I am not sure how old this issue is, but I ran across recently the 4th 2010 issue if Interpretation which follows a common theme on the Gospel of Matthew. Articles including two articles covering Matthew’s Theology (proper, of God), Christology (E. Boring), the Matthean Jesus’ use of Scripture (F. Scott Spencer), and women in Matthew (B. Reid). And there are some interesting long and short book reviews, some on Matthew/Jesus and some on other topics.
I recently gave a lecture on Paul’s ecclesiology in Philippians. One aspect I have focused on is Paul’s use of militarist language, how he engenders a particular esprit de corps among them. One analogy that I used comes from Josephus, where he describes how John of Giscala and Simon Bar Giora had to set aside their rivalry to protect Jerusalem from Titus.
So those of different factions cried out one to another, that they acted entirely as in concert with their enemies, where as they ought…to lay aside their enmities one against another, and to unite together against the Romans…So on both sides they laid aside their hatred and their peculiar quarrels, and formed themselves into one body (BJ 5.278-9).
How perfect this fits the context of the Philippians and Paul’s appeal that they set aside rivalries and quarrels and take up common cause. I also found it interesting that, twice, Josephus refers to a military group as “one body” (once for the Roman army, once here). When Josephus describes the fluid unity of the Roman army in battle, his description, again, paints a perfect picture of the kind of cooperation and cohesiveness Paul longs to see in his Philippian church.
…when they come to a battle, the whole army is but one body, so well coupled together are their ranks, so sudden their turnings about, so sharp their hearing as to what orders are given them, so quick their sight of the ensigns (i.e., standards), and so nimble are their hands when they set to work (BJ 3.104-5).
I have found a number of other interesting and useful parallels, but I am hoping to turn my Philippians lectures into a book on the living theology of Philippians. So I will restrain from giving it all away! Nevertheless, I have found Josephus’ descriptions so evocative and useful for teaching about ancient models of unity and cooperation!
Having recently seen my dissertation come to print with Walter de Gruyter, it is a huge relief to have that monkey off my back. While some scholars study one area the rest of their life, I would go bonkers. I am pretty much done with Paul and his cultic metaphors, though it was a good avenue for learning how to do research.
So, what’s next? I humbly accepted a gracious offer from Smyth & Helwys to write the Colossians volume for the S & H commentary series. A while back, I endorsed the commentary on 1 Corinthians. S & H have designed a really attractive series, with numerous pictures and sidebars, an expectation of cutting edge scholarship, and a view towards the theological relevance of the text. I have been thoroughly impressed with the volumes I have come in contact with, such as Ben Witherington’s work on Matthew.
I will be working on this for about two years, though I have some other projects on my plate. There are, of course, a number of truly excellent Colossians commentaries already out there (e.g., O’Brien, Barth, Dunn) and I am privileged to be counted among them.
If any of you have written articles on Colossians and would be willing to share them with me, I would be delighted. Please email them to me at my SPU address: “guptan[at]” and then “spu.edu”. Thanks!