2008 Volume 35

Issue 01 -- Spring 2008

“A River Runs through It”: Streams in the Career of R. Alan Culpepper: pg 3-7
Steven M. Sheeley
Shorter College
Rome, GA 30165

Narrativity and Naiveté: Critical Reflections on Literary Analysis of the Gospels: pg 9-24

Edwin K. Broadhead
Berea College
Berea, KY 40404
This article reflects on the use of literary theories in New Testament scholarship in the past three decades. While acknowledging that literary theory has enabled scholars to appreciate New Testament narratives holistically and focus on their audiences, this article focuses primarily on literary criticism’s lack of attention to diachronic concerns. Looking at the Gospel of Matthew in particular, evidence is found for a history of development in the form of a two-way conversation between community(ies) and composer(s).

Exegesis “By the Numbers”: Numerology and the New Testament: pg 25-43

Mikeal C. Parsons
Baylor University
Waco, TX 76798
Noting Culpepper’s recent ventures into the realm of numerological interpretation, this article explores the possible significance of the numbers 6, 7, 18, 100, 152, and 276 in a variety of New Testament writings. The article begins by investigating traditions surrounding these numbers before suggesting the need for establishing criteria for discerning between symbolic and calculated numbers. Nevertheless, while there is need for caution so as to avoid over-reading the significance of numbers in the New Testament, scholars must also remember the fascination early Christians had with numbers and the potential insight this fact may bring to reading the New Testament.

The Fourth Gospel and Celtic Christianity: pg 45-67

Linda McKinnish Bridges
Wake Forest University Divinity School
Winston-Salem, NC 27109
The Gospel of John is just different. The words, images, cadence, and storyline do not conform to the shape of the other Gospel stories of the first century. Celtic Christianity is also different, showing us a form of early medieval Christianity unlike Rome, the dominant medieval Christian tradition. Yet, in these two communities-the first-century, Johannine community centered on John’s Gospel and the early medieval Celtic Christian community as expressed in Irish monasticism-several mutual themes emerge. The most striking theme is the use of the Fourth Gospel in the Celtic Christian traditions from the fifth to tenth century, evidenced by the conversations at the Council of Whitby in 664; seen through the writings of saints Cuthbert, Boisil, and Bede; and revealed in the theology of Celtic theologian, John Scotus Eriugena. The Celtic Christian communities favored the Gospel of John. This article attempts to show how and why.
The Minas Touch: Anti-Kingship Rhetoric in the Gospel of Luke: pg 69-86
Richard B. Vinson
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
Richmond, VA 23227
Luke 19:11-27, commonly called “the Parable of the Pounds,” is normally interpreted as a comment on the nature of Jesus' kingship: Jesus' kingdom is delayed, but will eventually be revealed (Fitzmyer and most commentators); Jesus’ kingdom will be revealed immediately, in the person of his disciples (Johnson and a few others). R. Alan Culpepper suggested that the king in the parable is a parody of Luke’s Jesus’ understanding of the kingdom of God. This article argues that Luke elsewhere satirizes kings and kingdoms other than the kingdom of God and uses the Parable of the Pounds to introduce a parodic theme into the Passion Narrative. Jesus is crucified as King of the Jews-a claim that is untrue on several levels, yet the characters who say so do not understand what they say or seem aware of how ridiculous they sound. By turning the charge against Jesus into parody, Luke shapes his story so that it mocks not the man on the cross but the Empire who put him there.

More than Meets the “I”: Recognition Scenes In The Odyssey and Luke 24: pg 87-107

Craig T. McMahan
Mercer University
Macon, GA 31207
Narratives seek to resolve epistemological tensions between perception and reality. One of the most common narrative resolutions is the discovery of a character's true identity. In his Poetics, Aristotle discussed the formal style and structure of this discovery known as anagnorisis or recognition. Homeric literature made particular use of recognition scenes, most notably in The Odyssey, which chronicled the eventual recognition of the returning hero, Odysseus. Recent scholarship has identified several stock moves or stages that occur in Homeric recognition scenes: testing, deception, foretelling, and finally recognition. This essay examines the recognition scenes in Luke 24, seeking to determine to what extent the author followed this standard narrative strategy and to what effect.

Nothing (a)B(o)ut the Blood: Images of Jesus' Death in the New Testament: pg 109-19
Steven M. Sheeley
Shorter College
Rome, GA 30165
This article examines images used to describe the death of Jesus in the New Testament writings and argues that such images should not always be considered to be literal. Additionally, the article suggests that far more "blood" flows through modern theology and hymnody than a careful reading of New Testament texts would justify.

A Bibliography of Alan Culpepper’s Writings: pg 121-29
Ginny Brewer-Boydston
Baylor University
Waco, TX 76798

Issue 02 -- Summer 2008

Editorial Introduction: pg 133-34
Pamela J. Scalise
Fuller Theological Seminary
Seattle, WA 98133

Disputations in the Book of Jeremiah: pg 135-46
Leslie C. Allen
Fuller Theological Seminary
Pasadena, CA 91182
If a disputation is basically defined in terms of three components, a thesis, a dispute, and a counter-thesis, as Donald F. Murray has defined it, eleven cases of this genre occur in the book of Jeremiah, in both poetic and prose settings. They mainly appear in the compact form of single disputation speeches, but can also be spread over separate speeches set in the framework of a narrative report or story. Each case is analyzed with respect both to its relationship to an oracle of disaster or proclamation of salvation and to its general exegetical contribution.

Isaiah 53 in the Pulpit: pg 147-53

John Goldingay
Fuller Theological Seminary
Pasadena,CA 91182
What happens when an exegete becomes a preacher? Exegetically, Isaiah 53 is presented as a test case. Isaiah 53 describes a pastor/prophet who is suffering due to Israel's sin and God's calling to minister to the people. It is not a prophecy per se; rather, it is a description of the prophet's suffering for and with the Israelites in exile that is used typologically by the NT writers to describe Jesus' relationship to God and the people. Sermonically, Christians today should realize about Jesus what the Israelites in exile realized about the suffering servant. The prophet was sent to minister to the people and suffered with and for the Israelites in exile. While the people initially viewed his suffering as God's rejection of him, they came to realize that he offered himself as a sin offering to God on behalf of the people. Likewise, Jesus suffered with and for the people, presenting himself as a sin offering for all who would be his followers.

The Prophet as Encourager: pg 155-61

Gerald L. Keown
M. Christopher White School of Divinity
Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs, NC 28017
This essay attempts to describe aspects of the prophetic message which offer encouragement to the hearer and/or reader. The dominant theme in the prophetic corpus is anything but encouraging. There is, however, a deliberate “balancing” within the prophetic texts which prevents the harsh word of judgment from being the last word. The essay offers selected examples of “encouraging” words from the prophets of the Old Testament, some of which are “encouraging” when the audience is understood as the community in Babylonian exile. The essay is also intended as a word of thanks to one who is an example of the encourager, John D. W. Watts, friend and former colleague.

The End of the Old Testament: Reading Exile in the Hebrew Bible: pg 163-78

Pamela J. Scalise
Fuller Theological Seminary
Seattle, WA 98133
“Exile,” “restoration” and “the post-Exilic period” have been the standard modern terminology for the end of the Old Testament period. These familiar terms label the sequence of developments involving Judah and Jerusalem after Nebuchadnezzar conquered them in 587 (or 586) B.C. There are good reasons to question the historical precision of these terms, yet the concept “exile” remains a potent one. The Old Testament in its final form offers liturgical and educational means for everyone to adopt the theological identity of “exile.”

Naming the Enemy: Esther and the Prophets: pg 179-83
Kandy Queen-Sutherland
Stetson University
DeLand, FL 32723
The scroll of Esther shares a common task with that of the prophets, namely dealing with choices while living with the enemy. While the prophets call on the people to choose justice in the face on injustice, the scroll of Esther is a demonstration of how one young woman accomplished this act. In the face of evil, Esther has a choice; she can choose non-cooperation, accommodation, open rebellion, or simply to remain silent. Although her first choice is accommodation, eventually Esther uses the position gained through her accommodation as a platform for doing justice by confronting injustice and identifying its source.

Oracular Rhetoric: pg 185-95
James W. Watts
Syracuse University
Syracuse, NY 13244
This essay analyzes the use of persuasive rhetoric employed in the biblical prophetic books by comparing these texts to ANE parallels. The analysis of ANE oracular literature demonstrates that the Aristotelian components of persuasive speech, namely logos, pathos, and ethos, can be found here as well, with a special emphasis on ethos. Because the oracle consists of the words of a deity, through ethos the author attempts to bolster the credibility of the human speaker as well as the deity for whom the prophet speaks. Also, one also finds a “rhetoric of messengers,” through which the recorder of oracles tends to distance himself from the speaker. These two emphases can be found in the biblical prophetic literature as well.

Founder, Professor, Dean, President: John D. W. Watts and the Baptist Theological Seminary, Rüschlikon, Switzerland: pg 197-216

Carol Woodfin
Hardin-Simmons University
Abilene, TX 79698
It is common knowledge that John Watts served as an OT professor and president of the Baptist Theological Seminary in Rüschlikon. Less recognized, however, is Watts’s contribution to the seminary in the areas of the founding of the seminary, serving as its academic dean, developing curriculum, and building and maintaining relationships with other European Baptist seminaries. Through Watts’s experience and leadership, the seminary was able to work through difficult issues during his tenure, including student dissatisfaction, financial concerns, and retention of quality faculty members.

A Bibliography of John D. W. Watts’s Writings: pg 217-20

Pamela J. Scalise
Fuller Theological Seminary
Seattle, WA 98133

Issue 03 -- Fall 2008

Reading Samson with the Dead: pg 223-35
Timothy Crawford
Bluefield College
Bluefield, VA 24605
A revised version of the presidential address given at the NABPR meeting in 2008, this article seeks to demonstrate how the character of Samson was understood in early Jewish thought and its implications on Christian understandings of Samson. The author begins with a summary of the Samson story before moving on to discuss relevant passages from the Babylonian Talmud, Midrash Rabbah, and other early Jewish sources before mentioning a few sample passages from early Christian literature. From this survey, the author concludes that the reception of Samson is mixed; while theses sources present Samson as having turned from following the Lord, they do not deny him a place among the faithful.

What I Have Learned from the History of Interpretation: pg 237-50
Dale C. Allison, Jr.
Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Pittsburgh, PA 15206
This article is the printed version of a paper given at the Southwestern Society of Biblical Literature in March, 2008. The article addresses the problem of a lack of attention to the history of interpretation by recent biblical scholars. To encourage exegetes to utilize the work of past interpreters, ancient and otherwise, the article offers insights gained through exploring the history of interpretation of seven texts, including: the synoptic account of the healing of the hemorrhaging woman; Matthew 2; James 2; Mark 12; the synoptic missionary accounts (Matthew 10 Mark 6; and Luke 9 and 10); and Matt 5:21-26.

Cognition in John: The Johannine Signs as Recognition Scenes: pg 251-60

R. Alan Culpepper
McAfee School of Theology
Atlanta, GA 30341
Building on the recent dissertation of Kasper Bro Larsen entitled Recognizing the Stranger: Anagnorisis in the Gospel of John this article explores the role of Johannine signs in relation to the recognition motif found in the Fourth Gospel. The article begins with a brief history of research before moving to clarify which Johannine signs can be called recognition scenes and how the signs functions as tokens that disclose Jesus’s identity.

The Social Trinity and the Southwest: Toward a Local Theology in the Borderlands: pg 261-80
Quentin P. Kinnison
Fresno Pacific University
Fresno, CA 93702
Considering the major social Trinitarian theologians of the twentieth century, this article investigates how themes of social Trinitarianism might encourage and challenge churches in the Southwestern U.S. toward revision of theological and ethical praxis. Specifically, it investigates the themes of perichoresis, mutuality, egalitarianism, openness to other, and love. Promoting that since human beings are created in God’s image to be socially interconnected, these Trinitarian concepts make both prophetic and ethical demands upon churches in this region regarding cultural diversity and the embracing of “the other.”

The Poetics of Memory and Justice: Elie Wiesel and Post-Holocaust Theological Reflection: pg 283-300

Frederick L. Downing
Valdosta State University
Valdosta, GA 31698
The writings of the survivors are like voices from a whirlwind cast in the direction of a silent but listening God. Such sounds are audible in the work of Elie Wiesel who first heard them in Auschwitz. The thesis of this essay is that Wiesel, presented with an “eclipse of God,” responds in dialogical fashion by creating a “poetics of memory and justice” which becomes a complex dialogue of lament-laden literature, an “address” to God—a place to interrogate images of the self and others. The quest for memory and justice is embodied in literary forms such as autobiography and parable.  

Charles H. Parrish, Sr.: From Slavery to Baptist College President: pg 301-13
Lawrence H. Williams
Luther College
Decorah, IA 52101
Charles H. Parrish, Sr., (1859-1931), was an African-American Baptist minister, president of two independent all-black Baptist schools, a founder of the National Baptist Convention, and leader in interracial and international Baptist affairs.  Parrish spent his early years as a slave. Along with William J. Simmons, in 1890, Parrish founded Eckstein Norton Institute in Cane Spring, Kentucky.  After Simmons’ death, Parrish became president; he served from 1890-1912.  In 1918 Parrish became president of State (later Simmons University).  However, in 1931 Simmons University closed its undergraduate program.  It would continue only as a theological school, later known as Simmons Bible College. Parrish also served as chairman of the newly organized National Baptist Foreign Mission Board.  In 1923 he spoke at the Baptist World Alliance, meeting in Stockholm. The Parrish article is important because of the light it sheds on the founding of all-black independent Baptist schools and conventions.  It also deals with religious and racial attitudes during the period.

Issue 04 -- Winter 2008

Editorial Introduction: pg 349-56
Pamela J. Scalise
Fuller Theological Seminary
Seattle, WA 98133

The Ten Commandments: Deliverance for the Vulnerable: pg 357-71
Glen H. Stassen
Fuller Theological Seminary
Pasadena, CA 91182
This article argues that rather than dividing the Ten Commandments into two separate sections, one should approach them as a unified whole.  The article begins by suggesting that Ten Commandments are unified by their heading in Exod 20:2, which encapsulates God’s character revealed in the historical drama of the Exodus as one who hears the cries of the oppressed, sees their needs, and delivers them. With this definition in place, the article then turns to exegete the Ten Commandments based on the character of the God who gave them.  Overall, the article concludes that these commands are about faithfulness to the LORD who is the mighty and awesome compassionate deliverer of the weak and vulnerable.

The Decalogue in the New Testament: pg 373-86
Lidija Novakovic
Baylor University
Waco, TX 76798
This article argues that the New Testament interprets the commandments of the Decalogue in light of God's revelation in Jesus Christ. The Decalogue as a whole is either illustrated through the citation of the commandments from the second table, which deal with interpersonal relationships, or summed up through the double commandment to love God and one's neighbor. The first three commandments are never directly quoted but qualified in light of Christian worship of Jesus Christ. In the gospels, Jesus extends the permissible reasons for breaking the fourth commandment to the cases of human compassion and love. Other individual commandments are likewise interpreted through the commandment of love. The tenth commandment becomes paradigmatic in Paul’s discussion of the powerlessness of the law and human inability to completely fulfill its demands.

Early Baptists and the Ten Commandments: pg 387-91

Bill J. Leonard
The Divinity School at Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem, NC 27106
The Ten Commandments were not lost on the early Baptists in spite of what their Anglican critics might have thought. Indeed, the Commandments are referenced in much of the literature produced by seventeenth-century Baptist communities, specifically in confessions of faith and especially catechisms for children. Those documents give us insight into Baptist views on the Decalogue. Generally speaking, they accept the Commandments as evidence of God’s sustaining efforts to redeem creation after the fall, an effort both punctuated and frustrated by the Mosaic Law, a bridge to the law written “on the heart,” made known supremely in Jesus Christ. Yet most of the early documents, perhaps all of them, readily acknowledge that the coming of Christ enhanced and fulfilled the law but did not negate it.

The Americanization of the Ten Commandments, 1880s-1920s: pg 393-410

Scott M. Langston
Texas Christian University
Ft. Worth, TX 76129
Many Americans today commonly associate the Ten Commandments with American ideals, seeing them as basic values essential to the country's identity.  This connection, however, is a relatively recent development.  Americans living prior to the Civil War valued highly the Commandments, but more often used them individually to address particular moral issues.  After the Civil War, though, the country's social, economic, and national transformations contributed to the growing association of the Commandments collectively with Americanness.  Theodore Roosevelt, William Jennings Bryan, and others used them to address national issues such as immigration, industrialization, capitalism, and patriotism, and thereby helped make them into a national text.

The Ten Commandments and Religious Life Today: pg 411-25

Walter J. Harrelson
Vanderbilt University
Nashville, TN 37240
In this closing chapter we hope to bring together in a systematic way the findings of the study thus far. We hope also to indicate how these efforts to understand the Decalogue may point the way for a reassessment of the relations of Judaism and Christianity and the import of these two biblical religions for contemporary understanding: religious, humanistic, or atheistic. The chapter can only provide pointers, largely in the form of theses briefly elucidated. Readers will be able to see how the systematic study relates to the prior exegetical and historical work. Much work remains to be done on systematic biblical ethics. Our thought is grouped under three headings: (1) bondage under God, (2) freedom under God, and (3) the Ten Commandments: charter of human freedom.