Spectrums of Scripture: Formal Authority and Name Dropping

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.

it-is-writtenWhat then are the various forms of authoritative correspondence? On one end of the authoritative spectrum are formal quotations, commentaries, and translations. Formal quotations denote the highest level of attributed authority within general literary works, while commentaries and translations reveal the importance of a text through sustained treatment of that text.[1] In contrast to scholars who argue that quotation does not indicate what an author thought of the work being quoted or that quotations were surface embellishments,[2] formal quotations consistently carry authoritative weight in arguments.[3] Continue reading

Spectrums of Scripture: Authoritative 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.

The Early Church Fathers

The Early Church Fathers

The authoritative correspondence spectrum constitutes the third and final method of tracking how texts were received by other ancient texts. This spectrum ranges from obviously high attributions of authority to unknown levels of authority. I say “unknown” authority rather than “no” authority because texts which are utilized by others are prima facia accorded some measure of authority.[1] A lack of clear indicators, however, makes the assignment of exactly how much authority difficult to accurately represent. Consideration of authority also raises the issue of functionality, and in large part, an authority correspondence indicates how one text functions in another.[2] On this Christopher Stanley says, “Words are spoken (or written) with the aim of doing something to the hearer(s), that is, evoking some sort of response.”[3] Continue reading

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

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

Spectrums of Scripture: Verbal 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.

BibleThe verbal correspondence spectrum tracks the levels of verbal similarity between two texts.[1] Prerequisite for discussion of this spectrum is definitional clarity.[2] Although numerous scholars have offered numerous definitions for the terms used here,[3] building from Andrew Gregory and Christopher Tuckett’s work I employ the following definitions.[4] Most generally, “citation” or “reference” indiscriminately signifies of any possible use of one text in another. That is, a citation is a possible quotation, allusion, or echo worthy of examination and plotting. On the end of the spectrum with the highest levels of verbal correspondence lay “quotations.” On the end with the lowest levels of verbal similarity lay “echoes.” In-between are “allusions.”[5] Continue reading

Spectrums of Scripture: Introducing a Spectral Approach

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.

axes-outline-3d_cartesian_coordinate_systemIn addressing the questions of how to determine when one text is received by another text and in what ways texts are received in other texts, scholarship has turned to two conceptual schemata: the proposal of criteria lists and the use of spectrums. The spectrum or continuum concept remains particularly popular among those working with the Second Temple era literature oft termed “Rewritten Bible.” By using spectrums, Molly Zahn notes, “the various texts that rework Scripture can be plotted, from texts that depart relatively infrequently and in more minor ways from the scriptural text as known from elsewhere to those that make frequent, major changes.”[1] Continue reading