Archive for December, 2009

Please Be Gentle by Jill B. Englar

A dear friend passed on this poem to my wife and me. It expresses in thoughtful and creative words the feelings of those who grieve and how they need others to walk with them through days of sorrow. Thanks Meg.

Please Be Gentle
By Jill B. Englar

Please be gentle with me for I am grieving.
The sea I swim in is a lonely one
and the shore seems miles away.
Waves of despair numb my soul
as I struggle through each day.
My heart is heavy with sorrow.
I want to shout and scream
and repeatedly ask ‘Why?’
At times, my grief overwhelms me
and I weep bitterly,
so great is my loss.
Please don’t turn away
or tell me to move on with my life.
I must embrace my pain
before I can begin to heal.
Companion me through the tears
and sit with me in loving silence.
Honor where I am in the journey,
not where you think I should be.
Listen patiently to my story,
I may need to tell it over and over again.
It’s how I begin to grasp the enormity of my loss.
Nurture me through the weeks and months ahead.
Forgive me when I seem distant and inconsolable.
A small flame still burns within my heart,
and shared memories may trigger
both laughter and tears.
I need your support and understanding.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
I must find my own path.
Please, will you walk beside me?

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Fast-Growing Christian Churches Crushed in China – International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News –

Fast-Growing Christian Churches Crushed in China – International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News –

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SBL Review

Below, I have recorded my summaries and comments on the lectures I attended at the annual conference of the Society of Biblical Literature in New Orleans, LA. It was a pleasure to be an attender of both this conference and the ETS conference. Enjoy!

Peter M. Head

Sir Kirby Laing Senior Lecturer in New Testament (University of Cambridge)

The Marginalia of Codex Vaticanus: Putting the Distigmai (Formerly Know as ‘Umlauts’) in Their Place

Head’s paper was a response to Philip Payne who presented a lecture at last year’s annual meeting. Payne suggested that the distigmai (‘umlauts’ or ‘double-dots’) found in the margins of Codex Vaticanus were used by the original scribe as a method of noting textual variation. Head rejects Payne’s conclusion that the dots date back to the 4th century hand of the codex, rather he suggests that they were the last observable addition to the pages of the codex—having a 16th century origin, weakening their usefulness for NT TC. Head demonstrated that the distigmai consistently take a ‘back-seat’ to other marginal notations (eg, the diple which note OT citations, chapter markings, and others) throughout the codex. He also brought to light a connection between Juan Ginés de Sepulveda and Desiderius Erasmus. As a result, Head compared the Greek text of the Gospels in Codex Vaticanus with that of Erasmus, and 98% agreement was found between the two. Head concluded that the inferiority (as opposed to priority) of the distigmai to other marginal notation and the plausible setting with Erasmus (as well as the lack of any known distigmai system in antiquity) demonstrate that the distigmai are part of a unified system of notation completed during the 16th century.

Matteo Grosso

University of Torino

“Where There Is No Male and Female”: The D-Text of Colossians and Women

The textual insertion (ἄρσεν και θῆλυ) suggested by some D-type witnesses in Colossians 3:11 has often thought to have been influenced by the inclusion of the phrase in Galatians 3:28. Grosso challenged such an explanation and posits another: those behind the D-type tradition were influenced by an anti-female bias. Therefore, the insertion of ἄρσεν και θῆλυ in Colossians 3:11, to Grosso, expresses such a bias. Further, Grosso argued that the variant in 4:15 concerning the gender of Νύμφαν [αὐτῆς (txt) or αὐτοῦ (D-type) ἐκκλησίαν] supports his assertion.

Gregory S. Paulson

University of Edinburgh

Singular Readings: Harmonizations in Codex D in Matthew

Paulson argued that the scribe responsible for producing Codex Bezae (D) exercised a tendency of harmonizing the text of Matthew with that of Mark (especially, but also) Luke, and John. Paulson suggested stylistic rather than theological reasons for the harmonizations. The scribe “intended to make a smoother, more readable copy of Matthew.” He noted that the scribe did not habitually shorten the text, but consistently harmonizes, and in most cases, only a single word is the subject of alteration. I found Paulson’s suggestion that the scribe of D most often harmonized with Mark to be interesting; Ulrich Schmid (INTF) noted that the Lukan version in Bezae is also influenced by Mark. What is up with this scribe’s preference for Mark? Perhaps more research needs to be done here.

Bill Warren & Stephen Whatley

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

Just Spell It Like It Sounds! Case Studies on the Spelling Tendencies of Scribes

Warren and Whatley presented the results of their statistical study on the orthographic (ie, spelling) shifts and their significance for TC and exegesis. The data used for their analysis included 1) 3rd–15th century mss witnesses from the New Testament Textual Apparatus created by the Center for New Testament Textual Studies; 2) non-biblical, non-Christian documentary data (1st­–8th centuries from Francis Gignac’s Phonology); and 3) non-biblical, non-Christian literary data (1st–6th centuries from collations of 70 mss). It was suggested that such a pool of data would be helpful in determining whether an NT scribe followed a literary or documentary tendency in relation to orthographic shifts. Nomina sacra, ellisions, and movable ν were not included in the study.

James M. Leonard

University of Cambridge

Codex Schøyen as an Alternative Gospel of Matthew: A Consideration of Schenke’s Retroversion of Matthew 12:2-14

Codex Schøyen has a number of significant changes that do not appear in any other manuscript. Shenke has lobbied for Codex Schøyen to be included in the Nestle-Aland; however, up to this point, it has been rejected. Leonard demonstrated that the codex is not another version of Matthew, but rather it is the result of a strictly literal Coptic translation that, due to its literalness and crossover between languages, resembles another Matthew version different from its Vorlage. Leonard offered examples of the scribe’s literalistic-tendencies, one of which is found in Matthew 12:4: ἔφαγον is changed to ἔφαγεν so that the reference clearly points to Δαυίδ.

Paul Foster

University of Edinburgh

John S. Kloppenborg

University of Toronto

(Other panel members were unavailable)

Panel Discussion: James and Q

Foster delivered a fine review of positions taken on the source-critical relationship between James and Q. He concluded that James seems to have been influenced by Q; however, demonstrating this relationship is quite the conundrum. Kloppenborg made three observations and three conclusions. First, he observed that 1) James has numerous conceptual parallels to Matthew and Luke, and commentators have proposed an average of 18 conceptual parallels between James and Q, 2) relatively few verbal parallels exist (5:12 being the strongest), and 3) are Jesus’ sayings distinguished in James? He concluded that with some possibilities to consider: 1) Could James be a superficially Christianized document: a 2nd temple document that was Christianized? 2) Perhaps James was so familiar with Jesus speech that it naturally was incorporated (but this doesn’t answer some objections). 3) Out earliest manuscripts of James are 3rd century and then Origin in CE 230. A late James could have been familiar with the Matthew and Luke. One last thought mentioned by Kloppenborg was that maybe James didn’t cite Jesus because he had not yet attained the authoritative place held by the Jewish Scriptures.

Giovanni Battista Bazzana

University of Toronto

Knock and It Will Be Opened: The Contribution of Documentary Papyri to New Testament Exegesis

Bazzana attempted to demonstrate that the use of the Greek verb κρούω in select documentary papyri [PLond 7, 2009 (Philadelphia, BCE 245/244), UPZ 1, 79, 5–9 (Memphis, BCE 159), and BGU 3, 1007 (BCE 243/218)], in a literary papyri of Plato’s Protagoras (310b and 314d) and in LXX Judges 19:22 is accompanied with a sense of aggressive pounding, possibly with violent motives or as a result of annoyance. The verb is used in the NT in Matthew 7:7–8; Luke 11:9–10; 12:36; 13:25; Acts 12:13, 16; and Revelation 3:20. Certainly, the concept of urgency can accompany the sense of the verb in these texts, but aggression is questionable. Of note, the Plato text adds the adverb σφόδρα in order for the verb to have an aggressive or violent nuance—perhaps suggesting that the verb does not carry this sense on its own. Also, while one LXX reference was considered, the term is also used in Song of Songs 5:2, “φωνὴ ἀδελφιδοῦ μου, κρούει ἐπὶ τὴν θύραν.” It is also used in Judith 14:14 where κρούω seems to indicate a gentle, non-startling knock. Therefore, while the nuance of aggression or violence possibly accompanies κρούω in some instances, it isn’t required to accompany it. Knocking with passion or knocking with urgency is just as plausible.

Christina M. Kreinecker & Peter Arzt-Grabner

Universität Salzburg

Transferring Jesus: Papyrological Observations on the Passion Narratives

Arzt-Grabner began the lecture by noting that while there are no passion narratives in documentary papyri, could it be suggested that a study of juridical papyri may shed light on terminology used in the trial(s) of Jesus? Kreinecker noted that in chapter 23 of his Gospel, Luke uses the term ἀναπέμπω in verses 7, 11, and 15. She proceeded to investigate the use of the term in several juridical papyri. The discovery of a usage of the term in the Oxyrhyncus papyri (P. Oxy LX 4060) overturned the previously held notion that the term was restricted to regional usage. Further, Kreinecker concluded that the term is not a terminus technicus.

Edwin Judge & Rachel Yuen-Collingridge

with the PCE Team: Don Barker, Malcolm Choat, & Alanna Nobbs

Macquarie University

The Lord’s Prayer in the Workbook of an Early Fourth-Century Christian Public Official

The first 31 pages of the codex were used for business. On pages 51–52, the first line of the Lord’s Prayer is written at the top and across the fold! Later, the codex was turned upside down and further used for business documentation (CE 311­–314). When the scribe/recorder came to the page(s) containing the first line of the Lord’s Prayer, the space under it (ie, on top of it) was left blank. Thus, the documentary codex is a 4th century witness to the Lord’s Prayer and evidence of Christians in social context.

Thomas J. Kraus

Willibald Gluck Gymnasium

Reconstructing Fragmentary Manuscripts: Chances and Limitations

This lecture was profitable for those just “getting their feet wet” in the field of Papyrology. Kraus began by urging listeners to ascribe to a uniform method and to remember liabilities and limits. He proceeded to give case studies of reconstructions; most notable was that of C. H. Roberts on P52. He concluded with a note to remember that reconstructing is a snapshot—others should and will participate in the process—and a note to refrain from reconstructing too fragmentary of a text.

A Lady Who’s Identity Escapes Me (She replaced Dave Nielson)

Princeton Theological University/Princeton University (?)

A New Isaiah Papyrus

The Library of Congress possesses a fragment which contains Isaiah 23:4–7 and 23:10–13.  The speaker presented a Princeton papyrus containing Isaiah 23:8–10 and 14–15. One particular letter in the papyrus appears to have Coptic influence, and the handwriting closely resembles P. Oxy. LXIX 4705. With the addition of this second fragment to the manuscript, codicological features are able to be more precise: 1) page dimensions of 12.4 cm x 16.4­–17.2 cm; 2) single column; 3) verso column is 8.6 cm wide, 18 lines, 23 letters per line; 4) recto column is 9.5 cm wide, and 5) ^ precedes >, but the data doesn’t allow a precise decision on quire formation. Perhaps, it fell close to the middle of the quire. If so, then it contained roughly 320 pages (but caution should be exercised here, as the speaker noted). The nomina sacra form of κύριος is employed; thus, projections were made that this codex may have been written by a Christian hand. Other features include the writing out of the number 70 and a peculiar apostrophe over the term for σαβαωθ.

Geoffrey Smith

Princeton University

New Oxyrhyncus Papyrus of Mark 1:1–2 (This was different than his proposed paper)

I found this lecture to be the most exciting! This new papyrus will be published (most likely by Smith) in P. Oxy vol. 76. In English, the text of the papyrus reads, “Read the beginning of the gospel and see ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ: As it is written in Isaiah the prophet, “Behold, I send my messenger before you, who will prepare…”’” The papyrus omits “Son of God in verse 1, but Χριστοῦ is accompanied by the article, which is a singular reading. It is thought to be a 3rd century witness; however, Smith proposed that the papyrus is an amulet. If this is the case, it will not be included in the Nestle-Aland list. It should be noted that not everyone listening was convinced of such identification. It will be interesting to see what becomes of this little fragment!

Charles Hill

Reformed Theological Seminary

Diplai Sacra? The Scribal “Quotation Marks” in P. Oxy 3.405

Hill noted that P. Oxy 3.405 contains a quotation from Irenaeus that includes the text of Matthew 3:16–17, “You (not “This”) are my beloved Son” (parentheses mine). C. H. Roberts commented that it was written with a “handsome, professional hand” in the late 2nd century. Peculiar to the text is that the marginal notation known as diple is found next to the Matthew citation. Hill thoroughly documented the use of the diple in several codices (and might I add that photos taken by the CSNTM served his presentation well). He proposed a question (in my mind) that causes thoughtful ramifications: do the diplai mark any quotation or only what was considered to be Scripture (ie, diplai sacra)? Hill wrapped things up by adding that he found no conclusive evidence that the diplai marked anything other than what was considered to be Scripture; therefore, Irenaeus himself or a scribe in proximity to him accompanied the Matthew citation with the diple because it was considered to be Scripture.

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ETS Review

The following are summaries from the lectures I attended at the Evangelical Theological Society’s 2009 Annual Conference. I hope to have my SBL Review up shortly.

Lorne Robert Zelyck

University of Cambridge

Mixing the Gospels?: Synoptic/John Parallels in Gospel of Thomas

Do the non-canonical gospels show literary dependence upon the Fourth Gospel? Zelyck devised a grading system in order to rank dependency: 1) Clear Dependence, 2) Probable Dependence, 3) Plausible Dependence, and 4) Possible Dependence. Further, the twelve passages (ie, Sayings) examined by Zelyck in the Gospel of Thomas had parallels not only in John but also in the Synoptics. Of the twelve passages, he concluded that two possess Plausible Dependence on the Fourth Gospel and ten possess Possible Dependence. His grading is based on his examination of verbal and conceptual overlaps and perhaps the non-gnostifying tendency of the Gospel of Thomas where it’s “dependent” on John. Zelyck concluded that the theory of Thomas and Johannine communities in conflict lacks evidence and that Thomas is dependent upon four gospels and a Gnostic source that utilized Johannine language.

Aaron O’Kelley

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

Paul’s Doctrine of Justification: Ecclesiology or Soteriology?

[For most of the lecture, I felt like I was hearing a reading report on Piper’s book on justification. When I asked him how he thought the OT’s understanding of righteousness contributed to this conversation, he replied that he wasn’t familiar with the OT usage but that he felt that he understood Paul pretty well.] The lecture is a response to the New Perspective movement. O’Kelley spent most of his time nuancing how “righteousness” and “works of the law” should be understood in Paul before making the final conclusion that justification certainly had communal implications for Jew-Gentile congregations, but the justification of the sinner should be primary and precede dialogue about the effects of justification on Jew-Gentile relations.

Jarvis J. Williams

Campbellsville University

Martyr Theology in Hellenistic Judaism and Paul’s Conception of Jesus’ Death in Romans 3:21-26

Williams’ thesis was stated clearly, “the Martyr Theology of Hellenistic Judaism, which is most prevalent in 4 Maccabees and which arose during the Hellenistic crisis under the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes IV, shaped Paul’s conception of Jesus’ death in Romans 3:21-26 and that Martyr Theology provided Paul with the fundamental (not the only) concepts that he needed to present Jesus’ death as an atoning sacrifice and as a saving event in Romans 3:21-26 to his Hellenistic Jewish and Gentile audience.” Williams does not argue for literary dependence, but rather the Martyr Theology shaped Paul’s thinking when he wrote to the Romans.

Brian J. Wright

Dallas Theological Seminary

Greek Syntax as a Criterion of Authenticity: The Aorist Third-Person Negated Imperative

Wright offered several convincing proofs that the NT Greek syntactical construction of the negated Aorist Third-Person Imperative should be considered the ipsissima verba of the historical Jesus. This construction is found eight times and only in the Gospel of Matthew as sayings of Jesus. Wright’s hope is not only that this particular construction be considered as a viable criterion for authenticity, but moreover he desires Greek syntax to move into a more prominent role in the scholarly dialogue concerning authenticity.

Luther Chatla

Dallas Theological Seminary

Davidic Covenant and Hittite Treaties: An Appraisal of the Covenant Scholarship from Mendenhall to Johnston and Advancement

Chatla reviewed more than a century of covenant scholarship and its movement. He offers the advancement that the (Davidic) covenant should be understood in a progressive sense with a two-fold nature and format: 1) the good will section of the grant treaty and 2) the follow-up section of the grant treaty. With this, Chatla builds on the scholarship of the past by suggesting a unified sense and conditional nature of OT covenants.

Michael Sawilowsky

Durham University

James 2 and the Jesus Tradition of Matthew 25:31-46

Sawilowsky dismisses claims that James lacks any emphasis on Christology; rather, he suggests we find an ethical or social Christology with a very real presence in James 2. James Christology is closely paralleled with the Jesus of Matthew 25:31-46. Sawilowsky argues for parallels between Jesus as glorious and Jesus as poor and that those who assist the poor (ie, a faith that works) will inherit the kingdom. Beyond these conceptual parallels, Sawilowsky was also persuaded by the intertextual connection of verbal parallels in the two passages.

Participants: Stanley E. Porter (Moderator), Jonathan Watt, Randall Buth, Rodney Decker, Daniel B. Wallace (Panelists)

Institutions In Order: McMaster Divinity College, Geneva College, Biblical Language Center, Baptist Bible Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary

Panel Discussion: Toward a Consensus on the Nature of New Testament Greek

Prior to the panel discussion, Watt, Buth and Decker presented papers dealing with the implications of societal multilingualism and a writer’s idiolect upon the exegesis of the New Testament. The panel discussion began with Porter as Moderator and Wallace’s responses to each of the papers. Regarding multilingualism, there was dialogue concerning 1) a need to grade the importance or familiarity of the possible languages used in the NT era among the writers and recipients of the NT Scripture, 2) an evaluation of the reasoning of the author when utilizing multiple languages in his writings (eg, strength in both languages or weakness forcing a switch?), 3) the use of the δικ- word group, 4) Mark’s idiolect: his use of καὶ εὐθύς and the historical present, 5) the minimal employment of paraphrastic constructions, and 6) ramifications for textual criticism in light of idiolect studies (eg, do the idiolectic tendencies of Mark in 1:1-16:8 differ from those in the variant ending 16:9-20?).

Andrew Pitts

McMaster Divinity College

The Scribal Infrastructure of Early Christianity

Pitts laid the necessary ground work that provided a context for the subsequent speakers in the New Testament Canon, Textual Criticism, and Apocryphal Literature section. The section theme was The Text of the Gospels in the Second and Third Centuries. Pitts did a thorough job describing the scribal practices, writing materials, and the advancement from the scroll or bookroll to the codex (papyrus). Knowledge concerning the physical aspects of the manuscripts are essential in dating early Christian texts.

Daniel B. Wallace

Dallas Theological Seminary

The Text of the Gospels in the Papyri

Wallace presented viable evidence of the presence of the Gospels among the ii and iii century papyri. 43% of the NT has attestation in the ii century including 4% of Matthew, 71% of Luke and 94% of John. Third century witnesses attests to 57% of the NT including 18% of Matthew, 22% of Mark, c. 72% of Luke and 97% of John. In all, sixty-two pre-fourth century gospel manuscripts are extant. Wallace offered six implications; one of which offers explanations for the minimal attestation to Mark in the ii century: 1) perhaps Mark was initially “cannibalized” or “swallowed up” by Matthew and Luke due to a desire for a common, singular gospel until the four-gospel advocates became prominent; 2) perhaps Mark’s Gospel “played second fiddle” because his Greek was not as polished; or 3) perhaps the short ending of Mark (at 16:8) made some uncomfortable (thus an indirect attestation to its authenticity). Lastly, Wallace projected that since Matthew and Mark were not mere copyists, but authors with their own perspectives who employed Mark as a source, then we should be able to isolate, to a degree, the content of Matthew and Luke’s copy(ies) of Mark so that some of the ii and iii century witnesses of Matthew and Luke are also ii and iii century witnesses of their sources (viz, Mark).

William F. Warren

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary

The Text of the Gospels in the Apostolic Fathers

Warren interacted with statistical evidence accumulated from research performed by Oxford.[1] However, the research was dated. Warren dealt primarily with the text of Matthew 6:9-13 and Didache 8:2. He concluded that the Didachist most likely did not have a copy of Matthew’s Gospel but rather the writer shared in a similar oral or written tradition. Interaction with the INFER search in Accordance Bible Software and an examination of the resulting evidence (eg, syntactical and conceptual parallels) in all of the AF would have been helpful.

Stanley E. Porter

McMaster Divinity College

The Text of the Gospels in Apocryphal Greek Gospel Papyri

I have very few notes on Porter’s discussion and don’t remember much. I do remember thinking back to the first session I attended (my first entry) regarding the Gospel of Thomas and hoping that Porter would deal more specifically with dependency, but he didn’t. He did mention the Fayyum or Rainer Fragment, which he claimed contained a portion of Mark and a portion of Matthew joined by a genitive absolute. The fragment does not contain any writing on the backside, which was interesting to me – is it an amulet; was it used for liturgy, if not part an amulet, could it have been part of a scroll, or was it part of an altogether different (non-canonical) gospel?

[1] I can’t recall the exact resource, and my notes are lacking at this point.

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