The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Apr 19, 2011

Three New Articles Especially Worth Reading: Mark Matthews on 2 Peter, Armin Baum on Pseudepigrapha, and John Rhoads on Source Criticism of Josephus

From time to time I hope to alert readers to particularly interesting articles that have recently come out in the mainstream evangelical journals (though I'll probably focus on the NT; sorry!). For interested readers, the Bibliotheca Sacra journal devotes an entire section to "article reviews" (just like book reviews), while the Bird/Willits website also occasionally discusses recent articles. If anybody knows of any other sources that keep up-to-date on recent articles, please let me know in the comments section. Thanks!

I love articles that challange the consensus! In light of that, here are three recent articles that the New Testament student should definitely read: first, in the recent Bulletin for Biblical Research 21 (April 2011), Mark D. Matthews from Durham University writes on "The Genre of 2 Peter: a Comparision with Jewish and Early Christian Testaments" (pp. 51-64). Matthews does not provide a direct defense of Petrinre authorship per se (for that, see Michael Kruger's excellent article in JETS 47 (December 1999) , but what he does is to (respectfully) provide a thorough counter to Richard Bauckham's widely accepted thesis that 2 Peter should be viewed as "testament" literature that would not have been written by Peter himself. To counter Bauckham, Matthews surveys the key characteristics of testament literature (something that has rarely been done) and points out how 2 Peter differs significantly from that genre. Matthrews writes, "Certain key features persist throughout all of the formal testaments and many of the farewell speeches that are absent in 2 Peter . . . more importantly, however, is the author’s communication in the first person. The most consistent feature that is attested in all of the farewell speeches, and formal testaments is the use of the third-person narrative framework. Given the fact that first-person accounts attributed to Paul and Peter were rejected by the early church, it seems unreasonable to assume that (1) this would be an effective medium of expression if one wanted to attribute this teaching to Peter after his death or (2) that the recipients would have viewed it as a fictive, pseudepigraphal testament" (63). Matthews concludes, "as an epistle written in the first person, we can surmise that 2 Peter would have been received as either a genuine letter or a forgery" (64).
      In the same issue of BBR, Armin D. Baum (from the FTH in Giessen) challanges the argument that pseudepigraphal apocalyptic literature would not have been viewed as "deceptive" when claiming to be from a prophet that did not, in fact, write it. Baum's thesis can be summed up as follows: "The admittedly plausible assumption that at least some apocalyptic texts originated from genuine ecstatic experiences does not, however, offer any reason to suppose that thier literary attributions were not measured against the generally accepted ancient standards" (p. 91). Baum concludes by stating what should be an obvious fact that has nevertheless (in my opinion) been ignored in light of theoretical reconstructions of the ANE mind by many critical scholars: "[if an 'early Jewish apocalyptist'] published his book orthonymously under his own name, he did not intend to deceive anybody. But if he ascribed it to one of the biblical prophets, he thereby sought to misinform his audience about the actual historical origin of his apocalyptic texts" (92).
      Next, we have John H. Rhoads' article "Josephus Misdated the Census of Quirinius," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 54 (March 2011): 65-87 [don't you just love it when an author pretty much gives you his thesis in the title? Kudos to Dr. Rhoads for directness]. This whole issue of JETS is, of course, a treasure-trove because you have the articles by T. Schreiner, F. Thielman, and N. T. Wright, essentially the written manifestation of their debate [*cough* excuse me, "dialogue"] from last November's ETS meeting in Atlanta. In addition, Dr. Köstenberger has written an excellent editorial on the pros and cons of social media in the church and acadamia (quote of the month! Dr. Köstenberger regarding Facebook: "Does anybody really care that I had pancakes for breakfast?" [2]). 

       Rhoads' article is definitely worth reading, however, not only because he directly questions why Josephus should necessarily be considered an accurate source regarding the Census of Quirinius that Luke mentions in Luke 2:1-2, but also because he uses source criticism to do so! Rhoads both (1) argues why he believes Josephus was mistaken and (2) provides a rationale as to why Josephus would have dated the census when he did. The irony, of course, is that here we have a scholar utilizing source criticism (a discipline that is frequently used to disparage Scripture's claims of authenticity) to indirectly argue for Luke's credentials as a historian. If Rhoads' thesis stands, then some of the extreme critical scholars are being essentially "hoisted by their own petard."
      All three of the above articles have two things in common (besides the obvious features of being well-written and well-researched): they all find a unique argument to contribute (i.e. they are not just rehashing the debate), and they all demonstrate a good grasp of Second Temple literature. Indeed, I think it's becoming obvious that any serious student of the New Testament must famliarize himself or herself with second temple literature, and I am very grateful that my own degree at SEBTS now requires the class (and thanks to Dr. Köstenberger for teaching it)

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