Books I Read in 2021

Every year, I commit to reading as much and as widely as possible and (as a means of remembering everything I’ve read and holding myself accountable to my reading goals) I track the books I’ve read each year. (Click here to see what I read in 2020)

A couple of notes before my list. First, I read a fair amount of churchworld and theology, so please don’t read this as one of those “what you should read” lists that you might see floating around. Second, I’ve found that breaking down what I read by category is helpful for me, so this list appears that way (and includes some sub-categories as well).

Please also note a couple of special markers. My favorite books (and the one’s I recommend you consider reading) are marked with an asterisk and hyperlinked. Additionally, the books I’d read prior to this year but re-read are marked with a [re-read] notation. The best book I read this year is marked by three asterisks and will come as no surprise to many of you: Tish Harrison Warren’s Prayer in the Night. I can’t recommend it enough.

Finally, my goal the past several years has been to read 150 books (~3/week) and that was again the case this year. However, I’m pleased to say that this year’s list of books read includes some 185 titles completed. So, without further ado, what I read in 2021:

Biblical Studies – General

Biblical Studies – Old Testament

  • Reflections on the Psalms, Lewis
  • Daniel and the Twelve Prophets, Goldingay
  • Haggai and Malachi: NAC, Taylor and Clendenen
  • An Introduction to the Old Testament, Goldingay
  • Answering God, Peterson*
  • The Epic of Eden, Richter*
  • Genesis: The Book of Beginnings, Sacks
  • When Pain is Real and God Seems Silent, Duncan
  • An Unsettling God, Brueggemann
  • Deuteronomy: Love the Lord Your God, She Reads Truth
  • Prophetic Lament, Rah
  • The Lost World of Genesis One, Walton

Biblical Studies – New Testament

  • The Letter of James, Moo
  • James, The Bold Movement
  • Women in the New Testament, Thurston [re-read]
  • Gospel Women, Bauckham
  • The Gospel according to St. John, Barrett
  • Encountering John, Kostenberger
  • The Gospel of John, Core Christianity*
  • The Gospel according to John, Carson [re-read]
  • What if Jesus was Serious?, Jethani*
  • The Chosen: I Have Called You by Name, Jenkins
  • Rappin’ with Jesus, McCary
  • New Testament Exegesis: Revised Edition, Fee
  • The Power of Parable, Crossan
  • This is the New Testament, She Reads Truth


  • An American Life, Reagan
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Angelou
  • Steve Jobs, Isaacson
  • The Answer Is…, Trebek
  • Brainiac, Jennings
  • Hitler’s Last Days, O’Reilly
  • A Burning in My Bones, Winn*

Churchworld and Pastoring

  • Ten Most Common Mistakes Made by New Church Starts, Griffith and Easum
  • Nine Keys to Effective Small Group Leadership, George
  • The New Pastor’s Handbook, Helopoulos [re-read]
  • Letters to a Young Congregation, Peterson
  • Working the Angles: The Shape of Pastoral Integrity, Peterson
  • Growing Young, Powell, Mulder, Griffin
  • The Fabric of Faithfulness, Garber*
  • Letters to the Church, Chan [re-read]
  • Study Guide for Letters to the Church, Chan [re-read]
  • Kingdom Conspiracy, McKnight
  • Servolution, Rizzo
  • Sermons to the People, Augustine
  • Branded, Sinclair
  • The Divorce Dilemma, MacArthur
  • For the City, Patrick and Carter
  • The Living Church, Stott [re-read]
  • Small Preaching, Pennington
  • The Social Church, Wise

Cultural Issues

  • iGen, Twenge
  • White Fragility, DiAngelo
  • Going Clear, Wright
  • A Practical Guide to Culture, Stonestreet and Kunkle*
  • How to Avoid a Climate Disaster, Gates
  • Counter Culture, Platt
  • We Will Not Be Silenced, Lutzer
  • This Book is Not Garbage, Thomas
  • You Found Me, Richardson
  • You Lost Me, Kinnaman
  • The Rise of the Nones, White

Family Life


  • Ready Player Two, Cline
  • Norse Mythology, Gaiman
  • AAAA!, Amend
  • The City of Ember, DuPrau
  • Timmy Failure, Pastis
  • The Strain, Del Toro and Hogan
  • The Fall of Arthur, Tolkien
  • More than a Skeleton, Maier* [re-read]
  • A Week in the Life of Corinth, Witherington
  • The Hobbit, Tolkien [re-read]
  • The Fellowship of the Ring, Tolkien [re-read]


  • Maphead, Jennings*
  • The Cubs Way, Verducci
  • The Professor and the Madman, Winchester*
  • The Room Where It Happened, Bolton
  • Founding St. Louis, Fausz
  • Killing Crazy Horse, O’Reilly and Dugard
  • Killing the SS, O’Reilly and Dugard
  • The Fall of Richard Nixon, Brokaw
  • Killing Lincoln, O’Reilly and Dugard
  • Killing Reagan, O’Reilly and Dugard
  • How to Lose a War at Sea, Fawcett
  • 100 Bible Verses that Made America, Morgan
  • Black Hawk Down, Bowden
  • Killing Patton, O’Reilly and Dugard
  • Killing Kennedy, O’Reilly and Dugard
  • In This Generation, Ahrend
  • The Evil Empire, Grasse
  • Killing England, O’Reilly and Dugard
  • Killing the Rising Sun, O’Reilly and Dugard
  • Killing the Mob, O’Reilly and Dugard
  • Music Society and Antiquity and the Middle Ages, ed. McKinnon


  • The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Lencioni
  • Good Leaders Ask Great Questions, Maxwell
  • Christ in Church Leadership, Winslow and Followwill
  • Essentialism, McKeown*
  • Game Storming, Gray et al
  • Rapid Problem Solving with Post-It Notes, Straker
  • Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets, Stanley*
  • Mastering Our Passions, Kuhatschek
  • Spiritual Leadership, Blackaby and Blackaby
  • Effortless, McKeown

Mental Health


Reading and Writing

  • How to Write a Sentence and How to Read One, Fish
  • The Horse in My Garage and Other Stories, McManus
  • The Complete Poems and Plays, Eliot
  • On Reading Well, Prior*

Theology – General

  • The Best Things in Life, Kreeft [re-read]
  • A Guide to Christian Ambition, Hewitt [re-read]
  • New Girl at Church, Martin
  • (Un)Qualified, Furtick
  • The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness, Keller
  • Managing Our Finances God’s Way, Warren et al
  • Abide in Christ, Murray
  • Proper Confidence, Newbigin
  • From Christ to Christianity, Edwards
  • A Little Book for New Theologians, Kapic*
  • Who Is This Man?, Ortberg
  • Faith and Doubt, Ortberg
  • My Utmost for His Highest, Chambers [re-read]
  • The Language of God, Collins
  • Humility, Murray
  • He Chose the Nails, Lucado
  • How to Think Theologically, Second Edition, Stone and Duke
  • Credo, Williams [re-read]
  • Delighting in the Trinity, Reeves
  • The Liturgy of the Ordinary, Warren [re-read]
  • A Year with C.S. Lewis, Lewis

Theology – Heaven, Hell & the Afterlife

Theology – Identity

Theology – Spiritual Disciplines

Transformations of Pauline Theology in Justin’s Dialogue

This post is part of an ongoing series on Paul and Pneuma, Justin and Judaism.

Scholars have long noted that Paul and Justin differ on who possess Abraham as ancestor and who belongs to true Israel. Less satisfactory, however, have been explanations as to why Paul and Justin diverge over these claims. It is my contention that these differing interpretations arose because of Paul’s Stoic worldview and cosmology and Justin’s Middle Platonic view of the world and the cosmos. That is, Justin’s largely Platonic worldview in some sense prevented him from sufficiently understanding Paul’s largely Stoic conceptions—especially concerning pneuma—and its influence on the boundaries of the Christian community. This section considers Paul’s and Justin’s conceptions of pneuma and how their cosmologies caused them to understand the Abrahamic ancestry and identity of Israel differently.

To understand the differences between Paul’s pneumatology and Justin, one must enter the world of ancient philosophy. The Stoic development of Platonic physics which was popular in Paul’s day held that everything that “is” (including the soul and virtues) is a material body (σῶμα) or a property of body.[1] Our post-Cartesian minds should not interpret this materiality as purely mechanical or (negatively) materialist, but rather as natural materiality, a corporeality in which reality is physically real.[2] According to Chrysippus, the animating force of reality was pneuma, a mixture of air and fire which permeates the whole cosmos and serves as a self-moving vehicle of divine reason.[3] In Stoic cosmology, the pneuma functioned as the universal controlling entity through a peculiar double movement (κινησις πνευματικη) in which it simultaneously moved into itself and out of itself.[4] Pneuma was often associated with the divine as the seminal principle of the world, indicating that God—like everything else in the Stoic cosmos—was made of pneumatic matter.[5]

Stoic cosmology proves particularly important because a number of New Testament scholars have argued that Paul inhabited a Stoic worldview, at least when it came to his conception of the pneuma.[6] For example, in Romans 8:14-17 Paul speaks of pneuma as the binding agent which unites Gentiles to Christ—the pneuma of God confirms (συμμαρτυρεῖ) that human pneuma now belongs to the divine. Likewise in Galatians 4:1-7, the Gentiles join Christ by taking his pneuma into their hearts (εἰς τὰς καρδίας), that is, by mixing their substances with his. This pneumatological connectivity forms new kinship, kinship that is not “spiritual” in the Cartesian sense of the term, but “material” in the Stoic sense.[7] In practicality, for Paul this meant that Gentiles who were brought into Christ received the pneuma of Christ—real participation in the material stuff of Christ—through baptism into Christ.[8] Furthermore, it is not just faith that brings one into contact with divine pneuma, but the pneuma of Christ through faith (Gal. 3:26) provides subsistence within the family of God.[9] As Thiessen summarizes, “Paul consistently portrays the reception of the pneuma in ways that coincide closely with Stoic conceptions of both pneuma and krasis…. The presence of the pneuma means that believers share the very substance of Christ and therefore share the shape of his life, death, and resurrection….”[10] Thus the Gentiles—who previously did not belong to the family of God—were pneumatically grafted into the People of God through faith. The key here is not just that the Gentiles-in-Christ now belong to the God, but also that the status of the Jews has not changed. That is, while Christ has pneumatologically opened up God’s kinship group to the nations, that group remains primarily composed of God’s “first family”—the Jews (Rom. 9:4-5; Phil. 3:4b-6).

[1] Christoph Jedan, Stoic Virtues: Chrysippus and the Religious Character of Ethics (London: Continuum, 2009), 11. Walter C. Wright, “The Source of Paul’s Concept of Pneuma,” The Covenant Quarterly 41 (1983): 20. Aeschylus, The Suppliant Maidens (trans. Richmond Lattimore, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953-56), 66-7. Jedan locates Stoicism at the junction of three intellectual schools: traditional polytheistic Greek religion, ancient philosophy-theology, and a materialist ontology. Michelle Lee offers a helpful discussion of the three forms of the Stoic body: different, adjacent, and unified. See Michelle Lee, Paul, the Stoics, and the Body of Christ (Cambridge: CUP, 2006), 49-50.

[2] Jedan, 9-10. Terrence Paige, “Who Believes in ‘Spirit’? Πνευμα in Pagan Usage and Implications for the Gentile Christian Mission,” HTR 95 (2002): 425.

[3] Jedan, 14-5, Stanley K. Stowers, “What Is ‘Pauline Participation in Christ’?” in Redefining First-Century Jewish and Christian Identities: Essays in Honor of Ed Parish Sanders (ed. F.E. Udoh et al, Notre Dame, I.N.: University of Notre Dame Press, 2008), 355.

[4] Jedan, 15. Cicero, On the Nature ofthe Gods 11.7.19.

[5] Jedan, 14. Diogenes Laertius, Lives 7.136. Paige, 425.

[6] N.T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2013), 232. Stanley Stowers, “What Is ‘Pauline Participation in Christ’?,” 355. Stanley Stowers, “Paul and the Terrain of Philosophy,” Early Christianity 6 (2015): 156. Thiessen, 114. Troels Engberg-Pedersen, “Paul’s Body: A Response to Barclay and Levison,” JSNT 33.4 (2011): 438-9.

[7] Johnson Hodge, 75-6. Thiessen writes that, “To receive the pneuma is to be enclothed in Christ because the pneuma is the pneuma of God’s son, who is Christ (Gal 2:20; 4:6; cf. Rom 8:9; Phil 1:19).” See Thiessen, 111.

[8] Thiessen, 117, 126. Rom. 6.3-11; Gal. 3.27.

[9] Thiessen, 105-6. Gal. 3.26-9. For a differing position, see Stephen Westerholm, “The Judaism Paul Left Behind Him” in The Making of Christianity: Conflicts, Contacts, and Constructions: Essays in Honor of Bengt Holmberg (ed. M. Zetterholm and S. Byrskog, Winona Lake, I.N.: Eisenbrauns, 2012), 356.

[10] Thiessen, 114.

The Letters of Paul in Justin Martyr (Part 2)

This post is part of an ongoing series on Paul and Pneuma, Justin and Judaism.

Justin also develops his reading of the Old Testament beyond Paul, for many of Justin’s glosses on these passage emphasize the separateness of Christ-followers and Jews because of belief in Christ as the Messiah.[1] In the interpretation of the scriptures—especially Old Testament theophanies—exegetical conflict arises between Christians and Jews, a conflict which for Justin must be settled by appeal to Christ.[2] Furthermore, Paul’s question of “should Gentiles follow the Jewish law in order to be saved?” remains a concern, but in Justin’s mind, those living post-Christ no longer attribute any wholesomeness to the Mosaic Law (Dial. 47).[3] Thus, in Justin’s use of the Jewish scriptures we may trace a clear development from Paul. Although he begins by using many of the same scriptural passages as Paul and interprets them Christocentrically, Justin takes the additional steps of locating exegetical disagreement between the Messiah and the Mosaic Law.

How then does Paul function for Justin in the Dialogue? A fair characterization seems to make Paul an important yet mutable source for Justin’s thought. That is, Justin employed Pauline language and themes as a foundation and then constructed his own theological interpretation on that base. In contrast to perspectives which argue Paul was the formative influence for Justin,[4] it seems more likely that he viewed the Apostle as one source among many which formed the regula fide, albeit an authority who had lots to say about the relationship between Jews and Gentiles. Themes which were connected in Paul (such as the association of circumcision and righteousness) could be severed by Justin (who speaks of both righteousness and circumcision, but not together).[5] It appears that Justin was not interested in reading Paul on Paul’s own terms. Rather, he was looking for strands of thought concerning various topics which he could resource and employ against Trypho. In sum, Justin knew and used Paul as a source for constructing his theology but not without leaving open the possibility of transforming Paul’s arguments.

[1] Adair, 217.

[2] Bogdan C. Bucur, “Justin Martyr’s Exegesis of Biblical Theophanies and the Parting of the Ways between Judaism and Christianity,” Theological Studies 75 (2014): 35. Adair, 192.

[3] See Benjamin L. White, “Justin between Paul and the Heretics: The Surprising Salvation of Gentile Christian Judaizers in Dialogue with Trypho 47.” Under Review. Online.

[4] Adair, 229-30.

[5] Dial. 23.4-5. Livesay, “Theological,” 69-70. See also Rensberger, 187-9.

Christmas Letter 2021

Merry Christmas Friends and Family,

Hayley, Judah, Jake, and Bree

We hope this missive finds you well, warm, and enjoying many a festivity celebrating the birth of King Jesus! 2021 has been an, erm, interesting year for the Prahlows, but we continue to forge ahead, thankful for all we’ve been blessed with and eager to what God has in store for us next. Our overarching news is that we said goodbye to our beloved (if a bit battered) Arlee home, though we remain renting in St. Louis while waiting for the housing market to cool off a bit. And now, to everyone’s highlights for 2021.


Five-year-old Bree started pre-K at Our Savior Lutheran this Fall. She loves going to school so much that the worst part of her day is usually leaving. She’s supremely outgoing and social, often saying “hi” to people while walking into the store, singing her favorite songs, and telling complete strangers that she loves their hair or shoes. Bree loves her many animals, especially when she can help mom with the rabbits. She’s also taken to building Lego with dad, especially any sets that cross over with her other love: shows on Disney+. One of her favorite memories from this past year was a trip to Great Wolf Lodge, which she reminds us about every time she hears someone say “Kansas City.”


Judah turned two this year and loves everything relating to dinosaurs (‘saurs) and cars (caws. Judah may secretly be from Boston). He’s our little empath and is always ready to provide a hug or snuggle to anyone in need of one. He’s enjoyed more mom time this fall while Bree is at school and loves hanging out with dad as much as he can too. Judah loves to run, explore, climb, and get into as many things as he can. He relishes reading books, playing with his toys, and taking long afternoon naps (much to the delight of his parents). He’s truly a member of the TikTok generation, as he loves to dance and wiggle anytime he hears something remotely resembling music.

At the St. Louis Zoo

In what is now year seven, Hayley runs her own small business, The Scrub Cap Co, where she makes scrub caps for doctors, nurses, and vets, while also taking on the occasional side project. She’s also been busy with Wool+Down Rabbitry, where she raises American Fuzzy Lop rabbits and somehow manages to find time to make the occasional rabbit show. She also attends Homeschool Group every Friday with Bree and Judah, in addition to all her many other mom-ing tasks. Not to be outdone by Jacob, Hayley leads the Service Team at Arise, where she coordinates volunteer work in the community and church.

Preaching at Arise

Jacob continues to serve as lead pastor at Arise Church, in Fenton, MO, the church that we planted in September 2020. Launching a church during a pandemic has been an adventure, but it’s rewarding work. In January, Jacob experienced a cardiac event that led to heart surgery and persisting mental health struggles. It’s been a particularly hard year for him, but he’s been working hard to abide in Christ and remain faithful to his calling. He’s rediscovered his love for building Lego and eagerly builds with Hayley and the kids. He continues to read copiously and is always looking for more books to add to his reading list. In his spare time, Jacob watches TikToks with Bree and Judah (and manages to make a few on occasion too).

Finally, in the spirit of Jolabokaflod, the Icelandic tradition of giving books and chocolate for Christmas, we wanted to leave you with a couple of book recommendations for this new year. Judah’s favorite book from this year (we think) is Little Blue Truck’s Christmas. Bree recommends all of the Pigeon books, but especially The Pigeon Needs a Bath! Hayley’s favorite read this year was Stephen King’s 11/22/63. And Jacob (who’s annual list of books is coming soon) recommends Tish Harrison Warren’s Prayer in the Night. Finally, the best book that Hayley and Jacob read together this year was The Liturgy of the Ordinary, also by Tish Harrison Warren.

And with that, we wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year! Our prayer for you this season and this coming year is best summed up in the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 15: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Grace and Peace, Jacob, Hayley, Bree, and Judah Prahlow

The Letters of Paul in Justin Martyr (Part 1)

This post is part of an ongoing series on Paul and Pneuma, Justin and Judaism.

An astounding variety exists among the receptions of Pauline literature and thought in early Christian writings.[1] Though certainly not the first interpreter of Paul, Justin Martyr remains one of the most influential. Before turning to Justin’s specific receptions and transformations of Paul in the Dialogue, we must first address the ongoing debate regarding Justin’s general knowledge and use of Pauline literature. Nowhere in the Dialogue or other extant writings does Justin mention Paul or formally quote any of his sayings.[2] Yet this does not mean that Justin did not know of Paul. Scholars have proposed four options regarding Justin’s general relationship to Pauline literature: 1) Justin did not know Paul; 2) Justin knew Paul and chose not to use him; 3) Justin knew Paul and disagreed with him; and 4) Justin knew Paul and used him, though without formally citing him.

Of these options, the claim that Justin did not know Paul[3] is the least likely for a variety of reasons, chief among them the fact that Justin lived and wrote from Rome, where a plethora of evidence indicates that Paul’s Epistle to the Romans enjoyed consistent use. The position that Justin knew Paul but did not use him also seems unlikely, given that scholars holding this position tend to be older work and have rigid criteria for ascertaining uses of one ancient text in another.[4] Similarly unpopular—often for confessional reasons—is the view that Justin knew of Paul but disagreed with him.[5] The most compelling explanation of this viewpoint involves Paul’s co-option by Marcion of Pontus and Justin’s rejection of Paul along with Marcion.[6] This perspective, however, has been sufficiently problematized by recent studies on the influence of Marcion on the early Church.[7]

The vast majority of scholars concur that Justin was aware of Paul, had access to at least some of his letters, and employed his thought without formally citing him.[8] While some disagreement exists as to whether Justin simply developed Pauline themes[9] or employed specific language from his letters, many scholars argue Justin employed Romans, 1 Corinthians, and Galatians in writing the Dialogue.[10] As for why Justin did not formally cite Paul, there are two likely explanations. First is the purpose of Justin’s argument, namely, to convince Trypho that Jesus is God’s Messiah. If Trypho does not buy this argument, he is certainly not going to accept Paul’s theology. Second, the authority in question for Justin and Trypho is not Paul but the Jewish scriptures. Justin must demonstrate the case for Jesus through appeal to a source that Trypho finds authoritative, making citation of Paul unnecessary.[11] Given Justin’s dialogue partner and purpose in writing, it is not surprising to see Paul alluded to but not explicitly cited.

This knowledge and transformation of Paul is further evidenced in Justin’s utilization of Jewish scripture.[12] Of particular interest to scholars are a number of Old Testament citations which Justin either cites in the form of Paul or interprets similar to how Paul uses them.[13] For example, both Paul (Gal. 3:6) and Justin (Dial. 119.5) cite Genesis 15:6 in order to declare that Gentile Christians are justified like Abraham.[14] Not only does Justin cite many of the same passages as Paul, but he also employs a highly Christocentric reading of those passages, locating in the Old Testament numerous attestations to Christ and the truth of prophecy.[15] Craig Allert concludes that for Justin, “The [Old Testament] scriptures must be interpreted through an understanding of the events of his pre-existence, incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father.”[16] In these ways, Justin interprets the Jewish scriptures very similarly to Paul.

[1] Michael F. Bird and Joseph R. Dodson, Paul and the Second Century (LNTS 412; London: Bloomsbury, 2011). Dodson, 4-10. Jennifer R. Strawbridge, The Pauline Effect: The Use of the Pauline Epistles by Early Christian Writers (SBIR 5; Berlin and Boston: de Gruyter, 2015).

[2] Paul Foster, “Justin and Paul” in Paul and the Second Century (ed. M.F. Bird and J.R. Dodson, LNTS 412, London: Bloomsbury, 2011), 108.

[3] Walter Bauer, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity (trans. R. Kraft and G. Krodel, Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971), 215-16. Hans von Campenhausen, The Formation of the Christian Bible (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1972), 98-9. Wilhelm Schneemelcher, “Paulus in der griechischen Kirche des zweiten Jahrhunderts,” Zeitschriftfur Kirchengeschichte 75 (1964): 7-9.

[4] Foster, 113. F. C. Baur, Das Christenthum und die christliche Kirche der drei ersten Jahrhunderte (Tubingen: Fues, 1860. Reprint, ed. Klaus Scholder, Stuttgart-Bad Cannstatt: Frommann, 1966), 3.135-40. David Rensberger, “As the Apostle Teaches: The Development of the Use of Paul’s Letters in Second-Century Christianity” (Ph.D. diss., New Haven: Yale University, 1981), 162-92.

[5] Foster, 124.

[6] Judith M. Lieu, “The Battle for Paul in the Second Century,” Irish Theological Quarterly 75 (2010): 12.

[7] Jacob J. Prahlow, “Discerning Witnesses: First and Second Century Textual Studies in Christian Authority” (M.A. Thesis, Winston-Salem, N.C.: Wake Forest University, 2014), 27-34. (Unless you publish this, I would omit it!) Larry W. Hurtado, “The New Testament in the Second Century: Text, Collections and Canon” in Transmissions and Reception: New Testament Text-Critical and Exegetical Studies (eds. J.W. Childers and D.C. Parker, Texts and Studies, Third Series, 4. Piscataway, N.J.: Gorgian Press, 2006), 5. W. Schmithals, “On the Composition and Earliest Collection of the Major Epistles of Paul” in Paul and the Gnostics (trans. J. Steely, Nashville: Abingdon, 1972), 41.

[8] Andreas Lindemann, Paulus im dltesten Christentum: Das Bild des Apostels und die Rezeption der paulinischen Theologie in derfriihchristlichen Literatur bis Marcion (Beitrage zur historischen Theologie 58, Tubingen: Mohr, 1979), 353-67. Edouard Massaux, The Influence of the Gospel of Saint Matthew on Christian Literature Before Saint Irenaeus (trans. Norman J. Belval and Suzanne Hecht, Macon, G.A.: Mercer University Press, 1993), 5/3 47-49, 96-101.

[9] Foster, 110. Massaux, The Influence on the Gospel of Matthew, 5/3, 96.

[10] Likely uses include Rom. 2.28-29 in Dial. 41.21-22, 92.21-22, and 113.7; Rom. 9.7 in Dial. 25.2, 44.5, and 140.12-14; Rom. 10.16-18 in Dial. 42.1-3; Gal. 3.6-7 in Dial. 119.5-6. See also the possible use of 1 Cor. 15.24 in Dial. 111.12-13; Col. 1.15 in Dial. 85.2; and Col. 1.17 in Dial. 100.2. Skarsune, “Justin and His Bible,” 74. Lindemann, 366. Foster, 111, 119-120. John A. Adair, Paul and Orthodoxy in Justin Martyr (Ph.D. diss. Dallas: Dallas Theological Seminary, 2008), 225-6. Rodney Werline, “The Transformation of Pauline Arguments in Justin Martyr’s ‘Dialogue with Trypho,’” HTR 92 (1999): 80.

[11] Werline, 80-1.

[12] A.J.B. Higgins, “Jewish messianic belief in Justin Martyr’s ‘Dialogue with Trypho,’” Novum Testamentum 9 (1967): 298-305. B.Z. Bokser, “Justin Martyr and the Jews,” Jewish Quarterly Review 64 (1973): 97-122. Oskar Skarsaune, “Judaism and Hellenism in Justin Martyr, elucidated from his portrait of Socrates,” in: H. Lichtenberger (ed.), Geschichte—Tradition—Reflexion: Festschrift für Martin Hengel zum 70. Geburtstag Vol III (Tübingen: Mohr and Siebeck 1996) 585–611.

[13] Skarsaune, Proof from Prophecy, 92-100. Adair, 216-7.

[14] Allert, 174.

[15] Bruce Chilton, “Justin and Israelite Prophecy” in Justin Martyr and His Worlds (ed. S. Parvis and P. Foster, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), 79. Adair, 192. Skarsaune, “Judaism and Hellenism,” 608. Chilton notes that the for Justin, the Prophets of Israel “(1) attested Christ, (2) inspired the best of Greek philosophy, (3) forecast the transfer of the prophetic Spirit from Israel to Christians, and (4) agreed that the divine Logos lies at the core of human cognition of God.”

[16] Allert, 251.

Paul and the Gentile Problem

This post is part of an ongoing series on Paul and Pneuma, Justin and Judaism.

The status of the Gentiles within the Jesus Movement seems to have become a topic of concern soon after the death and resurrection appearances of Jesus in the mid-30’s CE. By the time Paul began his missionary work, likely in the late 40’s, at least two perspectives on the “Gentile Problem” (if Gentiles could belong to the Jesus community) had congealed. The first option was that Gentiles had to become religious Jews[1] in order to be saved. Paul’s opponents in Galatia seem to have held this view (Gal. 1:6-3:14), which was apparently a fairly common Jewish perspective on what God-Fearers had to do in order to become Jews.[2] The second perspective on the “Gentile Problem” argued that Gentiles and Jews alike could belong to the movement. In this view, “Through the death and resurrection of Christ, the God of Israel has called the gentiles to be his people…. [The] gentiles have been adopted as sons and made into a laos of the God of Israel, a position previously occupied by the Israelites alone.”[3] In years past, some (primarily Protestant) scholars believed a third perspective existed, namely, that the Gentiles had supplanted the Jews as the People of God.[4] As we will see below, this view incorrectly read later Christian arguments back into the earliest years of the Jesus Movement.

Most modern scholarship rightly affirms Paul’s location within the second perspective: both Jews and Gentile could belong to the Jesus Movement. Exactly how this worked, however, has been open to considerable debate. For years, the so-called “Lutheran View” of Paul dominated Biblical Studies, claiming that Jesus did away with Judaism qua Judaism and replaced the Jewish Law with a faith-centered Law of Christ. In this view, Jesus Followers—Jews and Gentiles alike—were freed from the shackles of rote legalism and the burden of the Jewish old covenant. In recent decades, however, this perspective has been challenged by the New Perspective on Paul. New Perspective scholars such as E.P. Sanders, Krister Stendhal, James Dunn, and N.T. Wright argue that the failure of Israel centered on its ethnocentrism and that the Christian innovation extended the people of God category to Gentiles as well.[5] In this view, Paul’s statement in Gal 3:28 was paradigmatic: there is no longer Jew or Greek in Christ, for ethnic identity has been done away with. The New Perspective on Paul has not convinced everyone, least of all those belonging to the Paul within Judaism school of thought. For this viewpoint ethnic identity remains—Jews and Gentiles were separate peoples as they had been since the time of Abraham—but these differences are surpassed by the Christ event, which makes Gentiles “descendants of Abraham, adopted sons of God and coheirs with Christ.”[6] Jesus makes possible Gentile inclusion and Judaism rightly understood[7] still grants access to God.

This series proceeds on the basis of the Paul within Judaism perspective. To flesh out this viewpoint further, being in-Christ does not negate ethnic identity, for Paul can still use terminology of Ioudaioi and ethnoi meaningfully in his letters.[8] Kinship and ethnicity are not merely metaphorical but instead constitute fundamental identity characteristics which impact one’s status before God. Christ Followers are always simultaneously ethnic—Roman, Greek, or Jewish—and their salvation must be articulated in terms of their identity, not apart from it.[9] This is why circumcision became such a sticking point for Paul and the early Church, for it inappropriately blurred Jewish and Gentile identity.[10] Indeed, the only correct way to establish veritable identity in the people of God comes through Christ, who brings Gentiles into the genealogy of Abraham and faithful relationship with God.[11] In the letters of Paul, the Christ event inaugurated the inclusion of the Gentiles within the People of God, though not at the expense of Israel. Faithfulness to Christ means faithfulness to God and—if you are a Jew—faithfulness to the covenant of Israel. This concept of the boundaries of the Jesus community would not be translated into the thinking of many later Christians.

[1] For an outline of the history and parameters of Jews and Judaism in Late Antiquity, see Lee I. Levine, “Jewish Identities in Antiquity: An Introductory Essay” in Jewish Identities in Antiquity: Studies in Memory of Menahem Stern (ed. L.I. Levine and D.R. Schwartz, Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009).

[2] Matthew Thiessen, Paul and the Gentile Problem (Oxford: OUP, 2016), 115.

[3] Caroline Johnson Hodge, If Sons, Then Heirs: A Study of Kinship and Ethnicity in the Letters of Paul (Oxford: OUP, 2007), 3.

[4] Johnson Hodge, 7. Joel Willitts, “Paul and Jewish Christians in the Second Century” in Paul and the Second Century (ed. M.F. Bird and J.R. Dodson, LNTS 412, London: Bloomsbury, 2011), 140, 167. Building from F.C. Baur, this school often posited a radical divergence between Jewish Christianity and Pauline Christianity, a dichotomy in which to be a Jewish Christian was to be anti-Paul and (by extension) anti-grace.

[5] E.P. Sanders, Paul and Palestinian Judaism: A Comparison of Patterns of Religion (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1977). Krister Stendhal, Paul Among Jews and Gentiles and Other Essays (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979). James D.G. Dunn, The New Perspective on Paul (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008). N.T. Wright, Paul: In Fresh Perspective (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005).

[6] Johnson Hodge, 5. Caroline Johnson Hodge, “Apostle to the Gentiles: Constructions of Paul’s Identity,” Biblical Interpretation 13.3 (2005): 276. Lloyd Gaston, Paul and the Torah (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1987), 23f. William S. Campbell, “Gentile Identity and Transformation in Christ According to Paul” in The Making of Christianity: Conflicts, Contacts, and Constructions: Essays in Honor of Bengt Holmberg (ed. M. Zetterholm and S. Byrskog, Winona Lake, I.N.: Eisenbrauns, 2012), 38-9. (here and throughout: don’t separate secondary sources by periods – use commas or semi-colons)

[7] The Messiah has come!

[8] Gal. 2.15, Rom. 11.1-2, 26. Johnson Hodge 4, 9, 43. Johnson Hodge, “Apostle,” 271. See also Gal. 1.16, 2.7-9; Rom. 1.5-6, 13, 11.13, 15.1-6. “Followers of Christ are not a new creation in the sense that their past is entirely annulled or negated, and that there are multiple identities in Christ.” See William S. Campbell, Paul and the Creation of Christian Identity (London: T&T Clark, 2008), 14.

[9] Johnson Hodge, 9.

[10] Gal. 5.2-15. Rom. 2.25-29. Mark D. Nanos, The Mystery of Romans: The Jewish Context of Paul’s Letter (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1996), 337-71. Mark D. Nanos, The Irony of Galatians: Paul’s Letter in First-Century Context (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2002), 152-4.

[11] Johnson Hodge, 5, 151. Campbell, “Gentile Identity,” 38-9.

Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho

This post is part of an ongoing series on Paul and Pneuma, Justin and Judaism.

Although numerous writings have been attributed to Justin throughout the years, only three extant works are believed to be authentic: the First and Second Apologies[1] and the Dialogue with Trypho the Jew.[2] While some scholars have questioned if Justin could have written apologies and a dialogue, the general consensus holds his authorship of all three.[3] The earliest manuscript of the Dialogue is Codex Parisinus Graecus 450, dated to 11 September 1363 CE.[4] As for when the Dialogue was originally written no one can say for sure. Although internal evidence suggests that the dialogue was held over two days and at a time shortly after the bar Kokhba revolt (c. 135 CE).[5] Justin’s use of sources offers no further delimitations for the date of composition,[6] a further indication that the Dialogue could have been written any time between c.135 and 165 CE.

The Dialogue was addressed to an otherwise unknown Marcus Pompeius (Dial. 141) and Justin’s chief interlocutor was Trypho, a learned “Hebrew of the circumcision and a fugitive from the war that has just ended” (Dial. 1.3).[7] But apart from these obvious addressees, for whom was the Dialogue written? Scholars have argued for three audiences. First, the Dialogue was composed for a Jewish audience, an apology for a Christian reading of the Jewish scriptures.[8] Second, the Dialogue was composed for a pagan and primarily Gentile audience, seeking to prevent their conversion to Judaism.[9] Third, Justin wrote the Dialogue for Christians, either using a liturgical style or composing for an educational setting.[10] The theory which makes the most sense of internal and external evidence posits that the Dialogue was written for a Diaspora Jewish audience in the context of Christian missions and (somewhat quickly) found wider circulation among Christians opposed to Judaism.[11]

Justin employed a four-part structure in his Dialogue with the Jews, each of which spoke to his overarching theme of “how do we know what we know,” especially about the scriptures?[12] Chapters 1-9 describe Justin’s personal search for truth and his encounter with the Hebrew prophets. Chapters 10-30 explain the Christian interpretation of the Mosaic Law.[13] Chapters 31-108 discuss the person of Jesus, the divine messiah spoken of by the prophets. Finally, chapters 109-142 offers his thesis on the fact that Gentiles in Christ are the new spiritual Israel. Throughout this work Justin reveals his concern for properly Christocentric soteriology: since the old law has become obsolete and can no longer save, all must turn to the new law of Jesus the Christ.[14] Justin’s context in hand, this paper now considers Paul, particularly the facets of his theology on the Jewish-Gentile problem with which Justin interacted.

[1] The relationship of the First and Second Apology remains debated, with some suggesting both are part of a single work, see Parvis, 57. For a general introduction to the Apologies see Parvis, 56-9.

[2] Allert, 32. Piscini, 172. In all subsequent footnotes, I recommend using an abbreviated form of the title of a previously cited work.

[3] Philippe Bobichon, “Justin martyr: ‘etude stylistique du Dialogue avec Tryphon, suivie d’une comparaison avec l’Apologie et le De resurrectione,” Researches augustiniennes et patristiques 34 (2005): 1-61. Philippe Bobichon, Justin Martyr. Dialogue avec Tryphon, edition critique, traduction, commentaire (Paradosis 47/1-2, Fribourg: Academic Press, 2003), 23-40. Slusser, 15-7.

[4] Sylvain Jean Gabriel Sanchez, “Le Manuscrit du Dialogue avec Tryphon de Justin Martyr,” BLE 103 (2002): 371. Juan Pablo Sena Pera, The Polemic Construction of Judaism at the origins of Christianity: from Paul to Justin Martyr (Ph.D. diss., Bologna: Universita di Bologna, 2015), 166. Slusser, 14. For a discussion of the manuscript history and some noteworthy text critical concerns with the Dialogue, see Sanchez, 377-82.

[5] Allert, 32-4.

[6] Justin employs both the LXX and another Greek version in his citation of the Jewish scriptures. He also knows and uses Matthew, Romans, and Galatians. Scholars have posited his use of two other sources: a “testimony source” for Jewish writings and a “kerygma source” for Christian teaching. See? Dial. 121.1. Oskar Skarsaune, The Proof from Prophecy: A Study in Justin Martyr’s Proof-Text Tradition: Text-Type, Provenance, Theological Profile (SuppNT 56, Leiden: Brill, 1987); idem, “The Development of Scriptural Interpretation in the Second and Third Centuries—except Clement and Origen” in Hebrew Bible, Old Testament: The History of Its Interpretation I/1: Antiquity (ed. M. Saebø, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1996), 373–442; idem, “Justin and His Bible,” in Justin Martyr and His Worlds (ed. S. Parvis and P. Foster, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), 53–76; idem, “Jewish Christian Sources Used by Justin Martyr and Some Other Greek and Latin Fathers” in Jewish Believers in Jesus: The Early Centuries (ed. O. Skarsaune and R. Hvalvik, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2007), 380-401; and Antti Laato, “Justin Martyr Encounters Judaism” in Encounters of the Children of Abraham from Ancient to Modern Times (ed. A. Laato and P. Lindqvist, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2010), 103. See also Eusebius Eccl. Hist. 4.26.13-14.

[7] Dial. 1.3, 38.2, 120.5. Parvis, 53-4. Laato, 103. Trypho may be the R. Tarphon of Mishnaic fame.

[8] Dial. 32.2, 55.3, 64.2-3. Theodore Stylianopoulos, Justin Martyr and the Mosaic Law (SBLDS 20, Missoula, M.T.: SBL and Scholars Press, 1975), 39. Stephen G. Wilson, Related Strangers: Jews and Christians 70–170 C.E. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995), 264. Allert, 37-8, 57-60. Nina E. Livesay, “Theological Identity Making: Justin’s Use of Circumcision to Create Jews and Christians,” JECS 18 (2010): 51.

[9] Dial. 1-9, 23.3, 24.3, 29.1, 32.5, 64.2, 119.4, 141. Livesay, “Theological,” 52. David Rokéah, “Ancient Jewish Proselytism in Theory and in Practice,” Theologische Zeitschrift 52 (1996): 8. Claudia J. Setzer, Jewish Responses to Early Christians: History and Polemics, 30–150 C.E.. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994), 136. Allert, 38-53.

[10] Dial. 24.3, 29.1. Georges, 83. Livesay, “Theological,” 53. Tessa Rajak, “Talking at Trypho: Christian Apologetic as Anti Judaism in Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho the Jew,’” in Apologetics in the Roman Empire: Pagans, Jews, and Christians, ed. Mark Edwards et al. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999), 78. Judith M. Lieu, Image and Reality: The Jews in the World of the Christians in the Second Century (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1996), 105. Allert, 54-7.

[11] This conclusion, of course, should raise awareness to the fact that Justin and Paul were likely writing to different ethnic audiences: Justin to Jews and Paul to Gentiles. Allert, 61. Laato, 117. See also Daniel Rebecca Sangeetha, “The Theme of ‘Exclusion’ in Rabbinic Literature, Its Interpretation and Impact of the Separation of Judaism and Christianity,” Bangalore Theological Forum 43.2 (2011): 84-5, and Alan F. Segal, “The History Boy: The Importance of Perspective in the Study of Early Judaism and Christianity” in Identity and Interaction in the Ancient Mediterranean: Jews, Christians, and Others: Essays in Honour of Stephen G. Wilson (ed. Z.A. Crook and P.A. Harland, Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press, 2007), 220.

[12] Sena Pera, 167-8. For an extensive outline of the Dialogue, see Michael J. Choi, “What is Christian orthodoxy according to Justin’s Dialogue?,” SJT 63.4 (2010): 400-1.

[13] This theme is revisited in chapters 40-47, 67, and 92-93.

[14] Allert, 169-171. Choi, 399.

Who Was Justin Martyr?

This post is part of an ongoing series on Paul and Pneuma, Justin and Judaism.

Justin occupies a relatively unique place in the history of Christianity, for not only was he a “mover between many worlds” but he also stood at the end of the apostolic age and the beginning of the apologetic period of early Christianity.[1] Justin provides enough autobiographical detail in his writings to create a fairly strong outline of life and background, although the details of his birth are relatively obscure.[2] What we do know about his early life is that Justin was a gentile—possibly a Samaritan—born in Flavia Neapolis of Syria Palestine, son of Priscus and grandson of Bacchius.[3] Dialogue 1-9 recounts Justin’s education and philosophical background. After finding other philosophical schools wanting in his search for true understanding, Justin became a Platonist.[4] Even post-conversion, Justin’s thought remained largely indebted to Middle Platonic philosophy, a fact which comes across clearly in his own statements (Dial. 2.6. 1 Apol. 20. 2 Apol. 12.1) and through examination of his thought.[5] According to Justin’s telling, he encountered an “old man” who problematized his Platonism—asking how the mind can possibly know God if it has no kinship with God (Dial. 7.1-3)—and led him to recognize the necessity of the Holy Spirit and Christian faith.[6] Justin considered himself a philosopher before and after his conversion to Christianity, and he appears to have spent much of his later life instructing Christians in Rome.[7] According to The Martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs, during the reign of Antoninus Pius (r. 161-169 CE) Justin and six others (presumably his students) were arrested and brought before Roman prefect Q. Junius Rusticus (r. 162-168 CE).[8] What led to this arrest remains unknown, but Justin was martyred shortly thereafter (c. 165 CE) and subsequently given the name by which he is known to this day.

[1] Sara Parvis and Paul Foster, “Introduction: Justin Martyr and His Worlds” in Justin Martyr and His Worlds (ed. S. Parvis and P. Foster, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), 2.

[2] Craig D. Allert, Revelation, Truth, Canon and Interpretation: Studies in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho (SupVC 64, Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2002), 27. Michael Slusser, “Justin Scholarship: Trends and Trajectories” in Justin Martyr and His Worlds (ed. S. Parvis and P. Foster, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), 20. Arthur J. Droge, “Justin Martyr and the Restoration of Philosophy,” Church History 9.1 (1987): 303.

[3] 1 Apol. 1.2, 53; Dial. 41.3. Justin and father’s names are Latin while his grandfather’s name. Allert, Revelation, 28. Paul Parvis, “Justin Martyr,” Expository Times 120.2 (2008): 53.

[4] On Justin’s rejection of the Stoic system of philosophy—though not every facet of Stoic thought—see Runar M. Thorsteinsson, “Justin and Stoic Cosmo-Theology,” JTS 63.2 (2012): 541-559. See also 2 Apol. 4-13. Thorsteinsson’s study reveals that “while Justin greatly admired the morality and moral integrity of (some of) the Stoics, he strongly rejected their doctrines on the nature of God as a corporeal being, on the world-cycles and conflagration, and on fate. In somewhat simplified terms, according to the Stoics, the nature of God is changeable, whereas God’s [sic] [why is the sic here?] judgment is unchangeable.” See Thorsteinsson, “Justin,” 570.

[5] Thorsteinsson, “Justin,” 533-34. Also see the following: Charles Nahm, “The Debate on the ‘Platonism’ of Justin Martyr,” SecCent 9 (1992): 129-51. Carl Andresen, “Justin und der mittlere Platonismus,” ZNW 44 (1952-3): 157-95. J. H. Waszink, “Bemerkungen zum Einfluss des Platonismus im frühen Christentum,” VC 19 (1965), 146-51. Allert, 28-9, 73-4. Erwin R. Goodenough, The Theology of Justin Martyr: An Investigation into the Conceptions of Early Christian Literature and Its Hellenistic and Judaistic Influences (Amsterdam: Philo Press, 1968), 295-320. Rebecca Lyman, “Justin and Hellenism: Some Postcolonial Perspectives” in Justin Martyr and His Worlds (ed. S. Parvis and P. Foster, Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007), 163-4. Slusser, 15. Droge, 304f. Tobias Georges, “Justin’s School in Rome—Reflections on Early Christian ‘Schools,’” ZAC 16 (2012): 76. Evangelia G. Dafni, “Septuaginta und Plato in Justins ‘Dialog mit Tryphon,’” Neotestamenica 43.2 (2009): 451-7. Denis Minns and Paul Parvis, Justin, Philosopher and Martyr: Apologies (Oxford and New York: OUP, 2009), 59-60n6.

[6] Allert, 152-3. Vladimir de Beer, “The Patristic Reception of Hellenic Philosophy,” SVTQ 55.4 (2012): 379-80.

[7] Georges, 75. Allert, 67.

[8] Allert, 30-1. Parvis, 59. Gianluca Piscini, “L’apologiste Justin et Usbek: une possible citation patristique dans les Lettres Persanes,ASE 32 (2015): 172.

Paul and Pneuma, Justin and Judaism: Introduction

A series on the reception and transformation of Paul in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho

In the 100 years between the time when the apostle Paul wrote his epistles and when a Christian named Justin read those letters, numerous transformations occurred in the community of Jesus followers.[1] Perhaps most important was the shift surrounding the most basic of questions for any group of people: who belonged to the community, in this case, the church? While Pauline Christianity emphasized Gentile inclusion within the people of God, just a few generations later Christians were arguing for the community’s exclusion of the Jews apart from Jesus Christ.[2] Put another way, for Paul the driving questions of the day were if Gentiles could be saved and how that could happen; for Justin the question was whether or not Jews could belong to the community of Christ followers. This paper explores this transformation of community boundaries by tracing the reception of the Jewish apostle to the Gentiles (Paul) in one writing from a Christian philosopher in Rome (Justin).

In this series, I argue that the reception of Paul’s letters in Justin’s Dialogue with Trypho demonstrates a transformation of Pauline concepts of who belongs to the people of God. Although Paul and Justin shared certain foundations—such as the authority of Jewish scriptures and ancestry of Abraham for the people of God—they worked from different contexts and divergent philosophical trajectories—Stoicism and Middle Platonism, respectively. Perhaps most importantly, the different theological grammars of Paul and Justin—influenced primarily by their different cosmologies—led them to conceive of pneuma[3] differently. This ultimately caused Justin to misread Paul on the relationship between the Judaism and the Christian community, thereby deepening the fault which had formed between the two socio-religious movements and leading Justin to argue (contra Paul) that Jews stood outside the covenant of God.[4] After briefly introducing Justin’s background, contemporary scholarship’s discussion of Paul on the Gentile Problem, and Justin’s general knowledge and use of Paul’s letters, this paper examines three realms of Justin’s transformation of Paul: the meaning of belonging to the pneuma, the importance of belonging to the family of Abraham, and the identity of true Israel.

[1] Joseph R. Dodson, “Introduction” in Paul and the Second Century (ed. M.F. Bird and J.R. Dodson, LNTS 412, London: Bloomsbury, 2011), 1.

[2] Jeffrey S. Siker, “From Gentile Inclusion to Jewish Exclusion: Abraham in Early Christian Controversy with Jews,” BTB 19 (1989): 30–36 (30) [Here and throughout the rest of the essay, give full range of articles and essays and then specific page number].

[3] Here and for the duration of this paper, I leave this term untranslated but present the Greek πνεῦμα in Latin characters as pneuma. In so doing, I follow the lead of Robertson in attempting to avoid anachronistic concepts and associations which are often attached to translations of pneuma. See Paul Robertson, “De-Spiritualizing Pneuma: Modernity, Religion, and Anachronism in the Study of Paul,” Method and Theory in the Study of Religion 26 (2014): 365-83.

[4] On the creation of this fault, see Daniel Boyarin, Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004), and Denise Kimber Buell, Why This New Race: Ethnic Reasoning in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005).

Forgiveness in Matthew: Conclusion and Bibliography

This post concludes our series on Forgiveness in the Gospel of Matthew.

The imperative of forgiveness stands at the heart of the Parable of Unforgiving Servant. For Jesus and Matthew, releasing others from sins and debts constitutes an integral part of what it means to be a member of the Christian community and proclaim God’s love and mercy to the world. True forgiveness finds itself rooted not only in God’s forgiveness of our sins—the emphasis of Matthew 18:21-35—but also in the forgiving blood of Jesus, the means by which human sin becomes forgiven. Matthew’s wider theology of forgiveness demonstrates the importance of extending mercy in the Matthean community, as these parables and rules guided practices on the limits of forgiveness and who could be forgiven. May contemporary Jesus-followers continue to heed Matthew’s messages of forgiveness: that we must extend to everyone true forgiveness from the heart.


Ancient Sources

Augustine of Hippo. Sermons. Translated and edited by Manlio Simonetti. Matthew 14-28: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Community Rule. Translated and edited by Geza Vermes. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English. New York: Penguin Press, 1997.

Damascus Document. Translated and edited by Geza Vermes. The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English. New York: Penguin Press, 1997.

Eusebius of Caesarea. Ecclesiastical History. Translated by G.A. Williamson. Edited by Andrew Louth. London: Penguin Books, 1989.

Flavius Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews. Translated and edited by William Whiston. The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged.  Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1987.

Galen. In Hippocratic sextum librum epidemiarum commentaria. Edited by E. Wenkebach. Corpus medicorum Graecorum. Leipzig: Teubner, 1940.

Hermogenes. Rhetoric. Edited by H. Rabe. Hermogenis Opera. Leipzig: Teubner, 1913.

Hilary of Poitiers. On Matthew. Translated and edited by Manlio Simonetti. Matthew 14-28: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

Irenaeus of Lyons. Adversus Haereses. Translated by Robert M. Grant. Irenaeus of Lyons. The Early Fathers of the Church. London: Routledge, 1996.

Jerome. Commentary on Daniel. Translated by Gleason L. Archer. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1958.

John Chrysostom. The Gospel of Matthew. Translated and edited by Manlio Simonetti. Matthew 14-28: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002.

New Revised Standard Version: Harper Collins Study Bible Revised Edition. Edited by Harold W. Attridge. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2006.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 27. Edited by Kurt Aland. Westphalia: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2011.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 28. Online: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2015.

NRSV Cambridge Annotated Study Apocrypha. Edited by Howard C. Kee. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994.

Papias. Fragments. Translated by Bart D. Ehrman. The Apostolic Fathers: Volume Two. Loeb Classical Library 25. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Plutarch. Life of Antony. Translated by Bernadotte Perrin. Lives, Volume IX. Loeb Classical Library 101. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1920.

Septuaginta: Editio Altera. Edited by Alfred Rahlfs and Robert Hanhart. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2006.

Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs. Translated H.C. Kee. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha: Volume One: Apocalyptic Literature and Testaments. Edited by James H. Charlesworth. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1983.

Modern Sources

Abel, Ernest L. “Who Wrote Matthew?” New Testament Studies 17.2 (1971): 138-152.

Allison, Dale C. “Matthew and the History of its Interpretation.” The Expository Times 120.1 (2008): 1-7.

Ascough, Richard S. “Matthew and Community Formation.” Pages 96-126 in The Gospel of Matthew in Current Study: Studies in Memory of William G. Thompson, S.J. Edited by David E. Aune. Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2001.

Beasley-Murray, George R. Matthew. London: Scripture Union, 1984.

Black, David Alan and Beck, David R., eds. Rethinking the Synoptic Problem. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.

Brooks, Stephenson H. Matthew’s Community: The Evidence of His Special Sayings Material. Sheffield: JSOT, 1987.

Bronn, William R. “Forgiveness in ‘My Brothers’ of Matthew 28:10 and Its Significance for the Matthean Climax (28:16-20).” Biblical Theology Bulletin 40.4 (2010): 207-214.

Bruner, Frederick Dale. Matthew: A Commentary: Volume 2: The Churchbook Matthew 13-28. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004.

Buckley, Thomas W. Seventy Times Seven: Sin, Judgment, and Forgiveness in Matthew. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991.

Crossan, John Dominic. In Parables: The Challenge of the Historical Jesus. New York: Harper and Row, 1973.

Davies, W.D. and Allison, Dale C. A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Gospel According to Saint Matthew in Three Volumes: Volume II: Commentary on Matthew VIII-XVIII. Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1991. 

de Boer, Martinus C. “Ten Thousand Talents? Matthew’s Interpretation and Redaction of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matt 18:23-25).” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 50 (1988): 214-232.

Deidun, Thomas. “Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Mt 18:23-25).” Biblical Theology Bulletin 6.2-3 (1976): 203-224.

Deissmann, Adolf. Light from the Ancient East: The New Testament Illustrated by Recently Discovered Texts of the Graeco-Roman World. New York: George H. Doran Co., 1927.

Derrett, J. Duncan M. Law in the New Testament. London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1970.

Dietzfelbinger, Christian. “Das Gleichnis von der erlassenen Schuld: eine theologische Untersuchung von Matt 18:23-35.” Evanelische Theologie 32.5 (1972): 437-451.

Doriani, Daniel M. “Forgiveness: Jesus’ Plan for Healing and Reconciliation in the Church (Matthew 18:15-35).” The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 13.3 (2009): 22-32.

Hagner, Donald A. Matthew 1-13. Word Biblical Commentary 33A. Dallas: Word Books, 1993.

–. Matthew 14-28. Word Biblical Commentary 33B. Dallas: Word Books, 1995.

Harrington, Daniel J. “Matthew’s Gospel: Pastoral Problems and Possibilities.” Pages 62-73 in The Gospel of Matthew in Current Study: Studies in Memory of William G. Thompson, S.J. Edited by David E. Aune. Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2001.

–. The Gospel of Matthew. Sacra Pagina Series 1. Collegeville, MN: The Liturgical Press, 1991.

Hylen, Susan E. “Forgiveness and Life in Community.” Interpretation: A Journal of Bible and Theology 54.2 (2000): 146-157.

Illian, Bridget. “Church Discipline and Forgiveness in Matthew 18:15-35.” Currents in Theology and Mission 37.6 (2010): 444-450.

Jeremias, Joachim. The Parables of Jesus: Revised Edition. New York: Scribner’s Press, 1972.

–. Unknown Sayings of Jesus. London: S.P.C.K., 1964.

Johansson, Daniel. “’Who can forgive sins but God alone?’: Human and Angelic Agents, and Divine Forgiveness in Early Judaism.” Journal For The Study of the New Testament 33.4 (2011): 351-374.

Johnson, Luke Timothy. The Writings of the New Testament: An Interpretation: Revised Edition. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1999.

Kähler, Martin. The So-Called Historical Jesus and the Historic Biblical Christ. Translated by Carl E. Braaten. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1964.

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