Saturday 17 March 2018

The Asbury Journal 72, 2 (2017)

The latest issue of Asbury Journal, containing the below main articles, a set of essays honouring the legacy and teaching of Old Testament scholar John Oswalt.

The entire issue is available as a pdf here.

Bill T. Arnold
A Singular Israel in a Pluralistic World
The question of Israel’s distinctiveness in the ancient Near East was a central concern of the biblical theology movement in the mid-twentieth century. The excessive claims and overstatements of that movement were corrected later in the twentieth century. Most scholars today assume the question is settled in a consensus that Old Testament Israel was not distinctive, and was completely at home in the ancient world in every respect. This paper explores three ways in which ancient Israel was indeed at home in ancient Near Eastern culture, while also suggesting ways in which Israel’s religious convictions led to a genuinely unique profile in the ancient world.

Daniel I. Block
A Prophet Like Moses? Who or Why?
This paper examines the Hebrew understanding of Moses’ statement about a “a prophet like me” that YHWH would raise up in Deuteronomy 18:15. Here it is examined within its larger context of verses 9-22, with a comparison of the prophetic role of Moses held up against the role of diviners and fortunetellers in other regional religious traditions. The role of this scripture for a Jewish understanding of future prophets is highlighted as opposed to any messianic interpretation of the text.

Christina Bosserman
Seeing Double: An Iconographic Reading of Genesis 2-3
This paper examines the role of visual literacy in the construction of biblical narrative, by asking how visual images in the ancient Near East might have been understood by biblical writers and how these understandings (or misunderstandings) may have influenced the development of the biblical text. In particular, the issue of visual illiteracy is examined in light of Mesopotamian seals with images similar to the Garden of Eden story found in Genesis 2-3, and how these visual images might have resulted in the confusion of one or two trees in the center of the Garden.

Joseph R. Dongell
Paganism, Wesley, and the Means of Grace
John Wesley, the 18th century English reformer and father of Methodism, can be read with justification as the leader of a Christian renewal movement whose deepest underpinnings lay squarely in the Old Testament. I will identify three primary anchorages, describing the first two briefly before treating the third more extensively. To put it succinctly, I claim that Wesley cast the goal of his vision as the love commanded for God and neighbor in Deut. 6:4-5 and Lev. 19:18, identified the content of that love in terms of the Mosaic Law itself, then urged the attainment of such love through practicing the Means of Grace in a manner congruent with the theology of Malachi 3:6-12.

Nancy Erickson
Isaiah’s Model House
Isaiah’s scrutiny of idol fashioning in 44:6–20 provides a window into his understanding of image making in the ancient Near East. The prophet’s descriptions are a symptom of his shared perception, or the common cognitive environment, of the ancient world in which he lived; this includes information gathered from the discipline of biblical archaeology. Based on the cultic literary context of Isaiah 44, a nuance of the usual meaning of the Hebrew term בית , and the prophet’s larger shared environment attested by the material culture of the ancient Near East, I suggest Isaiah’s use of בית in 44:13b assumes a “model house.”

L. Daniel Hawk
A Prophet Unlike Moses: Balaam as Prophetic Intercessor
The Balaam narrative (Numbers 22:1-24:25) is fraught with textual and theological incongruity. A narrative analysis of the corpus, however, reveals the incongruities as literary devices that render Balaam as a prophetic anti-type in contrast to Moses. While both Balaam and Moses are obedient messengers who speak the words of Yhwh, their ministry as intercessors manifests vastly different understandings of Yhwh. Both figures try to change Yhwh’s mind. Balaam does so through ritual manipulation and with the idea that Yhwh can be induced to curse what Yhwh has blessed. Moses, however, directly appeals to Yhwh for mercy in response to a divine decree of destruction. The prominence and ambiguous rendering of the Balaam narrative therefore reflects its importance in assisting Israel to discern trustworthy versus untrustworthy prophets.

Michael D. Matlock
The Function of Psalmic Prayers in Chronicles: Literary-Rhetorical Method in Conversation With Ritual Theory
The content, location, and integration of each recorded and reported prayer text in the narrative of 1-2 Chronicles largely determines the forceful rhetorical functions of prayer within the narrative contexts and helps to establish early Jewish identity in the Second Temple period. The editors of the book adapt prayers to new settings and distinct needs of the faith community. Through the discourse of psalmic prayer (1 Chr 16:8-36; 16:41; 2 Chr 5:13; 6:40-42; 7:3; 7:6; and 20:21) in relationship to elements of ritual, ideas may become embodied and appropriated by the participants of these prayers.

Brian D. Russell
The Song of the Sea and the Subversion of Canaanite Myth: A Missional Reading
By means of explicit links to the Ugaritic Baal Cycle (CAT 1.1–1.6), the Song of the Sea (Exodus 15:1b–18) models missional engagement with the late Bronze/early Iron Age cultures in which Israel emerged, and in the process enhances Israel’s presentation of Yhwh as the true King of the cosmos. By subverting the mythic worldview of the Baal Cycle, the Song implants a new view of creation and reality into God’s people while serving as a witness to the nations of a different type of God.

Lawson G. Stone
“I’m Gonna Make You Famous”: Joshua 6:23-27
“So the LORD was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land.” (Josh 6:27)

The greatest of the Egyptian Pharaohs, Ramses II provides a dramatic foil highlighting the Old Testament presentation of the figure of Joshua, a contemporary of Ramses. The accomplishments of each gave them reason to believe their contributions would be lasting, but ultimately only one changed the world, while the other was largely forgotten except by historians and archaeologists. The fame of Ramses arose from his arrogant exercise of power, while the fame of Joshua was bestowed on him as a faithful successor of Moses in serving Yahweh.

One of the most conspicuous features of the legacy of John N. Oswalt is his biblical preaching. His ability to focus the vital life of the biblical story and juxtapose it with contemporary experience consistently challenges and delights those who hear him. This is a sermon preached at Asbury Theological Seminary October 18, 2016. I wrote this sermon thinking of my professor and mentor, who also introduced me to Shelly’s poem “Ozymandias” which he would recite from memory in class.

David L. Thompson
Yet Another Try on Job 42:6
This paper examines the final statement of Job in response to Yhwh’s speech, which is often translated as “Therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.” This paper argues that there are problems with the translation, with the Hebrew for “relent” being used, and not the word for “repent.” It also argues from other uses of the expression “dust and ashes” that this may be a phrase used to refer to Job’s humanity. In this sense, Job agrees that he has spoken beyond his competence with Yhwh and relents regarding the weakness of his humanity, which is not a sin, or something for which repentance is necessary.

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