Here are three recently published articles that are pretty good reading:
- “Another look at πιστις Χριστου” by Morna D. Hooker, Scottish Journal of Theology 69 (1): 46-62 (2016).
- “The Number of Variants in the Greek New Testament: A Proposed Estimate” by Peter J. Gurry, New Testament Studies 62: 97-121 (2016).
- “‘O Taste and See’: Septuagint Psalm 33 in 1 Peter” by Karen H. Jobes, Stone-Campbell Journal 18: 241-251 (Fall, 2015).
Let’s go in reverse order.
First, “O Taste and See” is classic Karen Jobes. She is an accomplished evangelical scholar on 1 Peter, with a top rated commentary on this epistle (see here). The article here is an exercise in intertextual interpretation looking at Peter’s exhortation to “crave pure, spiritual milk” (το λογικον αδολον γαλα επιποθησατε). Although sometimes understood as a reference to the word of God, Jobes rejects this reading. Instead by looking carefully at how Peter uses LXX Psalm 33 it makes better sense to see a reference to Christ himself as the pure, spiritual milk “which nurtures growth of spiritual life after rebirth into the new reality that Christ’s death, resurrection, and ascension has created…To crave the pure spiritual milk means to crave Christ himself, for only he can sustain the new life he created” (pgs. 249-250).
Second, Peter J. Gurry’s article on the number of textual variants in the GNT is a solidly researched article with an important find. Despite my hunch that there are probably only a small number of people interested in this type of research, it is nevertheless hugely important to get this kind of information correct. After a lengthy section discussing previous historical estimates, their problems, and his own methodology, Gurry proposes an estimate of about 500,000 variants (not including spelling differences). He only analyzes variants found in Greek manuscripts; that is, papyri, majuscules, minuscules and lectionaries, NOT versions, patristic citations, inscriptions, etc. (pg. 104). He defines a variant as “a word or concatenation of words in any manuscript that differs from any other manuscript within a comparable segment of text, excluding only spelling differences and different ways of abbreviating nomina sacra” (pg. 106). I will just add one more concluding thought on the value of the estimate:
“[O]ur estimate allows scholars to avoid passing the responsibility for their estimates to silent and invisible sources. The present estimate is based on a clear foundation in the available data and a clear method, both of which are open to public scrutiny. One hopes that these two qualities alone will be enough to discourage all of us from the continued rehashing of unverified and unverifiable information about the transmission of the Greek New Testament.” (pg. 118)
Third, “Another look at πιστις Χριστου” by Morna Hooker. The sheer amount of scholarly attention given to this phrase indicates the importance of it. Subjective genitive or objective genitive? Christ’s faith/faithfulness or our faith in Christ? In this paper, Hooker builds on her earlier work (‘Πιστις Χριστου’, New Testament Studies 35, 1989) by zeroing in on what exactly is meant by πιστις (pistis), particularly in some key texts in Romans. In doing so, she explores the relationship of human behavior and divine grace in the apostle Paul’s thought. She concludes by asking the question,
“So were Luther and his followers wrong? They were certainly not wrong to emphasize the role of faith. And as with the answers to our questions about other phrases we have briefly considered, it may well be that the answer to the question ‘Does this phrase refer to Christ’s faith or ours’? may be ‘Both’. Nevertheless, the faith/faithfulness is primarily that of Christ, and we share in it only because we are in him…In Christ, and through him, we are able to share his trust and obedience, and so become what God called his people to be.” (pg. 62)