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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  1. #1 by Fadie A. Fahmy on December 11, 2009 - 3:27 pm

    RH:”I can’t recall the exact resource, and my notes are lacking at this point”.

    May be the work of the Oxford comittee “The New Testament in the Apostolic Fathers” (1905), or the celeberating tomes of the 100th anniversary (2005)?

    • #2 by rexhowe on December 12, 2009 - 2:14 pm


      Thanks so much for your comment. I believe you are correct; thanks for clearing that up for me.


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