Larry Welborn’s New Book on 2 Corinthians

This is just a book notice, but some of you Pauline scholar type people might be interested to know that Larry Welborn's long awaited book on the background and purpose of 2 Corinthians, An End to Enmity: Paul and the 'Wrongdoer' of 2 Corinthians (BZNW 185) is now available from de Gruyter at the entirely manageable price of €129.95 / $US195!!! I saw a copy at SBL and it looks lovely (with a nice colour plate in the front of the book, which probably added $20 to the price).

Here is the blurb:

“An End to Enmity” casts light upon the shadowy figure of the “wrongdoer” of Second Corinthians by exploring the social and rhetorical conventions that governed friendship, enmity and reconciliation in the Greco-Roman world. The book puts forward a novel hypothesis regarding the identity of the “wrongdoer” and the nature of his offence against Paul. Drawing upon the prosopographic data of Paul’s Corinthian epistles and the epigraphic and archaeological record of Roman Corinth, the author shapes a robust image of the kind of individual who did Paul “wrong” and caused “pain” to both Paul and the Corinthians. The concluding chapter reconstructs the history of Paul’s relationship with an influential convert to Christianity at Corinth.

Welborn reads 2 Corinthians very differently from the way that I do. He holds to a complex partition theory (as does Margaret Mitchell who is writing the Hermeneia commentary on the letter), for example. But his scholarship is always first rate, so this will be a major interpretation of the letter.

Justice, Justification and the Problem of Translating Paul

I have just taken a closer look at Michael Gorman's excellent article in the first issue of the Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters: 'Justification and Justice in Paul, with Special Reference to the Corinthians' (Volume 1 (2011), 23–40.

I guess anyone who has tried to teach Paul knows that many students are unaware that significant terms from their English translations (justification, righteousness, making righteous, just, justice etc) are all related at the semantic level, and thus, so the argument goes, at the level of Paul's convictions. I have long used a little table in E. P. Sanders' short Paul volume to convey the point.  In the past I have always preferred a solution that maintains the link by translating δικαιόω as 'make righteous' thus preserving some connection with δικαιοσύνη, 'righteousness'. I think, however, that Gorman has now convinced me that the better option is to consistently translate δικαιοσύνη as 'justice' (understood primarily in restorative rather than retributive terms).

However my reason for taking this step is the diametric opposite of Gorman's. He argues (p.28) that it is necessary in order to counter the commonly found 'privatistic interpretation of Paul'. This is a well made argument especially in relation to certain forms of Protestant evangelicalism where Paul's language is too narrowly read to refer to the relationship between the individual and God.

However, the argument works with equal force when directed towards certain Christian traditions in which an emphasis on the divine mandate for social justice is in danger of being detached from what are, in my view, theologically necessary accounts of divine action, the δικαιοσύνη θεοῦ that is revealed in the gospel. In other words, for my students who state that they are Christian because they believe in social justice, to translate δικαιοσύνη as 'justice' and to make explicit the connection to 'justification' serves to remind them that their commitment is itself predicated on a particular narrative of salvation, centered on the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, that cannot be stepped around without distorting the motivation for and practice of justice in the social sphere.

The next step is to think again about what we do with πίστις language in Paul. I think that the language of faith needs to be preserved in English translations across the range of the Greek. But that is for another time.

Oh, and finally, if you are planning to attend the important conference at King's College London on Douglas Campbell's The Deliverance of God in December (unfortunately we leave Italy for the UK that weekend, so I am unable to be there) or if you want to know what all the fuss is about in relation to that book, then the three articles by Chris Tilling, Michael Gorman again, and Douglas Campbell himself, are essential reading. Get hold of a copy of JSPL, or better, take out a subscription – its really cheap, especially in the light of this end of year offer that came through just as I finished writing this post.

Death of C. K. Barrett

This news from Jimmy Dunn, via Steve Walton

You will be saddened to hear that Kingsley Barrett, my predecessor, died last night (6.30 pm, 26.08.11) – aged 94. He was the greatest UK commentator on NT texts since J. B. Lightfoot, and much loved by a wide range of Methodist chapels to which he ministered for about 60 years. He will be much missed, but his commentaries will live on for many years, providing information and insight to future generations of students of the NT.

This is sad news. Barrett's commentary on John was one of the first books I bought on entering Bristol Baptist College in 1986 (see Jim's post here for a characteristically elegaic meditation on the importance of this work). I still remember carrying it back from the SPCK bookshop on Park Street along with a copy of Kümmel's NT Introduction.

Research Fellowship to Work on Earliest Commentaries on Paul

This came through from the British New Testament Conference list.

    A research fellow is being sought to work on a new project scheduled
    to begin this autumn analysing the biblical text of the earliest
    commentaries on the Pauline Epistles in Greek and Latin.
    The research fellow will be a member of a team led by Dr Hugh Houghton
    and based at the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic
    Editing in Birmingham ( ). He or she will
    examine early biblical commentaries of the fourth and fifth centuries,
    comparing them with their manuscript tradition and related works. The
    work will involve identifying and adding relevant material to the
    project database and making electronic transcriptions of primary
    Candidates should have a doctoral degree in a relevant subject,
    excellent linguistic ability in Latin or Greek and very good computer
    skills. As it says in the advertisement, an eye for detail and good
    self-motivation to persist with repetitive and sometimes tedious text-
    critical work are essential!
    The post is full-time and fixed-term, initially for three years. The
    closing date is 14th September 2011.
    Further details may be found at and
    which both have links to the job description and online application
    Dr Hugh Houghton
    Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing, School of
    Philosophy, Theology and Religion University of Birmingham

Matthew in Context: A Joint MCD / ACU Conference, April 1st 2011

Matthew Conference Poster

Following on from last year’s successful joint ACU/MCD New Testament Research Conference on Paul, I am pleased to announce this year’s conference: ‘Matthew in Context’. It will be held at the Centre for Theology and Ministry in Parkville on Friday April 1st 2011. A highlight of the Conference will be two papers offering contrasting accounts of Matthew’s relation to Judaism, given by two renowned Matthean scholars, David Sim from ACU and Don Hagner, formerly of Fuller Theological Seminary.

A publicity poster, information, and registration form are attached below. Please contact me for more information and feel free to use the publicity in any way you feel appropriate. We had more than 50 people at last year’s conference and would love to have similar numbers again. For registration enquiries please contact Carmen at or on 9340 8824.

Download Matthew Conference Poster

Download Matthew Conference Details small

Job: Chair in Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield

News of this opportunity has just come through:

Chair in Biblical Studies
University of Sheffield – Department of Biblical Studies

Closing Date: 28 February 2011


This Chair in Biblical Studies will also be accompanied by a four-year appointment as Head of Department. You will therefore play a central role in developing the future direction for the Department of Biblical Studies which has a well established international reputation for the critical study of the composition, transmission and reception of the biblical texts. You will have a research profile and experience of research leadership in keeping with the Department’s research standing and will affirm the importance of biblical studies as part of a general humanities and theological education.

The Department was ranked joint fifth in the 2008 RAE and scored 24 out of 24 in the last QAA national review of teaching quality. Candidates from any area of biblical studies are welcome to apply but it is essential that the candidate has experience of interdisciplinary research, has a research record in the reception history of biblical texts and can demonstrate how biblical studies can be a driving force for the humanities.

Go here for more details Chair in Biblical Studies

I was tempted to accompany the information with some pictures of those who I think might / ought to apply, but that would probably get me into trouble.