Volume 3 - Issue 1

Review of theological journals, 1976

By Ralph P. Martin

This time round the survey of literature appearing in the current journals fits into a new pattern. Responding to editorial suggestions that last year’s effort (Themelios 2, no. 1, pp. 22–28) was too technical and oriented to the scholar more than the theological student, the writer has pitched the present review to meet a more practical need. This has meant passing over certain items, occasionally with only a brief mention because they (a) carried forward the discussion mentioned in earlier reviews, or (b) were composed by evangelical scholars. More favour is shown to articles of general interest and especially contributions that are themselves rich in bibliography and provide a survey of the issues at stake. Fledging scholars and hard-pressed theologs may welcome this change of perspective. I hope so. At all events, editorial wisdom decrees that it will be so. (I would welcome readers’ comments on this—Editor.) The various items are numbered for ease of reference.

Old Testament

  1. Simply mentioning learned articles by A. R. Millard (‘Assyrian royal names in biblical Hebrew’) and D. W. Gooding (‘An appeal for a stricter terminology in the textual criticism of the Old Testament’, opposing F. M. Cross’s well-known views), both in JSS 21.1 and 2, pp. 1–14, 15–25 respectively, let me hasten to several articles of immediate exegetical value.
  2. J. A. Emerton, ‘Gideon and Jerubaal’ (JTS 27.2, pp. 289–312) argues that the two names are usually not distinguished, though one may be a regnal appellation. This would be feasible if Gideon =Jerubaal became king (p. 310), which is not explicit in the story. So there may have been two persons.
  3. Daniel 2 presents its own problems to the interpreter. It is good to read a full discussion by P. R. Davies (JTS 27.2, pp. 392–401). He pleads for a redaction in Maccabean times of an earlier edition of the stories, modelled on Genesis 41 where the saga of Joseph illustrates that in captivity God maintains his purpose. The eschatological sense was recovered in the second century bc.
  4. ‘Form, Occasion and Redaction in Jeremiah 20’ are studied in a joint contribution, authored by D. J. A. Clines and D. M. Gunn (ZATW 88.3, pp. 390–408), with special attention devoted to Jeremiah 20:7–18. Two units are isolated, a psalm-like lament and a self-curse; and settings in the prophet’s life and in the context of the book are proposed. This is a neat job of literary analysis, but it left me wondering if too much had been sacrificed to have everything ‘ship-shape’.
  5. Old Testament students often suffer a mild trauma over the partitioning of the prophetic works, notably canonical Isaiah. Accepting the dual setting of Zechariah, R. A. Mason discusses ‘The Relation of Zechariah 9–14 to Proto-Zechariah’ (ZATW 88.2, pp. 227–239), in a spin-off of his doctoral thesis. The latter sought to explore the lines of continuity between the two parts of the prophecy, and the most important elements in his arguments are lucidly spelled out in his article. They range from the prominence given to the Zion tradition to the provision of leadership as a sign of the new age. The last-named is important, since it is appealed to in defence of his thesis that the earlier (chapters 1–8) hopes of a revived theocracy under Joshua and Zerubbabel collapsed and were replaced by an apocalyptic eschatology in deutero-Zechariah who awaited the direct intervention of Yahweh. P. D. Hanson’s book The dawn of apocalyptic (1975), on a similar theme, may well be recalled.
  6. Exodus 24 plays a significant role in Israel’s covenant relationship with her God, but there are some outstanding problems. These are deftly handled by E. W. Nicholson (‘The Origin of the Tradition in Exodus 24:9–11’, VT 26.2, pp. 148–160) and solutions sought in Yahweh’s theophany cast in a story of pre-Mosaic origin and stressing the pilgrimage of Midianites and Israelites to the holy mountain. ‘Covenant’ theology in the OT forms the ruling motif of R. E. Clements’ survey, ‘Recent developments in Old Testament theology’ (ER 3.3, pp. 99–107), where the terminal points are predictably Eichrodt and von Rad, but intervening names such as Smend, Perlitt, Hasel and Kutsch receive due mention. In all, it is a most useful coverage.
  7. Mention of G. F. Hasel may recall last issue’s reference to his attack on the identity problem of the saints of the Most High in Daniel 7 (in Bib 56.2). This is a passage of some importance to biblical students in general, so we remark on an endorsement of Hasel’s position in V. S. Poythress, ‘The holy ones of the Most High in Daniel 7’ (VT 26.2, pp. 208–213), where the conclusion is reached that the final text speaks of ‘eschatological faithful Israel’, though the rival views of the title are brought together.
  8. The title ‘Recent literary structuralist approaches to biblical interpretation’, in The Churchman 90.3, pp. 165–177, should not be misconstrued. It is the work of an OT specialist, J. Rogerson, who writes helpfully, if narrowly, on problems in his area. For more general orientation within the discipline of hermeneutics, A. C. Thiselton’s ‘The semantics of biblical language as an aspect of hermeneutics’ (FT 103.2, pp. 108–120) deserves a mention, though the typography and format do not help the reader. His essay in the forthcoming New Testament interpretation, ed. I. H. Marshall (1977) will be all the more welcome, since this article is a curtain-raiser.

Biblical theology

  1. Pride of place under this caption goes to J. Goldingay’s instructive statement of options and preferences, ‘Inspiration, infallibility and criticism’ (The Churchman 90.1, pp. 6–23), which receives full marks for its comprehensiveness, sanity and helpfulness. Students who need to thread their way through the minefield littered with such obstacles as ‘unity and diversity’, ‘authorship and authenticity’, and ‘presuppositions and authority’ of the biblical records will find this a godsend.
  2. The approach taken in the preceding essay would be labelled ‘evangelical’ by most (except perhaps by those who would remark on the singular—and fatal—omission of ‘inerrancy’ in the title). What marks off ‘evangelical’ from its rivals? H. Berkhof’s reply is given in ‘Berlin versus Geneva: our relationship with “evangelicals” ’ (EcR 28.1, pp. 80–86). The last-mentioned are quoted as the European missiologists W. Künneth and P. Beyerhaus, and Geneva, of course, is not in this context Calvin’s city but the WCC headquarters. Berkhof’s disquisition makes interesting reading, chiefly to do with how ‘evangelicals’ are perceived across the fence; but the tone and temper are eirenical.
  3. A more extreme position in the ecumenical spectrum is seen in W. Marxsen’s understanding of what the NT is all about. His answer is ‘A collection of sermons’, written to explain the Jesus-kerygma (The Modern Churchman 19.4, pp. 134–143).
  4. More acceptable is a cluster of essays dedicated to the inter-relationship of the Testaments. D. L. Baker throws needed and welcome light on ‘Typology and the Christian use of the Old Testament’ (SJT 29.2, pp. 137–157), with special attention given to the precise meaning of typos. The tension felt when one questions the significance of the OT as it is used in the NT is only too apparent in the debate between two New Testament scholars: B. Lindars, ‘The place of the Old Testament in the formation of New Testament theology’ (NTS 23.1, pp. 59–66), concludes that the NT writers employ the OT for a variety of purposes because it was ‘the natural medium of expression’ (p. 65), and the OT plays a servant role; P. Borgen’s ‘Response’ (pp. 67–75) takes issue with several points, claiming that the OT is a necessary and integral part of NT theology, just as Jesus Christ was a Jew and cannot be understood severed from Israel and its history interpreted as revelation (p. 75). Borgen has the edge here, I believe, but what interests me is the Anglo-Saxon/ecclesiastical scopus on the one side, standing over against the European/confessional position on the other.

New Testament

  1. Survey articles from the pen of G. B. Caird on source, form and redaction criticism (ExpT 87.4, 5, 6; pp. 99–104, 137–141, 168–172) have made this monthly journal excellent resource material for students. Caird’s earlier positions on the two-document and proto-Luke theories are reaffirmed with caution, and redaction criticism is held in some suspicion, especially Conzelmann’s brand.
  2. Equally distrustful of Redaktionsgeschichte is C. L. Mitton whose final contribution to the ExpT as editor appeared as ‘Further studies in St Mark’ (87.10, pp. 297–301). The adjective in the title dates back to R. S. Barbour’s earlier survey in 1968, so we are treated to a discussion of books on Mark that have been published in the last decade.

Mark’s Gospel received another treatment in N. Perrin’s ‘The interpretation of the Gospel of Mark’ (Interp30.2, pp. 115–124), where appeal is made above all to literary criticism of a special kind as the key to unlock the Gospel’s message. This type of literary appreciation is better termed rhetorical criticism ‘taught in the kind of school in which the Evangelist will have learnt his Greek’ (p. 123)—a statement that cries out for justification. Alas, it will not be forthcoming in view of the author’s death in November last. One example of rhetorical criticism more cogently in operation is seen in H. Boers, ‘The form critical study of Paul’s letters: 1 Thessalonians as a case study’ (NTS 22.2, pp. 140–158).

  1. Matthew’s Gospel has occasioned a spate of recent studies, much to the bewilderment of students. It is good to have C. J. A. Hickling’s overview of books and articles in ‘Reading, and reading about, Matthew’s Gospel’ (ER 3.2, pp. 103–108), as a checklist of what is available. P. T. O’Brien writes most helpfully on ‘The great commission of Matthew 28:18–20’, asking whether it is a missionary mandate or not (RTR 35.3, pp. 66–78). By placing the emphasis on ‘making disciples’ rather than on ‘going’, he regards the Jerusalem church as ‘faithful’—at least pro tem—to the Lord’s command.

‘Are the Matthean Beatitudes primarily ethical or eschatological in character?’ asks R. A. Guelich (‘The Matthean beatitudes: “entrance-requirements” or eschatological blessings?’, JBL 95.3, pp. 415–434), and answers that the contents of the section may indicate that the ethical undertone is pre-Matthean, but for Q and the evangelist the eschatology of a new age of salvation is paramount in the light of Isaiah 61.

  1. Two contributions to an understanding of 1 Peter have stood out. J. H. Elliott, ‘The rehabilitation of an exegetical step-child: 1 Peter in recent research’ (JBL 95.2, pp. 243–254), is critical of F. W. Beare’s commentary at several points and takes a distinctive step forward in claiming that we should recognize Petrine Christianity alongside the more traditional groupings of Pauline and Johannine expressions of the kerygma. D. Hill centres on ‘Suffering and baptism in 1 Peter’ (NovT 18.3, pp. 181–189), and relates the two as belonging to the nature of the Christian life: baptism marks the believer’s allegiance and suffering is the necessary consequence.
  2. The debate over Acts and its historical claims is bravely tackled in F. F. Bruce’s question, ‘Is the Paul of Acts the real Paul?’ (BJRL 58.2, pp. 282–305). The answer given is that he is, but Acts views Paul through the later eyes of Luke who wrote for a different purpose from Paul, and at a time when the tensions in Paul’s letters were of less consequence and so deserved to be forgotten. This treatment seems to require a dating of Acts later than the mid-sixties, however.
  3. F. F. Bruce’s presidential address, ‘The New Testament and classical studies’ (NTS 22.3, pp. 229–242), is not to be missed, with its reminder of the larger world of Graeco-Roman civilization and culture in which the church was born and grew. His earlier lecture on The Secret Gospel of Mark (noted in Themelios 2.1 last year) will prepare us for a continued exchange between Morton Smith and Q. Quesnell on ‘The Mar Saba Letter of Clement’, reported in CBQ 38.2, pp. 196–203.
  4. The Gospel of Luke and some recent studies relating thereto formed the issue of Interp 30.4 with essays by A. J. Hultgren, ‘Interpreting the Gospel of Luke’ (pp. 353–365), R. P. Martin, ‘Salvation and discipleship in Luke’s Gospel’ (pp. 366–380), and C. H. Talbert, ‘Shifting sands: the recent study of the Gospel of Luke’ (pp. 381–395). The last-named will be particularly of interest to those who wish to keep abreast of Lukan research as it is observed from Talbert’s coign of advantage.
  5. What that perspective is may be seen in C. H. Talbert’s contribution on ‘The myth of a descending and ascending redeemer in Mediterranean antiquity’ (NTS 22.4, pp. 418–440), which investigates a wide range of data, mainly drawn from hellenistic Judaism. It is serviceable to have the material brought together in a convenient form, but the conclusions he draws are less certain.
  6. T. W. Manson’s influential theory as to the origin of chapter 16 of Romans is challenged by B. N. Kaye, ‘ “To the Romans and others” revisited’ (NovT 18.1, pp. 37–77), an article that is interesting on several counts, both in offering a rival theory to Manson and elucidating the (early) date proposed for Galatians. Several key issues in Romans are ventilated in RE 73.4, an entire volume devoted to the epistle. The same may be said for SWJT 19.1, also dedicated to studies in Romans.
  7. By no means to be missed is C. H. Dodd’s rationale for several translation possibilities of verses in NEB. Edited by C. F. D. Moule, these papers, left by Dodd at his death, are appearing in BT 27.3 (and in later numbers), and they make highly important and interesting reading (pp. 301–311): the first set of verses comprise Matthew 1:23 =Luke 1:27 (parthenos), Acts 20:7, and Matthew 5:3 (rendered ‘those who know their need of God’), as well as a comment on the Greek adelphos, treated in Paul’s letters as a staff member of his mission team.
  8. For those who wish to look over the English Channel to observe what sorts of questions are exciting interest in French, German, Italian and even Polish language circles, we can heartily recommend K. Grayston’s ‘Foreign theological literature: 1975–1976: the NT’ (ExpT 87.9, pp. 260–264) in which some thirty titles are mentioned and appraised.
  9. Equally serviceable, except that we are bidden to look back and around us, is J. C. Little’s conspectus on ‘Parable research in the twentieth century’, appearing in successive issues of ExpT 87.12 (pp. 356–360), 88.2 (pp. 40–43), 88.3 (pp. 71–75). The range extends from Jülicher and Fiebig, through C. H. Dodd and Jeremias to the New Hermeneutic and the ‘midrash’ exponents. Lacking only, in my observation, is C. E. Carlston’s work (1975).
  10. The exegesis of Pauline problem passages has had a lean year. All the more important is the fine if unpersuasive contribution of J. Murphy-O’Connor, ‘Christological anthropology in Phil. II, 6–11’ (RB 83, pp. 25–50), who accepts a three-stanza division of the text and erects an impressive argument for Jesus’ unique manhood, based on the wisdom tradition. Systematic theologians as well as NT students will need to weigh this essay.

Theology: systematic, historical and applied

  1. The year 1976 saw the centenary of Albert Schweitzer’s birth, so it is not unnatural to expect some anniversary tribute. The best we came across was D. L. Dungan’s ‘Albert Schweitzer’s disillusionment with the historical reconstruction of the life of Jesus’ (Perkins Journal 29.3, pp. 27–48). The bold thesis is that Schweitzer had an overriding concern to break the lock-grip of liberal historians on the life of Jesus (p. 34), and the second edition of his Quest is his ‘bravest effort to protect the Jesus of the Bible from the historians!’ (p. 35).
  2. Pannenberg’s place in modern theology is secure, but it is good to get an evaluation of him in P. J. A. Cook’s essay (‘Pannenberg: a post-Enlightenment theologian) in The Churchman 90.4, pp. 245–264. Pannenberg’s contribution to myth is the terminus ad quem in M. F. Wiles’ study on ‘Myth’ in BJRL 59.1, pp. 226–246, where Strauss figures prominently, as one might expect.
  3. The place of the Bible in modern theologizing is a perennial concern. Among some good attempts to relate it we observe R. H. Preston, ‘From the Bible to the modern world: a problem for ecumenical ethics’ (BJRL 59.1, pp. 164–187) (which is predictably strong on ethical concerns in today’s world) and, with a more traditional approach, J. H. Leith, ‘The Bible and theology’ (Interp 30.3, pp. 227–241).
  4. Of inter-disciplinary interest, K. P. Donfried’s essay, ‘Justification and last judgment in Paul’ (in two places, Interp 30.2, pp. 140–152; ZNTW 67, pp. 90–110, in a fuller form) demands attention. It crosses several barriers that separate biblical criticism from systematics, from ethics and from hermeneutics; and it performs a vital service in addressing several leading issues in the light of the modern (mainly German and inter-confessional) debate. Additional light on the tension between justification and sanctification is bound to be received gratefully.
  5. Of a practical character we were helped by A. S. Wood’s ‘Evangelism in the NT’ (ER 3.3, pp. 50–57). Yet the most lasting impression came in G. R. Beasley-Murray’s address on ‘The Preparation of the Gospel’ (RE73.2, pp. 205–212). It is well worth a wider audience, especially among the theological fraternity, both teachers and students, since it comes to grips with basic concerns. ‘Nothing is so urgently required by the Church of Christ and the world at large as evangelical leadership worthy of the Gospel’. How to get that leadership is his passion, involving both mental discipline and reliance on God’s free grace. His conclusion is eloquently expressed, and the entire paper deserves an extended readership.


Bib                   Biblica (Rome)

BJRL                 Bulletin of the John Rylands Library (Manchester)

BT                    Bible Translator (London)

CBQ                 Catholic Biblical Quarterly (Washington)

EcR                  Ecumenical Review (Geneva)

ER                    Epworth Review (London)

ExpT                Expository Times (Edinburgh)

FT                    Faith and Thought (London)

Interp              Interpretation (Richmond, Virginia)

JBL                   Journal of Biblical Literature (Philadelphia)

JSS                   Journal of Semitic Studies (Manchester)

JTS                   Journal of Theological Studies (Oxford)

NovT                Novum Testamentum (Leiden)

NTS                  New Testament Studies (Cambridge)

RB                    Revue Biblique (Jerusalem)

RE                    Review and Expositor (Louisville, Kentucky)

RTR                  Reformed Theological Review (Hawthorn, Victoria, Australia)

SJT                   Scottish Journal of Theology (Cambridge)

SWJT               Southwestern Journal of Theology (Fort Worth, Texas)

VT                    Vetus Testamentum (Leiden)

ZATW              Zeitschrift für die alttestamentliche Wissenschaft (Berlin)

ZNTW              Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft (Berlin)

Ralph P. Martin

Department of Biblical Studies, The University of Sheffield