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Story as History - History as Story

The Gospel Tradition in the Context of Ancient Oral History

Samuel Byrskog

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Samuel Byrskog employs models from the interdisciplinary field of oral history as presented by Paul Thompson, coupled with insights from cultural anthropology, in order to examine the interaction between the present and the past as the gospel tradition evolved. The ancient Greek and Roman historians, with their use of eyewitness testimony as sources to the past and as central elements in interpretive and narrativizing processes of the present, serve as the basis for unraveling culture-specific patterns of oral history, and thus for conceptualizing similar aspects during the development of the gospel tradition. Eyewitness testimonies played a central but varying role in early Christianity. They were transmitted in the matrix of discipleship, where verbal and behavioral traditions were passed on through acts of mimesis. The folkloristic notion of re-oralization explains how oral accounts regularly interacted with written texts, indicating a vivid and engaged relationship to the past as well as the semantic significance of oral communication and performance. Factual truth was essential but inseparable from interpreted truth during the course of investigation, transmission, and composition. The gospel tradition developed through a subtle interaction between the unique historic events of the past and the various circumstances of the present. The narrative and historical dimensions of a text cannot be separated, because the semantic codes of a text are often located in the culture and not in the text itself. The gospels are therefore the synthesis of history and story, intertwining the horizons of the past and of the present in their own right.

Jesus' Farewell to the Disciples

John 13:1-17:26 in Narratological Perspective



Jesus' Farewell to the Disciples continues and intensifies the quest for uncovering the full potential of narrative criticism of the Fourth Gospel by means of a narratological analysis of John 13:1-17:26.
After a discussion of theoretical issues the author selects a particular narratological model. This is discussed in detail and then utilised for a systematic analysis of John 13:1-17:26. The results of the analysis are integrated in order to indicate the way in which a particular perspective on discipleship is presented in these chapters.
This book is important for scholars who are interested in the application of narrative criticism to biblical texts, as well as in the Johannine perspective on discipleship.

The Body in Question

Metaphor and Meaning in the Interpretation of Ephesians 5:21-33



This study is an analysis of the argumentation of Ephesians 5:21-33. The interpretation of this passage remains fiercely contested: while some interpreters appeal to this text to suggest that husbands have authority over their wives, others reject its apparently patriarchal ethic.
Approaching Ephesians 5:21-33 by way of a discussion of metaphorical language, the present work shows that its argumentation rests upon two very different uses of the 'body' metaphor. One use highlights the unity of wife and husband, while the other underlines the distinction between the partners and suggests that the husband has a position of authority.
The tension created by these two uses of the 'body' metaphor implies that neither a simple hierarchical nor a simple egalitarian interpretation of the passage can be justified.


Guy D. Nave, Jr.

This book explores the central function of the concept "repentance" in the narrative structure and implied social world of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles, and examines how repentance is presented as part of the divine plan. In Luke-Acts, everyone is eligible for membership in the community of God’s people. Such inclusivity requires a radical change in thinking on the part of many in the emerging religious community of Luke-Acts. Repentance in Luke-Acts represents this fundamental change in thinking that enables diverse individuals to receive the salvation of God and to live together as a community of God’s people. The book sets the literary and theological motifs of the New Testament narrative within the social realities of the Greco-Roman world, including varieties of Judaism. It elaborates ways the implied audience would have thought about changing one’s mind, attitudes, and behavior as a step in the progress toward virtue. The book provides an excellent synthesis and analysis of the usage of "repent" and "repentance" in Classical, Hellenistic, Hellenistic Jewish, and early Christian literature.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (

Marks of an Apostle

Deconstruction, Philippians, and Problematizing Pauline Theology


Lesley J. Smith

Recognizing the inadequacies of monocritical approaches to Paul and his theology, Smith brings together important disciplines to cast Paul and the construction of “Pauline theology” in a new light. Through the lens of the paradoxical statement in Phil 1:18 (“only that in every way, whether by pretext or by truth, Christ is preached and in this I rejoice”), the book understands Paul’s texts as ancient writings that adhere to and are confined by a specific set of social codes. The author locates these texts within the context of the writing practices of ancient moral philosophers, who on the one hand eschewed rhetorical convention and on the other were bound by it. Contemporary critical theory is used to investigate and critique previous approaches to Paul and to present viable alternatives. In particular, the book advocates that Paul is far more “earthy” than Pauline theology typically
allows him to be and that his rhetoric (typically mistaken for theology) is a lateral, “logocentric” expression of his beliefs, rather than a vertical, metaphysical construction. Multidisciplinary and innovative, this volume will interest readers on either side of the debate over the new perspective on Paul.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (

A South African Perspective on the New Testament

Essays by South African New Testament Scholars Presented to Bruce Manning Metzger during his Visit to South Africa in 1985

Edited by Hartin and Petzer

The Woman at the Well

Interpretation of John 4:1-42 in Retrospect and Prospect


Janeth Norfleete Day

The theme of the book is that by integrating traditional historical methods of interpretation with more recent literary and sociological methods, it is possible to propose an alternative understanding of the character and role of the Samaritan woman in John 4.
The contents include a survey of the interpretive tradition concerning the Samaritan woman in the church’s exegesis, in artistic renderings, and in literary compositions from the Patristic Period until the Modern Era. The book concludes with the author’s alternative interpretation, which proposes a pious Samaritan woman vs. the traditional immoral one.
This book is useful as a model for a synthetic approach to biblical interpretation that utilizes both historical and more contemporary methods. Additionally, it demonstrates one possible avenue by which biblical and theological scholars can participate in interdisciplinary studies.

Crossing the Boundaries

Essays in Biblical Interpretation in Honour of Michael D. Goulder


Stanley E. Porter

Edited by David Orton and Joyce

Professor Michael Goulder is fêted in this volume with a collection of 24 articles written for the occasion of his retirement by his colleagues and friends.
The essays, which respond to and/or interact with Professor Goulder's creative work across the boundaries of the scholarly disciplines, are grouped into four subject areas: (I) Method in Interpretation; (II) The Hebrew Bible in Context; (III) The New Testament in Context; (IV) Views beyond the Biblical Boundaries. The contributors are: (I) J. Barton, P.M. Joyce, F.M. Young; (II) W.G. Lambert, R.J. Coggins, J.H. Eaton, R.N. Whybray, G.I. Emmerson; (III) J.L. Houlden, D.E. Orton, D. Parker, F. Neirynck, I.H. Marshall, J.C. O'Neill, C.M. Tuckett, J. Drury, J.D.G. Dunn, J. Muddiman, R.H. Gundry, J.M. Lieu, S.E. Porter, J. Day; (IV) M. Goodman, J.M. Hull.
There is a personal tribute to Professor Goulder by Professor Dennis Nineham, and a full bibliography of his publications is included.


Elna Mouton

This book is concerned with the integrity of biblical studies and its relevance for forming moral people, transforming a moral society, and informing moral decision-making and action. It focuses on the dynamic yet complex nature of the moral discourse of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians by exploring its literary, historical and rhetorical dimensions, and concludes by describing its potential to facilitate change as the ability to disclose a radically new perspective on reality. Mouton persuasively demonstrates the dynamic interaction between exegesis and ethics, and between theory and praxis, that is present in Paul’s theology. Ephesians invites present day Christian communities to reorient themselves continuously to its liberating, healing vision of God in and through the exalted Christ and the Spirit, and to creatively appropriate this vision in changing circumstances.

Paperback edition is available from the Society of Biblical Literature (

The New Isaac

Tradition and Intertextuality in the Gospel of Matthew

Leroy Huizenga

Gospel scholarship has long recognized that Matthean Christology is a rich, multifaceted tapestry weaving multifold Old Testment figures together in the person of Jesus. It is somewhat strange, therefore, that scholarship has found little role for the figure of Isaac in the Gospel of Matthew. Employing Umberto Eco's theory of the Model Reader as a theoretical basis to ground the phenomenon of Matthean intertextuality, this work contends that when read rightly as a coherent narrative in its first-century setting, with proper attention to both biblical texts and extrabiblical traditions about Isaac, the Gospel of Matthew evinces a significant Isaac typology in service of presenting Jesus as new temple and decisive sacrifice.