Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Biblical Exegesis in "The Book of Watchers"

I got my review copy of Archie Wright's, The Origin of Evil Spirits: The Reception of Genesis 6.1-4 in Early Jewish Literature, from Faith & Mission (the academic journal for SEBTS) last week. I'm hoping that doing this review will 1) force me to become more familiar with 1 Enoch and its related secondary literature; 2) help me gain a better understanding of the cosmology that (possibly) underlies Ephesians.
I'm not certain how much I will comment on this book here, but I can foresee at least a few posts. Anyway, I found Wright's description of the relationship between 1 Enoch 1-36 ("The Book of Watchers") and Genesis 6:1-4 very stimulating, so here it is:

"Genesis 6.1-4 tells the story of the bene elohim and their encounter with the daughters of humanity which resulted in the birth of the gibborim. The passage is positioned in the biblical narrative as a prelude to the judgment of the Flood. However, on the surface nothing in the biblical text of Genesis 6.1-4 demands that the reader understand those verses in a negative light, that is, as depicting some action or event that is considered inappropriate or dubious. It is necessary to evaluate the traditions (e.g., the negative aspects of the 'angels of the nations') that underlie Genesis 6.1-4 in order to assess properly why the text is commendable as the starting point of the Watcher tradition. This is to say, the Watcher tradition represents a type of biblical synthesis and exposition; it is the 'superimposition' of negative traditions onto the relatively neutral position of Genesis 6.1-4" (6).

I'm not sure how original Wright's idea is (as previously noted, I'm quite unfamiliar with work related to 1 Enoch). But, I do find it a helpful description of what seems to be going on in 1 Enoch 1-36. Also, two things in this statement are particularly interesting to me: 1) his suggestion that the "angel of the nations" tradition lies behind Gen 6:1-4 and hence 1 Enoch 1-36; 2) his suggestion that 1 Enoch 1-36 is a "'superimposition' of negative traditions" on the biblical text.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Mark Taylor on the Structure of James (Part 2)

Here's my second post on M. Taylor's, A Text-Linguistic Investigation into the Discourse Structure of James. As one reads through this book, the final two chapters seem particularly weighty and detailed. I'll therefore split these chapters up into several posts. The following is my summary of the first major portion of Taylor's discussion on the relationship between the various major sections in James.

Chapter 5 – Relationship Between Discourse Units in James
· Taylor seeks to explain how individual units with James “work together to present a unified message” (72)
· Notes that unity is achieved in James through
1. the use of imperatives;
2. use of catchwords;
3. references to God and the community;
4. the use of the tel- word group (allows for the development of the “perfection” theme);
5. the development of ‘double-minded’/ ‘world’ theme (this is the antithesis of the "perfection" theme);
6. the "law" theme;
7. the "salvation"/ "judgment" theme;
8. the "proper speech" theme;
· Suggests the author uses the following transition devices:
1) ‘hook words’ ("a common word at the end of one section and at the beginning of the next thus yielding a transition between the two," p. 77);
2) ‘hooked key words’ ("a transition being effected by (1) a characteristic term used in teh second unit and introduced in conclusion of the first, (2) a characteristic term in the first unit used in the introduction of the next, or (3) a combination of the two, p. 78)
3) ‘distant hook words’ ("key lexical items that appear to have some transitional/linking function but are separated by one or more intervening units," p. 80)
4) parallel introductions (Taylor here notes several parallels between the introductory statements of 1:2–25 and 2:1–13/ Taylor also suggests that several successive passages begin in similar ways- eg. 3:13; 4:1)
5) ‘overlapping constituents’ (when a passage both serves as the conclusion of a unit and the introduction of another unit) /Taylor here primarily identifies James 1:12, which he argues concludes 1:1–11 and introduces 1:13–25
6) proverbial statements (Taylor suggests that these statement primarily function as “transitional/summary statements linking larger units”) (83)

Taylor then devotes careful attention to James 1:12, 1:26–27; 2:12–13; 3:13–18; 4:11–12; 5:9; 5:12, which he argues are significant transitional/summary statements of proverbial character. He concludes, “In summary, 1.12, an overlapping transition, unites the opening chapter around the theme of the ‘blessed’ person who endures. The chapter closes with 1.26–27, a unit that brings the opening to an appropriate conclusion and anticipates the major emphases of the rest of the letter. James 2.12–13 summarizes the lead essay of the body proper (2.1–11), anticipates thematically the following two major units (2.14–26, 3.1–12), and stands in a unique relationship to 4.11–12. The pericope on wisdom, 3.13–18, significantly relates to what precedes and follows and stands as a major turning point in the letter. The remaining transition passages (4.11–12, 5.9, 5.12) have common structures and reinforce to the reader the key themes of speech and judgment. Collectively, these dynamics argue for a well-structured, intentionally arranged discourse” (90)

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Mark Taylor on the Structure of James (Part 1)

I came across this very interesting book on the structure of James last week: A Text-Linguistic Investigation into the Discourse Structure of James, by Mark Taylor. Anyone who has done even the slightest amount of research on this letter knows the difficulty involved in following James' train of thought. Here's a brief summary of the contents of chapters 1-4.

Chapter 1 - Approaches to the Structure of James

  • Concludes that most scholars are beginning to see James as a literary whole

  • Notes the overthrow of Dibelius’ suggestion that James is a collection of somewhat random pericopes

  • Suggests unity achieved through the use of various devices such as catchwords, thematic expansions, and recapitulation

  • Notes that most scholars argue that James 1 presents the “key” to the structure of the entire letter

  • Observes that while there is a general consensus that James is a literary whole, there is little agreement regarding how individual units function within the larger discourse

Chapter 2- Methodology

  • Begins with a discussion of text-linguistics and its application to New Testament studies

  • Explains the particular approach, cohesion shift analysis - developed by G. Guthrie - he employs in this analysis

  • Cohesion Shift Analysis essentially refers to the attempt to determine a composition’s structure by carefully analyzing various linguistic phenomena (eg. genre, verbal aspect, person reference) in order to observe specific “breaks in the text” (42-43)

Chapter 3 - Cohesion Shift Analysis

  • Seeks to determine where “cohesion shifts” (i.e., “breaks in the text”) occur in James with a view to better understanding its structure

  • Concludes that important cohesion shifts occur at James 1:9, 12, 13, 16, 19, 21; 2:1, 5b, 14, 21, 25; 3:1, 13; 4:1, 7, 11, 13; 5:1, 6, 12 , 16, 19

  • Also notes that “significant shifts occur before and after 1.12, 1.16, 4.11-12, 5.6 and 5.12 thus indicating their independent character in that they are " ‘isolated’ from the surrounding context, at least as far as the cohesion dynamics are concerned” (58)

Chapter 4 - The Use of Inclusio in James

  • Seeks to determine how the presence of inclusions helps reveal the letter’s structure

  • Helpfully notes (following Guthrie) that repetition of words, phrases, etc. does not necessarily indicate the presence of an inclusio. The presence of repetition may thus serve other functions.

  • Argues for the presence of inclusions at the following points of the letter:
    James 1:2-4// 1:12 (does see 1:12 as creating a “bridge” into the next section)
    James 1:12// 1:25 (also suggest 1:25 is a summary statement)
    James 1:16// 1:19
    James 1:13//1 :21 [Taylor concludes his discussion of inclusions in James 1 by suggesting, “a sustained argument is developed relating to the character of God, the demands of his word and his actions upon believers” (64)]
    James 2:1// 2:9
    James 2:12-13// 4:11-12 [Taylor suggests this is “perhaps the most important, yet overlooked, uses of inclusio by the author of James” (64)]
    James 2:14-16// 2:26
    James 2:14// 2: 6-17
    James 2:20// 2:26
    James 3:1// 3:12
    James 4:1// 4:3
    James 4:7// 5:6
    James 5:7-11

  • Taylor actually argues for the presence of several inclusions in James 5:7-11, suggesting that this is “a highly structured, carefully balanced section” (68)

  • Taylor’s representation of the structure of James 5:7-11:

  • A “Grand Inclusio” at James 1:25 and 5:7-20
    o Here Taylor follows P. Davids, W. Wuellner, and T Penner in arguing for the presence of “several significant connections between 1.2-25 and 5.7-20” (69)
    o Taylor states, “Thematically, both the opening [1:2-25] and the closing [5:7-20] convey an eschatological outlook. The eschatological reversal of 1.9-11, the crown of life in 1.12, and the promise of future blessing to the one who obeys in 1.25 correspond to the promised return of the Lord in 5.7-11. Likewise, the telos kuriou, with reference to the testing of Job in 5.11, encourages further reflection on the eschatological outcome of trials promised in 1.2-4 (cf. the use of teleios) (70)


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Structure of Ephesians 2:11-22

Again, see my post on 8/16/06 for an explanation of the notation used in this analysis.

Therefore remember that at one time you → INTRO (11a)
Gentiles in the flesh → ORIENTER 11a (11b)
called "the uncircumcision" → ORIENTER 11a (11c)
by what is called the circumcision → ELABORATION 11c (11d)
which is made in the flesh by hands → ELABORATION/ QUALIFIER 11d (11e)
remember that you were at that time → INTRO cont. 11a (12a)
separated from Christ → CONTENT 11a/12a (12b)
alienated from the commonwealth of Israel → CONTENT 11a/12a (12c)
and strangers to the covenants of promise → CONTENT 11a/12a (12d)
having no hope → CONTENT 11a/12a (12e)
and without God in the world → CONTENT 11a/12a (12f)
But now in Christ Jesus → ORIENTER 11a-12f (13a)
you who once were far off have been brought near → MAIN IDEA (13b)
by the blood of Christ → MEANS 13b (13c)
For he himself is our peace → EXPLANATION 11a–13b (14a)
who has made us both one → RESULT 14a (14b)
and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility → RESULT 14a (14c)
by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances → MEANS 14c (15a)
that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two → PURPOSE 14a-15a (15b)
so making peace → RESULT 15b (15c)
and might reconcile us both to God in one body → PURPOSE 14a-15a (16a)
through the cross → MEANS 16a (16b)
thereby killing the hostility → RESULT 16ab (16c)
And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near → ELABORATION 13b (17a)
For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father → GROUNDS 17a (18a)
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens → RESULT 13a-18a (19a)
but you are fellow citizens with the saints → RESULT 13a-18a (19b)
and members of the household of God → RESULT 13a-18a (19c)
built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets → REASON 19abc (20a)
Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone → QUALIFICATION 20a (20b)
in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord → ELABORATION 20b (21a)
In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit → CLARIFICATION 21a (22a)