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The Formation of the Catholic Epistle Collection and the Christian Canon
Not by Paul Alone explores the historical reasons for the creation of the book of James and the implications for the creation of the Christian canon. Nienhuis makes a compelling case that James was written in the mid-second century and is, like 2 Peter, an attempt to provide a distinctive shape to the emerging New Testament. This book bolsters the claim that the Catholic Epistles not only have a distinct witness individually, but that collectively they are also a considered theological agenda within the Christian church.
The Legacy of Origen's Commentary on Romans
Standard accounts of the history of interpretation of Paul’s Letter to the Romans often begin with St. Augustine. As Thomas P. Scheck demonstrates, however, the Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 CE) was a major work of Pauline exegesis which, by means of the Latin translation preserved in the West, had a significant influence on the Christian exegetical tradition. Scheck begins by exploring Origen’s views on justification and on the intimate connection of faith and post-baptismal good works as essential to justification. He traces the enormous influence Origen’s Commentary on Romans had on later theologians in the Latin West, including the ways in which theologians often appropriated Origen’s exegesis in their own work. Scheck analyzes in particular the reception of Origen by Pelagius, Augustine, William of St. Thierry, Erasmus, Cornelius Jansen, the Anglican Bishop Richard Montagu, and the Catholic lay apologist John Heigham, as well as Martin Luther, Philip Melanchthon, and other Protestant Reformers who harshly attacked Origen’s interpretation as fatally flawed. But as Scheck shows, theologians through the post-Reformation controversies of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries studied and engaged Origen extensively, even if not always in agreement. An important work in patristics, biblical interpretation, and historical theology, Origen and the History of Justification establishes the formative role played by Origen’s Pauline exegesis, while also contributing to our understanding of the theological issues surrounding justification in the western Christian tradition.
Reading John’s Jewish Apocalypse
What makes the Book of Revelation so hard to understand?
How does the Book of Revelation fit into Judaism and the beginning of
John W. Marshall proposes a radical reinterpretation of the Book of Revelation of John, viewing it as a document of the Jewish diaspora during the Judean War. He contends that categorizing the Book as "Christian" has been an impediment in interpreting the Apocalypse. By suspending that category, solutions to several persistent problems in contemporary exegesis of the Apocalypse are facilitated. The author thus undertakes a rereading of the Book of Revelation that does not merely enumerate elements of a Jewish "background" but understands the Book of Revelation as an integral whole and a thoroughly Jewish text.
Marshall carefully scrutinizes the problems that plague contemporary interpretations of the Book of Revelation, and how the category of "Christian" relates to such problems. He employs the works of Mieke Bal, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Jean Franois Lyotard, and Jonathan Z. Smith as theoretical resources. In the second half of his study, he provides detailed descriptions of the social and cultural context of the diaspora during the Judean War, and constructive rereadings of four key text complexes.
The result is a portrait of the Apocalypse of John that envisions the document as deeply invested in the Judaism of its time, pursuing rhetorical objectives that are not defined by the issues that scholars use to differentiate Judaism from Christianity.
A Theology of Biblical Interpretation
The interpretation of Scripture has depended largely on the view of history held by theologians and exegetes. In Participatory Biblical Exegesis, Matthew Levering examines the changing views of history that distinguish patristic and medieval biblical exegesis from modern historical-critical exegesis. Levering argues for a delicate interpretive balance, in which history is understood both as a process that participates in God’s creative and redemptive presence and as a set of linear moments. He identifies a split between theological and historical interpretations of scripture beginning in the high Middle Ages, considerably earlier than the emergence of historical-critical methods in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Instead, he offers a vision of Scripture that is rooted in the exegetical practice of St. Thomas Aquinas and his sources but embraces historical-critical research as well. Participatory Biblical Exegesis provides an original theological basis for critical exegesis. It integrates the work of contemporary exegetes, philosophers, theologians, and historians to provide a compelling vision of biblical interpretation.
Narrative and Law in Rabbinic Theology
If law alone yields legalism, then religious belief, by itself, fails to create justice. In Performing Israel's Faith, Jacob Neusner shows how Jewish Halakhah (law) and Aggadah (narrative) fit together to form a robust and coherent covenant theology-one directly concerned about this world. Neusner's careful and thorough examination of several key issues within rabbinic Judaism-the nations, idolatry, sin, repentance, and atonement- demonstrates that neither Halakhah nor Aggadah can be fully and rightly understood when the two are isolated from each other. Performing Israel's Faith thus effectively reveals that rabbinic Judaism's true pattern of religion was constituted by a covenant theology comprised by both law and story- a covenant theology whose aim was to restore the sanctification of God's original creation.
Commentary on the Gospel of Mark
Peter of John Olivi introduces his commentary on Mark by explaining the brevity of his treatment. His commentaries on Matthew and John lie behind him. In the light of that work , he proposes, we can read Mark easily. And so he divides and summarizes Mark, pausin only at passages particular to Mark's account.
Choices in Old Testament Theology
What difference would it make for Old Testament theology if we turned our attention from the more dramatic, forceful "mighty acts of God" to the more subdued, but more realistic themes of later writings in the Hebrew Bible? The result, Mark McEntire argues, would be a more mature theology that would enable us to respond more realistically and creatively to the unprecedented challenges of the present age.
Conversations with Biblical Women
This rich collection celebrates 23 biblical women, from the familiar Sarah, Miriam, Ruth, and Esther, to the more mysterious Hatzlelponi mother of Samson) and the unnamed "Wife of Ovadiah." Based on the 13th-century Yemenite Midrash ha-Gadol (literally, the Great Midrash) -- a work only partially translated into English and, until now, virtually unknown to American Jews -- this new volume presents stories, commentaries, original monologues, and discussion topics touching upon the lives of Jewish women today. Penina Adelman became captivated by Midrash ha-Gadol while seeking a new ritual to perform before her daughter's bat mitzvah. She eventually enlisted a group of writers to join her in studying the midrash. These women agreed to step inside the Bible and "become" some of their ancestors. The resulting book is an unusual encounter among remarkable biblical women -- from different time periods and walks of life -- who are able to converse directly with one another and the reader. As the writers probe the hearts and minds of the biblical characters, they provide an insightful, behind-the-scenes look into the relationships of women whose feelings and actions have inspired readers throughout the ages. This book is a beautiful example of the way today's scholars are using midrash to weave together Jewish tradition and modern society. In the original Yemenite midrash, each of the women is linked to a line from the poem in Proverbs, "Eishet Chayil" (Women of Valor) -- the poem often sung at Jewish weddings by the groom to the bride and at the traditional Shabbat table by a husband to his wife, and recited at a Jewish woman's funeral. In this new book, the reader is invited to experience the blending of the familiar poem with the previously unexplored treasure trove of Midrash ha-Gadol and the new voices for each character. This extraordinary combination makes it ideal for Jewish educators, teen and adult study groups, readers of midrash, and scholars in the fields of women's studies and contemporary spirituality. It also makes a lovely gift for brides, mothers, and grandmothers.
The Ironic Wink
Rarely does a biblical book evoke admiration from a Nobel laureate in literature, a newspaper columnist, a prize-winning poet, and a popular songwriter. Ecclesiastes has done that, and for good reason. Its author, who called himself Qoheleth, stared death in the face and judged all human endeavors to be futile. For Qoheleth observation is the only avenue to understanding; an arbitrarily wrathful and benevolent deity created and rules over the world; and death is unpredictable, absolute, and final. His message is simple: seize the moment, for death awaits. James L. Crenshaw begins by examining the essential mysteries of the book of Ecclesiastes: the speaker’s identity, his emphasis on hidden or contradictory truths, and his argument of the insubstantiality of most things and the ultimate futility of all efforts. Moving from the ancient to the contemporary, Crenshaw again analyzes Qoheleth’s observations about the human condition, this time testing if they can stand up against rational inquiry today. In exploring Qoheleth’s identity, the foundations of his outlook, and his recommendations, Crenshaw engages modern readers in a conversation about one of the most disagreed upon biblical books. In Qoheleth, Crenshaw draws on related literature from the ancient Near East and traces the impact of Qoheleth in both Christian and Jewish traditions, summarizing a lifetime of scholarship on the book of Ecclesiastes. While exploring Ecclesiastes and its enigmatic author, Crenshaw engages scholars and modern interpreters in genuine debate over the lasting relevance of Qoheleth’s teachings and the place of Ecclesiastes in the biblical canon.