From the July issue of The Expository Times (vol. 124, no. 10), “Ronald Williamson and the Background of Hebrews,” by Jody Barnard, begins by noting that in 1970 “Williamson dealt a serious blow to the widely held view that Hebrews was essentially Platonic in its outlook and depended upon the Jewish philosopher Philo of Alexandria.” In its place Williamson suggested that a better “personal background against which the thought and language of Hebrews can best be interpreted” is a form of first-century Merkabah mysticism. Barnard revisits this suggestion in light of subsequent research and sets forth “a revised and more robust version.”
Fuller Seminary’s John Goldingay writes “On Reading Job 22–28” in which he counters the common idea that the book’s third cycle of speeches has become disordered, not following the pattern of the first two cycles. Instead, he shows how Job 22–28 “can be understood as they stand, the introductions to chapters 27 and 29 being key clues to a dynamic whereby 26:5–14 and 28:1–28 represent the narrator’s reflections.”
Benjamin Sargent of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford writes “The Narrative Substructure of 1 Peter,” in which he says that NT writers including the author of 1 Peter “write with a certain historical narrative of God’s dealings with Israel in mind, through which they understand and engage with their audiences.” This narrative often, including in 1 Peter, is an unexpressed substructure, alluded to in 1:10–12 and 1:19–20. Sargent argues that this particular narrative is one of discontinuity (not a continuation of God’s dealings with Israel) with “significant implications for an understanding of the interpretation of scripture in 1 Peter.”
Among books reviewed is the Martin Hengel festscrhift titled Earliest Christian History and co-edited by recent lecturer at Covenant, Michael F. Bird of Australia. The reviewer is Edinburgh’s Paul Foster, who concludes that “the volume captures the major trajectories” in Hengel’s “rich and multifaceted research portfolio” and for those who were not personally acquainted with Hengel, the volume’s “personal reflections capture far more than just his intellectual ideas. The essays also continue to trace the same rich veins of enquiry into Christian origins that were followed by Hengel himself.”
David Janzen’s The Violent Gift: Trauma’s Subversion of the Deuteronomistic History’s Narrative is reviewed by Graeme Auld, who says that book by book [Deut.–Kings] Janzen argues that the main “narrative line is disrupted by stories and evaluations in tension with it.” This yields “a fresh and thought-provoking reading” with “many a striking observation.” E.g., Rahab stays alive because she did not spoil the mission God did not command; and, David is truly a man after God’s own subversive heart. Auld concludes that Janzen “offers an engaging strategy for a synchronic reading […] but this reader is not yet persuaded he has explained the writing of these books.”
Two books by Richard Swinburne are reviewed: Is There a God? (originally written in 1996 and now revised, Oxford, 2010) and Was Jesus God? (Oxford, 2010 in paperback with same contents as the 2008 edition). The former book is a popular level, condensed version of the magisterial 1979 work titled The Existence of God, now in a second edition (2004).
And among others reviewed is Spirituality According to Paul: Imitating the Apostle of Christ, by Rodney Reeves (IVP, 2011), receiving a generally positive review which concludes that “both students and pastors will be well-served by this work.”
Covenant students and faculty can read the whole issue online.