2008 NT & Second Temple Judaism

Session 1

Preston Sprinkle

Beyond Covenant Nomism: Revisiting Palestinian Judaism in Light of Pseudo-Philo's 'Biblical Antiquities'

The impact that E.P. Sanders's Paul and Palestinian Judaism has had on scholarship is well known, evinced by the 30 year wake of variegated responses. Scholars have examined and re-examined many Early Jewish books to vindicate, correct, or modify Sanders's proposed soteriolgical framework of "covenant nomism." Yet within this discussion one Palestinian work from this era has received little attention: Pseudo-Philo's Biblical Antiquities (L.A.B.). This paper will examine L.A.B. in order to see if its soteriological structure exhibits "covenant nomism." In particular, I will consider four key issues in the book: (1) the conditionality of the covenant, (2) the necessity of repentance in restoration, (3) the basis of God's election of Abraham, and (4) whether or not God will judge the righteous on the basis of their deeds. In the end, I will suggest that not only does the book exhibit a framework akin to "covenant nomism," but that it may go beyond it.

Session 2

J. R. Dodson

Cosmology and the Personifications of Creation in Wisdom and Romans

Creation plays a critical role throughout Wisdom and Romans and, in fact, both authors refer to Creation with similar senses and statements. This paper shall specifically compare these two authors' personifications of Creation beginning with their Greco-Roman backdrop, where we shall demonstrate that debate surrounded the topic of Creation during the time of our authors. After surveying this debate on the nature of Creation, we can then see where the sage and Paul fall within it. Next, we shall investigate the OT sources from which they draw, comparing the manner in which each author employed these sources, following this with a discussion of where and why the sage and the apostle personified Creation. Finally, we shall conclude with the significance of our comparison of Creation in the two accounts, namely that it reveals foundational premises of the respective authors. For the sage, the climax of God's work is his creation of the incorruptible Cosmos who has in the past and will in the future fight for the righteous. For Paul, it is the "already but not yet" work of God, who submitted the world to corruption, from which Creation eagerly awaits redemption with the righteous.

Session 3

John Byron

Cain's Rejected Offering: Interpretive Approaches to a Theological Problem

The story of Cain and Abel records the first ever offering made to God. The question that quickly rises to the surface when reading Genesis 4:3-7 is: what was wrong with Cain's offering? Why did God reject it? God's seeming capriciousness in rejecting one sacrifice over the other creates a theological problem. The problem is compounded by Abel's murder. Since Cain's act of fratricide is precipitated by God's unexplained rejection of the sacrifice which resulted in Cain's anger, God becomes complicit in the act. These problems opened the door for ancient interpreters to expand and rework the story in a way that exonerated God of appearing capricious and, by extension, complicit in Abel's murder. The following article traces the interpretive approaches used by Jewish and Christian exegetes to respond to a theological problem created by gaps in the narrative.