2015 Simultaneous Short Papers

Session 1

Kathy Hockey (Durham University)

1 Peter 4.16: Shame, Emotion and Christian Self-Perception

New Testament scholarship has come to recognise the importance of the honour-shame culture of the 1st Century Mediterranean world. For Petrine studies this was notably emphasised by Barth Campbell's Honor, Shame, and the Rhetoric of 1 Peter (1998). Despite acknowledging the importance of honour and shame for the addressees and that it is a key rhetorical concern of 1 Peter, Campbell's work does not explain the impact of shame language on the audience. This paper will address this oversight by looking at the function of shame language in the letter. It will investigate how shame, as an emotion which has the self as the object and is keenly aware of the observing other, is uniquely placed to shape the self-perception of the audience. The additional dynamic of shame as a 'moral' emotion means that it is important for the individual’s navigation of the relationship between group belonging, behavioural expectation, and self-evaluation. This paper will focus on 1 Peter 4.16 in which the author exhorts the audience not to be ashamed about suffering for being a Christian but to glorify God with that name. Through investigating 1 Peter 4.16 with the help of emotion studies and historically contemporary philosophical views on shame, this paper will shed light on how 1 Peter, via shame language, is helping the audience to understand its identity with regard to self, society and Christ, and will briefly sketch some of the sociological, ethical, and therapeutic implications of this.

Alan Saxby

James and the Jerusalem Church

A common understanding of the role of James in the origin of the Christian movement is based on the Lucan framework in Acts where James is presented as a latecomer to a significant position of leadership in the early Christian movement. However, historical evidence suggests a different conclusion. This evidence, though limited, is of very good quality:

Primary historical evidence in contemporary letters from Paul in the 'thick of the action', including oral tradition identifiable from the earliest years, establish James as a leading figure from the very beginning.

A broad tradition about James who is remembered as a teacher of wisdom and a recognised interpreter of Torah raises questions about how, when, and where did he gain this expertise?

The ethos and practice of the Jerusalem church exhibits evidence of its origin in a Judaic culture markedly influenced by the Baptist movement.

The 'Galilean Silence', found in every tradition trajectory grounded in Jerusalem, displaying little interest or knowledge of the words and deeds of the Galilean prophet, preserves an indelible trace of this Jerusalem community's history.

These strands of evidence cohere in pointing towards the 'church of Jerusalem' originating within the Baptist movement, with James as a foundation/leader, some time prior to the entrance of Jesus on the scene. This supports the indication in Mark's prologue of the 'beginning of the gospel' being located in both Jerusalem and Galilee.


The Bloody Conscience: Exploring the Connection Between αἷμα and συνείδησις in Hebrews

For Hebrews, the conscience (συνείδησις) is a significant concept, but also appears to be a significant problem for the recipients. The συνείδησις is their cognizance of sin (10:2), their inner turmoil (9:9), but also, it is the main barrier separating them from worshipping their God (9:14; 10:22). In order to address the issue of συνείδησις, Hebrews draws heavily on intertexuality and allegorizes it to suit the recipients’ needs. Sacrificial ritual–and more specifically, the role of blood (αἷμα)–act as a vital arena for discussing the συνείδησις.

Both αἷμα and συνείδησις are brought close together in the cultic dialogue of the ninth and tenth chapters. Yet, it is not until 10:22 that sprinkling is referred to explicitly in relation to the συνείδησις (though 9:13-14 hint at this connection). Subsequently, this verse has been overshadowed by the “washing” of water (10:22d) and its baptismal interpretation (Bruce; Weiss; Attridge; Leithart; Koester; Lane; Spicq; Ellingworth; Dahl; Dunn; Peterson). Unfortunately, little attention has been given towards the cultic importance of αἷμα, and its connection with συνείδησις. Given that αἵμα occurs 23 times in Hebrews (with 22 of these occurring after the ninth chapter), and given that the sprinkling of αἷμα is referred to throughout (9:19; 21; 11:28; 12:24; 9:13), it is therefore necessary to revisit 10:22 and explore the relationship between αἷμα and συνείδησις.

Consequently, through exploring recent publications on the role of αἷμα in Hebrews (Gelardini; Moffitt; Eberhart), the following paper will seek to demonstrate that the heart sprinkled with αἷμα from an evil συνείδησις is to be interpreted through communal lenses, rather than individual. It will hope to assert that the link between αἷμα and συνείδησις is purposeful on behalf of the author, who seeks to force ideas of purgation and priestly consecration.


Session 2

Mary Marshall (University of Oxford)

Making matches: The Gospel of Peter as a case study in the perils of dating and adducing parallels

The problem of dating texts has perennially afflicted scholars of the New Testament, rendering vulnerable even the most careful historical critical hypothesis to the shifting of gospels and letters through the decades on imagined and frequently revised timelines.  In response to such difficulties, colleagues either loyally cling to their best working hypothesis or flirt with dating agnosticism (perhaps we don’t need to know the date anyway). 

This paper revisits the scholar’s troubled relationship with dating with reference to a non-canonical text, the Gospel of Peter, in order intentionally to problematize the methods we employ for ascribing dates to our sources.  I consider, particularly, the difficulties surrounding dependence on external witnesses.  The dating of the Gospel of Peter depends, in many accounts, on identifying the content of an 8th Century Egyptian manuscript with a document condemned by bishop Serapion in the latter half of the 2nd Century.  Yet how secure is that identification? The paper encourages a more flexible understanding of textual origins and date which, rather than proposing a new methodology for dating or propounding a new date for the Gospel of Peter, explores the potential benefits of repositioning the text on our timeline. By way of example, I consider the role of parallels and relationships of dependence in the dating of texts and illustrate the pitfalls and possibilities of this kind of match-making with reference to another 8th Century, Old English text, The Dream of the Rood.

Theological Orthography, Numerical Symbolism, and “Numeri Sacri” in Early New Testament Manuscripts

Although much scholarly attention has focused on the Christian scribal practice of the nomina sacra, the reverential abbreviation of divine names, this study explores an analogous phenomenon within early NT manuscripts with respect to theologically significant numbers. In the same way that sacred names could be distinguished by abbreviation, Greek numbers could be and were written in two distinct forms (as longhand words or alphabetic numerals). The aim of this study is to identify patterns and/or examples that suggest numerical symbols ever served a theological, devotional, or mystical function comparable to the nomina sacra. For instance, were alphabetic numerals ever reserved by copyists for special referents? Do any numerical symbols bear a special visual significance over against the longhand words? Recent studies have shown that numerals were indeed used in such ways in Christian documentary papyri from Egypt, especially in private correspondence between churches (such as the cryptic use of 99 to be mean “amen”), but no similar investigation of Christian literary texts has been conducted.

Several examples of possible “numeri sacri” in manuscripts such as P45, P75, and Codex Sinaiticus are examined with support from external testimony of numerological exegesis (patristic and documentary), suggesting that the term “numeri sacri” might be a helpful category. While a handful of numbers might qualify as such, it will be shown that they were never developed into a coherent scribal system in the way that the divine names were. This allows a remarkable comparison between early Christian conceptions of divine names/titles and theologically significant numbers, at least as they were represented in early scribal conventions.

Using the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM) to Detect Scribal Habits in the Book of James

The proper consideration of the types of errors scribes make has been a longstanding aspect of New Testament textual criticism. Designated “transcriptional evidence” by F. J. A. Hort, such evidence is generally taught as a key part of internal evidence. Since the pioneering work of E. C. Colwell and followed recently by James R. Royse and others, the study of such scribal habits has been steadily advanced by careful attention to so-called “singular readings,” that is, readings unique to a single manuscript. One of the conclusions of such study has been a proposed reversal of the principle lectio brevior potior (prefer the shorter reading) since such singular readings show that early scribes tended to omit text more often than they added it. But the use of singular readings has not gone without criticism. In particular, questions have been raised about how representative singular readings truly are of a scribe’s work and, more importantly, of the tendencies of the textual tradition at large. More recently, the Coherence-Based Genealogical Method (CBGM) has been suggested as an appropriate corrective to the use of singular readings for understanding scribal practices because identifies possible ancestors for each textual witness. But no concerted effort to apply the CBGM in this way has yet appeared. After o5fering a short summary of prior research, this study will apply the CBGM to the book of James using the data from the Editio Critica Maior to see what it might reveal about the habits of scribes during the 34rst millennium of transmission. The results will be compared with previous conclusions gained from the study of singular readings. In conclusion, I offer some thoughts on the strengths and weaknesses of each method and their implications for the canons of internal criticism.

Session 3

Odes of Solomon 24 and Its Allusions to the Baptism of Jesus

In the Odes of Solomon, a Christian work that likely dates to the second century, water is a prominent leitmotiv (rivers, the drinking of living water, dew, well-springs). Two episodes from the life of Jesus that are given particular attention in the Odes also have to do with water: the story of Jesus walking on water (Ode 39) and the baptism of Jesus (Ode 24). The latter has been the object of some attention in New Testament scholarship that investigates either the Odes or the baptism of Jesus. It has even been hypothesized that the material reflecting the narrative of the baptism of Jesus is ultimately dependent upon an otherwise lost gospel. The two most prominent elements in the ode’s poetic depiction of the baptism are a dove and ‘the depths’. One is certainly justified seeing allusions to the primordial myths in this passage as well as a typically Semitic parallelism in the use of the same term (the root ṭb<) to describe the ‘sinking’ of the abysses – or ‘waters of the deep’ or even ‘flood waters’ – by means of the ‘submersion’ of the Lord. A more detailed scrutiny of the text, however, is revealing. The Odes are preserved primarily in Syriac and Ode 24 is found in both of the two extant Syriac manuscripts. Though its language of composition has little bearing on the investigation of elements of the baptism of Jesus in Ode 24, heretofore unnoted analogies to the Song of the Sea in Exodus 15 correspond more closely to the Peshitta than to the Hebrew or Greek. It seems as though the poet responsible for composing this ode, conjuring images by drawing these parallels, sought to depict the baptism of Jesus as an epoch-changing event to be understood in terms of the Creation, the Deluge, and the crossing of the Red Sea.

Hilary Perry

“Nos qui vivimus … simul rapiemur” (1 Thess. 4:17, Vulgate): The Rapture and the Scofield Bibles

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever.’ (1 Thess. 4:17 NRSV).

1 Thessalonians 4:17 is the key verse used by pretribulationists to justify their belief in the pretribulational rapture of the Church. This paper examines the treatment of the subject of the pretribulational removal of the saints, as found in commentary on 1 Thess. 4:17 and other verses, in three versions of the Scofield Reference Bible, published in 1917, 1967 and 2003.  It notes the increased incidence of references to this event in the later editions, and, in particular, the use of the term ‘Rapture’.  It relates this phenomenon to the works of modern pretribulational writers, such as Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye, and suggests that the editors of the 1967 and, especially the 2003 edition, may have been influenced by popular interest in the Rapture. The paper also explores the ideas of premillennial, amillennial and postmillennial opponents to pretribulationism, George Eldon Ladd, David Currie and Keith Mathison.

Joshua Mann (Durham University)

How Does Bible Software Affect the Meaning of Our Texts?

In light of the fact that most biblical scholars use Bible software in their research, this paper critically examines the way popular Bible software programs present the biblical texts, along with various analytical tools at the user’s disposal in an attempt to answer the question: How does Bible software affect the meaning of our texts? Special attention will be paid to the assumptions, priorities, capabilities, and textual display of three popular scholarly bible software programs, Accordance, BibleWorks, and Logos.