To the extent that New Testament Studies is a historical discipline, it shares the features of other historical disciplines. Among these features are its own historical-affectedness:
If we are trying to understand a historical phenomenon from the historical distance that is characteristic of our hermeneutical situation, we are always already affected by history. It determines in advance both what seems to us worth inquiring about and what will appear as an object of investigation, and we more or less forget half of what is really there—in fact, we miss the whole truth of the phenomenon—when we take its immediate appearance as the whole truth (Gadamer 300).
New Testament students will, therefore, do well to be aware of how their own historical situation shapes how they read the text.
Thanks to Mark Hoffman for introducing a version of the Biblioblog-SBL Affiliate badge with a non-white background. With this color change, in an effort at collaborative improvement, I was able to get OpenOffice.org Draw to translate this background to transparent for use on blogs or places on blogs with non-white backgrounds.
[Some] scholars have suggested that the title ‘Alpha and Omega’ in Revelation arose through reflection on the Greek form of the divine name, ΙΑΩ. This note takes up and extends that evidence to put forth the possibility that John ‘exegeted’ the divine name, in light of Isaiah 40–48 and emerging scribal practices of abbreviating the nomina sacra, as a reference to Jesus as the Alpha and Omega (Lincicum 128).
In particular, Lincicum concludes that
Steeped in the already considerable Christian tradition of identifying Yahweh’s predicates and actions with those of Jesus, often by means of the Greek translation of Yahweh as ‘Lord’ (κύριος), John wondered what it might mean to identify Jesus by means of that alternative rendering of the tetragrammaton into Greek, ΙΑΩ. He held ΙΑΩ in his mind while reading or hearing Isaiah 40–48 and the temporal merisms there applied to Yahweh, ‘the first and the last’ and ‘the beginning and the end’. Knowing by Christian conviction that ΙΑΩ ultimately was to be referred to Jesus, he was struck by the alphabetical merism, that is, the alpha and omega, included in the divine title, and with how well this might express and stand in continuity with the other two merisms derived from Isaiah. This left the initial iota unaccounted for; might this have been a divinely ordained reference to the initial letter of Jesus’ name? Thus: Jesus is the Alpha and Omega (Lincicum 132–33).
Christopher Skinner has begun blogging at Peje Iesous. Skinner’s blog synopsis says,
This blog seeks to explore the historical Jesus, the canonical and extracanonical gospels, narrative hermeneutics, and the implications these areas of study have for modern followers of Jesus Christ. The name “Peje Iesous” is an English transliteration of the Coptic phrase “Jesus said,” the introductory formula for most sayings in the Gospel of Thomas.
The first few posts and some of the other resources available there have some good information, and I look forward to seeing more to come in the future.
In this scholarly book Douglas Campbell pushes beyond both “Lutheran” and “New” perspectives on Paul to a noncontractual, “apocalyptic” reading of many of the apostle’s most famous-and most troublesome-texts.
Campbell holds that the intrusion of an alien, essentially modern, and theologically unhealthy theoretical construct into the interpretation of Paul has produced an individualistic and contractual construct that shares more with modern political traditions than with either orthodox theology or Paul’s first-century world. In order to counteract that influence, Campbell argues that it needs to be isolated and brought to the foreground before the interpretation of Paul’s texts begins. When that is done, readings free from this intrusive paradigm become possible and surprising new interpretations unfold.