Later Epistles 2021 Programme

Chairs: Katherine Hockey and David Moffitt

Session 1: The Catholic Epistles 

Chair: T J Lang, University of St Andrews

Kelsie Rodenbiker, University of Glasgow ‘Exemplarity and Petrine Attribution in 1 and 2 Peter’

If imitation is said to be the sincerest form of flattery, perhaps one might also say that pseudepigraphy is the sincerest form of veneration. Eva Mroczek writes of the practice of pseudonymous attribution that, “rather than texts in search of authors, we sometimes have something like the opposite—characters in search of stories. That is, linking texts and figures was sometimes less about filling a bibliographic gap than about expanding lore about a popular cultural figure” (The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity, 16). To put it differently, attribution is not only related to text-critical issues or genealogical source-criticism but can be more broadly conceptualized as the intentional construction of tradition orbiting a key figure of prestige who serves as a gravitational center—in other words, as a facet of the rhetorical strategy of exemplarity. While exemplarity is commonly understood as the reference to narrative or historical figures who represent a particular virtue or vice, taking 1 and 2 Peter as a particular example I argue that pseudepigraphy can also be characterized as exemplarity.

Session 2: Deutero-Pauline Epistles

Chair: David Moffitt, University of St Andrews

Brian W. Bunnell, Furman University, ‘Kingdom, God, and Christology in the Deutero-Paulines: Engaging a Linguistic Development in Early Christianity’

The expression ‘kingdom of God’ appears six times in the letters of Paul (1 Thess 2:12; Gal 5:21; 1 Cor 4:20; 6:9–10; 15:50) and three times in the deutero-Paulines (2 Thess 1:5; Col 4:11; Eph 5:5). Of these nine occurrences, only Ephesians 5:5 adds a modifier so that the expression reads ‘in the kingdom of Christ and God.’ The addition of the term ‘Christ’ is consistent with a phenomenon that occurs four times in the deutero-Paulines where Christological terms modify the term ‘kingdom’ instead of or in addition to the term ‘God’ (Col 1:13; Eph 5:5; 2 Tim 4:1; 2 Tim 4:18). But why and to what end? Through an analysis each text, I demonstrate that this Christological modification betrays a development toward the veneration of Jesus that functions as a mechanism for coming to terms with the non-event of the kingdom of God. By linking basileia with vocabulary that reveres Jesus, the deutero-Paulines allow the expectation of Paul’s imminent kingdom to be mediated through the veneration of Jesus in their present.

Philip J. Lowe, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, ‘Christ as the Ruler Over the Dead: 𝔓46, a Bipartite Encomium, and a New Reading of Colossians 1:15–2′

The book of Colossians is many things. At times it is direct, yet it is often confounding. It is theology, rhetoric, poetry, instruction, and encouragement. It is both eschatologically intimate and temporally distanced. And while much has been written on the book of Colossians, one pericope has ostensibly demanded more attention than any other: Colossians 1:15-20. A microcosm of the last fifty years of scholarship on this pericope can be seen in the words of N.T. Wright, “The obvious starting point in the analysis of the passage is the parallelism between words and phrases in the different sections.” (“Poetry and Theology in Colossians 1:15-20,” 444.) Ostensibly, this “obvious” starting point is without flaw. However, this methodology is based in the false premise that we can assume what the pericope says before we know what the pericope is. In error, even the most-diligent readers have researched the epistle’s most-pregnant pericope without contemplating its encomiastic structure. This paper seeks to challenge common understandings of Colossians 1:15–20 and to offer a new interpretation with further inclusion of its oldest known manuscript: 𝔓46. First, we will discuss the importance of rhetoric in the oral-aural culture of the Roman world. Second, we will analyze the rhetorical topoi of the encomium and the importance of the text offered in 𝔓46 in Colossians 1:18. Lastly, we will offer a new interpretation of the encomium.

Session 3: Hebrews

Chair: Nick Moore, Durham University

Angela Costley, St Mary’s College, Oscott, ‘By faith, Abraham has offered up Isaac”: Death and Resurrection in Hebrews 11:17’

In Hebrews 11:17, we are told that by faith Abraham offered Isaac. In Hebrews 11:19, we read that Abraham’s faith consisted of the fact he believed that God is able even to raise someone from the dead. This seems a little strange if we take it as a reference to Genesis 22 as we now have it. In the Akedah, when Abraham attempts to sacrifice his son, his arm is stayed by an angel (Gen. 22:11). However, there is possibly another, darker, tradition that might lie behind Hebrews’ comment. In this other tradition, Abraham does slay Isaac. Indeed, various scholars have explored the redaction of the Genesis account and the suggestion that, originally, Isaac was indeed killed – T. Freitheim, RE Friedman, CTR Hayward, JD Levenson, to name a few – a tradition that persisted and is found in Rashi’s commentary and Pirke de Rab. Eliezer, where he also rises.   This paper will explore the fascinating possibility Hebrews knew this tradition and suggest Hebrews is reliant upon a typological theology in which Isaac was truly sacrificed. 

Owen Edwards, University of Chester, ‘A Scarlet Thread Leading Beyond the Camp: Yom Kippur, the Red Heifer, and Rahab’

Diverse texts in Hebrews – texts on the eternal Sabbath, the red heifer sacrifice, the journey of Jesus outside the Camp, and the example of Rahab, particularly – seem disconnected or only tangentially related, yet an investigation of the source and traditions of those subjects, as well as their rhetorical use in Hebrews, reveals that they are closely and intentionally connected. Drawing on parallel Rabbinic texts, Philo, and (especially) the Epistle of Barnabas, this paper will show that this network of texts is clearly connected in the tradition that Hebrews drew upon. Furthermore, this complex but clear example of intertextual exegesis spanning the whole letter furnishes an excellent example of the Epistle’s allegorical interpretation of Scripture – with even the lack of explicit textual links serving the author’s purpose, as the Christian is commanded to seek spiritual “meat” over “milk”.