Monday, 30 January 2012

The Concept of Worship and its Relation to the Risen Jesus in the Pauline Letters – Tony Costa’s successful defence in Nijmegen

I thought it quite appropriate to congratulate Tony Costa from Canada with the successful defence of his dissertation today in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. His supervisor was Prof. Jan van der Watt and the examination committee included the likes of Prof. Thomas Söding and Prof. Georg Essen. Dr Costa also holds B.A. and M.A. degrees from the University of Toronto. The title of his dissertation is: The Concept of Worship and its Relation to the Risen Jesus in the Pauline Letters.

Here is the summery:

The very essence of the existential relationship between the human and the divine is communicated by our English word ―worship. While the word ‘worship’ appears to carry a univocal meaning in English, no such word per se exists in the Greek New Testament. The English word ‘worship’ at best explains but does not adequately and fully define the dynamics involved in the relationship between the human and God. There is no one word for ‘worship’ in the New Testament. This study approaches the subject of Christian worship in respect to its origins from the perspective of the earliest New Testament writer: the apostle Paul. It remains an ironic and at the same time interesting point that the earliest known Christian writer to deal with Christian worship was not one of the immediate disciples of Jesus, but rather a persecutor of the Christian movement, who later joined the Christian faith community after claiming to have seen the risen Jesus (1 Cor 9:1; 15:8). Any study on the origins of Christian worship must begin with Paul.

The present work seeks to addresses the issue of the relative absence in the scholarly field of a full treatment of worship in the Pauline letters. Closely related to the theme of Christian worship in the Pauline letters is the person of the risen Jesus and the place he occupies in the faith community. This work proposes a proper working definition including criteria for worship. There has been a tendency in scholarship to explain worship rather than define it. The use of various metaphors to express the dynamics of worship are brought forward in this study as well as a study of the Greek words and expressions employed by Paul in his letters to communicate worship. Paul employed an array of Greek words as descriptors to communicate the various nuances and dimensions related to one‘s relationship with God. Worship also functioned for Paul as an identity boundary marker between believers and unbelievers especially in terms of baptism and the Eucharist. The eschatological and teleological aspect of worship is also examined principally through a study of the Carmen Christi (Phil 2:6-11). It is the position of this study that worship in Paul is not defined or described by any one word. It is rather a composite and comprehensive personal religious relationship between the worshipper and God. It can be realized either in an individualistic or communal context, having both an internal and external aspect, all of which is mediated through the risen Jesus.

Friday, 20 January 2012

18 January 2012 Oberseminar at the University of Regensburg: Papers by Thomas J Kraus etc

I had the privilege of giving a paper at the "Oberseminar" in Regensburg on Wednesday. A special thank you to Prof. Tobias Nicklaus and Prof. Jan van der Watt for what was the first of a series of "Oberseminars" between Nijmegen and Regensburg. I had a particularly good time talking to Dr. Thomas Kraus and Prof. Tobias at the dinner afterwards, held in a traditional German restaurant. I also found out interesting stuff like: Prof. Tobias and Thomas' football team is NOT Bayern Munich but TSW 1860 Munich, and Prof. Tobias coaches his boy's football team.

The papers delivered:

Michael Sommer (Regensburg): The Reception of the Egyptian Plagues in the Book of Revelation

Frederik Mulder (Nijmegen): The Interplay between bodily resurrection and moral behaviour in 1 Corinthians 6 and 15 and its possible reception in 1 Clement 24-30

Lauren Zelyck (Cambridge): The Reception of the Fourth Gospel in the Gospel of Mary

Reka Valentin (Nijmegen): A Cognitive Linguistic Reading of the Concept of Immortality in the Book of Wisdom

Thomas Kraus (Regensburg): Miniature Books, Codices, or Formats? Categories, Contexts, and Conclusions

Dr. Thomas Kraus explaining the development of miniature books to Lauren Zelyck during his fascinating powerpoint presentation. Among many interesting things, Thomas said we have 30 Old Testament and 15 New Testament miniature book fragments. I found the "Unidentified Gospel" (P.Oxy V 840) very interesting. Its content is unique and not found in the canonical gospels. Thomas also said there is no textual variants in the 15 NT fragments that is really significant for Textual Criticism.
Prof. Tobias offering advice to Michael Sommer. Michael's masters dissertation won a prize in Germany and was recently published. He is working on intertextuality between the Egyptian plagues and the book of Revelation. I found it quite interesting that afterwards Michael indicated that anyone wanting to do serious research on Revelation must deal with Richard Bauckham's influential work on it. He also has respect for Richard Hays' work on intertextuality.
Lauren Zelyck (studying under Prof. Tobias while Dr. Simon Gathercole is on sabbatical) explaining the Gospel of Mary to us. One of Lauren's main points was that the Gospel of Mary does not represent an independent tradition going back to Jesus of Nazareth. More likely, it is a reworking of and dependent on the Gospel of John and also Mark 16:9.

From left to right: Tobias Nicklaus, Michael Sommer, Lauren Zelyck, Frederik Mulder, Erik Eynikel, Reka Valentin, Jan van der Watt (Thomas Kraus joined us a bit later).