Three seminars will take place in parallel, each including 3 x 30 minute slots for paper + questions/discussion.
Seminar A | Chair: Jane McLarty, University of Cambridge
Crispin Fletcher-Louis, University of Gloucestershire, ‘Ruler Cults and Christological Origins’
[bg_collapse view=”link” color=”#339999″ icon=”arrow” expand_text=”Show Abstract” collapse_text=”Hide Abstract” ]Some of the earliest evidence for a divine Christology (esp. Phil 2:6–11) shows creative interaction with Greek and Roman patterns of ruler cult. In view of advances in our understanding of both the NT and the pagan material, we can now progress beyond a basic affirmation of the ‘imperial Christology’ in such texts, to a more nuanced understanding of the ways in which Jesus’ followers positioned their messianic faith in relation to a variety of portrayals of the ideal ‘divine’ ruler. Prominent passages in the synoptics (esp. the debate about Jesus’ identity at Caesarea Philippi in Mark 8 and parallels) and in John (esp. the accusation in 5:18 and Jesus’ response) also suggest that future studies should consider the possibility that the question of Jesus’ identity in relation to the ‘divinity’ of the emperor arose already during his ministry.[/bg_collapse]
Matthew Sharp, University of Edinburgh, ‘Courting Daemons in Corinth: Daemonic Partnerships, Cosmic Hierarchies and Divine Jealousy in the Graeco-Roman World’
[bg_collapse view=”link” color=”#339999″ icon=”arrow” expand_text=”Show Abstract” collapse_text=”Hide Abstract” ]This paper explores common understandings of κοινωνία with gods and daemons in Graeco-Roman literature as potential contexts for Paul’s warning in 1 Cor 10:20 that those who eat food offered to idols become κοινωνοὺς τῶν δαιμονίων. The paper isolates two common understandings of κοινωνία with divine beings. One popular understanding sees daemons as sexual predators who can form physical unions with humans who spend time in their sacred groves and sanctuaries (Dion. Hal. Ant. rom. 1.77; Plut. Num. 4). A more philosophical view revolves around shared traits of character rather than physical union and is set on the larger scale of the unity of different races within a cosmic hierarchy. Κοινωνία with gods and daemons in this understanding is achieved by occupying the correct social role in the cosmos, a function that sacrifice helps to constitute and maintain (Dio Chrys. Or. 3.42-54; Max. Tyr. Diss. 9.3-4; Plut. De def. or. 415-417). It is argued that while the popular understanding may illuminate some of the concrete fears relating to idol temples in 1 Corinthians, and parallel Paul’s instructions to women in 1 Cor 11:10, Paul primarily engages the philosophical understanding, and argues that the Corinthians should place themselves in a cosmic hierarchy centred around ‘one God and one Lord’ (1 Cor 8:6; 10:16). This hierarchy is disrupted with the inclusion of daemons (understood by Paul to include all pagan deities) and leaves those involved vulnerable to judgment from divine jealousy (1 Cor 10:21-22).[/bg_collapse]
Richard Cleaves, University of Gloucestershire, ‘Reading the New Testament in Roman Britain—A Case Study in Coins’
[bg_collapse view=”link” color=”#339999″ icon=”arrow” expand_text=”Show Abstract” collapse_text=”Hide Abstract” ]It is a given of much New Testament scholarship that an understanding of the social, cultural and political world of the New Testament is essential for the study of New Testament texts. That world is the world of second temple Judaisms and also the world of the first century and a half of the Roman empire. In the middle of the second century CE Aelius Aristides, (117–c.180), a citizen of Smyrna, wrote of the way the frontiers of the Roman empire enclosed ‘the civilised world in a ring…from the settled areas of Aethopia to the Phasis, and from the Euphrates in the interior to the great outermost island towards the west’, or, in other words, to Britain. My contention in this paper is that coins, inscriptions, business documents, letters and written prayers from the first two centuries of the Roman presence in Britain (55 BCE to 137 CE) open up a significant window on to aspects of the world of the New Testament. I will make a case study of a hoard of 1153 coins buried in a clay jar in approximately 64 CE and unearthed by a metal detectorist in 2008. I will seek to demonstrate that the study of such a hoard has the potential to open up such a window on to the world of the New Testament and throw light on a range of New Testament texts.[/bg_collapse]
Seminar B | Chair: Simon Woodman, King’s College London/Bloomsbury Baptist Church
Anthony Royle, Dublin City University, ‘P. C. Beentjes and the Use of Inverted Quotations in the New Testament’
[bg_collapse view=”link” color=”#339999″ icon=”arrow” expand_text=”Show Abstract” collapse_text=”Hide Abstract” ]Pancratius C. Beentjes first coined the term ‘inverted quotations’ when recognising citations in ancient Jewish writings where imbedded antecedent material was inverted either by rearranging the order of words or conflating a passage with subsequent verses as a literary device, which often provides discontinuity with the literary context of the antecedent text. Much of Beentjes’ work focussed on the writings of Ben Sira and the Hebrew Bible, as well as identifying the use of inverted quotations in the New Testament. Although his text-critical analysis of these quotations demonstrated multiple ways in which ancient writers inverted Scripture, Beentjes concludes that the intended rhetorical effect of inverted quotations was to gain the attention of the audience by expressing the written text in a completely different form than the traditional reading. This paper argues contrary to Beentjes’ claim in consideration of a pluriform textual traditions during this period, proposing the intention of the NT writers was not to elicit a controversial response but rather use an exegetical mode of composition that was fundamentally interpretive.[/bg_collapse]
Tavis Bohlinger, University of Durham, ‘Whose Dialogue? Whose Agency? Towards a New Comparative Methodology in New Testament Studies’
[bg_collapse view=”link” color=”#339999″ icon=”arrow” expand_text=”Show Abstract” collapse_text=”Hide Abstract” ]Comparative work in the New Testament has received renewed attention with the proliferation of studies devoted to comparing, for instance, Paul with other early Jewish authors. This phenomenon was driven in large part by the work of E. P. Sanders, whose comparative study of Paul and Palestinian Judaism stimulated a multi-generational debate that continues today over his conclusions regarding ‘covenantal nomism’. Apart from early critiques by Neusner and Gaventa, most scholars have not presented a direct challenge to the theoretical basis of Sanders’ comparative methodology. Whilst Sanders’ work generated a proliferation of comparative studies of Paul and other early Jewish writings, many of these have given little attention to the question of theory: what is the theory of comparison that guides any comparative analysis between Paul and other ancient authors?
Recent attempts to articulate a methodology of comparison fall into three groups, including the ‘comparison of ideas’ (Engberg-Pederson); ‘intertextual discourse’ (Hays and Watson); and a ‘hermeneutics of friendship’ (Rowe and Linebaugh). Each of these rely upon metaphors of comparison to make their case. In Part One of my paper, I critique these metaphors in terms of their intellectual provenance (what’s the source?), productivity (what’s the outcome?), and practicality (are they replicable?). In Part Two, I suggest an alternative metaphor for comparison for NT studies that draws upon the work of Jonathan Z. Smith along with the ‘New Comparativists’ in religious studies, and the art of photography. I question the commonly employed metaphor of ‘dialogue’ and suggest instead we speak of a ‘composition’, in an attempt to better account for the relationship between text and interpreter in comparisons.
Justin Hagerman, King’s College London, ‘Biblical Exegesis and the Formation of a Dialogue: The Concept of Agency in Moral Philosophy and New Testament Studies’
[bg_collapse view=”link” color=”#339999″ icon=”arrow” expand_text=”Show Abstract” collapse_text=”Hide Abstract” ]This paper attempts to form a dialogue between the exegesis of New Testament texts and the development of philosophical concepts. Towards this aim, we pose the twofold question: ‘How have moral philosophers and biblical exegetes interpreted the concept of agency, and how might we form new approaches to this theme of agency?’ To address this question, we first evaluate two articles (2002) by T. Engberg-Pedersen and J. L. Martyn, as well as their contributions to a recent collection of essays (2006-2007). Although this debate between Engberg-Pedersen and Martyn is specific to New Testament exegesis, a wider-reaching contrast is identified: moral philosophers have tended to understand agency in terms of a theory of action influenced by intention, desire, and emotions, while New Testament scholars have tended to interpret agency primarily in terms of divine activity and mediatory figures. These differences have arguably obscured the extent to which moral philosophers and biblical exegetes share traditions that focus on the character of action. To respond to this problem, we secondly consider how the works of G. E. M. Anscombe and D. Davidson contribute to biblical exegesis that is attentive to how human agents act. To complement this argument, we will consider further how the recent interpretations of agency dynamics in the New Testament, particularly in the proposals by J. Maston, K. B. Wells, and P. Orr, clarify the nature of human action in relation to divine activity. By advancing this twofold argument, the conclusion is reached that the interpretation of human and divine agency dynamics is enriched by drawing upon the perspectives of biblical exegetes and moral philosophers.
Seminar C | Chair: Svetlana Khobnya, Nazarene Theological College, Manchester
Steve Carter, Independent scholar, ‘An Invalid Argument from Silence? Subordination to Civil Authority in 1 Peter 2 and Romans 13’
[bg_collapse view=”link” color=”#339999″ icon=”arrow” expand_text=”Show Abstract” collapse_text=”Hide Abstract” ]Although 1 Peter 2:13-17 and Romans 13:1-7 are widely believed to stand in some kind of literary relationship, especially because of their similar content, many scholars have also drawn attention to important differences in the authors’ presentations of their common theme. In particular, the passages are often thought to express diverse views on the nature of civil authority and the motives for subordination to it. First Peter, it is suggested, does not share Paul’s view that political powers are founded by God and bear divine authority, and excludes his theological motivations in favour of merely functional ones. However, this is essentially an argument from silence, based on what 1 Peter supposedly might have said, but seemingly does not. And silence can have different interpretations, or prove not to be silence at all.
This paper is an exegetical examination of the relationship between the views of subordination to civil government articulated in these two passages, in light of this theory. First it identifies the probable literary relation of the texts, on the basis of their verbal similarities and differences, and the implications of this for 1 Peter’s supposed silence. It then reflects briefly upon civic responsibility in the context of wider first-century CE understandings of cosmic and social order and their probable significance for the Petrine concept of subordination. Finally it draws on certain differences from and similarities to Paul to ask whether 1 Peter is indeed silent on these matters or is expressly articulating the same ideas in different terms.
Grace Emmett & Hannah Burke-Tomlinson, King’s College London, ‘Paul and Propertius: Appropriating the “Weaker Voice” through Servile Self-Presentations’
[bg_collapse view=”link” color=”#339999″ icon=”arrow” expand_text=”Show Abstract” collapse_text=”Hide Abstract” ]Paul’s use of the slavery metaphor has long fascinated scholars, particularly his self-representation as a slave, whether as a slave of Christ (Rom 1:1; Gal 1:10; Phil 1:1), a slave of the Corinthians (2 Cor 4:5), or a slave to all (1 Cor 9:19). While previous studies have focused on interpreting the metaphor in terms of the social reality of Greco-Roman slavery (Dale Martin), as a kenotic pattern (I. A. H. Combes), within Jewish tradition (John Byron), or as an anti-Empire declaration (K. Edwin Bryant), there has yet to be a comparison of Paul with another group of authors who self-represent as slaves: the Augustan Latin love elegists. These poets also appropriate the status of a slave through the topos of the ‘slavery of love’. Focusing on the poetry of Propertius (1.5.19; 2.13.35-36), this paper will offer a comparative approach to reading Propertius and Paul alongside one another, drawing on recent scholarship analysing the appropriation of the ‘weaker voice’ by Latin authors (Sebastian Matzner). It will be argued that both Propertius and Paul offer examples of this ‘weaker voice’ in their appropriation of a servile identity, which in turn constructs a subordinated masculinity (see Raewyn Connell). Both authors use the metaphor to express devotion: for Propertius, it demonstrates his subjugation to Cynthia, his beloved, and amor; for Paul it denotes submission to Christ/others. This amounts to a power paradox, as both authors control the narrative they create, using it to align themselves with a problematic male body. Overall, this interdisciplinary paper seeks to complement existing scholarship on the Pauline metaphor while presenting a new comparative approach, allowing for a fruitful gender-critical reading of both authors.[/bg_collapse]
James Morgan, University of Fribourg, Switzerland, ‘Luke’s Use of τεκμήριον in Acts 1:3 in Light of Herodotus’s Proofs of the Divine (Hdt. 9.100)’
[bg_collapse view=”link” color=”#339999″ icon=”arrow” expand_text=”Show Abstract” collapse_text=”Hide Abstract” ]In Acts 1:3, τεκμήριον (an NT hapax) has an important role in the preface of the author’s second volume, ‘After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs (ἐν πολλοῖς τεκμηρίοις), appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God.’ Phrases containing τεκμήριον qualified by πολύς have a long history. Commentaries and lexical works show several relevant examples to clarify the meaning of τεκμήριον above. However, they fail to discuss, or even point out, one of the oldest and closest syntactical and contextual occurrences to the NT hapax above. It occurs in Herdototus’s Histories (9.100) in which, the historian, when discussing the battle of Mycale, includes a metaleptic aside about the visible signs that the gods make known: Δῆλα δὴ πολλοῖσι τεκμηρίοισι ἐστὶ τὰ θεῖα τῶν πρηγμάτων (‘Now there are many clear indications of the divine ordering of things’, trans. Godley). Various translations and interpretations have been given to this expression, which presents τεκμήριον as a plural dative of instrument and qualified by πολύς. Classicists generally concur that Herodotus wishes to draw his readers’ attention to the fact that the gods have provided sufficient evidence to allow humans to be aware of their activities. He then proceeds to give specific signs of divine intervention that helped the Greeks defeat the Persians in Mycale. This paper explores the importance of this significant precedent from Herodotus’s monumental work, one of the most influential historiographical works well into the first century CE. Additionally, similar uses of τεκμήριον in other works will be considered to demonstrate the continuity of this expression from Herodotus until Luke. For these reasons, Herodotus’s use of τεκμήριον in relation to its occurrence in Acts 1:3 merits more attention in NT commentaries and lexical works..[/bg_collapse]