Volume 9 - Issue 3

Survey of recent journals

We are grateful to our associate editors and other contributors for selecting and commenting on significant articles recently published in the journals.


AfRH          Archive for Reformation History

AUSS         Andrews University Seminary Studies

BJRL           Bulletin of the John Rylands Library (Manchester University)

CBQ           Catholic Biblical Quarterly

ChHist        Church History

ExpT          Expository Times

JBL             Journal of Biblical Literature

JSNT          Journal for the Study of the New Testament

JSOT          Journal for the Study of the Old Testament

NTS            New Testament Studies

SJT             Scottish Journal of Theology

TynB          Tyndale Bulletin

VC              Vigiliae Christianae

WTJ           Westminster Theological Journal

ZAW          Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft

Old Testament

The founders of the oldest and most prestigious journal devoted to OT study, ZAW, must have turned in their graves when the last issue of 1982 appeared. ZAW began publication soon after Wellhausen’s Prolegomena to the History of Israel established the jedp hypothesis as the only respectable explanation of the composition of the pentateuch. And ever since, ZAW has endorsed this line. But in 1982 it broke with tradition. In an issue devoted almost entirely to articles about the pentateuch, no less than five question the standard source-critical views.

Most sensational is the first article by Y. T. Radday et al., ‘Genesis, Wellhausen and the Computer’, ZAW94 (1982), pp. 467–81, which argues that the division of Genesis into three distinct sources, j, e and p is untenable. Using a battery of 54 stylistic criteria they demonstrate with the aid of statistics and a computer that j is identical in style to E, and that p only differs from j and e because of its subject-matter. There is nothing to suggest that Genesis is composed of three parallel sources j, e and p as Wellhausen held. A much fuller account of this important research will appear in a book this year.

The second article by Z. Zevit, ‘Converging Lines of Evidence Bearing on the Date of p’, ZAW 94 (1982), pp. 481–511, accepts as a working hypothesis the independent existence of p, but makes a strong case for the view that p must be pre-exilic and indeed antedate Deuteronomy. Wellhausen of course believed that p, the priestly source, was the latest stratum of the pentateuch.

The third striking article, A. Robinson, ‘Process Analysis Applied to the Early Traditions of Israel: A Preliminary Essay’, ZAW 94 (1982), pp. 549–66, abandons the jedp analysis and the usual dating of the material. He suggests that much of the material in Exodus and Numbers goes back to Moses and that it and the patriarchal traditions were probably compiled by editors in the time of David and Solomon. Though Robinson calls his approach ‘Process Analysis’ his arguments are really based on common sense and merit further consideration by conservative scholars. These three articles, together with one in German and another in French, indicate just how open the questions of pentateuchal criticism are at the moment.

T. Jacobsen published a new translation of the Sumerian version of primaeval history which includes the flood story in ‘The Eridu Genesis’, JBL 100 (1981), pp. 513–29. He points out that both the Sumerian account and Genesis try to explain the historical origins of mankind and suggests they be described mytho-historical accounts. Those intrigued by the great ages of Methuselah and other antediluvian patriarchs will be interested to learn that the Sumerians also thought the ancients aged slowly: the Lagash king-list says that babies were kept in nappies for 100 years!

Two fine articles on prophecy have caught my eye. W. L. Holladay, ‘The Years of Jeremiah’s Preaching’, Interpretation 37 (1983), explains the affinity of Jeremiah’s style with that of Deuteronomy more simply and plausibly than the usual hypothesis of deuteronomistic editors. He believes that alter Deuteronomy was found at the time of Josiah’s reformation it was read out every seven years at the feast of tabernacles (Dt. 31:10–13) and that Jeremiah’s sermons were based on these readings, hence the similarity in style with Deuteronomy.

G. H. Davies, ‘Amos—the Prophet of Re-Union’, ExpT 92 (1981), pp. 196–200, says that Amos must be seen as a southern prophet preaching to the northern kingdom. For this reason he condemned their worship at the shrines of Bethel and Gilgal, for they should have been attending the temple in Jerusalem. He also looked for the restoration of the secessionist northern tribes to the house of David, see Amos 9:11–15.

Andrews University Seminary Studies continue to publish useful articles on the book of Daniel arguing its early date. G. F. Hasel dealt with the background to ch. 4 in AUSS 19 (0981), pp. 37–49, and the language in 19 (1981), pp. 211–225; W. H. Shea discussed chs. 3, 5 and Darius the Mede in 20 (1982), pp. 29–52, 133–49, 229–47. Finally A. J. French 21 (1983), pp. 129–41 tackles the most trickly question of all, the relationship of Daniel 11 to the Maccabean period. He points out that the history of that period is not very well known, the main sources disagree on various issues and the Daniel 11 does not fit this period either in its ethos or its account of the history. D. W. Gooding in ‘The Literary Structure of the Book of Daniel and Its Implications’ TynB32 (1981), pp. 43–70, also argues for the unity of the book and its early date.

But the gem of all these articles, at least for those who read Scripture for the good of their soul, must be R. N. Whybray’s ‘Qoheleth—Preacher of Joy’, JSOT 23 (1982), pp. 87–98. We think of Ecclesiastes as a sad and depressing book: ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’ is its refrain. But Whybray argues that this is not Qoheleth’s point. Rather the writer looks beyond the failure of wealth or long life to provide satisfaction, beyond the pain of injustice, to God. In him the believer can find true joy whatever his external circumstances.

Gordon Wenham

New Testament

G. N. Stanton, ‘Salvation Proclaimed: X. Matthew 11:28–30’, Heilandsruf, a text which has found an important place in Anglican liturgy as a ‘comfortable word’. Stanton counters modern scholars who interpret the invitation in the context of Wisdom: Jesus is himself Sophia. Noting the context after 11:25–27, Stanton argues it is Jesus as the humble servant of God (not Wisdom), empowered with the Spirit, who issues an invitation to the disciples (not the crowds) for a life of costly discipleship (not salvation) which is, he contends, paradoxically comforting because of the presence of the risen Christ (he sees a close parallel at 28:16–20). Thus, the comfort is not so much for sinners in need of grace but for disciples in need of the presence of the risen Christ. This suggestion is insightful and rooted in a careful contextual argument. However, one should not easily dismiss the crowds who are abused by the Pharisees for, as Stanton says, crowds are in view (cf. Mt. 4:23–5; 9:35–6; 11:5; 12:15, 20) and 23:4 is a substantial parallel for the Pharisees. Stanton does not seem to argue for a post-Easter creation of the invitation and yet this may be implied by his view of comfort as the risen Lord’s presence. Nevertheless, Professor Stanton has beckoned scholars to view this call both in its immediate context and in light of Matthew’s theology.

J. D. G. Dunn, ‘The Incident at Antioch (Gal. 2:11–18)’, JSNT 18 (1983), pp. 3–57. With a new format, JSNT is now a genuine forum for discussion and so Professor Dunn’s lengthy article is followed by responses from J. L. Houlden and Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok. In light of Jerusalem’s authority and mid-first-century Judaism’s (of which the Antiochene Church was still a part) concerns to maintain complete adherence to the Law (to avoid political danger), especially as seen in legislation regarding the limits of table-fellowship with Gentiles, Dunn argues: (1) Gentile Christians were expected to adhere minimally to Noahic laws regarding table-fellowship, (2) the men from James demanded total obedience to Sinaitic laws (analogous to the God-fearer’s need to be circumcized in order to be a full member), (3) Peter was convinced by men from James that minimal acceptance of Moses was insufficient and, thus, (4) Paul severely rebuked Peter. This hypothesis, furthermore, reveals the moment when Paul became an independent missionary, a dramatic event in the development of Gentile Christianity as well as the occasion when Paul perceived that justification by faith and covenantal nomism were incompatible.

J. L. Houlden (pp. 58–67) contends that (1) Paul always saw the Law and Jesus Christ as alternatives; (2) Dunn has not considered Jesus’ radical dismissals of the Law seriously enough; (3) Dunn has accepted too easily the historicity of Acts and (4) information from 1 Corinthians 8 and 10 as Jewish in nature. Rabbi Cohn-Sherbok (pp. 68–74) criticizes the article for lack of substantial evidence for the historical situation and the irrelevance of rabbinic data on proselytes to Galatians 2:11–8.

Although one may not agree with all the details of Professor Dunn’s article, one cannot doubt that he notifies scholars that the precise circumstance which forced the Antioch incident is unexplained and deserving of more careful scrutiny.

Andrew T. Lincoln, ‘Ephesians 2:8–10: A Summary of Paul’s Gospel?’, CBQ 45 (1983), pp. 617–30. Ephesians has not been considered by all to be a ‘Pauline letter’ and this article, though mostly assuming non-Pauline authorship, argues that the text reflects later theology, by comparing the vocabulary to ‘authentic Paulines’ and articulating its relationship to Pauline theology, especially its soteriology and ethics. What is important here is that Lincoln does not succumb to a reductionistic approach to Paul (centring all in, say, reconciliation), but instead paves a path by comparing this text to major ideas in Paul. Though many will desire a more complete analysis on authorship, one surely finds in this article a clear theological argument as well as a refreshing method.

J. W. Sider, ‘Rediscovering the Parables: The Logic of the Jeremias Tradition’, JBL 102 (1983), pp. 61–83. Unquestionably, modern-day studies on parables are greatly influenced by and, in many cases, dependent upon, J. Jeremias. Few have criticized his historical method and assumptions. J. W. Sider has given us an able, though not always clear, exposition of problems with Jeremias’ quest for the parables of Jesus. He gives sufficient criticisms of Jeremias’ ‘laws of transformation’, historical logic, theological assumptions as well as the theories he assumes. In spite of our great respect for Jeremias’ insight and linguistic acumen, Sider’s criticisms are both piercing and substantially accurate. Parables and Jesus’ teachings still need careful work.

E. P. Sanders, ‘Jesus and the Sinners’, JSNT 19 (1983), pp. 5–36. Having addressed in his earlier writings misunderstandings of Judaism which were applied to Paul, Professor Sanders has now turned to Jesus and Judaism. He powerfully demonstrates that the uniqueness of Jesus, in his relation to sinners, was not that he welcomed the underprivileged and thereby provoked the ire of the Pharisees (contra Jeremias and Perrin). No, one cannot equate common people and ‘sinners’. The latter were those who sinned willfully and refused to repent but the former simply those who did not maintain the purity laws for the priests outside of the temple—in contrast to the Pharisees. There is no evidence, he contends, supporting the exclusion of common people from the kingdom because they were not obedient to pharisaic purity laws. Nor was it that Jesus sought repentance from them—for all Jews desired that. Instead, what was offensive about Jesus to the Pharisees was his association with the wicked without repentance and restitution as the condition; what Jesus required was to follow him. We can thank Sanders for a pungent criticism of a careless and prejudiced understanding of Pharisees, but one wonders if repentance can be exorcised from the call to follow Jesus. Sanders provides an important contribution to a pressing question: Why were the Pharisees so offended at Jesus?

Space forbids discussion of other fine articles but I mention some. Two surveys provide a sketch of recent scholarship: M. E. Boring, ‘Christian Prophecy and the Sayings of Jesus: The State of the Question’, NTS 29 (1983), pp. 104–12, and W. O. Walker, Jr., ‘The Son of Man: Some Recent Developments’, CBQ 45 (1983), pp. 584–607. To this may be added J. D. G. Dunn, ‘Rediscovering the Spirit (2)’, ExpT 94 (1982), pp. 9–18. R. P. Martin provides an overview of the difficult issue of early Christian hymns in ‘New Testament Hymns’, ExpT 94 (1983), pp. 132–6–9. B. J. Capper has clearly explicated a solution to the crime of Ananias and Sapphira in light of a community of goods in ‘The Interpretation of Acts 5.4’, JSNT 19 (1983), pp. 117–31. R. E. Brown provides yet another warning about too simplistic approaches to the racial-theological nature of early Christian communities in ‘Not Jewish Christianity and Gentile Christianity but Types of Jewish/Gentile Christianity’, CBQ45 (1983), pp. 74–79. How one is able to harmonize Paul’s justification by faith as well as his judgment by works is examined by N. M. Watson, ‘Justified by Faith; Judged by Works—An Antimony?’ NTS 29 (1983), pp. 209–21, and answered by an appeal to the occasional nature of the statements. Finally, students need to read the Manson Memorial lecture of J. D. G. Dunn, ‘The New Perspective on Paul’, BJRL 65 (1983), pp. 94–122, because he makes advances on E. P. Sanders’ magisterial work on Paul and Palestian Judaism.

Scot Mc Knight

Church history

Where better to begin than with two articles by Tyndale Fellowship members on the man of the year for 1983, Martin Luther. In the Tyndale Historical Theology Lecture for 1981 James Atkinson gives the first-fruits of his research on ‘Luther and the Wittenberg disputations 1535–36’, TynB 33 (1982), pp. 31–57. The aim of these discussions between Luther and colleagues and English churchmen—Robert Barnes, Edward Fox(e) and Nicholas Heath—was a theological agreement to facilitate Henry VIII’s adhesion to the Protestant Schmalkaldic League. They focused especially on justification but covered the entire spectrum of evangelical theology. A study like this illustrates the growing interest in the later Luther. In ‘Luther and the Bible’, SJT 35 (1982), pp. 33–58, John Goldingay argues that ‘Luther, and Calvin even more so, maintained an extraordinary balance in their commitment to a theological (yet also with a desire for a historical) approach, and in their striving for literal (and yet also applied) interpretation.’ He laments the bitter fruits of divorcing the two, in pietism (Spurgeon) on the one hand and post-Enlightenment criticism on the other. Such was the cost of resolving tensions Luther wisely held together.

The social sciences have of late increasingly fructified (and blighted!) church history. E. W. Monter, the historian of Calvin’s Geneva, reflects on the relations between ‘Reformation History and Social History’ in AfRH72 (1981), pp. 5–12. He illustrates how the latter can enrich the former, instancing a method (quantification, i.e.counting, e.g. publications, and legal records, such as cases before consistories) and a field (family history, e.g. interconfessional marriage). He pleads for a shift of focus from the social context of Reformation origins to its effects on European society. The sixteenth century is too important to be left solely to theologians (Ch.Hist. 50 (1981), pp. 276–287), C. A. Snyder shows how the social gospel of the peasants influenced Sattler to leave the parasitic monastic life, but his ‘non-violent radicalism’ of total separation from the world was chosen in deliberate rejection of the peasants’ violence.

Reformation studies display increasing interest in popular religion, as in Paul Russell’s ‘ “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy …” (Joel 2:28). Common People and the Future of the Reformation in the Pamphlet Literature of South-western Germany to 1525’, AfRH 74 (1983), pp. 122–40. The pamphlets’ theology formed a kind of bridge between late fifteenth century ‘heresy’ and early Anabaptism, although the writers did not themselves become ‘enthusiasts’. Apocalyptist but not segregationist, they opted to mark time until the End rather then escape. Their practical sobriety was more prophetic than visionary, their Christian freedom subject to, not master of the principles of the gospel.

Users of Heppe’s Ch.Hist. 51 (1982), pp. 419–33. Heppe deserves greater credit for promoting a more balanced account of Protestant beginnings, less about Luther and Calvin and more about ‘a liberal Melanchthon and the wisdom of lesser known, more humanistically inclined Reformers’ like Bucer.

Women’s studies are increasingly prominent in all periods. In ‘The Beginnings of Church Feminism: Women and the Councils of the Church of England 1897–1919’, JEH 33, (1982), pp. 89–109, Brian Heeney surveys the successful campaign for the eligibility of women as lay members of the new Anglican Church Assembly. Some of the opposition arguments have not worn well, such as the claim that women are capable of the administrative but not the deliberative function. Women would strengthen the clerical arm, and ‘would do anything their parsons told them’. The feminist cause was able to capitalize on the fact that ‘the female sex forms the mainstay of every religious assembly of whatever class’.

Lessons for today are more pointed still in J. L. Altholz’s examination of ‘The Mind of Victorian Orthodoxy: Anglican Responses to Ch.Hist. 51 (1982), pp. 186–97. Both Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic opponents espoused a fatal combination of a rigidly rational theology based on eighteenth-century evidential apologetics and ‘the distinctively Victorian demand for certainty of faith’. The result of this either/or, all-or-nothing argument was that in future ‘England ceased to produce heretics and began to produce infidels’.

Bang up to date is Bill Hopkinson’s chart of ‘Changes in the Emphases of Evangelical Belief 1970–1980: Evidence from New Hymnody’, Churchman 95 (1981), pp. 123–38. After a long period of relatively stable theology he finds that the central focus of mainstream evangelicalism is ‘less a blood-bought gift and more a life possessed’—by the individual but in community, ‘a life founded by, and shaped by, God’s creative activity in his world according to the messianic plan’.

Nothing stimulates scholarship like new discoveries. The flood of post-Nag Hammadi works on Gnosticism is now in full tide, and many will turn gratefully to R. Van den Broek to pilot them through ‘The Present State of Gnostic Studies’, VC 37 (1983), pp. 41–71. Even more amazing has been the recent discovery of twenty-seven new letters by Augustine and three by others, surveyed instructively by the doyens of British early church historians, H. Chadwick in JTS n.s. 34 (1983), pp. 425–52, and W. H. C. Frend in JES 34 (1983), pp. 497–512. Their value is not narrowly focused. Priscillianism in Spain and the African-Roman cause célèbre of Antonius of Fussala are among the subject of new illumination.

D. F. Wright

Dogmatic and systematic theology

Dogmatics is hardly the strongest department of theological study at the moment and the number of significant articles is very limited.

For some curious reason, such articles seem to appear in clusters. The spring 1983 number of the WTJ(vol. XLV, 1) is a case in point. It contains three excellent articles.

One is by Mark R. Shaw entitled, ‘Drama in the Meeting House: The Concept of Conversion in the Theology of William Perkins’ (pp. 41–72). This is very relevant to some of the issues raised by Dr R. T. Kendall in Calvin and English Calvinism to 1649.

The second is by Harvie M. Conn on ‘The Missionary Task of Theology’ (pp. 1–21). This begins as a historical study but ends up as a superb programmatic essay, proposing what Conn calls ‘a missiological agenda for theology, not a theological agenda for missions’.

The third article is on ‘Incarnation, Immutability and the Case for Classical Theism’ (pp. 22–40). This is from the pen of Richard A. Muller and deals with an area in which there is a keen contemporary interest—the problem of becoming in God. Muller allows that the biblical idea of immutability differs from the Aristotelian but still goes on to argue for what he regards as the classical doctrine, viz. that God is changeless in essence, in attributes and in purpose. This latter (covenant fidelity), being of enormous importance to the people of God, must have an ontological basis. God’s faithfulness is rooted in his essence. With regard to God repenting and God becoming, the issue is the logical and theological priority of some biblical statements over others. In Muller’s view, statements that predicate repentance and becoming must be subordinated to those that speak of ethical immutability.

This article offers a useful and stimulating challenge to much current thought. It is doubtful, however, whether we can ever again be content to simply re-state the traditional doctrine. While it is true that Christian dogmatics has defined the incarnation as an assumptio carnis (‘taking flesh’) the New Testament itself says, verbum caro factum est (‘the Word became flesh’). Our doctrine of God must accommodate that becoming.

A similar cluster of useful articles is found in SJT 36, 1 (1983).

In a contribution entitled ‘The Doctrine of the Trinity Achieved in 381’ (pp. 41–57), R. P. C. Hanson attempts to set the statements of the Nicaeno-Constantinopolitan Creed in the context of the debates current when it was formulated. He also seeks to explain why a doctrine of the Trinity emerged at all and to provide an evaluation of the work of the fourth-century theologians.

J. N. D. Kelly deals with a related topic, ‘The Nicene Creed: a Turning Point’ (pp. 29–39). This discusses the history and origins of the Creed, especially its connection with the Council of Constantinople (ad 381).

These two articles are set against the background of an opening one by T. F. Torrance on ‘The Deposit of Faith’ (pp. 1–28). This raises fundamental questions as to the function of creeds and indeed of theological language in general. Torrance draws a sharp distinction between Christ the Word and the apostolic word, although he concedes that from Pentecost onwards men have access to the deposit of faith only ‘through the Apostolic preaching and interpretation of the Gospel … and through baptismal incorporation into Christ in the midst of his Church’. The main concern, however, is to insist that we must avoid the idea that the deposit of faith can be reduced to a system of truths or a set of normative doctrines.

This article leaves one feeling uneasy. There is an unnecessary disparagement of dogmatics and an aversion to historic formulations. Dr Torrance does not do justice to the fact that we can (and therefore must) deduce a system of truth from the deposit of faith. Furthermore, there is too much emphasis on Christ as revelator. As Revelator, our Lord, for good or ill, made propositional statements that cover the whole range of theology.

Torrance offers another contribution (entitled ‘The Substance of the Faith’) on this subject in SJT 36, 3 (pp. 309–26). This number also contains an interesting article by Walter P. Carvin on ‘Creation and Scientific Explanation’ (pp. 289–307). Carvin’s central contention is that the concept of creation is compatible with, but not necessary to, scientific explanation. He goes on to survey the attitudes to Genesis 1 of some representative theologians and scientists (Aquinas, Galileo, Descartes and Leibniz) and comes to the wise conclusion: ‘Religion must learn to live with whatever cosmology, whatever theory, science provides: but on no account must it ever marry any of them.’

Another article dealing with the inter-face between science and Christian dogmatics appears in Theology Today, vol. XL, 1 (1983), pp. 15–24. It is entitled, ‘Faith and Imagination in Science and Religion’ and comes from the pen of Michael Barnes. Barnes argues that science is at least implicitly religious and that therefore ‘the overall method of science is a method that religion ought to accept consciously as its own in order to arrive at a better self-understanding’.

Turning to a different field altogether, mention should be made of an article by R. D. Williams on ‘The Logic of Arianism’ in JTS 34, (1983), pp. 56–81. This combines the skills of the historical theologian and the philosopher. It is not easy going, especially if your Greek is rusty, but it does offer invaluable help towards seeing Arius from his own point of view. It also offers useful exegetical comment by drawing upon the probable source of many of Arius’ statements—the language of the logicians of his own day.

The sytematic theologian will also find valuable material in two articles in the Calvin Theological Journal,vol. 18, 1 (1983). One, by John Bolt is entitled, ‘Church and World: a Trinitarian Perspective’ (pp. 5–31). Bolt claims that one of the most significant determinants in any theological system is whether it takes its starting-point in the work of God the Father, God the Son or God the Holy Spirit. He then goes on to examine the attitude to the world of three representative theologians—Karl Barth (God the Son), Car! Braaten (God the Spirit) and Gustaf Wingren (God the Father).

Finally, an article by Martin Woudstra, ‘The Old Testament in Biblical Theology and Dogmatics’ (pp. 47–60). Woudstra alludes to K. H. Miskotte, who once, apparently, described the task of the dogmatician as the two-fold one of dilettante and director of an orchestra. As dilettante, the systematic theologian must defer to the experts (the biblical scholars). As director, however, he is ‘the synthesiser par excellence, the one who coordinates the forces and asks for the readiness to let oneself be included in a comprehensive totality’.

An appropriate note of professional megalomania on which to conclude.

Donald MacLeod

Other Reviews in this Issue