- Understanding What One Reads I–III by Jan Lambrecht
Professor Jan Lambrecht, former Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the Catholic University of Leuven, and afterwards also a professor at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, is not unknown among South African scholars. In 1991, he was one of the contributors to the Festschrift for Prof. Andrie B. du Toit, Teologie in Konteks, with an article entitled, "A Call to Witness by All: Evangelisation in 1 Thessalonians."
These three volumes bring together Lambrecht's 99 more recent shorter studies, especially on the Synoptic Gospels and Pauline literature. The title of these volumes recalls the encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian in Acts 8. As Veronica Koperski (one of Lambrecht's former doctoral students in Leuven) explains in her Preface to the first volume: "Professor Jan Lambrecht has long followed the model of Philip in helping non-specialists, as well as students of the bible, understand what they are reading in the sacred text. However, he also directed attention toward his own better understanding in dialogue with fellow biblical scholars."
These short studies are the fruits of his vast experience, which he has built up over the course of more than 50 years of academic involvement in biblical studies. His doctoral thesis in biblical studies was published in 1967 as Die Redaktion der Markus-Apokalypse: Literarische Analyse und Strukturuntersuchung (Analecta Biblica 28). Since then, Professor Lambrecht has continued to work on the Synoptic Gospels, while he also extended his explorations to the Pauline literature. His involvement in Pauline studies bore fruits in his Commentary on Second Corinthians in the Sacra Pagina series (1999). As a result of his doctoral work, apocalyptic has also remained an interest of his. It will be remembered that he was the chairperson of the 1979 Colloquium Biblicum Lovaniense on the Johannine Apocalypse and Apocalyptic in the NT (published in 1980 as L'Apocalypse johannique et l'Apocalyptique dans le Nouveau Testament, BETL 53). Hence, it is not at all surprising that these volumes contain two studies on the Apocalypse of John. [End Page 237]
Generally, one can characterise these studies as critical dialogues with current publications of biblical scholars; the approach is usually a "close reading" based on grammar and literary features of the texts. This is what makes these volumes so stimulating. For instance, he turns our attention to a statement by Hans Dieter Betz in his presidential lecture at the Pretoria General Meeting of the SNTS (1999), where Betz commented on 1 Cor 15 and Paul's understanding of the "inner human being": "The outer human being and the inner human being must not be distinguished as body and soul; they "are the two aspects of the same ἄνθρωπος (Lambrecht 2003:219, referring to Betz 2000; NTS 46:334). Lambrecht then raises the question: "does 2 Cor 4, 7–5, 10 justify the view of the body as a 'spiritual' entity?" (2003, 219). This refers to the statement of Betz: "While the σάρξ is regarded as mere perishability, the σῶμα is a "spiritual" entity destined for imperishability" (NTS 46:328).
The following titles covering the field of Pauline studies give an idea of the nature of this collection: "The Confirmation of the Promises (Romans 15, 8)" responds to the exegesis by Thomas Söding (I:167–173). "Knowledge and Love (1 Corinthians 8:1–13)" takes as point of departure the studies by J. Delobel, J. F. M. Smit and A. Denaux (I:174–187). "The Spirit and Jesus (1 Corinthians 12:3)" responds to Johan Vos and puts forward a new proposal (I:188–204). "Ecocentric or Anthtropocentric: A Reading of Romans 8:18–25" is a dialogue with the recent works by H. A. Hahne, R. Jewett, J. Moo and Hunt-Horrell-Southgate. Lambrecht concludes: "Romans 8, 19–22, however, cannot be explained in the way Jewett does it. The passage does not point to the ecological problems we face today nor...