Thursday, December 27, 2007

Greek Books Online

The storefront at right is the latest bookseller with which I have done business online. I found a copy of David Hutchinson Edgar's Has God Not Chosen the Poor? The Social Setting of the Epistle of James for only £15.00 on Abebooks from Galloway & Porter. Of course, I also had to pay £5.50 in shipping and the exchange rate with the British Pound is hurrendous, but it was still almost half the price for what I could find this book for elsewhere. Merry Christmas to me! My fear is that this may be the second time I have purchased this book--is my other copy back in the States?! I wonder if Edgar's take on the rich and poor in James has anything to say about my book buying habits... Anyway, this must be one of the newest buildings in Cambridge, but the family has been running this business for over 100 years. I wonder if their great-grandfather ever thought they'd be making transactions in mere seconds with a U.S. customer living in Papua New Guinea! Thanks Galloway & Porter!

For those who don't pay ginormous internet charges, more and more books are becoming available online. When I got back from the village, I noticed that Rod Decker had blogged here about Carnegie Mellon University’s free online Universal Digital Library. I've already provided a link on this page to Rod Decker's excellent New Testament Resources page. Here is a sample of Greek resources that Rod found quickly at the Universal Digital Library...

A Brief Introduction To New Testament Greek, with Vocabularies, by Green
A Critical And Exegetical Commentary On The Revelation, by Charles
A Grammar Of New Testament Greek, by Moulton, Howard, Turner
A Grammar Of The Greek New Testament by Robertson, A. T
A Grammar Of The New Testament Greek by Buttmann and Thayer
A Grammar Of The Old Testament In Greek, Thackeray
A Greek And English Lexicon Of The New Testament by Robinson
A Greek-English Lexicon Of The New Testament, Grimm, Wilke, Thayer
A History Of Classical Greek Literature by Mahaffy and Sayce
A Manual Of Greek Historical Inscriptions by E L Hicks
A Pocket Lexicon To The Greek New Testament by Alexander Souter
A School Grammar Of Attic Greek by Goodell, Thomas Dwight
A Short Grammar Of Classical Greek by Adof Kaegi
An Elementary Greek Grammar by Goodwin, William Watson
An Intermediate Greek English Lexicon by William S Holdsworth
An Introduction To Greek And Latin Palaeography by Thompson
An Introduction To Greek Epigraphy Part I by E S Robert
An Introduction To The Study Of New Testament Greek, by Moulton
Essentials Of New Testament Greek by Huddelston
Greek Particles In The New Testament, by Margaret E Thrall
Hebrews In The Greek New Testament, by Wuest
Lessons In New Testament Greek: a Secondary Course, by Green, S. Walter
Syntax Of The Moods And Tenses In New Testament Greek, by Burton
Teach Yourself New Testament Greek by D F Hudson
The Expositor’s Greek Testament by Nicoll, W. Robertson, et al
The Grammar Of The Greek Testament by Samuel, G. Green
The Greek Testament by Morris Jastrow Jr
The Greek Testament Englished by William Burton Crickmer
The Greek Testament by Henry Alford
The Interlinear Literal Translation Of The Greek NT, by Berry, George Ricker
The Minister And His Greek New Testament by Robertson, A. T.
The New Testament In Modern Speech, by Weymouth
The New Testament In The Original Greek by Brooke Foss Westcott
The New Testament Rendered From The Original Greek by James A. Kleist
The Old Testament In Greek According To The Septuagint, by Swete
The Riverside New Testament A Translation by William G. Ballantine

Of course, many of these may be restricted to 15% free usage online.

Village Visit & Luke Workshop

I'm sorry, I meant to leave one last post in October, explaining that I would be away in the village for a translation workshop. We left on 25 October and I didn't get back to the internet world until 12 December.

In that time, the 11 languages we work with produced alphabet picture books and drafted the last four chapters of Luke. We also hosted a national translator (pictured above) from a language southeast of Aitape who needed technical support in his work. It turns out that his language may be distantly related to some of the inland languages we already work with. Maybe I'll find time to report more on this last workshop here, but I'm not promising.

The last few weeks have been focused on family, and we took a short vacation to Lae just before Christmas.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Greek Bible Study

Here's a new site for learning biblical Greek, called Greek Bible Study.

The graduated reader ability is especially cool. Select which chapters of Mounce you have covered, and the biblical text has ellipses for the words not learned yet. It will be better if they can eventually add all word frequencies to this function.

And I really like their philosophy of ministry and motivation...

The site is privately funded. It is not affiliated with any particular denomination or group, so that it might remain theologically neutral, encouraging the reading of the Scriptures themselves, God's Holy Word.

This work is being done as a service to the body of Christ at large, to the glory of God. May our prayer to God be: please teach us Your Word.

Another tool to help "everyday be Greek day"! (in the words of Scott Hafemann)

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Jesus' Resurrection is "Unbelievable" in Luke

As I mentioned in my previous post about Jesus’ resurrection, Luke emerges as the only gospel writer that presents the disciples’ response as one of amazement, that confused mixture of disbelief and joy. But…

…if there is joy, is there really disbelief? Or, is it possible that Luke uses the word ‘disbelieving’ in ch. 24 in a more idiomatic sense? After all, if you were to see Jesus raised from the dead, wouldn’t you have to say, “It’s unbelievable! I can’t believe my eyes!”

In Luke, the first post-resurrection response occurs after the women come back from the empty tomb (24:11). After giving a report of what they had seen and heard at the tomb, the text reads…
καὶ ἐφάνησαν ἐνώπιον αὐτῶν ὡσεὶ λῆρος τὰ ῥήματα ταῦτα, καὶ ἠπίστουν αὐταῖς.
And these words appeared before them as nonsense, and they were not believing them.
But what exactly does it mean when it says “these words appeared before them as nonsense” and “they were not believing them”? Could the disciples really not make grammatical sense of the women’s words? That much must not be true; otherwise, the text would not go on to say that they were not believing them. In order to not believe something, you have to first make sense of what you’re not believing. Therefore, it’s more likely that “these words appeared before them as nonsense” communicates just how unusual and unexpected the resurrection was. It was so out of the ordinary that we might describe it today as “unreal”!

So did the apostles really not believe the women? Did they think the women were just making up a fantastic story? Perhaps. However, the imperfect tense here—“they were not believing”—leaves open further possibilities.

In the very least, the imperfect tense communicates some kind of continuous response instead of a matter-of-fact statement of unbelief. The continuous nature of their “unbelief” suggests an ongoing discussion in which they were interacting with the women’s story. It may depict an interactive response from the disciples in which they continuously questioned the women in an attempt to understand the incredible details of such an amazing account. Also possible, but perhaps less likely, is that this represents a pluperfect use of the imperfect—“they had not been believing them”—thus describing an earlier response that did not necessarily continue. The reason I say that this possibility is less likely is that the pluperfect use of the imperfect is quite rare, and it is usually clear when it is used. Even if this interpretation is too much of a stretch for this particular word, the continuation of the story suggests that this is exactly what happened—their unbelieving response did not continue.

The next verse (24:12) tells how Peter got up and ran to the tomb, hardly a response from someone who did not believe. Peter’s actions at least reveal a determination to check out the women’s story. Of course, some would argue that Luke 24:12 is a “western non-interpolation,” a verse that was later added by all but the western witnesses of the text—an argument against its existence in the original text. One argument in support of this theory is that Peter’s response in vs. 12 of running to the tomb and returning home “amazed” does not fit within the literary context (Bart D. Ehrman, The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture, 215, 217). But the supposed incongruency of unbelief and amazement occurs again in Luke 24:41 (Frans Neirynck, “Luke 24,12: An Anti-Docetic Interpolation?” In New Testament Textual Criticism and Exegesis, ed. A. Denaux, 158)…
ἔτι δὲ ἀπιστούντων αὐτῶν ἀπὸ τῆς χαρᾶς καὶ θαυμαζόντων εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Ἔχετέ τι βρώσιμον ἐνθάδε;
While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
Again, Luke’s record of the resurrection seems just too good to be true. Again, we find “unbelief” and “amazement” together. And joy too. So what can it mean? Does it make sense at all to say that the apostles “could not believe because of their joy and amazement”? Or do these passages suggest a more idiomatic meaning for unbelief? Had Jesus really risen from the dead? It was “unbelievable”! In Luke 24:11 they could not believe their ears. In Luke 24:41 they could not believe their eyes. But they really did believe the unbelievable. Their joy proves it.

So does Luke use the words ‘unbelief’, ‘amazement’ and ‘joy’ together to paint a uniform picture of emotion-filled belief in the resurrection for everyone in ch. 24? No way.

When Jesus walks with the two disciples on the way to Emmaus, it’s a different story regarding "unbelief" and "amazement." They tell him how the women “amazed us” with a report of an empty tomb and a vision of angels saying that Jesus was alive (24:22-23), but they were clearly “looking sad” (24:17). This sad look proves their unbelief. And so Jesus says to them in 24:25…
Ὦ ἀνόητοι καὶ βραδεῖς τῇ καρδίᾳ τοῦ πιστεύειν ἐπὶ πᾶσιν οἷς ἐλάλησαν οἱ προφῆται… O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken…
Only after Jesus explains the scriptures, accepts their invitation to come inside, and then breaks bread do they finally recognize him and believe. Their belief is proved by their action: they got up that very hour—the same hour which they had described as “towards evening” and “the day is nearly over” (24:29)—and they returned to Jerusalem to tell the apostles. They surely went back in the dark. But before they can give their report, the apostles report to them in 24:34…
ὄντως ἠγέρθη ὁ κύριος καὶ ὤφθη Σίμωνι.
The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.
Even though it was only Simon Peter who had seen the Lord among the 11 apostles, the others believe and say that he has “really risen.” Their belief is then confirmed by the two who had met Jesus on the road to Emmaus (24:35) and then by Jesus himself who appeared before them while they were still talking about it (24:36). And then we find another combination of belief and amazement in 24:37…
πτοηθέντες δὲ καὶ ἔμφοβοι γενόμενοι ἐδόκουν πνεῦμα θεωρεῖν.
But after being startled and frightened they were thinking that they were seeing a spirit.
Interesting. Based on Peter’s testimony, they really believed that Jesus was alive. But when Jesus himself appears, they are so startled and frightened that they think they are seeing a spirit. But again, does this really mean that they do not believe in the resurrection? Jesus does not rebuke them for ‘unbelief’, but he says…
Τί τεταραγμένοι ἐστὲ καὶ διὰ τί διαλογισμοὶ ἀναβαίνουσιν ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμῶν;
Why are you troubled, and why do thoughts arise in your hearts?
The live appearance of Jesus after his death is such an unusual sight for the apostles, so Jesus begins to calm them by simply acting himself. “What’s bothering you?” He shows them his wounded hands and feet to prove that they are not seeing a spirit. Oh, and “What’s there to eat?”

And now he had a captive audience…
Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”
After a few more instructions, Jesus is lifted up into heaven. But no more fear and amazement on the part of the disciples, only worship and joy...
καὶ αὐτοὶ προσκυνήσαντες αὐτὸν ὑπέστρεψαν εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ μετὰ χαρᾶς μεγάλης καὶ ἦσαν διὰ παντὸς ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ εὐλογοῦντες τὸν θεόν.
And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God.
Luke's account of the resurrection is so believeable precisely because he records so well that strange mixture of unbelief and joy, which really isn't unbelief at all, but overwhelming joy and amazement at something so "unbelieveable." He really caught the wonder of it.

(The painting is "The Supper at Emmaus," 1606 by Caravaggio)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Forthcoming Titles on the Letter of James

Here are a number of forthcoming titles, including several conference papers, on the Letter of James...

Varner, William. Forthcoming in 2007. “Can Discourse Analysis Help Solve the Problem of James’ Structure?” Paper to be presented at the 59th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, November 14, San Diego, CA.

Lockett, Darian R. Forthcoming in 2007. “The 'Two Ways': James' Strategy of Instruction in Obedience.” Paper to be presented at the 59th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, November 14, San Diego, CA.

Morgan, Chris. Forthcoming in 2007. “The Doctrine of God in the Epistle of James.” Paper to be presented at the 59th Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, November 14, San Diego, CA.

Kotsko, Adam. Forthcoming in 2007. "Philosophical Reading Beyond Paul: Jean-Luc Nancy on the Epistle of James." Paper to be presented at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, November 18, San Diego, CA.

Lockett, Darian R. Forthcoming in 2007. “God and 'the World': Cosmology and Theology in the Letter of James.” In Cosmology and New Testament Theology, eds. Jonathan T. Pennington and Sean M. McDonough. London: T&T Clark.

Lockett, Darian R. Forthcoming in 2008. Purity and Worldview in the Epistle of James. The Library of New Testament Studies. London: T & T Clark.

Morgan, Chris, and ???. Forthcoming in 2007. James. Focus on the Bible Commentary. Christian Focus Publications.

The following title in [brackets] is my own guess for this forthcoming commentary that will be part of a new commentary series published by Brill and edited by Stanley Porter. The series itself may have a title something like A Linguistic Commentary of the New Testament...

Varner, William. Forthcoming in 2008. [A Discourse Linguistic Commentary on the Letter of James. A Linguistic Commentary of the New Testament], ed. Stanley Porter. Leiden: Brill.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

More Letter of James Research from the Last 8 Years

The second part of Matti Myllykoski's “James the Just in History and Tradition: Perspectives of Past and Present Scholarship" has just come out in Currents in Biblical Research.

I thought I'd use this as an opportunity to post other recent James scholarship that I failed to post last month in my posts on Recent Letter of James Research or More With Less Recent James Research or Doubts, Disputes and Distinctions of διακρίνω or Mariam Kamell's Recent James Research.

I am no longer adding these works to the RECENT JAMES RESEARCH heading on this blog down and to the right. I will eventually have everything compiled in a more useable format.

Myllykoski, Matti. 2007. “James the Just in History and Tradition: Perspectives of Past and Present Scholarship (Part II).” Currents in Biblical Research, 6:11-98.

Lockett, Darian R. 2007. “'Unstained by the World': Purity and Pollution as an Indicator of Cultural Interaction in the Epistle of James.” In Reading James with New Eyes, ed. Robert L. Webb and John S. Kloppenborg, 49-74. London: T&T Clark.

Taylor, Mark E., and George H. Guthrie. 2006. “The Structure of James.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 68:681-705.

Abegg, Martin G., Jr. 2006. “Paul and James on the Law in Light of the Dead Sea Scrolls.” In Christian Beginnings and the Dead Sea Scrolls, ed. John J. Collins and Craig A. Evans, 63-74. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

Byron, John. 2006. “Living in the Shadow of Cain: Echoes of a Developing Tradition in James 5:1-6.” Novum Testamentum, 48:261-74.

Myllykoski, Matti. 2006. “James the Just in History and Tradition: Perspectives of Past and Present Scholarship (Part I).” Currents in Biblical Research, 5:73-122.

Taylor, Mark E. 2006. A Text-linguistic Investigation into the Discourse Structure of James. Library of New Testament Studies 311 (London: Clark).

McCord Adams, Marilyn. 2006. “Faith and Works, or, How James is a Lutheran!” Expository Times, 117:462-64.

De Graaf, David. 2005. “Some Doubts About Doubt: The New Testament Use of Διακρίνω,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 48: 733-755.

Batten, Alicia. 2005. “Ideological Strategies in the Letter of James.” Paper presented at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, November 19-22, Philadelphia, PA.

Kloppenborg, John S. 2005. “Reception and Emulation of the Jesus Tradition in James.” Paper presented at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, November 19-22, Philadelphia, PA.

Niebuhr, Karl-Wilhelm. 2005. “A Letter from Jerusalem: James in the Mind of the Recipients of His Epistle.” Paper presented at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, November 19-22, Philadelphia, PA.

Wachob, Wesley Hiram. 2005. “The Languages of ‘Household’ and ‘Kingdom’ in the Epistle of James: A Socio-Rhetorical Study.” Paper presented at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, November 19-22, Philadelphia, PA.

Watson, Duane F. 2005. “A Reassessment of the Rhetoric of the Epistle of James and Its Implications for Christian Origins.” Paper presented at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, November 19-22, Philadelphia, PA.

Guthrie, George H. 2005. “James.” In Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Revised Edition, ed. Tremper Longman, III and David E. Garland. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Lockett, Darian R. 2005. "The Spectrum of Wisdom and Eschatology in the Epistle of James and 4QInstruction," Tyndale Bulletin 56: 131-148.

Lockett, Darian R. 2005. “'Pure and Undefiled Religion': Purity and Pollution as a Means of Cultural Antagonism in the Epistle of James.” Paper presented at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, November 19-22, Philadelphia, PA.

Evans, Craig A., and Darian R. Lockett. 2005. “James.” In Bible Knowledge Background Commentary: John, Hebrews-Revelation, ed. Craig A. Evans, 257-287. Colorado Springs, CO: Victor.

Popkes, Wiard. 2005. “Two interpretations of ‘justification’ in the New Testament: Reflections on Galatians 2:15-21 and James 2:21-25.” Studia Theologica, 59:129-46.
Michaels, J. Ramsey. 2005. "Catholic Christologies in the Catholic Epistles." In Contours of Christology in the New Testament, ed. Richard N. Longenecker. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Lockett, Darian R. 2004. “James' Intertextual Perspective on Perfection.” Paper presented at the Evangelical Theological Society National Meeting, November, San Antonio, TX.

Taylor, Mark E. 2004. “Recent Scholarship on the Structure of James.” Currents in Biblical Research, 3:86-115.

Baker, William R. 2004. “Wisdom in the Epistle of James and the Holy Spirit: Are They the Same?” Paper presented at the Evangelical Theological Society Annual Meeting, November, San Antonio, TX.

Baker, William R. 2003. “The Priority of God in the Epistle of James.” Paper presented to the Evangelical Theological Society Annual Meeting, November 20, 2003, Atlanta, GA.

Ng, Esther Yue L. 2003. "Father-God Language and Old Testament Allusions in James," Tyndale Bulletin, 54:41-54.

Jackson-McCabe, Matt. 2003. “The Messiah Jesus in the Mythic World of James.” Journal of Biblical Literature, 122:701-30.

Johnson, Luke Timothy. 2003. "Reading Wisdom Wisely." Louvain Studies, 28:99-112.

Spencer, Matthew, Klaus Wachtel, and Christopher J. Howe. 2002. “The Greek Vorlage of the Syra Harclensis: A Comparative Study on Method in Exploring Textual Genealogy.” TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism, 7 [] (

Albl, Martin C. 2002. “‘Are Any among You Sick?’: The Health Care System in the Letter of James.” Journal of Biblical Literature, 121:123-43.

Baker, William R. 2002. "Christology in the Epistle of James," Evangelical Quarterly, 74: 47-57.

Warden, Duane. 2000. "The Rich And Poor In James: Implications For Institutionalized Partiality," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, 43: 247-257.

Johnson, Luke Timothy. 2000. “An introduction to the Letter of James.” Review and Expositor, 97:155-67. Also in Brother of Jesus, Friend of God, 24-38. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans (2004).

Schreiner, Thomas R. 2000. “Practical Christianity.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 4:2-3.

Stein, Robert H. 2000. “‘Saved by Faith [Alone]' in Paul Versus ‘Not Saved by Faith Alone’ in James.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 4:4-19.

George, Timothy. 2000. “‘A Right Strawy Epistle’: Reformation Perspectives on James.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 4:20-31. Previously published in Review
and Expositor,
83 (Summer 1986): 369-382.

Seifrid, Mark A. 2000. “The Waiting Church and Its Duty: James 5:13-18.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 4:32-39.

Julian, Ron. 2000. “A Perfect Work: Trials and Sanctification in the Book of James.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 4:40-50.

McCartney, Dan G. 2000. “The Wisdom of James the Just.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 4:52-64.

Akin, Daniel. 2000. “Sermon: The Power of the Tongue—James 3:1-12.” Southern Baptist Journal of Theology, 4:66-74.

Cummins, Tony. 2000. "Justifying James: Covenant Faithfulness in the Life and Letter of James." Paper presented at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, November, Nashville, TN.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Two Ways and the Prayer of Faith

Two of my Greek students are local pastors and one of them invited me to preach at the English service in the closest town. So I am preaching tomorrow in the town of Kainantu, Eastern Highlands Province, at the Evangelical Bible Church of Papua New Guinea.

My sermon title is "The Prayer of Faith" and I will be preaching mainly from the Letter of James.

Too often I hear Bible teaching which takes short passages out of context so that a works righteousness is emphasized. I aim to present what the Letter of James--the most works oriented writing in the New Testament--teaches about God's grace and mercy in response to prayers that reveal whole-hearted trust in him. I will present this within the context of the metaphor that our spiritual life is a journey in which we encounter two paths, the path of the wicked and the path of the righteous.

Besides the Letter of James, other scripture texts that will be included are Proverbs 2:1-15; 3:5-6; Psalm 1; 5:7-8; Isaiah 30:11, 15, 18; John 14:6; Luke 22:42; Hebrews 11:32-40.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Jesus' Resurrection is "Unbelievable!"

Luke records several incidents in ch. 24 in which the resurrection of Jesus seems to the disciples—according to traditional interpretation—just too good to be true. But when we compare Luke’s account with the other gospels, Luke emerges as the only gospel writer that presents the disciples’ response as one of amazement, that confused mixture of disbelief and joy. They might have said in the English idiom, “It’s unbelievable!” while at the same time feeling the joy that only comes from experiential knowledge.

The shorter ending of Mark (ending at 16:8) concludes the gospel story with a picture of the women trembling and astonished because they were afraid after seeing an angel who announced the resurrection.

On the other hand, the longer ending of Mark programmatically describes the unbelief of three sets of disciples: those who had been with Jesus (16:11), two of them as they were walking into the country (16:13), and the eleven as they sat together (16:14). Mark is the only gospel that presents such a one-sided picture of unbelief after the resurrection.

Matthew’s accounts of the disciples’ post-resurrection responses are brief and more balanced in terms of belief and unbelief. He first presents the women returning quickly from the tomb “with fear and great joy” to tell the disciples what they had seen and heard from the angel (28:8). The resurrected Jesus meets them on their way at which point Matthew records that they “took hold of his feet and worshipped him” (28:9).

The only other response from Jesus’ disciples that Matthew speaks of occurs when the disciples follow the instructions that the women have evidently passed on to them about meeting Jesus in Galilee: “And when they saw him they worshipped him; but some doubted” (28:17). So in Matthew, we have two responses of worship with the caveat that some doubted.

John presents much more detail than Matthew does concerning the believing responses of Jesus’ disciples after the resurrection. John’s first recorded response to the resurrection is one of belief and autobiographical: “Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed” (20:8). Likewise, when the risen Jesus greets Mary Magdalene by name, she responds with “Rabonni!” and goes to tell the disciples, “I have seen the Lord” (20:17-18). That same evening, Jesus appears to the disciples, and after he greets them with “Peace to you” and shows them his hands and his side, John records that “the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord” (20:19-20).

Thomas is the singular example in John of post-resurrection unbelief: “Unless I see in his hands the print of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe” (20:25). But eight days later, Jesus appears again to the disciples and says to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see my hands; and reach your hand here and put it into my side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas responded with “My Lord and my God!” (20:27-28)

A few more faith responses are recorded by John after Jesus instructs his disciples to cast their net on the other side of the boat and they haul in 153 large fish. Another autobiographical note includes John saying to Peter, “It is the Lord!” At that point Peter puts on his clothes and dives into the sea to go meet Jesus (21:7). When the rest of the disciples get to shore, John records, “Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, ‘Who are you?’ They knew it was the Lord” (21:12).

While the other gospel writers are more straightforward in their depictions of belief and unbelief after the resurrection, Luke’s distinctive voice presents a more varied and psychologically involved picture of the disciples’ responses. Luke’s story juxtaposes the language of “unbelief” at different times with the language of amazement, sadness, confusion, reasoning, and joy. Rather than uniformly understanding all the disciples to persist in unbelief, as the longer ending of Mark’s gospel suggests, Luke’s account shows in detail a variation of response among the disciples, just as we find more briefly and optimistically in Matthew and in John.

More on Luke's account of the "unbelievable" resurrection in the next post...

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Mariam Kamell's Recent James Research

Looking at my friend Jim Darlack's blog over at Old in the New, I was reminded of another friend's recent research on the Letter of James. Mariam Kamell of The Greek Geek is writing her PhD thesis on James at St Andrews in Scotland. Her recent research on James includes...

Mariam J. Kamell. 2006. “The Word/Law in James as the Promised New Covenant.” Paper presented to the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, November 19, Washington D.C.

_______. 2006. “The Emergent Need For James.” Paper given at the Evangelical Theological Society Annual Meeting, November 15. Washington D.C.

_______. 2006. "The concept of 'faith' in Hebrews and James." Paper delivered at the St Andrews Conference on Hebrews and Theology, 19 July. University of St Andrews.

_______. 2003. Wisdom in James: An Examination and Comparison of the Roles of Wisdom and the Holy Spirit. M.A. thesis, Denver Seminary.
I was able to attend Mariam's presentation of her paper at the St Andrews Conference on Hebrews and Theology. It was really well received. I look forward to Mariam's dissertation and much more in the future.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Biblical Studies Carnival XXII at SansBlogue

Tim Bulkeley, Old Testament lecturer at Carey Baptist College in Auckland, New Zealand, has done a nice job of putting together the Biblical Studies Carnival XXII over at SansBlogue. He has divided the carnival up into the following categories...
  • Biblioblogger of the month
  • Biblical studies as an international discipline
  • Bible in General
  • Hebrew Bible
  • The Other Testament
  • Archaeology
  • Astronomy (or Interdisciplinary studies?)
  • Teaching
  • Technology
  • Writing and publishing
  • Digital scholarship

Friday, September 28, 2007

Linguistic Society of PNG in Madang

I won't be posting anything for several days since I'm leaving for Madang today to attend the meeting of the Linguistic Society of PNG.

The meeting will take place not too far away from this tree that is always covered with--or should I say hung with--"flying foxes."

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Doubts, Disputes and Distinctions of διακρίνω

In 2001 I submitted a suggestion to the NET Bible translation committee for translating διακρινόμενος in James 1:6 as 'making distinctions' instead of 'doubting'. The suggestion was rejected.

'Doubting' is proposed in the Greek lexicons as a special New Testament meaning, but this simply is not necessary. The same word is used in James 2:4 with its normal sense. James 1:6 should not be read as "he should ask in faith without doubting." It is better read like this...

But he must ask in faith without making distinctions, for the one who makes distinctions is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind.
I wonder how many people have struggled to understand the logic of not allowing for doubts in James 1:6 when the whole point in James 1:5 is that a person lacks wisdom and God gives it generously to those who ask for it without finding fault...
If anyone of you is lacking wisdom, let him ask of God, the one giving generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given him.
We need a child-like faith when we ask God for wisdom. A child-like faith can doubt, but a child-like faith will ask the Father and trust him to give what is best. This is the force of what it means to ask "without making distinctions." When we pray, we need to pray according to the Lord's will (cf. James 4:15), not specifying how we want our prayers answered without allowing for the possibility that God may have a better answer for our needs.

This accords with the pattern of James's readers in 4:3...

You ask and do not receive because you ask wrongly, in order that you may spend on your own pleasures.
Peter Spitaler (2007: 202) writes...
It is problematic to deduce a special NT meaning "doubt" (using reflexive expressions like "dispute with oneself" or "being divided against oneself") from the middle voice διακρίνομαι. Such reflexive meanings are not present in the classical/Hellenistic Greek because the middle διακρίνομαι consistently denotes a contesting partner other than - and outside of - oneself.
Here is the latest research on the word διακρίνω...
Peter Spitaler. 2007. "Διακρίνεσθαι in Mt. 21:21, Mk. 11:23, Acts 10:20, Rom. 4:20, 14:23, Jas. 1:6, and Jude 22-the 'semantic shift' that went unnoticed by patristic authors." Novum Testamentum 49:1-39.

Peter Spitaler. 2006. "Doubt or Dispute (Jude 9 and 22-23). Rereading a Special New Testament Meaning through the Lense of Internal Evidence." Biblica 87(2): 201-222.

David DeGraaf. 2005. "Some doubts about doubt: the New Testament use of Διακρινω." Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 48(4): 733-755.

Norbert Baumert, SJ. 2002. "Das Paulinische, Wortspiel Mit krin-." Filologia Neotestamentaria 15: 19-64.
Perhaps with the recent outburst of scholarship on this word, translation committees will be more willing to hear suggestions for better translations where διακρίνω occurs.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Luke's Trial of Peter around the Fire

I want to suggest some arguments for interpreting the pericope of Peter's denial as a kind of court trial. Introducing the account of Peter's denial of Jesus in Luke 22:54-62, I. Howard Marshall says this in his NIGTC commentary...
In Mk. the arrest of Jesus is followed by a night-time trial of Jesus, the mocking of Jesus and the denial by Peter (Mk. 14:53-65); since Luke has recorded a morning trial in place of Mark's night-time trial, he has necessarily placed the accounts of the denial and the mockery before his trial scene. The result is that we are given a further example of the πειρασμός in which the disciples were placed (22:46)...
πειρασμός means 'test', 'trial' or 'temptation', so Marshall introduces this narrative section by pointing out that a unique feature of the way Luke tells the story is that the 'trial' of the disciples during Jesus' arrest is highlighted more than in the other Gospels. He doesn't limit the sense of 'trial' to the court, but referring to the German scholar W. Dietrich, Marshall continues...
According to Dietrich, 145-157, the Lucan narrative is more forensic in character, various witnesses in turn making an accusation against Peter, first a woman (whose testimony is ipso facto suspect) and then two men (whose testimonies confirm each other). The scene reaches its climax in the confrontation of the denier by the One who has been denied. Thus the roles of Satan as accuser and Jesus as the defender of Peter (22:31f.) are depicted in the actual narrative.
However, for several of the unique features of Luke in this pericope, Marshall states, "No plausible explanation of the change has been suggested." He says this about the servant girl in 22:56 referring to Peter in the 3rd PERSON in Luke instead of the 2nd PERSON as it is in Mark. However, this could readily be explained as the girl accusing Peter within a trial scene. The unique use of the vocative 'woman' on Peter's lips may function to discredit her testimony. The three accusers in the Gospels are different. Luke is the only one that includes two men, which may also be significant for interpreting this as a trial.

In Luke 22:59, Marshall sees no evidence of a trial scene...

ἐπ’ ἀληθείας (4:25; 20:21) replaces Mk. ἀληθῶς, a word which Luke reserves as an equivalent for ἀμήν (except Acts 12:11). The accusation is in the third person, diff. Mk., Mt., Jn., a change for which no redactional motive can be seen.

However, these changes may also serve to picture Peter within a forensic trial. While the other Gospels have this man speaking directly to Peter, Luke tells the story that the man is speaking to the others around the fire about Peter. It gives a greater sense of Peter being on trial with a witness giving testimony. This also explains why he says ἐπ’ ἀληθείας, literally "upon truth" or "based on truth." Rather than just meaning 'truly' or 'certainly' (as in Matthew and Mark), "upon truth" in Luke gives this statement more the sense of Peter being on trial in court. This man is giving a testimony based "upon truth" or based on evidence. The evidence that he gives that Peter was with Jesus is: "for he is a Galilean."

The oil on canvas painting is "The Denial of Saint Peter" by Gerrit van Honthorst, c. 1623, and is housed at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Monday, September 24, 2007

"Source Text" for a Bible Translation Cluster Project

These days I’m doing an advisor check of a Bible translation for Luke 21-24. The vernacular translation will be used as the source text for related Austronesian languages at a translation workshop in November and December.

The back translation into the pidgin trade language will be used as the source text for two different groups of neighboring but completely unrelated Papuan languages at the same workshop. The cross-fertilization that comes from working together in a workshop approach is one of the highest values of this project. Even though the translators come from unrelated languages, they share ideas with one another about the translation problems they encounter each day, and they are learning about different kinds of translation solutions even though they might not have had the same problems.

So it’s important that we do a thorough exegetical check on this translation and its back translation, since the exegesis will be multiplied 11 times. I’m not the only one doing this exegetical check. There are normally four of us doing it separately and passing our notes to one another. This is in addition to the national translators who drafted the translation and are also developing their own exegetical skills.

When I say that this translation and back translation will be used as “source texts,” this only refers to the initial step of using the computer program Adapt It to make a first draft. Adapt It is good at remembering the predictable stuff in a translation so the translators have more time to spend thinking about the tougher translation issues. This draft will be edited many times before it goes through advisor and consultant checks and finally gets printed. Throughout the process, the translators consult multiple English and pidgin versions as well as various translation helps. Their translations are also checked against the original language texts (Greek for the Gospel of Luke) by the advisors and consultants working with the project.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Johnson on Theology and Ethics in the Letter of James

Yesterday, I was looking at Luke Timothy Johnson's "EPILOGUE: The Importance of James for Theology" in his collection of essays, Brother of Jesus, Friend of God (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2004). I don't think I ever read this essay when I bought the book after it first came out. I was pleased to see that one of the main arguments of my current M.A. thesis on coherence and discourse structure in James agrees with Johnson's discussion (pp. 246-8) of James's theology.
Most distinctive in James's understanding of God (as patristic interpreters and Kierkegaard perceived) is that God is the giver of gifts. James makes the point three times. In 4:6, James takes from the text of Proverbs 3:34 ("God resists the proud but gives grace to the lowly") the lesson that "God gives more grace" (meizona de didōsin charin). That this is neither a random nor a careless observation is shown by James's very first statement concerning God in 1:5, that God "gives to all simply (haplōs) and without grudging (mē oneidizontos)." Finally, there is the programmatic statement in 1:17, "every good and perfect gift comes down from above from the father of lights with whom there is no change nor shadow of alteration." Taken together, these three statements assert that God's giving is universal, abundant, without envy, and constant. Such a view of God is the basis for James's perception of reality as God's creation, open to his constant care but also answerable to God as the source of all that is good. This view of God is, in turn, the deep premise for James opposing an ethics of solidarity to the logic of envy, for in the first the world is construed as an open system in which cooperation makes sense, while in the second the world is considered a closed system in which competition is demanded.
This theme of God giving is implicitly in the letter a lot more than what Johnson states, and even with the “give” terminology in 5:18 (where heaven “gave” in response to Elijah’s prayer). I love how Johnson develops this discussion of God's gifts in terms of the world being an open system where God’s gifts oppose a closed system where we would have to compete in envy with one another.
Because God does not exist in isolation from the world but is in constant and active relationship with the world, human existence is defined in terms of a story in which both God and humans play roles. The story has as its past what God has already done: created the world and humans as representatives ("first-fruits") of that creation; revealed his will in the law and the prophets and "the faith of Jesus Christ"; implanted in humans the "word of truth" and "wisdom from above" and "spirit." The story has as its future what God will do in response to human behavior within God's creation: God will judge the world; will reward the innocent and faithful and persevering, who have spoken and acted according to "the royal law of liberty." And God will punish the arrogant and oppressive who blaspheme the noble name by their aggressive and hostile attitudes and actions against God's people. The present of the story-line is found in the moral decisions made by James's readers, above all their choice to live as friends of the world or as friends of God (4:4).
Relating what God has done and will do in the past and future to our present moral decisions is exactly what I do in my thesis. Most people think of James in terms of the imperative wisdom ethics. But this cannot be separated from the indicative statements about God.
It is of first importance, then, to understand that James does not "do theology" in an abstract manner, as a form of speculation about or study of God. Rather, James uses his theological propositions precisely as warrants and premises for his moral exhortation. His statements about God and his commands do not sit side by side in accidental juxtaposition. The two kinds of statements are intimately related. In James's 108 verses, there are some 59 imperatives (46 in the second person, 13 in the third person). And these imperatives are almost always accompanied by explanations or warrants, for which James uses participial constructions (1:3, 14, 22; 2:9, 25; 3:I), gar clauses (1:6, 7, 11, 13, 20, 24; 2:11, 13, 26; 3:2, 16; 4:14), and hoti clauses (1:12, 23; 2:10; 3:1; 4:3; 5:8, 11). The commandments are also sometimes connected to purpose clauses (1:4; 5:9) or used in the context of an implied argument signified by the use of oun (4:4, 7; 5:7, 16), dio (1:21; 4:6), or houtōs (1:11; 2:12, 17; 2:26; 3:5). In these connections, it is always the theological statement that stands as the cause or the purpose or the motivation or the warrant for the moral action recommended. James's moral exhortation, in short, is grounded in James's understanding of how humans are related to God. Because of this, each of the moral exhortations in James invites reflection by readers not only about their own lives—how to translate and perform James's script in the texture of their actual existence—but also about the nature of the world and of the God who creates, shapes, and saves the world in which humans are invited to participate as a sort of "first-fruits."
I don't always agree with everything that Johnson says about the Letter of James, but I resonate with these three paragraphs more than just about anything I have read in Jamesian scholarship.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

More With Less Recent James Research

In addition to the more recent titles on the Letter of James that I posted yesterday, I am also adding some titles to the RECENT JAMES RESEARCH list that are a few years older...

The following essays all come from this edited volume by Chilton and Evans. I have only included those titles that deal more or less specifically with the Letter of James...

Bruce Chilton. 2005. "James, Peter, Paul, and the formation of the Gospels." In The missions of James, Peter, and Paul: Tensions in early Christianity, ed. Bruce Chilton and Craig Evans, 3-28. Supplements to Novum Testamentum, 115. Leiden: Brill.

Peter H. Davids. 2005. "James and Peter: The literary evidence." In Chilton and Evans, 29-52.

John Painter. 2005. "The power of words: Rhetoric in James and Paul." In Chilton and Evans, 235-73.

Bruce Chilton. 2005. "Wisdom and Grace." In Chilton and Evans, 307-22.

Wiard Popkes. 2005. "Leadership: James, Paul, and their contemporary background." In Chilton and Evans, 323-54.

Peter H. Davids. 2005. "The test of wealth." In Chilton and Evans, 355-84.

Marianne Sawicki. 2005. "Person or practice? Judging in James and in Paul." In Chilton and Evans, 385-408.

Jacob Neusner. 2005. "Sin, repentance, atonement, and resurrection: The perspective of rabbinic theology on the views of James 1-2 and Paul in Romans 3-4." In Chilton and Evans, 409-34.

Peter H. Davids. 2005. "Why do we suffer? Suffering in James and Paul." In Chilton and Evans, 435-66.

Ithamar Gruenwald. 2005. "Ritualizing death in James and Paul in light of Jewish apocalypticism." In Chilton and Evans, 467-86.

Bruce Chilton. 2005. "Conclusions and questions." In Chilton and Evans, 487-94.

Patrick J. Hartin. 2005. "'Who is wise and understanding among you?' (James 3:13): An analysis of wisdom, eschatology, and apocalypticism in the Letter of James." In Conflicted boundaries in wisdom and apocalypticism, ed. Benjamin G. Wright III and Lawrence M. Wills, 149-68. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.

Patrick A. Tiller. 2005. "The rich and poor in James: An apocalyptic ethic." In Conflicted boundaries in wisdom and apocalypticism, ed. Benjamin G. Wright III and Lawrence M. Wills, 149-68. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.

William R. Baker. 2005. "Book of James." In Dictionary for theological interpretation of the Bible, ed. Kevin J. Vanhoozer, 347-51. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

Patrick J. Hartin. 2004. James of Jerusalem: Heir to Jesus of Nazareth. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

The following essays were newly published in Luke Timothy Johnson's 2004 Brother of Jesus, friend of God: Studies in the Letter of James. I'm listing these studies separately, but I'll be adding the essays that were reprinted in this volume according to their original publication details.

Luke Timothy Johnson. 2004. "Prologue: James's significance for early Christian history." In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 1-23.

__________. 2004. “A survey of the history of interpretation of James.” In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 39-44.

­­__________. 2004. “The reception of James in the early church.” In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 45-60.

­­__________. 2004. “Journeying east with James: A chapter in the history of interpretation.” In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 61-83.

­­__________. 2004. “How James won the West: A chapter in the history of canonization.” In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 84-100.

­­__________. 2004. “Gender in the Letter of James: A surprising witness.” In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 221-34.

­__________. 2004. "Epilogue: The importance of James for theology." In Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 235-59.

The following essays are from the edited volume by J. Schlosser. I have only included the English titles for now...

Robert W. Wall. 2004. "A unifying theology of the Catholic Epistles: A canonical approach." In The Catholic Epistles and the tradition, ed. J. Schlosser, 43-71. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press.

Richard J. Bauckham. 2004. "The wisdom of James and the wisdom of Jesus." In Schlosser, 75-92.

John S. Kloppenborg. 2004. "The reception of the Jesus traditions in James." In Schlosser, 93-142.

Jonathan P. Yates. 2004. "The reception of the Epistle of James in the Latin West: Did Athanasius play a role? In Schlosser, 273-88.

Matthew Spencer, Klaus Wachtel & Christopher J. Howe. 2004. "Representing multiple pathways of textual flow in the Greek manuscripts of the Letter of James using reduced median networks." Computers and the Humanities 38:1-14.

David Instone-Brewer. 2004. "James as a sermon on the trials of Abraham." In The New Testament in its first century setting: Essays on context and background in honour of B. W. Winter on his 65th birthday, 250-68. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Bruce Chilton. 2004. "James, Jesus' brother." In The face of New Testament studies: A survey of recent research, 251-62. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

Mariam J. Kamell. 2003. Wisdom in James: An Examination and Comparison of the Roles of Wisdom and the Holy Spirit. M.A. thesis, Denver Seminary.

Luke L. Cheung. 2003. The Genre, Composition and Hermeneutics of James. Carlisle: Paternoster.

Patrick J. Hartin. 2003. James. Sacra Pagina Series, vol. 14. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

David E. Aune. 2003. "Letter of James." In The Westminster dictionary of New Testament & Early Christian Literature & Rhetoric, 238-41. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox.

Benjamin J. Pehrson. 2002. Noachic allusion and echo in James 3.1-12: Implicatures of new creation eschatology. M.A. thesis, Wheaton College Graduate School.

David C. Parker. 2002. "The development of the critical text of the Epistle of James: From Lachmann to the Editio Critica Maior." In New Testament textual criticism and exegesis: Festschrift J. Delobel, ed. A. Denaux, 317-30.

Wesley Hiram Wachob. 2002. "The apocalyptic intertexture of the Epistle of James." In The intertexture of apocalyptic discourse in the New Testament, ed. Duane F. Watson, 165-86. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature.

Luke Timothy Johnson. 2000. “An introduction to the Letter of James.” Review and Expositor, 97:155-67. Also in Brother of Jesus, friend of God, 24-38. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans (2004).

Douglas J. Moo. 2000. The Letter of James. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Recent Letter of James Research

I have recently become aware of several new works of scholarship on the Letter of James. Under this blog’s heading of RECENT JAMES RESEARCH, I am adding ten titles that have been published in the last year. Six of these are essays that come out of edited volumes rather than journals or monograph series, so I give you the pretty front covers next to the essay title included in each one...

Richard Bauckham. 2007. "James and the Jerusalem community." In Jewish believers in Jesus: The early centuries, ed. Oskar Skarsaune and Reidar Hvalvik, 55-95. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson.

The following five titles that include the "Search Inside!" logo can be browsed and searched online with the Amazon Online Reader. This is even true for Beale and Carson's Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament even though it has an availability date from of November 1st. Follow the links.

D. A. Carson. 2007. "James." In Commentary on the New Testament use of the Old Testament, ed. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson, 997-1014. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker.

James M. Darlack. 2007. Pray for reign: The eschatological Elijah in James 5:17-18. M.A. thesis, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. (available for free download here)

Patrick Hartin. 2007. "The religious context of the Letter of James." In Jewish Christianity reconsidered: Rethinking ancient groups and texts, ed. Matt Jackson-McCabe, 203-31. Minneapolis: Fortress.

John S. Kloppenborg. 2007. “Diaspora discourse: The construction of ethos in James.” New Testament Studies 53:242-70.

Peter Spitaler. 2007. "Διακρίνεσθαι in Mt. 21:21, Mk. 11:23, Acts 10:20, Rom. 4:20, 14:23, Jas. 1:6, and Jude 22—the “semantic shift” that went unnoticed by patristic authors." Novum Testamentum 49:1-39.

David G. Horrell. 2007. "The Catholic Epistles and Hebrews." In Redemption and resistance: The messianic hopes of Jews and Christians in antiquity, ed. Markus Bockmuehl and James Carleton Paget, 122-35. London: T&T Clark.

Huub van de Sandt. 2007. "James 4,1-4 in the light of the Jewish two ways tradition 3,1-6." Biblica 88:38-63.

Kurt Anders Richardson. 2006. "Job as exemplar in the Epistle of James." In Hearing the Old Testament in the New Testament, ed. Stanley E. Porter, 213-29. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Donald J. Verseput. 2006. "James 1:19-27: Anger in the congregation." In Interpreting the New Testament text: Introduction to the art and science of exegesis, ed. Darrell L. Bock and Buist M. Fanning, 429-40. Wheaton, IL: Crossway.

(Bock and Fanning's Interpreting the New Testament Text also has the "Search Inside!" feature)

I hope to review these and other works of Jamesian scholarship as I have time.

It’s good to see so many topical volumes including essays on James since we too often have not seen James factored into theological enquiries of early Christianity and the New Testament. It looks like the tide is finally changing.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Announcing - go James Tauber !

The slogan is "Make a habit of it."

James Tauber is once again working on a project that really piques my interest (see my previous posts about his Greek Nominal Paradigm Browser and how he introduced me to Many Eyes).

There are many things that I want to be more disciplined about, activities that I want to be a regular part of every day, or every week. Today, James introduced his new website

The site hasn't launched yet, but it does give an idea of what we can expect from this site in the future...
  1. List the things you'd like to do on a regular basis and group them into routines
  2. Track your success or failure and monitor your progress over time.
  3. Share tips with others who are working on developing the same habits.
I don't know if the 3rd aspect of the site means that it will be some kind of social networking site, but whether it is or not, this is the most intriguing aspect of the idea. It looks like it won't just be a tool to help one develop good habits--it's going to be a way to network ideas and benefit from the experience of others.

I know that I can do no good thing in my own power. I need God's grace, and part of that grace is what he gives us through relationships with others.

Let's make a habit of it together.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

PhD in New Testament?

Are you looking to pursue a PhD in New Testament? Nijay Gupta has laid out a pretty comprehensive set of factors to consider here from an evangelical perspective for schools in both the U.S. and U.K.

Some of the faculty that Nijay lists for schools have changed since his essay was written (e.g. Richard Bauckham is retiring from St Andrews, Markus Bockmuehl has moved from Cambridge to St Andrews [UPDATE 2007-09-23: and then on to Oxford], Peter Williams has moved from Aberdeen to Tyndale House).

The castle in Nijay's blog header is Dunstanburgh Castle, which can be seen from my wife's aunt and uncle's cottage in Northum-berland, England. This is not too far from Durham University where Nijay is studying. Here's another view...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Many Eyes: A Tool For Proofreading?

James Tauber made me aware here of an online application by IBM called Many Eyes, a tool for creating and sharing visualizations of data. Since James has done a lot with Greek inflectional morphology, the visualization he created at Many Eyes is of dative plural masculine nominal endings in the Greek of the New Testament. Even though James's data is not a natural text composed of words, he has effectively used the "Word Tree" visualization on the Many Eyes site to show the patterns of letters that appear in various endings for masculine plural dative nominals in NT Greek.

The Many Eyes site describes the "Word Tree" visualization...
A word tree is a visual search tool for unstructured text, such as a book, article, speech or poem. It lets you pick a word or phrase and shows you all the different contexts in which it appears. The contexts are arranged in a tree-like branching structure to reveal recurrent themes and phrases.... A word tree is a visual version of a traditional concordance.
I am considering this online application as a tool for proofreading lengthy texts using the "Word Tree" visualization. I am nearly finished with an M.A. thesis that needs to be reduced. One way to reduce the thesis is to remove redundancies. If I upload the full text of my thesis onto the Many Eyes site, I could use it to find instances of repetitiveness in the thesis. Here is what Many Eyes turns up for a search of "noachic" in my previous M.A. thesis, "Noachic Allusion and Echo in James 3.1-12: Implicatures of New Creation Eschatology"...
One drawback for using the tool this way is that it can only show me potential redundancies where I have used the same word and not where I have used different words to express the same meaning. Another drawback would be that I would have to do searches for individual words and look at the visualizations for only those words in order to see where they occur in the same context. Which words would I check?

Nothing will prove more valuable for removing redundancies than a fresh reading of the text. However, in that reading, if I come across statements that sound a little bit too familiar, the Many Eyes tool may prove valuable for looking up specific words and quickly getting a visualization of how those words are used in context. One nice feature of the "Word Tree" visualization is that you can sort the results by occurrence order, frequency order, or alphabetical order. Frequency order would be the most useful for determining redundancies.

Monday, September 17, 2007

500th Book Added at

I added the 500th book to my collection at today. Check it out here.

So what was the 500th book? Finally, after several years of searching, I finally found this book for a decent price through Germany's site:

Matthias Konradt. 1998. Christliche Existenz nach dem Jakobusbrief: Eine Studie zu seiner soteriologischen und ethischen Konzeption. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. 406 pp.

The translated title is "Christian existence according to the Letter of James: A study in its soteriological and ethical conception."

From what I have read, my understanding of James seems closest to that of Matthias Konradt, so I'm looking forward to reading this, and improving my German at the same time.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

James Tauber's Nominal Paradigm Browser

I have added a link under Greek Resources on the Web to James Tauber's Nominal Paradigm Browser for nominal forms in the Greek New Testament.

Monday, September 10, 2007

New Testament Greek Course Nearly Done

The 18 Papua New Guinean students take their third and final exam tomorrow during this 6-week introductory NT Greek course. It's been a great learning experience for me as the teacher, and hopefully for them too. Teaching every day, morning and afternoon, for 6 weeks is quite difficult. I'm really thankful for the help I had.

I will soon be catching up on other responsibilities that have been put on hold. I hope to blog more on how the course went. I've got some posts started, so I'll try to finish at least some of them.

Tomorrow and Wednesday, most of the students will start their long journey home to families and communities who will have dearly missed them for 7 weeks. Several of the students return for a New Testament Exegesis course that starts only 3 weeks after this Greek course finishes. Pray for safe and speedy travels, valuable time spent at home, and the grace of God to give them everything they need, especially as they often face criticisms from family and communities for wasting their time doing things like this.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Cause of Joy in 2 Corinthians 2:3 - #1

Last Wednesday at Better Bibles Blog, Wayne Leman has asked Who Will Be Joyful? concerning the last part of 2 Corinthians 2:3. I have really enjoyed studying this letter ever since I took Scott Hafemann's Advanced Koine Reading course on 2 Corinthians at the Wheaton College Graduate School in 1999. So I had to respond to Wayne's questions.

The exegetical problem is indicated by the split between English versions...

1. Paul wanted the Corinthians to have the same joy that he did

2. Paul wanted the joy of the Corinthians to make him joyful

Versions following option (1) include...

  • for me to be happy is for all of you to be happy (REB)
  • that you would all share my joy (NIV/TNIV)
  • that my joy would be yours (NET)
  • when I am happy, then all of you are happy too (TEV)
  • whatever makes me happy also makes you happy (GW)
  • that you would share my joy (NCV)
  • that my joy is yours (HCSB)
  • if I am happy, it means that all of you will be happy (The Source)

Versions following option (2) include...

  • when you should make me feel happy (CEV)
  • my joy comes from your being joyful (NLT)

Versions that allow a somewhat ambiguous interpretation of options (1) and (2) include...

  • that my joy is [the joy] of you all (KJV)
  • that my joy would be the joy of you all (RSV, NRSV, ESV, NASB)

Here is the heart of Wayne's post (written before it was acknowledged that the last 5 versions are quite ambiguous and they were grouped with option [1])...

If we simply counted versions, option 1 would win by majority rule. But exegesis can't be determined just by voting. Some kinds of evidence may be more important than others. Sometimes a minority position eventually becomes a majority positions.

We must also take into account internal evidence (such as logical flow) for understanding a passage: What makes most sense in the context? For me, it makes most sense for Paul to be saying that he wanted to be made happy by how the Corinthians responded to his previous instructions to them. But the Greek doesn't tilt me one way or the other. In such a case, many say that we should leave an English translation "ambiguous" since the Greek is "ambiguous." But I cannot think of a way to leave the English ambiguous in this case. (I'd like to hear from you if you can.) Sometimes, when translating, there is no way to leave a translation ambiguous when we are unsure what the source text meant. At a minimum, in such cases, I believe we should include a footnote explaining that the Greek could have two different meanings.

Do you think that the linguistic evidence in the Greek text tilts us more strongly toward option 1 or 2? And what leads you to think that if you do? And if you are not sure which option should be chosen in translation of 2 Cor. 2:3, what do you suggest an English translation have in its text and in its footnote?

Good questions Wayne! In response to his questions, it has been acknowledged that the KJV, RSV, NRSV, ESV, and NASB are quite ambigous. This is because the ‘of’ in English can indicate that Paul’s joy either comes from ‘you all’ or that his joy would move in the opposite direction. David Lang responded to Wayne's post and suggested...

One way to preserve the ambiguity might be to focus on the connection between
Paul's joy and that of the Corinthians, rather than on who brings joy to whom. Possible wordings might be:

  1. "being confident in you all, that my joy and yours go hand in hand."
  2. "...that my joy is connected (joined? linked?) to your joy."
  3. "...that my joy is connected to all of you."
  4. "...that my joy depends on all of you."

Of all of these, suggestion 1 is the least "literal," but I think it sounds the most natural. Suggestion 3 is the closest to the original Greek construction, while still being ambiguous. Suggestion 4 is the least ambiguous and comes down on the side of saying that the Corinthians' joy would make Paul joyful (your option 2).

This is a great translation discussion that stems from the ambiguity of the Greek genitive phrase πάντων ὑμῶν 'of all of you'. I tend to agree that if the Greek is ambiguous that we should try to leave our translations ambiguous as well.

However, this verse is not talking at all about joy moving from Paul to the Corinthians or from the Corinthians to Paul. And I don't think a translation should be left ambiguous here. It’s true, if we just look at the Greek of this last clause in the verse, it appears quite ambiguous…

πεποιθὼς ἐπὶ πάντας ὑμᾶς ὅτι ἡ ἐμὴ χαρὰ πάντων ὑμῶν ἐστιν.

having confidence in you all that my joy is [of] all of you.

Alternate interpretations of the genitive phrase “of all of you” could be read as “my joy is [from] you all” or “my joy is all of yours.” There is certainly a difficult exegetical question here concerning the cause of joy and how that joy is functioning in Paul's argument. However, the immediate and wider contexts in the letter argue against an interpretation that has to do with joy itself being transferred from one party to another. More on that next time…

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Early Syriac Translation Technique, Genitive Absolutes & ἔτι

In my last post, I talked about the distinction between Greek ἔτι 'still' and the simultaneous relative time significance of the present tense participle. After coming to the conclusion that ἔτι is not merely redundant with the simultaneous time significance of the present participle, the question became more intriguing to me as I considered how some early translations of the Greek New Testament handled something like a potentially redundant ἔτι.

I took a look at Peter Williams’ Early Syriac Translation Technique and Textual Criticism of the Greek Gospels, published in 2004. You can see Justin Taylor's interview of Peter Williams as Williams has recently taken over as warden of Tyndale House in Cambridge, UK. Williams points us to reviews of his book here, some of which are available online. I have no knowledge of Syriac, so I am completely dependent on the textual apparatus of NA27 and Williams' monograph for the Syriac text.

In his introduction, Williams (2) summarizes three broad explanations regarding the presence of similarities and differences between Greek manuscripts and the Syriac versions...

The first is the hypothesis that the translation is essentially a literal representation of its Vorlage, the second, that formal alterations were made in the process of translation, and the third, that alterations were made in the process of transmission of the translated text to us.... It is contended here that the Vorlage Hypothesis has been used too much and the Translation Hypothesis explored too little.
In the 21 brief rules that Williams (294) includes in Appendix 1 for using Syriac as evidence for support of a Greek Vorlage, he includes this one about adverbs...

(13) Be careful using [Old Syriac] witnesses to attest the omission of the adverbs ἐκεῖθεν, ἔξω, ἔτι, μόνον, νῦν, and τότε. Never use [Old Syriac] to attest the absence of ἤδη.
This is one of two rules in which Williams uses the language of "be careful" instead of "do not," so that gives us a hint that Syriac is a bit more consistent in formally representing ἔτι and other adverbs than it is with other features of the text. Looking more specifically at Williams' section on adverbs, he (160) gives this introduction...

In broad outline the data below suggest that the [Old Syriac] tradition in particular did not feel constrained always to represent these elements when they were present in the Greek. It should be remembered that the [Old Syriac] translation is not one that seeks formal correspondence with its Vorlage, and that in many cases no equivalent Syriac adverb was readily at hand to match the Greek one. There is no reason to believe that there was a systematic decision not to represent adverbs. Rather, whether consciously or subconsiously, these adverbs were sometimes felt not to be important enough to be translated.
Regarding ἔτι specifically, Williams (163) writes...

Greek ἔτι is a word which receives no fixed equivalent in Syriac because it fulfills so many different functions.

Before looking at the Syriac data for ἔτι, what were my expectations? I figured if the Syriac translation omitted a representation of ἔτι, one explanation might be that ἔτι was considered unnecessarily redundant with the simultaneous time aspect of the present participle. Of course, there are other possible explanations for Syriac omissions. Williams (163-64) suggests some alternate explanations (but he is responding to the common practice of hypothesizing an equivalent Greek Vorlage for instances of Syriac omission)...

It is possible that factors causing variation in Greek manuscripts and in Syriac texts could be partly independent. Some variation in Greek manuscripts could be explained by the small size of the particle and therefore its natural oversight in transmission. Variation in Syriac witnesses could be ascribed to the lack of a ready Syriac equivalent in many contexts in which it occurs. Of course, variation in Syriac manuscripts inevitably will also affect the Greek manuscripts from which the Syriac translations are made.
Of 37 occurrences of ἔτι in the Gospels, Williams only finds three references where the Syriac omits the particle over against a consistent Greek tradition: Lk. 8.49; Lk. 9.42; Jn. 16.12. In addition to these, he cites two other references in which the Syriac tradition omits ἔτι where there is only weak support for omitting it among the Greek manuscripts: Mt. 19.20; Lk. 22.71. Williams (164) concludes...

These five cases take the edge off our confidence in the correctness of NA27's notes saying that [the Curetonianus version of Old Syriac] and [the Sinaiticus version of Old Syriac and the Peshitta version] witness against ἔτι in John 4.35 and 11.30, respectively.

In other words, since in 5 out of 37 cases there are Syriac texts which omit ἔτι where there is little or no support for such an omission among the extant Greek manuscripts, then Syriac may exhibit a certain tendency to omit ἔτι for reasons other than simply following the Greek Vorlage.

Since Williams stated in his introduction that the Translation Hypothesis is explored too little, I would like to explore one possibility for the infrequent Syriac tendency to omit ἔτι where the likely Greek Vorlage includes it. In 2 of the 3 cases in which Syriac witnesses omit ἔτι over against the entire Greek tradition, the adverb is part of a genitive absolute construction.

In Luke 8.49 ἔτι αὐτοῦ λαλοῦντος "while he is still speaking" follows immediately after Jesus' statement to the woman who has been healed from her 12-year hemorrhage. Since the previous verses include Jesus speaking, the ἔτι in vs. 49 is truly redundant. It is not needed to show that Jesus was speaking before the action of the main verb began. The verse still means the same thing if the ἔτι is omitted. It is possible that the Syriac would have been deemed unnatural if the redundant ἔτι were formally translated. Therefore, the omission in Syriac can possibly be attributed to formal alteration in the process of translation while maintaining the same meaning.

In Lk. 9.42 ἔτι δὲ προσερχομένου αὐτοῦ ἔρρηξεν αὐτὸν τὸ δαιμόνιον "while he was still approaching, the demon threw him down" comes after Jesus has told a man to bring his son with a demon to him. In this case the omission of ἔτι changes the meaning of the text ever so slightly. Without ἔτι the action of the genitive participle happens simultaneously with the main verb in which the demon throws the boy down: "while he was approaching, the demon threw him down." Without ἔτι it is possible to understand the demon's activity being initiated almost as soon as the boy begins his approach. But with ἔτι included, it is apparent that the boy has been approaching Jesus before the demon attacks him. However, such a slight change in meaning may have been easily overlooked by the Syriac translators. Even if they were aware of the fact that they were leaving it out and the slight difference that would make in meaning, they may not have recognized any importance in maintaining such a detailed distinction. Furthermore, perhaps it would have sounded unnatural to speak of the boy "still coming" when it had not yet been specifically mentioned in the text that he had already started to come.

Zephyr update on August 27:
Williams takes the 5 out of 37 instances of the Syriac omission of a representation of ἔτι and states that this suggests some kind of "Syriac tendency." However, he appropriately restricts his conclusion and merely states, "These five cases take the edge off our confidence in the correctness of NA27's notes... in John 4:35 and 11:30."

Perhaps there is some Syriac tendency to omit a formal representation of ἔτι, but since at least a few of the 5 instances of Syriac omission can readily be explained by translation factors, any 'tendency' might be more usefully applied if it is understood as a more specific kind of formal alteration in the translation process. I suggest that the specific formal alteration in translation is a tendency for Syriac to omit representations of ἔτι when ἔτι might be considered redundant in the text.

Looking at the two texts to which Williams makes application of the suggested tendency (Jn. 4:35; 11:30), it seems apparent that there are translation factors of redundancy involved similar to those references that include the present participles in Lk. 8:49 and 9:42.

In Jn. 4:35 Jesus says...
οὐχ ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι Ἔτι τετράμηνός ἐστιν καὶ ὁ θερισμὸς ἔρχεται;
Don't you say, "There are still four months and the harvest comes"?
The use of καὶ 'and' here is iconic in that the order of the clauses reflects the natural order of sequential events in time. Therefore, the ἔτι is not necessary to give the right meaning in this text. It might have been considered redundant by the Syriac translators.

In Jn. 11:30 the redundancy of ἔτι is perhaps more apparent. The text reads...

οὔπω δὲ ἐληλύθει ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὴν κώμην, ἀλλ’ ἦν ἔτι ἐν τῷ τόπῳ ὅπου ὑπήντησεν
αὐτῷ ἡ Μάρθα.
Now Jesus had not yet come into the village, but he was still in the place where Martha met Him.
We can think of the word οὔπω 'not yet' as the negative equivalent of ἔτι 'still'. Jesus had not yet gone to the new place because he was still in the old place. The old place is the place where Martha met him, and that meeting occurred in vs. 20. Of course, even though Jesus had not yet gone to the village, this does not entail that Jesus was still at the place where he met Martha. However, the 8 verses of dialogue that follow vs. 20 are naturally understood to have occurred in the same place where Martha met Jesus and they started talking. Thus, we might say that even the whole second clause in vs. 30—"but he was still in the place where Martha met Him"—is logically unnecessary. Yet more specifically, the representation of ἔτι 'still' in combination with οὔπω 'not yet' is probably somewhat redundant, especially since there has been no mention of Jesus moving from the place where he has been for the last 10 verses.

Given the above discussion, I would agree with Williams that the other Syriac omissions of a representation for ἔτι "take the edge off our confidence in the correctness of NA27's notes" that indicate that the Syriac supports the Greek omission of ἔτι in John 4:35 and 11:30. However, I want to argue more strongly than Williams does at this point that this is probably a tendency that is influenced by translation factors. This is not just a general tendency to omit a representation of ἔτι that is equally applied across the board.

I think that sufficient arguments could also be made for translation factors being involved in the other passages where Syriac omits the representation of ἔτι (Jn. 16:12; Mt. 19:20; Lk 22:71). It would be interesting to continue this investigation and consider if the use of ἔτι seems to be less redundant (or less susceptible to other translation factors) in the instances where the Syriac does include a formal translation of this adverb.