At long last, the dissertation is complete! It has morphed in seemingly innumerable ways since I began in 2013, such that it is completely unrecognizable with regard to the original research proposal I submitted to Cambridge aeons ago. But it is ready to mail in all its tree-killing glory.
A few months ago I posted some reflections on work I was doing on one of the earliest extant papyrus fragments of the NT (P.Oxy. 4404, or 𝕻104 in NT parlance). This endeavor eventually turned into an article dealing with whether this particular fragment supports the possibility that Matthew 21:44, which occurs at the end of the Parable of the Wicked Tenants, is original to Matthew or was “interpolated”by a scribe at some relatively early date from the same verse in Luke 20:18 (a process called scribal “assimilation”). The article also involves quantitative analysis I conducted in other “assimilations”/”interpolations” elsewhere in the Synoptic gospels as well as some discussion of the various arguments for or against the theory with respect to this verse.
Earlier this year, Dr. Wesley Hill (Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at the Trinity School for Ministry) published his Durham dissertation with Eerdmans, entitled Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters. It argues a straightforward thesis that, within Pauline studies, is fairly revolutionary (but which, within the Reformed circles in which Wes and I respectively run, is, of course, “no big deal”): namely, that trinitarian categories that are often seen by scholars to be late and post-Pauline—and, thus, should be excluded from the discussion—can and should be brought to the table in exegesis of Paul’s letters.
The most recent issue of the Journal of Biblical Literature (134/3) includes an article I wrote on a peculiar translation issue in the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek translation called the Septuagint (see my intro here). The passages in question contain a word (tsemach) that is usually translated in English Bibles (ESV, NIV, KJV, etc.) as “Righteous Branch” or just “Branch.” The Greek word used in the LXX translation of these passages (anatole) is rather peculiar and has generated a lot of debate. It also happens to play a major role in one of the chapters of my dissertation, so this article was a side-branch (pun intended) off the main line of my research as I explored the various issues related to this translation. I was pleased to have it accepted by JBL. Many thanks to Chris Fresch for providing comments on the draft of the article before submission.
Today in the Cambridge NT Graduate Seminar, I gave a presentation (or, rather, facilitated a discussion) on a topic that has become increasingly interesting to me as I have been working on my primary research.
The question of how NT authors use the OT when they cite it or allude to it is a fascinating area of study and should be part of every Christian’s toolbox when we read the OT. Why? Because the NT cites or alludes to the OT hundreds, if not thousands of times. You cannot understand the NT without knowing the OT well, because the OT dramatically shapes the NT.
Most Christians (myself included, at least before looking into it more deeply) probably think of the NT authors as in some sense carrying around a nice leatherbound OT with them, flipping through it as guided by the Holy Spirit, and selecting verses to use to prove their points in whatever they’re writing.
But is this really what is going on?
Last year I wrote a dictionary article on the covenant God makes with King David in the Old Testament for the Lexham Bible Dictionary (published in partnership with Logos Bible Software). It has, at long last, been published in their online reference tool (and I believe a print form may be in the works).
On Tuesday, December 2, I presented a paper (well, more like led a discussion) on Christology in the New Testament at our Cambridge NT graduate seminar.
“Christology” is a term used to describe how the Bible (or later Christian writings) portray the person, character, and significance of Jesus Christ.
It basically amounts to this:
All you need to know about NT Christology boiled down to one page! Pretty simple, huh?
On November 21, I presented a paper at the ETS national meeting entitled, “Metaphor in the New Testament: Catching Up to the Conversation on Contemporary Metaphor Theory.” This arises out some of my dissertation work, which deals with the theory of metaphor and how to interpret certain metaphors in the Gospel of Luke.
The paper discusses the four main theories of metaphor that have been prominent from the time of Aristotle to the present day, with a particular focus on the current “orthodoxy” within linguistics pertaining to Conceptual Metaphor Theory and Conceptual Blending. I then discussed a few examples, such as the “fishers of men” in Matt 4:19 (hence the header image above) and atonement metaphors in Paul’s letters and Hebrews.
Christ Church Cambridge is hosting a variety of seminars (see full listing) this autumn, covering a range of biblical and church-related topics. I am leading a 4-week series covering how and why we consider the biblical books authoritative for faith and practice. Specifically, we will be covering the following questions, among others:
- What exactly is canon, and why does it matter?
- Who “picked” the books (if anyone), and on what grounds?
- Who decided we needed a canon in the first place, and who “closed” it?
- Why are some books considered part of the biblical canon and not others?
- Why do the Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Orthodox churches have different canons?
- What are we to make of all the other works that are roughly contemporaneous with the OT/NT but which were not received as canonical?
- How can we know we have accurate copies of the right books?
The seminar audios and handouts for each class will be posted below as they become available. If you would like the full set of teaching notes, feel free to email me.