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Editorial
Volume XLIV No 1 - January 2014 E-mail
Written by The Editor   
Monday, 06 January 2014 15:22

Editorial

One of the aims of Scripture Bulletin has been to keep a wider readership abreast of some of the best developments in biblical studies. In the first article of this issue, Charles Buttigieg provides an in-depth survey of recent scholarship on Ben Sira, including an analysis of the book’s complex textual history, theories about its structure, and consideration of its theological message.

Within the New Testament, the Apocalypse of John is as memorable for what John hears as for what he sees. In our second article, Andreas Hoeck examines one of the many voices heard in Revelation, the ‘loud voice from the throne’ (Rev. 21:3). In contrast to the reluctance of many commentators to specify the identity of this voice, Fr Hoeck argues that this is the voice of one of the four living creatures, from whom the reader of Revelation can expect a particularly prominent message.

The final article of this issue, by Dominic White OP, explores the origin of a non-canonical saying of Jesus, which Clement of Alexandria traces to ‘a certain Gospel’. This Mystery Saying is attested, in differing forms, no less than nine times in early Christian literature. Fr Dominic argues for the authenticity of this dominical saying, and examines the probable content of the ‘mystery’ to which it refers, not least the knowledge of creation.

Many readers of Scripture Bulletin will have been saddened to hear of the recent death of the eminent Dominican New Testament scholar, Fr Jerome Murphy-O’Connor. Renowned for his work on Paul, and his extensive knowledge of the history and archaeology of the Holy Land, he was also a regular contributor to Scripture Bulletin in its early years. May he rest in peace.

Ian Boxall
Editor

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Scripture Bulletin - January 2013 E-mail
Written by The Editor   
Sunday, 20 January 2013 20:53

The fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council marked the beginning of the Year of Faith, which will run until November 2013. This current edition of Scripture Bulletin contains three articles related to this initiative of Pope Benedict. In the first, Fr Henry Wansbrough OSB charts the progress of Catholic biblical scholarship in the fifty years since the Council began, describing the massive sea-change in the exposure to Scripture on the part of ordinary Catholics (not least with the introduction of the new Lectionary in 1967), and the emergence of a confident and influential body of Catholic biblical scholars. He identifies three strands which he regards as of particular significance: redaction-critical study of the Gospels, a renewed appreciation of the Jewishness of Jesus and his cultural world, and a greater openness to what Wansbrough calls ‘Alexandrine-style’ theological interpretation of Scripture. The latter approach, interwoven with the historical-critical method, is well-exemplified in the biblical hermeneutic of Pope Benedict himself.

For many readers of the New Testament, St Paul is the apostle of faith par excellence. Our second article, by Fr Nicholas King SJ, sets out to explore Paul’s good news in and through Paul’s own words, examining how his preaching was ‘gospel’ to the three overlapping cultural worlds Paul inhabited. King manages to convey something of the passion of the apostle, in his urgent mission to spread the love of Christ, and love for Christ, to ‘all the nations’ of the Mediterranean world. More importantly, he considers the implications for contemporary preachers of the gospel: ‘Paul’s enthusiasm may in turn serve as a model and as a stimulus for our own evangelising efforts.’

Finally, Fr Richard Ounsworth OP takes us more deeply into the theme of this year through a careful examination of the concept of faith in the Letter to the Hebrews.  Hebrews’ definition of the faith which God’s people are called to exemplify (Heb. 11:1) is one of the most memorable verses in the New Testament. This article makes a compelling case for the Epistle’s understanding of faith being profoundly Christological, most especially in its presentation of Jesus, in his role as alter Joshua, as the ‘pioneer and perfecter of our faith’ (Heb. 12:2).

Ian Boxall

 
Scripture Bulletin July 2012 E-mail
Written by the Editor   
Monday, 02 July 2012 16:40

In the first article of this issue, Michael Tait examines the questions which have been raised about the ‘voice’ of the Bridegroom in John 3:29. He shows that there is nothing anomalous about the expression, either in the Johannine narrative or in within the world of the metaphor. However, his article goes on to investigate possible alternative meanings of the phrase, such as the ‘fame’ of the Bridegroom or the ‘declaration’ about the Bridegroom, and concludes by hazarding that there may even be an ellipsis enabling John to confirm that he is the voice of the Bridegroom as well as the voice crying in the wilderness.

Our second article explores the particular challenges posed to contemporary interpreters of the Apocalypse of John. As a brief survey of its reception history shows, these may be different from the difficulties encountered by commentators of earlier centuries. Some of these challenges are posed by popular readings which treat the Book of Revelation as a guide-book to the End of the World, or interpret its theological vision in a world-denying way. But it is argued that the relative neglect of the Apocalypse by the mainstream churches, and the tendency to historicise typical of much recent critical scholarship, also need to be challenged in a holistic approach to the last book of the Bible.

Scripture Bulletin is also pleased to announce the latest addition to the Take and Read series: a volume on the Acts of the Apostles by Fr Henry Wansbrough OSB. We include a brief note from the series editor, Fr Adrian Graffy.

Ian Boxall
Editor

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Scripture Bulletin January 2012 E-mail
Written by The Editor   
Sunday, 08 January 2012 00:00

Editorial

In our first article, continuing our ongoing series updating our readers on recent developments in biblical studies, Jennifer Dines considers the Book of the Twelve (often better-known by Augustine’s title of ‘the Minor Prophets’). She offers a fascinating and wide-ranging critical survey of different recent attempts to explain the existence of this collection and how it should be read, both diachronic (with their attempt to reconstruct the stages of its historical development) and synchronic (including canonical readings and reader-response approaches).

Sean Ryan’s article is an intriguing exploration of continuities between the angelic liturgy as described in the Songs of the Sabbath Sacrifice (found at both Qumran and Masada) and the scenes of heavenly worship found in the Apocalypse. For all their differences, Ryan has detected some striking similarities: not least, their shared visualisation of the heavenly realm as the interior of a celestial temple re-imagined as a living, animate structure of praise, and the prominence of the number seven as an organising principle. This suggestive article points the way to further research into the liturgical background and reception of the Book of Revelation.

In our final article, Matthew van Duyvenbode offers further reflections on Pope Benedict’s Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, produced following the Synod of Bishops on the Word of God. Building on his work with Bible Society and his extensive knowledge of projects aimed at bridging the gap between scriptural engagement and contemporary culture, his particular focus is on the final section of the document: ‘the Word for the World’ (Verbum Mundo). He sets out four qualities or ‘hallmarks’ which should characterise a faithful sharing of the word of scripture in a missional context.


Ian Boxall
Editor

 

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July 2011 - Volume XLI No. 2 E-mail
Written by Editor   
Tuesday, 05 July 2011 00:00

In the first article of this issue, Michael Tait considers the various New Testament options for the Church’s birthday. Whilst its traditional birthday of Pentecost might well be described appropriately as the Church’s ‘official birthday’ given its public character, the New Testament offers several further possibilities for its ‘actual’ birth. Tait’s conclusion is that any answer to the question depends upon the aspect under which the Church is being viewed. Several ‘birthdays’ may need to be celebrated in order for all aspects to be appreciated.  

In his provocative contribution, Henry Wansbrough explores the Acts narrative of Paul’s arrival in Rome, against the backdrop of Luke’s literary artistry and in the light of parallels with contemporary novels. He points to significant difficulties with Luke’s claim in Acts that Paul was a Roman citizen, a key plank for the Rome episode which is presented as the culmination of Paul’s appeal to the emperor. Wansbrough suggests that Paul’s actual visit to Rome may have been rather less glorious, the Acts story being an imaginative reflection of Luke’s overall concerns, not least to represent in narrative form the triumph of Christianity.

In our third article, the ambiguous figure of the Apocalypse’s rider on the white horse (the first of the four horsemen) is examined. Although it has similarities with the later portrayal of Christ riding a white horse, not all may what it appears to be. Is he a Christlike figure, or a figure of the ‘dark side’? This contribution proposes that this ambiguity might be a deliberate strategy of the book. It would then reflect what is one of the Apocalypse’s greatest contributions to the theology of the New Testament: that recognizing evil, naming it for what it is, is a notoriously difficult task, which calls for ‘wisdom’ and divine revelation.

Finally, the Executive Committee of the Catholic Biblical Association has received news of the recent death of Fr Reggie Fuller, founder member and one-time Secretary, at the age of 102. Fr Henry Wansbrough pays tribute to Fr Reggie in a reminiscence which can be read on the ‘CBA News’ section of this website (http://www.cbagb.org.uk/cba-news).


Ian Boxall
Editor

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