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.

Jul 30, 2021

Another Article on Phileō and Agapaō in John 21:15-17 (Talbert in JGRChJ)

 Last year (2020) I had the privilege of publishing an article in the Bulletin for Biblical Research on phileō and agapaō in John 21:15-17 as a possible allusion to LXX Prov 8:17. To my surprise, I recently found out that around the same time another article had been published with a similar focus, specifically:

Andrew R. Talbert, "The Synonymous Rendering of Aristotelian φιλέω with ἀγαπάω in the Gospel of John," Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 16 (2020): 9-29.

His article is accessible for free here. I believe Talbert's article and my article actually complement each other. Like me, Talbert sees the two verbs as basically interchangeable in John and, to my surprise, Talbert (like me) also sees LXX Proverbs as very relevant to the discussion (it's gratifying that I'm not the only person on earth that believes that!).

I think both of us would have benefitted by having knowledge of the other's work before publication, but both of us were probably going through a blind peer-review process at the same time. Talbert's sophisticated discussion of the "Aristotelian" phileō, and how John revises it, is completely lacking in my paper.  Conversely, Talbert does not interact with the recent articles by Shepherd and Böhler on the topic of agapaō/phileō in John as I do.

So, dear reader, if you really want to study up on phileō-agapaō in  John, there are now four articles written  in the last 12 years that you should read! Talbert in JGRChJ (2020), myself in BBR (2020), Dieter Böhler in Biblica (2015), and Shepherd in JBL (2010). 

Jul 8, 2021

Craig Keener's New Commentary on 1 Peter: Initial Impressions

As of June this year, we are all indebted to Craig S. Keener for yet another commentary on a New Testament book. Entitled simply 1 Peter: A Commentary, it is published by Baker Academic and showcases many of Keener's strengths in writing and research. Keener is one of my favorite NT scholars, and though I am an independent Baptist I even benefitted from his book Spirit Hermeneutics while I was working through, for my own benefit (and that of my Hermeneutics class), the role of the Spirit in studying Scripture.

I think what sets this book apart is the incredible detail given to primary and ancient sources, a specialty of Keener's (as those of us who have used his 4-volume  commentary on Acts know). To put this in perspective: the bibliography of primary sources is 23 pages of two columns, and his index of ancient sources, not including Scripture, is a jaw-dropping 61 and a half pages, including everything from Theon of Smyrna to Virgil to Phaedrus to Cicero. 

Also, in the midst of the commentary Keener consistently inserts "A Closer Look" segments that deal with background issues such as "Marriage Expectations in Greco-Roman Antiquity" or "Providence, Fate, and Predestination in Antiquity." Other commentaries have done this on a limited basis, but for Keener this is a main feature of the commentary.

A couple notes on content: Keener competently defends Petrine authorship (pp. 8-25), suggests that in 3:19 the reference is to fallen angels and that ". . . ancient audiences might take for granted that Christ's proclamation to the spirits was not an invitation to repentance, but rather a proclamation  of their complete subjugation" (p. 275), seems to tentatively prefer the view that eperōtēma in 3:21 means "pledge" (p. 283), and states regarding the crux interpretum of 4:17 that "In the OT, God was sometimes more strict with his own people first, since they knew better (Jer. 25:29; Amos 3:2; cf. Isa. 10:12)" and that "Believers may experience even unjust suffering as divine discipline in one sense (cf. Heb. 12:3-11), as something to make them better. But one could be assured that if even the righteous suffer, judgment will come far more harshly on those who disobey the gospel . . . ."

I would also note that a hermeneutical strength of this commentary is Keener's focus on how Peter's original audience would have understood something, based on primary sources from that time period.

The only critiques I have at this point are that Keener's use of primary and/or ancient sources may seem a bit excessive at times (e.g., page 239, where basically half the page consists of footnotes referring to ancient sources), and the "Closer Look" sections, while helpful, have a tendency to crop up in places where they disrupt the commentary on a particular verse. In addition, they can be somewhat lengthy, going on for pages and pages before one returns to the actual commentary.

Nonetheless, this is a milestone for Petrine commentaries. For academics (professors, grad students, and anybody trying to publish anything on 1 Peter), this becomes one of the essential commentaries up there with Paul J. Achtemeier, Karen Jobes,  Leonhard Goppelt, and John H. Elliott, definitely in the "top 5" most important commentaries. For pastoral work, both Jobes' Baker Exegetical Commentary and Wayne Grudem's Tyndale Commentary are more accessible, and thus maintain their position as the two essential commentaries for pastors or Bible-study leaders, in my humble-but-opinionated opinion, though Keener's would still be a very helpful addition to any pastor's library if their budget allows.

Having said all that, full-disclosure, one reason I am excited and positively inclined towards Keener's commentary is because this is the first commentary on 1 Peter to cite some of my own work on 1 Peter. But I trust my readers will forgive that personal bias.