Volume 6 - Issue 2

Survey of 1979 Journals

Old Testament


BA—Biblical Archaeologist

JSOT—Journal for the Study of the OT

VT—Vetus Testamentum

The official date of publication is 1979 except where stated.

The most sensational article of the year came from the editor of Biblical Archaeologist, D. N. Freedman, who argued in that journal 41 (1978) pp. 143–164 that Abraham should be dated to the third millennium bc, because a text from Ebla mentions the five cities of Genesis 14. However, after the article had gone to press Freedman received a letter saying that the translator of the Ebla texts now finds only Sodom and Gomorrah on one tablet, and is uncertain about the other cities, which if correctly read only appear on another tablet! A little note to this effect appears in a grey box in Freedman’s article.

The claim that the god Ya (Yahweh?) was worshipped at Ebla is dismissed by A. Archi, ‘The Epigraphic Evidence from Ebla and the OT’, Biblica 60 pp. 556–566. His rather negative conclusions should not obscure the fact that the Ebla texts promise to be of prime importance to OT study; in the mean time they serve as a warning that it is dangerous to build new hypotheses on shaky foundations and should prompt prayer that a reliable scholarly publication of these texts will be forthcoming.

Though hundreds of Hebrew seals dating from biblical times have been found, no one named on the seals has been securely identified with a known biblical figure. Now two have been discovered and are discussed by N. Avigad in ‘Jerahmeel the Scribe and Baruch the King’s Son’, BA 42 pp. 114–118. A new series of excavations in OT Jerusalem began in 1978, and a preliminary report by the director of the dig, Y. Shiloh, is found in BA 42 pp. 165–171. A valuable survey of recent archaeological discoveries bearing on OT history is provided by E. M. Yamauchi in The Seminary Review (Box 8, Cincinnati, Ohio 45204) 25.4 pp. 163–241.

The prize for the most illuminating article on OT theology and law must go to J. Soler, ‘The Dietary Prohibitions of the Hebrews’, The New York Review of Books 26.10 (14 June 1979) pp. 24–30. Independently Soler has come to an interpretation of these laws similar to that of Mary Douglas in Purity and Danger, but in various respects I find his analysis an advance on hers B. Long offers some valuable insights into the meaning of the phrase ‘for ever’ in Hebrew, in, ‘Notes on the Biblical Use of ’ad ’olam’ Westminster Theological Journal 41 (1978) pp. 54–67, He argues that ‘for ever’ does not always mean in perpetuity, but for the duration of the time specified in the particular context. S. A. Kaufman, Maarav 1, pp. 105–158 explains ‘The Structure of the Deuteronomic Law’ in terms of the order of the ten commandments and the methods of oriental legal draftsmen. In ‘The Restoration of Marriage Reconsidered’, Journal of Jewish Studies 30 pp, 36–40, I offer a new interpretation of Deuteronomy 24:1–4 based on the biblical understanding of the marriage bond as a type of kinship that is not terminated by death or divorce.

Daniel continues to be a focus of scholarly debate. H. H. P. Dressler rejects ‘The Identification of the Ugaritic Dnil with the Daniel of Ezekiel’, VT 29 pp. 152–161. He holds that Ezekiel is more probably referring to the biblical figure. G. F. Hasel, ‘The Four World Empires of Daniel 2 against its Near Eastern Environment’, JSOT 12 pp. 17–30 suggests that the notion of four empires is more closely connected with Babylonian sources than with later Persian, Greek or Roman views, Semeia 14 is devoted to a study of apocalyptic writings from the biblical period. P. W. Coxon argues in two articles in Revue de Qumran 9(1978) pp. 497–512 and Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen Gesellschaft 129 pp. 23–42 that Biblical Aramaic is a brand of Official (imperial) Aramaic, not a late dialect.

Finally four oddments. JSOT 13 pp. 33–73 contains articles by D. J. A, Clines, D, L. Petersen, and L. Eslinger discussing the interpretation of Genesis 6:1–4, the marriages of the sons of God with the daughters of men. In VT 29 pp. 436–443 R. E. Murphy defends ‘The Unity of the Song of Songs’, and on pp. 289–299 J. Goldingay suggests a single mind lies behind ‘The Arrangement of Isaiah 41–45’. Last but not least, R. J. Coggins, ‘History and Story in OT Study’, JSOT 11 pp. 36–46 pleads that OT teachers should spend less time discussing the historical background to the OT and critical theories about its composition, and concentrate more on explaining the text.

Gordon Wenham

New Testament

NB 1.         Year of publication is 1979 unless stated otherwise.

    1. Following abbreviations used:

ExpT—Expository Times

EQ—Evangelical Quarterly

JBL—Journal of Biblical Literature

JETS—Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

JSNT—Journal for the Study of the NT

JTS—Journal of Theological Studies

NTS—New Testament Studies

TB—Tyndale Bulletin

Another new journal this year: Irish Biblical Studies has included in its first year a valuable study of ‘Mark: some problems’ by Ernest Best, looking particularly at the nature and purpose of the gospel (pp. 77–98), and a useful survey of ‘some recent trends in Matthaean studies’ by David Hill (pp. 139–149).

The Griesbach hypothesis is still being actively promoted. One of its recent supports is H. H. Stoldt’s Geschichte und Kritik der Markushypothese, on which Christopher Tuckett does a historical demolition job in ‘The Griesbach Hypothesis in the 19th century’, JSNT 3, 29–60, which just shows how different history can look depending on your viewpoint.

Don Carson illuminates a difficult passage in ‘The Function of the Paraclete in John 16: 7–11’ JBL 98, 547–566, proposing to regard the ‘righteousness’ and ‘judgment’ as well as the ‘sin’ as those of the world itself, which the Spirit will expose as false or inadequate.

Grant Osborne continues his crusade to make redaction-criticism acceptable to evangelicals in an important programmatic essay, ‘The Evangelical and Redaction Criticism: Critique and Methodology’, JETS22, 305–322 (and see the following short article by R. E. Morosco on the same theme), and in a worked example drawing on all four gospels, ‘Redactional Trajectories in the Crucifixion Narrative’, EQ 51, 80–96.

Two significant Tyndale Lectures on Paul have appeared in the Tyndale Bulletin: Douglas de Lacey, ‘Image and Incarnation in Pauline Christology—a search for origins’, TB 30, 3–28 builds on the sort of approach seen in Moule’s Origin of Christology by a special study of Paul’s use of Image of God language. Tom Wright, ‘The Paul of History and the Apostle of Faith’, TB 29 (1978), focuses on Paul’s understanding of the place of Israel in God’s saving purpose, and the representative role of Christ, and in so doing provides a clear and constructive guide to the central questions of Pauline studies today—an important article.

Two useful insights into the Sitz-im-Leben of Galatians come from Richard Bauckham, ‘Barnabas in Galatians’, JSNT 2, 61–70 (Paul’s disappointment over Barnabas’ ‘defection’ at Antioch) and Larry Hurtado, ‘The Jerusalem Collection and the Book of Galatians’, JSNT 5, 46–62 (Paul’s rebuttal of misinterpretations of his motives in the collection).

Tony Thiselton, ‘The “Interpretation” of Tongues: a new suggestion …’, JTS 30, 15–36, argues linguistically and contextually that the ‘tongues’ of 1 Corinthians 12–14 are not translatable languages, and that the ‘interpretation’ is not another man’s ‘translation’ but the speaker’s putting into words of his own inarticulate utterance, i.e. his ceasing to speak in tongues. If he is right, this has considerable practical implications.

Andrew Lincoln, ‘ “Paul the Visionary”: … 2 Corinthians 12: 1–10’, NTS 25, 204–220 unpacks thoroughly that enigmatic passage, and suggests that visionary experience was a more regular part of Paul’s (and other NT Christians’) religious life than we usually imagine.

A handy guide to the present state of Qumran studies is provided by M. A. Knibb in ExpT 90, 294–300.

Finally, to be more ‘relevant’, you may find some help in thinking through ethical issues from Bruce Kaye, ‘Church and Politics: some guidelines from the NT’, Churchman 93, 211–224 and, I hope, from my own ‘God and Mammon’, EQ 51, 3–21 (on Jesus’ attitude to wealth, with special reference to Yoder)—much to disagree with in both!

Dick France

Church History

The following abbreviations are used:

CH—Church History

Vig. Christ.—Vigiliae Christianae

JEH—Journal Ecclesiastical History

Bauer’s thesis on the relation of heresy to orthodoxy in primitive Christianity comes under further attack from J. F. McCue, ‘Orthodoxy and Heresy: Walter Bauer and the Valentinians’, Vig. Christ. 33, 118–130. The Valentinians were, as traditionally held, a small offshoot from an orthodox mainstream. Bibl. Archeologist42:4 is wholly devoted to the Nag Hammadi Library, with the fullest account of its discovery—in December 1945—and subsequent history (both full of drama and intrigue), and a summary of recent archaeology in the area. To his question ‘Pre-Christian Gnosticism in the Nag Hammadi Texts’?’, CH 48, 129–141, E. Yamauchi gives a negative. Some of them may be non-Christian, but they do not antedate the second century ad. Everett Ferguson‘s article, ‘Inscriptions and the Origin of Infant Baptism’, JTS n.s. 30, 37–46, seeks to show from inscriptions that infant/ child baptism began as emergency baptism as death approached.

In ‘Calvin’s Doctrine of Assurance’, Vox Evang. 11, 32–54, A. N. S. Lane clears away stubborn misconceptions, demonstrating convincingly that Calvin pointed the doubting or anxious soul to Christ’s promises in the gospel. Peter F. Jensen explains Calvin’s unhappiness with post-apostolic miracles in ‘Calvin, Charismatics and Miracles’, Evang. Quart. 51, 131–144. They were excessively prominent in debased medieval Catholicism, and must not become a basis for faith. J. K. Cameron wishes to broaden the base of continental influence on the Scottish Reformation in ‘The Cologne Reform and the Church of Scotland’, JEH 30, 39–64 (cf too Records of Scott. Ch. Hist. Soc. 20, 105–117). He detects marks of the 1543 Bucer-Melanchthon Cologne reform programme‘s impacts on the First Book of Discipline. ‘Why the Reformation Failed in Ireland: Une Question Mal Posee’, ibid. 423–450, by Nicholas Canny, surveys several recent studies by Brendan Bradshaw which have greatly advanced understanding of the Reformation in Ireland. Norwegian Reformation historiography has at last come of age in focussing on ‘the long process of implementation in the local churches and in the lives of the people as a whole’, claims K. E. Christopherson in ‘Hallelujahs, Damnations or Norway’s Reformation as Lengthy Process’, CH 48, 279–289.

In its centenary year Churchman 94 has several interesting articles on Evangelicals and Evangelicalism ‘now and then’, as well as a perceptive chart by David D. Sceats of modern church-state relations in England, ‘Quid imperatori cum Ecclesia? The Contemporary Church and the Royal Supremacy’, ibid. 306–320. The reduction of parliamentary supremacy has led to a strengthening of personal royal supremacy.

S. Sizer, ‘Politics and Apolitical Religion: The Great Urban Revivals of the Late Nineteenth Century’, CH48, 81–98, credits American revivalism with an integrity of its own, arguing that it ‘peaked’ when two complementary conditions coincided—a threatening alien power, such as the papacy, and a socio-political situation attributable to national sin compounded of individual deviations. She dares to suggest the thesis holds for Billy Graham’s campaigns.

D. F. Wright

Systematic Theology

You will find a useful series ‘Foundation Documents! of the Faith’ in Expository Times during 1979–80 in which, for example, J. G, Davies (November issue) writes about the Nicene Creed and J. Macquarrie I (December) about Chalcedon. The articles are fairminded, and the common criticisms of them answered capably.

Timothy Gorringe writes ‘In Defence of the Identification: Scripture as the Word of God’ in the SJT 32 (1979), 303–318 maintaining the validity of a high doctrine of the Bible by which all theological assertions must be measured and tested, arguing along Barthian lines. Ellul is a man for whom I the Bible is obviously very much alive, and you ‘will enjoy ‘Jacques Ellul’s Innocent Notes on Hermeneutics’ by Ronald R. Ray in Interpretation 33 (1979), 268–282. Opposing exegetical technology, I Ellul tries to hear the Lord speak to us at the present time through the words of Scripture.

Donald G. Bloesch turns a critical eye to ‘Process Theology in Reformed Perspective’ in Reformed Journal in Oct 1979 continuing the quest for a new theism on more biblical and less hellenistic lines. Process theism is just as Greek in its own way as j the classical theism, and Bloesch wishes to give the, biblical model of a dynamic God who acts—pride of place.

Peter Chirico subjects Kiing’s thought to analysis in ‘Hans Kiing’s Christology; An Evaluation of its Presuppositions’, Theological Studies 40 (1979), 256–272. He does not see why the first impression Jesus’ disciples had of their Master deserves greater respect than later more mature reflections, calling into question a presupposition about the development of Christology.

Donald G. Dawe traces the history of the doctrine of ‘The Divinity of the Holy Spirit’ in Interpretation 33 (1979), 19–31, and relates it to current developments in feminist and process theology.

Paul Helm comes to Augustine’s defence in ‘Grace and Causation’, SJT 32 (1979), 101–112. Vindicating the ancient patriarch against an earlier refutation by J. R. Lucas in that journal. J. H. and J. N. Gerstner combine to produce a fascinating essay on ‘Edwardsean Preparation for Salvation in Westminster Theological Journal 42 (1979), reviving Calvinistic soteriology of the strictest sort.

On a neglected theme ‘Heaven and Hell in the christian Tradition’, Religion in Life 48 (1979), 77–92, David W. Lotz draws important lessons out of a church historical perspective on the outworking 0f these concepts.

Writing on a fresh challenge to the Christian of man, ‘sociobiology and Ethical Reflection’ Theology Today36(1979–80), 229–238, Don Browning and Berie Lyon introduce us to the literature and the issues, offering some sensible preliminary judgments. Sociobiology would derive human Saviour largely from the determinism of genetic reproduction and biological mechanisms rather than as Skinner would have it from environmental conditioning.

In the last issue of the Christian Century for the year, CC 96(1979), 1286–1289, Martin E. Marty introduces a new series of ‘How My Mind Has Changed’ looking back on the seventies and written by such authors as John Cobb, Peter Berger, Jiirgen Moltmann, and Rosemary Ruether, articles which will begin to appear in 1980. It’s a series to watch for if one wishes to follow theological trends of the most recent variety and to encounter leading thinkers as they write in an informal and frank manner about their own work in its context.

Clark H. Pinnock