New Testament and Second Temple Judaism 2021 Programme

Chairs: Susan Docherty and Crispin Fletcher-Louis

Session 1

Philip Alexander, University of Manchester, ‘The Political Context of the New Jerusalem Passages in the New Testament Writings’

This paper will survey those passages in the New Testament which express the Christian eschatological hope in terms of a longing for a new or heavenly Jerusalem, or a heavenly country, or a heavenly citizenship, and argue that these expressions are strongly political in orientation. Politically they face two ways. On the one hand they negate the aspirations of many Jews of the time to establish Jerusalem as the capital of a glorious new Jewish State. They signal that Christians cannot endorse Jewish nationalism. On the other hand, they too look forward to the overthrow of Rome and to that extent side with Jewish hopes, but what will replace Rome will be the manifestation of Christ’s Kingdom on earth. They position the Christian community carefully on the political map of the day, and reveal a political dimension to early Christian thought, and an engagement with politics, that is often overlooked.

Response by Richard Bauckham, Ridley Hall, Cambridge

Session 2: Joint Session with Synoptic Gospels

Book Review Panel, Matthew Thiessen, Jesus and the Forces of Death: The Gospels’ Portrayal of Ritual Impurity Within First Century Judaism (Baker Academic Press, 2020).

Panel members: Chris Keith (St Mary’s University, Twickenham) and Candida Moss (University of Birmingham), with Matthew Thiessen (McMaster University) in attendance.

Session 3

Luke Irwin, University of Durham, ‘Crucified and Raised on the Cosmic Mountain: The Gardens of the Fourth Gospel and the Presence of God’

The temple-garden complex of the “cosmic mountain” looms large in the Hebrew Bible as the primary place where God chooses to dwell among his people. Much Second Temple literature develops the intertwined garden and temple motifs as a means of interpreting how God and humanity may meet; and such commentary is arguably more concerned with place and proximity to God than it is with time (e.g. Odes Sol. 11–12; Sir 24:7–34; Jub. 3:8–14; 2 Bar. 4:1–6; 4QFlor 1.6; 3 En. 5:1–5). Read alongside this literature, John’s depiction of the betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection in gardens (John 18:1, 26; 19:41; 20:15) emphasizes God’s presence in Jesus and near to humanity. The gardens join the Fourth Gospel’s temple motif as a means of communicating divine proximity. While such a reading cuts against longstanding assumptions about the importance of Jesus’s absence for the Johannine community, it underscores John’s congruity with the varied but fundamentally Jewish associations of place and topography with divine presence.

Emily Gathergood, University of Nottingham, ‘She will be delivered: the “tokological” salvation of Eve in the Greek Life of Adam and Eve and 1 Timothy’

In this paper, I argue that the Greek Life of Adam and Eve (GLAE)15–30 tells the story of primal transgression with particular interest in the gender-specific ramifications of the woman’s diabolical behaviour and speech. In GLAE 25, we find an innovative conflation of Genesis 2:17 and 3:16. Eve’s judgement is a death sentence with a quintessentially feminine spin—unendurable birth pains that result in maternal mortality. However, her judgement comes with a mitigating promise that at the point of death in childbirth she will receive ‘tokological’ salvation: her repentance will solicit divine mercy such that she will be physiologically preserved, in order to return to Adam’s rule and continue the reproductive cycle. The narrative thus offers a set of mythological aetiologies for maternal death, divine midwifery, husbandly rule, and the vocation of motherhood. It therefore constitutes a vital comparative text for the interpretation of the enigmatic paraenesis on women in 1 Timothy 2, whose laconic retelling of Eve’s story also underwrites female submission and maternity. Can GLAE 25 ‘fill in’ the gaps?


Anthony P. Royle, University of Glasgow, ‘Multivalency and Paratexts in 1QIsaa: Scribal Culture as Background for NT Use of Isaiah’

Scholars have highlighted that the material aspects of manuscripts as artefacts exhibit a diversity of features that constitute reception of these texts, exhibited through paratextual features, layouts, and scribal interventions. In other words, Jewish scripture is diverse in its textual and material profiles and therefore are windows into reading culture(s) in antiquity. 1QIsaa is particularly rich with multivalent scribal activity, as recently highlighted using artificial intelligence in palaeographic studies and embodies a variety of reading patterns in the paratextual features of the scroll. This paper explores the features of paragraphoi, X-signs, and other markings in the margins and determines some of the hermeneutical influences of these paratexts. Secondly, this paper will draw similarities of reading patterns between the paratexts in 1QIsaa and some of the New Testament readings of Isaiah.  Thirdly, this paper will draw conclusions of the wider critical issues of the textual culture of the early church and the use of antecedent texts.