History of New Testament Research (3 vols).

Without further ado, the list:

1. R. Simon, A Critical History of the Text of the New Testament; (note also his A Critical history of the Old Testament; and Critical Enquiries into the Various Editions of the Bible)

2. J. Locke, A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of Paul

3. Some English Deist authors (by way of example)

4. Benedict de Spinoza, Theological Political Treatise

5. J. A. Bengel, Gnomon of the New Testament (vol. 1, vols. 2-3, vol.4)

6. H. Reimarus, Fragments

7. J. P. Gabler, An Oration on the Proper Distinction between Biblical and Dogmatic Theology

8. J. A. Ernesti, Principles of Biblical Interpretation (see also Moses Stuart’s translation here)

9.  August Hermann Francke, A Guide to the Reading and Study of the Holy Scriptures

10. J. D. Michaelis, Introduction to the New Testament (vol. 1; vol. 2.1; vol. 2.2; vol. 3.1; vol.3.2; vol.4)

11. F. D. E. Schleiermacher, A Critical Essay on the Gospel of St Luke; On Religion; note also his Sermons

12. Ferdinand Christian Baur, Paul (vol. 1; vol. 2); The Church History of the First Three Centuries (vol. 1; vol. 2); excerpt on Gospel of John

13. D. F. Strauss, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined (vol. 1; vol. 2)

14. E. W. Hengstenberg, Christology of the Old Testament (vol. 1; vol. 2; vol. 3; vol. 4)

15. August Tholuck, A Commentary on the Gospel of St John; Exposition of St Paul’s Epistle to the Romans; A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews; Exposition, Doctrinal and Philological of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (vol.1; vol. 2) (see also select discourses here)

16. The Cambridge Three

17. Johannes Weiss, Paul and Jesus

18. A. von Harnack, History of Dogma (vol. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7); The Mission and Expansion of Christianity in the First Three Centuries (vol. 1; 2); What is Christianity?; Luke the Physician; The Acts of the Apostles; The Date of Acts and the Synoptic Gospels

19. Theodor Zahn, Introduction to the New Testament (vol. 1; vol. 2; vol. 3)

20. Adolf Schlatter, “The Significance of Method for Theological Work

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Deutsch-centricity in New Testament Histories of Research

I love Germany, the German language (even if I wish it came more naturally to me) and the German exegetical tradition. Where would New Testament study be today without the theologically robust criticism that has flourished in Germany (and of course in pre-unification German-speaking states as well)?

But I’ve noticed that certain histories of research have a tendency of suggesting that all true beginnings to a given problem’s solution began in Germany. Probably the most famous and egregious example of this is in accounts of historical Jesus research. It flourishes early with Albert Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus – tellingly titled in German, Von Reimarus zu Wrede, which ignores almost entirely non-German works (with a few French titles for seasoning but very few in other languages). Then the German, Protestant, Lutheran Bultmannian idea, popularised in English by James M. Robinson’s book, A New Quest of the Historical Jesus, and then furthered in Tom Wright’s invention of the so-called ‘3rd Quest’ (in his updating of the Stephen Neill history of NT research), that there was a cessation to the Quest in the early 20th century, led by Bultman, and then a new quest inaugurated by Käsemann, et al., until the 3rd Quest happened. The tendentiousness of this historiographical periodisation has been rightly subjected to scrutiny by some recent scholars (e.g., F. Bermejo Rubio, “The Fiction of the Three Quests: An Argument for Dismantling a Dubious Historiographical Paradigm,” Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 7 (2009): 211-53; Mauro Pesce, “Per una ricerca storica su Gesù nei secoli XVI-XVIII: prima di H.S. Reimarus,” ASE 28/1 (2011): 433-64).

Another example: in a recent collection of essays (to which I contributed), F. Stanley Jones assembled a number of pieces that challenge the idea that the modern category of ‘Jewish Christianity’ was invented by F. C. Baur in 1831, and show that its roots actually go back to English Deism.

The roots of some historical critical approaches in English Deism have, of course, been often noted, and one of the best books about this phenomenon is The Authority of the Bible and the Rise of the Modern World by none other than the great German scholar, Henning Graf Reventlow. But such occasional acknowledgements don’t seem to permeate the mainstream of NT scholarship as they might, perhaps in part since many see the Forschungsbericht as a kind of necessary evil to be done in a hasty prolegomenous fashion before getting on to what is truly important, instead of engaging it as the hermeneutical precondition of our own historical understanding of the very questions posed to us. There may also be a kind of teleology inherent in our historiographical backward glances that only allows us to see as genuine predecessors positions that agree largely or entirely with a modern consensus, when in fact there may be significant ways in which basic stances are first inaugurated even if the conclusions on critical issues don’t match entirely what our contemporary critical orthodoxy suggests.

One more to add to the pile of exceptions. Many discussions of the authenticity of the disputed Pauline letters will begin with, say, Schleiermacher’s doubts about 1 Timothy in 1807, or Baur’s rejection of the Pastorals as a corpus in 1835, or Eduard Mayerhoff’s doubts about Colossians in 1838. But there is in fact a significant predecessor to this Echtheitskritik, seldom noted, in the 1792 work by Edward Evanson: The Dissonance of the Four Generally Received Evangelists, and the Evidence of their Respective Authenticity Examined (Ipswich: G. Jermyn, 1792; second ed., 1805). In an appendix to his work on the Gospels, he considers the rest of the NT (255-89). His conclusions are radical and, some may say, ‘unscientific’ – and perhaps it is this lack of methodical rigour that has led to his work being forgotten by the mainstream of critical scholarship. He rejected Romans, Ephesians, Colossians, Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, 1, 2 and 3 John, Jude and the letters to the seven churches in Revelation. It’s revealing that – the howler of Romans aside – this list does correspond to modern critical views, with the addition of the Pastoral Epistles, of course. He appeals to doubts in the early church about some of these (e.g., Hebrews and 2 Peter, etc.). He rejects Romans on the strength of the evidence of Acts (257-61), and rejects Ephesians (261-62) on the strength of some evidence still appealed to today, e.g., the incongruity of Paul’s lack of firsthand acquaintance with Ephesians (taking the address in 1.1 to be original); his argument is similar in regard to Colossians (263). He also casts doubt on Philippians (263-67) and Titus (267-69) but with less conviction. In passing, he questions Philemon (269). He also expresses doubts over Hebrews’ Pauline authorship (269-75). He also argues against the authenticity of James, which he sees as coming from a later time (275-77), against both 1 Peter (277-79) and 2 Peter (together with Jude: 279-80), and against all the Johannine epistles (280-83), although he curiously thinks nothing of Paul predicting the ‘state of the Church in later times’ in 1 Timothy (268).

Naturally my point here is not to claim that somehow Evanson based all of his opinions on irrefragable evidence, nor that he was a visionary to whose opinions we should all return and pay homage. But he should at least be acknowledged a bit more in our critical histories.

And I suspect that it would not be difficult to find many more such examples of opinions that first came to light in the radical English Enlightenment and only then were subsequently transplanted to German soil (sometimes, probably, through French intermediaries). Reventlow has done a real service in highlighting some of these, though there are probably more to be discovered.

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