Friday, January 28, 2011

Kenneth W. Clark Lectures

I suppose the clout that Duke has in scholarly circles is a good thing for students. Late last year we had N.T. Wright in town for a few lectures and for 2011, I found out that this year's Kenneth Clark lectures (Feb. 24-25) at Duke will be given by:

The distinguished scholar, Richard Bauckham. I checked out his website, which says the title of his lectures are "Individualism and Community in the Gospel of John." I'm currently taking Dr. Joel Marcus' seminar on the Fourth Gospel, so it would be interesting to hear what Bauckham has to say regarding the Gospel of John. The main texts for the class has been Lou Martyn's History and Theology in the Fourth Gospel and Moody Smith's commentary on John, and if I remember correctly, I think Bauckham stands on the other side of the debate concerning the 'Gospel communities' and their influence in the formation of the first four books of the NT (though I could be wrong here!).

I'm not sure where I stand on this issue yet, but it's a very fascinating subject that piqued my interest when I first came across Martyn's book a couple years ago. I don't know how packed the lectures will be (I'm going to assume it'll be full), but hopefully I'll get to hear him live at least on one of those days!

"Only a lunatic..."

If you were a lunatic editor, what kind of tendencies would you display in editting a text? There's an answer in one of the readings for this week for my Synoptic Gospels class. It is B.H. Streeter's classic, The Four Gospels: A Study of Origins, an older but very insightful book. In a chapter titled, "The Fundamental Solution" (that is, a solution to the 'Synoptic Problem'), he has some words to say about the strength of the argument for Markan Priority:

"The attempt has recently been made to revive the solution, first put forward by Augustine, who styles Mark a kind of abridger and lackey of Matthew, "Tanquam breviator et pedesequus ejus." But Augustine did not possess a Synopsis of the Greek text conveniently printed in parallel columns. Otherwise a person of his intelligence could not have failed to perceive that, where the two Gospels are parallel, it is usually Matthew, and not Mark, who does the abbreviation. For example, the number of words employed by Mark to tell the stories of the Gadarene Demoniac, Jairus' Daughter, and the Feeding of the Five Thousand are respectively 325, 374 and 235; Matthew contrives to tell them in 136, 135 and 157 words. Now there is nothing antecedently improbable in the idea that for certain purposes an abbreviated version of the Gospel might be desired; but only a lunatic would leave out Matthew's account of the Infancy, the Sermon on the Mount, and practically all the parables, in order to get room for purely verbal expansion of what was retained."

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sounds weird?

I remember during my Ephesians exegesis class, I ran into a weird phenomenon. In Ephesians 6:12, the Greek reads:

ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν ἡμῖν ἡ πάλη πρὸς αἷμα καὶ σάρκα ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὰς ἀρχάς, πρὸς τὰς ἐξουσίας, πρὸς τοὺς κοσμοκράτορας τοῦ σκότους τούτου, πρὸς τὰ πνευματικὰ τῆς πονηρίας ἐν τοῖς ἐπουρανίοις.

Which can be translated: "Because/For our struggle is not against blood and flesh but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against the spiritual things/forces of evil in the heavenlies."

What is interesting to me is the fact that many major translations (NIV, TNIV, ESV, NKJV, NASB with the exception of NRSV) translates it as "flesh and blood." As far as I can tell, there was one other place where this happens in the NT, at Heb. 2:14, which even the NRSV goes ahead and flips the order around to translate it as "flesh and blood." Is there something about the way the phrase sounds that appeals more to the translators? Even as I say it out loud, "flesh and blood" versus "blood and flesh," the latter sounds a bit more awkward. But then again, I'm wondering if it's because of the striking presence of the first instance of this phrase in the NT, Matt. 16:17, where Jesus declares to Peter that his confession is not due to the revelation of "flesh and blood" but rather his Father in heaven. However, I didn't have time to check the critical apparatus, to see if there is some textual variant that might have caused this.

Either way, I think it's interesting that translators take certain liberties with the ordering of certain words, and while it might not have significance in terms of theology, it's still one example of how reading the text in its original language can be helpful.

Friday, January 21, 2011


Apologies to my readers for my lack of much blogging lately. The workload at Duke is definitely pretty hefty, but my first semester went well and the second semester already began last week at full speed. Right now, I'm reading an article from John Kloppenborg titled "Synopses and the Synoptic Problem" which was presented at an Oxford conference in 2008 that I believe now can be found as a chapter in a Festschrift for Christopher Tuckett published in 2011. The question that we're thinking about is: are all synopses necessarily biased (that is to say, must they assume a particular stance to the Synoptic problem before presenting the evidence)? And if so, what do we do about it?

Thursday, January 20, 2011


I think someone is hoarding books secretly at the Duke Divinity School library. I've been meaning to check out various books, and as I searched for them on the library catalogue online, it says "Available," but when I go look for them, it's not there! Now, I know what you might be thinking, that someone was probably using it at that time, but this has happened multiple times (for the same books even!) I've checked with the circulation desk and they say the same thing, "it must be in use by a student right now..." but frankly, either they're super incompetent by placing books in the wrong shelves numerous times (which I don't think they are) or someone is definitely hoarding these books or something and keeping a secret stash! I don't know, either way, it's been very frustrating.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


I'm currently reading through Studying the Synoptic Gospels by EP Sanders and Margaret Davies as introductory material to my Synoptic Gospels class this semester. In one section, they showed a diagram of one scholar's solution to the 'Synoptic Problem':

This is FC Grant's 'Multiple Source Theory,' an elaborate cousin to what's widely known as the 'Two Source Theory' that posits Markan Priority for the Synoptic Gospels as well as the presence of a hypothetical source called Q (Quelle, German for 'source'). But my reaction when I saw this chart was not 'Ohh, I finally get it.' but rather 'What!?!' It's so complicated that I couldn't bear to really think through the implications of all those lines and sources. I know my professor, Mark Goodacre, is a proponent of the Farrer Theory, which posits Markan priority without the necessity for Q. I'm still not sure yet where I stand on this issue and it'll be interesting to see where I land as the semester unfolds. He'll have us create our own synopses and color-code various tradition materials (Double-tradition, Triple-tradition, etc.), which I think will be an excellent way to get our feet wet in the Synoptic Problem.

My question for you is: What's your take on Q and why?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

A reading program for the new year?

I hope you all enjoy a wonderful weekend with family and friends, as we kick off another new year. I recently came across a blog that has created a chart for reading these two volumes in one year!

The two volumes of the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. The first volume contains apocalyptic literature (e.g. 1 Enoch) and various testaments (e.g. Testament of Moses) and the second volume contains expansions of OT and legends (e.g., Letter of Aristeas, Joseph and Asenath, etc.), wisdom/philosophical literature, prayer/psalms/odes, and fragments of lost Judeo-Hellenistic works (e.g. Ezekiel the Tragedian). Today and tomorrow is only the introduction in the first volume and the intro to 1 Enoch, so why not go here, and get started on a new reading program for 2011?

Happy New Year!