Porter and Ong, "'Standard of Faith' or 'Measure of Trusteeship?'"

Stanley Porter and Hughson Ong have the latest article in the Journal of Greco-Roman Judaism and Christianity: “‘Standard of Faith’ or ‘Measure of Trusteeship’?: A Study in Romans 12.3—A Response.” The article’s opening paragraph explains its responsive character and general argument as follows:

John Goodrich has recently published an article regarding the interpretation of μέτρον πίστεως in Rom. 12.3 in the Catholic Biblical Quarterly. We have tried to respond to his article in that journal, but regrettably, the journal does not publish responses to articles, although we think that Goodrich’s article warrants a response. Goodrich argued ‘that μέτρον πίστεως in Rom 12:3 refers to the believer’s charism, addressed shortly and explicitly thereafter in 12:6’ (p. 753). Against the typical view that takes μέτρον πίστεως as ‘standard/measure of faith’, he proposes that this charism should be seen as ‘a trusteeship’ God grants to each believer. Specifically, the genitive construction in μέτρον πίστεως, regarded as appositive, is ‘a measure, namely a trusteeship’ (pp. 769, 772). This old alternative that Goodrich seeks to revive, however, poses some significant problems that can be neither resolved nor sustained by the arguments and evidence he marshals in this article. We assess critically each of these in what follows, followed by our own interpretation of μέτρον πίστεως in Rom. 12.3. (97)

For the full article, please see here.

Parker, "Works of the Law"

Barry F. Parker has the latest article in the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism“‘Works of the Law’ and the Jewish Settlement in Asia Minor.” According to the article’s conclusion:

The first recourse for the Anatolian Jews under [social, political, and religious] pressure was not an appeal to ‘legalism’, but to ‘selective works of the law’, as is implied by the phrase ἔργα νόμου. The only appearance of this phrase from that time outside of Paul is found in 4QMMT. The use of ‘works of the law’ there confirms both that Paul is in (indirect) dialogue with those familiar with Essene terminology and that selectivity is in view. Although he speaks to a different audience about a different problem regarding the law in Romans, when Paul uses the phrase ἔργα νόμου in Romans 3, the immediate context is quite similar to what he addresses in Galatians. It is, in both cases, a matter of the righteousness of God, as expressed in the faithfulness of Christ (πίστις Χριστοῦ). This faithfulness of Christ suffices for both Jew and Gentile (pagan), who are equally condemned—in Galatians they are condemned for trying to supplement that faithfulness with a perverted version of the law, and in Romans they are condemned for perverting the law by their very efforts to fulfill it through a selective participation in it (96).

On the Web (February 7, 2013)

On the web:

  • Larry Hurtado comments on Alan Mugridge’s PhD thesis, “Stages of Development in Scribal Professionalism in Early Christian Circles,” which is currently under revision for publication.
  • Nathan Eubank enters the biblioblogosphere (HT: Stephen Carlson).
  • Baker is now releasing the “Teach the Text” commentary series. Currently available is Marvin Pate’s volume on Romans, and Robert Chisholm’s volume on Samuel is available for preorder (HT: M. Miller).

Journal of Theological Studies 63, no. 2

The Journal of Theological Studies
The Journal of Theological Studies (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Journal of Theological Studies 63, no. 2 includes:

  • Max Rogland, ” ‘Moses Used to Take a Tent’?: Reconsidering the Function and Significance of the Verb Forms in Exodus 33:7–11″
  • C. A. Strine, “The Role of Repentance in the Book of Ezekiel: A Second Chance for the Second Generation”
  • Benjamin Schliesser, ” ‘Abraham Did not “Doubt” in Unbelief’ (Rom. 4:20): Faith, Doubt, and Dispute in Paul’s Letter to the Romans”
  • Harry Tolley, “Clement of Alexandria’s Reference to Luke the Evangelist as Author of Jason and Papiscus
    Runar M. Thorsteinsson, “Justin and Stoic Cosmo-Theology”
  • Alison Bonner, “Was Patrick Influenced by the Teaching of Pelagius?”
  • Stephen Hampton, ” ‘Welcome Dear Feast of Lent’: Rival Understandings of The Forty-Day Fast in Early Stuart England”

Pillar Commentaries at WTSBooks

Colin Kruse, "Romans"
Colin Kruse

In recognition of the release of Colin Kruse’s Romans volume in the Pillar New Testament Commentary, the Westminster Bookstore is running several sales, including:

Kruse’s new volume replaces Leon Morris’s 1988 Pillar series commentary on Romans. According to the publisher’s description:

In keeping with the aims of the Pillar series, Colin Kruse in this commentary explains Romans to serious pastors, teachers, and students of the Bible. Kruse—a well-known evangelical scholar—solidly bases his exegesis on the Greek text, in conversation with scholarly literature, both ancient and modern, and with special attention to the literature of the last thirty years.

This commentary shows how Paul expounds and defends the gospel against the background of God’s sovereign action as creator, judge, and redeemer of the world. In the process, Kruse elucidates Paul’s teaching about matters of concern in the Roman house churches—issues that remain important today. Kruse’s clarity and economy in dealing with such complex and important matters, along with the other features mentioned above, promise to make this commentary an enduring standard for years to come.

Thousands and Ten Thousands

David quittant son troupeau. David et Saül. Da...
15th-c. Illumination (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

First Samuel 18:6 describes David’s return after killing Goliath (1 Sam 17:41–58). Precisely how this event sits chronologically in relationship to the surrounding narrative is difficult to establish.1 One good way of reading the narrative, however, involves treating 1 Sam 18:1–5 as an extended parenthesis, which includes some foreshadowing, and understanding 1 Sam 18:6 to be bringing the reader back to the main plot line that had temporarily paused with 1 Sam 17:58.2 In this context, it begins to be said הכה שׁאול֙ באלפו ודוד ברבבתיו ‎(1 Sam 18:7; Saul has slain by his thousands and David by his ten thousands; see also 1 Sam 21:11; 29:5).3 Yet, thus far, David has specifically been reported to have killed only one person (Goliath) and some animals (1 Sam 17:34–37)—not רבבת (ten thousands).4 Rather, the women’s song quantitatively represents the qualitative value of David’s victory over Goliath as it relates to Saul’s previous exploits.5 On hearing this song, then, Saul becomes enraged and starts looking and acting to do David harm (1 Sam 18:8–9).

Not dissimilarly did a later Saul also act against a later David (cf. Jer 30:9; Ezek 34:23–24; 37:24–25).6 Although the former Saul perhaps did so from envy and the later from zeal (cf. Rom 10:1–2; Gal 1:13–14; Phil 3:4b–6), they both found themselves standing against the one on whose side יהוה stood (1 Sam 16:14; 17:37; 18:12, 28; Acts 26:14).7 Although they were, in some ways, outstanding among their fellows (e.g., 1 Sam 9:2; 11:1–15; Gal 1:13–14; Phil 3:4b–6), the persecution in which they engaged was without any just cause (1 Sam 23:24b24:22; 26:1–25; Acts 9:4–5; 22:7–8; 26:14–15).8 Yet, despite some more positive moments of lesser tension in the relationship between the former Saul and the former David (e.g., 1 Sam 24:16–22; 26:21–25), this Saul dies by his own hand (1 Sam 31:4).9 Only in the case of the later Saul does the persecutor ultimately capitulate to the goodness of the one with whom יהוה stands and die by Torah in order to live in faithfulness and join with those who announce goodness of the Davidic Messiah, who has himself delivered his people from the one who had held them in terror (Gal 1:11–24; 2:19–20; Heb 2:14–15; cf. 1 Sam 17:11, 24).10


1. E.g., K&D, Samuel, 490–91n1; cf. Walter Brueggemann, “Narrative Coherence and Theological Intentionality in 1 Samuel 18,” CBQ 55, no. 2 (1993): 243; Antony F. Campbell, “The Reported Story: Midway between Oral Performance and Literary Art,” Semeia 46 (1989): 77–85; Simon J. De Vries, “David’s Victory over the Philistine as Saga and as Legend,” JBL 92, no. 1 (1973): 23–24, 35–36.

2. Burke O. Long, “Framing Repetitions in Biblical Historiography,” JBL 106, no. 3 (1987): 396; cf. Jerome, Ep., 46.2 (NPNF2, 6:61).

3. Brueggemann, “1 Samuel 18,” 238. The term רבבת does not itself designate an exact quantity, but it and its context do ascribe to David a significantly greater quantity of slaughter than to Saul (1 Sam 18:7–8; Brueggemann, “1 Samuel 18,” 228–29, 239; R. P. Gordon, I & II Samuel: A Commentary [LBI; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986], 160; HALOT, “רבבה”; Katherine Stott, “Herodotus and the Old Testament: A Comparative Reading of the Ascendancy Stories of King Cyrus and David,” SJOT 16, no. 1 [2002]: 63).

4. Based on David’s description in 1 Sam 17:14–15, 28, 33, 38–39, 42, 55–56, 58, 1 Sam 16:18 likely concerns David’s confrontation with the beasts that he mentions later (1 Sam 17:34–37; K&D, Samuel, 478–79). Or, the narrative of 1 Sam 16:14–23 may be a flash-forward to the parallel material in 1 Sam 18:10a (cf. Brueggemann, “1 Samuel 18,” 238; Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Cor., 24.4 [NPNF1, 12:393]). Moreover, according to 1 Sam 17:52, אנשׁי ישׂראל ויהודה (the people of Israel and Judah), or probably more simply, בני ישׂראל ‎(1 Sam 17:53; the children of Israel), are said to have routed the remainder of the Philistine army. To be sure, the narrative represents David’s defeat of Goliath was the catalyst for this larger victory. Yet, at this point, (1) אנשׁי ישׂראל ויהודה (the people of Israel and Judah) were certainly not under David’s command (1 Sam 17:12–20, 28, 33, 42) and (2) the text does not necessarily imply that David accompanied the rest of the people in their pursuit after the remainder of the Philistine army (1 Sam 17:51a, 54, 57). Indeed, even in such a pursuit, unless David had carried with him some weapon from the battlefield itself (e.g., Goliath’s sword; 1 Sam 17:50–51), after killing Goliath, David hardly seems to have been armed with more than a staff and four stones for his sling (cf. 1 Sam 17:40, 50).

5. Even the numbers of enemies later reported to have been killed in particular engagements by David’s שׁלֹשׁת הגברים (three mighty men) and their close associates pale in comparison (e.g., 2 Sam 23:8–23; 1 Chron 11:1012:22).

6. Cf. Irenaeus, Haer., 4.27.1 (ANF, 1:498).

7. Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Cor., 24.4 (NPNF1, 12:393); Irenaeus, Haer., 4.27.1 (ANF, 1:498); Tertullian, Praescr., 3 (ANF, 3:244).

8. Augustine, The Correction of the Donatists, 2.9 (NPNF1, 4:636); Irenaeus, Haer., 4.27.1 (ANF, 1:498); Tertullian, Praescr., 3 (ANF, 3:244).

9. Chrysostom, Hom. 2 Cor., 24.4 (NPNF1, 12:393).

10. Cf. Ibid.

So Then You Also Were Made to Die

In Rom 7:1–6, Paul appears to draw on Num 5:11–31 as a metaphorical way of characterizing the Christian community’s history.1 While her husband lives, the wife’s involvement with another man would make her liable to the charge of adultery from her current husband. From this charge, the wife would also become liable to the ritual of Num 5:11–31, and the serious consequences that it would entail if she had indeed committed adultery (Num 5:21–22, 24, 27–28).2

Such would also have resembled the situation for those whom Paul addresses in Rom 7:1–6 but for one thing: they have “put[] off the old man [and] walk not in the oldness of the letter but in the newness of the spirit” (cf. Rom 6:6; 7:1, 4, 6).3 Having become unlinked from τὸ σῶμα τῆς ἁμαρτίας (Rom 6:6; the body of sin; cf. Rom 7:24), they have become united with τὸ σώμα τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Rom 7:4; the body of the Messiah). Because of the old person’s death,4 they do not have the fruit that comes from an accurate accusation of adultery (Rom 7:1, 5; cf. Num 5:21–222427–28).5 Rather, in union with Messiah Jesus, they have the fruit of righteousness, which is pleasing to God, and of eternal life (Rom 6:12–23; 7:5).6


1. Barrett, Romans, 127; Cranfield, Romans, 332–33; Dunn, Romans, 359–60; Moo, Romans, 411–12; Osborne, Romans, 168; Rehmann, “The Doorway into Freedom,” JSNT 79 (2000): 97.

2. Numbers 5:11–31 suggests that only the wife would undergo the ritual (Ephraim Syrus, On Our Lord, 6 [NPNF2 13:308]; cf. Jerome, Epist., 55.3 [NPNF2 6:110]). Yet, Prot. Jas. 16 (ANF 8:364–65), has Mary and Joseph both drink water from the priest’s hand. Because they both “return[] unhurt,” they are both cleared from wrongdoing in Jesus’ conception (see Prot. Jas. 15 [ANF 8:364]).

3. Jerome, Epist., 69.7 (NPNF2 6:146); cf. Augustine, Tract. Ev. Jo., 112.5 (NPNF1 7:417); see also Rehmann, “The Doorway into Freedom”; Tertullian, Marc., 5.13 (ANF 3:456–59); contra Origen, Comm. Matt., 12.4 (ANF 9:451–52).

4. Cf. Sanday and Headlam, Romans, 171–72; Thielman, Paul and the Law, 196–97; Wright, Climax of the Covenant, 196; Wright, “Letter to the Romans,” 558–59; see also Barrett, Romans, 127–28; Barth, Romans, 231–34; Bruce, Romans, 144–45; Chrysostom, Hom. Rom., 12.7.1–6 (NPNF1 11:418–20); Dunn, Romans, 363, 365, 368; Moo, Romans, 413; Rehmann, “The Doorway into Freedom,” 102. Chrysostom, Hom. Rom., 12.1–4 (NPNF1 11:418–19), suggests that, in Paul’s scenario, both the husband and the wife die (Rom 7:1–4). In Chrysostom’s reading, because the wife has also died, her resurrection to be united with her new husband leaves her so much the freer from her previous spouse’s claims on her.

5. Cf. Augustine, Faust., 11.8 (NPNF1 4:182); Augustine, Serm. Dom., 1.14 (NPNF1 6:17); Tertullian, Mon., 13 (ANF 4:70).

6. Augustine, Grat., 15 (NPNF1 5:450); Augustine, Tract. Ev. Jo., 3.9 (NPNF1 7:22).

והיתה בריתי בבשׂרכם לברית עולם

Abraham
Image via Wikipedia

In Gen 17:13, God tells Abraham that his whole household was to be circumcised והיתה בריתי בבשׂרכם לברית עולם (and my covenant will be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant). Yet, Paul strongly opposes Gentiles’ submitting to circumcision in connection with their membership in the Christian community (Galatians) and asserts that ὁ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ Ἰουδαῖος, καὶ {ὅτι} περιτομὴ καρδίας ἐν πνεύματι οὐ γράμματι (Rom 2:29; the Jew is one who is such inwardly, and [that] circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit, not by the letter). What then becomes of the בבשׂרכם []ברית עולם (Gen 17:13; everlasting covenant in your [= Abraham’s household’s] flesh)? It is precisely there because of the circumcision of Abraham’s messianic seed (Gal 3:16), ἐν ᾧ καὶ περιετμήθητε περιτομῇ ἀχειροποιήτῳ ἐν τῇ ἀπεκδύσει τοῦ σώματος τῆς σαρκός, ἐν τῇ περιτομῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Col 2:11; in whom you also were circumcised with an unhandmade circumcision in the removal of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah; cf. Gal 3:23–29; Bede, Genesis, 284; Chrysostom, Hom. Col. 6 [NPNF1 13:285]; Cyril of Alexandria, Catena on Genesis [ACCOT 2:56]; Theodore of Mopsuestia, Colossians [ACCNT 9:32]).