1892 Club: Ben Mast on Writing

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One of the unique privileges of advanced education at Southern Seminary is the continual contact with diverse men and women from a plethora of disciplines. The 1892 Club (also see: here) helps promote unique conversations and talks on a variety of disciplines. And in this way, I, as a NT thinker, am shaped through inter-disciplinary efforts.

Yesterday was the initial meeting of the new term. The sound of colleagues, the smell of pour-over coffee, and the sweet taste of exquisite cheese quickly reminds me of the value of such gatherings. Continue reading

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Axioms of Patristic Interpretation

Oxford Encyclopedia of Biblical InterpretationA new Oxford dictionary has hit the shelf. It provides multiple articles on the broader disciplines of Biblical Interpretation, very helpful encyclopedia indeed.

Here is the conclusion to an excellent article by Paul Blowers on “Patristic Interpretation.” Here are, what Blowers calls, axioms of patristic hermeneutical principles.

(1) First is the conviction of the internal unity and harmony of the Bible, discernible [sic] solely through careful attention to the letter and to hidden meanings, and through assiduous inter-scriptural interpretation.

(2) Second, the divine Word is semantically inexhaustible and polyvalent, with any text admitting of multiple legitimate meanings, allowing for the possibility of fresh insight, an ever ‘fuller sense’ (sensus plenior). Exegesis must accordingly adapt to the texts’ sophistication and pliability.

(3) Third, the church is the primary hermeneutical matrix, since interpretation functions foremost to shape Christian identity, doctrinal consistency, liturgical and sacramental practices, and ethics.

(4) Finally, scripture is sacramental communication, a medium of the presence of Christ the Logos, in which case interpretation itself demands the abiding presence and aid of the Holy Spirit.[1]


[1] Paul M. Blowers, “Patristic Interpretation,” in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation, ed. Steven L. McKenzie, vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013), 87–88.

QOTD: The Goal of Reception History (JSNT 33)

My academic interests have shifted drastically over the past number of years. One of these interests propelled forward into the spot-light is the Patristic studies. They have great value in shaping hermeneutics, theology, and piety. Over the next number of months, I am personally working through methodologies of History of Interpretation and Reception History (Wirkungsgeschichte); both of which, need defining (more to come on making sure these two methods are understood without conflating the two; they do two different things).

In this process of working through methodologies, I came across this quote. although Roberts and Rowland conflate the concepts of “History of Interpretation” and “Reception History,” this quote, nonetheless, is extremely remarkable.

The goal of reception history is to develop an open-ended dialogic form of hermeneutics that is not alienated from human experience, and which enables exegesis to regain its interpretative self-consciousness. Once this is understood, the social and existential relevance of reception history becomes more apparent.[1]

An “open-ended dialogic form of hermeneutics” is a clear description of the HoI and Reception History’s foundation.


[1]Jonathan Roberts and Christopher Rowland, “Introduction,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 33, no. 2 (Dec 2010): 133.

Novum Testamentum Patristicum

For those involved in the History of Interpretation, it would be worthwhile to pay attention to Novum Testamentum Patristicum. This is an international enterprise whereby 45 volumes are expected to come out in German or English. The goal of this series is to provide critical analysis of the New Testament texts in the early church. Here is the list of contributors.

Here is a blurb from their home page:

The Novum Testamentum Patristicum Commentary Series (NTP) evaluates the reception of the entire New Testament in ancient Christian literature and examines each passage within its respective context.

45 volumes (39 commentaries and 6 supplementary volumes) are scheduled to come out either in German or in English. The project was initiated in 1993 by Kurt Niederwimmer, in cooperation with Gerhard May (d. 2007), Henning Paulsen (d. 1995) and Basil Studer (d. 2008). The present editors are Andreas Merkt (since 2004), Tobias Nicklas (since 2005) and Joseph Verheyden (since 2007). The first volume, M. Meiser, Galater, NTP 9, was published in 2007. On August 18, 2008 this volume (together with another work) received the ‘Pope Benedict XVI’ Research Award, worth €15,000, from the Governor of Bavaria.

The series is published by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, under the supervision of Jörg Persch.

The NTP-Group comprises about 30 scholars from various countries, disciplines and denominations. Their contact details can be found in the list of participating authors.

They regularly organize international conferences (Oxford 2007, Leuven 2009, Regensburg 2010, Siegen 2011, Leuven 2012, Groningen 2013). The conference papers are published in a volume.

Pertinent to my PhD studies, I’m personally looking forward to the Hebrews volume, edited by Drs. Gabriella Aragione and Enrico Norelli.

Assessing the Apologetical Value of Contra Celsum

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Contra Celsum is one of many works by Origen (185–254). Of his hundreds of commentaries, textual projects, and hermeneutical works, Contra Celsum is his only apologetic work. This work is 8 books and a second apologetic response would have been written if Celsus were to write a second work against the Christian faith or a rejoinder to Origen’s work (VIII.76). According to Henry Chadwick, “contra Celsum stands out as the culmination of the whole apologetic movement of the second and third centuries.”[1] With the previous centuries of apologetic responses from Christian thinkers, Origen stands heads and shoulders above those preceding him by providing a rational and intellectual defense of the Christian faith.[2] Continue reading

Pragmatic vs. Semantic Descriptions of Greek Conjunctions

Currently, I’m rereading Steven Runge’s Discourse Grammar of the Greek New Testament: A Practical Introduction for Teaching and Exegesis. It isn’t a full-fledge discourse grammar but contains elements of discourse features when approaching the NT text.

Chapter 2: Connecting Propositions (sample PDF) is the worth the price of the book, 3-times over. In this chapter, he speaks of pragmatic definitions of conjunctions in modern grammars. The problem is, grammars utilize english and other functional categories to describe conjunctions. To provide an example, Daniel Wallace’s Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics is a case in point. Consider the amount of overlap between the following conjunctions (Wallace, Greek Grammar, 761): Continue reading

Origen on Rationalism and Belief

In Contra Celsum, Origen responds to each line of critique to the Christian faith by Celsus. One such critique is the irrationality of the common folk. According to Celsus, they are gullible for a lack of eduction, they do not nor give reasons for what they believe, they commonly respond to questions with ‘Do no ask questions; just believe’ and ‘your faith will save you’.

Origen’s response is intriguing because, according to Origen, the study of Scriptures is an act of the mind, it is rational to believe in God, and faith corresponds to rationality. Continue reading