Editorial Introduction: Answering Dystopia: Christian Hope and the Promised End: Essays by Young Scholars in the Baptist Academy: pp. 3–6
Georgetown KY 40324
Dystopia, Utopia, and Millennium: Competing Images of Presence in an Anxious World: pp. 7–21
Paul S. Fiddes
Regent’s Park College, University of Oxford
Oxford UK OX1 2JD
Dystopias—whether in books, films or television—are extensions of trends in the present taken to a fantastic extreme, and warn about the dangers of exercising power over others and the imposing of one’s presence on others. They are a response to the anxiety of a postmodern age, arising from the breakdown of previous views of a confident self. Utopias, by contrast, express a “good place” to be where human presence enables a flourishing of life and where people give attention to others. Utopias can, however, confuse “presence” with an eternal “present” that inhibits all change and development, and so cross over into dystopias. The Christian image of millennium expresses a kind of presence in the world, both of God and of human beings, that is not driven by anxiety to control others. It evokes a “space” in the triune God that offers a place to dwell and yet that is also open to ever-new possibilities.
Answering Dystopia: Christianity, Modernity, and the Promise of Place: pp. 23–39
Rock Hill SC 29733
The word “dystopia” is normally taken to mean “bad place,” and this is partly correct. The Greek topos indeed means “place,” and the prefix dys- can mean “bad” or “unfortunate.” In another sense, however, dys- is a complex privative which, like the English “un-,” reverses the meaning of the word it modifies. From this angle, “dystopia” refers less to a bad place than to the absence of place. The two senses are no doubt related, and this essay suggests that Christian thought might “answer dystopia” in the first sense by attending to the “placelessness” that partly constitutes it. This argument hinges on two claims: first, that our present concerns about a potentially dystopian future are partly rooted in the placelessness that is not merely an accidental byproduct of modernity but one of its essential features. The second claim is that the Christian story “answers dystopia” not by disavowing its placelessness, but by creatively re-inscribing that placelessness within a broader narrative whose promised end is also the promise of place.
New Testament Apocalypticism and a Theology of the Cross: Answering Dystopianism: pp. 41–52
Eric J. Gilchrest
Marion AL 36756
This essay explores the dystopian realities expressed in the Christian Scriptures and beyond. In order to provide an “answer” for dystopia, it walks through dystopianism as played out in the Hebrew Bible, apocalyptic Judaism, and the apocalypticism of the New Testament. Throughout the essay, dystopianism is defined in two ways: the removal of Israel from the land (exile) and the removal of God from the land (divine abandonment). After recognizing the importance of God-forsakenness during the moment of Jesus’s crucifixion, the essay turns to Luther’s theology of the cross as a way forward for thinking about dystopianism both in the Bible and beyond.
The Hebrew Bible’s Prophets Answer Dystopia: pp. 53–71
Melissa A. Jackson
Richmond VA 23228
In “answering dystopia,” the Hebrew Bible’s prophets present a number of responses. Bringing together prophetic literature and dystopian imaginings reveals their shared foundational elements: (1) a concern for society’s future that is rooted in the present, (2) a role as social critic, exposing current failings and projecting a “then” resulting from “now,” and (3) a temporality that is layered, engaging in more than one context. From these shared elements, the prophets “answer” dystopia via three dualities: (1) a dual vision of the future, an outlook that holds in tension both destruction and restoration, (2) a dual agency of humanity and God, both parties sharing “responsibility” for the future, and (3) a dual fidelity to God and to one another, a commitment enacted in everyday living. Three implications nuance this prophetic “answer” to dystopia: opting for a both/and tension over either/or, understanding the future as potential rather than fixed, and emphasizing community over individualism.
Jesus, Girard, and Dystopian Literature: pp. 73–86
Jennifer Garcia Bashaw
East Texas Baptist University
Marshall TX 75670
This article provides a brief introduction to the work of René Girard and uses insights from Girard’s theory of sacred violence to examine two of today’s most popular young adult book series—the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, and the Divergent series by Veronica Roth. The article begins with an overview of Girard’s theory, followed by an evaluation of elements of Collins’s and Roth’s dystopian societies from a Girardian perspective. This analysis demonstrates that these two series provide contemporary examples of the destructive nature of cyclical violence. It also suggests that Girard’s theory provides an alternative to the dystopian futures envisioned in both of these literary worlds.
Answering Dystopia: An Augustinian Reading of Wendell Berry, Walker Percy, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: pp. 87–101
William Jason Wallace
Birmingham AL 35229
Since antiquity the Western world has valued a political order that allows for human flourishing and human freedom. While always an ideal, historical realities demonstrate that the pursuit of good and virtuous social orders always risks decay and dystopia, or disorder. In late antiquity Augustine of Hippo urged that politics for the Christian could only be a proximate good and never an ultimate or final good. Christians share secular space and secular goods as aliens and sojourners rather than agents of virtuous citizenship as conceived in classical formulations of politics. Wendell Berry, Walker Percy, and Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn are three 20th- and 21st-century writers whose work offers thoughtful Christian responses to the moral confusion of modernity. These authors successfully integrate classical pre-Christian notions of virtue and moral responsibility into an Augustinian understanding of Christian hope.
The Hope of the Poor: Ecclesial Practices of Politics, Hope, and Transformation: pp. 103–114
Kristopher Norris and Sam Speers
The Project on Lived Theology at The University of Virginia,
Charlottesville VA 22904
This article broadly outlines the ecclesiological visions and sociopolitical practices of two Baptist congregations—Saddleback Church in Southern California and Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta—and addresses how one key practice at each congregation confronts the everyday dystopia of poverty. Despite significant differences in history and demographics, we show that both congregations draw on an eschatological vision of God’s work and the church’s mission to offer tangible expressions of hope to the poor, manifest in the concrete practices of the PEACE Plan and MLK Sr. Center, respectively. Saddleback promotes a church-centric vision of social transformation in their global missions strategy, while Ebenezer nuances this vision with a collaborative impulse in their ministry to the poor in their local neighborhood. In both cases, an eschatological vision generates not passivity, but concrete actions and material hope for the poor.
Answering Dystopia in the Baptist South: pp. 115–122
Missouri State University
Springfield MO 65897
Editorial Introduction: Paul L. Redditt: Scholar, Teacher, Colleague, and Friend: pp. 139–144
Barry A. Jones
Campbell University Divinity School
Buies Creek NC 27506
The Future Beyond the End: Lessons from History by Herodotus and Daniel: pp. 145–159
Samuel E. Balentine
Union Presbyterian Seminary
Richmond VA 23227
This article examines the role of time in the “histories” of Herodotus and Daniel. Both use historiography as a way of understanding the roles of human agency, divine agency, and chance, but whereas Herodotus demythologizes history, Daniel theologizes it. Daniel’s teleological closure, particularly the varying calculations of the “time of end,” presuppose and require the very moralizing of history that Herodotus resists. When Daniel reasons about End-time, we may imagine him doing so with what Wallace Stevens calls the “later reason” that has been brutalized by reality.
Sinners Only? Amos 9:8–10 and the Problem of Targeted Justice in Amos: pp. 161–175
Mark E. Biddle
Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond
Richmond VA 23228
Rudolf Smend has depicted Amos’s message as a categorical rejection of Israel. Amos 9:8–10, with its notion of discriminating judgment, stands out against the backdrop of the apparent pessimism of the overall book. This article assesses whether it represents a foreign insertion into the Amos tradition or, in contrast, whether it develops possibilities latent in earlier Amos materials. Close readings of several passages reveal that all specify decimation and exile for the ruling elite, its city, and its official sanctuary, but do not foresee the absolute end of the North. Themes throughout the book more than hint that Amos’s objective was regime change.
Priestly Expansions within Haggai–Malachi and the Twelve: pp. 177–185
Mark J. Boda
McMaster Divinity College, McMaster University
Hamilton ON L8S 4K1
Focusing on distinctions between the presentation of priestly figures in Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, this article identifies a redactional agenda that champions a shift from the particular and singular focus on the high priest within the Zadokite tradition to a more general and plural focus on priests related to the Levi tradition. Parallel to this priestly shift is a royal shift that eventually leads to the disappearance of Davidic royal leadership. The move from the singular to the plural reflects increasing concern over priestly leadership by the prophetic group responsible for Haggai–Malachi, especially with the lack of Davidic royal leadership.
God and Dysfunctional Families: A Social and Theological Study of the Book of Hosea: pp. 187–202
Trent C. Butler
Broadman and Holman Publishers (retired)
Nashville TN 37234
Combining Paul Redditt’s love for the Book of the Twelve and his concern for social conditions in the ancient world, this article takes clinical observations about the elements characterizing a dysfunctional family and compares the portrait that the biblical record paints of the prophet Hosea and his family. When the prophet’s family proves to embody dysfunctional relationships, the article probes further to explore the role played by religion, particularly worship of Yahweh, in molding Hosea’s family into such a troubled social group.
A Comparison of Darius, Pharaoh, and Associates: pp. 203–214
Deirdre Dempsey and Sharon Pace
Milwaukee WI 53233
Scholars frequently remark on the similarities between Joseph and Daniel. Few, however, compare Pharaoh to Darius. Comparison shows that Darius (Dan 6) is portrayed in a particularly derisive way in order to provide a lesson in what can go wrong when a foreign power is in control of Jewish destiny. The message for a post-exilic Jewish community is clear: a foreign power could produce a leader like Joseph’s Pharaoh, capable of controlling the malevolent impulses of his subjects. Just as likely, however, external authority can be weak and ineffective, leaving those reliant on a sovereign’s authority at the mercy of ill-intentioned, jealous officials.
Changing Perspectives in Isaiah 40–55: pp. 215–225
James D. Nogalski
Waco TX 76798
Isaiah 40–55 consists of two main parts (chs. 40–48 and 49–55). Scholars have long noted formal differences between the two, but seldom explore the literary ramifications. These chapters differ in their primary addressees, the perspective from which they envision the impending journey, and the ways in which they reflect different geographical contexts. Cumulatively, these shifting perspectives force the careful reader to assume changes in both space and time when reading these chapters. The rhetoric of chs. 40–48 largely seeks to persuade those living in Babylon to see YHWH at work in liberating the community to return to the land. By contrast, the rhetorical persuasion in chs. 49–55 purposefully encourages the personified city of Jerusalem to recognize and accept those returning as her own children.
Ruth, Qoheleth, and Esther: Counter Voices from the Megilloth: pp. 227–242
DeLand FL 32723
Ruth and Esther are bookends for the Megilloth, the five festival scrolls in the Writings of the Hebrew Bible. Qoheleth stands in the middle of the collection with Song of Songs and Lamentations on either side. Perspectives on human action, chance, and providence fall along gendered lines. Qoheleth is a male voice frustrated by the lack of control and futility of human action. Chance events are negative, and God is incomprehensible. Ruth and Esther speak from the underside of life where God is distant (Ruth) or absent (Esther). There are no expectations of female control, but chance is positive and female action is effective. Qoheleth counters traditional wisdom. Ruth and Esther counter Qoheleth.
The Concluding Sections of the Writings of the Book of the Twelve Prophets: A Form- and Redaction-Critical Study: pp. 243–256
University of Duisburg-Essen
45117 Essen Germany
The first part of this article tries to differentiate between six types of closures of the individual writings contained in the Book of the Twelve. On the level of the final text different types of closure follow after one another within the same writing. This is so because the ending sections were reworked by different redactors. In the second part, the article asks whether it is possible to use the form-critical findings as additional evidence for the redaction-critical hypotheses of a two-prophets scroll (comprising former versions of Hosea and Amos) and of a so-called “D-corpus” (Hosea, Amos, Micah, Zephaniah).
The Riches and Challenges of Local Church Historiography: pp. 165–72
Buies Creek NC 27506
Much of church history writing centers on the famous names and movements throughout Christian history. Local congregational history provides a framework for understanding the history of a certain group of Christians from the “bottom up.” This type of historical writing can be rewarding, but also fraught with challenges. This paper examines the surprises, but also challenges of writing Christian history from a local congregational perspective.
In the Sweet By and By, There but Not Yet: Memorials in Primitive and Old Regular Baptist Association Minutes: pp. 173–92
Wake Forest University
Winston-Salem NC 27109
Faith, family, and story are the cornerstones of life and purpose for many communities in the Appalachian Mountains. These principles come with great responsibility for Primitive and Old Regular Baptists. Primitives and Old Regulars have a long tradition of memorializing their deceased through written word to preserve the memory of their loved ones and their faith, family, and story. Memorial writers take great efforts to promote a legacy in accordance with their faith tradition and its tenets. As a result, memorials evidence underlying theology that is important to a community. Their doctrine and values can be observed through the shared story and language common across memorials. This study surveys Primitive and Old Regular Baptist association minutes from associations in Kentucky, Virginia, and West Virginia. The conclusion indicates that the memorial content in association minutes represents key themes for expressing grief, honoring the deceased, romanticizing death, and articulating theology.
Cold Waters to Thirsty Souls: Evangelical News and Imagined Religious Community in Late-Georgian Britain: pp. 193–210
Waco TX 76798
This article explores the role of the evangelical periodical press in the formation of imagined communities in late-Georgian Britain. An analysis of the Evangelical Magazine’s news department from 1793 to 1836 reveals not only that religious news became its own separate category in the periodical, but that it became the dominant and most valuable content. The imagined community that this news reporting fostered conformed neither to a transnational “priesthood of all believers” nor to a national identity based on news-reading like that described by scholars such as Benedict Anderson. Rather, within the magazine’s pages, the representations of the evangelical imagined community shifted dynamically between transnational, national, and imperial versions. Readers and editors interpreted religious news as an exciting invitation to participate actively in this evangelical community—even as the reporting presented contradictory claims about the nature of that community.
The Radical Ideology of Rapture: pp. 211–21
Nathaniel P. Grimes
Northern Baptist Theological Seminary
Lombard IL 60148
This paper explores the historical and social context out of which rapture theology arose, in the wake of crises provoked by the American Civil War, arguing that a racially coded theology of rapture provided crucial stability for white evangelicals in the wake of the twin crises of racial identity and theological interpretation. Tracing the development of rapture theology from John Nelson Darby to C. I. Scofield and D. L. Moody, this paper examines ways in which premillennialism served to shape history in ways that disproportionately afflicted black people and those on the underside of society, and presents this history as a case study which might encourage evangelicals today to foster a more robust and critical theopolitical imagination.
A Dangerous Memory: The Legend and Legacy of Clarence Leonard Jordan: pp. 223–40
Frederick L. Downing
Valdosta State University
Valdosta GA 31698
The thesis of this essay is that a close reading of the legend of Clarence Jordan as a saint and the nature of the time period since his death implies that the narrative about Jordan in the collective memory developed as a counter-cultural model and alternative vision to the dominant ethos in America. The legend of Jordan as a moral exemplar continues to critique the contemporary church and the nation and embodies a rejection of racism, militarism and violence, and consumerism. This thesis requires that one give an account of the dominant ethos in America including the perennial issues in religion and culture that were important to Jordan such as race, materialism, and war and violence.
Reading H. Richard Niebuhr through Aristotelian Lenses: Pointers toward a Christian Practical Reason: pp. 241–54
Paul A. Lewis
Macon GA 31207
Many have long and rightly noted that H. Richard Niebuhr’s writings contain little concrete guidance, a complaint John Howard Yoder intensifies by saying that Niebuhr reasons in such a way as to avoid making a decision. Instead of entering that argument, I have tried to follow D.M. Yeager’s call to use Christ and Culture, indeed the larger body of Niebuhr’s work, as a tool to extend our own thinking and doing. Put differently, I have not tried to repeat some authoritative way of playing his score but instead to improvise on it by reading Niebuhr with eyes that look through Aristotelian glasses. Doing so suggests that Niebuhr provides an outline for a Christian practical reason and provides for a more charitable and constructive account of how Niebuhr reasons.
Editorial Introduction: pp. 379–83
Lindsey M. Trozzo
Buies Creek NC 27506
Nicholas J. Zola
Malibu CA 90263
Acts and the Apostles: Issues of Leadership in the Second Century: pp. 385–98
Joseph B. Tyson
Southern Methodist University
Dallas TX 75275
This article focuses attention on the meaning of apostleship in the Pauline letters and the Acts of the Apostles. In his letters Paul insists that he is an apostle, and he cites his witness of Jesus’s resurrection to confirm it. He acknowledges an unspecified number of other apostles, who have great authority. He also knows, however, of competing criteria for apostleship and, hence, rival groups of apostles. The author of Acts introduces two non-Pauline requirements: that the apostles must be twelve in number and that all apostles must have been associates of the historical Jesus. Writing in the early second century, the author of Acts recognized that the Pauline understanding of apostleship could no longer be maintained. The definition that Acts introduced provided a structure for Christian leadership, but the paradox remains that the apostleship of a primary character in the book was excluded by that very definition.
Evangelizing Tatian: The Diatessaron’s Place in the Emergence of the Fourfold Gospel Canon: pp. 399–414
Nicholas J. Zola
Malibu CA 90263
This essay explores the relationship between Tatian’s Diatessaron and the fourfold gospel canon. The core question is whether Tatian’s aim was to supplement the four Gospels or to supplant them. Some read Tatian as a harmonist, subservient to his sources. Francis Watson and others would read Tatian as an evangelist, who uses the same techniques as Luke or Matthew to rework his sources into a full-fledged gospel. I probe the initial merits of this argument by looking at the evidence of the time (how the state of the fourfold gospel canon may have influenced Tatian’s motivations) and the evidence of the text (what the surviving witnesses of the Diatessaron reveal of Tatian’s redactional hand). Identifying the Diatessaron’s genre is crucial for establishing whether its reconstruction can give us unadulterated access to second-century texts of the Gospels. I end by offering directions for future research on this essential question.
Irenaeus’s First Reference to the Four Gospels and the Formation of the Fourfold Gospel Canon: pp. 415–427
University of Dallas
Irving TX 75062
This article intends to show that Christianity’s four-gospel canon in its closed form owes its origin to a historic agreement between Polycarp of Smyrna and Pope Anicetus in Rome. After describing the Marcionite and Valentinian crisis reaching Rome, I line up evidences for a possibly contemporaneous presence of Marcion, Valentinus, Anicetus, and Justin Martyr, and even Tatian and Irenaeus as Polycarp arrives from Smyrna in 154. Examining four consecutive sentences on the canonical gospels in Irenaeus’s Adversus haereses 3.1.1, I show that these come from a Roman source verbatim preserved. Then I infer that they record the outcome of the meeting between Polycarp and Anicetus, failing to resolve the Quartodeciman problem but resulting in both leaders embracing their respective apostolic traditions about the gospels and their written records in contradiction to Marcion’s single-gospel proposal, Valentinus’s unlimited approval of many gospels, as well as the tendencies in Justin Martyr leading to Tatian’s Diatessaron, a single-gospel combined from the oldest extant gospels.
A Reading of Irenaeus in Response to Father Denis Farkasfalvy: pp. 429–36
D. Jeffrey Bingham
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth TX 76115
Father Denis Farkasfalvy’s claim that a portion of Haer. 3.1.1 derives from a non-Irenaean, Roman Christian source is based upon what he views as contextual discontinuity of the passage. This article responds to that claim by offering an alternative reading of the text, which ultimately does not require a non-Irenaean source. After briefly reviewing the history of the application of source criticism to Adversus haereses, the alternative reading is presented, which demonstrates that the purpose of the text is to validate the authority of the apostolic proclamation of the gospel, both in oral and written form. This alternative reading not only addresses the concerns raised by Farkasfalvy but also demonstrates how the passage fits within the logical continuity of the argument to which it contributes.
Marcionites in Africa: What Did Tertullian Know and When Did He Invent It?: pp. 437–52
David E. Wilhite
Truett Theogical Seminary, Baylor University
Waco TX 76706
Tertullian wrote several treatises attacking Marcion, which has led many to assume that Marcionites resided in Tertullian’s Africa. Against this assumption, one finds other sources from Africa claiming that Marcionism cannot be found there, and upon a closer inspection of Tertullian’s works it is clear that he relies on literary sources for Marcion’s teachings, not first hand interactions with Marcionites. The many statements in Tertullian’s works that relay Marcion’s teachings turn out to be rhetorical devices. In particular, Tertullian accommodated the specific practices taught by Cicero and Quintillian wherein the rhetorician must “invent” the facts about one’s opponent. This is especially done with the device known as prosopopoiea, or speech in character, whereby the opponent’s side of the diatribe is invented. When Tertullian is read as inventing Marcionism in Africa, his works can be seen as attacking other (quasi-) “Marcionite” heresies, such as Valentinianism, which do seem to be a threat to Tertullian’s Carthaginian Christian community.
The Contribution of the Second Century Seminar to the Study of the New Testament and Early Christianity: pp. 453–59
Texas Christian University
Fort Worth TX 76129
Since its establishment by Outler and Farmer in 1968, the Second Century Seminar has served as a place in the Southwest for a discussion of the origins and development of Christianity in the late New Testament and apostolic periods. After describing its origins, the article describes the way the Seminar works with circulating institutional hosting, including dinner and local leadership from the schools and seminaries in a seminar format that values both solid presentations and responses and vigorous discussion among attending faculty and students. While noting significant attitudinal changes in the broader confessional and academic milieu (SBL) since 1968, the Seminar is shown to have been a catalyst for ecumenical publications and joint projects crossing confessional lines and old scholarly divisions. The International Bible Commentary (1986) was both a “Catholic and Ecumenical Commentary.” Joint projects have investigated the Gospels and their sources (Griesbach Hypothesis; the Gospel of Matthew) and more-broadly anti-Judaism and the Gospels. The Second Century Journal (ed. Ferguson, 1981–1992) promoted further the Seminar’s now third-generation study of second-century texts and contexts for the academy and churches.