Quick Reviews: Ancient Israel’s History and Early Christianity in Contexts

ancientisraelhistoryTitle: Ancient Israel’s History: An Introduction to Issues and Sources

Editors: Bill Arnold and Richard Hess

Bibliographic info: 560 pp.

Publisher: Baker Academic, 2014.

Buy the book at Amazon

With thanks to Baker Academic for the review copy.

The history of Israel is a contentious issue for many in biblical studies. Mainstream opinion on Israelite history doesn’t exactly lend much credence to the idea of the Hebrew Bible possessing a great deal of historical value. At one end of the spectrum, you have the minimalists, those who find next to nothing useful about the Hebrew Bible in terms of its reliability for providing a faithful historical account of Israelite origins. At the other end of the spectrum, you have a very conservative stream of Christian thought that sees the historicity of the Hebrew Bible as being practically perfect.

This is where Ancient Israel’s History comes in. It seeks to navigate between the two extremes by carefully and judiciously exploring the issues in Israelite history. Overall, the book avoids the dogmatic and naïve fideistic approach that will never admit the Hebrew Bible fudges the facts at times, and it also avoids the overly skeptical approach that presumes the Hebrew Bible is guilty until proven innocent.

After the obligatory preface and introduction, the chapters proceed as follows:

  1. The Genesis Narratives (Bill T. Arnold)
  2. The Exodus and Wilderness Narratives (James K. Hoffmeier)
  3. Covenant and Treaty in the Hebrew Bible and in the Ancient Near East (Samuel Greengus)
  4. Early Israel and Its Appearance in Canaan (Lawson G. Stone)
  5. The Judges and the Early Iron Age (Robert D. Miller II)
  6. The Story of Samuel, Saul, and David (Daniel Bodi)
  7. United Monarchy: Archaeology and Literary Sources (Steven M. Ortiz)
  8. The Biblical Prophets in Historiography (James K. Mead)
  9. Late Tenth- and Ninth-Century Issues: Ahab Underplayed? Jehoshaphat Overplayed? (Kyle Greenwood)
  10. Eighth-Century Issues: The World of Jeroboam II, the Fall of Samaria, and the Reign of Hezekiah (Sandra Richter)
  11. Judah in the Seventh Century: From the Aftermath of Sennacherib’s Invasion to the Beginning of Jehoiakim’s Rebellion (Brad E. Kelle)
  12. Sixth-Century Issues (Peter van der Veen)
  13. Fifth- and Fourth-Century Issues: Governorship and Priesthood in Jerusalem (André Lemaire)
  14. The Hellenistic Period (David A. deSilva)

EarlyChristianityContextsTitle: Early Christianity in Contexts: An Exploration across Cultures and Continent

Editor: William Tabbernee

Bibliographic info: 640 pp.

Publisher: Baker Academic, 2014.

Buy the book at Amazon

With thanks to Baker Academic for the review copy.

This volume explores the presence of Christianity in the early centuries within and beyond the borders of the Roman world. The studies included in this volume examine the latest archaeological evidence, including such things as inscriptions, mosaics, icons, and other artwork.

The chapters are arranged by geographical areas and they discuss various questions, including: When was Christianity introduced? How was Christian belief and practice shaped by the culture and thought specific to each area? How did Christianity influence local culture?

The chapters are as follows:

  1. The Roman Near East
  2. Beyond the Eastern Frontier
  3. The Caucasus
  4. Deep into Asia
  5. The World of the Nile
  6. Roman North Africa
  7. Asia Minor and Cyprus
  8. The Balkan Peninsula
  9. Italy and Environs
  10. The Western Provinces and Beyond

These chapters cover early Christianity in a variety of places, including: Palaestina, Syria, Arabia, Northern Mesopotamia, Persia, Georgia, Armenia, Central Asia, China, India, Egypt, Alexandria, Axum, Nubia, Roman North Africa, Carthage and Africa Proconsularis, Numidia, Mauretania, Tripolitania, Asia Minor, Cyprus, Achaea, the Greek Islands, Thracia, Eastern Illyricum, Constantinople, Rome, Central Italy, North Italy, Ravenna, South Italy and the Islands, Dalmatia, the Western Provinces, and beyond the Western borders.

Important note concerning the digital editions: the review copies I received were through the Netgalley program (and I was reading them on the Kindle Voyage). Unfortunately, the digital version of these books I received are very subpar as they contain a multitude of formatting problems, e.g., there are no table of contents, the footnotes appear in the body text, the transliterated Hebrew is real funky, section headings have no spaces between the words, etc. And as I understand it, the print edition of these books contain various illustrative items, such as maps, images, tables and sidebars. These do not seem to appear in the digital editions and the images that do appear are usually just an unintelligible gray blob. This is especially true for the volume on ancient Israel.

With that said, for the chapters that I did manage to more or less read, the essays are grounded in literary and historical research, contain the latest scholarship, and provide a good discussion on the current state of research. I don’t usually even bother to try and read digital review books that have such contemptible formatting, but these two volumes just looked too interesting to pass up.

Book Review: Jürgen Moltmann’s Ethics of Hope

HARVIE JKT(240x159)filmsTitle: Jürgen Moltmann’s Ethics of Hope: Eschatological Possibilities for Moral Action

Author: Timothy Harvie

Series: Ashgate New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies

Bibliographic info: 238 pp.

Publisher: Ashgate, 2009.

Buy the book at Amazon

With thanks to Ashgate for the review copy!

This volume is a slightly revised version of the author’s doctoral dissertation completed at the University of Aberdeen. In this work, Timothy Harvie attempts to explore—what was at that time—an unfinished trajectory in Jürgen Moltmann’s theological project, that is, an ethics of hope. The author notes, however, that the title may be a bit “misleading” for this study is “not a piece of applied ethics engaging specific moral quandaries or the nature of Christian virtues”, but is rather “a piece of systematic theology … [that] attempt[s] to theologically describe the sphere of Christian moral action and the means by which this is enabled to take place.” Thus, “the primary task of this project is to develop an eschatological account of the sphere of human moral action in dialogue with Moltmann’s work.”

I mentioned at the beginning of the previous paragraph that an ethics of hope was an unfinished trajectory of thought in Moltmann’s work at that time. Since the publication of this study, however, Moltmann has remedied this by publishing his Ethik der Hoffnung in 2010 (Ethics of Hope, 2012).

This study is divided into two parts and seven chapters. Part I tackles the issue of doctrinal considerations and covers various important themes that arise when one focuses upon Moltmann’s theology that is centered on hope within its eschatological context. Throughout these chapters, Harvie is attempting to elucidate an eschatological ethic of hope that might be derived from Moltmann’s theology. The first chapter deals with the themes of hope and promise in Moltmann’s theology, the second chapter looks at hope and the kingdom of God, the third chapter discusses hope and the Spirit of God, and the fourth chapter is on hope in the Triune God. A key concept found in these chapters is in how Moltmann conceives of the divine promise as establishing an “interval of tension” that Harvie labels as a “between-space”, or Zwischenraum, between the time of promise and fulfillment. The grand example of this is divine promise found in the cross and resurrection of Christ for the future redemption of creation. This Zwischenraum contains an “Exodus community”, or Exodusgemeinde, that Christians may now participate in, in contradistinction to the world and in anticipation of the future fulfillment of the divine promise.

Part II then grapples with certain theological issues within the framework of eschatological hope that Harvie put forth in preceding chapters, specifically exploring how these “doctrinal insights alter an understanding of moral agency and action within the framework or Christian hope.” The three chapters in this part aim to glean what systematic theology might say in regards to time and space (chapter six), humanity (chapter seven), and the economy (chapter eight). This final chapter on the economy was quite interesting. In it, Harvie attempts to understand how Moltmann’s eschatological hope might inform Christian involvement in the world of international economics. Rather than attempting to offer up a complete and singular vision of global monetary exchange and what this might look like, Harvie instead puts forward some thoughts on the types of market engagement that are commensurate with the kingdom of God in vision of eschatological hope. Here is an example:

Christians living in high-income nations must recognize that notions of scarcity which drive domestic and global markets do not apply to their lived experience in a similar manner as is found in other nations. A reconceptualized understanding of what true scarcity is needs to be achieved through education regarding the divergences of world poverty and the desperate situations of those living in economically failing nation states. Such public awareness education can be conducted in ecclesial settings through sermons and homilies, or service groups organized by local parishes. Moving further, such awareness needs to be conjoined with how a perception of scarcity influences consumption levels. …

All in all, this was an appealing and absorbing examination of the ethical implications Moltmann’s theological project. For the uninitiated, Harvie provides a superb look at Moltmann’s theology in the first part of the study, specifically the roles of divine promise and eschatological hope. While I did enjoy reading the second part, I was hoping the author would have pushed the envelope further with his application of the framework he developed in the first part. Granted, this is no doubt easier said than done, but I think the boundaries could have been pushed more. If you’re into Moltmann or ethics from a modern Christian theological perspective, then I would heartily recommend this volume.

Quick Book Review: The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud

babyloniantalmudTitle: The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud

Author: David Halivni

Bibliographic info: 352 pp.

Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2013.

Buy the book at Amazon

The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud is an English translation of Halivni’s work relating to his Meqorot umesorot (Sources and Traditions) project. This project is a commentary (written in Hebrew) on the Babylonian Talmud which, so far, has been published in eight volumes from 1968-2012. The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud represents an in-depth account of Halivni’s source-critical approach in this project. Most academic research on the Talmud is actually written in Hebrew, with much of it never seeing the light of day in English. This fact alone makes this English translation of Halivni’s work a great step forward in Talmudic studies.

In a nutshell, here is what Halivni proposes concerning the Babylonian Talmud (the Talmud consists of the Gemara, completed ca. 500, and the Mishnah, completed ca. 200). It is typically thought that the Gemara was produced by the Amoraim and that the Mishnah was produced by the Tannaim (both being groups of rabbis). Halivni, however, disputes this chronology and presents a revised rabbinic timeline of the literary production of the Talmud. He believes that the Talmud was only made to look like it was written by the Amoraim, and that the unique style of the Gemara was, in fact, produced by the Stammaim during the 6th-8th centuries (rabbis who followed the Amoraim).

To argue his case, Halivni first puts forward his case for the Stammaim (“the anonymous ones”), who he sees as being a cohort of rabbis that is primarily responsible for the Gemara. Next, he discusses the editing of the Talmud, arguing against the typical belief that the Talmud went through a standardized editorial revision process (which he sees as being due to the contradictory Tannaitic and Amoraic sayings). Then Halivni hones in on the finer details of his proposed redactional process, and finishes by tackling the beginning of the Talmud’s written form (which involves a oral proto-Talmud that was retained by memorization by the Stammaim, some of whom cross-referenced thematically connected segments in the nascent Talmudic body by duplicating them in various redactional contexts).

The Formation of the Babylonian Talmud is an impressive volume and is also somewhat intimidating for the uninitiated like myself. I would say that this volume is more suited for those already familiar with Talmudic scholarship, rather than someone seeking an introductory volume.

Book Review: NIDNTTE

NIDNTTETitle: New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis Set

Editor: Moisés Silva

Bibliographic info: 3552 pp (5 vols).

Publisher: Zondervan, 2014.

Buy the book at Amazon or Zondervan

With thanks to Zondervan for the review copy.

The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology and Exegesis (NIDNTTE) is a thorough revision of the original New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (NIDNTT; ed. Colin Brown; Zondervan 1975-78), which itself was based on the German two-volume dictionary, Theologisches Begriffslexikon zum Neuen Testamentum (1970-71).

The NIDNTTE consists of five volumes (four dictionary volumes and an index volume) that contain about 800 entries, covering 3000 Greek words. As to be expected, nouns and adjectives are listed in the nominative case and verbs are in the first-person singular. The word entries contain useful statistical data on its usage, as well as exegetical and semantic information. There is a consistent format for each word entry. It begins with a discussion of the word in Greek literature (pre-classical to Roman times), followed by the same for Jewish literature (LXX, Pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus), and, finally, with the usage in the New Testament (with occasional references to non-canonical early Christian literature). Where possible, relevant Hebrew and Aramaic words are discussed including their usage in the Hebrew Bible, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and rabbinical texts. Each entry then closes with a bibliography listing other sources that can be consulted for further study (which, of course, have been updated from the original edition).

The first four volumes are the dictionary proper, with the fifth volume containing a handy set of indices, including scripture indices for the Old and New Testaments, indices for Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek words, and an index for Greek literature. There is also a  conversion chart for converting from Strong’s numbers to Goodrick-Kohlenberger.

As I mentioned earlier, this volume edited by Silva is an updated version of Brown’s original edition. The original edition had the drawback of being organized according to English words, whereas Silva’s new edition organizes the entries alphabetically by Greek words. A useful feature that organizing by English provides is that it groups together New Testament words that are semantically related to one another. This feature is retained in this new edition, however, by providing a list of various words related to particular concepts (the list is found at the beginning of each volume). An example is the concept of “love,” for which there are six Greek words that fall under this concept. This feature is quite useful and if you study each word listed under a concept, then you gain a greater appreciation for how the different words all contribute towards a particular concept.

There are various differences one will notice between the editions by Brown and Silva. One example is that due to the original edition being published in the 70s, some of the articles focus on issues dealing with Bultmann’s theological interpretations (this was a time when Bultmanns’s work was still being interacted with in NT studies). The examples I compared have the discussions on Bultmann noticeably shortened in Silva’s new edition.

There are other theological and exegetical dictionaries of the New Testament. A classic is Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament which, while still very useful, is a bit outdated at this point. Apart from being an up-to-date set, the NIDNTTE also has another useful feature that places it above Kittel’s TDNT, which is that each entry discusses the Greek word along with other words that are in its semantic field. That is quite a handy feature in my opinion. In fact, I think the whole method of organizing in Silva’s NIDNTTE is a step up from Kittel’s TDNT as it circumvents any confusion that may arise between lexicography and conceptual analysis.

The NIDNTTE will be a very useful tool for pastors and students of theology/biblical studies. This set is well-suited to help one understand the meaning of a Greek word in relation to its semantic field and to broader concepts. I imagine the NIDNTTE will become the standard New Testament theological dictionary.

Quick Book Review: The Sign of the Gospel

signofthegospelTitle: The Sign of the Gospel: Toward an Evangelical Doctrine of Infant Baptism after Karl Barth

Author: W. Travis McMaken

Bibliographic info: 352 pp.

Publisher: Fortress Press, 2013.

Buy the book at Amazon

With thanks to Fortress Press for the review copy

This volume is a revised version of the author’s doctoral dissertation completed at Princeton Theological Seminary in 2011. McMaken is currently an Assistant Professor of Religion at Lindenwood University.

In a nutshell, the author’s thesis is that Barth’s doctrine of baptism–and specifically, his rejection of infant baptism–has not received a fair hearing.” Furthermore, while “Barth himself rejected infant baptism, I argue that such a rejection is not necessary on the basis of his mature theology’s broader commitments.” McMaken contends that if one sees infant baptism as a “nonverbal form of the church’s gospel proclamation”, then infant baptism is also compatible with Barth’s mature theology and not necessarily a departure from it.

Apart from the standard introductory and concluding chapters, the book’s makeup consists of these chapters:

  • Baptism and Infant Baptism from the New Testament Through Barth
  • Election, Soteriology, and Barth’s “No” to Sacramental Infant Baptism
  • Election, Circumcision, and Barth’s “No” to Covenantal Infant Baptism
  • Barth’s Doctrine of Baptism, “The Foundation of the Christian Life”
  • “The Sign of the Gospel” – Toward a Post-Barthian Doctrine of Infant Baptism

For the first few chapters, McMaken discusses Barth’s rejection of arguments for infant baptism (the “sacramental” and “covenant” views). It was quite interesting to see why Barth objected to infant baptism, a couple of the reasons being that it could all too easily lead to a systematic across-the-board baptizing of infants, and that if infants are allowed to be baptized then one could make the case that they should be allowed to participate in communion too. And then there is the issue of it opening up the door too much for sacramentalism and sacerdotalism. In the end, for Barth, baptism is a response to the Spirit and an action of public obedience to the gospel.

In the final chapter, McMaken constructs a baptismal doctrine that allows infant baptism, yet is still in sync with Barth’s theology. This view is not sacramental nor covenantal, but is instead a post-Barthian understanding. In this understanding, infant baptism does not have to be employed by the church but can legitimately be utilized as a “a mode of gospel proclamation whereby the church discharges its missionary task.” This is, of course, a preliminary and non-definitive attempt by McMaken at devising such a post-Barthian understanding and will hopefully ignite some ecumenical discussion on infant baptism and be taken further (and, of course, the meaningfulness of this proposal depends in part upon how the degree to which one agrees with a Barthian understanding of soteriology).

While I enjoy reading books on Barth, I am not that well-versed with Barth’s actual writings, so I cannot really offer a comment on whether I think McMaken’s work truly is faithful to Barth’s thought. However, I will say that it is well-written and tightly argued. The historical survey was top notch and ably shows how various concepts (e.g. sacraments and soteriology) have developed throughout church history. Despite the narrow focus of this volume, it is actually quite an illuminating look at Barth’s theology. If you’re interested in Barth, ecumenical thought, or just baptismal doctrine, then I heartily recommend this book.

Some Nice Moltmann Quotes

The Moltmanniac has posted a list of favorite Moltmann quotes. Here are several of my own favorites:

“Those who hope in Christ can no longer put up with reality as it is, but begin to suffer under it, to contradict it. Peace with God means conflict with the world, for the goad of the promised future stabs inexorably into the flesh of every unfulfilled present.” (Theology of Hope)

“Whatever can stand before the face of the crucified Christ is true Christian theology. What cannot stand there must disappear.” (The Crucified God)

“Christians who do not have the feeling that they must flee the crucified Christ have probably not understood him in a sufficiently radical way.” (The Crucified God)

“Jesus did not suffer passively from the world in which he lived, but incited it against himself by his message and the life he lived.” (The Crucified God)

“If Christians find their identity in the crucified Christ, then what relevance can national, cultural, and economic identity still have for them?” (The Experiment Hope)

“The peace of God is secured and maintained not by any caesar or ideology of power, but alone by the crucified one.” (The Experiment Hope)

“Whoever follows after the person who is crucified by the idols and powers of this world becomes ready also to be an iconoclast of freedom against the gods and cults of his society.” (The Gospel of Liberation)

“The anticipation of the coming kingdom of God has taken place in history in the crucified Jesus of Nazareth. That means that the kingdom of God is not to be found anywhere on earth, except in the cross of Golgotha.” (The Future of Creation)

“[The problem of evil] is the open wound of life in this world. It is the real task of faith and theology to make it possible for us to survive, to go on living, with this open wound.” (The Trinity and the Kingdom)

“The cross is not something historically fortuitous which might not have happened. God himself is nothing other than love. Consequently Golgotha is the inescapable revelation of his nature in a world of evil and suffering.” (The Trinity and the Kingdom)

“To know Jesus does not simply mean learning the facts of Christological dogma. It means learning to know him in the praxis of discipleship.” (The Way of Jesus Christ)

“When the fear of death leaves us, the destructive craving for life leaves us too. We can then restrict our desires and our demands to our natural requirements. The dreams of power and happiness and luxury and far-off places, which are used to create artificial wants, no longer entice us. They have become ludicrous. So we shall use only what we really need, and shall no longer be prepared to go along with the lunacy of extravagance and waste. We do not even need solemn appeals for saving and moderation; for life itself is glorious, and here joy in existence can be had for nothing.” (The Power of the Powerless)

“In the raising and exaltation of Christ, God has chosen the one whom the moral and political powers of this world rejected – the poor, humiliated, suffering and forsaken Christ. God identified himself with him and made him Lord of the new world ….. The God who creates justice for those who suffer violence, the God who exalts the humiliated and executed Christ – that is the God of hope for the new world of righteousness and justice and peace.” (Ethics of Hope)

Book Review: Galatians and Christian Theology

GalatianschristiantheologyTitle: Galatians and Christian Theology: Justification, the Gospel, and Ethics in Paul’s Letter

Editors: N. T. Wright, Mark W. Elliott, Scott J. Hafemann, John Frederick

Bibliographic info: 400 pp.

Publisher: Baker Academic, 2014.

Buy the book at Amazon

With thanks to Baker Academic for the review copy.

Galatians and Christian Theology is the published proceedings of the Galatians and Christian Theology Conference hosted at the University of St. Andrews in 2012. I was excited to see this volume coming out because not only did I enjoy the previous volumes from St. Andrews’ triennial Scripture and Theology conference (Hebrews and Christian Theology, published in 2009; and Genesis and Christian Theology, published in 2012), but Galatians is also my favorite piece of Pauline writing.

There are twenty-three studies in this volume:

Part 1: Justification
1. Messiahship in Galatians? [N. T. Wright]
2. Paul’s Former Occupation in Ioudaismos [Matthew V. Novenson]
3. Galatians in the Early Church: Five Case Studies [Karla Pollmann and Mark W. Elliott]
4. Justification and Participation: Ecumenical Dimensions of Galatians [Thomas Söding]
5. Arguing with Scripture in Galatia: Galatians 3:10-14 as a Series of Ad Hoc Arguments [Timothy G. Gombis]
6. Martin Luther on Galatians 3:6-14: Justification by Curses and Blessings [Timothy Wengert]
7. Yaein: Yes and No to Luther’s Reading of Galatians 3:6-14 [Scott Hafemann]
8. “Not an Idle Quality or an Empty Husk in the Heart”: A Critique of Tuomo Mannermaa on Luther and Galatians [Javier A. Garcia]
9. Judaism, Reformation Theology, and Justification [Mark W. Elliott]
10. Can We Still Speak of “Justification by Faith”? An In-House Debate with Apocalyptic Readings of Paul [Bruce McCormack]

Part 2: Gospel
11. The Singularity of the Gospel Revisited [Beverly Roberts Gaventa]
12. Apocalyptic Poiēsis in Galatians: Paternity, Passion, and Participation [Richard B. Hays]
13. “Now and Above; Then and Now” (Gal. 4:21-31): Platonizing and Apocalyptic Polarities in Paul’s Eschatology [Michael B. Cover]
14. Christ in Paul’s Narrative: Salvation History, Apocalyptic Invasion, and Supralapsarian Theology [Edwin Chr. van Driel]
15. “In the Fullness of Time” (Gal. 4:4): Chronology and Theology in Galatians [Todd D. Still]
16. Karl Barth and “The Fullness of Time”: Eternity and Divine Intent in the Epistle to the Galatians [Darren O. Sumner]
17. “Heirs through God”: Galatians 4:4-7 and the Doctrine of the Trinity [Scott R. Swain]

Part 3: Ethics
18. Flesh and Spirit [Oliver O’Donovan]
19. “Indicative and Imperative” as the Substructure of Paul’s Theology-and-Ethics in Galatians?: A Discussion of Divine and Human Agency in Paul [Volker Rabens]
20. Grace and the Countercultural Reckoning of Worth: Community Construction in Galatians 5-6 [John M. G. Barclay]
21. Paul’s Exhortations in Galatians 5:16-25: From the Apostle’s Techniques to His Theology [Jean-Noël Aletti]
22. The Drama of Agency: Affective Augustinianism and Galatians [Simeon Zahl]
23. Life in the Spirit and Life in Wisdom: Reading Galatians and James as a Dialogue [Mariam J. Kamell]

I won’t go into detail for every chapter, but will give an overview of what I consider to be some highlights of the volume.

N.T. Wright leads the way with a study that includes statistics regarding Paul’s usage of the term Χριστός. Wright argues that Χριστός does indeed mean “Messiah” in Galatians (as opposed to simply being Jesus’ last name), and that the word is “at the heart of Paul’s incorporative ecclesiology in Galatians,” with the first point explaining the second. I think Wright makes an interesting case for Χριστός being the vehicle for Paul’s participatory vision of the Church/God’s people. The primary text Wright discusses in this regard is Gal. 3:16, where Paul notes that the promise to Abraham did not say “to your families”, but “to your family, which is Χριστός (hos estin Christos).” A key reason Wright says this theme has been ignored in Galatians is due to the epistle being primarily seen as having soteriology as its focus, rather than ecclesiology.

The next chapter, by Matthew Novenson, also provides a lexical study, this time on the term Ιουδαϊσμος. This word appears twice in the New Testament, both times in Galatians 1, and is usually translated as “Judaism.” Novenson, however, contends that it really derives from ιουδαϊζω (i.e. to judaize or to act like a Jew), designating a sectarian activity rather than an entire religious system. Thus, in Gal. 2:14 where Paul rebukes Peter for making Gentile Christians ιουδαϊζειν, the point is that Peter is trying to make the Gentiles judaize. Novenson sees the verbal form, ιουδαϊζειν, as referring to non-Jews adopting Jewish rituals, while the noun ιουδαϊσμος refers to Jews who advocate for the taking up of Judaism, so “the judaization movement” is  a better gloss for the noun form (rather than “Judaism”).

Beverly Roberts Gaventa’s contribution on the singularity of the gospel was quite good. She makes the case that the singularity of the gospel isn’t primarily about the fact that there is only one gospel, but because of the gospel’s “singular, all-encompassing action in the lives of human beings. The gospel claims all that a human is; the gospel becomes the locus of human identity; the gospel replaces the old cosmos.”  Another interesting chapter was Scott Swain’s study on Gal. 4:4-7. By looking at the grammar of divine agency in this passage, he attempts to show how it can be used as a “seat of doctrine” for the Trinity.

One interesting observation on this volume as a whole is that it doesn’t revolve around the New Perspective on Paul. In actuality, there was more of a focus on the participationistic and apocalyptic schools of thought in Pauline studies. The studies range from tackling issues in systematic theology (Sumner’s contribution on Karl Barth), to regular biblical studies, and historical theology (e.g. the essays on Luther). So whether you are involved in biblical studies or theological studies, this volume will surely have something you can enjoy. It is a fantastic read for anyone interested in current issues swirling about regarding Galatians.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 129 other followers