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The Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition

A New Perspective on James and Jude

Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr and Robert W. Wall, editors

Publication Year: 2009

The Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Tradition asks two questions: Can the Catholic Epistles from James to Jude be fruitfully examined in relation to each other, without contrasting them with the Pauline Epistles? And, if so, will we learn something new about them and early Christianity? The essayists here answer “yes” and “yes,” offering provocative perspectives on James, the Johannine epistles, the Petrine epistles, and Jude.

Additional contributors are Ernst Baasland (Church of Norway), Lutz Doering (University of London—King’s College), Reinhard Felmeier (University of Göttingen), Jörg Frey (University of Munich), Scott J. Hafemann (Gordon-Conwell Seminary), Patrick J. Hartin (Gonzaga University), John S. Kloppenborg (University of Toronto), Matthias Konradt (University of Berne), David R. Nienhuis (Seattle Pacific University), and John Painter (Charles Sturt University).

Published by: Baylor University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-v


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pp. vii-viii

List of Contributors

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pp. ix-x

Part I - Introduction

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pp. xi

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Chapter 1 - The SNTS Seminar on the Catholic Epistles (2001–2006)

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pp. 1-9

The overarching purpose of this seminar has been to rehabilitate this Society’s interest in the Catholic Epistles (CE), which have largely been neglected by both the guild and the church. When they are considered, whether critically or kerygmatically, these letters are typically filtered through a Pauline lens rather than on their own terms or as a discrete canonical collection. ...

Part II - Catholic Epistles as a Collection

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pp. 11

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Chapter 2 - A Unifying Theology of the Catholic Epistles: A Canonical Approach

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pp. 13-40

This paper proposes an interpretive strategy by which the Catholic Epistles (CE) should be read together as a collection whose seven books are integral parts of a coherent theological whole. The perceived theological coherence of the CE is at odds with the modern critical assessment that underscores their literary, rhetorical, and theological diversity, and therefore their independence from each other, no matter what interpretive strategy is employed. ...


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pp. 41

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Chapter 3 - James in the Minds of the Recipients: A Letter from Jerusalem

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pp. 43-54

What did the addressees of the Epistle of James imagine when they received and read this letter from Jerusalem? This rather speculative question could be better based, according to my view, on features of the transmitted text than the question most often discussed in research into historical identification of the author of the letter. ...

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Chapter 4 - James and the Jesus Tradition: Some Theological Reflections and Implications

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pp. 55-70

Through a conscious use of the art of rhetoric, the Letter of James aims at persuading its hearers/readers to embrace and remain true to a way of life that provides an identity that is distinct from the wider society. The ethical instructions provide a framework enabling the individual and the community to live in harmonious relationship with one another and with God. ...

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Chapter 5 - The Reception of the Jesus Tradition in James

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pp. 71-100

Since almost the beginning of the critical study of the Letter of James, the relationship of James to the Jesus tradition has puzzled scholars. Three features of the letter give rise to this puzzle. First, James never expressly attributes any of his sayings to Jesus; nor does he call on Jesus as an authority—this despite the fact that six times the author cites texts from the Tanak (in Septuagintal form), using an introductory quotation formula.1 ...

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Chapter 6 - The Historical Context of the Letter of James in Light of its Traditio-Historical Relations with First Peter

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pp. 101-125

If James is “authentic,” then it was written in Jerusalem before 62 CE, the year of the death of the Lord’s brother. If it is not,1 as the exegetical majority—in my opinion correctly—assumes, then the question of the historical location of James is open, and difficult to answer. “Lokalkolorit fehlt.”2 The traditio-historical relations of James to other writings of its time present a possible point of access to this question. ...

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Chapter 7 - Acts and James

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pp. 127-152

This paper argues for two related claims, both cued by consideration of the canonical process as a phenomenon guided by hermeneutical factors rather than purely sociological forces. 1 The first claim, made in the first two sections of the paper, is a constructive claim about the theological unity of the Catholic Epistles (CE). ...

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Chapter 8 - The Priority of James

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pp. 153-160

The present study is the fourth in a series of papers arguing that the placement of James as frontispiece of the Catholic Epistles (CE) collection envisages its canonical function: to introduce a set of thematics that organize a “unifying theology of the CE collection,” which in turn facilitates an intracanonical conversation that complements the Pauline collection, either to complete its theological conception or to correct its myopic misuse.1 ...

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Chapter 9 - James as the First Catholic Epistle

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pp. 161-181

The Catholic Epistles (CE) are often treated as what is left after the really important stuff: the Gospels, Acts, and the Epistles of Paul. What is left over includes the seven CE. From our earliest knowledge of them, that is their number and that is what they were called collectively. They are often referred to as General Epistles, taking “Catholic” to mean that they are not specifically addressed. ...

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Chapter 10 - The Letter of James as a Canon-Conscious Pseudepigraph

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pp. 183-200

As is well known, many if not most twentieth-century biblical scholars have denied the authenticity of the Letter of James. Until recently, the dominant viewpoint has considered the letter to be an eclectic and discontinuous string of general ethical exhortations, held together in many places by catchword associations, with an epistolary prescript attached. ...

Part IV - Petrine Epistles

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pp. 201

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Chapter 11 - Salvation and Anthropology in First Peter

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pp. 203-213

The following article exposes that 1 Peter absorbed more concepts of the religious koine of the time than is commonly accepted. Thus, the eschatological aspect of his message of salvation became more plausible in the context of the Hellenistic world. This will be provocatively typified in reference to the perception of the soul and the concept of rebirth together with the intertwined dualistic tendencies. ...

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Chapter 12 - First Peter as Early Christian Diaspora Letter

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pp. 215-236

Among interpreters of 1 Peter who are more interested in its epistolary character than in daring source-critical operations, the text-pragmatic affinity of 1 Peter with Jewish letters to the Diaspora has occasionally been noticed. The first proposals of this kind came from Erik Peterson and especially Carl Andresen. ...

Part V - Johannine Epistles

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pp. 237

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Chapter 13 - The Johannine Epistles as Catholic Epistles

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pp. 239-305

In the last fifty years, the Catholic Epistles (CE) have received little attention as a corpus within the New Testament canon alongside the Gospels and Paul.1 One reason for this is the renewed focus on the Johannine literature in this period taking 1, 2, and 3 John into a different context. This tends to support the notion that the CE are the “leftovers.” ...

Part VI - JUDE

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pp. 307

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Chapter 14 - The Epistle of Jude between Judaism and Hellenism

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pp. 309-329

The issue of the historical context of the Epistle of Jude is a particular crux interpretum. In New Testament scholarship, this short text has received only marginal attention.1 This is due to its brevity and obscurity, but also to its theological contents and uncertain origin. There are only a few hints that enable interpreters to specify the historical and theological location of the author and to render more precisely the profile of his adversaries. ...

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Chapter 15 - Salvation in Jude 5 and the Argument of 2 Peter 1:3-11

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pp. 331-342

An analysis of the rhetorical structure of Jude makes it clear that Jude 5 marks the transition from the body opening of the letter to the body proper. This corresponds to the fact that Jude 5 is also the lead scriptural support for the main point of the letter, the admonition of verse 3. As such, Jude 5 plays a pivotal role in the epistle’s argument, as well as presenting Jude’s view of the basis and motivation for God’s judgment.1 ...

Part VII - Conclusion

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pp. 343

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Chapter 16 - A Prolegomenon to a History of the “Postapostolic Era” (Early Christianity 70–150 CE)

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pp. 345-368

The seminar “Catholic Epistles and Apostolic Traditions” has concentrated on the Catholic Epistles as literature and their place within the canon of the New Testament. The references to historical events and to the apostolic and postapostolic periods have been part of our discussions. In the present paper, however, I will focus entirely on the postapostolic period as a challenge for current and future scholarship. ...


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pp. 369-502


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pp. 491-527

Author Index

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pp. 529-536

E-ISBN-13: 9781602585058
E-ISBN-10: 1602585059
Print-ISBN-13: 9781602582156
Print-ISBN-10: 1602582157

Page Count: 570
Publication Year: 2009

Edition: 1

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Subject Headings

  • Bible. N.T. Catholic Epistles -- Criticism, interpretation, etc. -- Congresses.
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