Why is the Eucharist not an explicit event narrated in the fourth Gospel? Richard Bauckham answers by saying,
I have argued elsewhere that john presupposes that his readers know Mark’s Gospel and deliberately does not repeat what could be read in Mark unless he has a specific reason for doing so. And second, To call Mark 14:22-25 and Matt. 26:26-29 accounts of “the institution of the Eucharist” is misleading because, unlike Luke 22:19 and Paul in 1 Cor. 11:25, they contain no indication that what Jesus does is to be repeated by his disciples. The function of these accounts in Mark and Matthew is to provide readers, in advance of the narrative of Jesus’ death, with a sacrificial interpretation of that death. John has no need of such an account for this purpose, because his narrative of the death of Jesus itself suggests a sacrificial interpretation (John 19:34). So, at the Last Supper he narrates instead another symbolic act of Jesus, the foot-washing (John 13:1-11), which also interprets the death of Jesus, in this case as the culmination of his ministry of loving service in the role of a slave.1
Richard Bauckham, “Sacraments?” in Gospel of Glory, p. 104. ↩︎
Richard Bauckham in his recent collection of essays/lectures, Gospel of Glory, writes about the possibility of the sacraments in the Gospel of John. One of the striking aspects of the fourth gospel is the absence of the sacraments but many theologians and scholars throughout history recognize the presence of sacramental type language throughout. Bauckham argues that John in chapter six is making an allusive reference to the Lord’s Supper to highlight the believer participating in the life of Jesus. He says,
It now becomes clear that eternal life is not just a divine gift to those who believe in Jesus; it is actual participation in Jesus’s own life, made available through his death. This is the significance of John 6:56–57. In verse 57 Jesus explains that he himself lives out of the eternal divine life of his Father, and so believers, participating in Jesus’s life, are alive with this same divine life. In verse 56 he explains that faith in the crucified Jesus unites the believer with him in a union so intimate and enduring that it can be depicted as mutual indwelling and abiding. This language of the reciprocal indwelling of Jesus and the believer is itself, because of its reciprocity, an advance on the language of eating and drinking. John introduces here as a means of connecting this discourse with the Last Supper Discourse, where the image of mutual indwelling recurs (John 10:14–23; 15:4–7) in the context of fuller discussion of the life of discipleship.1
Richard Bauckham, “Sacraments?” in Gospel of Glory pp. 102–3. ↩︎
Receiving new academic catalogues from book publisher’s is always exciting as it is a time to peruse upcoming books in my field and related interests. I just received Baker Academic’s Fall 2015 catelogue and it has several upcoming monographs related to the New Testament. Below is a sampling of a few that I am particularly looking forward to.
Upcoming: New Testament & Hermeneutics
Joel B. Green: Conversion in Luke-Acts: Divine Action, Human Cognition, and the People of God
Repentance and conversion are key topics in New Testament interpretation and in Christian life. However, the study of conversion in early Christianity has been plagued by psychological assumptions alien to the world of the New Testament. Leading New Testament scholar Joel Green believes that careful attention to the narrative of Luke-Acts calls for significant rethinking about the nature of Christian conversion. Drawing on the cognitive sciences and examining key evidence in Luke-Acts, this book emphasizes the embodied nature of human life as it explores the life transformation signaled by the message of conversion, offering a new reading of a key aspect of New Testament theology. (Amazon) December 2015
Craig Keener: Acts: An Exegetical Commentary: 24:1–28:31
Highly respected New Testament scholar Craig Keener is known for his meticulous and comprehensive research. This commentary on Acts, his magnum opus, may be the largest and most thoroughly documented Acts commentary ever written. Useful not only for the study of Acts but also early Christianity, this work sets Acts in its first-century context.
In this volume, the last of four, Keener finishes his detailed exegesis of Acts, utilizing an unparalleled range of ancient sources and offering a wealth of fresh insights. This magisterial commentary will be an invaluable resource for New Testament professors and students, pastors, Acts scholars, and libraries. The complete four-volume set is available at a special price. (Amazon) October 2015
Rodney Whitacre: Using and Enjoying Biblical Greek: Reading the New Testament with Fluency and Devotion
Many who study biblical Greek despair of being able to use it routinely, but veteran instructor Rodney Whitacre says there is hope! By learning to read Greek slowly, students can become fluent one passage at a time and grasp the New Testament in its original language. Whitacre explains how to practice meditation on Scripture (lectio divina) in Greek, presenting a workable way to make Greek useful in life and ministry. Ideal for classroom use and for group or individual study, this book helps students advance their knowledge of Greek and equips them to read the original texts with fluency and depth. (Amazon) December 2015
Craig Bartholomew: Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics: A Comprehensive Framework for Hearing God in Scripture
Renowned scholar Craig Bartholomew, coauthor of the bestselling textbook The Drama of Scripture, writes in his main area of expertise–hermeneutics–to help seminarians pursue a lifetime of biblical interpretation. Integrating the latest research in theology, philosophy, and biblical studies, this substantive hermeneutics textbook is robustly theological in its approach, takes philosophical hermeneutics seriously, keeps the focus throughout on the actual process of interpreting Scripture, and argues that biblical interpretation should be centered in the context and service of the church–an approach that helps us hear God’s address today. (Amazon) November 2015
Recently Released: New Testament
Karl Allen Kuhn: The Kingdom according to Luke and Acts: A Social, Literary, and Theological Introduction
This substantial, reliable introduction examines the character and purpose of Luke and Acts and provides a thorough yet economical treatment of Luke’s social, historical, and literary context. Karl Allen Kuhn presents Luke’s narrative as a “kingdom story” that both announces the arrival of God’s reign in Jesus and describes the ministry of the early church, revealing the character of the kingdom as dramatically at odds with the kingdom of Rome. Kuhn explores the background, literary features, plotting, and themes of Luke and Acts but also offers significant, fresh insights into the persuasive force of Luke’s impressively crafted and rhetorically charged narrative. (Amazon)
Richard Bauckham: Gospel of Glory: Major Themes in Johannine Theology
Throughout Christian history, the Gospel of John’s distinctive way of presenting the life, works, teachings, death, and resurrection of Jesus have earned it labels such as “the spiritual Gospel” and “the maverick Gospel.” It has been seen as the most theological of the four canonical Gospels. In this volume Richard Bauckham, a leading biblical scholar and a bestselling author in the academy, illuminates main theological themes of the Gospel of John. Bauckham provides insightful analysis of key texts, covering topics such as divine and human community, God’s glory, the cross and the resurrection, and the sacraments. This work will serve as an ideal supplemental text for professors and students in a course on John or the four Gospels. It will also be of interest to New Testament scholars and theologians. (Amazon)
Stanley Porter: Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament: Studies in Tools, Methods, and Practice
In this volume, a leading expert brings readers up to date on the latest advances in New Testament Greek linguistics. Stanley Porter brings together a number of different studies of the Greek of the New Testament under three headings: texts and tools for analysis, approaching analysis, and doing analysis. He deals with a variety of New Testament texts, including the Synoptic Gospels, John, and Paul. This volume distills a senior scholar’s expansive writings on various subjects, making it an essential book for scholars of New Testament Greek and a valuable supplemental textbook for New Testament Greek exegesis courses. (Amazon)
Upcoming: Old Testament
Karen H. Jobes and Moisés Silva: Invitation to the Septuagint 2nd Ed.
This comprehensive yet user-friendly primer to the Septuagint (LXX) acquaints readers with the Greek versions of the Old Testament. It is accessible to students, assuming no prior knowledge about the Septuagint, yet is also informative for seasoned scholars. The authors, both prominent Septuagint scholars, explore the history of the LXX, the various versions of it available, and its importance for biblical studies. This expanded new edition has been substantially revised and updated to reflect major advances in Septuagint studies. Appendixes offer helpful reference resources for further study. (Amazon) December 2015
Ellen Charry: Psalms 1–50 (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible
The biblical psalms are perhaps the most commented-upon texts in human history. They are at once deeply alluring and deeply troubling. In this addition to the acclaimed Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible, a highly respected scholar offers a theological reading of Psalms 1–50, exploring the various voices in the poems to discern the conversation they engage about God, suffering, and hope as well as ways of community belonging. The commentary examines the context of the psalms as worship–tending to both their original setting and their subsequent Jewish and Christian appropriation–and explores the psychological dynamics facing the speaker. (Amazon) October 2015
It is interesting to note that this particular book uses the phrasing “Luke and Acts” while a majority of scholars would classify it as “Luke-Acts”. I’ll be interested to see if this has any hermeneutical significance in this work. ↩
One of the major themes weaved throughout the book of James is the idea of “wholeness.” Often in our translation the word for wholeness (τέλειος) is translated as “perfect.” This is an unhelpful translation because it gives that connatation that James is just calling for a sinless morality. James envisions wholeness as a life that is characterized by both doing and being. We cannot “do” without “being” and likewise we cannot “be” without “doing.” Richard Bauckham, in his excellent book on James, lays out five ways that James speaks of this wholeness:
Integration – The whole self is devoted to God. This includes the heart (thoughts, feelings, will), tongue (speech), and hands (deeds). One cannot worship God with his heart but lack proper speech ethics. In the same manner, one cannot do good deeds without a heart devoted to God. For James, this type of person is a “double-minded” person who is not fully devoted to God. Wholeness as integration is also a community excersise. Someone cannot be completely devoted to God without being person “characterized by peaceable, gentle, considerate, caring, and forgiving relationships (Jas. 2.13; 3.13, 17; 4.11–12; 5.16, 19).”
Exclusion – The whole person is one who excludes values and actions that doesn’t make up a τέλειος type person. One cannot be devoted to the world and God but must choose one or the other (Jas. 4.4).
Completion – This is related to the integration since according to James a person cannot be halfway devoted to God. A whole person is one who has faith but also deeds (Jas 2.14–26), endures completely (Jas 1.2–4, 12; 5.7–11), and not only hears the words of God but also does them (Jas. 1.22–25).
Consistency – Bauckham argues that consistency is “another way of considering the first three.” These aspects cannot be done intermittently but must represent a consistent life that is completely devoted to God.
Divine Perfection – We can only be a whole person because “God himself is characterized by wholeness and consistency.” Just as God himself is whole so too should we be a people characterized by wholeness. God is completely devoted to himself (holy) and for his people this means that they are completely devoted to him (Dt. 4.4–6).
The theme of wholeness pervades the book of James. It is also a key theme in the Gospel of Matthew. This also ties in nicely with a virtue ethic understanding of Paul and especially the Sermon on the Mount. I hope to explore these themes more closely in the future but for now I leave you with a final excerpt from Bauckham’s book:
Wholeness is a goal towards which one can move only in relation to a center which is already whole and from which one can gain wholeness. This means moving in one direction rather than others. It means rejecting values and behavior which are inconsistent with the goal. It means refusing all the idolatries which dominate and diminish human life in favor of the one love which can truly liberate and include all that Is good.
Bauckham, Richard. James: Wisdom of James, Disciple of Jesus the Sage. New Testament Readings. London ; New York: Routledge, 1999. ↩
This semester I am taking Greek Exegesis of James with Dr. Plummer. Our final exam is coming up at the beginning of May. In preparation for this I am creating a short, running commentary on the text. For the reader of this blog it may seem that there is no rhyme or reason to what I choose to include but it is primarily covering aspects that I think will be pertinent for my final exam and what I want documented. Also see my post about the Greek vocabulary of James in formatted PDF and a flashcard app for mobile devices. Feel free to post any comments or questions or email me. The translation and notes are my own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Dr. Plummer.
δοῦλος – one who is solely committed to another, slave, subject.
ἡγέομαι – to engage in an intellectual process, think, consider, regard
δοκίμιον – the process or means of determining the genuineness of someth., testing, means of testing
ὑπομονή – the capacity to hold out or bear up in the face of difficulty, patience, endurance, fortitude, steadfastness, perseverance
ἔχω – as connective marker, to have or include in itself, bring about, cause (connecting to κατεργάζεται )
ὁλόκληρος – pertaining to being complete and meeting all expectations, with integrity, whole, complete, undamaged, intact, blameless
Πᾶσαν is functioning adjectively and the meaning is probably relating to the totality and completeness of the believers joy. James’ has an emphasis on the wholeness of persons and things throughout his letter. Therefore, the complete joy, is a joy that is lacking in nothing.
1 James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ to the twelve tribes in the dispora. Greetings.
2 Consider it complete joy, my brothers, whenever you encounter trials of various kinds, 3 For you know that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 And let patience produce a complete work, in order that you may be complete and whole, lacking in nothing.
For a discussion on the διασπορά see Bauckham, Richard. James: Wisdom of James, Disciple of Jesus the Sage. New Testament Readings. London ; New York: Routledge, 1999, pp. 11–28. In this he says:
Most scholars tend to think of the diaspora as the western Diaspora: the Jews who lived in the Mediterranean area, subject to the Roman Empire. But to Jews of the time, the eastern Diaspora in the lands across the Euphrates, to the east of the Roman Empire, was just as important. The western Diaspora consisted largely of descendants of the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi, but the easter Diaspora consisted not only of descendants of these southern tribes, in Babylonia, but also – probably in at at least as large numbers – descendants of the northern tribes, in the lands to the north of Babylon. To encompass the whole Diaspora, ‘the twelve tribes in the diaspora’ was precisely the phrase needed. Of course, ‘the twelve tribes’, with its echo of the ancient constitution of the people of Israel as a whole, could probably never be a purely matter-of-fact term in Jewish ears. In particular, it evoked the hope of the regatherings of all the tribes in the land of Israel by God in the Messianic tribes.
James 1:2–4 is very close to 1 Peter 1:6–7, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
One of the main ideas of the letter is wholeness. James introduces the goal of a person who encounters various trials in life is to become a whole person.
Martin has some a helpful 3 points on the use of τέλειος here:
It is primarily a statement about a person’s character, not simply a record of his or her overt acts
The achieving of a “perfect work” of moral character is not simply human endeavor writ large as in the Stoic ideal but is modeled on the divine pattern which sets the standard and inspires the believer
The ‘perfection’ of James is eschatological, that is, it looks ahead to its fullest maturity at the end time when God’s plan, not excusing himself or permitting any failure to block the way thereto.