Saturday, March 06, 2010

SECSOR: Day Two (pt I)

The theme of this morning's New Testament session was "The Gospels," and as it turns out the four papers, between them, touched on all four canonical gospels.
  • The first paper, "John's Use and Disuse of Matthew" (James W. Barker, Vanderbilt University), argued that in at least three specific instances the Fourth Evangelist knew and responded to Matthean redaction: John's reference to forgiving/retaining sins (20.32; see Matthew's binding/loosing tradition); John's account of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and his citation of Zech 9.9 (see Matthew's account; cf. the Markan and Lukan parallels); and Jesus' "evangelization" of Samaria in John 4 (cf. Matthew's refusal to allow Jesus entry into Samaria). I'm predisposed against Barker's thesis because of my suspicions vis-à-vis redaction criticism (and so the probative value of asking whether John knew "Matthean redaction"). But Barker does address a very interesting issue standing between synoptics and Johannine scholarship; i.e., How John came to be read alongside and included with the other three gospels. In Barker's reading, such was the intention of the Johannine author (specifically with regard to Matthew's gospel).

  • The second paper, "Jonah, Jews, Jesus, and Gentiles: Matthew's Appropriation of the Sign of Jonah Saying in Light of the Gentile Mission" (David Moffitt, Duke University), approached Matthew's use of the Sign of Jonah via an intertextual reading of the larger Jonah tradition. I'm often wary of intertextual analyses on the basis of John Miles Foley's criticism that, despite the broadened field of vision, intertextuality still privileges discrete, bounded entities ("texts") at the expense of larger traditional dynamics. Moffitt, I think, avoids this problem. His analysis explored the polyvalent connections that the Sign of Jonah enabled early Christian tradents (here, Matthew) to make without insisting that he make all of them or even that he make specific and predetermined uses of them. In other words, Moffitt took into consideration the Jonah tradition as he read the Jonah text. (If memory serves, I also enjoyed Moffitt's paper at last year's SECSOR, which focused [I think] on Hebrews).

  • The third paper, "Mark, the Jerusalem Temple and Jewish Sectarianism" (Tim Wardle, Wake Forest University), analyzed Mark's references to the Temple in Mark 11–15. His analysis raised some interesting questions and rightly, I think, emphasized the Jewish critique of idolatry in the Septuagint's use of ἀ/χειροποίητος ("[not] made with hands"). I think Wardle makes too much of the use of ἱερόν ("temple") and the fact that Mark only refers to the Jerusalem ἱερόν in chapters 11–16. This allows him to (i) ignore the clear reference to the Jerusalem Temple in Mark 1.44 ("Go, show yourself to the priest [τῷ ἱερεῖ] and offer [προσένεγκε] for your cleansing the things Moses commanded, as a testimony to/for/against them"). Despite the difficulties that still attend the precise interpretation of this verse (including the dative αὐτοῖς ["to/for/against them"]), Mark 1.44 is clearly not a critique of the Temple like Wardle legitimately finds in Mark 11–16. (ii) Second, his focus on ἱερόν allows him to read some passages in Mark 11–16 as connoting negatively for the Temple, such as the widow's offering in Mark 12, or even Jesus' lament that the Temple should have been (but wasn't) a "house of prayer for all nations" in Mark 11. As you can see, Wardle's paper raised some interesting questions for me.

  • The fourth paper, "Locating Luke 6:5d: Toward a Social Context for the Sabbath Worker" (Jason Robert Combs, UNC Chapel Hill) sought a social location for the reading at Luke 6.5 in Codex Bezae. In the majority of manuscripts (and likely in Luke's "original"), Jesus in Luke 6.5 "says to them, 'The Son of Man is Lord also over the Sabbath'" [κύριός ἐστιν τοῦ σαββάτου ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου]. In Bezae, however, this reading is postponed until after the healing of the man with the withered hand (Luke 6.6–11), and 6.5d has encounter a man working on the Sabbath: "On the same day, when [Jesus] saw a certain main working [ἐργαζόμενον] on the Sabbath, he said to him, 'Man, if you know what you are doing, you are blessed; but if you do not know, then you are cursed and a transgressor of Torah'" [τοῦ νόμου]. Combs locates this variant as part of the mid- to late-fourth century debates about Sabbath, knowledge, and work. I was reminded of the last chapter of Chris Keith's similar investigation into the socio-historical context that might explain the interpolation of the Pericope Adulterae at John 7.53–8.11 (Keith's book, BTW, has received the John Templeton Award for Theological Promise).

That was it for the morning session. More later, of course, as time permits.

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