Saturday 17 February 2018

Currents in Biblical Research 16, 2 (February 2018)

The latest Currents in Biblical Research recently arrived, with titles and abstracts of the main articles as below.

Amy C. Merrill Willis
A Reversal of Fortunes: Daniel among the Scholars
Scholarship on the book of Daniel has undergone a significant shift since the publication of K. Koch’s groundbreaking work, The Rediscovery of Apocalyptic, in 1972. Despite significant achievements in understanding the historical-critical issues of the book, scholarship viewed Daniel’s apocalyptic visions as embarrassing. The renaissance in Daniel studies that began in the 1970s has since produced a robust conversation and newer theory-driven insights around well-established areas of interest. These include Daniel’s textual traditions and compositional history, the function of its genres, the social settings of its writers, and Daniel’s near eastern literary and cultural milieu. New areas of interest identified in the landmark study of J.J. Collins and P.W. Flint (2001; 2002), namely the history of reception and political theologizing, have also gained ground. Daniel’s reversal of fortunes is due to new methodologies as well as a fundamental paradigm shift in interpretation; this change has seen Daniel scholarship move away from the search for Daniel’s historical meaning, narrowly construed, and toward the quest to understand what Daniel does to and for its readers.

Stephen Germany
The Hexateuch Hypothesis: A History of Research and Current Approaches
This article traces the development of the concept of the Hexateuch in five major stages: (1) its beginnings in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, (2) its floruit in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, (3) the challenge to the Hexateuch hypothesis by the Deuteronomistic History hypothesis, (4) the partial decline of the Hexateuch hypothesis during the second half of the twentieth century, and (5) its recent revival and reinterpretation, particularly since the turn of the millennium. Within the current discussion, the most decisive question is whether one should conceive of the Hexateuch as an early (i.e., pre-Priestly and/or pre-Dtr) narrative work, as a late redactional construct, or both.

Simeon R. Burke
‘Render to Caesar the Things of Caesar and to God the Things of God’: Recent Perspectives on a Puzzling Command (1945–Present)
This article surveys post-1945 scholarly attempts to interpret Jesus’ command to ‘render to Caesar the things of Caesar and to God the things of God’ (Mk 12.17; Mt. 22.21; Lk. 20.25). It suggests that part of the confusion surrounding the interpretation of this phrase lies not only in the disputed nature of the data, but also in the failure to clearly define the interpretive categories. This has resulted in contradictory interpretations being described with the same label, as well as scholars failing to notice similarities between the different readings. To this end, the following article attempts to more precisely outline the four major approaches to the command which have emerged since the Second World War (while also noting the various connections between some of these views): (1) exclusivist interpretations in which ‘the things of God’ nullify the ‘the things of Caesar’; (2) complementarian readings in which the two elements are held to be parallel; (3) ambivalent readings that stress the ambiguity and open-ended nature of the utterance; and (4) subordinationist readings that seek to uphold both elements of the command while prioritizing the second element (‘the things of God’) over the first (‘the things of Caesar’). The discussion then turns to considering four areas that might prove fruitful in future analysis of this command.

Todd Berzon
Ethnicity and Early Christianity: New Approaches to Religious Kinship and Community
This article outlines how recent scholarly interventions about notions of race, ethnicity and nation in the ancient Mediterranean world have impacted the study of early Christianity. Contrary to the long-held proposition that Christianity was supra-ethnic, a slate of recent publications has demonstrated how early Christian authors thought in explicitly ethnic terms and developed their own ethnic discourse even as they positioned Christianity as a universal religion. Universalizing ambitions and ethnic reasoning were part and parcel of a larger sacred history of Christian triumphalism. Christian thinkers were keen to make claims about kinship, descent, blood, customs and habits to enumerate what it meant to be a Christian and belong to a Christian community. The narrative that Christians developed about themselves was very much an ethnic history, one in which human difference and diversity was made to conform to the theological and ideological interests of early Christian thinkers.

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