Saturday, June 23, 2012

Book Reviews

I've done a number of book reviews that are available online:
(19) Review of The Oxford Handbook of the Book of Revelation (ed. Craig R. Koester; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 85.2 (2023): 371–373         LINK

(18) Review of James W. Thompson, Strangers on the Earth: Philosophy and Rhetoric in Hebrews (Eugene, OR: Cascade, 2020), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 83.4 (2021): 713-714         LINK

(17) Review of Albert Vanhoye, A Perfect Priest: Studies in the Letter to the Hebrews (WUNT 2/477; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 83:3 (2021): 538–539         LINK

(16) Review of Nicholas J. Moore, Repetition in Hebrews (WUNT 2/388; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 82:4 (2020): 713–715         LINK

(15) Review of Michael Wade Martin and Jason A. Whitlark, Inventing Hebrews: Design and Purpose in Ancient Rhetoric (SNTSMS 171; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2018), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 81:3 (2019): 740–742         LINK

(14) Review of Robyn J. Whitaker, Ekphrasis, Vision, and Persuasion in the Book of Revelation (WUNT 2/410; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 80.3 (2018): 545–547780-782         LINK

(13) Andre LaCocque, Jesus the Central Jew: His Times and His People (Early Christianity and Its Literature 15; Atlanta: SBL, 2015), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 78.4 (2016): 780-782         LINK

(12) Revealed Wisdom: Studies in Apocalyptic in Honour of Christopher Rowland (ed. J. Ashton; Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity 88; Leiden: Brill, 2014), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 78.1 (2016): 187-189         LINK

(11) Sensitivity towards Outsiders: Exploring the Dynamic Relationship between Mission and Ethics in the New Testament and Early Christianity (ed. J. Kok, T. Nicklas, D.T. Roth, and C.M. Hays; WUNT 2/364; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 78.1 (2016): 194-195        LINK

(10) Amy L.B. Peeler, You Are My Son:  The Family of God in the Epistle to the Hebrews (LNTS 486; London: Bloomsbury, 2014), in Review of Biblical Literature (July 5, 2015)         LINK

(9) Carlos Fraenkel, Philosophical Religions from Plato to Spinoza: Reason, Religion, and Autonomy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012), in The Studia Philonica Annual 26 (2014): 237-244      LINK

(8) Gareth Lee Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2012), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 76.2 (2014): 347-348          LINK

(7) Experientia, Volume 2: Linking Text and Experience (ed. C. Shantz and R.A. Werline; EJL 35; Atlanta: SBL, 2012), in Review of Biblical Literature (November 16, 2013)           LINK

(6) A Cloud of Witnesses: The Theology of Hebrews in its Ancient Contexts (ed. R. Bauckham, D. Driver, T. Hart, and N. MacDonald; LNTS 387; London/New York: T&T Clark, 2008), in Review of Biblical Literature (August 22, 2009)         LINK

(5) The Studia Philonica Annual 24 (ed. D.T. Runia and G.E. Sterling; Atlanta: SBL, 2012), in Review of Biblical Literature (April 23, 2013)          LINK

(4) Luke Timothy Johnson, Hebrews: A Commentary (New Testament Library; Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2006), in Biblica 90.3 (2009): 437–441         LINK

(3) Psalms and Hebrews: Studies in Reception (ed. D.J. Human and G.J.  Steyn; Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies 527; London/New York: T&T Clark, 2010), in Review of Biblical Literature (February 11, 2012)         LINK

(2) Reading the Epistle to the Hebrews: A Resource for Students (ed. E. F. Mason and K. B. McCruden; SBL – Resources for Biblical Study 66; Atlanta: SBL, 2011), in Review of Biblical Literature (June 9, 2012)          LINK

(1) James W. Thompson, Hebrews (Paideia Commentaries on the New Testament; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008)     LINK

Friday, May 11, 2012

“Seeing God in Philo of Alexandria: Means, Methods, and Mysticism,” Journal for the Study of Judaism 43.2 (2012): 147–179

My second article on Philo's preeminent mystical experience, seeing God.

For Philo of Alexandria, seeing God represents the pinnacle of human experience. This essay examines three important aspects of that experience: the effectual means of the vision, the methods employed in evoking it, and the function and influence of Philo’s mysticism in the experience. While in some contexts Philo emphasizes the singular role of God in empowering the contemplative ascent and affording the vision, many others highlight the part played by human effort. Philo’s accounts of the practices that evoke the ascent and vision of God are also varied. Though Platonic philosophical contemplation and the practice of virtue are occasionally implicated, in most cases exegetical text work is instrumental. Finally, while some have attempted to divorce Philo’s mystical praxis from the vision of God, contending that “seeing” is simply a metaphor for “knowing” (i.e., “achieving a rational awareness of God’s existence”), a number of factors indicate the importance of Philo’s mysticism in the experience and suggest that an actual, mystical visual encounter underlies and informs these textual representations.

Friday, April 27, 2012

“Confession of the Son of God in Hebrews,” New Testament Studies 53.1 (2007): 114–129

Link to PDF of the full article

Hebrews is addressed to a community whose waning commitment may lead to a complete abandonment of their Christian identity. In response, the author crafts an imaginative and powerful exhortation that centers on Jesus’ identity as the Son of God. The author first dramatizes the Son’s exaltation, emphasizing the Father’s declaration of Jesus’ sonship, the Son’s reciprocal confession of the Fatherhood of God, and the Son’s conferral of family membership upon the recipients. The recipients are then called upon to participate in this pattern of mutual familial confession in two strategic hortatory passages: 4.14-16 and 10.19-25. These two exhortations to confess Jesus as the Son of God are intended to bring a halt to their wavering commitment and solidify their identity as siblings of the Son.

“Confession of the Son of God in the Exordium of Hebrews,” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 30.4 (2008): 437–453

At the heart of Hebrews’ exordium (1.3ab), Jesus is said to be ‘the radiance of God’s glory, the express image of his being, and upholding all things by his powerful word’. These three predications have not as yet been meaningfully connected to the rest of the epistle. This article emphasizes the nuanced shifts from passive to active imagery in 1.3ab and argues that they forecast the reciprocal pronouncements of family relatedness that the Father and the Son exchange in the author’s dramatization of Jesus’ exaltation (1.5; 2.12-13). Furthermore, they locate within the very being of the Son an orientation towards family identification that will be paradigmatic for the author’s hortatory agenda, as the recipients are called to respond to the Son’s conferral of family membership (2.12-13) with reciprocative confessions of Jesus’ sonship (4.14-16; 10.19-23). 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

“Early Christian Eschatological Experience in the Warnings and Exhortations of the Epistle to the Hebrews,” Tyndale Bulletin 63.1 (2012): 93–114

This article argues that mystical experiences are integral to the early Church’s existence

Link to PDF of the full article

This essay examines the characteristics and rhetorical function of the many eschatological experiences found in Hebrews’ warnings against apostasy and exhortations to persevere. In these two contexts we see the vital connection of the author’s hortatory effort to the community’s eschatological experiences. Warnings of the dire consequences of forsaking the community are often substantiated by appeals to the community’s eschatological experiences, both past and present. Similarly, exhortations to persevere are frequently supported by reminders of past and present supernatural experiences. The primary experiential motif found in these exhortations pertains to the community’s identity as the family of God. This essay concludes with the novel claim that the author’s Christological doctrine, hortatory effort, and the community’s eschatological experiences are mutually interdependent.

Friday, March 30, 2012

“Seeing God in Philo of Alexandria: The Logos, the Powers, or the Existent One?” The Studia Philonica Annual 21 (2009): 25–47

My first article on Philo's preeminent mystical experience: seeing God.

Link to PDF of the full article

For Philo of Alexandria, seeing God represents the pinnacle of human experience. However, his visio Dei accounts appear to be somewhat conflicted, and perhaps even inconsistent, about who or what is actually seen in this extraordinary experience. In many texts his allegiance to the doctrine of divine transcendence necessitates the inclusion of intermediaries, such as the Logos or the Powers; occasionally they are all the noetic philosopher can see of God (Mut. 15–24). In some contexts Philo even claims God is entirely invisible (Det. 86–87; Post. 168; Mut. 7–9), and at least one remarkable text insists the terminus of the visio Dei is arrived at in “contemplating the universe and its contents” (Spec. 1.41–50). Nevertheless, in many passages Philo accords the contemplative a vision of God himself, the Existent One (τὸ ὄν). These variances are attributable to a number of factors, including his use of prior traditions, the goals of his immediate rhetorical context and the LXX text he is exegeting, the nature of his three commentary series and the relative sophistication of their implied audiences, as well as his own spiritual and philosophic development. When Philo’s visio Dei texts are analyzed with these influences in mind, a reasonable degree of coherence emerges.