Chairs: Katherine Hockey, University of Aberdeen, and Kelsie Rodenbiker, University of Glasgow
Session 1: Hebrews
Chair: Katherine Hockey, University of Aberdeen
David Moffitt, University of St Andrews, ‘Isaiah 53 and Jesus’ Salvific Death in Hebrews’
Many modern scholars assume that Isaiah 53 does not play a significant role in the argument of Hebrews. Apart from a probable allusion to Isa 53:12 in Heb 9:28, there seems to be little direct influence of this Old Testament passage in the epistle. I argue in this paper that aspects of the logic of the argument of Heb 2 and Heb 9 are illuminated if one allows that the Isaianic servant tradition stands in the background. Specifically, I aim to demonstrate that both the claim in Heb 2 that Jesus was crowned with glory and honour because he tasted death for everyone, and the link between Jesus’ death and the inauguration of the new covenant in Heb 9, make good sense in light of the move from the servant’s vicarious death in Isaiah 53 to his exaltation and to the restoration of God’s covenant relationship with his people in Isaiah 54. Jesus’ suffering and death in Hebrews, like that of the servant, not only lead to his exaltation but also function as the means for bringing about a renewed covenant relationship. Yet, if these points can be established, they further suggest that the role of Jesus’ death can be seen to be salvific without presupposing that it is also the sum-total of his sacrificial work. Hebrews may only clearly allude to Isaiah 53 in 9:28, but some of the larger themes in the author’s argument suggest that the passage plays a more significant role in the homily’s argumentation than has sometimes been recognized.
Nicholas Moore, Cranmer Hall, Durham University, ‘Cosmos, Conflict, and Christology: Heavenly Temple in Early Christian Letters’
Many early Christians shared with Second Temple Jewish writers the understanding that heaven is or contains a temple. This paper examines instances of heaven as temple in early Christian epistolary texts, in order then to compare these portrayals and their functions. Hebrews and 1 Clement see heaven as the sphere for Jesus’s high priestly ministry, and a source of assurance for believers. For Barnabas, Israel’s sanctuaries hold typological significance for Christians but in their physical form they are condemned by appeal to heaven as God’s dwelling place. The Epistula Apostolorum and the Ascension of Isaiah focus on the process of the Son’s descent from and ascent to the heavenly temple (in the incarnation and following the resurrection). For Ephesians, the heavenly location of the church as temple has significance for the cosmic battle against evil powers. These texts, then, witness to a shared cosmological presupposition which can nevertheless be deployed in overlapping, multivalent, or opposing ways to support reflection on Christ, the church, and conflict against sin and evil.
Herbert Rimerman, University of Oxford, ‘The Days Are Surely Coming: Repetition and Temporality in the Epistle to the Hebrews’
I examine how the discourse of repetitive ritual in Hebrews translates the letter’s theology of time into communal instruction. Why does the writer exhort his readers to repeat certain actions, such as daily encouraging each other toward moral excellence (3:13-15), while forbidding other repetitions, like repentance from sin when one has fallen away from Christ (6:4-6)? I argue that Hebrews holds a dual conception of the ‘day’ as the discrete temporal unit whose recurrence facilitates the repetition of ritual (e.g., 1:2, 4:3-11, 7:27, 8:8-13) and as the conveyor of experiential immediacy that Christ’s perfect sacrifice makes eternal, eliminating repetition altogether. It is the tension between this aspiration for the collapse of temporality into the ‘day’ and its practical impossibility that primarily shapes the theological and communal instruction that the text delivers. The perspective presented in Hebrews provides insight into some ways that early Christians managed time and meaningfully realized their temporal models through behavioural regulation.
Session 2: Alternative Later Epistles [joint with Early Christianity]
Chairs: Kim Fowler, University of Glasgow / Kelsie Rodenbiker, University of Glasgow
Francis Watson, Durham University, ‘On the Coherence of the Bodmer Miscellaneous Codex’
Recent codicological work has shown that the so-called “Bodmer Miscellaneous Codex” originally consisted of just five main texts and a short concluding hymn. This paper will investigate the theological rationale underlying the juxtaposition of these texts, and the key to this will be found in the exchange of letters known as 3 Corinthians. Here Paul responds to his Corinthian correspondents’ request to condemn those who deny the Saviour’s fleshly birth from Mary, precisely the theme of the text that opens this codex, the Birth of Mary, Apocalypse of James (now known as the Protevangelium of James). Other views condemned by Paul include denials of the creator God, the prophetic testimony, and bodily resurrection, all major themes within Melito’s Peri Pascha which concludes this codex. Supported by the less specific polemics of the Epistle of Jude, Paul is presented as the defender of the orthodox Christian metanarrative as elaborated in texts that retell the beginning and end of the gospel story.
Dan Batovici, KU Leuven, ‘The Clementine Catholic Epistles in Syriac’
If in Greek the presence of 1 Clement and 2 Clement in Codex Alexandrinus is isolated, in Syriac these letters and other works attributed to Clement continued to be copied in New Testament (medieval through modern) manuscripts. Moreover, ‘the first and second letter of Clement’ are specifically associated with the Catholic Epistles in Syriac manuscript, liturgical, and ecclesiastic regulation contexts. In order to assess this complex setting, this paper traces the manner in which the association of ‘Clement’ with the Catholic Epistles, as well as with an idealised earlier Christianity, are constructed in West Syriac manuscripts.
Anthony Royle, University of Glasgow, ‘Conceptualising Quotations in 1 Clement in Codex Alexandrinus (GA 02)’
Quotations in 1 Clement have been used by Donald Hagner and others to draw conclusions on early Christian and Jewish formations of canon as well as early Christian interpretation. Hagner’s analysis assumes that reuse of antecedent literature is an affirmation of authoritative texts. Although Hagner concludes that Clement of Rome’s idea of canon is broader than the much later fixed set of texts that became the ‘New Testament’, the assumption that citation is a means of determining a canonical framework is part of the larger issue in biblical studies regarding how quotations function within a work of literature. The focus, however, has been on the rhetorical and ideological function of citation and less on the material evidence. This paper presents an analysis of the use of diplai in 1 Clement of Codex Alexandrinus (GA 02) to mark quotations of antecedent literature. The use of diplai in GA 02 provides some of the earliest notations from extant manuscripts of quotations in early Christian writings. The use of diplai reconceptualises questions about what constitutes a quotation, the function of quotation within a codex, and ideas of canonicity and intertextuality from a material culture perspective.
Session 3: The Catholic and Deutero-Pauline Epistles
Chair: Kelsie Rodenbiker, University of Glasgow
Lily Su, University of Glasgow, ‘Between Pseudepigraphy and the New Testament: The Reception of the Authorship of the Pastoral Epistles’
The authorship of the Pastoral Epistles (PE) was commonly assumed in an ancient context and remained mostly unchallenged until the end of the eighteenth century. In discussions of the PE’s authorship, modern scholars tend to approach the problem based on their linguistic peculiarities using statistical analysis. But it is too simplistic to rely on statistical arguments to support either authentic or pseudonymous authorship of the PE without considering manuscript evidence and ancient compositional practices. Manuscript paratextual evidence opens to us a window for viewing the reception of the PE by early Christians and the interpretative strategies of the receiving culture. How do we read works received as authentic within the larger Pauline tradition and reconcile this earlier reception with modern critical conceptions of pseudepigraphy? It is necessary to explore the textual production in antiquity and understand how pseudepigraphy was used as a compositional and interpretive practice, particularly as it applies to the Pauline tradition. This paper analyzes citations of Jewish scripture in the PE as a case study for exploring the interpretive approach of the Pauline author.
Julia Glanz, University of St Andrews, ‘“You have Gone too Far!” or is it Not Far Enough? The Varied Use of Numbers 16–17 in the Later New Testament Epistles’
The phenomenon of textual reuse is widely acknowledged among scholars. Yet many of these discussions focus solely on the question of how to identify instances of dependence without taking into account what is, or is not, being accomplished in the text. Furthermore, a lack of clarity remains as to what aspect of a text is being used. As a result, the multiplicity of ways in which one text might be used in another have been neglected. This paper seeks to highlight the varied ways texts can be used in the compositional process by tracing the use of Numbers 16–17 through the later epistles — in Hebrews 12:9, 2 Timothy 2:19, and Jude 11. Each of these instances of reuse will be evaluated through the lens of formal, narrative, and conceptual structure, providing a matrix with which to precisely evaluate these varied uses and highlight their role in the composition of each text.
Alicia Hein, University of St Andrews, ‘Praying for Rain: The Eschatological Elijah as Unifying Feature in James 5’
The significance of Elijah’s mention in Jas 5:17 has been historically downplayed. It is presented as an example of effective prayer with little bearing on any larger purpose within the book. This essay will argue, to the contrary, that James intentionally alludes to Elijah’s character as developed in Kings and Malachi to underscore a fundamental eschatological anticipation framing the chapter. James 5 begins with prophetic language, urging readers to “wait for the coming of the Lord.” This exhortation recalls the context of Malachi, and Elijah’s appearance before the Day of Yhwh. As they wait, James’ readers are to pray specifically for the sick and for forgiveness of sins, which topics represent the only two recorded instances of intercession by Elijah in Kings. The chapter ends with an exhortation to “turn back” any who stray, alluding again to Elijah’s mission in Malachi of effecting communal return and salvation. Thus, James’ use of Elijah forms a conflated allusion to the prophet’s contexts within the Hebrew Bible, constructing a framework of eschatological expectation that unifies a diverse chapter.