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Rethinking Scripture and History through Gregory of Nazianazus and Hans Frei
Key to a theology of scripture and how theology functions in relation to the interpretation of Christianity's religious texts is the important issue of faith and history. Seeking to address a critical problem in theology and the interpretation of scripture raised by modern historical consciousness, Ben Fulford argues for a densely historical and theological reading of scripture centered in a Christological rubric. The argument herein uncovers a pattern of triune action and presence in the rhetorical use of Christian sacred texts, one which draws readers into fuller participation in the shaping of history in Christ. Tracing the problem through the modern theological heritage, the author turns to a comparative account of theologically patterned reading represented by patristic theology in Gregory of Nazianzus and postliberal theology in its pivotal founder, Hans Frei. The book addresses the challenge of historicity and historical consciousness, argues for the relevance of pre-modern approaches to scripture, and offers a fresh and extensive account of two salient figures from the early and contemporary tradition, thus enacting a theology of retrieval as a resource on a present issue of vital importance.
Scott Shauf compares the portrayal of the divine in Acts with portrayals of the divine in other ancient historiographical writings, the latter including Jewish and wider Greco-Roman historiographical traditions. The divine may be represented as a single deity (in Judaism) or many (in Greek and Roman traditions) and also includes representations of angels, God’s spirit, Jesus as a divine figure, or forces with divine status such as fate, chance, and providence. Shauf’s particular interest is in how the divine is represented as involved in history, through themes including the nature of divine retribution, the partiality or impartiality of the divine toward different sets of people, and the portrayal of divine control over seemingly purely natural and human events. Acts is shown to be engaging historiographical traditions of the author’s own day but also contributing unique historiographical perspectives. The way history is written in Acts and in the other writings is shown to be intimately tied to the understanding of the role of the divine in history.
Since its first appearance in 1980, Documents for the Study of the Gospels has been a welcome and highly regarded sourcebook for the study of the historical environment of the Gospels, introducing religious, philosophical, and literary texts comparable to various aspects of the Gospels and illuminating their genre and the subgenres included in them. In this edition, David R. Cartlidge has added new discoveries (including the Gospel of Mary Magdala and the Gospel of Judas) and previously known texts from the Greco-Roman world that shed light on the Gospels (including Augustus’s Res Gestae). He has updated introductions to texts throughout the book in light of contemporary scholarship and illustrated the texts with a rich repertoire of images from the ancient world and from the cultural reception of the Gospels through centuries of Christian interpretation. The result is an inviting and intriguing treasure that will enrich every student’s appreciation of the New Testament Gospels and early Christianity.
People, Texts, Situations
Scholars of early Christianity are awakening to the potential of Pompeii’s treasures for casting light on the settings and situations that were commonplace and conventional for the first urban Christians. The uncovered world of Pompeii, destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E., allows us to peer back in time, capturing a heightened sense of what life was like on the ground in the first century – the very time when the early Jesus-movement was beginning to find its feet. In light of the Vesuvian material remains, historians are beginning to ask fresh questions of early Christian texts and perceive new contours, nuances, and subtleties within the situations those texts address. The essays of this book explore different dimensions of Pompeii’s potential to refine our lenses for interpreting the texts and situations of early Christianity. The contributors to this book (including Carolyn Osiek, David Balch, Peter Oakes, Bruce Longenecker, and others) demonstrate that it is an exciting time to explore the interface between the Vesuvian contexts and the early Jesus-movement.
Paul's Lament-Midrash in Romans 9-11
God chooses Israel (salvation “first to the Jew and then the gentile”), but without showing favoritism? Paul genuinely grieves for Israel as one speaking “in” Christ, yet prays to be cursed, cut off from Christ? Romans 9–11 remains one of the most difficult and contested biblical texts in scholarship today. Theological discussions often limit the focus of this passage to God’s sovereignty, emphasizing that God’s mind is not known, or to Paul’s defense of God’s faithfulness, insisting that Israel has failed. Less attention has been devoted to Paul’s unique form and style, which, rightly understood, resolve significant issues, revealing the merciful and wise character of God in his choice of Jacob, the lesser son.
David R. Wallace demonstrates how Paul weaves two distinct Jewish literary forms together––lament and midrash—into a logical narrative concerning Israel’s salvation. Attention is given to Paul’s poetical structures, key literary terms, and use of Old Testament contexts. The result is new insight into the meaning of the letter, and into the theology of Paul.
Thinking and Working across Borders
Empowering Memory and Movement, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza completes a three-volume look across her influential work and career. In Transforming Vision (2011), she drew from decades of pioneering scholarship to offer the contours of a critical feminist hermeneutic. The chapters in Changing Horizons (2013) sketched out a theory of liberation. Now, the consequences for a liberating praxis are elaborated in interviews and essays that chart Schüssler Fiorenza’s own personal and professional history as these are intertwined with the history of the worldwide movement for emancipation and full equality. Empowering Memory and Movement looks back, but also looks around at challenges and potentialities on the global scene, and looks ahead to an emancipatory future, with a critical and wise engagement with scripture and the interpretive tradition always at the center.
Character Studies in the Gospel of John
The last thirty years have seen an increased interest in the Bible as literature and story. Yet “character” appears to be neglected in both literary theory and narrative criticism. Indeed, there is not even agreement amongst scholars on how to approach, analyze and classify characters.
Applying a comprehensive theory of character to the Gospel of John, Cornelis Bennema provides a fresh analysis of both the characters and their responses to Jesus. While the majority of scholars view most Johannine characters as “flat,” Bennema demonstrates that many are complex, developing, and “round.” John’s broad array of characters and their responses to Jesus correspond to people and their choices in real life in any culture and time. This book highlights how John’s Gospel seeks to challenge its readers, past and present, about where they stand in relation to Jesus.
The Man in His Place and Time
What was there in Jesus' person, behavior, and words that prompted not only much enthusiasm but also much hostility? This compelling portrait of the man Jesus of Nazareth by two pioneers of the anthropological study of early Christianity answers this vital question. They bring the fruit of years of scholarship to bear on a radical figure in Roman Galilee and on his encounters with others and the movement those encounters inspired. They give close attention to the everyday realities that shaped those encounters: the facts of travel, common meals, domestic space, and the interactions of bodies. The result is a refreshing new look at the man who proved so significant-and so controversial-in Western culture.
Perspectives on the Death of Jesus
In Engaging the Passion, Oliver Larry Yarbrough has gathered an impressive array of scholars to survey the wealth of ways in which the death of Jesus has been portrayed and represented in Scripture, liturgy and music, literature, art and film, theology, and ethics. In addition to addressing topics many readers will find familiar—gospel narratives, Holy Week services, Bach Passions, and well-known paintings—the essays also treat rap music, street art, a contemporary Buddhist Passion, Chagall’s crucifixions, the poetry of Walt Whitman and Countee Cullen, J. R. R. Tolkien’s unlikely hero Frodo Baggins, images from the battlefield, and stories from the soup kitchen. The contributors approach their topics from a variety of perspectives—Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and secular; their voices differ as well, from the challenging to the comforting and from the academic to the confessional. Addressing the faithful, the skeptical, and the curious, Engaging the Passion is unique in its breadth and rare in the diverse voices of its contributors. Amply illustrated and with accompanying discography and filmography, it will be a welcome resource for classes in Scripture, theology, liturgy, and the arts, as well as for personal and congregational study.