# Tuesday, July 14, 2009

… on that Calvinist test thingie that’s making the rounds. Here’s the proof (and no, I didn’t just clip it from Dr. J’s site, I actually took the test). Make of it what you will.



Post Author: rico
Tuesday, July 14, 2009 8:44:25 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Sunday, July 12, 2009

As my regular, very intelligent, highly esteemed, and most worthy readers know, I spent a lot of time dealing with the conjunction αλλα in 2008; the results of which are in the paper I wrote for the 2008 national ETS meeting (paper here).

Today I was doing a quick read the text of First Thessalonians (reconciling English with Greek) and I noticed some good examples of αλλα, so I thought I’d blog them. There are 13 examples. I’ll list each briefly and offer (hopefully brief) comments. Actually, I only got through eight before I stopped (not enough time), but hopefully you get the picture.

My basic premise is that αλλα indicates either correction or replacement. That is, the item following αλλα corrects or replaces the item preceding; and that additionally these items are contrasted such that the latter item is highlighted. In other words, the second item in the contrast is the more important information; it is what the structure puts in the spotlight. After the Greek is a very quick and not well thought out translation of relevant text (but not all of the Greek, I’m trying to work quickly here). Also, since I am working quickly, note I haven’t proofed/revised/rewritten anything, this is pretty much a raw dump — please offer feedback on whatever you see.

1 Thess 1:5
ὅτι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐγενήθη εἰς ὑμᾶς ἐν λόγῳ μόνον ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν δυνάμει καὶ ἐν πνεύματι ἁγίῳ καὶ ἐν πληροφορίᾳ πολλῇ καθὼς οἴδατε οἷοι ἐγενήθημεν ἐν ὑμῖν δι ̓ ὑμᾶς 
that our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much certainty,…

Here the correction is in how the gospel came to the Thessalonians: It didn’t just come in word, but it came (that’s the correction) in power, with the Holy Spirit, and with much certainty (and that’s the important part). It was more than mere words. This “not only/but also” is a frequent formula and typically indicates correction. 

1 Thess 1:8
ἀφ ̓ ὑμῶν γὰρ ἐξήχηται ὁ λόγος τοῦ κυρίου οὐ μόνον ἐν τῇ Μακεδονίᾳ καὶ ἐν τῇ Ἀχαΐᾳ ἀλλ ̓ ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ ἡ πίστις ὑμῶν ἡ πρὸς τὸν θεὸν ἐξελήλυθεν ὥστε μὴ χρείαν ἔχειν ἡμᾶς λαλεῖν τι 
For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth not only in Macedonia and in Achaea but in every place your faith, that which is in God, has gone out, so that we have no need to say anything

Again, we have correction and the “not only/but also” formula. The word of the Lord didn’t just go through Macedonia and Achaia; it went everywhere the news about the Thessalonians went. The important part is how this news has spread.

1 Thess 2:1-2
Αὐτοὶ γὰρ οἴδατε ἀδελφοί τὴν εἴσοδον ἡμῶν τὴν πρὸς ὑμᾶς ὅτι οὐ κενὴ γέγονεν ἀλλὰ προπαθόντες καὶ ὑβρισθέντες καθὼς οἴδατε ἐν Φιλίπποις ἐπαρρησιασάμεθα ἐν τῷ θεῷ ἡμῶν λαλῆσαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν πολλῷ ἀγῶνι
that it was not in vain, but after we had already suffered and been poorly treated, just as you know, in Philippi, we had the courage in our God to speak to you the gospel of God, in much opposition/conflict.

Here Paul is clarifying/correcting that his (and Timothy, and Silas, see the prescript (1Th 1.1) arrival in Thessalonica was not in vain or in error; but that it was — after what happened in Philippi — indeed meant to happen. Paul is saying that it wasn’t an accident, instead it was intended of God for them to bring the Thessalonians the gospel in this way, after the incident(s?) in Philippi. Note the next clause group is another αλλα statement.

1 Thess 2:3-4
ἡ γὰρ παράκλησις ἡμῶν οὐκ ἐκ πλάνης οὐδὲ ἐξ ἀκαθαρσίας οὐδὲ ἐν δόλῳ ἀλλὰ καθὼς δεδοκιμάσμεθα ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ πιστευθῆναι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον οὕτως λαλοῦμεν οὐχ ὡς ἀνθρώποις ἀρέσκοντες ἀλλὰ θεῷ τῷ δοκιμάζοντι τὰς καρδίας ἡμῶν
For our appeal does not from error, or from impurity, or with deceit, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so that we speak not as people-pleasers but as to God, the tester of our hearts.

Here there are two different αλλα statements. Paul is first clarifying the source; the word he brings comes not deceitfully but in fact they have been “approved” by God to do this. That’s pretty much the opposite of deceit. Secondly, as to motive, Paul corrects that they come not to please people, but to please God. The important bits are that Paul’s message comes from God, and that Paul speaks not so that people will be pleased, but so that the one who tests Paul’s heart will be pleased with the results of the test.

1 Thess 2:7
δυνάμενοι ἐν βάρει εἶναι ὡς Χριστοῦ ἀπόστολοι ἀλλὰ ἐγενήθημεν νήπιοι ἐν μέσῳ ὑμῶν ὡς ἐὰν τροφὸς θάλπῃ τὰ ἑαυτῆς τέκνα

While we could have made demands as Christ’s apostles, instead we became as infants in your midst, as a nursing mother cherishes her own children.

The first portion of the αλλα statement may actually run up to the start of v. 5 (see Runge, Lexham Discourse Greek New Testament) but this is enough to get the idea. Note the contrast between making demands as apostles and instead being as infants. While they could’ve made demands, they instead took the more gentle route, and this is what Paul desires to highlight in the context. He gets their attention with the first statement, and then turns it on its head with the second (now more salient) statement.

1 Thess 2:8
οὕτως ὁμειρόμενοι ὑμῶν εὐδοκοῦμεν μεταδοῦναι ὑμῖν οὐ μόνον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἀλλὰ καὶ τὰς ἑαυτῶν ψυχάς διότι ἀγαπητοὶ ἡμῖν ἐγενήθητε
In this way longing for you, we determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own souls/life 

The correction is in what was shared. They didn’t just share the gospel (cf. 1Th 1.5 above) but they shared their whole lives, so it was evident how the gospel had affected them. This again, by heightening the contrast, puts the spotlight on the second portion of the statement. If you’re preaching this, the important part is that Paul/Timothy/Silas shared their whole souls/lives with the Thessalonians. That’s how they were able to model the gospel to them.

1 Thess 2:13
Καὶ διὰ τοῦτο καὶ ἡμεῖς εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ ἀδιαλείπτως ὅτι παραλαβόντες λόγον ἀκοῆς παρ ̓ ἡμῶν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐδέξασθε οὐ λόγον ἀνθρώπων ἀλλὰ καθώς ἐστιν ἀληθῶς λόγον θεοῦ ὃς καὶ ἐνεργεῖται ἐν ὑμῖν τοῖς πιστεύουσιν
… you accepted it not as the word of men but just as it truly is, the word of God

Again, remember my premise: correction or replacement is involved, and the second item is highlighted (prominent) in the current context. Here there is contrast innate between “the word of men” and “the word of God”. Paul had gone to pains earlier (using αλλα) to note the source of their preaching and the motive of their preaching (cf. 1Th 2.3-4 above): It was from God, to please God. Note also the “just as it truly is” statement. This puts even more prominence/importance on the second half of the structure.

So, to recap my position on αλλα, which I’m hoping the above discussion has made evident:

  • it indicates correction or replacement
  • it involves comparison/contrast between two items: the first premise and the following correction or replacement of that premise
  • as such, the correction/replacement is the more important information. If you’re preaching, that is the thing you should focus on, because that is what the author (here Paul with some help from Silas and Timothy) has highlighted in the immediate context.
Post Author: rico
Sunday, July 12, 2009 8:54:42 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, July 06, 2009

Since “Five Books” meme seem to be all the rage amongst the kiddies these days, I’ll try my hand at starting another.

The Five Biblical Studies Books I’m Stupider for Having Read

Here are the rules:

  1. These are Biblical Studies books. Note that anything written by Tim LaHaye is not a Biblical Studies book.
  2. Feel free to list multiple books by the same author, but you need to have at least three authors out of the five books.
  3. You’re free to include books that were so stupid you couldn’t finish them.
  4. Explain, in as few or as many words as you can muster, why the book in question was so mind-numbingly stupid.

Here are my Five Biblical Studies Books I’m Stupider for Having Read. The order is not significant, they all killed brain cells.

1. James D. Miller, The Pastoral Letters as Composite Documents (SNTS monograph series, #93). I are more dumber for having read this book. According to Miller, it seems as if there aren’t two single words within the Pastorals that cohere.

2. Bart Ehrman, The Lost Gospel of Judas Iscariot. I feel pain for any other unfortunate soul who read this book. I had to read it as I received a review copy from Oxford. These are brain cells I will never, ever get back.

3. Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities. I couldn’t finish this book. Standard Ehrmanian fare, proto-orthodox, down with alternate orthodoxies, blah, blah, blah. I still wish I hadn’t spent the $20 on the two volume edition (even though it was paired with Ehrman’s Lost Scriptures, which is actually a cheap way to get decent modern English translations of several writings).

4. Kenneth J. Neumann, The Authenticity of the Pauline Epistles in the Light of Stylostatistical Analysis. The lit review/overview is actually pretty good, but it boggs down after that. Too much math for my brain. It made my head hurt and I still couldn’t quite get what was going on. I’m sure it’s brilliant, but it doesn’t communicate well.

5. Gail Riplinger, New Age Bible Versions. I almost hesistate to include this as a "Biblical studies" book, but I am dumber for having read it.

Who to tag? Jim West (post here), Steve Runge, John Hobbins, Kevin P. Edgecomb, and Mike Aubrey, of course (though I’ll understand completely if any of you would like to defer).

Update (2009-07-08): There’s been a bit of backlash (here and the update here, thanks to Nick for pointing these out otherwise I’d not have been aware of them) on the whole idea of books that “made me stupider”. Some context, people:

  1. The meme is based on an offhand thought I had while responding to yet another “five book” meme (the “Five Influential Primary Sources” meme, see the second sentence). Too many serious memes were floating around, some levity was required.
  2. I figured it was time for a sampling of not-so-great books. You know, equal time and all that.
  3. In my mind, “books that make me stupider” are equivalent to those books you read and end up with the only response of “huh?”. Alternately, it could be, “no, he/she can’t seriously be arguing that!”
  4. These responses occurred with virtually every page in my #1 and #5 listed books, and with some frequency in Ehrman’s book. I’ve blogged a lot about Ehrman’s stuff (good and bad), search the blog to find my comments. Also note I think his translations are great. But when he’s the center instead of the text, then I think his work suffers tremendously.
  5. My #4 book by Neumann actually didn’t make me stupider, but I felt stupider because I didn’t quite track the math and selection (and omission) criteria even though I felt I should be able to. I’ll say again: his lit review is fairly good.
  6. I fully expect that if I ever publish a book, there will be some proportion of readers who will claim that my book made them stupider.

If this post has made you stupider, please accept my apologies (and do be sure to include this post in your list).

Post Author: rico
Monday, July 06, 2009 9:14:02 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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Nick Norelli (Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth) tagged me for the latest flavor of the “five books” meme. I think someone should start a “five book” meme of “The Five Biblical Studies Books I’m Stupider for Having Read” meme. As a matter of fact, I’ll start that meme next. So watch out, you might get tagged.

Here are the rules of the Five Influential Primary Sources meme, as Nick lists them.

  1. List the 5 primary sources that have most affected your scholarship, thoughts about antiquity, and/or understanding of the NT/OT.
  2. Books from the Bible are off limits unless you really want to list one, I certainly will not chastise you for it.
  3. Finally, choose individual works if you can. This will be more interesting than listing the entire corpus of Cicero as one of your choices.

I will be brief, mostly a-cuz I’m not very deep here.

1. Didache. All sorts of reasons for this, primarily because it is early and it gives us a peek at how early Christian communities applied scriptures to their situation.

2. 1 Clement. Very useful for understanding how the OT was handled.

3. Letters of Ignatius. I’ll hit up the whole corpus of Iggy’s letters here, though that’s likely in violation of guideline #3. It is interesting to see how the letter genre was used outside of the NT to get a better understanding of how they’re used in the NT.

4. 1 Enoch. Haven’t read it? Read it.

5. Josephus. I’ll cop out again and go for the whole corpus, mostly because it is less about content and more about language. Josephus is helpful for getting more examples of infrequently used words to get a better idea of how they were really used. More data is better, and in most instances Josephus will help you get more data.

I will not tag anyone else on this meme. But watch out, I hope to start a new meme with my next post, and you may get tagged there.

Post Author: rico
Monday, July 06, 2009 9:07:58 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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(h/t Brandon Wason, Sitz im Leben)

Michael W. Holmes (ed.), The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations. 3rd edition (amazon.com).   Grand Rapids:  Baker Academic, 2007.  Pp. xxv, 806.  ISBN 9780801034688.  $42.99. BMCR review

Timothy B. Sailors provides a 4200+ word review of Michael Holmes’ edition of the Apostolic Fathers. Sailors is top-notch and well-respected, and his review carries some weight.

Before I dig in, I’ll note that I have several Greek and English editions of the Apostolic Fathers in print (Holmes’ 2nd edition, Kirsopp Lake’s Loeb edition, Bart Ehrman’s Loeb edition, C.C. Richardson’s edition, Lightfoot’s one-volume and his five volume Clement/Ignatius/Polycarp editions). My go-to volume at this point is Holmes’ third edition (the edition reviewed by BMCR). It is well-produced, well-researched, and I’m even mentioned in the introduction — so you know it’s gotta be good.

And while Sailors’ review is informative and generally positive, I can’t help but feel that he’s strung together a bunch of nitpicky quibbles that top-notch scholars of the early church (and specifically the writings of the Apostolic Fathers) would have, but real people using the book wouldn’t notice or care about.

Here’s an example that typifies the nitpicky quibbly-ness, in my eyes:

Though this remains a "Select Bibliography", it greatly expands those in the previous editions and far surpasses the "Select Bibliography" in the Loeb edition. There are nevertheless some works one would expect to see which are surprisingly absent. And, though an English edition was given in the list of abbreviations in earlier versions of this book, Holmes has removed the potentially helpful reference to W. Bauer's Griechisch-deutsches Wörterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments und der frühchristlichen Literatur, despite the publication of an English translation of the most recent edition.

Where to begin? Yes, it is a select bibliography. And there are no lexica cited anywhere that I see, either in the abbreviation list or the bibliography. And if Sailors is bemoaning the lack of reference to BDAG, why in the world does he go about citing it as “an English translation of the most recent edition” of the German edition of BAAR? (note: That description actually may not be quite accurate. If I recall my John A.L. Lee correctly, BDAG is essentially a 3rd edition of the English stream of this text, and while the German may be consulted for articles, Danker’s work is definitely not a translation of BAAR).

Would anyone amongst the primary audience for Holmes’ work refer to BDAG that way and implicitly understand what is being referred to?

Another example: Approximately 800 of the 4200 words of the review (do the math, it’s just under 20%) are devoted to Fragments of Papias, and most of those on the Arabic, Syriac and Armenian fragments Holmes includes. Yes, this is a distinctive of Holmes’ edition, but is it worth spending 20% of your words on when the review is already lengthy?

Anyway, while Sailors’ review is helpful and informative, and while he does end up giving a positive review, I can’t help but wish he’d reviewed the book for the target audience instead of for a select group of scholars who already likely know the sorts of quibbles he brings up.

Post Author: rico
Monday, July 06, 2009 8:29:21 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, July 02, 2009

Was reading Jerome Murphy O’Connor’s St. Paul’s Ephesus: Text and Archaeology (amazon.com), and came across the following paragraph in the context of asylum offered in ancient pagan Greek temples:

It is easy to think of ways in which the safeguard of assessment of individual cases could be nullified. That this in fact happened at the temple of Artemis is clear from Apollonius of Tyana: “But I do condemn the people who by night and by day share the home of the goddess. Otherwise I should not see issuing thence thieves and robbers and kidnappers and every sort of wretch or sacrilegious rascal. For your temple is just a den of robbers.” (Letter 65). The final phrase evokes Jeremiah 7:11, which was used by Jesus apropos of the Temple in Jerusalem (Mark 11:17 and parallels). (Murphy-O’Connor 25)

This is speaking about those who abuse the offer of asylum, those who take up asylum to escape the prosecution they are worthy of. It would be interesting to see a larger examination of this (one that, of course, safeguards against parallelomania). Did a quick search of my Logos library for (bible = "Mk 11:17" and Apollonius) and didn’t find much.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, July 02, 2009 2:11:15 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Tuesday, June 30, 2009

With thanks to the What’s New in Papyrology blog (here and here) for the notices.

First, from the “Oxford Handbooks in Classics and Ancient History” series, come Roger Bagnall’s (editor) The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology (amazon.com). Here’s the blurb from Amazon.com:

Thousands of texts, written over a period of three thousand years on papyri and potsherds, in Egyptian, Greek, Latin, Aramaic, Hebrew, Persian, and other languages, have transformed our knowledge of many aspects of life in the ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern worlds. The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology provides an introduction to the world of these ancient documents and literary texts, ranging from the raw materials of writing to the languages used, from the history of papyrology to its future, and from practical help in reading papyri to frank opinions about the nature of the work of papyrologists. This volume, the first major reference work on papyrology written in English, takes account of the important changes experienced by the discipline within especially the last thirty years.

Including new work by twenty-seven international experts and more than one hundred illustrations, The Oxford Handbook of Papyrology will serve as an invaluable guide to the subject.

Unfortunately, even at Amazon.com it’s $120 at the cheapest (as of this posting), so unless there is a swingin’ deal at SBL I won’t be getting this title (unless some kind soul would like to provide a review copy … but I don’t have my hopes high for that)

Next up is a title to be published in August by Princeton University Press, Early Christian Books in Egypt (amazon.com). This title is much more approachable at $29.95, but still … if anyone wants to zap a review copy my way … well, it’s always worth a shot. Here’s the blurb from Amazon.com:

For the past hundred years, much has been written about the early editions of Christian texts discovered in the region that was once Roman Egypt. Scholars have cited these papyrus manuscripts—containing the Bible and other Christian works—as evidence of Christianity's presence in that historic area during the first three centuries AD. In Early Christian Books in Egypt (amazon.com), distinguished papyrologist Roger Bagnall shows that a great deal of this discussion and scholarship has been misdirected, biased, and at odds with the realities of the ancient world. Providing a detailed picture of the social, economic, and intellectual climate in which these manuscripts were written and circulated, he reveals that the number of Christian books from this period is likely fewer than previously believed.

Bagnall explains why papyrus manuscripts have routinely been dated too early, how the role of Christians in the history of the codex has been misrepresented, and how the place of books in ancient society has been misunderstood. The author offers a realistic reappraisal of the number of Christians in Egypt during early Christianity, and provides a thorough picture of the economics of book production during the period in order to determine the number of Christian papyri likely to have existed. Supporting a more conservative approach to dating surviving papyri, Bagnall examines the dramatic consequences of these findings for the historical understanding of the Christian church in Egypt.

Sounds like fun. Hopefully I’ll remember to look for a copy at SBL.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, June 30, 2009 8:38:22 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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On the National Review Online web site, Ryan Sayre Patrico reviews what sounds to be an excellent book, Rémi Brague’s The Legend of the Middle Ages: Philosophical Explorations of Medieval Christianity, Judaism and Islam (amazon.com).

Why do I think it sounds good? Here’s a quote from the review:

Brague is humble about his ability to dispel these myths, and while he admits that “any fast-talking media star can do a thousand times more in one minute to perpetuate falsity than we library rats can do in ten lifetimes to unmask it,” he nonetheless does his “utmost to destroy” these legends — or, as he puts it, these “teeming vermin.” Brague’s weapon of choice in destroying these legends is his close examination of medieval philosophical discourse: He expertly illustrates that, contrary to popular belief, “medieval thought does not escape the phenomena typical of thought in general.” Brague’s main task, then, is to show that “people never stopped thinking, that in fact medieval people did a lot of thinking, and that many highly refined concepts were shaped during those years.”

Here’s the description from Amazon.com (amazon.com):

Modern interpreters have variously cast the Middle Ages as a benighted past from which the West had to evolve and, more recently, as the model for a potential future of intercultural dialogue and tolerance. The Legend of the Middle Ages cuts through such oversimplifications to reconstruct a complicated and philosophically rich period that remains deeply relevant to the contemporary world.

Featuring a penetrating interview and sixteen essays—only three of which have previously appeared in English—this volume explores key intersections of medieval religion and philosophy. With characteristic erudition and insight, Rémi Brague focuses less on individual Christian, Jewish, and Muslim thinkers than on their relationships with one another. Their disparate philosophical worlds, Brague shows, were grounded in different models of revelation that engendered divergent interpretations of the ancient Greek sources they held in common. So, despite striking similarities in their solutions for the philosophical problems they all faced, intellectuals in each theological tradition often viewed the others’ ideas with skepticism, if not disdain.

Such divisions, Brague contends, debunk notions that the medieval Mediterranean world was a European or Islamic cultural center in which different groups of people harmoniously mingled. His clear-eyed and revelatory portrayal of this misunderstood age brings to life not only its philosophical and theological nuances, but also its true lessons for our own time.

Sounds like it might be a fun read.

Post Author: rico
Tuesday, June 30, 2009 7:20:48 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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