Bockmuehl, Baur, and the Presence of Paul in the Pseudo-Clementines

Alongside my BMSEC translations, I am currently co-translating—with Christoph Heilig, Luke Ogden, and David Lincicum—F. C. Baur’s classic work “The Christ-Party in the Corinthian Community, the Opposition of Pauline and Petrine Christianity in the Most Ancient Church, the Apostle Peter in Rome.” This is proving to be a rewarding project, even if I must admit that I was soundly shellacked yesterday by a rather brutal sentence that extended to more than 20 lines! Today, however, I do not want to expose you to that horrible Leviathan but rather to juxtapose several passages from Baur with a passage from Markus Bockmuehl‘s book Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory, which I am reading with great profit alongside my translation of Baur. And with both of these works in mind, I am obviously also excited about Michael J. Kok’s New Series on Peter in Rome.

What I found interesting about today’s key quotations is the extent to which Baur already attempts to respond to the line of criticism that Bockmuehl advances. Therefore, I will first quote Bockmuehl’s criticism of Baur’s paradigm and then provide two quotes from Baur that provide at least a partial response to Bockmuehl’s argument.

Bockmuehl (Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory, pp. 56-57; cf. further The Remembered Peter, pp. 94-113): However, while an anti-Pauline bias is possible, there are a number of impediments to the Simon–Paul equation. First, the texts themselves nowhere make this connection. The one place where there is a clear reference to Paul (Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.70-71) presents him as the pre-Christian Saul, who primarily opposes James, and Peter only secondarily. Indeed, in this scene, which to be sure does not portray Saul in a positive light (he is introduced as “a certain hostile man”), Simon Magus and Saul are explicitly differentiated; Saul himself condemns Simon as a sorcerer (Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.70.2). This explicit differentiation between Saul and Simon has implications for attempts to find Paul behind the phrase “the man who is the enemy” in Ps.-Clem. EP 2.3, especially if one takes seriously the integrity of the epistle’s placement alongside the Pseudo-Clementine romances that feature Simon Magus as the clear antagonist. Second, Simon’s preaching, opposed by Peter, contains little that could be construed as Pauline. Most of it seems generally Gnostic rather than Pauline and lacks any Jewish apocalyptic framework, so important for Paul, or consistent references to Scripture. Simon rejects basic Pauline positions such as the resurrection from the dead (e.g. Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.54), the goodness of the creator (e.g., Ps.-Clem. Rec. 2.37,53), and the divine sonship of Christ (Ps.-Clem. Rec. 2.49), and he even sets himself up as the Messiah (e.g. Ps.-Clem. Rec. 1.72; cf. 2.49; 3.47). These positions are difficult to square with any known picture of Paul, “orthodox” or “heretical.”

Baur (126-128): Specifically, it can be demonstrated that [127] in the teachings that he attributes to the magician Simon the author of the Clementines has especially the Marcionite system in mind and that he regarded this system as the outermost point of the path that the magician Simon had set out upon and that had then been traversed by the heretics that followed.

Namentlich läßt sich nachweisen, daß der Verfasser der Clementinen in den Lehren, die er dem Magier Simon beilegte, vorzüglich das Marcionitische System vor Augen hatte, und dieses als den äußersten Punkt des schon von dem Magier Simon eingeschlagenen und sodann von den folgenden häretikern betretenen Wegs betrachtete.

In view of the exact relationship that the Clementines have to the teaching of the Ebionites and the well-known hate for the apostle Paul with which this sect was filled, no other conclusion is possible except that the teaching of the Clementines is especially meant to oppose the principles that Paul had put forth about the relationship of the Mosaic law to Christianity.

Bei dem genauen Zusammenhange, in welchem die Clementinen mit der Lehre der Ebioniten stehen, und bei dem bekannten Hasse, mit welchem diese Secte gegen den Apostel Paulus erfüllt war, läßt sich nichts anders annehmen, als daß die Lehre der Clementinen insbesondere auch den Grundsätze entgegengesetzt werden sollte, welche Paulus über das Verhältnis des Mosaischen Gesetzes zum Christentum aufgestellt hatte.

Just as in the presentation of the Clementines, Marcion collapses with Simon the magician into a single person, so the magician, through the mediation of Marcion, could also be thought together with the apostle Paul. After all, the Gnosis of Marcion did indeed have a Pauline–anti-Jewish foundation, and for Marcion Paul was regarded especially as Ἀπόστολος.

Wie nun Marcion in der Darstellung der Clementinen mit dem Magier Simon in eine Person zusammenfällt, so konnte durch Marcions Vermittlung der Magier auch mit dem Apostel Paulus zusammengedacht werden, da ja die Gnosis Marcions durchaus eine paulinische-antijudaische Grundlage hatte und Paulus dem Marcion vorzugsweise als Ἀπόστολος galt.

Therefore, I do not shy away at all from claiming that the ἄνθρωπος ἐχθρός who appears with the διδαχη ἄνομος και φλυαρώδης διδασκαλία is nominally the magician Simon in the first instance, but is really Paul as well as Marcion who follows the Pauline direction to the [128] extreme.

Deßwegen nehme ich nun keinen Anstand zu behaupten, jener ἄνθρωπος ἐχθρός, der mit der κδιδαχη ἄνομος και φλυαρώδης διδασκαλία auftritt, ist zwar nominell zunächst der Magier Simon, reel aber ebenso gut Paulus als der die paulinische Richtung bis zum Extrem verfolgende Marcion.

It is the same with the πλάνος in Hom. 2:17. While this false teacher is the magician for the author of the Clementines according to the most natural sense of his words, here the magician nevertheless also represents especially the apostle Paul, whose destructive principles concerning the defunct validity of the Mosaic law or whose false gospel is to be counteracted by the true gospel proclaimed by Peter.

Ebenso verhält es sich mit dem πλάνος Hom II.17. Dieser Irrlehrer ist dem Verfasser der Clementinen allerdings nach dem nächsten Sinn seiner Worte der Magier, aber der Magier repräsentiert hier zugleich ganz besonders der Apostel Paulus, dessen verderblichen Grundsätzen über die erloschene Gültigkeit des mosaischen Gesetzes oder dessen falschem Evangelium durch das von Petrus verkündigte wahre Evangelium entgegengewirkt werden sollte.

Baur (129-130): An objection against accepting a polemical tendency in the Clementines against the apostle Paul cannot be derived from Hom. 3:59, the passage cited on p. 123. In this passage (which can be compared with 3:3) the teaching of the magician is referred to as paganism that has been revived in Gnosticism and also further refined. How, one could say, can the magician Simon, as an apostle of paganism, simultaneously represent the apostle to the pagans/Gentiles, Paul? However, as soon as we see the magician as the bearer of a whole series of phenomena, then the one antithesis does not exclude the other one.

Baur (129-130): Gegen die Annahme einer polemischen Tendenz der Clementinen gegen den Apostel Paulus kann man nicht wohl eine Einwendung aus der S. 123 angeführten Stelle Hom. III. 59. entnehmen, sofern nämlich in dieser Stelle (mit welcher III. 3. zu vergleichen ist) die Lehre des Magiers als das im Gnosticismus wieder auflebende und zugleich verfeinerte Heidentum bezeichnet wird. Wie sollte, könnte man sagen, der Magier Simon als ein Apostel des Heidentums zugleich den Heidenapostel Paulus in sich repräsentieren können? Allein sobald wir in dem Magier den Träger einen ganzen Reihe von Erscheinungen sehen, schließt die eine Antithese die andere nicht aus.

For other posts on F.C. Baur, see here.

For a complete list of my blog posts, please see here.

For interviews with me on my work, see here.

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! I hope to be able to write at least one Monday blog post each month. Best, Wayne

Wolfgang Grünstäudl, David C. Parker, and the Unity of Acts and the Catholic Epistles

One of the interesting aspects of spending much of one’s time in the work of translation is that one can unexpectedly become somewhat knowledgeable about areas of research about which one had previously been rather poorly informed. For me this has been the case with regard to the topic of “canon,” which I dealt with in great detail when translating the BMSEC volumes of Jens Schröter and Christoph Markschies.

Against this background, I very much enjoyed reading Wolfgang Grünstäudl’s recent article Was Lange währt…: Die Katholischen Briefe und die Formung des neutestamentlichen Kanons, which was published in Early Christianity 7 (2016): 71-94In addition to giving me a much better understanding of the larger topic of the Catholic Epistles and the Formation of the New Testament canon (see esp. the helpful summary on pages 93-94), I found his critical interaction with David C. Parker regarding the grouping of Acts and the Catholic Epistles to be of particular interest, not least because Schröter had discussed this topic at some length in chapter 13 of From Jesus to the New Testament. Accordingly, this post will consist of a series of excerpts from this section of Grünsträudl’s article, beginning with a quotation from David C. Parker’s book An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and their Texts, which Grünstäudl quotes on page 87 of his study. Reversing my usual order, I will alternate between the German original and the English translation of Grünstäudl’s article.

* For more information about Wolfgang Grünstäudl, see his webpage, academia page, and English publications.

Parker 2008, 285-286 (Quoted by Grünstäudl on p. 87): The evidence overall suggests a lack of a fixed practice before the seventh century at the earliest. On the other hand, the order of the seven Catholic letters is very uniform, especially among Greek manuscripts. The stage at which the eight writings were first counted together is, so far as the manuscripts attest, the fourth century. The fact that both 01 and 03, the two great Bible codices, treat them as a unity (manifest by the fact that they they disagree as to the order of the larger blocks) is our earliest example.

Grünstäudl 2016,  88: Während die ersten beiden Punkte gerade aufgrund der von Parker präsentierten Daten evident sind, bedarf der dritte eine Präzisierung. Zuerst ist zu beachten, dass rein rechnerisch sechs Möglichkeiten bestehen, Apostelgeschichte, Corpus Paulinum und Katholische Briefe zwischen dem Tetraevangelium und der Johannesevangelium anzuordnen, wovon nicht weniger als vier Apostelgesichte und Katholische Briefe in unmittelbarer Nachbarschaft sehen. Zwei dieser vier Varianten finden sich in den zwei erhaltenen Unzialhandschriften des 4. Jahrhunderts wieder, was abgesehen vom geringen Umfang des Befundes noch nicht als eine signifikant auffällige Verteilung anzusprechen ist.

Translation (wmc): While the first two points are evident precisely on the basis of the data presented by Parker, the third is in need of clarification. First, one must pay attention to the fact that from a purely statistical perspective there are six possibilities of arranging Acts, Corpus Paulinum, and Catholic Epistles between the tetra-gospel and Revelation, of which not less than four place Acts and Catholic Epistles directly next to each other. Two of these four variants are found in the two uncial manuscripts of the fourth century, which, apart from the small extent of the findings, cannot yet be spoken of as a significantly conspicuous distribution.

Grünstäudl 2016,  87: Im Zusammenhang damit wird man sich auch nicht der Agumentation Parkers anschließen können, die bei unterschiedlicher Anordnung der neutestamentlichen Corpora unterschiedlicher Anordnung der neutestamentlichen Corpora übereinstimmende Abfolge Apostelgeschichte – Katholische Briefe in Sinaiticus und Vaticanus belege “that both 01 and 03 […] treat them as a unity”, da hier zwei methologisch zu trennende Ebenen, die Rekonstruktion redaktioneller Strategien hinter jeweils einem Manuskript und der Vergleich der Manuskripte miteinander, vermengt sind.

Translation (wmc): In connection with this one probably also cannot adopt Parker’s argumentation that the coinciding sequence Acts – Catholic Epistles in Sinaiticus and Vaticanus alongside a different arrangement of the New Testament corpora shows/attests “that both 01 and 03 […] treat them as a unity,” since two levels that must be separated, the reconstruction of redactional strategies behind a manuscript in each case and the comparison of the manuscripts with each other, are mixed together here. [* it is very difficult to translate “bei” in this sentence (as is often the case): “alongside” is not good but it is the best solution I could come up with.]

Grünstäudl 2016, 89: Fragt man auf der ersten dieser beiden Ebenen weiter, so sticht vor allem im Sinaiticus ein interesantes Detail des Layouts ins Auge. Setzen gründsätzlich alle in diesem Codex enthaltenen Texte dergestalt mit einer neuen Spalte ein, dass am Ende des vorangehenden Textes auch nach der zum Teil großzügig gesetzten subscriptio ein mehr oder weniger großer Spaltenabschnitt freibleibt, so fällt an vier Stellen der neutestamentlichen Schriften der nicht beschriebene Raum zwischen dem abgeschlossenen und dem nachfolgenden Text größer als nur der Teil einer Spalte aus. …

Translation (wmc): If one inquires further on the first of these two levels, espeically in Sinaiticus an interesting detail of the layout catches one’s eye. While basically all the texts in this codex begin with a new column in such a way that at the end of the preceding text, also after the sometimes generously placed subscriptio, a more or less large column section remains empty, in four places of the New Testament it is conspicuous that the space that is not written on between the text that is concluded and the following text is larger than only a portion of a column. …

Grünstäudl 2016, 90: … In neutestamentlichen Bereich heben sie das Johannesevangelium besonders hervor, während der Block von Römer- bis Barnabasbrief (Corpus Paulinum, Apg, Katholische Briefe, Offb, Barn) auf den ersten Blick als “ein weitgehend amorphes Gemenge” erscheint.

Translation (wmc): … In the New Testament sphere they especially set off the Gospel of John, while the block from Romans to the Barnabas (Corpus Paulinum, Acts, Catholic Epistles, Revelation, Barnabas), at first glance appears to be “a largely amorphous mixture.”

Grünstäudl 2016, 90: Nichtdestotrotz ist eine Schrift innerhalb dieses Blockes noch einmal durch freigelassenen Raum agbehoben: die Apostelgeschichte. Nach vorne ist dies dadurch realisiert, dass nach dem Ende des Philipperbriefes auf L 85/B 6r (zweite Spalte) sowohl der Reste der Seite als auch L 85/B 6v freigelassen wurde, die Apostelgeschichte somit erst nach zwei freien Spalten und einer freien Seite auf L 85/B 7r (erste Spalte) einsetzt. … Am Ende der Apostelgeschichte (L 88/B 1r [dritte Spalte]) wiederum ist eine ganze Spalte freigelassen, sodass der Jakobusbrief auf L 88/B 1v (erste Spalte) beginnt und die Lücke zwischen Apostelgeschichte und Jakobusbrief somit den Umfang einer ganzen Spalte – wie zwischen Barnabasbrief und Hirt des Hermas – umfasst.

Translation (wmc): Nevertheless, one writing within this block is set off again by space that is left empty: Acts. In the front this is realized by the fact that after the end of Philippians on L 85/b 6r (second column) both the rest of the page and L 85/B 6v was left empty; thus, Acts only begins after two empty columns and an empty page on L 85/B 7r. … At the end of Acts (L 88/B 1r [third column]) a whole column is again left empty, so that James begins on L 88/B 1v (first column) and the gap between Acts and James thus encompasses the scope of a whole column – as between Barnabas and Shepherd of Hermas.

Grünstäudl 2016, 90-91: Ist diese durch Leerräume markierte Stellung der Apostelgeschichte im Sinaiticus als solche bereits bemerkenswert, so sind dadurch überdies die Katholische Briefe von ihr optisch in einer Art und Weise abgehoben, die dem Eindruck einer festgefügten Einheit doch entgegensteht.

Translation (wmc): If this position of Acts in Sinaiticus marked by empty spaces is already noteworthy as such, then, beyond this, the Catholic Epistles are thereby set off from it optically in a way that militates against the impression of a firmly entrenched unity.

Grünstäudl 2016, 91: Kann der Blick auf die Textverteilung im Sinaiticus die These, beide großen Unzialhandschriften des 4. Jahrhunderts behandelten Apostelgeschichte und Katholische Briefe als eine Einheit, gerade nicht stützen, so enthält der wahrscheinlich bereits dem 5. Jahrhundert zuzurechnenden Codex Alexandrinus ein sehr klares Indiz für eine solche Zusammenordnung. Nach dem Judas brief (f. 84v) findet sich als Kolophon nicht nur das zu erwartende ΙΟΥΔΑ ΕΠΙΣΤΟΛΗ, sondern überdies die Ergänzung ΠΡΑΞΕΙΣ ΤΩΝ ΑΓΙΩΝ ΑΠΟΣΤΟΛΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΚΑΘΟΛΙΚΑΙ, was nun tatsächlich ein deutlicher Hinweis darauf ist, dass die Redaktion dieses Codex Apostelgeschichte und Katholische Briefe als eine Einheit verstanden wissen wollte.

Translation (wmc): If the examination of the text-division in Sinaiticus precisely does not support the thesis that the two great uncial manuscripts of the fourth century treated Acts and Catholic Epistles as a unity, then Codex Alexandrinus, which should probably be assigned already to the fifth century, contains a very clear indication of such a grouping together. After the Letter of Jude (f. 84v) there appears as colophon not only the expected ΙΟΥΔΑ ΕΠΙΣΤΟΛΗ but, beyond this, the addition ΠΡΑΞΕΙΣ ΤΩΝ ΑΓΙΩΝ ΑΠΟΣΤΟΛΩΝ ΚΑΙ ΚΑΘΟΛΙΚΑΙ, which is indeed a clear indication that the redaction of this codex wanted Acts and Catholic Epistles to be understood as a unity.

In view of the subject matter of this post, let me conclude by congratulating Darian Locket on the recent publication of his new book Letters from the Pillar Apostles: The Formation of the Catholic Epistles as a Canonical Collection!

For my other Luke-Acts posts, see here.

For my other “canon” posts, see here.

For a complete list of my blog posts, please see here.

For interviews with me on my work, see here.

Facebook Page: To receive notifications of future blog posts, please like my facebook page here.

German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! I hope to be able to write at least one Monday blog post each month. Best, Wayne

Michael Wolter on the Meaning of κατάλυμα in Luke 2:7

Yesterday my facebook feed was abuzz with posts about where Jesus was born. In particular, Margaret Mowczko asked if Jesus was born in a barn, and Brice C. Jones (for me via Anthony Le Donne) summarized Stephen Carlson’s article on this topic. And these posts, of course, stand alongside older discussions on this topic by scholars such as John Byron, Ian Paul, and Mark Goodacre (NT Pod). And so, having followed all things semi-carefully from the beginning, this week’s post will look at what Michael Wolter has to say about this longstanding question.

As usual I will alternate between the English translation and the German text.

The Gospel According to Luke (p. 123): The meaning of κατάλυμα is unclear only if one merely asks about the reference (cf. the overview in R. E. Brown 1993, 400). If, by contrast, one asks about the functional meaning of this term in the present context in light of its usual contextual usage, then a clear answer emerges.

Das Lukasevangelium (p. 126): Die Bedeutung von κατάλυμα ist nur dann unklar, wenn mann lediglich nach der Referenz fragt (vgl. den Überblick bei Brown* 400). Fragt man hingegen von den literarischen Verwendungszusammenhängen her nach der funktionalen Bedeutung dieses Begriffs im vorliegenden Kontext, gibt es eine eindeutige Antwort:

The Gospel According to Luke (p. 123): Time and again κατάλυμα designates a place where one stays temporarily, i.e., when one is on a journey and not at home (cf. e.g., Exodus 4.24; 1 Samuel 1.18LXX; 2 Samuel 7.6 = 1 Chronicles 17.5; 1 Chronicles 28.18LXX; Jeremiah 14.8; 40.12LXX; Letter of Aristeas 181; Diodorus Siculus 36.13.2; Polybius 2.36.1; the denotation is different in every case, but the function is identical; see also LaVerdiere 1985, 552ff).

Das Lukasevangelium (p. 126): Mit κατάλυμα wird immer wieder ein Ort bezeichnet, an dem man sich vorübergehend aufhält, d.h. wenn man unterwegs und nicht zuhause ist (vgl. Ex 4,24; 1 Sam 1,18LXX; 2. Sam 7,6 = 1.Chr 17,5; 1Chr 28,13LXX; Jer 14,8; 40,12LXX; EpArist 181; Diodorus Siculus 36,13,2; Polybius 2,36,1; das Denotat ist in allen Fällen unterschiedlich, die Funktion jedoch identisch; s. auch LaVerdiere* 552ff).

For Wolter’s discussion of Luke’s placement of the Quirinius Census, see here.

For my other Luke-Acts posts, see here.

For a complete list of my blog posts, please see here.

For interviews with me on my work, see here.

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! I hope to be able to write at least one Monday blog post each month. Best, Wayne


Susanne Luther and Stephen Barton on Speech-Ethics, Anger, and Community in Ephesians 4:25-32

Since it seems relevant against the backdrop of the anger and heated speech surrounding this year’s presidential election within the American community, this post will look at the topics of speech-ethics, anger, and community in the New Testament. Drawing on some of my most recent readings, it will consist of two quotations on Ephesians 4:22-32 by Susanne Luther (Eng) and Stephen Barton. While direct lines can only rarely be drawn from ecclesial reflection to political reflection, perhaps some insights can nevertheless be gained.

Quotation 1: Susanne Luther on Speech-Ethics in Eph 4

The first quotation comes from Luther’s book Sprachethik im Neuen Testament. In addition to the fact that Luther tackles a fascinating and neglected topic, I have been especially impressed by the rigor and clarity of her methodological approach and analysis (see further here). In this post, I will simply provide a quotation in English and German from her comments on Ephesians 4:25, 29, 31:

English: Eph 4.25 mediates a positive speech-ethical demand. Adequate speech is characterized as a speaking of the truth (λαλεῖτε ἀλήθειαν) and – in an application of the image of body and members to the addressee community – grounded with the solidarity [or: connectedness] of the speakers in the community.

* Note that it is often preferable to translate “qualifizieren” with “characterize” rather than with “qualify”.

German (p. 222): Eph 4,25 vermittelt eine positive sprachethische Forderung: Das adäquate Sprechen wird als ein Sprechen der Wahrheit (λαλεῖτε ἀλήθειαν) qualifiziert und – in Applikation des Bildes vom Leib und den Gliedern auf die Addressatengemeinde – mit der Verbundenheit der Sprechenden in der Gemeinschaft begründet.

English: Ephesians 4.29 shows an orientation of the speech-ethical instruction to the inner-community situation and thematizes the problems of the λόγος σαρπός: every word should serve the building up of the community, as it is appropriate to the status of the holy ones, every appropriate word is characterized as ἀγαθός and assigned to the οἰκοδομην τῆς χρείας.

German: Eph 4,29 zeigt eine Ausrichtung der sprachethischen Weisung auf die innergemeindliche Situation und thematisiert die Problematik des λόγος σαρπός: Jedes Wort soll dem Aufbau der Gemeinde diene, wie es dem Status der Heiligen angemessen ist, jedes angemessene Wort wird als ἀγαθός qualifiziert und der οἰκοδομην τῆς χρείας zugeschrieben.

English: The vice catalogue in v. 31 frames the speech-ethical references – κραυγη και Βλασφημια- with dispositional entities that connect the speech-ethics closely with the human disposition: πᾶσα πικρία και θυμος και ὀργή [Ε] συν πάσῃ κακίᾳ.

German: Der Lasterkatalog in V. 31 rahmt die sprachethischen Bezüge – κραυγη και Βλασφημια – durch dispositional Verweisgrößen, die die Sprachethik eng mit der menschlichen Disposition in Verbindung bringen: πᾶσα πικρία και θυμος και ὀργή [Ε] συν πάσῃ κακίᾳ.

Quotation 2: Stephen Barton on Anger in Eph 4

My second quotation comes from Stephen Barton’s article “‘Be Angry But Do Not Sin’ (Ephesians 4:26a): Sin and the Emotions in the New Testament with Special Reference to Anger.”  Of my teachers, it was above all Stephen Barton who taught me to appreciate the value of multidisciplinary approaches to reading the Bible, and I enjoyed having my horizons broadened once again by him in this essay. Here is his key quotation:

My central thesis is that the teaching here about anger has to be situated in relation to the moral-theological vision of Ephesians as a whole, central to which is the revelation of the mystery (μυστήριον) of creation-renewing salvation in Christ bringing personal transformation in the context of the eschatological coming together as one of Jews and Gentiles in the Church. As elaborations of this transformation, instruction and exhortation are given on the virtues and vices. The virtues are qualities of character and personal practice which build up and sustain the unity of the Church in love and peace. The vices are qualities of character and personal practice that destroy that unity. Among the vices, particular attention is given to speech and related behaviors, including anger. It is apparent, however, that anger is not a sin in itself. Anger becomes sinful, I suggest, if it undermines the eschatological identity and oneness of the Church. The accent, then, is on sin as a contradiction of Christian identity under God and a threat to Christian sociality, with the appropriate control and discipline – indeed, ‘discipling’ – of the passions, including anger, as a necessary corollary.

For my other posts on affects/emotions in the New Testament, see here.

For a complete list of my blog posts, please see here.

For interviews with me on my work, see here.

Facebook Page: To receive notifications of future blog posts, please subscribe to this blog and/or like my facebook page here.

German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! I hope to be able to write at least one Monday blog post each month. Best, Wayne

Richard Bauckham, Jens Schröter, and Paul Ricoeur on Memory and its Errors

Earlier this month I had the good fortune that my family vacation to Norway and England happened to coincide with the first day of the 2016 “Memory and the Reception of Jesus in Early Christianity” conference at St. Mary’s University in London. I thoroughly enjoyed the papers and even more so the opportunity to meet several people in person whom I had previously only ‘met’ virtually, i.e. in the scholarly blogosphere and facebooksphere.

While it would be unwise to put my memory to the test by attempting to summarize all the papers, I would like to flag up one issue that I found quite interesting, namely the fact that from their papers alone one could be left with the impression that there is a great chasm between Richard Bauckham and Jens Schröter with regard to the question of the functioning of memory and its propensity to error. To some extent, this is not surprising, since there are considerable differences between the two scholars on this point. Still, my memory of what Schröter had said in chapter 4 of From Jesus to the New Testament leads me to believe that the two scholars are perhaps a bit closer than what one might gather from their presentations. Therefore, I thought it would be worthwhile to provide an excerpt from this chapter.

Before doing so, however, let me add a few sentences on the papers themselves for those who were not at the conference.  In his paper on “The Psychology of Eyewitness Memory,” Richard Bauckham was concerned to distinguish between different types of memory and show that memory could be very reliable under certain conditions. By contrast, in his key note address “Memory, Theories of History, and the Reception of Jesus,” Jens Schröter was concerned to distinguish between appeals to individual memory as a way of getting back to Jesus and his own appeal to memory as a hermeneutical category that helps us to conceptualize the relationship between the past and the present and what we are doing when we represent the past in the present (regrettably, I think I’ve done a rather poor job clarifying the precise nature of this distinction, but hopefully I have been able to convey the basic point that Schröter wants to distinguish his own “memory approach” from a “memory approach” that appeals to individual memory as a way back to (the impact of) Jesus; for a much clearer treatment of this distinction between two different types of “memory approaches,” see Christine Jacobi‘s 2015 book Jesusüberlieferung bei Paulus? Analogien zwischen den echten Paulusbriefen und den synoptischen Evangelien, pp. 9-20; cf. here; for more on Schröter’s own perspective on historiography and memory, see here) . Within this context, Schröter was concerned to stress the fallibility of memory as a way of showing the problems with appealing to individual memory as a way of establishing a connection between Jesus and the Gospels (for example, along the lines of Richard Bauckham), since he was concerned to sideline this “memory approach,” with the goal of convincing his hearers to take up instead his own “memory approach,” which then he developed in the second part of his paper. For me, it was especially noteworthy that Schröter explicitly appealed to Johannes Fried when he was stressing the fallibility of memory in response to Bauckham’s line of argumentation, since in chapter 4 of From Jesus to the New Testament, Schröter had criticized Fried in a manner that suggests to me that Schröter’s understanding of the functioning of memory and its errors might be a bit closer to Bauckham than one might assume on the basis of their  papers at the St. Mary’s conference. With this in mind, let me now turn then to the key quotation, which is developed in relation to Paul Ricoeur and Johannes Fried. As usual, I will alternate between the English and the German.

II. Key Quotation (FJNT 58-59; VJNT 65-66):

Ricoeur then describes the work of the memory, which is related to the representation of the past and thus to history writing, in three steps: the documentary phase, the phase of explanation and understanding, and finally the phase of representation, thus the presentation in the historical narrative. Here, it is important to him that while “the historical representation is indeed a present picture of an absent thing,” the past things actually happened and “no one can make it that they did not happen.”

Die auf die Repräsentation der Vergangenheit, also die Geschichtsschreibung bezogene Arbeit des Gedächtnisses beschreibt Ricoeur sodann in drei Schritten: die dokumentarische Phase, die Phase des Erklärens und Verstehens sowie schließlich diejenige der Repräsentation, also der Darstellung in der historischen Erzählung. Dabei ist ihm wichtig, dass zwar “die geschichtliche Repräsentation ein gegenwärtiges Bild einer abwesenden Sache” ist, dass die vergangenen Dinge aber tatsächlich geschehen sind und “keiner machen kann, daß sie nicht gewesen sind”.

For a phenomenology of memory, it follows from this that Ricoeur warns against “approaching the memory from its deficiencies, indeed from its dysfunctions.” Ricoeur sees the validity of such a position in the fact that it pays attention to the problem of forgetting and the “deletion of traces.”

Für eine Phänomenologie des Gedächnis folgt daraus, dass Ricoeur davor warnt, “sich dem Gedächnis von seinen Insuffizienzen, ja seinen Fehlfunktionen her zu nähern.” Das Recht einer solcher Position sieht Ricoeur darin, dass sie auf das Problem des Vergessens und der “Auslöschung von Spuren” aufmerksam macht.

These problems, however, cannot be reduced to neurophysiological findings. Rather, it must first be considered that forgetting is a constitutive form of recollection, thus “before the abuse, there was the use, namely the necessarily selective character of the narrative.”

Allerdings lasse sich diese Problematik nicht auf einen neurophysiologischen Befund verkürzen. Vielmehr sei zunächst zu bedenken, dass Vergessen eine konstitutive Form der Erinnerung sei, also “vor dem Mißbrauch, nämlich der notwendig selektive Charakter der Erzählung” stehe.

In this Ricoeur’s approach differs fundamentally from that of Fried, who presented the memory as an entity that is deficient per se and ultimately applied the neurological findings in an arguably insufficiently differentiated manner to the epistemological and [66] science-of-history direction of questioning.

Damit ist Ricoeurs Zugang grundlegend von demjenigen Frieds unterschieden, der das Gedächtnis als eine per se fehlerhaft Instanz dargestellt und den neurologischen Befund letztlich wohl zu undifferenziert auf die epistemologische und geschichtswissenschaftliche Fragestellung übertragen hatte.

For Ricoeur, by contrast, forgetting does not simply represent a dysfunction of the memory that is to be corrected. Rather, forgetting, which is therein related to forgiving, can also have a salutary function for the appropriation of the past.

Für Ricoeur stellt sich das Vergessen dagegen nicht einfach als eine zu korrigierende Fehlfunktion des Gedächtnis dar. Vielmehr kann dem Vergessen, das darin dem Vergeben verwandt ist, auch eine für die Aneignung der Vergangenheit heilsame Funktion zukommen.

However, it may not be, as Ricoeur explicitly stresses, a “commanded forgetting.” Rather, a “salutary identity crisis” as a constituent part of the work of the memory is essential for the reappropriation of the past.

Allerdings darf es sich hierbei, wie Ricoeur ausdrücklich betont, nicht um ein “befohlenes Vergessen” handeln. Vielmehr sei für die Wiederaneignung der Vergangenheit eine “heilsame Identitätskrise” also Bestandteil der Errinnerungsarbeit erforderlich.

The strength of Ricoeur’s conception consists in the retention of the distinction between fiction and past reality. As much as he himself emphasizes the interweaving of the two spheres, he nevertheless always stresses their own respective modes of reference.

Die Stärke von Ricoeurs Entwurf besteht im Festhalten der Unterscheidung von Fiktion und vergangener Wirklichkeit. So sehr er selbst die Überschneidung beider Bereiche herausstellt, betont er jedoch stets ihren je eigenen Referenzmodus.

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Oda Wischmeyer on the “Grandness” of N.T. Wright with a Review of God and the Faithfulness of Paul

Over the last few weeks I have enjoyed reading through God and the Faithfulness of Paul (edited by Christoph Heilig, J. Thomas Hewitt, and Michael F. Bird), which contains many excellent responses to N.T. Wright‘s Paul and the Faithfulness of God. Hence, after providing a key excerpt—in English and German—from Oda Wischmeyer (Eng) on the “grandness” of N.T. Wright, this post will also include some brief comments on the chapters written by German-language-sphere scholars. On another note, readers of this blog may be interested in participating in the 2016 Mainz Summer School in German (and) Theology.

I. Oda Wischmeyer on the “Grandness” of N.T. Wright

I both profited from and greatly enjoyed co-translating (with Christoph Heilig) Oda Wischmeyer‘s chapter in God and the Faithfulness of Paul. What I found so remarkable was the honest and profound way that she was able to interact with both N.T. Wright’s work and her own academic tradition (cf. Christoph Heilig’s comments on Wischmeyer’s essay). Unlike many of us—whether we are Wright’s adoring admirers, sharp critics, or somewhere in between—Wischmeyer seemed to be entirely comfortable in her own shoes when discussing Wright and his work, so that she was able both to reflect on her own tradition with great insight and self-awareness and to draw out striking aspects of N.T. Wright’s work in a way that was both appreciative and critical in the best sense of the word. I don’t know why exactly this is the case. Perhaps it is because Prof. Wischmeyer herself is a senior scholar who has nothing to prove. Or perhaps it is simply because her hermeneutical approach has given her better tools for observing and reflecting on what is going on with Wright and in her own tradition. Whatever the reason, I found the tone and content of her essay to be both refreshing and illuminating. Let me turn then to my key excerpt, alternating between the English translation and the German original for those who are learning—or seeking to revive their—German:

GFP 74: Exactly one hundred years after the publication of Wilhelm Bousset’s great Paul article in the first edition of Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart, N. T. Wright in his two-volume work Paul and the Faithfulness of God has again struck that sonorous tone which one could probably last hear in Germany in the the Pauline research of the history of religion school. …

Genau hundert Jahre nach dem Erscheinen des großen Paulus-Artikels von Wilhelm Bousset in der ersten Auflage der “Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart” hat N.T. Wright in seinem zweiteiligen Werk „Paul and the Faithfulness of God“ wieder jenen klangvollen Ton angeschlagen, den man in Deutschland wohl zuletzt in der Paulusforschung der Religionsgeschichtlichen Schule hören konnte…

GFP 74: At the first reading of Wright, it is the perception of the lofty tone, the liveliness of the historical narration and methodological discussion, and finally the certainty, elegance, and joy in the details of the presentation that excites an exegete who comes from the Bultmann school. …

Es ist die Wahrnehmung des hochgestimmten Tones, der Lebendigkeit der historischen Erzählung wie der methodischen Diskussion und schließlich der Sicherheit, Eleganz und Detailfreude der Darstellung, die eine Exegetin, die aus der Bultmannschule kommt, bei der ersten Lektüre von Wright begeistert. …

GFP 75: Wright writes today as Bousset … wrote a hundred years ago and as one does not write in contemporary German-language exegesis. …

Wright schreibt heute, wie Bousset … vor hundert Jahren schrieb und wie in der zeitgenössischen deutschsprachigen Exegese nicht geschrieben wird. …

GFP 76: For “German” ears or, more specifically, for a hermeneutical perception from the German-language exegetical tradition it is first—this deserves to be repeated once more—Wright’s tone or style that demands our full attention. …

Für „deutsche“ Ohren bzw. für eine hermeneutische Wahrnehmung aus der deutschsprachigen exegetischen Tradition ist es – es sei noch einmal wiederholt – zuerst der Ton oder der Stil Wrights, der alle Aufmerksamkeit beansprucht. …

GFP 76: Behind the pages of Wright we hear Handel’s music and Shakespeare’s language and we might not only be impressed by the force and energy of the presentation, but even saddened, or at least discontent, that we ourselves have lost this tone so completely and can no longer rhetorically orchestrate “grandness.”

Wir hören hinter den Seiten Wrights Händels Musik und Shakespeares Sprache und sind unter Umständen nicht nur beeindruckt von der Wucht und Energie der Darstellung, sondern auch betrübt oder mindestens unzufrieden, dass uns selbst dieser Ton so ganz abhandengekommen ist und wir „Größe“ nicht mehr rhetorisch instrumentieren können.

GFP 76: Or we react critically and regard this tone as too pious, too triumphalistic, too self-assured, not analytical enough—depending on our own academic background.

Oder wir reagieren kritisch und halten diesen Ton für zu fromm, zu triumphalistisch, zu selbstgewiss, zu wenig analytisch – je nach unserer eigenen akademischen Prägung.

GFP 76: Precisely these signals should be observed hermeneutically.

Gerade diese Signale gilt es hermeneutisch aufzufangen.

II. Review of Chapters by German-Language-Sphere Scholars

* For the complete table of contents, see here.

In “Paul and the Faithfulness of God among Pauline Theologies” Benjamin Schliesser (Eng) effectively situates Wright’s contribution in relation to the Pauline theologies of Bultmann, Dunn, Schreiner, Wolter, and Schnelle, displaying a remarkable gift of synthesis (cf. also his 2013 German article).

In “N.T. Wright’s Biblical Hermeneutics” Oda Wischmeyer (Eng) discusses both the history and present situation of German-language Pauline scholarship and the biblical hermeneutics of N.T. Wright.

In “Wright’s Version of Critical Realism” Andreas Losch offers a valuable discussion of “critical realism” in relation to the works of Ian Barbour, Bernard Lonergan, Ben F. Meyer, and N.T. Wright. Whether or not his thesis that Wright’s “critical realism” was initially developed with respect to Barbour and only associated with Lonergan/Meyer secondarily is correct (Wright rejects it [p. 718]), I found this chapter to be a helpful presentation of different versions of “critical realism” and benefited from Losch’s own assessment of the value and limitations of this approach.

In “Historical Methodology” Theresa Heilig and Christoph Heilig (Eng) provide a careful discussion of abduction, inference to the best explanation, and Bayesian confirmation, which includes a systematic analysis of the crucial issues in the debate between Barclay and Wright over whether Paul is criticizing the Roman empire (pp. 145-148)

In “Wright’s Paul and the Paul of Acts” Eve-Marie Becker (Eng) argues from the perspective of recent advances in historiography that Wright should have taken greater account of Acts as a source for Paul, suggesting, inter alia, that such an approach would have preventing him from problematically failing to incorporate Paul’s activities as miracle worker into his overall portrayal of Paul (pp. 160-161). In some respects her argument reminded me of perspectives advanced in Benjamin White’s important book.

In “N.T. Wright’s Narrative Approach” Joel R. White provides a sympathetic presentation and defense of much of what Wright is doing (e.g. he defends “the existence of a common first-century Jewish metanarrative highlighting God’s faithfulness to Israel in spite of her ‘ongoing exile'”), while also criticizing Wright at specific points (e.g. his treatment of apocalyptic language in relation to the notion of cosmic cataclysm, pp. 198-199). Significantly, at certain points White made me feel the force of Wright’s vision to a greater extent than Wright himself has done!

In “N.T. Wright’s Understanding of Justification and Redemption” (trans. Lars Kierspel), Peter Stuhlmacher both challenges key elements of Wright’s interpretation (e.g. the validity of his controlling narrative; cf. John BarclayAlexandra Brown, and Chris Tilling [part I]; but see also Joel R. White’s defense of this metanarrative) and, perhaps more importantly, provides a compact and eloquent presentation of his own views on sacrifice and justification in critical dialogue with Wright (cf. Christoph Heilig’s comments on Stuhlmacher’s essay).

In “God and His Faithfulness in Paul” Torsten Jantsch (Eng) both presents a very helpful discussion of the history of research on God in Paul and compactly outlines aspects of the “concept of God” in Romans in critical dialogue with N.T. Wright (cf. also here). In my judgment Jantsch’s chapter would be an excellent place to start for anyone interested in recent (German) research on God (in Paul). It complements well Jochen Flebbe’s fine monograph on God in Romans.

In “Demythologizing Apocalyptic?” Jörg Frey (Eng) provides both an extensive discussion of recent perspectives on apocalyptic and a hard-hitting critique of Wright’s treatment of apocalyptic, which he regards as a “neutralizing” or “taming” of apocalyptic. In particular, Frey stresses that there is no need to deny that Paul drew on mythological concepts such as the idea of an end of the world and personally reckoned with the return of Christ during his lifetime (p. 526; cf. Joel R. White’s comments on pp. 198-199; cf. also Paula Fredriksen; Larry Hurtado). In his lengthy response Wright emphasizes the extent of their agreement (744-745, 748), differentiates between 6 forms of apocalyptic (pp. 745-748), denies the charge of neutralizing/taming (751), and responds to their primary disagreement about whether or not Paul’s “end-of-the-world” language is concerned with the end of the world as well as the relationship between this question and the early Christian conviction that Jesus the Messiah would return from heaven (748-754).

In “The Faithfulness of God and Its Effects on Faithful Living” Volker Rabens investigates Tom Wright’s portrayal of Paul’s ethics. In addition to providing a valuable discussion of Wright’s treatment of “plight” and “solution”, Rabens develops an especially perceptive critique that warns against Wright’s tendency to give pride of place to cognitive renewal and presses Wright to give greater attention to relational transformation and, more specifically, to “the transforming and empowering transferal by the Spirit into loving relationships to the divine and the community of faith” (p. 577; cf. Wright’s response on 729, 762 and 766).

In “Barth, Wright, and Theology” Sven Ensminger provides a concise sketch of Barth’s treatment of revelation, religion, and Christology with some points of comparison with N.T. Wright. Ensminger seeks to contribute to the question of the relationship between biblical studies and theology (658), and gives particular attention to the following question: “to what extent can God be bracketed out of theological reflection about a key figure of the Christian church such as Paul in order to consider him as a historical figure with his socio-political background?” (p.656). See also my post Sven Ensminger on N.T. Wright, Karl Barth, and the Aufhebung of Religion.

In “Evangelism and the Mission of the Church” Eckhard J. Schnabel tackles a range of topics related to evangelism and mission, including a) a challenge to Wright’s suggestion that Paul wanted to visit places “where Caesar’s power was the strongest” (p. 688), b) the interpretation of Gal 2:7-9 (691-692), c) the validity of the language of “conversion” (692-696; but cf. 759), d) the meaning of gospel (796; but cf. 729), and e) a critique of Wright’s alleged repetition of caricatures of missionaries (700-704; but cf. 757-758).

Finally, if I could mention only one of the many fine essays by English-language-sphere scholars—I realize, of course, that some of the scholars could be classified in both groups—I would highlight Gregory Sterling‘s chapter “Wisdom or Foolishness? The Role of Philosophy in the Thought of Paul”. Sterling shows genuine appreciation for N.T. Wright’s treatment of philosophy, while suggesting, inter alia, that Wright has not given sufficient attention to the later Platonic tradition and specifically to what we call Middle Platonism. Among other observations, I found Sterling’s discussion of prepositional metaphysics to be especially illuminating (cf. here). More generally, I found his chapter to be a very helpful introduction to recent scholarship on philosophy and early Christianity, and I will certainly return to it (for N. T. Wright’s very positive response to Sterling’s essay, see p. 754-756).

For more posts on GFP, see here and here.

For a complete list of my blog posts, please see here.

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! I hope to be able to write at least one Monday blog post each month. Best, Wayne

Rediscovering Parables in John with Ruben Zimmermann

Ruben Zimmermann’s Puzzling the Parables of Jesus: Methods and Interpretations is a very fine work. One value of the book is that it consciously seeks to bring together current German and American research on the parables (see here). Another important feature is that Zimmermann applies recent research on historiography and memory to the interpretation of the parables (see esp. 76-98). This post will highlight a third contribution of the book, namely Zimmermann’s perceptive discussion of the genre of parable (pp. 105-150, esp. 132-138) and his convincing suggestion that there are, in fact, parables in John (pp. 333-360, esp. 333-339; see further here).

Before turning to Zimmermann, it may be helpful to illustrate the widely held view that parables are characteristic of the synoptics and not of the Fourth Gospel. To do so, I will quote from two (very fine) books that I have used in my course on John this semester: “This Jesus is not the gritty, earthy, Synoptic preacher of parables from rural Galilee.” (Christopher Skinner, Reading John. Wipf & Stock, 2015, p. 69); “In the Synoptics, Jesus speaks regularly in parables… John’s Jesus teaches not in parables but in lengthy discourses…” (Marianne Meye Thompson, John: A Commentary. WJK, 2015, p. 3; but cf. p. 344).

Zimmermann’s rediscovery of parables in John is based on his reassessment of the definition of a parable. He defines parables as follows:

137: “A parable is a short narratival (1) fictional (2) text that is related in the narrated world to known reality (3) but, by way of implicit or explicit transfer signals, makes it understood that the meaning of the narration must be differentiated from the literal words of the text (4). In its appeal dimension (5) it challenges the reader to carry out a metaphoric transfer of meaning that is steered by contextual information (6).” (p. 137).

137-138: “Concentrating on attributes, we can name a bundle of six characteristics of a parable … Four of them are core criteria (and), which means that whenever one is missing, the genre of the text in question is not really a ‘parable’. Two of them are supplemental criteria, which are relevant for most parable texts (and/or); however, they are not necessarily required. The ‘parable’ is:

1. narratival, and

2. fictional, and

3. realistic, and

4. metaphoric, and/or

5. active in appeal, and/or

6. contextually related.”

In my view, Zimmermann’s definition is very perceptive, and I would only want to quibble with criteria 3. More specifically, I think it is preferable to describe parables as “semi-realistic” rather than “realistic” since it seems to me that there are some cases in which the world under discussion or target domain influences the source domain or level of the image in such a way that it bursts or bends the realism of the image.

Zimmermann’s treatment of parables in John contains at least four important lines of thought. First, he provides a concise response to the reasons that have been advanced for not finding parables in John. Here (pp. 334-335), he notes, inter alia, that “The clear and simple sayings concerning the ‘walking at day or night’ (John 11:9-10), the ‘woman in labor’ (John 16:21), or the ‘shepherd who leads out his sheep’ (John 10:1-5), to mention only a few examples, cannot be characterized simply as allegories; rather, they arise out of the everyday experiences of agrarian life in Galilee”, that “the concept of nontheological parables in the Synoptics must be questioned, since key terms and themes such as vineyard, shepherd, or harvest were already imbued with theological meanings”, and that “the Synoptics bring together and characterize as belonging to the genre of παραβολή texts of varying length and character, a state of affairs that corresponds to the variety of figurative speech in John.” Secondly, drawing upon his earlier definition of parables, he explains that “Bearing in mind the above dynamic theory of genres, several passages can be identified as fictional, realistic, narrative, and metaphorical texts. Thus, using the same standard of justification with which we call such texts in the Synoptics ‘parables,’ we may call them parables in John too. In other words, there are parables in John!” (335). Finally, he takes a further step and asks whether one can identify a specific concept of the parables in John. Here (pp. 336-339) he notes, inter alia, that “If one seeks to locate the Johannine parables within the context of the entire Fourth Gospel, one discovers that they are found in nearly every section of the Gospel, from the first public appearance of Jesus (John 2:19-20) to the end of the Farewell Discourses (John 16:21)” and that “The theological goal of the parables for John is the recognition of Christ, which unfolds especially in relationship with Christ. The addresses of the Gospel should be drawn into a dynamic process of understanding and faith through the παροιμία, a process that culminates in a holistic fellowship with Christ, a ‘remaining in Christ’ as union with the resurrected one.” Fourthly, Zimmermann devotes the rest of this chapter (pp. 339-360) to a close study of the Parable of the Dying and Living Grain (John 12:24).

In my view, Zimmermann has made a very strong case for speaking of parables in John (see further the works referenced on page 335 n.7-8). This is not to say that there are not important differences between the Synoptics and John, both in general and with regard to their parables in particular. But it seems to me that we should no longer frame this issue by suggesting that the genre of parables is restricted to the Synoptics.

Addendum: I am pleased to learn that there will be an SBL panel on the parables this year featuring giants such as A.-J. Levine, J. P. Meier, K. Snodgrass, A. Merz and R. Zimmermann!

For a list of Ruben Zimmermann’s English publications, see here.

For a complete list of my blog posts, please see here.

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German Mondays: Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post! I hope to be able to write at least one Monday blog post each month. Best, Wayne