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Reading the Bible after Darwin E-mail
Written by Mary Mills SHCJ   
Friday, 01 January 2010 00:00

Mary Mills is Professor and Head of Department of Theology, Religious Studies at Philosophy at Liverpool Hope University, and a member of the Executive Committee of the Catholic Biblical Association.

Creation and Evolution are two serious concepts for addressing the key issues of how the world came to be. At the simplest level this is a matter of mechanics, the ways in which material substances develop into planet earth. At a deeper level, however, it is an ontological issue, the question of how Being itself comes into existence; for the bottom line is not matter as such but how inert materials acquire energy to grow and change and make new forms. In this area of enquiry, which is foundational for the human condition, religion and science act as parallel explanatory tools and, most recently, have been set up as opposing and mutually exclusive approaches – creationism versus evolutionary theory.

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What are They Saying about Luke-Acts? E-mail
Written by Peter Anthony   
Friday, 01 January 2010 00:00

Peter Anthony is currently engaged in postgraduate studies on Luke-Acts at the University of Oxford. He is Junior Dean at St Stephen’s House.


Scholarly discussion of Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles in recent years has displayed some of the astonishing breadth of opinion and originality of approaches which have characterized other areas of New Testament Studies. Indeed, van Unnik went as far as to describe Luke-Acts in 1966 as being a “storm centre in contemporary scholarship.” The eclipse of the historical critical method as a universally accepted paradigm for study, and the emergence of literary, narrative, rhetorical, social-scientific, feminist, and canonical approaches has led to an explosion of hermeneutical perspectives. Along with much flux, however, certain consensuses have also arisen on a number of critical questions. In addition, however, not a few Lucan scholarly taboos concerning assumptions which cannot be questioned can be seen still to be very firmly in place, and not to have been affected at all by the past fifty years or so of scholarship.

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Reading the Apocalypse on the Island of Patmos E-mail
Written by Ian Boxall   
Friday, 01 January 2010 00:00

Ian Boxall is Tutor in New Testament and Senior Tutor at St Stephen’s House,
Oxford, and member of the Theology Faculty in the University of Oxford. He is also Editor of Scripture Bulletin. His most recent book on the Apocalypse is The Revelation of St John in the Black’s New Testament Commentary series

Using the Imagination
The ruined Greek and Roman cities of Asia Minor have played a crucial role in the scholarly interpretation of the Apocalypse for well over a century. No serious commentator on the book can afford to ignore the monumental studies of Sir William Ramsay and Colin Hemer even if one wishes to dissent from aspects of their readings. Nor is the usefulness of the seven cities confined to stones, artifacts and inscriptions. What one might call the ‘imaginative landscape’ also comes into play: the ability to visualise, for example, the sheer magnificence of Pergamum’s acropolis, looming like Satan’s throne over the surrounding plain, or the gleaming white marble of Ephesus’ Temple of Artemis, dominating the approach from the sea. Or in more recent writing, use of the imagination has also been called for to appreciate the symbolic world such cities evoke (Steven Friesen’s splendid book John’s Apocalypse and the Imperial Cults, significantly subtitled ‘Reading Revelation among the Ruins’, is a fine example of the latter).

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The Fly in the Ointment: What does Myrrh foreshow in Matthew 2:11 E-mail
Written by Michael Tait   
Wednesday, 01 July 2009 00:00

The Visit of the Wise Men (public domain)Michael Tait holds the Licence in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the PhD from the University of Manchester

Popularised by Prudentius, the traditional threefold significance of the gifts of the Magi has a long history going back at least as far as Irenaeus. But does it go back to Matthew? His Infancy Narrative is pervaded with quotations from and allusions to the Old Testament. Yet the latter never shows any interest in the funerary significance of myrrh. Rather it shows myrrh as a commodity so precious that it is frequently associated with royalty. This fits in with the emphasis in Matthew 1-2 on Jesus as the 'king of the Jews'. However, the Old Testament also shows myrrh being used in sacral and erotic contexts. Under the ruling significance of kingship, therefore, the gifts may have other levels of meaning: priest, God, and, in the case of myrrh, lover.

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What are They Saying about the Letter to the Hebrews E-mail
Written by Richard Ounsworth OP   
Wednesday, 01 July 2009 00:00

Richard Ounsworth OP teaches Scripture at Blackfriars, Oxford. His current research is on the Letter to the Hebrews.

The Letter to the Hebrews continues to be relatively neglected among both academic and more popular works on the books of the New Testament. A glance through any issue of New Testament Abstracts will indicate that, while it garners more interest than, say, the Petrine Epistles or Jude, it receives far less attention than any of the Pauline Corpus, the Gospels or the Apocalypse, whether absolutely speaking or relative to its length.

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The Bible and Morality: Biblical Roots of Christian Conduct E-mail
Written by Henry Wansbrough OSB   
Wednesday, 01 July 2009 00:00

Henry Wansbrough is a monk of Ampleforth. He has been Chairman of the Faculty of Theology at Oxford University, and served on the Pope’s Biblical Commission for eleven years. He is General Editor of The New Jerusalem Bible, and has written a number of books on biblical subjects.

The Pontifical Biblical Commission had felt for some time that it would be opportune to make some statement about the use of the Bible in moral teaching. After all, the teaching of the Church should be founded on the Bible as understood in the tradition of the Church. But what has the Bible to say on the burning moral questions of the day? It is striking that, while in modern parlance of today ‘morals’ and ‘morality’ refers almost exclusively to sexual morality, the Bible is seldom even mentioned on such issues. Is not the church’s teaching on sexual ethics founded on the Bible? What has the Bible to say on the wider questions of medical ethics, questions from birth control to euthanasia, questions about social inequality, about war, about responsible government and the rights of individuals? Already at the quinquennial renewal of half the membership the moral teaching of the Bible had been proposed as a possible topic of study, but in the end the Commission decided to respond to the Pope’s request for something on Judaism, in preparation for his proposed visit to the Holy Land. So in 2001 a report The Jewish People and its Sacred Writings in the Christian Bible was produced.

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