Dodging the Question? The Rhetorical Function of the
מה־זאת עשׂית Formula in the Book of Genesis
Geoff Harper and Alex C. H. Lee (Sydney Missionary & Bible College)
Building on recent research that demonstrates a rhetorical movement in Genesis from fratricide (Cain and Abel) to forgiveness (Joseph and his brothers), this article considers the function of a repeated question utilised throughout the patriarchal narratives. On eight occasions, variations of מַה־זֹּאת עָשִׂיתָ ('What is this you have done?') are used to confront wrongdoers. The typical response is to mitigate culpability; the outcomes are generally negative. However, the final instance of the question in chapter 44 is markedly different. This subversion of expectation works powerfully as a rhetorical tool to instruct readers regarding a right response to the uncovering of sin.
A Theology of Facing Persecution in the Gospel of John
Chee-Chiew Lee (Singapore Bible College)
This article examines how John crafts the narratives and discourses to address the issue of fear and secrecy and to guide his audience/readers on how to face persecution. It is proposed that: first, John uses dualistic language with the rhetorical purpose of bringing across ironies, exposing underlying motives of characters, and heightening the impossibility of a middle ground; second, he deliberately portrays a few characters ambiguously to reflect the complexities of life—one cannot and should not easily classify everyone neatly into dualistic categories; and, third, John has a distinctive emphasis on divine providence with regard to facing persecution.
Acts 27–28: The Cerebral Scars of Shipwreck
Luuk van de Weghe (University of Aberdeen)
Conclusions drawn from recent studies on memory and trauma shed light on the vividness and immediacy of Acts 27:1–28:15. First, trauma catalyses enduring recollection. Subsequent memories can be visualised as 'cerebral scars' left by first-hand traumatic experiences. Second, shipwreck survival creates a plausible scenario for the formation of such memories. After analysing four possible approaches to Acts 27:1–28:15, this article concludes that the passage captures the cerebral scars of an eyewitness experience and ought to be approached accordingly.
Negotiating Hostility Through Beneficial Deeds
Sean du Toit (Alphacrucis College, New Zealand)
In this article we have surveyed the concept of ἀγαθοποιέω. It has been argued that this refers to various kinds of beneficial deeds, either for a community or individuals. At times the purpose of these good works is to neutralise hostility and convert an enemy into a friend. This strategy of benefiting an enemy is seen in both Graeco-Roman, Jewish, and early Christian writings. This provides an important context within which to understand and interpret 1 Peter. Contrary to Williams' proposal, good works are not to be understood as exclusively Jewish and Christian practices that were used to subvert hegemonic power structures within the Graeco-Roman world. Rather, in keeping with the educational concerns of early Christianity, what we see in 1 Peter is an effort to communicate clearly to a Gentile audience using familiar topoi. The purpose of benefitting others, including outsiders, is to provide an opportunity to allay pagan concerns that these Christians were a dangerous community. Peter's strategy is that by demonstrating that Christians were people who benefit others, the hope is that this will both alleviate ignorance and provide an opportunity for ethical witness.
The Role of Semitic Catchwords in Interpreting the Epistle of James
Daniel K. Eng (University of Cambridge)
This article examines the arrangement of the Epistle of James in light of Semitic documents that display catchword association. James shows evidence of being a compilation, with adjacent sections frequently connected by a common cognate. After identifying patterns of catchword association in the Hebrew Bible, LXX, and Qumran, the article identifies instances of catchword association in the Epistle of James. Finally, some conclusions are drawn for James, including recommendations about the study of its genre, provenance, structure, and interpretation.
Epistolary Greetings in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri
Peter M. Head (Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford)
This paper examines the function of greetings in the Oxyrhynchus Papyri by focusing on vocabulary, how individuals and groups of people are described, questions relating to format and presentation, differences in format, particularly when greetings are interrupted, and the function of greetings in consolidating and maintaining connections between writers and extended communities. It offers conclusions concerning the placement of greetings, the normal epistolary practice of Graeco-Roman antiquity, and the flexibility in the relationship between the greetings, the situation and main purpose of the letter. Included is a list of the 74 letters studied and the text of their greetings.
Luther, Heidegger, and the Hiddenness of God
Mark Norman (George Whitefield College, Cape Town)
This paper seeks to trace how certain Lutheran themes, particularly the tendency towards fideism evidenced in the Lutheran 'Deus absconditus', were later adopted by Heidegger, and then misappropriated by certain 'post-theological' thinkers of the continental tradition in the late twentieth century. In what follows, the early Luther and his theology of the Cross will be firstly placed into its late medieval nominalist context, after which Heidegger's employment of the Lutheran 'hidden God' in his formulation of the question of 'being' will be discussed. Finally, I will propose that the appreciation of Luther's legacy and his relevance for philosophy lies not in popular 'Heideggerian' revisionist readings of the reformer but, alternatively, through integrating the Deus absconditus theme into the rest of his theological thought, including his historical context.
The Tradition of the Apostles: The Relationship Between Apostolic Authority and the Earliest Tradition of the Church
Ádám Szabados (Károli Gáspár University, Budapest)
I had two questions in mind when I began my research on the relationship between apostolic authority and the earliest tradition of the church: is it historically justified to talk about a normative tradition, and, if yes, how can we demarcate it?
It was my initial hypothesis that the existence of a normative tradition is both warranted and demarcated by apostolic authority. I also presumed that apostolic authority on the one hand meant an authentic representation and embodiment of the tradition received from Jesus; on the other hand, it meant a legitimacy for authoritatively defining this tradition. If this latter hypothesis is true, apostolic authority was both ministerial authority (submitted to the earliest tradition given by Jesus) and magisterial authority (the only legitimate definition of this tradition) at the same time.
The goal of my doctoral thesis was to test these hypotheses in order to achieve a deeper understanding of the dynamics between apostolic authority and the earliest tradition of the church.
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