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romans-debateIt is time to draw a name for The Romans Debate, Revised and Expanded Edition (1991, Baker Academic). This book is a brand new paperback (with a remainder mark) and is my own copy.

There were 24 people signed up (I allowed only one entry per person). I took each of your names, sorted randomly and then pasted them into Excel. Random.org gave me a number between 1-28, and the winner is…..

Rubén de Rus

Congratulations to Rubén, better luck next time for the rest of you. Rubén should contact me privately with his shipping info, I will get the book out tomorrow.

I at least one more book to give away, so look for another post later today.

 

 

 

romans-debateThis week I am giving away a copy of The Romans Debate, Revised and Expanded Edition (1991, Baker Academic). This collection of essays on Romans was first published in 1977 and then reprinted and expanded in 1991 by Hendricksen. The current printing of the book is under from Baker Academic. This is one of the best resources for anyone doing serious work in Romans.  The book collects key essays in the book of Romans from as early as 1962. All of the essays were published elsewhere, but this 372 page volume makes them available with a full set of indices.

This book is a brand new paperback (with a remainder mark) and is my own copy.

Same rules as last week: Enter by leaving a comment telling me which essay you will read first. On Tuesday January 16 I will randomly select one comment and ship the book out to the lucky winner. If you leave more than one comment, I will only count one comment per person for the contest.

Good Luck!

 

Table of Contents:

  • St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans–and Others, T. W. Manson
  • The Letter to the Romans as Paul’s Last Will and Testament, Gunther Bornkamm
  • Paul’s Purpose in Writing the Epistle to the Romans, Gunter Klein
  • A Short Note on Romans 16, Karl Paul Donfried
  • The Letter to Jerusalem, Jacob Jervell
  • Romans 14:1-15:13 and the Occasion of Romans, Robert J. Karris
  • The Jewish Community in Ancient Rome and the Origins of Roman Christianity, Wolfgang Wiefel
  • False Presuppositions in the Study of Romans, Karl Paul Donfried
  • The Occasion of Romans: A Response to Prof. Donfried, Robert J. Karris
  • Paul’s Rhetoric of Argumentation in Romans: An Alternative to the Donfried-Karris Debate Over Romans, Wilhelm Wuellner
  • The Form and Function of the Greek Letter-Essay, Martin Luther Stirewalt, Jr.

Part II
Section A: Historical and Sociological Factors

  • The Romans Debate, F. F. Bruce
  • Purpose and Occasion of Romans Again, A. J. M. Wedderburn
  • The Two Roman Congregations: Romans 14:1-15:13, Francis Watson
  • The Roman Christians of Romans 16, Peter Lampe
  • The Purpose of Romans, Peter Stuhlmacher

Section B The Structure and Rhetoric of Romans

  • The Formal and Theological Coherence of Romans, James D. G. Dunn
  • Romans III as a Key to the Structure and Thought of Romans, William S. Campbell
  • Following the Argument of Romans, Robert Jewett
  • Romans as a Logos Protreptikos, David E. Aune

Section C The Theology of Romans: Issues in the Current Debate

  • The New Perspective on Paul: Paul and the Law, James D. G. Dunn
  • Israel’s Misstep in the Eyes of Paul, Lloyd Gaston
  • The Faithfulness of God and the Priority of Israel in Paul’s Letter to the Romans, J. C. Beker
  • The Theme of Romans, Peter Stuhlmacher

 

mcknight-galatiansI have a brand new copy of Scot McKnight’s Galatians commentary in NIV Application series. I made some comments in a previous post about this series which is on sale right now for $4.99 a volume in several eBook formats.

McKnight is a very well-known and respected New Testament scholar, known for his work in the Gospels, but also several popular books (Jesus Creed, Blue Parakeet). This commentary follows the pattern of the rest of the NIVAC series. After a short expositional section McKnight sets a given passage into the context of the first century, then attempts to “bridge the gap” by applying the passage to a modern Christian context. These pastoral comments will illuminate how the text might be understood and model a pastor’s heart for interpreting Scripture. This is a very “readable” commentary which will be valuable for anyone who wants to read the book of Galatians closely.

I will send a physical copy of McKnight’s commentary to a randomly selected person who leaves a comment below with their name and their favorite Galatians commentary (other than McKnight, of course).

Since I am leaving for the ETS/SBL meetings next week, this is a fast giveaway: I will pick the winner Friday, November 11.

Thiselton, Anthony C. Discovering Romans. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2016. 311 pp. Pb; $22.  Link to Eerdmans

This new contribution to Eerdmans’s Discovering Biblical Text series by Anthony Thiselton is an excellent introduction to the exegetical problems one encounters in the Book of Romans as well as an example of writing a commentary from the perspective of Reception History. As with other contributions to this series (Ian Boxall, Discovering Matthew, Ruth Edwards, Discovering John, and Iain Provan, Discovering Genesis), Thiselton’s book functions as a guide for the interpreter as they navigate the massive literature created by the Church on the Book of Romans.

thiselton-discovering-romansThe first six chapters of Discovering Romans form an introduction to Paul’s letter. He begins with eight short reasons for Christians to study the book of Romans, beginning with Paul’s own missionary strategy. Similar to virtually every commentary on Romans, Thiselton points to the effect the book has had on major church figures like Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Wesley as warrant for studying Romans carefully. Beyond the historical value, Romans is important for its theology of reconciliation, mutual respect and tolerance, a message often overlook although much needed in contemporary culture (4).

In the second and third chapter, Thiselton lists three essential strategies for interpretation, and nine more which are helpful. He briefly describes historical-critical methods and how they have developed new readings of Romans. It is in this section he discusses the New Perspective on Paul. Although there are several major commentaries which represent this perspective on Paul (Dunn, Wright), others are critical of the New Perspective (Cranfield) and others do not pay much attention to it (Fitzmyer, Jewett). The same might be said for Douglas Moo’s NICNT (1995) commentary (which remarkably only appears once in the index) and Longenecker’s volume in the NIGTC (which appeared after Thiselton’s book was published). Thiselton indicates his own work embraces no one historical-critical method, but attempts to make use of as many as are useful.

A second method which is essential for reading Romans is Rhetorical Criticism. Although Paul’s use of rhetoric was noticed as early as Bultmann, It was not until the work of Stanley Stowers in 1981 that scholars have made use of Greco-Roman rhetorical categories to understand Paul’s argument in Romans. As Thiselton says, the “crowning study of Paul’s rhetoric” is Paul Jewett’s commentary in the Hermenia series (2007).

The third method Thiselton considers indispensable is socio-scientific readings of Romans. Beginning with E. A. Judge in 1980, scholars have attempted to set the book of Romans into the context of the capital of the Roman Empire in the mid first century. This includes the social setting of the original readers (rich or poor?) as well as their ethnicity (Jews or Gentiles?)

The nine “helpful but not essential” strategies include reader response theory; structuralist exegesis; liberation hermeneutics; existential interpretations; precritical exegesis; Barthian exegesis; lexical, grammatical exegesis (including textual criticism); shame-honor in the ancient world and the relevance of the imperial cult; form critical techniques. There are two problems with this somewhat diverse list. First, in practice, lexical and grammatical exegesis should be part of historical critical methods so I am not sure why it was included in a “helpful but not critical” category. Second, I would have considered pre-critical, existential (Bultmann) and Barthian exegesis and perhaps liberation theology should under the heading of reception history. Third, shame-honor and the imperial cult fit into the sociological category as Thiselton defined it in chapter 2.  This leaves reader-response criticism and structuralism, which are indeed not particularly helpful for reading Romans.

Chapter 4 outlines the reception of the book of Romans in the patristic, medieval, Reformation, and modern periods. Thiselton summarizes several key commentators on Romans for each period and evaluates their contribution to the reading of Romans. In order to demonstrate how reception history works, he offers a short demonstration using Romans 13:1-7. Scholars in each period listed approach this particular text under widely differing circumstances, so that they produce “polar opposite” interpretations (54).

Chapter five is a short survey of key issues in textual criticism for the book of Romans. Although there are some sixty variants considered by the UBS Committee, there are only two or three famous problem texts in Romans (5:1; 9:5; 14:19). More difficult is the relationship of Romans 15 and 16. Romans 15:33 seems to be the end of the letter, yet there is long section of greetings and commendations, followed by another doxology. Most major commentaries today do not think chapter 16 was appended to the original letter.

The final introductory chapter is entitled “Paul, Traveler and Roman Citizen.” Thiselton’s goal seems to be to place the book of Romans into the general outline of Paul’s ministry as presented by the book of Acts. He uses Acts and 1-2 Corinthians along with Paul’s travel plans in Romans 15:23-24. Although some scholars do not consider Acts to be reliable history, Thiselton does not find any disjunction between Paul and Acts.

The rest of the book is a short commentary on the Book of Romans. Although this section is only 200 pages, Thiselton is a master at identifying the key exegetical issue in each section and offering a range of scholarly discussion for further research. For example, Romans 10:4 says “Christ is the end (τέλος, telos) of the Law.”  Thiselton identifies this as a major interpretive problem, since the noun telos often has the sense of “goal.” After explaining the problem, he offers several opinions from modern exegetical commentaries and monographs, then “older” commentaries, and finally the view of historical commentaries, the church fathers, etc. Although there is no clear conclusion (he does point the way clearly in most cases), Thiselton provides the reader with enough information to make an informed decision.

The exegetical notes are brief, usually explaining the differences between English translations. This may be matters of translation or textual criticism, Thiselton often comments on variants in the Greek Bible. All Greek appears in transliteration so that readers without Greek will be able to read and use the commentary without difficulty.

Conclusion. Discovering Romans is an excellent handbook and guide to the story of Romans. It will make an excellent textbook for the seminary classroom, but will be of great assistance to anyone who wants to keep up with recent developments in the study of Romans. More than this, Thiselton’s goal of reading Romans along with writers in different periods of Church history provides the modern reader with important perspectives which are often overlooked or intentionally ignored. Despite the brevity of the commentary, it is rich with details pointing interested readers to commentaries and monographs to dig deeper into this most important book of the New Testament.

 

NB: Thanks to Eerdmans for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

Martinez-DSScrolls-Trans_PB_Reprint07.qxdTwo weeks ago I opened a giveaway context for a slightly used copy of Florentino Garcia Martinez’s The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English (Leiden; Grand Rapids. Mich.: Brill; Eerdmans, 1996). Since then there have been 29 comments. I placed the names in a spreadsheet, randomly sorted, the rolled a random number at random.org, and the winner is:

Jenna O

Looks like Jenna’s favorite scroll is the Damascus Document. Congrats, and please contact me via email (plong42 at gmail.com) with a shipping address and I will get this right out to you.

Thanks to everyone who participated, nice to see some people use at least a part of their summer to read the blogs!

 

Martinez-DSScrolls-Trans_PB_Reprint07.qxdI plan on continuing my series on the Enoch Literature after the weekend, but since this is a holiday weekend, I thought I would give away a book to celebrate.

I have an extra copy of Florentino Garcia Martinez’s The Dead Sea Scrolls Translated: The Qumran Texts in English (Leiden; Grand Rapids. Mich.: Brill; Eerdmans, 1996). This is a “barely used” paperback copy of the book and I purchased it myself.

The Eerdmans Website describes the book as:

“One of the world’s foremost experts on the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Qumran community that produced them provides an authoritative new English translation of the two hundred longest and most important nonbiblical Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran, along with an introduction to the history of the discovery and publication of each manuscript and the background necessary for placing each manuscript in its actual historical context.”

The Journal for the Study of the Old Testament said this volume is “the most useful of the available collections not merely for its completeness but for its complete list of Qumran MSS serving also as an index to the context. Absolutely invaluable!” If you do not have a copy of the Dead Sea Scrolls in English, this is the volume to have.

To enter, simply leave a comment on this thread with your name and your favorite Dead Sea Scroll. Or at least your name.

I will generate a winner at random and announce that winner in two weeks, on July 14. Good luck!

Longenecker, Richard N. The Epistle to the Romans. NIGTC; Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2016. 1208 pp. Hb; $80.   Link to Eerdmans

It is clichéd to call this new contribution to the New International Greek Text Commentary “highly anticipated.” Richard N. Longenecker is one of the premier New Testament scholars of the last fifty years and his contributions to Pauline studies have been considerable (Paul, Apostle of Liberty, Second Edition, Eerdmans 2015; Galatians, Word Biblical Commentary, 1990). His brief Introducing Romans: Critical Concerns in Paul’s Most Famous Letter (Eerdmans, 2011). This magisterial commentary builds on a successful career spent studying Paul by digging deep into the details of this most important book of the New Testament.

Longenecker_NIGTC_Epistle to the Romans_jkt.inddLongenecker states in his preface he desires to spell out a proper interpretation of Romans by building on the work of past commentators, being critical, exegetical, and constructive in his analysis of the text of Romans, and to set a course for future study of Romans (xv). He certainly achieves these goals in the commentary. First, with respect to “building on the work of past commentators,” The beginning of the commentary lists seven pages of previous commentaries divided into Patristic, Reformation, and Modern Critical commentaries. Second, Longenecker seeks to “be critical, exegetical, and constructive in his analysis of the text of Romans.” It is certainly the case that his comments are judiciously critical and sensitive to the wider range of theological interests current in Pauline studies today. Third, one goal of a commentary of this size is “to set a course for future study of Romans.” Only time will tell if Longenecker achieve this goal, but it will be difficult for the next generation of writers to ignore this commentary.

With respect to typical introductory material, Longenecker only briefly sketches the major critical issues in the book, referring readers to his recent Introducing Romans for greater detail.  Briefly, Paul wrote the book from Corinth in the winter of 57-58woth the involvement of both Tertius, Phoebe and perhaps input from members of the Corinthian congregation (5-6). These are not controversial conclusions. He deals with two “matters recently resolved,” including the presence of glosses or interpolations (a possibility, but unlikely if textual criticism is properly applied to the text) and the original form of the book. Longenecker agrees with Harry Gamble’s Textual History of the Letter to the Romans as well as Hurtado and Marshall on the authenticity of the final doxology (8).

He devotes more space to several extensively debated topics. First, with respect to the identity and character of the recipients of the letter, Longenecker argues the recipients are both Jews and Gentiles who think in “Jewish categories,” but are not Judaizers. Second, Paul’s purpose for writing the letter is both pastoral and missional. Paul desires to impart a “spiritual gift” to the Roman believers but also to seek their support for his Gentile mission to Spain (10). The book also serves to defend Paul against misrepresentations of his mission and theology as well as offering council regarding a dispute between the “weak” and the “strong.” Third, the epistolary genre of the letter is a “letter essay,” setting instructional material in an epistolary format (14). His fourth issue is related to the third, the rhetorical genres of the letter. Although scholars have identified Romans as forensic, deliberative, or epideictic models for Romans, Longenecker considered the letter to be protreptic, a “word of exhortation” (15) with some influence from Jewish remnant rhetoric (especially in chapters 9-11). Finally, the focus of the book is to be found in Romans 5:1-8:39. This unit of the letter is the message of the Christian Gospel contextualized for Gentiles who have no prior interest in Judaism of Jewish Christianity (17). Longenecker thinks Paul found the story of the Exodus and forensic justification to be unknown and insignificant to Gentiles. His presentation of the Gospel to the Gentiles therefore focused on peace with God, and the relationship of sin and death. All people are equally unable to overcome death by their own strength, therefore all people need to enter in to a new relationship, to be “in Christ.”

Paul quotes approximately 100 Old Testament texts in 83 places in the letter and alludes to many more. This is a much higher rate than any other of Paul’s letters and the quotes are not evenly distributed throughout the book. Romans 5:1-8:39 has only two quotes. Unlike Galatians or the Corinthians letters, Longenecker does not think Paul’s use of the Old Testament is a result of some Jewish opponent in the Roman churches. Paul’s exegetical strategies are sometimes difficult to follow, these will be discussed as the commentary proceeds. In addition to quotations, Romans may have use confessional material, religious aphorisms, Jewish and Jewish Christian devotional and catechetical material (23). These materials will be identified in the commentary in the Structure/Setting section.

The body of the commentary is divided into several major units with introductions (chapters 1-8, 9-11, 12-15). Longenecker begins each sub-unit with a new translation of the text followed by notes on textual variants. The inclusion of a translation is not found in all of the NIGTC series and is welcome here especially given the extensive textual notes Longenecker provides. The introduction has a twelve-page summary of the manuscript evidence for Romans. Longenecker uses the United Bible Society’s GNT4 and NA27 as his base text and he discusses every variant appearing in the GNT4 in Romans and many of the variants found in NA27. The introduction also includes a chart listing the manuscripts for Romans including date, contents, Aland category (32-34).

Following the translation, Longenecker offers a section entitled Form/Structure/Setting, reminiscent of the Word Biblical Commentary series, a feature not found in other NIGTC commentaries. This section any special problems in the unit. For example in this section for Romans 2:17-29, Longenecker has brief comments on who is addressed by the pericope, the two prominent rhetorical conventions in the passage, the possibility of chiasmus in the passage, the use of Scripture and traditional material, and the structure and setting of the passage and a short note on theological issues. The Form/Structure/Setting section is flexible so that Romans 4:1-24 has an excellent section on the Example of Abraham in Second Temple period; for Romans 9:6-29 Longenecker covers major proposals for interpreting the section.

Longenecker’s exegetical comments are divided by verse and the commentary proceeds phrase-by-phrase. Greek and Hebrew appear without transliteration, although the exegesis is not dense with syntactical observations. For the most part he is able to stick to his intention to provide a faithful explanations of the text without being bogged down by minute details. This makes for a very readable commentary. Faithful to his intentions stated in the preface, Longenecker interacts with ancient and Reformation commentaries as well as a full range of modern writers. For example, the index lists some 27 references to Origin, 20, to Tertullian, 22 to Calvin, and 18 to Luther. Pages are not overly cluttered with references to secondary literature; it is remarkable how few footnotes there are in this commentary. This indicates original commentary rather than reporting what other commentators have already said.

After the exegetical comments, Longenecker includes several pages under the heading of “Biblical Theology.” These sections Longenecker builds on his exegesis by integrating Romans into wider Pauline and systematic theology. This is refreshing since commentary writers often ignore the contribution of their exegesis to the larger world of theology. Commenting on Romans 8:31-39, Longenecker says interpreters of Romans have “atomized what Paul writes…bringing everything under only one particular theme” or are “at a loss to understand the coherence of what he has written” (761). Following the biblical theology, Longenecker concludes with a brief “contextualization for today.” These are not “pastoral comments” by way of application. In fact, there is sometimes only a slight difference between these sections and the biblical theology sections.

The commentary includes a number of short excurses. For example, after commenting on Romans 3:25a, Longenecker includes an excursus entitled “Three Exegetical and Thematic Matters in Romans 3:25a that Are of Particular Importance (Though Also Frequently Disputed) and Therefore Deserving of Special Consideration.” (Yes, that is the title!) What follows is seven pages of slightly smaller print discussing the meaning of “whom God presenting publically,” “Sacrifice of Atonement,” and the prepositional phrase “through his faithfulness, by his blood.” This excursus is more detailed than the rest of the commentary, but it should not be assumed an excursus is not critically important to the commentary. For example, Longenecker’s nine pages of comments on the righteousness of God (Romans 1:17) are an excellent summary of the state of the discussion of this important phrase. His eight pages on “‘Works of the Law’ and the ‘New Perspective’” is worth reading before working through the commentary on Romans 3:20. Another critically important note is his more than eight pages on the remnant in rabbinic writings and non-conformist Judaism in the first two centuries B.C.E. A list of all of the excurses ought to be included in the table of contents or indices.

Conclusion. Any commentary in the New International Greek Text Commentary is worth buying and often becomes the first resource I consult. Longenecker’s contribution to this series takes its place along a handful of recent major commentaries on the book of Romans which will set the agenda for the study of this important book for the next generation of biblical scholars.

 

NB: Thanks to Eerdmans for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

 

NewDocs 10Now that I have completed my grading for the spring semester and turned in the last of my grades, I am ready to announce the winner of the latest volume of the New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity, edited by S. R. Llewelyn and J. R. Harrison, with E. J. Bridge (Eerdmans, 2012).

I collected all of the comments, randomly sorted them in a spreadsheet then used random.org to generate a winner. And the winner is…

Lindsay Kennedy

So Lindsay can contact me (email, plong42 at gmail.com, twitter DM, @plong42) I will arrange to send the book out to ASAP. And if pastorjimmyreagan sees this, you one the last giveaway and need to contact me with shipping info.

Thanks to everyone who participated. I have at least one more book set aside as a giveaway to celebrate One Million Hits at Reading Acts.  Check back next week for details.

NewDocs 10

This is the second book I am giving away in celebration of One Million Hits at Reading Acts as well as the end of the spring semester.

I have an extra copy of the latest volume of the New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity, edited by S. R. Llewelyn and J. R. Harrison, with E. J. Bridge (Eerdmans, 2012). I reviewed it when it came out a year ago and have found all ten volumes to be valuable resources. This volume has about 100 pages of cumulative index for volumes 6-10 as well as 175 pages of newly published inscriptions and papyri.

For those unaware of the New Documents series, it began under the editorship of G. H. R. Horsley in 1981. E. A. Judge was a contributor to that first volume and now serves as the director of the project. He wrote the preface to the first volume explaining the rationale for the series. Since the publication of Deissmann’s Light from the Ancient Near East (1908) and Moulton and Milligan’s Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament illustrated by the Papyri (1930), there has been a flood of new published papyri documents and inscriptions, many which are important to historians of early Christianity as well as interpreters of the New Testament. The New Document series proposed to survey newly published material and collate that material into a single printed volume as a “fresh digest of the ancient evidence.”

As I concluded in my previous review of the book, virtually every section of New Documents Volume 10 is worthy of attention.  The entries make for fascinating reading and they all contribute to our understanding of the world of the New Testament and early Christianity. I highly recommend this volume to students and scholars. Every serious library should own all ten volumes of this important series.

The book is new but has a remainder mark and a partially removed sticker on the cover. To have a chance at winning this book, leave a comment with your name (and anything else you need to say, think of this as a chance for catharsis). I will select on comment at random and announce the winner on May 3, 2016.

Setting of the SermonTo celebrate the happiest time of the year (the beginning of school), I am going to give away a few books on Reading Acts. Two weeks ago, I gave Jake Bodet a copy of The World of the New Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts (Grand Rapids. Mich.: Baker Academic, 2013) edited by Joel B. Green and Lee Martin McDonald. Last week I gave James Gray a new copy of Reading Luke (Zondervan, 2005).

For this week’s giveaway, I have a paperback copy of W. D. Davies, The Setting of the Sermon on the Mount (Cambridge, 1963). W. D. Davies is a scholar everyone should read. I read his Paul and Rabbinic Judaism in Bible College; it set the stage for Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism and the so-called New Perspective. His commentary on Matthew in the ICC series (with Dale Allison) is a standard. This book on the Sermon on the Mount book is older, but something of a classic. At well over 500 pages, this is a serious study of the Sermon and one that raises questions Davies works on for the rest of his career. He explores New Exodus and New Moses motifs, Jewish Messianic Expectations,  the setting/background of early Judaism, early Christianity and Jesus’ ministry.

If this book is so good, why am I giving it away? I live in Grand Rapids, Michigan. You have no idea how good this town is for buying books for biblical studies. I recently bought this at Baker Books in their incredible used section, and when I went to put it on the shelf I realized I had a hardback copy already. Once again, but decaying memory is your gain, I decided I would give it away on Reading Acts rather than return it.

Same rules as last week: Enter by leaving a comment answering this question:  The Sermon on the Mount, Q or no Q?

On Wednesday, September 16 I will randomly select one comment and ship the book out to the lucky winner. If you leave more than one comment, I will only count one comment per person for the contest.

Good Luck!

 

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