مرکزی صفحہ Biblical Theology Bulletin: A Journal of Bible and Culture (Biblical Theology... Book Review: Entertaining Angels: Early Christian Hospitality in Its Mediterranean Setting. By...
Biblical Theology Bulletin: A Journal of Bible and Culture (Biblical Theology Bulletin: A Journal of Bible and Theology) 2007 / 08 Vol. 37; Iss. 3
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B I B L I C A L T H E O LO GY B U L L E T I N • VO LU M E 3 7 and issues of determinacy. When it comes to defining what is “a benefit for humanity,” who gets to decide, and how do they decide? History teaches us that what is a benefit for some can come at a high cost for others. Such an amorphous approach to meaning certainly favors those with power and with a voice. With regard to textual interpretation, the approach begs the historical question and neglects the fact that a text had at least a range of plausible meanings in its context (which thereby rule out, a priori, at least some other meanings). These dangers are a witness to the importance of understanding social context in the quest for textual meaning. Tannehill’s “benefit for humanity” as a hermeneutical strategy is in need of either more reflection or more explanation. This work is a fine introduction to Tannehill’s important contributions to New Testament studies and to the application of literary-critical methods to the biblical text. At times it suggests an exciting approach to the text existing at the nexus of literary, historical, and social-scientific approaches to the text. It is a book worthy of attention from those who are interested in appropriating literary-critical methodology in their approach to the Bible and for those who are interested in the question of determinacy and indeterminacy in Biblical meaning. Honest republications of previously produced work such as this are welcome arrivals for those who face the daunting challenge of staying “up to speed” on the current state and historical development of New Testament studies. Aaron Kuecker University of St. Andrews St. Andrews, Fife, KY16 9AJ, Scotland Entertaining Angels: Early Christian Hospitality in Its Mediterranean Setting. By Andrew Arterbury. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2005. Pp. Ix + 227. Cloth, $90.00. This dissertation is about the significance of the term “hospitality” (xenia and synonyms) and the behaviors labeled by the term in the ancient Mediterranean. ; Arterbury covers the evidence for ancient Mediterranean hospitality as presented in chosen text-segments from Homer through early Jesus group writings, with special emphasis on hospitality in Luke–Acts. In dissertation fashion, the author opens with an introductory chapter dealing with previous scholarship on hospitality, and follows with a description of the approach taken in this study. Then Arterbury divides his work into two parts. The first part deals with hospitality in Mediterranean antiquity, under the following heads: Greco-Roman hospitality, Jewish (sic) hospitality, and early Christian (sic) hospitality. The second part deals with hospitality in Luke’s writings, with focus on Acts 10–11. The author’s method is to select passages that describe the positive reception and maintenance of strangers. The interaction is called hospitality (xenia). The author then expands on the lexical company that the word xenia keeps in descriptions of entertaining strangers. The result is a literary pattern expressing a process of interaction that presumably was a behavioral pattern dictated by the norms of the prevailing social system(s) of the ancient Mediterranean. In a world without hotels, a stranger was likely to find hospitality by showing up at a town square or by a community well (or water source). The process gets under way by some local inviting the stranger to his (at times her) domicile. A range of amenities may follow, concluding with a meal and an offer of an overnight stay. The process ends with parting niceties. The author well describes how the process is described in a range of Mediterranean writings. For those of us who favor charts, the author might readily chart out the steps (and the vocabulary) of hospitality interactions. The dense prose descriptions of his summaries are fine, but not as attractive and useful as charts would be. Since the author is not much interested in gender roles, the fact is any male accepting hospitality in the ancient Mediterranean places himself in a non-male (actually quasi-female) situation in the household of the host. The stranger is embedded in the honor of the host, just as females in the household are embedded in the honor of the patriarch. The author does not much focus on the rules of proper behavior of guest and host. I noted the author’s conventional use of “Jewish” and “Christian” to label LXX, Josephus, Philo etc. and early Jesus group writings, because the author is concerned with proper labeling and translation of central terms (e.g. xenia, which is not about entertaining in our sense). Consistency in his fast and loose use of “Jew” and “Jewish” should have him refer to Judea as “Jewland.” But of course he does not. Rather he speaks of Judea. If in antiquity, Galilee was inhabited by Galileans (not Gals), then Judea was inhabited by Judeans (not Jews). Further, since none of the Pauline writings refers to “Christians,” it is hard to see why in his historical work the author introjects second-century terminology into the first. This usage would have one think that there were “Christians” and “Jews” in the first-century Mediterranean. There were not! In sum, Arterbury has written a very useful (if overpriced) book. It deals with a rather common pattern of behavior explicitly referred to or implicitly alluded to (e.g. John 1:11) throughout the New Testament. Given the traveling that features 139 Book Reviews in so many New Testament narratives, an awareness of hospitality behavior is quite necessary for a modern reader’s understanding of these high context documents. Bruce J. Malina Creighton University Omaha NE, 68178 Discourses in Matthew: Jesus Teaches the Church. By David P. Scaer. St Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 2004. Pp. 415. Cloth, $29.99. In this book, David P. Scaer, Professor of Systematic Theology and New Testament at Concordia Theological Seminary, makes the following arguments: (1) the Gospel of Matthew is best understood as a church catechesis preparing catechumens for both baptism and the Eucharist (99); (2) reading the Gospels primarily as catechetical documents within the context of the Eucharist may shed new light on the teachings of Jesus (44); and (3) most New Testament documents and especially the Gospel of Matthew, provide an almost recognizable outline as catechetical documents (45). The format of the book is outlined to prompt the reader, as the ancient catechumen, to engage the five discourses of Matthew sequentially with the agenda of drawing the audience into a deeper understanding of the mysteries of the Eucharist. As a result, Scaer discusses each of the five discourses in great detail in chapters seven (discourse 1), and nine through twelve (discourses 2–5). Also included in the book are chapters on Matthew as Catechist, Biographer and Apologist (chapter 2); the Gospel of Matthew as Scripture (chapter 3); the Development of Baptism in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 4); the Development of the Eucharist in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 5); the Development of the Trinity in the Gospel 140 of Matthew (chapter 6); Righteousness in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 8); and a concluding chapter entitled “Death and Resurrection as Apocalyptic Conclusion to the Catechesis.” My initial critique of this work is with its chapter structure and overall sequence of argument. As noted above, the thesis of this book is that Matthew is best understood as a catechism, but the reader is left to wade through six introductory chapters (210 pages) to reach the first discourse chapter. Secondly, Scaer presents chapters on the baptism and Eucharist prior to the discourse chapters, thereby inverting the natural flow of his argument that the discourses precede and lead to a deeper understanding of baptism and the Eucharist. Thirdly, I found the brief chapter on baptism (5 pages total), one of the goals of the catechesis, to be unsatisfying in its brevity. Sequencing aside, I found Scaer’s early chapters illuminating at least as they relate to his evangelical hermeneutic and underlying agenda. Of primary note is his approach to and understanding of the academy in which he participates. For example, his comparison between early church opponents and modern critical scholars struck this reviewer as profoundly overstated (29–30): “Early church opponents and, since the eighteenth century, critical scholars have worked to undermine the Christian message by placing the Gospels side by side in an effort to identify alleged contradictions.” In its place, Scaer argues that it is better to think of one gospel message available in four versions (12). He also challenges contemporary approaches to biblical scholarship by noting the guild’s preference for the complex theology of Paul in contrast to the simple message of Jesus’ teachings found in the Gospels (17). These are just a few examples of the very conservative approach Scaer details in his early chapters, which also leads him to argue for the possibility of an earlier dating of the Gospel (20) and its priority (89–91). I found Scaer’s basic thesis interesting: How do our readings of Matthew’s Gospel shift if we foreground its catechetical character? And by extension, how does this illuminate Matthew’s employment of his sources and shaping of his Gospel? Unfortunately, the book never moves in this direction because of its conflated notion of one gospel message in four versions, and herein may lie the chasm between Scaer’s approach and other contemporary approaches to New Testament studies. Nevertheless, on occasion the greatest contribution a scholar can make to the guild might be the questions she or he brings for our collective consideration. This is, in my estimation, Scaer’s major contribution with this book. In its current form (415 pages), this book is best suited for scholars and graduate students in Systematic Theology, especially those with a more conservative approach, but Scaer’s exhaustive analysis of Matthew also generates interesting questions for the field of Biblical Studies. David A. Sánchez Loyola Marymount University Los Angeles, CA 90045 The Child–Parent Relationship in the New Testament and Its Environment. By Peter Balla. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005. Pp. xi + 279. Paper, $29.95. Peter Balla’s thesis in this book is that early Christianity, including Jesus and his first followers, did not violate the general cultural expectation that children should honor their parents. His book is divided into two major parts, each consisting of three chapters. In the first part of the book, Balla establishes the “background” for the “environment” of the New Testament.