Hosting Jesus- revisiting Luke’s ‘sinful woman’ (Luke 7:36-50)
The narrative of the sinful woman anointing Jesus’ feet is for many the paradigmatic story of repentance and forgiveness, highlighting in particular the woman’s tears as a sign of contrition.
For others, particularly socio-historical contributors, the emphasis is the radical inclusiveness of Jesus’ fellowship meal with ‘sinners’, an offensive gesture to many contemporaries (cf. the studies of Dunn, Neyrey, Bloomberg and others).
Both rightly perceive Jesus as the dominant actor of the scene in Luke 7:36-50, offering salvific goods to the woman, but they somehow underemphasize Jesus’ reinterpretation of the woman’s actions as the laudable gestures of a host.
Exploring antique notions of interactions between guests and hosts, this paper argues that her hospitality is at the heart of the narrative, controlling any notions of gracious forgiveness or care for the marginalized.
While there is no doubt mutuality between Jesus and the woman, it is better not to perceive Jesus as the simultaneous guest and host in this scene (pace Byrne), but to see him as constructing a new cycle of exchange between a host and a guest of honour, after the initial one has collapsed. This paper will finish with some concluding reflections on how Luke combines soteriological and Christological concerns in the theme of ‘hosting Jesus’.
Altering our Texts to Alter our Assumptions: What comes into a Woman and what comes out of a Woman in Mark 7
This paper introduces textual intervention as a powerful reading strategy for biblical scholarship. It will begin by introducing the methodology, presenting what seems like a somewhat simple idea: change a text and it will alter the way you read it. However, despite its apparent simplicity, this paper will demonstrate just how effective de-centring and re-centring the biblical text can be as a way of reappraising scholarly interpretations, and even the texts themselves. In this case it will demonstrate how textual invention can allow us to examine whether interpretations of gender-inclusive biblical passages are actually inclusive. It will use Mark 7: 14-23 as its example; a text hailed as being gender 'inclusive', focusing on the generic anthropos, and the potential for food and unwashed hands to contaminate the body. After altering the text so it has a female subject and object, the text will be re-read in order to examine textual assumptions. This alteration will expose how scholarly readings are far from inclusive, based on male anatomy and excluding the female from the generic anthropos. It then reveals that whilst interpreters have previously believed the passage to centre on the ability of food and unclean hands to defile a person, when the focus turns to a female body, an entirely different interpretation of the passage can be seen, which calls for a re-examination the male focused concepts of inner and outer purity projected onto Mark 7. Thus, this paper will show how textual intervention provides an effective way of reassessing how texts have been read, and also a way of re-reading them from radically new perspectives.
Here, There, Everywhere: The Contest for Space in the Imperial Cults and Earliest Christianity in Roman Anatolia
The reign of Augustus signalled a series of decisive transformations in Roman religion, among which was the increase of cults that were no longer tied to specific places or localities, but rather “transcended” their traditional sites. This shift from locative religion (“religion of place”) to utopian religion (“religion of nowhere”) became increasingly pronounced in the imperial cults that spread rapidly throughout the first century CE. This paper offers a comparative study in the ideologies of space embedded in these cults as well as in 1 Peter, a contemporaneous circular letter addressed to the fledgling Christian communities of Asia Minor. Adopting the stance that spatial discourse is an inherently sociopolitical act penetrating deep into the rhythms and structures of everyday life, I argue that in reconfiguring the meaning of space around the revelation of God in Jesus of Nazareth, 1 Peter contested not only Rome’s territorial claims, but also the authority and legitimacy of the imperial center.
The Allegorical Spectrum: Motivations, Methods, and Results in Philo and Hebrews
This paper seeks to advance beyond Nathan MacDonald's judgement (which may be taken as a relative consensus view) that "These non-literal modes of interpretation can include what twentieth-century scholarship sought to distinguish as typological and allegorical modes of reading. Hebrews knows nothing of this distinction and is happy to move between them." The paper will begin by substantiating MacDonald's view, before moving to its own dual premise - firstly, that the term "allegory" may still be meaningfully applied to a variety of antique authors, but on the basis of the term allēgoria as used in antiquity rather than any artificial modern dichotomy; and secondly, that the Epistle to the Hebrews fits within this new definition of allegory. Both premises will be demonstrated by the same means - by comparing the motivations, methods, and results of how Philo (an undoubted allegorist) and Hebrews interpret the Hebrew Bible, it will be seen that: (1) a meaningful spectrum of post-dichotomy "allegorical" techniques can be identified; and (2) Hebrews fits comfortably into that spectrum, allowing us to identify the author as an Alexandrian allegorist. On the basis of that demonstration, preliminary judgments will be offered on the author's theology of Scripture, as well as on the distinguishing features of his Christian allegory compared to Greek and Jewish forebears.
Matthew’s Temptation Account and Its Implications for the Worship of Jesus
The aim of this paper is to highlight and discuss the literary features in Matthew’s temptation account which suggest the author includes Jesus as one worthy of worship when Jesus himself declares in the third temptation that God alone is to be worshiped. A number of scholars (e.g., Hurtado, Bauckham, Gathercole) agree that Matthew portrays
Jesus as one worthy of divine worship by frequently making him the object of proskynew (“worship”). Indeed, more so than the other Gospel authors, Matthew has Jesus receiving reverence through proskynew on many separate occasions in his Gospel narrative (Matt
2:11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9, 17; cf. Mark 5:6; 15:19 [twice]; Luke 24:52
[once]; John 9:38 [once]). Yet there is one aspect of this Matthean motif which receives very little attention: the frequent depiction of Jesus receiving worship appears in a Gospel where the worship of God alone is unambiguously asserted in Jesus’ third temptation
(Matt 4:10). Far from excluding Jesus as one worthy of divine worship, certain literary features of the temptation account indicate that Matthew intends to include Jesus as one worthy of such exclusive reverence. They are as follows: 1) The third temptation set as the climax of the temptation account indicates the question of who is worthy to receive worship is of paramount importance; 2) Satan’s desire to have Jesus “fall down and worship” him (4:9) recalls the scene where the magi “fall down and worship” Jesus (2:11), which brings the person of Jesus into this important issue of worship; 3) The mountain setting of the third temptation (4:8) foreshadows the resurrection scene where the risen Jesus is worshiped by his disciples on a mountain, having received from God everything which Satan attempted to give to Jesus (28:16-18). Although Jesus refuses to worship Satan since God alone is to be worshiped, by linking the third temptation to key scenes where Jesus receives worship, Matthew includes Jesus as one worthy of such divine reverence.
Moses’ Staff and Jesus’ Disciples in Mark 6:7-13
In Mark 6:7-13, Jesus commissions his disciples to preach the gospel, heal the sick, and exorcise demons. The only item (aside from the mention of sandals) that they are explicitly told to bring with them is a staff (ῥάβδος µόνον). In this paper, I argue that the staff in Mark 6:7-13 is an allusion to Moses’ staff in the Exodus narratives. In the first section, I will briefly examine the various proposal for the inclusion of “only a staff” in the commissioning of the disciples, detailing the strengths and weaknesses of each. In the second section I will examine the use of ῥάβδος in Exodus as well as the retellings of these miracle- narratives by Josephus, Philo, Ezekiel the Tragedian, and Artapanus, focussing specifically on its role in the performing of miracles. Next, I will argue that the use of ῥάβδος in Mark 6:7-13 is not an allusion to the staff possessed by the Israelites on the eve of the exodus (as has been argued by some), but instead is an allusion to Moses’ miracle-working staff in the Exodus narratives (supported by its regular use in Jewish miracle-narratives). Finally, I will draw conclusions about how this particular allusion characterizes Jesus’ disciples as important, yet subordinate miracle-workers in the Gospel of Mark.
Narrative Ecclesiology: Gospel Writing as Social Identity Construction
The concern of this paper is not with the historical communities behind the Gospels, but with the vision of community advanced withinthe Gospels. Hypothetical reconstructions of Gospel communities certainly bear potential for illuminating conundrums in the discipline of New Testament scholarship. The evangelists, however, wrote their texts not to provide clues for future historians about their communities, but to cast vision for their communal identities shaped around Christ-devotion. The phrase "narrative Christology" refers to the portrayal of Jesus' identity through the unfolding action of a Gospel story. Intrinsic to the narrative Christology of the canonical Gospels is a "narrative ecclesiology" whereby the evangelists re-envisioned the identity of the people of God as reconfigured around Jesus. Using the Fourth Gospel as an example of how narrative ecclesiology works, this paper will offer a range of proposals for understanding Gospel writing as a literary form of social identity construction in primitive Christianity and early Judaism.
The Second Quest for Q
The initial quest for Q, as exemplified by the IQP, rests on two logical flaws. First, the false assumption that evidence for a source shared by Luke and Matthew equates to evidence for their independent use of that source. There is, however, no reason why Matthew could not have known Luke as well as sources also used by Luke, or vice-versa. Second, it is commonly assumed that arguments against Luke's use of Matthew are equally effective against Matthew's use of Luke. This is not the case. When these faulty assumptions are corrected, a fully satisfying explanation for Double Tradition passages where Matthew and Luke agree almost verbatim becomes available; Matthew copied Luke directly and without interference from other entities. Elsewhere, however, in Double Tradition passages where there is little verbatim agreement and where alternating primitivity occurs, the influence of other entities, which might be termed ‘Q’, remains detectable. The identifying characteristics of such entities are, however, substantially different from those of classic Q. This invites the possibility that examples of ‘Q’ occur in materials currently extant.