In the Mail: @DeGruyter_TRS “The Rewritten Scrolls from Qumran: Texts, Translation, and Commentary (Beihefte Zur Zeitschrift Fur Die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft) “

Among the unknown Jewish writings that emerged from the caves of Qumran are five scrolls rewriting the Book of Joshua. The present volume offers a detailed analysis of these texts and explores their relationship with each other and other Second Temple Jewish writings concerned with the figure of Joshua. The first full-blown study of this group of scrolls, this book is of interest to students and scholars working in the fields of the Dead Sea scrolls and ancient Jewish biblical interpretation.

Part of my dissertation is looking at rewriting… so this will come in handy, I believe.

In the Mail: @DeGruyter_TRS “A Textual Study of Family 1 in the Gospel of John (Arbeiten Zur Neutestamentlichen)”

This textual study of the Gospel of John in seventeen Greek manuscripts offers a fresh investigation into the important textual group known as Family 1. The study, based on a full collation of the seventeen manuscripts, has re-defined the textual contours of Family 1, by establishing the existence of new core family manuscripts and subgroups. The study includes a reconstructed Family 1 text with critical apparatus for the Gospel of John.

And from here:

This is a textual study of seventeen Family 1 manuscripts in the Gospel of John: Gregory-Aland 1, 22, 118, 131, 205abs, 205, 209, 565, 872, 884, 1192, 1210, 1278, 1582, 2193, 2372, and 2713. Part 1 contains an analysis of a full collation of these manuscripts in John and concludes with a family stemma that expresses the relationships between the manuscripts and how they connect to the non-extant Family 1 archetype. Part 2 contains a reconstructed Family 1 text with critical apparatus for John. The results of this thesis confirm that 1 and 1582 are leading Family 1 manuscripts in John, but demonstrate that a new subgroup exists, represented by 565, 884 and 2193, that rivals the textual witness of 1 and 1582. This subgroup descends from the Family 1 archetype through a different intermediate ancestor to that shared by 1 and 1582. The discovery of this subgroup has broadened the textual contours of Family 1, leading to many new readings, both text and marginal, that should be considered Family 1 readings. The reconstructed text is based on the witness of this wider textual group and is offered as a replacement to Kirsopp Lake’s 1902 text of John.

Can’t wait to dig into this one.

in the (e-)mail: @degruyter_TRS’s Miracles Revisited New Testament Miracle Stories and their Concepts of Reality

So I won it via their twitter giveaways, but nevertheless, I wanted to give it a shout out

Since David Hume, the interpretation of miracle stories has been dominated in the West by the binary distinction of fact vs. fiction. The form-critical method added another restriction to the interpretation of miracles by neglecting the context of its macrotexts. Last but not least the hermeneutics of demythologizing was interested in the self-understanding of individuals and not in political perspectives. The book revisits miracle stories with regard to these dimensions: 1. It demands to connect the interpretation of Miracle Stories to concepts of reality. 2. It criticizes the restrictions of the form critical method. 3. It emphasizes the political implications of Miracle Stories and their interpretations.

Even the latest research accepts this modern opposition of fact and fiction  as self-evident. This book will examine critically these concepts of reality with interpretations of miracles. The book will address how concepts of reality, always complex, came to expression in stories of miraculous healings and their reception in medicine, art, literature, theology and philosophy, from classic antiquity to the Middle Ages. Only through such bygone concepts, contemporary interpretations of ancient healings can gain plausibility.

Check out their website for some other info.

Review of @degruyter_TRS Lucan’s “Bellum Civile” – Between Epic Tradition and Aesthetic Innovation

The current trend in Lucanian scholarship began with Frederick Ahl’s aptly named Lucan: An Introduction. Other names are now added to the list of Lucanian scholars — and now, Nicola Hömke and Christiane Reitz, the editors of this volume are included, along with those in the volume, as a must read for any Lucanian student. Hömke and Reitz have assembled a collection of essays based on papers given at a 2007 conference. Each author presents a specific topic, without rejoinder, nor a central point of the volume. Simply, the essays are all regarding Lucan, but without a focus unifying the whole. And this is acceptable, as there are other books focused on one aspect of Lucan. Here, we are invited to attend the conference even today, where we may hear different angles on our favorite Latin epicist.

The first essay, by Frederick Ahl, examines Lucan’s reception by the first imperial chair of rhetoric in Rome, Quintilian. Lucan is mentioned by name once in the educator’s handbook, but given a prominent place — a rather puzzling incident given Quintilian’s purposed style. Ahl attempts dig deep into Quintilian’s reasoning, suggesting a rather unique goal, although some may see this as more Ahl than Lucan. I would agree with Ahl, myself, but given the length of the essay, it is not difficult to see why Ahl might face criticism for his suggestion. As always, having Ahl in the book raises the merit of such volumes. Ahl’s essay alone examines Lucan’s reception.

I have feebly attempted to divide the rest of the essays into three rough categories, with such division accompanied by a recognizable violence. Ambühl, Fantham, De Moura and Hömke respectively examine Lucan’s rhetorical aesthetics. While Ambühl explores the use of Greek tragedy (via Iliupersis) in Lucan, a form of imtatio, Fantham explores the rhetoric of Caesar’s engagement via speeches throughout the poem. Hömke focuses on Scaeva’s aristeia. Death, speech, and preserved texts figure heavily in Lucan, as exemplified by scholars and scholarship not mentioned in these articles (such as Shadi Bartsch who is mentioned once — p122). This is not to say the essays are too lacking in engagement to find worth, indeed, the opposite, but an engagement with other scholars would have helped, especially in Hömke’s case.

Lowe and Wiener fit forcefully into a category of outside impulses. Lowe has Lucan replace Caesar with Libya via personification of the Caesarian attributes. The role Africa plays in Lucan is a wonderful discussion taking place among Lucanian scholars, but Lowe condenses it rather succinctly to suggest various different Libyas and what they might mean for the Poet. Here, we see the separation between the poem and history and given the essayists hypothesis of the “why.” Wiener, instead of Africa or other geographical oddities, examines Stoicism in Bellum Civili. She sees more stoicism in Lucan than most — than I — and attempts to defend her position. Here again, engagement with other viewpoints may have helped the essay along. Wiener does not engage with Behr who I feel offers more of a realistic viewpoint on Lucan’s Stoicism. This is not to say Wiener is amiss, but I feel her emphasis is misplaced and thus does not allow the full rhetorical flair Lucan flexes to shine forth.

Finally, Sannicandro, Bexley and Dinter leave us with the essays under the nearly impossible category of image. Sannicandro explores the role Caesar’s daughter plays in the poem. Like Ambühl, Sannicandro utilizes Euripides’ tragedy as a comparison, focusing on Jocasta. After Ahl, this essay is perhaps the most rewarding of the volume. Bexley compares Medusa and Cato, following Narducci. The final essay recounts in graphic detail the role the unlimbered body parts play in the poem and the powerful image these represent.

This volume represents a well-done collection of scholars and their work on the present study of Lucan, the classicist’s most underrated epicist. Each essay contains valuable insight and research into the reception of the poem that is not be missed.

 

For a review by Paul Roche, see here.

@degruyter_TRS Review: Paolo Asso’s A Commentary on Lucan, “De bello civili” IV

The study of Lucan, the great and relatively unknown poet who wrote Rome into another civil war, is one worth the Classicist’s time. Paolo Asso, in the first English commentary of any magnitude on Lucan’s work, focuses on Book IV, providing an in-depth commentary and not an obese but less substantial view of the entire poem. Other recent authors (Monica Matthew, Caesar’s Storm, for instance) have begun to focus on small segments or scenes but Asso is the first to investigate fully an entire book of Pharsalia, and he has chosen perhaps one of the most illusive books to begin. Book IV, the author contends, expresses much of the greatness of Lucan, along with acting as a middle ground for the book. Asso also believes that this book is the first to show a rift with Nero. Thus, it allows for a natural starting point in examining many facets of Pharsalia otherwise muted if, for instance, one starts at Book I.

The Introduction lays down much of the foundation for the book. Asso not only introduces Lucan to us (vitally important for those who simply do not know much about the Poet), but so too the context of the poem’s genesis. From here, the author introduces us to the reason Book IV’s is under examination. Asso tackles well in a few short pages issues in modern Lucan scholarship including the ending of the work. While I do not agree with his position on the Lucian ending, his maintains his points by comparing the poem to the intertextual sources (his only real engagement with intertextuality). Further, what are commonly thought of as faults of the Poet — allegory, use of an abbreviated historical event in an epic, and various forms of mutilated syntax — Asso assures us are traits and trademarks of Lucan meant to enjoin his audience to the poem and the intended meaning of the poem. Some of his conclusions are beyond reproach, although in slim cases, such as meter, there is room for exploration. As a novice Lucan scholar, I was happy to discover this section quickly condenses much of the growing number of books on Lucan, showing the trend in Lucan scholarship as flowing neatly together. After the introduction, Asso gives us a Latin text of Book IV as well as his translation.

English: Bust of the Roman poet Lucan, Córdoba...

English: Bust of the Roman poet Lucan, Córdoba, Spain Italiano: Busto del poeta latino Lucano, Cordova, Spagna Español: Busto del poeta romano Lucano, Córdoba, España (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The following three chapters of the book are the commentary proper. Asso devotes these chapters to the commentary on Book IV, a book containing of the more poignant scenes of Pharsalia, such the Battle of Ilerda (4.1-401; Part I of the commentary). Beginning with the Latin line, Asso examines in this part various lexical difficulties as well as some minor interpretative elements. For instance, on pages 135-6, Asso is examining line 110-120 of Book IV. He takes the time to discuss the prayer in recent scholarship, offering several divergent views. He also uses this point to launch into discussing, briefly, Lucan’s apostrophe. Throughout the commentary, we are given more than textual commentary, but so too contextual information, although sparingly. This is not simply a textual commentary; it is a commentary from the Poet’s world as well.

In Part II, the author discusses Lucan’s intention in describing the mutual suicide of Volteius and the Opitergians (4.402-581) while Part II covers the annihilation of Curio’s legions in Africa (Lines 581-824). These two sections, I would gather, are placed by Asso in their own parts due to a natural break in the poem itself based on sudden shifts in the imagery and syntax. Further, Part III is Asso’s doctoral dissertation slightly modified. Part II deals with a scene thought lost from Caesar’s own account, but covered by Livy, while Part III covers the rather poetic rhetoric of Lucan who ends this book with an apostrophe. This final apostrophe (4.799-824, covered on pages 284-93) is a complex one according to Asso. As noted in his introduction, this Book is the draw for Asso, and the more so this apostrophe. It seems as well a foreshadowing of other eulogies the author exhibits in later books.

The only real substantial complaint I have with this work is that it does not cover the intertextuality of Lucan’s work. While we are told Ilerda is likely lost from Caesar’s account but retained in Livy, no further points of comparison are made. Lucan writes in these subtle metaphors of allusion, meant to drive some sort of emotional attachment in his audience; however, this rather important and looming aspect of Lucan is almost completely foreign to this commentary. Instead of fighting to interpret Lucan’s allusive meaning, Asso surrenders to paraphrases, offering little help in connecting Lucan to his audience, or his predecessors.

This is a must have for Lucian scholars, as well as those who study Latin textual criticism. Line by line Asso takes the reader through an involved discussion of Book IV, displaying current scholarship on the dead poet. It is not for the faint of heart, but any valid reading of Lucan’s work must now include something from Paulo Asso.

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Showing you some Asso! #SBL, Daniel, Mark, Caesar, and Lucan. @degruyter_TRS

I mention in my book Lucan using Caesar’s structure to somewhat frame his own poem. And it should be really, if you think about it. Lucan is (re)writing the Civil War, responding to the Vergilian myth of Caesar. As much as Pharsalia  is anti-Aeneid, it is likewise anti-Caesar’s Commentary on the Civil War. Julius’ commentary, by the way, ends rather oddly, as does Lucan (as does Mark).

Anyway, as I am reading Paolo Asso‘s commentary on Book IV of Pharsalia, I am struck by his conversation regarding Lucan’s use of Caesar’s structure. The Poet retains the general’s structure, somewhat, although he alters it just a little to refocus several different plot points.1 Of course, this leads me to ponder again my suggestion (found in a proposal to an SBL section) about Mark’s use of a Danielic structure.

First, to suggest Mark is using a Lucanian style, something I do believe is happening, does not mean Mark is using Lucan as a literary source so much as it is a teacher-student thing. So, don’t go off crazy and think I am saying Mark is saying Jesus is Caesar, because I’m not. Jesus is Lord, Caesar is not. What I am, again, saying is that we should look for an underlying writing philosophy shared between the two poets which will lead us to better examining Mark.

Second, the use of an overarching structure, as Asso points out, does not limit the structure to rigidity, nor limit pericope sources. Lucan, while using a Caesarian structure for his poem, manages to use Homer, Vergil, and real life sources to fill in his imaginative pericopes. If you look close enough, Nero makes appearances in Pharsalia, a poem about events long before Nero. Ahh, the collapsing of memory and history, eh?

Anyway, while I disagree with Asso’s suggestion that Lucan intended to write a full twelve books, thus far, his work is sublime.

  1. Asso, 16

Review: Rhetoric and Theology, Figural Reading of John 9, William M. Wright

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William M. Wright’s book, Rhetoric and Theology, Figural Reading of John 9, attempts to view the scene contained within the said chapter as a two level drama, based in two points of history, both on an action by Christ and, primarily, on the action of the community, later excommunicated from the synagogue.

Wright introduces Martyn’s groundbreaking reading, that the Gospel of John is an allegorical reading focused on the community rather than the historical Christ, as authoritative and while the author does this well, he fails to give Martyn’s reasoning which is detrimental to Martyn as Wright examines the view’s critique.

Wright, in trying to decipher a proper understanding of allegory, in support of Martyn against the allegorical critique of his opponents, uses three sources which only aids the opponents – Cornutus, Heraclitus, and Dante (p48). Martyn’s opponents, as Wright points out, criticizes the theologian on the grounds that his theology is more 20th century than 1st century, in that it appears that Martyn’s hypothesis was developed in the radical change in society away from the harsh views of the past, and in doing so attempted to make the Gospel of John, seen as an anti-Semitic diatribe, more palatable to academic studies (p40).  However, using Cornutus and Heraclitus who both saw Homer as allegorical, but in different respects, can come to conclusion on the ancient poet and his intentions which not surprisingly suited their own positions. With Dante, Wright makes the error of using the 14th century Italian poet to build to a definition of allegory. In doing so, Wright solidifies Martyn’s critical opponents by showing that interpretation of ancients texts is, more often than not, politically motivated.

While the author has a solid hand on the critiques of Martyn’s position, he doesn’t do so in support of it, which is odd given that he is intimately familiar with the allegorical position and supports it. While he lists Martyn’s influences on such side studies as contextual, historical, social oriented, and literary critical studies, he provides very little in the way of those who agree, even in a round about way such as Dr. Maurice Casey (From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God) and Dr. James McGrath (John’s Apologetic Christology: Legitimation and Development in Johannine Christology). If his intent was only to set himself apart while standing upon Martyn’s theory by offering both support and critique, Wright only accomplishes this haphazardly to the rest of his theory. He may have helped his case, and thus Martyn’s, had he rather used Clement of Alexandria, and other notable 2nd and 3rd century Christian philosophers who regularly made use of allegory instead of criticizing the Reformers for their break with the medieval trend of Catholic theologians (he notes that the celebrated Erasmus preferred allegory to that of Luther and Calvin’s literalism, p53).

His goal, stated in the conclusion to the first part, is to answer modern critiques to Martyn’s hypothesis, which itself is a modern invention, that it and thus John 9 can be taken in a variety of ways, including allegory, if, seemingly, allegory is redefined to allow Martyn’s theory to be seen as such.

While I cannot readily critique Martyn’s theory, as it would be difficult to do while reading his work and that much more so reading only a brief synopsis, Wright’s work is shaping up to provide a self-contained rebuttal. After his first chapter, in which he lays out, crudely, Martyn’s attempt at contextualizing John’s Gospel, the author moves into the second chapter by re-framing allegory as a figural reading. He is correct, that the one large gulf between the Alexandrian school of interpretation and the Antiochian method is closer now, he doesn’t make use of it to buffet Martyn, but uses it to move forward to criticizing the move away from allegorical interpretations of modern theologians.

After analyzing, crudely, Augustine’s method of interpreting Scripture, which is the highlight of the first two chapters, Wright concludes,

To be sure, the reading strategies of Martyn and Augustine are not identical, and they do differ in some key respects. (emphasis mine, p92)

The some differences (p93) which Wright correctly highlights are hardly ‘some’, as Martyn and Augustine are going in different directions. Martyn is attempting to find the Sitz im Leben while Augustine is looking for a modern application. Augustine is doing theology, Martyn resides in the biblical studies framework. The only thing which unites both Augustine and Martyn is both authors, instead of relying on the literal sense of the text, seeks to expand the meaning based on (perceived, in Martyn’s case) application. By not allowing Martyn’s work to remain within the older author’s setting, Wright is not only theologizing John 9 but Martyn as well. While Write is correct that a two-level reading of the Gospel is figural, Martyn was not attempting to read it figuratively, only to show that the first audience understood it to be so. Wright eventually acknowledges that Martyn may be incorrect (p96), but, as his work is shaping up to be, re-frames Martyn’s previous re-framing of John’s Gospel as a two-level reading as a theological allowance in the footsteps of Augustine, Chrysostom and others to be examined in the next chapter.

As Wright examines pre-modern interpretation, his thesis and goal takes shape, something that is harmful, not detrimental, to his overall work. He presents his skills in taking the interpretative careers of Augustine, Chrysostom, Bruno of Serni, and Thomas Aquinas and condensing them into short segments focused on John 9, in which each ancient author is given due time to explain his views. He then goes on to examine John 9, in light of these pre-moderns, as a ‘chreia elaboration’ and does so in a way which should not confront the conservative reader, but instead, present to the larger audience enough proof to see that John 9 was composed to mean something more than the plain sense. The one fault here is that Wright takes a long time to reach the ‘goal’ of his work, and even then, doesn’t fully qualify it until his Conclusion (215).

Wright would have better served his thesis, and thus his audience, had he forgotten Martyn and instead focused on the figural reading provided by the pre-moderns, many of which were trained in classical Rhetoric, as he more than adequately demonstrated that John 9 is well crafted in a rhetorical mode.

Further, his design is rather disjointed. Instead of beginning with Martyn, it might have been better to begin with an analysis of rhetoric, which he does superbly in 4.2-4.3 (156-194) and those proving that John 9 is inseparable from the ‘form and content’ of the ‘symbolically expressed rhetorical arguments’ (p210). Once this was established, Wright should have moved to the pre-moderns, showing that they could catch the rhetorical cues of this chapter, which again he does masterfully. Only then, should Martyn have come into view, because while Martyn’s critics are correct, he was among the first post-moderns to catch the fact that John 9 is saying more than the literal sense of the chapter. Had Wright attempted this design of his thesis, Martyn – and Wright – would have fared better. Instead, while Wright’s work stands as a well supported view on the figural reading on John 9, his it is difficult to keep track of his ultimate goal.

Wright is not ‘untrue’ to the Gospel of John, but brings the ‘spiritual’ aspect of it, as recognized by many of pre-moderns and other historical interpreters along the way, out into the light, allowing the current reader to focus on the rhetorical devices long hidden as the West moved away from rhetoric. His arguments are well supported and documented, providing an ample bibliography for the reader. Wright’s work should be well used as (post-)modern interpreters move beyond the extreme literalism of the text to a more rigorous rhetorical view in which the text is used to connect applications to the audience, both pre-modern and modern.

Thoughts on Rhetoric and Theology, Figural Reading of John 9, William M. Wright (2)

This is a multi-part series, taking each section at a time. Some of my conclusions will no doubt change as I get deeper into the book. I will post the final review at my other site when it is complete.

Click to Order

While I cannot readily critique Martyn’s theory, as it would be difficult to do while reading his work and that much more so reading only a brief synopsis, Wright’s work is shaping up to provide a self-contained rebuttal. After his first chapter, in which he lays out, crudely, Martyn’s attempt at contextualizing John’s Gospel, the author moves into the second chapter by reframing allegory as a figural reading. He is correct, that the one large gulf between the Alexandrian school of interpretation and the Antiochian method is closer now, he doesn’t make use of it to buffet Martyn, but uses it to move forward to criticizing the move away from allegorical interpretations of modern theologians.

After analyzing, crudely, Augustine’s method of interpreting Scripture, which is the highlight of the first two chapters, Wright concludes,

To be sure, the reading strategies of Martyn and Augustine are not identical, and they do differ in some key respects. (emphasis mine, p92)

The some differences (p93) which Wright correctly highlights are hardly ‘some’, as Martyn and Augustine are going in different directions. Martyn is attempting to find the Sitz im Leben while Augustine is looking for a modern application. Augustine is doing theology, Martyn resides in the biblical studies framework. They only thing which units both Augustine and Martyn is both authors, instead of relying on the literal sense of the text, seeks to expand the meaning based on (perceived, in Martyn’s case) application. By not allowing Martyn’s work to remain within the older author’s setting, Wright is not only theologizing John 9 but Martyn as well. While Write is correct that a two-level reading of the Gospel is figural, Martyn was not attempting to read it figuratively, only to show that the first audience understood it to be so. Wright eventually acknowledges that Martyn may be incorrect (p96), but, as his work is shaping up to be, reframes Martyn’s previous reframing of John’s Gospel as a two-level reading as a theological allowance in the footsteps of Augustine, Chrysostom and others to be examined in the next chapter.

Thoughts on Rhetoric and Theology, Figural Reading of John 9, William M. Wright (1)

This is a multi-part series, taking each section at a time. Some of my conclusions will no doubt change as I get deeper into the book.I will post the final review at my other site when it is complete.

Click to Order

William M. Wright’s book, Rhetoric and Theology, Figural Reading of John 9, attempts to view the scene contained within the said chapter as a two level drama, based in two points of history, both on an action by Christ and, primarily, on the action of the community, later excommunicated from the synagogue.

Wright introduces Martyn’s groundbreaking reading, that the Gospel of John is an allegorical reading focused on the community rather than the historical Christ, as authoritative and while the author does this well, he fails to give Martyn’s reasoning which is detrimental to Martyn as Wright examines the view’s critique.

Wright, in trying to decipher a proper understanding of allegory, in support of Martyn against the allegorical critique of his opponents, uses three sources which only aides the opponents – Cornutus, Heraclitus, and Dante (p48). Martyn’s opponents, as Wright points out, criticizes the theologian on the grounds that his theology is more 20th century than 1st century, in that it appears that Martyn’s hypothesis was developed in the radical change in society away from the harsh views of the past, and in doing so attempted to make the Gospel of John, seen as an anti-Semitic diatribe, more palatable to academic studies (p40).  However, but using Cornutus and Heraclitus who both saw Homer as allegorical, but in different respects, can to conclusion on the ancient poet and his intentions which not surprisingly suited their own positions. With Dante, Wright makes the error of using the 14th century Italian poet to build to a definition of allegory. In doing so, Wright solidifies Martyn’s critical opponents by showing that interpretation of ancients texts is more often than not politically motivated.

While the author has a solid hand on the critiques of Martyn’s position, he doesn’t do so in support of it, which is odd given that he is intimately familiar with the allegorical position and supports it. While he lists Martyn’s influences on such side studies as contextual, historical, social oriented, and literary critical studies, he provides very little in the way of those who agree, even in a round about way such as Dr. Maurice Casey (From Jewish Prophet to Gentile God) and Dr. James McGrath (John’s Apologetic Christology: Legitimation and Development in Johannine Christology). If his intent was only to set himself apart while standing upon Martyn’s theory by offering both support and critique, Wright only accomplishes this haphazardly to the rest of his theory. He may have helped his case, and thus Martyn’s, had he rather used Clement of Alexandria, and other notable 2nd and 3rd century Christian philosophers who regularly made use of allegory instead of criticizing the Reformers for their break with the medieval trend of Catholic theologians (he notes that the celebrated Erasmus preferred allegory to that of Luther and Calvin’s literalism, p53).

His goal, stated in the conclusion to the first part, is to answer modern critiques to Martyn’s hypothesis, which itself is a modern invention, that it and thus John 9 can be taken in a variety of ways, including allegory, if, seemingly, allegory is redefined to allow Martyn’s theory to be seen as such.

A Figural Reading of John 9?

Currently, I am reading (for a review from Walter De Gruyter) a book which explores a figural, rather than allegorical reading of the 9th chapter of John. It is a form of rhetorical criticism, as opposed to other criticisms – such as narrative, which (I think) explores of what what is being said and left unsaid than the community which is speaking. Modern critical scholarship places John very post-70ce, as a Gentile (or more Gentile than Jewish) response to expulsion from the synagogue.

Anyone who has spent time reading the Gospels, comparatively, should be able to accept that John stands apart from the other three. The other three are more ‘earthly’ while John is more ‘spiritual.’ Commentators since the beginning of Christian exegesis have noted the stark differences and come up with interesting ways of describing the union with the other gospels but the uniqueness of itself.  I’ll most likely get into that later. (Two books you may want to check out are by Dr. Maurice Casey and Dr. James McGrath)

Today, I just wanted to post John 9 to solicit opinions about what either the author is trying to say, what you think a community such as that listed above may be trying to say, and more especially, just to discuss a favorite gospel (John is one of my four favorite gospels).

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”

Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing! His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?”

Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!” But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!” They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?” He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”

“Where is he now?” they asked.”I don’t know,” he replied. Then they took the man who had been blind to the Pharisees, because it was on the Sabbath that Jesus had made the mud and healed him. The Pharisees asked the man all about it. So he told them, “He put the mud over my eyes, and when I washed it away, I could see!”

Some of the Pharisees said, “This man Jesus is not from God, for he is working on the Sabbath.” Others said, “But how could an ordinary sinner do such miraculous signs?” So there was a deep division of opinion among them. Then the Pharisees again questioned the man who had been blind and demanded, “What’s your opinion about this man who healed you?” The man replied, “I think he must be a prophet.” The Jewish leaders still refused to believe the man had been blind and could now see, so they called in his parents.

They asked them, “Is this your son? Was he born blind? If so, how can he now see?” His parents replied, “We know this is our son and that he was born blind, but we don’t know how he can see or who healed him. Ask him. He is old enough to speak for himself.” His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who had announced that anyone saying Jesus was the Messiah would be expelled from the synagogue.

That’s why they said, “He is old enough. Ask him.” So for the second time they called in the man who had been blind and told him, “God should get the glory for this, because we know this man Jesus is a sinner.”

“I don’t know whether he is a sinner,” the man replied. “But I know this: I was blind, and now I can see!”

“But what did he do?” they asked. “How did he heal you?”

“Look!” the man exclaimed. “I told you once. Didn’t you listen? Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?” Then they cursed him and said, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses! We know God spoke to Moses, but we don’t even know where this man comes from.”

“Why, that’s very strange!” the man replied. “He healed my eyes, and yet you don’t know where he comes from? We know that God doesn’t listen to sinners, but he is ready to hear those who worship him and do his will. Ever since the world began, no one has been able to open the eyes of someone born blind. If this man were not from God, he couldn’t have done it.”

“You were born a total sinner!” they answered. “Are you trying to teach us?” And they threw him out of the synagogue. When Jesus heard what had happened, he found the man and asked, “Do you believe in the Son of Man? ” The man answered, “Who is he, sir? I want to believe in him.”

“You have seen him,” Jesus said, “and he is speaking to you!”

“Yes, Lord, I believe!” the man said. And he worshiped Jesus.

Then Jesus told him, “I entered this world to render judgment– to give sight to the blind and to show those who think they see that they are blind.” Some Pharisees who were standing nearby heard him and asked, “Are you saying we’re blind?”

“If you were blind, you wouldn’t be guilty,” Jesus replied. “But you remain guilty because you claim you can see.

Review: The Human Body in Death and Resurrection (Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature: Yearbook 2009)

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As it has done for the past several years, the German publishing house, Walter De Gruyter, has published the papers given at the annual conferences of the International Society for the Study of Deuterocanonical and Cognate Literature in a yearbook. The aim of the society is ‘academic research into the deuterocanonical and cognate literature on an international, interconfessional and interreligious basis, through the preparation of scholarly materials‘. Each yearbook is of exceptional physical and scholarly quality which will last for years beyond the publication. Several of the articles are translations into English, but with no difficult for the reader. Further, the book is bilingual, with a good split between German and English essays.

The Yearbook takes a broad swath of history into account and presents a coherent picture in the belief in bodily resurrection as it developed among the various communities, from those before Moses up until Matthean community, even investigating the Gnostics which thrived some time after the last Gospels were written. Each author, a specialist in his or her field, takes a subject and in easy to understand language, shows the various aspects of the belief which arose in Palestine before the time of Christ concerning the bodily resurrection of the Righteous.

Not resigning itself to any particular viewpoint, the yearbook allows the reader to engage at a scholarly level various books, works, and religious systems in examining the wide-ranging views. It is interesting, as several authors point out, that the bodily resurrection was seen as vital to the Judaism which survived the destruction of the Temple. Further, while most scholarship is inclined to not see resurrection in the Hebrew bible, several of these essays call attention to the fact that indeed, that belief can be found among the ancient sacred writings to Jews and Christians alike. It is highly recommend that those interested in both fields of research – Deuterocanon and various theological beliefs pre-CE – examine this book for rich, new insights into the idea that somehow and in somewhat, the existence of a good person does not end, but goes on, generally in a form much like what is seen in the ‘real’ world. Socially, culturally, and anthropologically this is an important book, and is highly recommended.

The essays are:

  1. Resurrection of the Body in Early Judaism and Christian – Claudia Setzer
  2. The Impurity of the Corpse (nasa) and the Future of the Body (tan i pasen): Death and the Afterlife in Zoroasterianism – Manfred Hutter
  3. Resurrection and the Body in Graeco-Roman Egypt – Mark Smith
  4. Die Unreinheit der Leiche nach der Tora – Thomas Hieke
  5. The Revivification of the Dry Bones: Ezekiel 37.1-14 – Karin Schopflin
  6. Death and Buriel in the Tobit Narration in the Context of the Old Testament Tradition – Beate Ego
  7. Auferstehung und Epiphanie: Jenseits- und Korperkonzepte im Zweiten Makkabaerbuch – Barbara Schmitz
  8. Tod und Erkenntnis in der antik=judischen Weisheit – Stefan Beyerle
  9. Die Vorstellung vom Tod und den Toten nach Ben Sira – Friedrich Reiterer
  10. Afterlife in Jubilees: Through a Covenantal Prism – Richard J. Bautch
  11. Bones, Bodies and Resurrection in the Dead Sea Scrolls – Mladen Popovic
  12. Resurrection of the Body in Early Rabbinic Judaism – Alan J. Avery-Peck
  13. Human Body and Life beyond Death in Matthew’s Gospel – Wim J.C. Weren
  14. Leiblichkeit und Auferstehung im Johannesevangelium – Jorg Frey
  15. ,,Die Seelen der Geschlachteten” (Offb 6,9)? Zum Propblem leiblicher Auferstehung in der Offenbarung des Johannes – Tobias Nicklas
  16. Dialogues with the Archons: The Post-mortem Encounters of the Ascending Soul in Gnostic Texts – Einar Thomassen
  17. Die Auferstehung des Fleisches in den fruhchristlichen Grabinschriften – Jutta Dresken-Weiland
  18. Why Body matters in the Afterlife. Mine Reading and Body Imagery in Synoptic Tradition and the Apocalypse of Peter – Istvan Czachesz
  19. Lebendige Tote? Zum Personenkult um gestobene Gottsmenschen in der Gegenwart – Hubertus Lutterbach