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Scholae Tigurinae studia ad Novum Testamentum

A Year of Zurich Books in Review

20. December 2016 | Christoph Heilig | 1 Kommentar |

Given that Christmas is just around the corner, I thought that for some of you it might be interesting to get an annotated list of the books we have published this year – just in case you still need some last-minute entries for your wish list …


Frey, Jörg. Der Brief des Judas und der zweite Brief des Petrus. THKNT 15/II. Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2015.

As you can see, this book was published last year already. However, since it appeared in print after the annual SBL meeting, I thought that it kind of belongs to this academic season and that it, hence, should be included in this list. This commentary is the result of one decade of research and writing by Jörg Frey and is a rather massive work, being about three times the length of the volume in that series that it replaces. You can take a look at the TOC and the daunting bibliography here. Here is the description by the publisher, which gives you a good idea of Frey’s specific contribution:

In the NT canon, the two minor »catholic« epistles of Jude and Second Peter, are often considered somewhat marginal. Scholarship has neglected them for long. The present commentary aims at demonstrating the particular achievements of the two writings without concealing the open theological questions. More precisely than before, the author elaborates the historical location of the two writings, their literary context, the profile of the respective opponents and the particular interests of the argument. The difficult text critical issues and the reception of Biblical, early Jewish and Apocalyptic material are discussed in separate sections, and a synthesis of the respective theologies of the writings is added. Jude is ultimately read as part of a critical debate with Pauline and post-Pauline developments, whereas Second Peter turns out as a testimony of theological discussions of the second century.

Heilig, Christoph, J. Thomas Hewitt, and Michael Bird, eds. God and the Faithfulness of Paul: A Critical Examination of the Pauline Theology of N. T. Wright. WUNT II 413. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016.

If you are interested in the scholarship of N. T. Wright or in Pauline studies in general, this collection of 30 scholars in discussion with Wright’s magnum opus is probably perfect for you. Todd Scacewater from Exegetical Tools writes that “this new book from Mohr Siebeck is a sure guide to the most contentious issues in Wright’s account of Paul’s theology” and that he “highly recommend[s] it to any students of Pauline theology and even to pastors who want to engage in rigorous Pauline debates.” He concludes by saying that “for Pauline scholars, it would be irresponsible not to own this volume!” Also, I have just seen that Andreas Köstenberger has included it in his Top 10 Biblical studies books of 2016.  We are really pleased with the great interest in this book, which had been sold out after only a few months. It is now available again from Mohr Siebeck. If you don’t own it already, you can order it now here. If you would like to know more, you can check out the TOC here. Furthermore, note that we have a series on this blog on the Zurich contribution in this volume: Part 1 on Benjamin Schliesser’s analysis of Wright’s PFG in comparison to other Pauline theologies, Part 2 on Theresa Heilig’s piece on Historical Methodology, co-authored with myself, and Part 3 on Jörg Frey’s and N. T. Wright’s “apocalyptic” encounter.

Poplutz, Uta and Jörg Frey, eds. Erzählungen und Briefe im johanneischen Kreis. WUNT II 420. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016.

Of course, Jörg Frey also has a Johannine publication this year. Here is the link to the publisher and this is the description of the volume in English (the volume contains two essays that are not in German):

The relationship between John’s Gospel and the Johannine Epistles is still disputed. The present volume combines studies directly addressing this relationship with further detailed studies on the Fourth Gospel and the Epistles of John. Apart from the question about their direct relationship, the issues of ‘docetism’ and ‘antidocetism’, the problem of the community meals and further issues of Christology, sin and sinlessness, mimesis and ethics are discussed.

Kunath, Friederike. Die Präexistenz Jesu im Johannesevangelium: Struktur und Theologie eines johanneischen Motivs. BZNW 212. Berlin: de Gruyter, 2016.

This book, which appeared this summer, is Friederike Kunath’s dissertation, which she had completed under Jens Schröter in Berlin in 2014. It deals with the important issue of Jesus’s preexistence in the Gospel of John. Fortunately, she wrote a quite detailed summary in English for our blog, which you can find here.

Wolter, Michael. The Gospel according to Luke: Volume I (Luke 1-9:50). Edited and introduced by Wayne Coppins and Simon Gathercole. Translated by Wayne Coppins and Christoph Heilig. Baylor-Mohr Siebeck Studies in Early Christianity 4. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2016.

Even though it might not be recognized by all as such, translation work is an important aspect of biblical scholarship. I am, hence, especially honored that this year I could assist Wayne Coppins in his important task of making German research on the NT and early Christianity more accessible to the English speaking world. You can find my own thoughts on Wolter’s commentary and our translation project here. Also, note that subsequently Wayne Coppins has also posted on this on his blog. If you are not already following his blog on Facebook, I would strongly encourage you to do so. First, it is a most excellent resource for all who are interested in German-speaking scholarship on the New Testament. Second, if you like our blog you are almost obliged to do so, given the fact that this very project was Wayne Coppins’ idea. If you haven’t already, you can learn more about that in our first blog post.

Götte, Monika. Von den Wächtern zu Adam: Frühjüdische Mythen über die Ursprünge des Bösen und ihre frühchristliche Rezeption. WUNT II 426. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016.

I am especially glad to include this book into my list since it is the publication of a dissertation of one of the members of our peer mentoring group. This book deals with the important issue of the origin of “evil,” both from a historical perspective and with attention to some of the hermeneutical questions associated with this foundational issue:

In the early Jewish-Christian tradition, the question as to the origin of evil is explained through the use of various mythological concepts. Most prominent are the Enochic myth of the Watchers and the narrative of Adam’s fall. Monika Elisabeth Götte analyses the development and the reception of these two motifs, revealing a gradual shift of the explanation of evil’s origins from the Watchers to Adam and, later, to the primordial fall of Satan. The plurality of explanations within the biblical and the early Christian tradition leads to hermeneutical issues: If evil is not explained in a uniform and definitive manner, but is left open in a multifaceted play of motifs, what does this mean for Christian theology?

You can get it here.

Frey, Jörg. Von Jesus zur neutestamentlichen Theologie: Kleine Schriften II. Edited by Benjamin Schliesser. WUNT 368. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2016.

This is a publication you shouldn’t miss! As you might know, there is a collection of Jörg Frey’s essays on John, Die Herrlichkeit des Gekreuzigten. I am currently co-translating a selection of these Johannine essays with Wayne Coppins for his BMSEC series (scheduled for 2018). This 2016 volume contains almost all of the essays written by Jörg Frey on the other writings of the NT. Here is the description by the publisher that gives you a good idea of the breadth and depth of this project:

The second volume of collected essays by Jörg Frey contains 22 essays that illuminate the theological claims of New Testament texts from a philological and historical perspective. Issues discussed span the messianism of Jesus and the implicit Christology of his proclamation, the relevance of apocalypticism for Jesus, the different New Testament patterns of interpreting his death, and Paul’s background and development as well as questions on his theologies of justification and the cross. Further studies discuss New Testament concepts of salvation, the new covenant in Hebrews, ecclesiological and eschatological issues and the problem of the construction of a Theology of the New Testament. The author demonstrates that the New Testament is to be read both historically and theologically, and that its interpretation is also fruitful for issues of contemporary faith.

Also, note that the book opens with a new essay in which Jörg Frey describes his journey as a New Testament scholar and which offers invaluable insights into the current state of research.

Have you already circulated an updated wish list for Christmas in light of what you have read so far? Or have you decided to make yourself a present and have already begun shopping on the Mohr Siebeck-webpage? Excellent. However, I would at the same time also like to urge you to save a few bucks for the beginning of 2017! There are three books in particular I would like to include in this list – for they are all already with the publisher and near expectancy of their publication is truly justified.

Heilig, Christoph. Paul’s Triumph: Reassessing 2 Corinthians 2:14 in Its Literary and Historical Context. Biblical Tools and Studies 27. Leuven: Peeters, 2017.

I assume you were not only disappointed not to meet me at this year’s SBL meeting but also because you couldn’t find this book on Peeters’ table. As I am told, your waiting should be over very soon. If you are interested in Pauline theology, Second Corinthians, the language of the New Testament, methodology, word studies, Graeco-Roman background of the NT, or the whole “Paul and Empire”-debate – or if you only want to finally get an answer to your nagging question of whether Paul portrays himself in 2 Cor 2:14 as a victorious general or rather a prisoner of war who is led to execution –  this book might be of interest for you. Here’s the blurb from the Peeters webpage:

Paul’s metaphorical language in Second Corinthians 2:14 has troubled exegetes for a long time. Does the verb ‘thriambeuein’ indicate that Paul imagines himself as being led to execution in the Roman triumphal procession? Or is, by contrast, the victory in view that the apostles receive themselves? Maybe the Roman ritual does not constitute the background of this metaphor at all? Clarity with regard to these questions is a pressing issue in Pauline studies, given the fact that this metaphor introduces a central passage in the Pauline corpus that is of crucial importance for reconstructing the apostle’s self-understanding. Heilig demonstrates that, if all the relevant data are taken into account, a coherent interpretation of Paul’s statement is possible indeed. Moreover, Heilig brings the resulting meaning of Paul’s statement into dialogue with the political discourse of the time, thus presenting a detailed argument for the complex critical interaction of Paul with the ideology of the Roman Empire.

Kiffiak, Jordash. Responses in the Miracle Stories of the Gospels: Between Artistry and Inherited Tradition. WUNT II 429. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017.

My own book will look rather thin next to the dissertation (Hebrew University) by our peer mentoring group member Jordash Kiffiak. The page count on the Mohr Siebeck webpage has not yet been updated to reflect the pagination of the final version . It’s imposing, trust me. Now, if you are like me and you wonder how it is possible to say so much about such a specific issue, be assured: This is not simply an exhaustive discussion of an important element of the gospels, rather, this publication leaves no stone unturned in the study of the Gospels and the historical Jesus. This book will certainly be hotly debated in the coming year. You can get a sense of this by noticing the implications that are touched upon in the description:

Jordash Kiffiak offers the first concentrated study of a motif ubiquitous in the miracle stories of the gospels, namely the descriptions of characters’ speech, feelings, physical actions and the like in response to miracles. Conventional wisdom sees the response motif as a means of casting the miracle worker in a positive light. However, the author’s narrative-critical analysis argues that within each gospel the motif is employed creatively in a variety of ways. Responses serve to characterize various individuals and groups, both positively and negatively, sometimes in a more complex manner. They also contribute to the development of the plot, both in the individual episode and in the larger narrative. At the same time, observing that a network of features in the responses is shared among the gospels, Kiffiak argues that there is a common oral tradition behind the miracle stories, originating among the early followers of Jesus in the Galilee and/or Judea.

Frey, Jörg, Benjamin Schliesser, and Nadine Ueberschaer. Das Verständnis des Glaubens im frühen Christentum und in seiner jüdischen und hellenistisch-römischen Umwelt. WUNT. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2017.

This is a massive project on the issue of “faith” from a variety of perspectives. For the rather impressive lineup, see the description on the Mohr Siebeck website.

Christoph Heilig is working on an SNF-Project on Narrative-Substructures in the Letters of Paul with Prof. Jörg Frey. He is the author of Hidden Criticism? Methodology and Plausibility of the Search for a Counter-Imperial Subtext in Paul, WUNT II 392 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015) and Paul’s Triumph: Reassessing 2 Corinthians 2:14 in Its Literary and Historical Context, BTS 27 (Leuven: Peeters, [apparently] 2017).

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