Rethinking Testimony

Testimony is a word that has acquired a religious meaning. According to the Oxford dictionary, one of the meanings of testimony is “A public recounting of a religious conversion or experience.” However, not many realise that there is a difference between religious terminology and biblical terminology. Sometimes they overlap and compliment one another but other times they do not. Often the popular religious meaning of a word is not the biblical meaning of the word. This is the case when it comes to the word “testimony”. Continue reading “Rethinking Testimony”

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The Decline of the Old Testament

Old Testament scholar Dr. Brent Strawn delivers a highly accessible lecture on his important 2017 book The Old Testament is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment. Continue reading “The Decline of the Old Testament”

Alter on the Art of Reading Scripture

Noted literary critic and Bible scholar Robert Alter, as part of the conclusion to his seminal book The Art of Reading Biblical Narrative, offers below some very important remarks on what it takes to read the Bible: Continue reading “Alter on the Art of Reading Scripture”

Answering Questions with Questions

The Jews of Jesus’ day were meticulous educators, as they have been throughout most of their history. A passage from the Mishnah demonstrates their active concern about what their students absorbed:

There are four types of people who sit in front of the sages: The sponge, the funnel, the strainer and the sifter. The sponge – it soaks up everything’ the funnel – it takes in at one end and lets out at the other; the strainer – it lets out the wine and retains the dregs; and the sifter – it lets out the bran dust and retains the fine flour. Continue reading “Answering Questions with Questions”

Biblical Literacy & Composite Citations

In a recent post on the fascinating phenomena of composite citations in the New Testament, the host of the podcast remarked that the fact that the New Testament authors were comfortable using composite citations indicates they knew their audience were very familiar with what we know call the Old Testament. When you take a look at Romans 3:10-18 which was discussed in some detail during the podcast, it is one complex catena of 6 different citations combined into one composite citation.

Continue reading “Biblical Literacy & Composite Citations”

Reading Personas in the Bible

I have repeatedly emphasized paying attention to scripture as literature among other things. As such I have talked about various literary devices and techniques that are employed by the writers of holy scripture, how we can discern them and also apply those methods in our reading of scripture. The best example of this which has appeared extensively on this platform is “figural reading” (seeing the Old Testament containing types that are fulfilled in the New Testament) championed in the work of Richard B. Hays, a leading New Testament scholar. There are places where typological readings are not sufficient and we need to use another interpretive method. Rising New Testament scholar Matthew Bates, whose work has come up a lot in recent months on this platform, has identified a new but old interpretive technique called “prosopological exegesis.” The following series from Early Christian Archives breaks down this simple but dauntingly named reading method and why it is important that readers of the New Testament ought to know it.

Kyle R. Hughes

What is it? And, more importantly, why should anyone care? Well, for one thing, it just might explain how and why Paul uses the OT in the way that he does.

Prosopological exegesis (PE) is a technique of interpreting Scripture common in the early church. As Matthew W. Bates describes it, PE “explains a text by suggesting that the author of the text identified various persons or characters (prosopa) as speakers or addressees in a pre-text, even though it is not clear from the pre-text itself that such persons are in view” (The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation, 183). By “text,” Bates refers to “any specific instance in which a NT author, such as Paul, directly cites the scriptures” (53), while a “pre-text” means “a specific textual source that the NT author utilized” (54). Thus, when Paul cites Hab 2:4b LXX in Rom 1:17, Rom 1:17…

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A Crisis of Biblical Proportions

About 3 years ago I read Jesus and the Eyewitnesses by Richard Bauckham which got me interested in biblical literacy. He talked about how oral cultures preserve and transmit tradition. Even though in the ancient world literacy rates were extremely low (not more than 10% according to most scholars but it is very hard to determine) they could be very familiar with texts. This phenomenon is known as textuality. A text could be publicly read and repeated so many times that those who are illiterate actually know the text very well even though they have never read it. It’s like a popular film you have never watched but because it’s so much a part of pop culture, being referenced and alluded to in many different ways, you already know the story without having actually seen it. What really inspired me about Bauckham’s work is that no matter how educated you are, everyone can be taught scripture to a very sophisticated level. Looking at how great the challenges were in the 1st century, biblical literacy still happened which means for the post-Gutenberg, social media generation, we really do not have an excuse. Continue reading “A Crisis of Biblical Proportions”