Last Sunday as I was preparing to teach GD I noticed an odd footnote associated with the word “teaching” in Mt 28:20. This verse is part of a larger passage, the Great Commission of the First Gospel. The speaker is the resurrected Jesus and the occasion is his departure. This is the text in the AV:
19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsover I have command you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.
This is one of the most theologically dense passages in the entire Gospel so I was not surprised to find various footnotes. But I was surprised to find this particular footnote, associated with the second occurrence of the word “teaching” in v. 20:
The Greek text suggest this would be post-baptismal teaching.
Weird, eh? That’s definitely not an answer to any of the first ten or so questions that spring to mind when reading the conclusion of Matthew’s Gospel! So what gives?
One of the key differences between the story of the death of Jesus in Matthew and that of Mark is the narration of the fate of Judas in Mt. 27:3-10. This story plays a variety of roles in Matthew’s story. It’s another of Matthew’s famous fulfillment citations. It fills a narrative gap in the Marcan version, which mentions the perfidy of Judas but not his fate. And along with the story of the dream of Pilate’s wife, it also affirms the innocence of Jesus.
There is, however, more to the story than this. Here are the pertinent verses from the NRSV:
3 When Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he repented and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4 He said, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” 5 Throwing down the pieces of silver in the temple, he departed; and he went and hanged himself.
Here’s a link to an article on the Talpiyot tomb written by Jodi Magness of UNC-Chapel Hill and located on the Society of Biblical Literature website. As you can guess from the title, her contribution is a sober assessment of the serious deficiencies of the Cameron production and its associated sensationalism.
While you’re there, feel free to poke around the SBL site…
Like my buddies here at FPR, I’ve been thinking about the intersection of LDS life and biblical or religious scholarship. For my part, I want to call your attention to three incidents that I think intersect at a significant point:
–Jan Shipps’ quip to the effect that one wonders if LDS scholars “know how to operate in the professional world.” (Deseret Morning News, 21 Jun 2005)
–a young man who implicitly suggested that the rest of Christianity was “lost and confused” without the Book of Mormon
–a general practice of demonizing non-LDS Biblical or religious scholarship by using the expression “scholars say…” followed by some scary tidbit that is accurate but by no means reflects either consensus or the range of current opinion
I am going to ask that you trust me that the last two things occurred. My argument does not depend on the details, so your discrete lack of curiosity will help preserve both privacy and dignity.
What these three scenarios have in common is that the subject of each is in some fashion unable to deal productively with what might be called the religious other. Why is this so?
In case you’ve just stopped by, I’ve been blogging on an article by Professor Kent P. Jackson of the BYU Religious Education Faculty. The title is “Sacred Study” and it’s found in the 6 Jan 07 edition of the Church News. In this article Professor Jackson defines LDS Biblical scholarship and LDS Biblical scholars solely by their uncompromising use of secondary sources derived from modern revelation.
As I have pointed out in my two previous posts there are some issues with his proposal, at least as they are presented in this particular article. Despite these matters, I do think that we should go ahead with Professor Jackson’s plan. As you will see, the interesting thing about the Bible is its ability to “push back” against attempts to domesticate it. We might build a one-room schoolhouse for it, but it will not remain so confined indefinitely.
Professor Kent P. Jackson’s 6 Jan 07 Church News article, “Sacred Study” proposes a uniquely LDS form of Biblical scholarship and defines LDS Biblical scholars as those who practice this discipline. According to Professor Jackson, this methodology “embraces revealed sources and uses them at every stage in the process of understanding and interpreting the words of scripture.” Clearly, this method can only be practiced at BYU. And if I have understood him correctly, it is the only exegetical methodology to be used at BYU. So let’s take a look at the inside of this one-room schoolhouse which will be training future general authorities and auxiliary leaders in how to approach scripture.
The January 6, 2007 edition of the Church News contained an article entitled “Sacred Study” by Professor Kent P. Jackson of the Brigham Young University Religious Education Department. In his article, Professor Jackson attempts to define the requirements of LDS Bible scholarship. In this process, he fails to adequately distinguish between a much-sought but not yet achieved tradition of LDS Biblical scholarship and the wider practice of Biblical studies by LDS exegetes and others in related disciplines. Should it be institutionalized, this deficiency may have some significant repercussions.
One of the most powerful scenes in Revelation is the moment when the Lamb takes the scroll from the right hand of the one who sits on the throne. His achievement is celebrated by heaven’s citizens like this:
When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones. 9 They sang a new hymn: “Worthy are you to receive the scroll and to break open its seals, for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation. 10 You made them a kingdom and priests for our God, and they will reign on earth.”
Have a a second look at the criteria for priestly status. In Revelation’s world, that status comes as a result of the sacrifice of the Lamb. Note especially the absence of any mention of race and gender.
And have nice MLK Day!
This bit of light writing was composed in response to an email from a friend. I have left it with that content and format except for a postscript added this afternoon. The question posed was the relationship between blasphemy against the Spirit and all that other business about demons and Beelzebul in Mark 3.
How amazing that your question should concern the binding of the strong man passage! That is precisely the passage we are going to cover in GD this week. Last week we did attitudes of a disciple and attitude of Jesus toward disciples. This week we’ll look at attitudes of anti-disciples and the attitude of Jesus toward anti-disciples.
(Anti-disciples should be distinguished from not-disciples. In Mark, the crowd is something of a group character with its own “personality” and theology. They are the not-disciples; people who are listening, thinking, and in some cases reacting but are neither disciples nor hostile.)
For those who are joining our programming in medias res, this series is looking at the story of the Adulterous Woman in the Fourth Gospel from a narrative-critical standpoint. The first installment dealt with the theory of narrator reliability and the second with various narrative techniques. This one has to do with the challenges inherent in a narrative-critical approach to a story of uncertain authenticity.
The Text-Critical Situation
The story of the Adulterous Woman is now found in Jn 7:53-8:11. But was it always there? Probably not. The traditional exegetical approach divides the pertinent data between the categories of external and internal evidence.
If bizarre manuscript references are not your thing, you can accept my conclusion, that the story of the Adulterous Woman was not originally part of the Fourth Gospel, and move on down to the paragraph heading “Narrative Coherence.”