Emerging Scholars

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers

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Interpreting Abraham

Journeys to Moriah

Edited by Bradley Beach and Matthew Powell

The story of Abraham and Isaac is a story of near universal importance. Sitting near the core of three of the world’s great religious traditions, this nineteen verse story opens a world of interpretive possibilities, raising questions of family, loyalty, faith, and choices that are common to all.

This collection of essays takes up the question of how our interpretation of this pivotal text has changed over time, and how, even in unlikely intellectual places, the story influences our thought.

It begins by exploring various readings of Abraham and the Akedah story throughout the traditional lenses of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. From there, it moves into modern and postmodern readings, including how such varied thinkers as Kant and Kierkegaard, Kafka and Derrida have enaged the text.

The book demonstrates the diversity of interpretations, and the dramatic impact of the story on the western intellectual tradition.

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The Interpreting Angel Motif in Prophetic and Apocalyptic Literature

By David P. Melvin

Melvin traces the emergence and development of the motif of angelic interpretation of visions from late prophetic literature (Ezekiel 40–48; Zechariah 1–6) into early apocalyptic literature (1 Enoch 17–36; 72–82; Daniel 7–8). Examining how the historical and socio-political context of exilic and post-exilic Judaism and the broader religious and cultural environment shaped Jewish angelology in general, Melvin concludes that the motif of the interpreting angel served a particular function. Building upon the work of Susan Niditch, Melvin concludes that the interpreting angel motif served a polemical function in repudiating divination as a means of predicting the future, while at the same time elevating the authority of the visionary revelation. The literary effect is to reimagine God as an imperial monarch who rules and communicates through intermediaries—a reimagination that profoundly influenced subsequent Jewish and Christian tradition.

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John's Use of Matthew

by James Barker

The Gospel of John’s relationship to the Synoptic Gospels is a perennial question. For centuries, the Gospel of Matthew has been considered the least likely of possible written sources of the Fourth Gospel. In an ambitious reappraisal, James Barker demonstrates John’s use of the redacted Gospel of Matthew. After reviewing the history of interpretation on the question, Barker develops three case studies. Concerning ecclesial authority, Barker contends that John’s saying concerning forgiving and retaining sins derives from Matthew’s binding and loosing logion. Regarding proof from prophecy, he argues that John relies on Matthew for Zechariah’s oracle about Israel’s king entering Jerusalem on a donkey. Finally, he argues that John’s inclusion of Samaritans contrasts sharply with Matthew’s exclusion of Samaritans from the early church. Although John’s engagement with Matthew was by no means uncritical, Barker at last concludes that John intended his Gospel to be read alongside, not instead of, Matthew’s.

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Judgment According to Works in Romans

The Meaning and Function of Divine Judgment in Paul's Most Important Letter

By Kevin W. McFadden

Giving careful exegetical attention to Paul’s letter to the Romans, Kevin W. McFadden shows that Paul wrote the letter to remind Roman Christians of his gospel because of his vocation as apostle to the Gentiles. The letter simultaneously demonstrates the guilt of the world and calls Paul’s audience to live out the implications of the gospel. The theme of judgment thus appears in two distinct ways. Paul opposes justification by works of law, but simultaneously affirms––as did most of the early Christian movement, McFadden argues––a final judgment according to works. These are not contradictory observations but belong together in a cohesive understanding of Paul’s theology and of his purpose in the letter. McFadden turns at last to the implications of his study for a reassessment of Protestant interpretation of Paul, and of the present impasse in interpretation caused by hasty or inexact generalizations made within the “New Perspective.”

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Luther on Faith and Love

Christ and the Law in the 1535 Galatians Commentary

by Sun-young Kim

There has been a distinct tendency in modern scholarship to underestimate Luther’s teaching on love by overemphasizing his teaching on justification. Calling this tendency into question, this volume advances the thesis that Luther’s teaching on faith and love operates as the overriding thematic pair in the dynamics of Christ and the law—structurally and conceptually undergirding the 1535 Galatians commentary. The research situates itself in the landscape of Luther scholarship via a special attention to Finnish Luther scholars and scholarship.

The project argues that in the discussion of proper righteousness and holiness, Luther’s redefined love emerges in harmony with faith. His views on Christian freedom, the Christ-given law of love, the twofold way of fulfilling the law, and his Christological premises demonstrate the logical rationale for reintroducing love. This love, designated as a fruit of faith, is incarnated in three major relations: love toward God, toward others, and toward self.

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Memory and Covenant

The Role of Israel's and God's memory in Sustaining the Deuteronomic and Priestly Covenants

By Barat Ellman

Memory and Covenant combines a close reading of texts in the deuteronomic, priestly, and holiness traditions with analysis of ritual and scrutiny of the different terminology used in each tradition regarding memory. Ellman demonstrates that the exploration of the concept of memory is critical to understanding the overall cosmologies, theologies, and religious programs of these distinct traditions. All three regard memory as a vital element of religious practice and as the principal instrument of covenant fidelity—but in very different ways. Ellman shows that for the deuteronomic tradition, memory is an epistemological and pedagogical means for keeping Israel faithful to its God and God’s commandments, even when Israelites are far from the temple and its worship. The priestly tradition, however, understands that the covenant depends on God’s memory, which must be aroused by the sensory stimuli of the temple cult. The holiness school incorporates the priestly idea of sensory memory but places responsibility for remembering on Israel. A subsequent layer of priestly tradition revives the centrality of God’s memory within a thorough-going theology uniting temple worship with creation.

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Narrative Obtrusion in the Hebrew Bible

by Christopher T. Paris

Narrative critics of the Hebrew Bible often describe the biblical narrators as “laconic,” “terse,” or “economical.” The narrators generally remain in the background, allowing the story to proceed while relying on characters and dialogue to provide necessary information to readers. On those occasions when these narrators add notes to their stories, scholars may characterize such interruptions as “asides” or redactions.

Christopher T. Paris calls attention to just these narrative interruptions, in which the story teller “breaks frame” to provide information about a character or even in order to direct reader understanding and, Paris argues, to prevent undesirable construals or interpretations of the story.

Paris focuses on the Deuteronomistic History. Here the narrator occasionally obtrudes into the narrative to manage or deflect anticipated reader questions and assumptions in an interpretive stance that Paris compares with the commentary provided by later rabbis and in the Targums. Attention to narrative obtrusion offers an entry point into the world of the narrator, Paris argues, and thus promises to redefine aspects of narrative criticism.

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Palestinian Christians and the Old Testament

History, Hermeneutics, and Ideology

by Will Stalder

The foundation of the modern State of Israel in 1948 is commemorated by many Palestinians as a day of catastrophe. Many Palestinian Christians claim that the nakba was also spiritually catastrophic: the characters, names, events, and places of the Old Testament took on new significance with the newly formed political state, which caused vast portions of the text to become unusable in their eyes and be abandoned. Stalder asks how Palestinian Christians have read the Old Testament in the period before and under the British Mandate and now, in light of the foundation of the modern State of Israel, then contemplates how they might read these sacred texts in the future, interacting with proposals by Michael Prior, Charles Miller, and Gershon Nerel. His particular goal is to outline a possible hermeneutic that does not disregard the concerns of the respective religious communities without writing off the Old Testament prematurely.

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Partakers of the Divine

Contemplation and the Practice of Philosophy

By Jacob Holsinger Sherman

One of the important ecclesial developments over the last century has been the extraordinary rediscovery, retrieval and reinvigoration of the Christian contemplative tradition, a recovery that has been extraordinarily influential Theologians have begun to explore how aspects of the Christian contemplative tradition challenge certain prevalent views about the nature of God, the world, and persons, but this contemplative renaissance also raises crucial questions about a variety of more philosophical arenas such as how we construe the relationship between faith and reason, religious epistemology, theological metaphysics, philosophical hermeneutics and so forth. How might the theological and ecclesial renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition augment, challenge, and transform the practice not only of theology but also of philosophy itself? This book is an extended essay in ‘contemplative philosophy,’ the meeting of mystical and philosophical theology, of Christian contemplation and the philosophy of religion. It shows that, within the Christian tradition, philosophical and contemplative practices arose together and that throughout much of Christian history philosophy, theology and contemplation remained internal to one another. Contemplation was not something to be studied from the outside but rather transformed philosophical and theological inquiries from the inside. The relation of philosophy, theology, and contemplation to one another is of more than antiquarian interest, for it provides theologians and philosophers of religion today with a way forward beyond many of the stalemates that have beset discussions about faith and reason, the role of religion in contemporary culture, and the challenges of modernity and postmodernity.

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Playful, Glad, and Free

Karl Barth and a Theology of Popular Culture

By Jessica DeCou

This book offers a critical analysis and reinterpretation of Karl Barth’s theology of culture—the least studied aspect of his work—revealing his significance for contemporary work in theology of culture by applying his approach to the study of popular culture and entertainment. Grounding the study in Barth’s eschatology, which proves more amenable to secular culture than other models, DeCou shows that Barth’s approach recognized that the freedom of theology is qualified by the freedom of the Word and the freedom of secular culture. Barth therefore offers a “middle way” for evaluating and analyzing culture and religious forms. This book thus opens up a new avenue of interpretation of Barth and applies the insights of Barth’s theology in fresh ways to the structures of contemporary culture and its products.

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