New Testament

Now I realize I am years late to this “new” tool, but after my recent interaction with Google books I decided to mention its usefullness.  So here is my brief tale and plug for Google books.  I had heard many times about the greatness of google books from fellow bloggers such at Pat McCullough and Brandon Wason; however, I never used it because I figured how useful can a limited preview really be?  Over the last three weeks or so I’ve found out the answer is: extermely useful.  I’ve been putting together my syallbus for next quarter, examining the historical context of the earliest Christian documents, and obviously much of the course strays far from Pauline studies.  Thus, I needed to pore through many books, which neither I nor the UCLA library possess.  Rather than request 100+ books, I started browsing Google books.  Much to my surprise most of the books I needed were on the site and even more astonishing I could access nearly every page I needed.  Thus, this tool saved me hours of driving to libraries and the pain of waiting on piles of books.  At first I couldn’t believe that this tool was legal.  I could’t understand why publishers would allow a website to freely post massive amounts of their books.  However, since I bought 10 books from my time on Google books, I quickly realized the benefit for publishers.  So to conclude my long winded tale, Google books is a useful tool indeed!


This week I am recommending an excellent source for budding Pauline scholars, The Writings of St. Paul edited by Wayne Meeks and John Fitzgerald.  This volume of the Norton Critical Edition series is the best work I’ve found for anyone seeking one book on Paul.  The book begins with an outline of the life of Paul which, in addition to outlining the important aspects of Paul’s life, examines how scholars interact with Acts and Paul’s letters in order to create such an outline.  The work also contains translations of the thirteen letters attributed to Paul and many Pseudo-Pauline works such as the correspondance of Paul and Seneca and 3 Corinthians.  Furthermore, this volume contains a massive amount of material concerning Paul from the early Church including both stories such as Paul and Thecla and passages from the Church Fathers.  Essentially if someone wrote about Paul in antiquity it is present in this work.  However, despite all of these invaluable primary sources, the most useful section of this work may be the last 300 pages which contain numerous articles from modern scholars examining a wide range of topics.  The editors have chosen articles form the heavyweights in the field with such names as Bauer, Von Harnack, Stendahl, Kaseman, Bultmann, Theissen, Mitchell, and countless others.

Fee_philToday I am posting an update to my annotated ranking of the academic Philippian commentaries.  While I had already moved Gordon Fee’s work up to the #3 position, today I am adding a mini review for the work.  Here is one line from my review that summarizes my thoughts on Fee’s commentary, “I consider Gordon Fee’s work to be the top Philippians commentary for the non-specialist.  Fee’s specialty seems to be combining top notch scholarship with clear and interesting prose.”

If you have any quibbles with my review or ranking of Fee’s commentary please let me know as I am interested in what my readers think, especially since so many rank Fee’s commentary as the top Philippians commentary.

Klauck_LettersMy latest book recommendation is Ancient Letters and the New Testament by Hans-Josef Klauck.  Klauck’s work is the new standard for scholarly yet approachable works to ancient letter writing.  Klauck explores many important topics such as the postal system, epistolary theory, rhetoric, and classifying letters.  Additionally, Klauck includes an annotated list of all the ancient letters writers, divided between Latin and Greek.  Moreover, Klauck’s excellent bibliographies alone make this work a worthy purchase.  Yet another useful feature is the example(s) included at the close of each section.  Essentially Klauck’s work could be used as either a textbook or a reference work.  I highly recommend this work and consider it the new gold standard of its genre.

Prior Recommendations

E. Randolph Richards: Paul and First-Century Writing (review)

Margaret M. Mitchell: Paul and the Rhetoric of Reconciliation  (review)

Richard Hays: Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (review)

Many new blogs have been added to the NT Academic Posts section.  Hopefully I will soon have a somewhat complete list of all of the NT related blogs that specialize in academic material.  If yours is missing please do let me know.

There is a new feature here at Paul of Tarsus: the Academic Posts blogroll.  Until now, I have manually shared posts from around the blogosphere concerning Paul of Tarsus.  This process has become rather time consuming and I was never thorough enough.  Thus, I have decided to change the focus of the posts I share.  Borrowing a page from blogger extraordinaire Mark Goodacre, I have decided to automatically share all the posts from a number of academic blogs.  The blogs selected are ones that generally post about NT related matters and whose posts are generally of an academic nature. 

Of course these criteria leave out many fine blogs that I read regularly which mix entertainment and academics.  To these writers I say keep up the good work and don’t worry Goodacre’s exhaustive blogroll has you covered!  My blogroll is purposely designed to be a more selective alternative to Goodacre’s (which I check manytimes a day).  So if you are wondering what the newest academic posts, are feel free to come by and check out my blogroll. 

If you would like your blog added to the roll please let me know.  I’m sure I am currently missing many fine academic blogs.

Here is the final summary of the meme I began nearly a month ago: 5 Most Influential Primary Sources.  As I stated before in previous posts the responses have been diverse and thought provoking.  Thanks to all who responded all the lists were excellent.  For the many lists I am certain I missed please post a link in the comments and I will add yours. 

Some observations

Most popular sources: Didache, Josephus, 1 Enoch, Ignatius, 1 Clement

Person with most popular choices: Rick Brannan

Person with most unusual choices: C. Jay Chrisostomo


Master List

Kevin Scull – Josephus – The Jewish War, Quintilian – Institutio Oratoria, Didache, Ignatius of Antioch (any letter), The Dead Sea Scrolls – The War Scroll

Jim West  – ANET, The Dead Sea Scrolls (Sectarian materials), Ethiopic Enoch, Jubilees, and 1-2 Maccabees.

Pat McCullough – Book of the Watchers (1 Enoch), The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicitas, Two Spirits Treatise + War Scroll combo, Ben Sira, and Tobit.

Brandon Wason – Didache, Mishnah, Josephus’s Antiquities, The Progymnasmata, and Gospel of Thomas.

Ken Brown – Book of Jubilees, Enuma Elish, The Gospel of Thomas, 4QMMT, and Philo.

Nijay Gupta – 1. Philo 2. Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs 3. Anabasis 4. The Community Rule aka 1QS (the Dead Sea Scrolls).  5. Plutarch: Parallel Lives

ClayboyThe Didache. Josephus, Jewish War, Jubilees, 1 Enoch, Community Rule.

Rick Brannan – Didache. 1 Clement, Letters of Ignatius, 1 Enoch, Josephus.

C. Jay Chrisostomo CLAM (Canonical Lamentations of Ancient Mesopotamia. . . a collection of balaĝ laments), The collection of Inana-Dumuzi songs in Love Songs in Sumerian Literature, Schooldays, The Tetrad, legal texts from Hellenistic Uruk (found on HBTIN)

Jim Spinti – 1. The Toothache incantation in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament. 2. The Kumarbi Cycle in Hittite. 3. The plague prayers of Mursili. 4. The Aeneid, 5. Didache.

Nick Norelli 1 Clement, The Didache, Adversus Haereses*, Antiquitates Judaicae*, Q.

Anumma– Ugaritic Baʿlu cycle, Zakkur and Mesha, Hammurapi, Jubilees and 1 Enoch 1–36, Kuntillet Ajrud and Khirbet el-Qom

Adam Couturier– Wisdom of Ben Sirach, Wisdom of Amen-em-opet, The Instructions of Shuruppak, The Instruction of Ani, In Praise of Learned Scribes

Mike Whitenton – The “Son of God” texts in Antiquity, 1-2 Maccabees, The Parables of Enoch (1 En 37-71), 4Q Messianic Apocalypse (4Q521), P. Haun. II, 2 II, 1-42.

Rob Kashow – 1. The Isaiah Scroll, Enûma Eliš, Apostolic Fathers, ANF & NPNF, The Book of Enoch

Scotteriology – Dead Sea Scrolls/Rabbinic Material, ANE Creation Myths, Ba’al Cycle, Jubilees, Enoch

Primal Subversion – 1 Clement, Didache, Josephus, Res Gestae Divi Augusti, Isaiah 40-55

Rodney Thomas – The Letters of Ignatius, Clement of Alexandria’s Miscellanies, Augustine’s Confessions, Tertullian, The Didache

Richard Sherrat – Enûma Eliš, The Ba’al Cycle, 4QMMT, The Qumran Psalm scrolls, The Epic of Gilgamesh

Loren Rossen – Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Josephus’ Jewish War. I & II Maccabees. IV Ezra. The Greek Magical Papyri.

Mike Koke – Wisdom of Solomon, 2 & 4 Maccabees, The Aeneid, The Epistle of Barnabas, Justin Martyr Dialogue with Trypho

James McGrathPhilo, Who is Heir of Divine Things? chapter 42 (§ 206), Justin Martyr’s First Apology ch.6, Apocalypse of Abraham, The Similitudes of Enoch, The Book of Revelation

I realize this post is quite similar to the great meme started by Ken Brown, but regardless it is a topic I find interesting and I would like to hear from everyone else on the matter.  Thus, with full realization that I am not unique,  on with the show.

The rules are simple. 

1.) List the 5 primary sources that have most affected your scholarship, thoughts about antiquity, and/or understanding of the NT/OT. 

2.) Books from the Bible are off limits unless you really want to list one, I certainly will not chastise you for it.

3.) Finally, choose individual works if you can.  This will be more interesting than listing the entire corpus of Cicero as one of your choices.


My List:

1.) Josephus – The Jewish War

This was one of the first primary sources I read that had an impact on my thoughts about the first century.  It is a fascinating book both for its entertainment value and the knowledge gleaned from it.  Personally, I think it would make a great big budget movie.  The Jewish War provided (and continues to provide) me many insights into the first century and gave me my first look at just how dissatisfied the Jewish people were with Roman rule and occupation.

2.) Quintilian – Institutio Oratoria.

Quintilian’s massive work on Roman rhetoric is both funny and useful.  He begins with how one should educate a child and works up to the details of roman rhetoric.  I have used this work alongside the many other ancient rhetorical handbooks in order to gain a better understanding of the options available to ancient writers.  I would recommend this work more as a reference than encouraging everyone to read all 12 book straight through.

3.) Didache

I have always been fascinated by this set of early teachings.  There seem to be a strand that comes from a very early period of Christianity.  Especailly interesting is the notion that parts of this document were written when there were still wandering teachers, apostles, and prophets.  Chapter 11 provides instruction on how these individuals should be treated, including instructions such as if an apostle or prophet tries to stay longer than three days he is a false prophet.  Although I am by no means a specialist on this topic I am always drawn to the SBL sections concerning the Didache.  The Didache continues to remind me that Paul and the better known apostles were not the only early Christian teachers influencing early Christian communities.

4.) Ignatius of Antioch (any letter)

As one who specializes in Paul of Tarsus, I think the letters of Ignatius are extremely important.  They are written at an early date, around 100 CE and provide information concerning the direction of Christianity at an early time period.  Addtionally, he seems to be quite aware of the letters of Paul and was influenced by how Paul wrote his letters.  I have found it interesting to note which aspects of Paul’s style Ignatius chooses to emulate.

5.) The Dead Sea Scrolls – The War Scroll

It’s hard to pick any one scroll as more influential than the others, as I read them all during one intense semester.  This set of texts cemented for me the notion that there were multiple strands of Judaism that existed in the first century.  The Damascus document and the Community Rule were the two texts that influenced me the most initially.  Later, as I became more interested in Paul, the Hodayot became more influential for my understanding of Judaism and salvation.  However, I think the War Scroll may have had the most lasting influence on my thinking.  It always fascinates me that a community could have had so much faith in what they were doing that they thought they could defeat the earthly powers by blowing horns and summoning heavenly figures to fight beside them.

Well there is my list.  Hopefully a few people will participate as  I am interested in what texts have influenced others.  I tag Brandon Wason, Pat McCullough, Jim West, Ken Brown, and Mike Aubrey.

Brandon Wason tagged me in his list of five influential books and it seems like an interesting idea so I have posted my list. Like Brandon this is the first of a two part list.  I have included the books that have most influenced the current directions in my research.  My next list will highlight the five primary sources which have most influenced my work.

1. E. Randolph Richards, Paul and First-Century Letter Writing.  While I may disagree with Richards on a great number of topics, this work prompted me to take seriously the manner in which Paul wrote his letters.  Richards demonstrates that Paul used a secretary (amenuensis)  when he wrote his letters and provides a spectrum of the different types of secretaries available in antiquity.  Additionally, Richards emphasizes the importance of the various types of letter carriers and the possible influence on Paul’s letters from members of his team. 

2. The Romans Debate.  I discovered this work early in my graduate work and it alerted me to many of the issues surrounding Romans.  The amount of subjects covered in this work is staggering.  The Romans Debate started me thinking about topics such as manuscript studies, the importance of identifying the purpose for each letter, letter writing, rhetoric, and the New Perspective.  I have always found Dunn’s solution to Paul and the Law to be the most elegant and appealing solution.   It is unfortunate that I cannot agree with him and have my own solution which is far more complicated and unappealing.

3.  Bruce Malina, The New Testament World/ S. Scott Bartchy papers.  Malina’s work is an excellent starting point for coming to grips with the importance of understanding the social world in which the New Testament developed.  S. Scott Bartchy is my adviser and his works demonstrate how useful this information can be when combined with excellent exegesis.  I especially recommend the following papers by S. Scott Bartchy: “‘When I’m Weak, I’m Strong’: a Pauline paradox in cultural context”; “Who should be called father? Paul of Tarsus between the Jesus tradition and patria potestas”; “The historical Jesus and honor reversal at the table”; and “Undermining Ancient Patriarchy: The Apostle Paul’s Vision of a Society of Siblings.” 

4. Lauri Thuren, Derhetorizing Paul.  This was the first work that introduced me to rhetorical criticism.  Soon after I read Kennedy’s influential work New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism which furthered my interest in rhetorical criticism. 

5. Rhetoric and the New Testament: Essays from the 1992 Heidelberg Conference.  This is the book that really pushed and refined my interest in rhetoric and how it can and should be applied to the New Testament.  There are a vast array of articles but the two most influential on my work are those by Porter and Reed which stress the limitations of applying rhetoric to Paul’s letters.

I suppose I am supposed to tag some people so I will start with an old school move I learned on the playground and tagback Brandon Wason for part 2 of his list.  The other four are Pat McCullough, Nijay Gupta, Peter Head, and Michael Bird.

Michelle Verkuilen at Liturgical Press was kind enough to send me Raymond Collins new work The Power of Images in Paul.  Here is my full length review of the work with an abridged version to follow in a few days.  I will also be working through Collins’ 1 Corinthians commentary in the Sacra Pagina series in a few weeks when I finish up my current work on Philippians and move to 1 Corinthians.

The Power of Images in Paul by Raymond Collins. Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2008.  Pp. xv + 307. $49.95.

Raymond Collins, The Power of Images in Paul, is an examination of the many metaphors found in Paul’s letters.  Collins examines each of the seven undisputed letters of Paul and the metaphors which they contain.  The Power of Images in Paul is divided into three primary sections.  In the first section, Collins examines the importance of metaphors in the rhetorical handbooks.  He examines Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintillian and concludes that these three rhetors considered metaphors to be useful tools and outlined guidelines for their proper use.  He concludes the chapter with a brief statement concerning Paul and rhetoric in which he states that Paul did not read the works of these three figures but that the appropriate methods of employing metaphors in the Hellenistic world were indeed shaped by these rhetors.

The second section of Collins’ work examines each of Paul’s undisputed letters and the metaphors which they contain.  Each letter has multiple headings to easily identify new metaphors.  For example he begins with 1 Thessalonians which contains the following headings: siblings, other kinship language, crown of boasting, walking through life, buying a dish, wronging a brother, the great parade, until then, the agon motif, and do not quench the spirit.  While the headings are useful and allow for easy reference, it is not always obvious what metaphors they contain.  Oftentimes headings will contain multiple unrelated metaphors.  For instance, the chapter on Philippians contains the heading, pack of animals.  This heading begins with a brief yet interesting discussion about Paul’s statement in Philippians 3:1 to beware the dogs.  However, the heading also contains information concerning the following unrelated metaphors: mutilators, rubbish, athletes, and Paul’s belly.  Although these are interesting metaphors, including them all under the heading pack of animals may be more confusing than helpful.

The third section of The Power of Images contains a glossary of the various metaphors contained in Paul’s letters.  This glossary contains a myriad of metaphors including the senses, the body, construction, finances, and many others.  Collins discusses the various letters in which each metaphor appears.

While useful, there are a few problems with Collins’ work.  The largest issue concerns the audience of the work.  This is not clearly defined by Collins and is difficult to decipher.  Many of the metaphors which Collins’ identifies are not analyzed in much depth.  There is generally only a page or two for each there is not much interaction with other scholarship, usually one to two references are given to other works.  Additionally, the reader is often left with the question, “so what?”  In other words, Collins presents the different metaphors Paul employed but does not provide much information as to why Paul would have used the particular metaphor in that context.  Collins’ work often reads more like an annotated list of Paul’s metaphors.  However, these issues do not need to be a problem if Collins’ audience is the non specialist or if this work is intended as an introduction to Paul’s metaphors.  However, if Collins is writing for a less educated audience he has left some problems for his readers.  He interacts with Greco-Roman rhetoric both generally and with specific terms such as ethos and pathos which he does not define.  Additionally, he refers to writers such as Pseudo-Demetrius with minimal information.

Although Collins does not engage each metaphor with the same depth, there many bright spots throughout the book.   Collins’ treatment of the thorn in the flesh from 2 Corinthians is rather robust.  He lays out a few of the different possibilities that scholars have put forth for what the thorn might be and then also provides a great number of references for further study on the subject.  Additionally, he includes an interesting similar metaphor from Aristotle concerning an unskilled orator who is described as one who “spoke as if he had swallowed a ruler.” (181)  Another rather detailed metaphor is that of the potter.  Collins spends three pages examining this metaphor found in Romans 9.  He examines the role of the potter in antiquity and also the appearance of similar metaphors in the prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah.  I shall leave it to the reader to discover the many other fine examples contained in The Power of Images in Paul.

Collins has certainly provided an informative book for anyone looking to begin a study on the metaphors of Paul.  I would recommend this work to two different groups of people.  First, anyone interested in a broad survey of all of Paul’s metaphors will find an excellent introduction to the material.  Second, for the scholar performing a detailed analysis of any one metaphor this work may be a good starting point for finding other more detailed sources.  Thus The Power of Images in Paul may fulfill a dual purpose: an introduction to Paul’s metaphors and a reference work for scholars.

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