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Messianic Theology of the New Testament

Dr. Joshua Jipp, associate professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, joins David Capes this week on The Stone Chapel podcast. He has written an important book entitled The Messianic Theology of the New Testament (Eerdmans, 2020).  His particular focus is to survey and understand the royal messianism associated with the Davidic dynasty.  He makes the point that there is no standardized, pre-existing view of the messiah at the time of Jesus; instead, there has been a robust “messianic discourse” that has been going on for hundreds of years centered on King David and his legacy.

To hear the podcast on Apple podcasts click here.

The Stone Chapel is a podcast of the friends and staff of the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas.  It is hosted by Dr. David Capes, Senior Research Fellow at the library and former faculty member at Houston Baptist University and Wheaton College.  The purpose of the podcast is to bring to our audience great conversations from the world’s leading experts in theology, biblical studies, archaeology, Church history, the Dead Sea Scrolls, ethics, ministry, and a host of other topics close to the mission of the library.

The Lanier Theological Library is a magnet for scholars, church leaders and influencers.  For the last ten years, it has welcomed hundreds of academics and church leaders from across the globe for public lectures, study, panel discussions, consultations, and encouragement.

These podcasts as well as the Lanier library and the Stone Chapel are generously underwritten by Mark and Becky Lanier and the Lanier Theological Library Foundation.  If you have questions or comments, please be in touch: Email david.capes@lanierlibrary.org

Scribes and Their Remains

Dr. Craig Evans, HBU, and Jeremiah Johnston, Christian Thinkers’ Society, stopped by to record an episode of “The Stone Chapel” about their 2019 edited book Scribes and Their Remains. They take a look at the durability of papyrus in the ancient world and the scribal practices that gave to us what they describe as a “stable” text. Some scholars argue that in the first few centuries scribes practices make the table unstable and untrustworthy. Its an important debate.

Dr. Craig Evans
Dr. Jeremiah Johnston

To listen to the podcast (22 minutes), click here.

The Stone Chapel is a podcast of the friends and staff of the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas.  It is hosted by Dr. David Capes, Senior Research Fellow at the library and former faculty member at Houston Baptist University and Wheaton College.  The purpose of the podcast is to bring to our audience great conversations from the world’s leading experts in theology, biblical studies, archaeology, Church history, the Dead Sea Scrolls, ethics, ministry, and a host of other topics close to the mission of the library.

The Lanier Theological Library is a magnet for scholars, church leaders and influencers.  For the last ten years, it has welcomed hundreds of academics and church leaders from across the globe for public lectures, study, panel discussions, consultations, and encouragement.

These podcasts as well as the Lanier library and the Stone Chapel are generously underwritten by Mark and Becky Lanier and the Lanier Theological Library Foundation.  If you have questions or comments, please be in touch: Email david.capes@lanierlibrary.org

Theology on the Web

Rob Bradshaw’s full time job is librarian at Spurgeon’s College in London. But he also has a passion for making theology available on the Internet.

Here is the website you need to know:

https://theologyontheweb.org.uk

Rob has digitized 40,000 articles from dozens and dozens of journals.  Some you have heard of.  Some you have not.  But he has done his due diligence to contact the authors and/or their heirs to make sure he has permission to put their work on the web so that people across the world can see it.

In this time of Covid-19 when libraries are closed and resources are scarce, it is great to have access to these articles.  They are cross-referenced by author, publication, topic, etc.

Rob has articles on a variety of disciplines: theology, church history, Old Testament, New Testament, and archaeology.  The website above mentioned above curates and organizes the entire collection of digitized articles.

Now, Rob does this on the side, as a gift to scholars, pastors, and students.  Access to the articles are free, but if you’d like to help him with some of the expenses, leave some money in the tip jar before you go.

 

Hobby Lobby, Dirk Obbink, and Missing Manuscripts

The Egypt Exploration Society (EES) recently posted a statement that it was working with the Museum of the Bible to determine whether texts from the Oxyrhynchus collection had been sold to Hobby Lobby organization. Apparently, some manuscripts had gone missing and a contract between Professor Dirk Obbink, of Oxford University, and Hobby Lobby was discovered and released.  There were six items in all,  including four NT fragments dug up earlier in the 20th century in Egypt.


I met Dr. Dirk Obbink a few years ago at a conference for scholars at Baylor University.  All the scholars were working on and seeking to identify texts written on papyri.  Obbink is one of the world’s foremost authorities on papyri.  He is often called upon to comment on ancient manuscripts.  His name and reputation are well known in papyrological studies. 

The Museum of the Bible had in its possession thirteen texts from the Egypt Exploration Society.  Twelve on papyrus and one on parchment (animal skin).  All had biblical or related content.  It seems the texts were taken without permission.  Not only were the manuscripts missing but so were catalogue cards and photographs (ways the EES identifies, tracks and evaluates manuscripts).  Someone, it seems, was trying to cover up the fact they were missing. Fortunately, the EES had other records which allowed them to identify the missing manuscripts.
I am pleased to report that the trustees of the Museum of the Bible are cooperating with the investigation and have agreed to return the manuscripts to the EES.

in 2010 Professor Obbink, according to the Museum of the Bible, sold eleven manuscripts (fragments) to Hobby Lobby Stores.  Obbink was later “discharged” from his duties as general editor of the Oxyrhynchus papyri because of unsatisfactory  performance and suspicions that he was seeking to sell ancient manuscripts.  Obbink denied the charges but today no longer has access to these manuscripts.  The investigation into his actions and the state of the missing manuscripts is going to continue.

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Dirk Obbink

For more information about the publication of some of the manuscripts check here.

A Jewish Approach to the New Testament

A few years ago I wrote a review of the following book: 

Manns, Frédéric.  Une approche juive du Nouveau Testament.  Initiations bibliques. 

Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 1998.  Pp. 298.  F195.AAA 220px-Frederic_Manns_OFM

I thought I’d share it here with you.  

Frédéric Manns has contributed widely to biblical studies within the Franciscan tradition.  Over the last years he has published translations and commentaries of the Targums from Codex Urbaniti 1.  He has proven to be a competent and insightful reader of both early Christian documents and Jewish literature of late antiquity including the Dead Sea Scrolls, Pseudepigrapha, the Mishnah and Talmud.  Several sections of this book reprint some of Manns’ earlier articles published in Revue des sciences religieuses.

Manns distinguishes between “methods” of interpretation and “approaches” to scripture.  While the former appears more scientific, reading the NT within a Jewish perspective offers rich results, particularly for those who read and interpret within a faith community.  Manns begins by acknowledging that Christianity and rabbinic Judaism emerged from a common heritage, namely, ancient Judaism.  Accordingly, both movements share a canon of inspired texts and use similar principles for interpreting and applying them.  Early Christian interpretations, however, did not simply derive from Jewish thought; they were worked out through the experience of the church, especially through its conflict within the synagogues.  Modern interpreters who privilege the historical-critical method over a Jewish approach to the texts are astonished at the readings of early Christians and Jews.  Manns overall purpose is to analyze Christian texts in light of the traditions and principles of Jewish hermeneutics.  Therefore, he offers a modified “Strack-Billerbeck” approach to the NT.

Part one of the book deals with methodological considerations.  Therein Manns rehearses a brief history of NT interpretation and shows how Jesus’ authority as a teacher would have been understood by his disciples.  Following a survey of Jewish hermeneutical principles, the author reflects on how NT writers utlized them. Manns is interested not only in the rules of Hillel, but also the the popular use of etymologies and word plays from the Hebrew as they relate to the names of people and places.  No doubt he offers a number of creative readings, but it is not at all clear that Greek writers or readers could have caught any of these possibilities.  Similarly, Manns takes up the rabbinic use of al-tiqra and finds evidence of a similar phenomenon in the NT Gospels.  Using al-tiqra (translated, “do not read”) readers could vary the vowels of a word or phrase to discover a different sense to a text.  Since Hebrew texts contain no vowels, this became a common practice for deriving other meanings.  With these principles and methods in mind Manns is ready to approach selected NT passages in light of other Jewish texts from the same period.

Part two deals with Matthew’s treatment the story of Judas’ death (Matt 27:3-10) as a Christian midrash and the parable of the wedding feast (Matt 22:1-10).  In part three Manns argues that the source for Luke’s special material derives from a Palestinian setting. He deals with the question of women in the synagogue during the time of Jesus and shows how the literary and archaeological evidences elucidate Luke’s unique perspective.  In another section Manns argues for a causal reading of hoti in Luke 7:47 based upon the insight that Luke may have modified his account of the sinful woman in light of Jewish reflection on Rahab.  Having gathered ample rabbinic evidence, he relates the conviction that just as God justified Rahab because she acted hospitably toward the spies, so Jesus announced the forgiveness of the sinful woman because of her loving act.  In a sense the story of Rahab provides the basis for the Gospel account.  Manns also deals with other Lucan texts including Luke 1:68-69, 4:16-30 and 24:32.

In part four Manns submits that the Fourth Gospel comes from a Jewish-Christian source as well.  Regarding 1 John 3:4, he suggests that anomia be understood as a personification of those powers hostile to God which lead humans to abandon God’s law.  In his investigation of the phrase “the angel of the church” in the seven letters of Revelation (chs. 2-3), he concludes that “angel” is best read as a symbol of the bishop which heads each Christian community.   Mann also takes up the language of the hymn found in Rev 12:10-12 and explicates it neatly with regard to Jewish apocalyptic and liturgical interests in the period.   In part five Manns expands his investigation into the Catholic letters with sections on (1) a Jewish liturgical tradition behind Jam1:21b, (2) the phrase “confess your sins to one another” in Jam 5:16 and (3) Sarah as the model for an obedient wife from 1 Pet 3:5-6.  In each case Manns finds ample material in Judaism to explain the source and meanings of these texts.

With this book Frédéric Manns joins a long line of researchers who find Jewish approaches to the NT rich and evocative.  No doubt Second Temple Judaism is the fertile  soil from which early Christianity springs.  Manns offers some creative and in some cases persuasive readings of the NT passages he selects.  One is left to wonder, however, to what extent the writers and first readers of these texts would have understood the rich imagery modern interpreters discover as they mine the many volumes of Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls, Talmud, etc., which are readily available to us.  Are we the first to see these images, to hear these echoes?  In some cases the answer is clearly “no,” as Manns shows when he cites the early Christian fathers.  In other cases the answer may be “yes.”  Overall Manns’ book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of how early Christians approached the task of interpreting their faith through theological reflection on Jewish beliefs and practices.  Many useful insights await those willing to consider the playful and creative ways early Christians and Jews made use of their traditions.

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