On the Web (October 27, 2012)

On the web:

Congratulations, Dr. Copenhaver!

Via Michael Bird:

I’m glad to announce that my Ph.D padwan Adam Copenhaver has passed his doctoral viva. His thesis was: “The Colossian Heresy? An Investigation of the Christological Polemics and Socio-Cultural Background in Colossians.” Adam boldly argued for M.D. Hooker’s position that there was no specific “heresy” or “heretics” in Colossae, and Colossians was written as a general exhortation against a variety of possible religious encroachments against a cluster of house churches in the interior of the Lycus Valley.

Adam is a cohort from Westminster. We’ve kept in touch a bit since then, and it’s a delight to see that his thesis’s passage is now official.

והיתה בריתי בבשׂרכם לברית עולם

Abraham
Image via Wikipedia

In Gen 17:13, God tells Abraham that his whole household was to be circumcised והיתה בריתי בבשׂרכם לברית עולם (and my covenant will be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant). Yet, Paul strongly opposes Gentiles’ submitting to circumcision in connection with their membership in the Christian community (Galatians) and asserts that ὁ ἐν τῷ κρυπτῷ Ἰουδαῖος, καὶ {ὅτι} περιτομὴ καρδίας ἐν πνεύματι οὐ γράμματι (Rom 2:29; the Jew is one who is such inwardly, and [that] circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit, not by the letter). What then becomes of the בבשׂרכם []ברית עולם (Gen 17:13; everlasting covenant in your [= Abraham’s household’s] flesh)? It is precisely there because of the circumcision of Abraham’s messianic seed (Gal 3:16), ἐν ᾧ καὶ περιετμήθητε περιτομῇ ἀχειροποιήτῳ ἐν τῇ ἀπεκδύσει τοῦ σώματος τῆς σαρκός, ἐν τῇ περιτομῇ τοῦ Χριστοῦ (Col 2:11; in whom you also were circumcised with an unhandmade circumcision in the removal of the body of the flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah; cf. Gal 3:23–29; Bede, Genesis, 284; Chrysostom, Hom. Col. 6 [NPNF1 13:285]; Cyril of Alexandria, Catena on Genesis [ACCOT 2:56]; Theodore of Mopsuestia, Colossians [ACCNT 9:32]).

“Heavenly Mindedness and Earthly Good”

Craig Keener has the latest article in the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, “Heavenly Mindedness and Earthly Good: Contemplating Matters Above in Colossians 3.1–2.”

This article traces in turn ancient philosophy’s contemplation of heavenly matters; evocations of such language in other early Jewish and Christian sources; the significance of our author’s christocentric [sic] focus in his adaptation of the language in 3.1; the behavioral implications the author draws from this christocentric [sic] focus; the intelligibility of those implications in light of ancient philosophy; and how the immediate context shapes eschatological implications in the author’s evocation of heaven. [The] focus and primary contribution [is] elaborating how ancient hearers would have received the passage, especially in view of ancient philosophy. [That is, f]or philosophers, the pure and heavenly deity was abstract and transcendent; for Colossians, the heavenly focus is Christ, fitting the christocentric [sic] emphasis of this letter. For Colossians, contemplating Christ also leads naturally to Christlike character, in contrast to the pursuit of earthly passions (175, 190).