- Preface to the 50th Anniversary Issue
The New Testament Society of Southern Africa (NTSSA) commemorates with this Special Edition the golden anniversary of its journal Neotestamentica. To reach volume 50 is a milestone, a proud moment, and reason for celebration. Volume 1 of Neotestamentica was published in 1967. Until 1986 (vol. 20) each volume consisted of a single issue—occasionally complemented by an addendum on the discourse analysis of the Greek text of a NT book or chapters of a book (see vols. 13 and 16). As from 1987 (vol. 21) two issues per volume were published. A proper third or special issue was included once: with volume 28. This was in 1994 after the sudden passing of Prof. Willem S. Vorster who occupied such a prominent place in the Society (“one of the most esteemed and influential members”1) and NT scholarship in general, and also served as General Secretary of the NTSSA and editor of Neotestamentica for a number of years. The Special Edition, volume 28(3), honoured Vorster’s scholarship by means of a constructive and critical debate on topics that he had introduced in South African NT studies.
In this Special Edition, volume 50(3), we mark the 50th birthday of our journal by way of a “hands-on” approach2: a number of senior members (“60+” years young) of the Society took the time and effort to submit a contribution on a topic of their choice, whether reflection or research, brief or extensive; liberty was granted in this regard—resulting in a compilation of articles that in a special way bear the personal stamp of the authors. It is safe to say that the contributors each wrote on a subject that they are passionate about; in some cases years of research were dedicated to the theme of the article presented here. The tapestry of scholarly talent and specialisation displayed in this issue is therefore of both academic and historical interest, providing glimpses into a generation of scholarship with its own unique traits and predilections—in terms of assumptions, method and subject matter. One cannot fail to notice, for instance, the references to exponents of German scholarship of the 19th and 20th century before the centre of gravity with regard to the biblical [End Page i] sciences in South Africa had shifted to its own continent and the Anglo-American world.
The contributors to this anniversary issue each in their own capacity have shaped the academic niche that is the NTSSA and its journal. We honour their commitment here. But this does not mean that there have been no others. On the contrary, since this issue only provided limited space, it was impossible to include all of the target group or even to mention all of them by name here. Having said this, I would like to make an exception for four of those who uniquely contributed to the Society and especially Neotestamentica, but are not included as contributors in this special issue. Having learned from experience the extraordinary commitment that the editorship of Neotestamentica demands, allow me to mention by name and thereby acknowledge four senior members who served, like some of the contributors in this issue, as editor of Neotestamentica for a number of years: Pieter de Villiers (1981–1989), Hermie van Zyl (1989–1995), Johan Thom (2000–2003), and Jonathan Draper (2003–2013).
In what follows, I introduce each article included in this special issue as well as the contributor’s role as member of the Society over the years.
Bernard Lategan opens the issue with an insightful synopsis of the interpretive interests that articles in Neotestamentica have represented in the first fifty years of the journal’s existence, as well as their division according to relative weight. Bernard Lategan became a member of the NTSSA in 1968 just after his return from the Netherlands and his study with Herman Ridderbos in Kampen. At that time the “Werkgemeenskap” only had a handful of members—Profs Groenewald and Müller being the senior ones. Bernard Lategan served the Society as Financial Secretary (1985–1990) and General Secretary (1990–1995). He was a member of the editorial board of Neotestamentica from 1995–2000...