Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Defining a Critical Method for Detecting Greco-Roman Allusions

So much work has been done on OT echoes in the NT, and several monographs have attempted to refine Richard Hays' 7 criteria for recognizing an echo (Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, 29-32; cf. Leroy Huizenga, The New Isaac, 61ff; Christopher Beetham, Echoes of Scripture in the Letter of Paul to the Colossians, ch. 2). But so little has been done in defining a critical methodology for detecting Greco-Roman allusions in Paul's letter corpus. I'm going to start blogging on this soon. I'm going to first define different categories for Greco-Roman allusions. The challenge right now is to develop the right terms or technical categories for defining the types of allusions Paul and other New Testament writers make in reference to Greco-Roman literature or even general encyclopedic knowledge that was shared between the author and his/her readers.

First up is what I would like to call "competitive acculturation," i.e., when Paul uses a word or phrase (e.g., εὐαγγέλιον) that has a technical use in the discourse of a particular political, social, or religious group (e.g., the imperial cult) in order to say that Christianity outdoes and out-competes the group in its own game (e.g., who is really the author of good news? Christ or Caesar).

However, right now, I am neck deep in grading final exams and final papers at North Park. I have a stack of exegesis papers to go through. Duty before pleasure, so I'm going to have to post on this later. MJL

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Festschrift garnering international attention...

It turns out that I'm not the only one who posted about the Festschrift for Professor Seyoon Kim on his (or her?) blog. Someone who attended the presentation at the Baltimore SBL took the flyer back to Korea, scanned it, and posted it on a forum for book reviews. The responses have been positive to his post and it looks like people are eager to get a personal copy themselves. Kudos to the person who did this! Glad to see the Festschrift is already getting some international buzz.

Here's a link to the other blogger's post:


Friday, December 6, 2013

Festschrift for Professor Seyoon Kim

Wipf and Stock produced a nice flyer of the Festschrift which I and the editors presented to Dr. Seyoon Kim in honor of his retirement from full-time teaching at Fuller Theological Seminary and on the occasion of his 68th birthday. Though the book will not be published until March-April 2014, we surprised Dr. Kim with a framed cover at the Korean Biblical Colloquium, an affiliate of the Society of Biblical Literature, at the meeting in Baltimore this November 2013. There was a celebration and banquet afterwards.

The cover, by the way, features an 1855 Maria Fortuny painting entitled: "St. Paul Preaching at the Areopagus." As far as I know, the Festschrift will mark the first time this painting has been published as a cover for an academic book in New Testament studies. It's simply a beautiful art piece, and many thanks go to the Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya in Spain for giving permission to publish it. Here is a copy of the flyer along with the book cover.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

(Re)defining Righteousness Language

Right before the Thanksgiving holiday, I attended the Society of Biblical Literature meeting held in Baltimore. I gave a paper for the Biblical Lexicography section entitled: "Greek Words and Roman Meanings: (Re)mapping Righteousness Language in Greco-Roman Discourse as a Prolegomenon to Paul." The paper summarized the work I have done to remap the definitions for δικαιοσύνη, δίκαιος, and δικαιόω according to their Κοινή or "common" every day use in Greco-Roman discourse. The problem with BDAG and other lexicons like it is their dependence on Septuagintal uses for defining the δικ(αιο)- word group. Letting the LXX define major semantic classifications is putting the proverbial cart before the horse. First we should examine how the words are commonly understood in the everyday discourse of the 1st century Mediterranean world. Then we examine how Paul might modify the definitions by quoting the Septuagint and its dependence on the Hebrew correlatives tsedek/tsedekah to define what the Greek words mean. So the Greco-Roman usages become the baseline for evaluating the likelihood of an echo.

The more unique the definition, or in other words, the further away Paul's specialized usage of  δικ(αιο)- lexemes is from their "normal" Κοινή use, the greater burden is placed on the exegete that the OT echo does indeed extend the normal meanings of Greek words in that direction.

This is not to say that the LXX is not important to the understanding of Paul's soteriological terms in his letters. Paul likely uses Septuagintal echoes in his letters to redefine the meaning of the δικ(αιο)- word group. However, these definitions are specialized and should not constitute a major semantic classification. 

Here's a sample of what I did with δίκαιος . The left column are the definitions in my alternative lexicon based on Κοινή usages. The right column are the entries of BDAG. The full study will be published in the form of two essays in the forthcoming Festschrift for Dr. Seyoon Kim: Fire in My Soul: Essays on Pauline Soteriology and the Gospels in Honor of Seyoon Kim (eds. Soon Bong Choi, Jin Ki Hwang, and Max J. Lee; Wipf&Stock, Mar/April 2014).

(A1): in accordance with the expectations, customs or decorum of the community; right, fitting, appropriate, customary[1]
(A2): in accordance to the rules or civic laws which govern society; just, equitable, fair, lawful[2]
(A2.1; as a substantive): the right to do something as guaranteed by law or custom; legal license or civic liberty; right, freedom[3]
(A2.2; as a substantive): punitive action; punishment[4]
(A3): in accordance to moral integrity; righteous, upright, honest[5]
(A4): judged in the right; justified[6]
unattested [[(A4.1): judged innocent; acquitted; innocent; free]][7]
(1) pertaining to being in accordance with high standards or rectitude, upright, just, fair
(a) of humans
(α) In Gr-Rom. tradition a δίκαιος person upholds the customs and norms of behavior . . . In keeping with OT tradition . . . δίκαιος like tsaddiq = conforming to the laws of God and people
(β) of things relating to human beings . . . αἷμα δικαίου (Jo 4:19; La 4:13 = Pr 6:17 αἷμα δικαίον) blood of an upright, or better, an innocent man
(b) of transcendent beings
(α) God and deities are just or fair in their judgments
(β) of Jesus who, as the ideal of an upright person, is called simply δίκαιος the upright one
(2) obligatory in view of certain requirements of justice, right, fair, equitable

* Prototypical definitions are render in blue. Particularly juridicial or forensic use (marked) is rendered in purple. Unattested, rare, or highly specialized usages are rendered in red. Definitions are ranked from unmarkedness to markedness. The lower digit categories (1, 2, etc.) signify the lexeme’s unmarked meaning(s) that are the least context dependent, while the higher digit categories (3, 4, etc.) indicate increasing semantic markedness. Subcategories (2.1, 2.2, etc.) represent specialized or marked uses of the lexeme regardless of ranking. English glosses (or what Danker calls “formal equivalents”) are distinguished from the definitions by rendering the gloss in italics.
[1] See Homer, Od. 6.120–21; 9.172–76; 13.209–12; 14.89–92. The social meaning of δίκαιος during the Hellenistic and Greco-Roman eras is well-attested, and here I depend mostly on the citations listed in Spicq, “δίκαιος, κτλ.” 320–21; BAGD, s.v. δίκαιος, 246–47; Schrenk, “δίκη, δίκαιος, δικαιοσύνη, κτλ.,” 182–85; Olley, Righteousness in the Septuagint of Isaiah, 32–43; Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings, 99–100; Ziesler, The Meaning of Righteousness, 48–51; Reumann, “Righteousness: Greco-Roman World,” 743.
[2] Aristotle, EN 1129a6–9; 1129a34–1129b1; Demosthenes, Or. 3.21; Thucydides, Hist. 2.71.2; Diodorus Siculus, Bibliotheca historica 5.71.1; 12.45.1; 19.85.4; 40.11.1–2; 49.12.1; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Ant. rom. 10.2.
[3] UPZ II 16 col. 7 lines 22–27; P. Oxy. VI, 905.9.
[4] Dio Cassius, Roman History 40.19.2; 54.19.2; Josephus, Ant. 14.288; 15.213.
[5] Herodotus, Hist. 1.96; Epictetus, Diss. 3.14.13–14; Fr. 14; Fr. 28b; Musonius Rufus, Fr. 16 (= Lutz, p. 104, line 33).
[6] Demosthenes, Or. 44.4; Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Ant. rom. 10.2. Cf. Aristotle, EN 1137a10–12 (ἄδικος κρίσις ἐστίν).
[7] The double brackets [[ ]] signify that definition of δίκαιος as “acquitted,” “innocent,” or “free” is unattested in Greco-Roman discourse. If found in Paul’s letters, this semantic classification denotes a unique Pauline use atypical of its κοινή usage during the early imperial period of Rome. However, the substantive use of δίκαιος as “punishment” is attested, though rare (see above def. A2.2). The denotation of the verb δικαιόω as “punish / penalize” is much more frequent and well attested (see below def. V3.2). 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Why this blog

I am exploring the possibility of blogging. But if I jump in, my posts will be very random and far between. Right now my biggest project is trying to complete my monograph for Mohr-Siebeck within a year's time (by the end of 2014).

The book is listed on the publisher's website at:


With my calendar clear, I'm optimistic I can get this done. Since the monograph focuses mostly on Paul's contemporaries and not the Apostle Paul himself, I imagine that random ideas on the analogues I find between the ancient philosophical tradition and Paul will surface as I delve into the primary source material. When such ideas occur (how often? who knows?), I will post them here. So the blog functions, in this probational period of 1 year, a way for me to "think outloud" (please don't hold anything I say here as inscribed in stone; I reserve the right to change my mind!) and record these ideas before I forget them. MJL

Update (3/20/14): The blog took a life of its own when I started making posts on the Greece trip. So while I will continue posting on my research for the WUNT monograph, I will also use the blog to make historical-cultural notes on the Greco-Roman world in general as a framework in which the modern reader can interpret Paul's letters and message. I might add theological reflections and pastoral remarks from time to time, in connection with the historical-cultural notes, and anything else which I think my students (past and present) might benefit from, as it seems most of those who are anonymously reading the blog are from my classes. I did not think I could keep it up either, but generally, I have been posting on average 1x each week, which personally feels like a good pace. MJL