Some time ago, Larry Hurtado posted some thoughts about how Jesus is characterized as ἐκ δεξιῶν or ἐν δεξιᾷ. Recently, he’s followed up with “another possible factor” for how the language coalesces and a “bonus” post on the importance of being data-driven in developing hypotheses about such phenomena.
This month, Logos Bible Software’s free book is N. T. Wright’s Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Christian Discipleship (SPCK, 1994). The book falls into two parts:
Part one outlines the essential messages of six major New Testament books—Hebrews, Colossians, Matthew, John, Mark, and Revelation. Part two examines six key New Testament themes—resurrection, rebirth, temptation, hell, heaven, and new life—and considers their significance for the lives of present-day disciples.
The companion volume for $1.99 is Wright’s Who Was Jesus? (SPCK, 1991).
The latest reviews in the Review of Biblical Literature include:
Jewish Scriptures and Cognate Studies
- Jenny R. Labendz, Socratic Torah: Non-Jews in Rabbinic Intellectual Culture, reviewed by Joshua Schwartz
- Thomas L. Thompson, Biblical Narrative and Palestine’s History: Changing Perspectives 2, reviewed by Ralph K. Hawkins
New Testament and Cognate Studies
- Bruce W. Longenecker, Hearing the Silence: Jesus on the Edge and God in the Gap—Luke 4 in Narrative Perspective, reviewed by Dieter T. Roth
- Timothy Milinovich, Beyond What Is Written: The Performative Structure of 1 Corinthians, reviewed by Matthew R. Malcolm
- Joel B. Green and Lee Martin McDonald, eds., The World of the New Testament: Cultural, Social, and Historical Contexts, reviewed by John J. Pilch
- Ekkehard W. Stegemann; Christina Tuor and Peter Wick, eds., Der Römerbrief: Brennpunkte der Rezeption, reviewed by Oda Wischmeyer
- Marielle Frigge, Beginning Biblical Studies, reviewed by Markus Lang
- Jill Middlemas, David J. A. Clines, and Else K. Holt, eds., The Centre and the Periphery: A European Tribute to Walter Brueggemann, reviewed by Chadwick Eggleston
- Eileen M. Schuller and Carol A. Newsom, The Hodayot (Thanksgiving Psalms): A Study Edition of 1QHa, reviewed by Philippus J. Botha
- Caroline Vander Stichele and Hugh S. Pyper, eds., Text, Image, and Otherness in Children’s Bibles: What Is in the Picture?, reviewed by David R. Jackson
Through June 11, the Westminster Bookstore is offering a free PDF download of Iain Duguid’s Is Jesus in the Old Testament? (P&R, 2013). Duguid has been at Grove City College but has recently joined the Westminster Seminary faculty. According to its introduction, Duguid’s essay (the text is a brief 33 pages of prose) has the following major components to its argument:
[T]his little booklet contends that Christ is present throughout the Old Testament. . . . I also want to explore what it means to rightly see Christ in the Old Testament. Not every attempt to discern the figure of Jesus in the Old Testament has been profitable. Some well-meaning interpreters have allowed their imaginations to run wild on this theme . . . . Finally, I want to look at some specific ways in which the Old Testament focuses on and prepares us to see and understand Christ and his ministry in the gospel. (6)
For more information, to order the print version, or to download the PDF ebook, please visit the Westminster Bookstore.
Through June 16, Ben Witherington’s What’s in the Word: Rethinking the Socio-Rhetorical Character of the New Testament (Baylor, 2009) is available for free from Logos Bible Software.
In sum, “Expanding on the work in which he has been fruitfully engaged for over a quarter century, Witherington challenges the previously assured results of historical criticism and demonstrates chapter by chapter how the socio-rhetorical study shifts the paradigm.” The volume discusses concerns related to orality and canon, and includes several chapters treating particular texts or phrases within the New Testament.
For additional details about the offer, see the Logos Academic Blog.
Thanks to Anthony Le Donne for noting the availability of LibriVox recordings for D. F. Strauss’s Life of Jesus and Albert Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus. LibriVox also has apps available for Android, iOS, and Kindle users, and the iOS version (at least) allows downloading and storage for offline listening.
In his 2006 Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Richard Bauckham suggests:
that we need to recover the sense in which the Gospels are testimony. This does not mean that they are testimony rather than history. It means that the kind of historiography they are is testimony. An irreducible feature of testimony as a form of human utterance is that it asks to be trusted. This does not mean that it asks to be trusted uncritically, but it does mean that testimony should not be treated as credible only to the extent that it can be independently verified. There can be good reasons for trusting or distrusting a witness, but these are precisely reasons for trusting or distrusting. Trusting testimony is not an irrational act of faith that leaves critical rationality aside; it is, on the contrary, the rationally appropriate way of responding to authentic testimony. . . . It is true that a powerful trend in the modern development of critical historical philosophy and method finds trusting testimony a stumbling-block in the way of the historian’s autonomous access to truth that she or he can verify independently. But it is also a rather neglected fact that all history, like all knowledge, relies on testimony. (5; italics original)
Thus, it is perhaps not without irony that we find ourselves still under the sway of a certain kind(s) of testimony even when we seek most to avoid or to exercise our independence from testimony of some other kind(s) (cf. Gadamer, Truth and Method, 354; Lewis, “Meditation in a Toolshed,” 215).
In Matt 4:5–7; Luke 4:9–12, Jesus cites Deut 6:16 in response to his temptation at the temple. The full text there runs “you shall not test Yahweh, your God, as you tested him at Massah” (Deut 6:16; לא תנסו את־יהוה אלהיכם כאשר נסיתם במסה) and refers to Israel’s grumbling about their lack of water in Exod 17:1–7. In this narrative, Exodus reports that Moses “ called the name of the place ‘Massah’ and ‘Meribah’ on account of the dispute of the sons of Israel and of their testing Yahweh, saying, ‘Is Yahweh in our midst or not?’” (Exod 17:7; ויקרא שם המקום מסה ומריבה על־ריב בני ישראל ועל נסתם את־יהוה לאמר היש יהוה בקרבנו אם־אין; cf. Num 20:2–13). Although this interpretation is Exodus’s own, Exodus does not directly narrate the people’s posing this question (Exod 17:1–6). Instead, they demand water from Moses and inquire whether lacking it indicates that they have been brought into the wilderness to die of thirst (Exod 17:2–3). Thus, the pericope’s interpretive conclusion seems to represent the recorded speech as tantamount to having asked the question “Is Yahweh in our midst or not?” (Exod 17:7; היש יהוה בקרבנו אם־אין).
When Jesus quotes Deut 6:16 to the devil, he quotes only the first part of the text about the inappropriateness of testing God and omits the direct reference to Massah (Matt 4:7; Luke 4:12). Yet, the connection with Massah apparently helps make Deut 6:16 an apt retort to the temptation in which the devil has taken Jesus to “the pinnacle of the temple” (Matt 4:5; Luke 4:9; τὸ πτερύγιον τοῦ ἱεροῦ). Once there, the devil urges Jesus to jump and trust Yahweh’s angels to catch him, in the words of Ps 91:11–12, “lest you should strike your foot on a stone” (Matt 4:6; Luke 4:11; μήποτε προσκόψῃς πρὸς λίθον τὸν πόδα σου).
Yahweh “will [indeed] command his angels” (τοῖς ἀγγέλοις αὐτοῦ ἐντελεῖται), and they will indeed minister to Jesus (Matt 4:7, 11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:10). Yet, Yahweh is himself one who does touch foot to stone: when Israel was at Massah, Yahweh said to Moses, “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb” (Exod 17:6; הנני עמד לפניך שם על־הצור בחרב).
Thus, even as Jesus enacts what should have been Israel’s proper response of trusting Yahweh, so he also enacts Yahweh’s faithful care over his people. In Ps 91:4, somewhat earlier than the devil’s quotation, the psalmist says Yahweh “will cover you with his pinion, and under his wings you will seek refuge” (באברתו יסך לך ותחת־כנפיו תחסה). In one respect, though much differently than the devil now suggests, Jesus is the properly trusting recipient of his Father’s care (Matt 4:6, 11; Mark 1:13; Luke 4:11). In another, Jesus is the hen that would gather her chicks to protect them—even at the cost of his own life—if they would but come under his “wings” (Matt 23:29–39; Luke 13:31–35; πτέρυγες).
 Perhaps also in the background of this interchange is an exegetical tradition about Massah like that represented in Tg. Ps.-J. Exod 17:6: “Behold, I will stand before you there at the place where you saw the mark of the foot on the rock at Horeb” (Kaufman, Pseudo-Jonathan; האנא קאים קדמך תמן באתרא דתיחמי רושם ריגלא על טינרא בחורב). Thus, on the targumist’s reading, “the foot” (ריגלא) had apparently come into contact with “the rock at Horeb” (טינרא בחורב) with sufficient force to leave a “mark” (רושם).