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Reviews & Notices
Sunday, 08 January 2012 09:27

Books reviewed:

R.S. Surgirtharajah, Exploring Postcolonial Biblical Criticism (reviewed by Mary E. Mills)

Daniel Harrington SJ, The Synoptic Gospels Set Free (reviewed by Nicholas King SJ)

Richard L. Longenecker, Introducing Romans (reviewed by Patricia McDonald SHCJ)

Stratford Caldecott, All Things Made New (reviewed by Ian Boxall)

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

Tuesday, 05 July 2011 10:51

Michael Tait holds the Licence in Sacred Scripture from the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the PhD from the University of Manchester.

As a child, I doubt if I were alone in finding the notion of the Queen’s two birthdays (official and unofficial?/natural and unnatural?) puzzling. Apart from the tantalising questions as to whether she received two sets of presents, two cakes and two parties, the basic difficulty lay in the fundamental oxymoron. It is the same question as that posed by Nicodemus: ‘Can a man be born more than once?’ (cf. Jn 3:4). I was reminded of this conundrum when a postgraduate student friend recently asked me about the birthday of the Church. On reading through his thesis for the umpteenth time, he had just realised that he had referred to the resurrection of Jesus as the birthday of the Church.

Tuesday, 05 July 2011 10:40

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 purpose of this essay is to sketch the possibility that Luke’s purpose in devoting so much attention to the journey of Paul to Rome, with all its drama, is less to complete a biography of Paul than to achieve other objectives of Luke’s writings. In particular it was important to Luke to complete the geographical scheme for Acts, laid out by the Risen Christ in Acts 1:8, of bringing the gospel to the heart of the Roman Empire. Since Luke’s Gospel depicts the spread of salvation from the Jews to the gentiles, it is also appropriate that his two-volume work should end with the formal protestation at the heart of the gentile world that Jewish resistance to the message has forced the messengers to concentrate on the gentile world.

Tuesday, 05 July 2011 00:00


Ian Boxall is editor of Scripture Bulletin, and Tutor in New Testament at St Stephen’s House, Oxford

One of the most famous artistic portrayals of Revelation’s vision of the four horsemen, and one which has had a significant impact on the Western Christian imagination, is Albrecht Dürer’s woodcut of the scene, which was published along with his other Apocalypse scenes in 1498, when Dürer was only twenty-seven. Here we are presented with the four horses galloping furiously side by side across the page, ‘as if catapulted’ (in the words of one art historian),  bringing war, disaster, famine and destruction in their wake.

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