2015 Volume 42

Issue 01 -- Spring 2015

Editorial Introduction: Performance Criticism: Experiencing the Biblical Text: pp. 3-4
Kathy Maxwell
Palm Beach Atlantic University
West Palm Beach FL 33401

The Role of “an Audience" in Isaac’s Blessing in Genesis 27: pp. 5-10
Jin H. Han
New York Theological Seminary
New York NY 10115

Isaac’s blessing of Jacob in Gen 27 is narrated as life-changing, and every character in the account recognizes its impact. A close examination, however, reveals that it would fail the felicity test. For example, due to failing eyesight, Isaac could not tell whom he was blessing. Moreover, he was tricked into granting everything to a mistaken recipient. Within the narrative confines, the mise-en-scène that produces a dark comedy features an audience made up of Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau, who relentlessly shore up the event as an irrevocable performative speech act. Battle lines are drawn over the role of the audience.

Being in between: Canticles as a “Chimera" between Written and Oral Styles of Speech: pp. 11-27
Matthias Hopf
Neuendettelsau, Germany

The Song of Songs seems to stand in between the written and the spoken word. On one hand, we find forms of phrasing that have been identified as features of oral language, such as a large variety in the verbal grammar (especially the tendency to avoid consecutive forms and to use various other verbal forms instead) and diverse peculiar ways of phrasing. On the other hand, the Song can hardly be called colloquial in style, but is quite literate (cf. e.g. its poetic elaborateness and lexical richness). Consequentially, we assume that the authors/composers tried to imitate day-to-day speech in order to create a written text in the guise of spoken language.

What’s in an Ending? John 21 and the Performative Force of an Epilogue: pp. 29-42
Sherri Brown
Creighton University
Omaha NE 68102

This paper explores John 21 as a storyteller performs it as an epilogue. A Gospel telling that has beautifully faded to black is picked up again, and a performance critical approach helps to explain this final chapter’s existence as well as how it was intended to be received by audiences. The relationship engendered by Jesus in John 1-20 leaves its community with two commands: to love and to believe. However completely these truths are revealed, living through them as a community can become problematic when members struggle with whom and what to love and to believe. In John 21, the storyteller actualizes the new covenant commands into their lived experience through the performance of this epilogue composed for them.

Performance in Corinth: Envisioning Paul's Successful “Letter of Tears": pp. 43-59
Lee A. Johnson
East Carolina University
Greenville NC 27858

Despite the claim by most scholars of ancient epistles that a letter-writer was at a distinct disadvantage by relying upon a written word rather than a personal visit, this essay argues that Paul’s success in Corinth was directly tied to his epistolary relationship with the Corinthians. Employing performance criticism, my work focuses upon the undervalued role of Titus in Paul’s letter campaign in Corinth. I show that Titus was involved at all stages in the letter-writing process-from composition to performance of the letter for the Corinthians-and that his ability to present and defend Paul’s message was instrumental in Paul’s success.

Performance Criticism in Teaching the Gospel of Mark: pp. 61-72
Joanna Dewey
Episcopal Divinity School
Cambridge MA 02138

In this article, I argue for the use of performing in class for students to understand performance criticism and deepen their knowledge of a text. Part I addresses pedagogical hurdles for students to perform and discusses differences between narrative and performance criticism, using Holly Hearon's work. Part II suggests that by recognizing the centrality of performance in the ancient world, we must also recognize the fluidity of texts: they were not fixed as we imagine them to have been, but were continually adapted to different situations and audiences. Part III, the bulk of the article, describes how I use performance in teaching Mark. Finally, Part IV briefly explores multimedia presentations using Richard Swanson's work.

Taking Luke’s Gospel to Heart: Creating a Community of Mercy and Compassion through Biblical Storytelling: pp. 73-88
Philip Ruge-Jones
Texas Lutheran University
Seguin TX 78155

The process of internalizing and performing biblical texts is essential in performance criticism. This spiritual discipline provides for the religious and ethical formation of both individuals and communities. This article maps out the struggle to take the Gospel of Luke to heart in a concrete community. It demonstrates how this process shapes the character of those who participate in it and equips them to live out Luke’s vision of compassionate mercy in the world. Through this ongoing engagement, the story becomes an expansive dwelling place that houses stories of faith communities from across the globe and throughout time.

Issue 02 -- Summer 2015

Editorial Introduction: For Bill J. Leonard, Teacher and Friend: pp. 109-111
C. Douglas Weaver
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

The Spirituality of Adoniram and Ann Judson: Archetypes of Missionary Spiritual Formation: pp. 115-126
Loyd Allen
McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University
Atlanta GA 30341

The life stories of missionaries Adoniram and Ann Judson have archetypal power to shape the spiritual formation of others. This essay explores their many layered spirituality as expressed in their early biographies. Spiritualities have ancestry. They are largely combinations of the spiritualties that preceded them. This essay follows the evolution of the Judsons’ spirituality from it sixteenth-century Protestant heritage downstream through its various subtypes to the Judsons’ particular historical expression. Finally, common spiritual formation motifs that the Judsons’ spirituality shares with the more ancient ascetic spiritual schools of martyrdom and monasticism are noted.

McPhersonism? Aimee Semple McPherson and Her Baptist Opponents (and Supporters): pp. 127-142
C. Douglas Weaver
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

This essay is a study of how Baptists related to the ministry of Aimee Semple McPherson and thus offers clues regarding how Baptists understood the larger Pentecostal world, since McPherson was often considered its embodiment. McPherson’s ministry, which included ordination as a Baptist, reveals how Baptists, especially fundamentalists, grappled with issues regarding the meaning and reception of the Holy Spirit, and miracles/healing. McPhersonism, as McPherson’s opponents labeled her ministry, especially revealed an issue in full gospel New Testament restorationism that seemed to most scare and attract/repel Baptists: women preachers. Baptists accused McPherson of sexualizing the faith, but in the process they did so as well.

“Out of One, Many-Within One, Many": Religious Pluralism and Christian Ecumenism in the United States: pp. 143-157
Andrew Pratt
William Jewell College
Liberty MO 64068

The tension between pluralism and unity is organic to the Christian faith existing in a human social environment that is diverse. This tension has a distinctive expression in the context of religion in the United States. The present study examines religious pluralism and ecumenism in the United States utilizing the writings of Baptist historian Bill J. Leonard. The study is also interested in how individual Christians, Christian churches, and Christian organizations in the United States might move toward some type of ecumenical rapprochement in the twenty-first century.

Walter Rauschenbusch, the Pope, and the New Evangelism: pp. 159-174
Robert N. Nash Jr.
McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University,
Atlanta GA 30341

This essay offers a foundation from which the church of the twenty-first century might construct a theology of evangelism and mission that returns it to the ancient perspective of the earliest Christians and that moves it beyond the dichotomy between evangelism and social ministry that characterized much of Christian mission in the twentieth century. This theological understanding was first articulated in 1904 by Walter Rauschenbusch and achieved its most recent expression in the document Evangelii Gaudium, written by Pope Francis I in 2013. Properly understood, it offers a holistic approach to mission that transforms not only individuals, but also the communities to which they belong.

Charles Frederic Aked (1864-1941): “A Fighting Parson” for Social Reform: pp. 175-190
Karen E. Smith
South Wales Baptist College and Cardiff University
Cardiff, Wales

Charles Frederic Aked (1864-1941) was a British-born Baptist minister who worked for racial equality, women’s suffrage, temperance, Christian unity and world peace. As a minister in Liverpool (1890-1907), he gained a reputation as an advocate for social justice. He worked for Christian unity in Britain alongside F. B. Meyer and John Clifford. He went to New York City to serve as pastor of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church (1907-1911). A friend to Ida B. Wells and Ethel Snowden, he was outspoken for racial and gender equality. Liberal theologically, he worked for the relief of Syrians and Armenians after WWI and, along with Walter Rauschenbusch, condemned the arms trade.

The Church’s One Foundation: A Conversation with John Smyth: pp. 191-204
Phyllis R. P. Tessieri
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (retired)
Richmond VA 23228

While John Smyth is frequently described by contemporary Baptists as unstable, unreliable, and confused because he moved through the Anglican, Puritan, Separatist, Baptist, and Mennonite expressions of the Christian tradition in his quest for the true church, the primary source research for this article demonstrates that he was consistent in three areas: (1) his search for the truth and his use of three criteria to determine truth; (2) his use of typology to demonstrate truth; and (3) his belief that the life of a believer post-adult believer’s baptism was the first resurrection life, a “type" that pointed to the resurrection to come.

Early Pentecostals on Pentecost: pp. 205-215
Mikeal C. Parsons and Peter A. Reynolds
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

In the earliest decades of the modern Pentecostal movement, the story of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2 served as the model for the authentic experience of Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Pentecostals’ experiences shaped their interpretation of this text, and their interpretation of the text shaped their understanding of their experiences. This dialectic between text and experience produced readings of Acts 2 that shift somewhat as the experiences of the community demand. The most significant such shift was from the expectation of the earliest Pentecostals that speaking in tongues would provide the church with the languages necessary to preach the gospel around the world, to a reevaluation of the nature of tongues in light of the failure of this strategy. The expectation of tongues as xenolalia (speaking in known, but unstudied, human languages), which was rooted in Acts 2, changed to an expectation of tongues as glossalalia (ecstatic speech) rooted in Paul’s letters. Not only do these interpretations of Acts 2 provide us with the unique perspective of one real reading community, but, at times, they echo patristic interpretations, and even anticipate later developments in critical scholarship.

Has Everyone Been Served? Communion beyond Sunday Morning: pp. 217-227
Rev. Darryl Aaron
First Baptist Church
Winston-Salem NC 27101

Churches are ritualistic at their core and are often desperately attached to their rituals. In this postmodern world many congregations are having to jettison a lot, not knowing what to hold onto. As a result of these unsettling times, conflicts are taking place throughout many churches. This essay examines what happens when rituals are given proper meaning and purpose through intentionality. Moreover, this essay provides a case study to demonstrate how churches can reconcile differences and develop a narrative of harmony out of dissonance.

Issue 03 -- Fall 2015

Editorial Introduction: Violence and the Biblical Tradition: pp. 243–246
Mark McEntire
Belmont University
Nashville TN 37212

Preaching from Violent Biblical Texts: Helpful Strategies for Addressing Violence in the Old Testament: pp. 247–257
Eric A. Seibert
Messiah College
Mechanicsburg PA 17055

Many pastors and priests are uncomfortable preaching from violent Old Testament texts. Therefore, they routinely ignore them. Yet it is imperative for the clergy not only to preach from these texts, but to do so in an ethically responsible manner. This is particularly true when preaching from passages containing “virtuous” violence, where violence is portrayed positively, as something acceptable and even praiseworthy. This article discusses a number of practical strategies designed to help preachers deal more responsibly and effectively with these challenging biblical passages in their sermons. These strategies enable preachers to be honest about the problems these texts raise, and to critique the violence in them, while still preaching from these texts in ways that are positive and constructive.

Circumcision as a Slave Mark: pp. 259–274
Hector Avalos
Iowa State University
Ames IA 50011

Circumcision may be one of the most widespread forms of violence on the globe. Although the reasons for circumcision are variegated, the form best known in Abrahamic traditions probably originated in the violent institution of slavery. A master tested the loyalty of slaves by requiring them to perform an action to which one is normally adverse. Circumcision, which involves the painful removal of the foreskin of the penis, would have been a very effective test of loyalty and marker of ownership. If slaves performed that procedure, a master could be assured of absolute obedience. Children were circumcised because they were considered part of the property of the divine master, Yahweh.

Telling and Retelling the Story of Dinah: Violent Storytelling as Social Formation: pp. 275–282
Kathryn M. Lopez
Campbell University
Buies Creek NC 27506

Rewritten Torah flourished in the Second Temple period, but many details changed in the retelling. Certain stories, such as Dinah’s rape and the subsequent slaughter of the men of Shechem in Genesis 34, almost reverse themselves in the retelling. Levi shifts from the villain who placed the family of Jacob in danger to the hero whose commitment to the purity of God’s people is exemplified by his violent action against the Shechemites. This reversal is particularly apparent in those retellings that are associated with the Levi-Priestly tradition. This article explores how a story of such violence became the basis for the elevation of Levi in Second Temple period writings and operated to form the social identity of the group that stands behind the Levi-Priestly tradition.

Wrestling with Rome: Imperial Violence and Its Legacy in the Synoptic Gospels: pp. 283–294
Amanda C. Miller
Belmont University
Nashville TN 37212

This essay offers a foundation from which the church of the twenty-first century might construct a theology of evangelism and mission that returns it to the ancient perspective of the earliest Christians and that moves it beyond the dichotomy between evangelism and social ministry that characterized much of Christian mission in the twentieth century. This theological understanding was first articulated in 1904 by Walter Rauschenbusch and achieved its most recent expression in the document Evangelii Gaudium, written by Pope Francis I in 2013. Properly understood, it offers a holistic approach to mission that transforms not only individuals, but also the communities to which they belong.

Revelation’s Violence Problem: Mapping Essential Questions: pp. 295–306
Greg Carey
Lancaster Theological Seminary
Lancaster PA 17603

The book of Revelation frequently deploys language and imagery related to violence and destruction, often attributed to God and the Lamb. This theological and ethical problem preoccupies scholarly and popular interpreters alike, but few pause to articulate its various literary and theological dimensions. Readers of Revelation must navigate the questions of whether its violence is justifiable, whether Revelation attributes violence to God and to the Lamb, whether Revelation’s rhetoric solicits a desire for violence, whether the book realistically reflects its violent historical context, and whether texts can “do violence” through rhetoric and symbolism. In the end, this essay proposes that Revelation celebrates and endorses violence even as it calls its audience to abstain from violent action. Revelation models for its readers how the longing for justice often mingles with a desire for vindication and revenge.

Engaging Diverse Early Christian Responses to Violence in Persecution: pp. 307–317
Karen L. King
Harvard Divinity School
Cambridge MA 02138

The response of early Christians to persecution under Rome is often represented in contemporary church histories as a heroic story in which martyrs willingly confess Christ and face torture and death. The evidence, however, shows that Christians struggled to understand what was happening and what they should do. In so doing, they raise foundational theological questions about the nature of God and the meaning of suffering. This essay examines three works recently discovered in Egypt which offer new perspectives and which argue variously for non-violence, pacifism, and/or withdrawal: The Testimony of Truth, The Letter of Peter to Philip, and The (First) Apocalypse of James.

Issue 04 -- Winter 2015

Faith, Baptist Identity, and the NABPR: pp. 327–340
Kent Blevins
Gardner-Webb University
Boiling Springs NC 28017

This article explores the meaning of the moniker “Baptist,” particularly as it relates to the National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion and its membership. It argues that a relational understanding of faith as an orientation or direction (pilgrimage) is the underpinning for the Baptist emphases on freedom of conscience and religious liberty. While study of the past is an essential element for understanding the present, Baptist (and Christian) theological engagement and community formation going forward cannot be restricted to past formulations or constructions. We should encourage dialogue, diversity of perspective, openness to differing viewpoints, and concrete actions to bring about a greater justice. The NABPR as an organization formed “to promote communication and cooperation among professors of religion,” can offer a space where assumptions are challenged, ideas are rigorously tested, and calls for a greater justice can be sounded—all as “a conscious response to the call to follow Jesus.”

Theopathic or Anthropopathic? A Suggested Approach to Imagery of Divine Emotion in the Hebrew Bible: pp. 341–355
John C. Peckham
Andrews University
Berrien Springs MI 49104

This article critically examines the view that figurative anatomical expressions of divine emotion should be dismissed as non-descriptive of God and suggests an alternative approach. First, since all available language is human language, the dismissal of figurative language for this reason is self-defeating. Second, the interpreter should not presume what God is like independent of the biblical data. Third, attention to the idiomatic usage of figurative anatomical expressions demonstrates that such idioms are not dependent upon the anatomical referent. Therefore, the interpreter should maintain the well-known meaning of an idiom as an analogical reference to God’s emotions (theopathism).

Divine Extortion and Mashal as a Polysemic Pivot: The Strategy of Complaint in Joel 2:12–17: pp. 357–370
Rebecca W. Poe Hays
Baylor University
Waco TX 76798

Joel 2:12–17 unfolds a desperate argument beginning with repentance but reinforcing this incentive by combining a description of YHWH’s character with the nations’ imagined derision. The persuasive force resides in a pivot device playing upon the two mashal roots (“be like” and “rule”). The threat is not merely that Judah will suffer mockery but that the nations will equate Judah’s situation with YHWH’s status and character. Strategically, the Joel 2:12–17 complaint utilizes extortion wherein the priests present YHWH with a threat to his character, which mashal’s polysemy enhances, as a means of incentivizing YHWH to reverse Judah’s fortunes.

“Eating and Drinking Whatever They Provide” (Luke 10:5–7): Luke’s Household Mission of the Seventy(-Two) in Light of the Philip Esler/E. P. Sanders Debate: pp. 371–389
David Lertis Matson
Hope International University
Fullerton CA 92831

Scholars have long noted the prominence of table fellowship in the writings of Luke. But as the Christian mission gradually expands to include Gentiles, exactly what kind of table fellowship does Luke envision taking place? In mixed eucharistic settings, do Jews eat separately from Gentiles, bring their own food, or share in common provisions with Gentiles? Against the backdrop of an intense debate in New Testament scholarship, particularly between Philip F. Esler and E. P. Sanders, this article develops a distinctively Lukan model based on the indiscriminate household mission of the Seventy(-two) that supports Esler’s definition of table fellowship as personalized eating rather than the parallel eating model assumed by Sanders. That Luke uses food to symbolize the breaking down of barriers between people groups, however, is not without its problems in this postcolonial age.

Human Potentialism and Bioethics: pp. 391–404
Michael Robinson
University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
Belton TX 76513

“Potentialism” is a perspective according to which personal dignity and core rights are conferred upon biological humans not because all biological humans possess person-making properties, but because they potentially possess these qualities. In this article, I consider some implications of potentialism for bioethics—specifically issues that arise (1) under conditions of “typical” natural human development, (2) under conditions of developmental abnormalities, trauma, and natural decline, and (3) under conditions of human-manipulated development. I also briefly discuss the impact of the Christian belief in afterlife on the notion of potential personhood and consider a puzzle that potentialism generates for affirmation of an afterlife.