Spectrums of Scripture: Thematic Echoes

This post is part of an ongoing series formulating a methodology for tracking and understanding the variety of ways in which early Christians received and utilized Scripture.

Apostle Paul WritingThe most amorphous and difficult to trace form of thematic correspondence is the thematic echo, where certain words or short phrases used in one text appear in another.[1] These resonances are particularly difficult to place when multiple sources employ the theme or when the text using these echoes employs different themes in close proximity.[2] As an example of multiple possible sources using one theme, consider Romans 10:7, which reads “or ‘Who will descend into the abyss?’”[3] One could argue that here Paul was using Deuteronomy 30:13 (“Who will cross to the other side of the sea for us and get it for us?”),[4] Baruch 3:30 (“Who has gone over the sea, and found her, and will buy her for pure gold?”),[5] or the Wisdom of Ben Sira 24:5 (“Alone I compassed the vault of heaven and traversed the depths of the abyss.”).[6] Continue reading

Spectrums of Scripture: Typology

This post is part of an ongoing series formulating a methodology for tracking and understanding the variety of ways in which early Christians received and utilized Scripture.

1aredsea-crossTypology involves an ancient author’s building upon a specific concept, idea, or symbol found in another text.[1] This is among the most common thematic correspondences, where a writer takes a particular theme and makes it the point of their writing.[2] 1 Clement does this concerning the theme of concord (ὁμόνοια), weaving a range of citations into his discussion. Ancient writers employed a variety of typologies, including literary, theological, and historical themes.[3] Particularly common were Summaries of Israel’s Story, which would often trace a particular theme throughout Israel’s history.[4] Even more widespread were brief mentions of persons and circumstances, drawing thematic connections between an ancient exemplar and the contemporary audiences of a writing.[5] Continue reading

The Resurrection

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel. And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.” And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest. Now it was Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James and the other women with them who told these things to the apostles, but these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. But Peter rose and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; and he went home marveling at what had happened. Continue reading

Spectrums of Scripture: Rewriting

This post is part of an ongoing series formulating a methodology for tracking and understanding the variety of ways in which early Christians received and utilized Scripture.

hebrew-bibleBrugge’s final category—rewriting—is far and away the most discussed method of thematic explication, in no small part due to Geza Vermes’s creation of the category of “Rewritten Bible” and the ongoing discussion of that term, its usefulness, and meaning.[1] Sidnie White Crawford defines rewritten bible as “a close attachment, either through narrative or themes, to some book contained in the present Jewish canon of Scripture, and some type of reworking, whether through rearrangement, conflation, or supplementation of the present canonical biblical text.”[2] Continue reading

Spectrums of Scripture: Thematic Correspondence

This post is part of an ongoing series formulating a methodology for tracking and understanding the variety of ways in which early Christians received and utilized Scripture.

a-themeThe second axis on the three dimensional plane is thematic correspondence, where topics, tropes, and themes serve as the basis for determining the use of one text in another. Thematic correspondence ranges from thematic explication—where writings build upon and expand sources—to typology—where a specific concept is utilized—to thematic echo—where passing references to themes are made. In contrast to commentaries or sermons—which talk about the text in question—thematic correspondence talks through the medium of the text. Continue reading

Spectrums of Scripture: Echoes

This post is part of an ongoing series formulating a methodology for tracking and understanding the variety of ways in which early Christians received and utilized Scripture.

echoEchoes are made up of a single significant term, enough to make an inquisitive reader or hearer think about another source, but without the enough evidence to confirm that suspicion and leaving open the possibility of another textual source.[1] These reminiscences are too faint to carry the indicative character of quotations and allusions. Indeed, Paul Foster has questioned whether echoes are anything beyond creative contemporary theological reflections upon ancient texts with no basis in the actual intention or meaning of an author or their text.[2] The possibility of non-literary ideas (or ideas freed from their literary contexts) calls into question any methodology which utilizes echoes as a substantial foundation for making claims about ancient authors, their audiences, or intended meanings.[3] Continue reading

Spectrums of Scripture: Quotations and Allusions

This post is part of an ongoing series formulating a methodology for tracking and understanding the variety of ways in which early Christians received and utilized Scripture.

apostle-paul-preaching-on-mars-hillQuotations involve four or more significant terms.[1] Significant terms are distinguished by their uniqueness to a text,[2] as in the case of 1 Clement 25:2’s mention of the φοίνιξ (the phoenix). A Thesaurus Linguae Graecae search reveals this term applies to a bird in only in Hesiod and Herodotus prior to 1 Clement, making it rather likely that Clement’s use of this term reflects one of those authors.[3] General terminology—such as articles, prepositions, conjunctions, extremely common verbs, and non-specific nouns—does not necessarily weigh heavily when considering verbal correspondences. Common phrasing and word order might prove helpful, though these factors are ultimately secondary in importance given the relative fluidity of Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek, Latin, and Syriac sentence construction.[4] In spite of the fact that several ancient authors reflected on the practice of literary quotation—including Aristotle, Quintilian, and Longinus—“no clear theory of quotation emerges from the [ancient] handbooks.”[5] Verbal quotation does, however, given the impression of conveying meaning to an audience,[6] even in cases of modified verbal characteristics of the quotation.[7] Continue reading