Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ υἱοῦ θεοῦ: Mark’s Gospel as the Beginning of The Exodus? Some Thoughts on the Wilderness Motifs in Mark

Mark’s Gospel continues to be my favorite of the Synoptics. I find myself returning to its message time and again, always encouraged by the way Mark is able to get to the point of the message quickly and powerfully. This week I found myself back at the beginning of Mark. In the past I would normally read at a relatively steady pace, moving from to one scene to the next. This time, after reading Beale’s work on New Testament Theology I decided to slow the pace and listen for echoes that may be in the text. This is something that I should do far more often!

Mark begins his writing with a brief introduction (or title): Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ υἱοῦ θεοῦ (1:1). Unlike John’s Gospel, where the presence of ἀρχὴ is meant to point back to the beginning of creation (cf. Gen 1:1, Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν), the ἀρχὴ in Mark is τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ υἱοῦ θεοῦ. The comparative καθὼς, along with the citation formula γέγραπται ἐν τῷ Ἠσαΐᾳ τῷ προφήτῃ (1:2a) locate the ἀρχὴ …τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ υἱοῦ θεοῦ in the OT message of Isaiah. For Mark, the Gospel message has its roots in the prophet Isaiah and his message to Israel.

In Mk 1:2b-3 three passages of scripture are included in Mark’s citation formula of 1:2a, which Mark apparently conflates into Ἠσαΐᾳ τῷ προφήτῃ[1] : Ex 23:20; Mal 3:1; and Isa 40:3. The following tables are a visual layout of these OT citations:


Ex 23:20

הִנֵּ֨ה אָנֹכִ֜י שֹׁלֵ֤חַ מַלְאָךְ֙ לְפָנֶ֔יךָ לִשְׁמָרְךָ֖ בַּדָּ֑רֶךְ וְלַהֲבִ֣יאֲךָ֔ אֶל־הַמָּק֖וֹם אֲשֶׁ֥ר הֲכִנֹֽתִי Καὶ ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἀποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου πρὸ προσώπου σου, ἵνα φυλάξῃ σε ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ, ὅπως εἰσαγάγῃ σε εἰς τὴν γῆν, ἣν ἡτοίμασά σοι Behold, I am sending my angel before you to guard you on the way and thus bring you into the land which I promised you

Mal 3:1

הִנְנִ֤י שֹׁלֵחַ֙ מַלְאָכִ֔י וּפִנָּה־דֶ֖רֶךְ לְפָנָ֑י ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἐξαποστέλλω τὸν ἄγγελόν μου, καὶ ἐπιβλέψεται ὁδὸν πρὸ προσώπου μου Behold, I am sending my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me


Isa 40:3

      ק֣וֹל קוֹרֵ֔א בַּמִּדְבָּ֕ר פַּנּ֖וּ דֶּ֣רֶךְ יְהוָ֑ה יַשְּׁרוּ֙ בָּעֲרָבָ֔ה מְסִלָּ֖ה לֵאלֹהֵֽינוּ φωνὴ βοῶντος ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ Ἑτοιμάσατε τὴν ὁδὸν κυρίου, εὐθείας ποιεῖτε τὰς τρίβους τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν A voice crying: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight the way of our God

The Context Mark’s OT Citations

As seen in the citations above, each make reference to a number of key terms: messenger, way and preparation. Also noted in Isa 40 is the word wilderness, which we will see plays a role in framing the opening of Mark’s Gospel.

In Ex 23, YHWH declares that he is going to send his messenger (מַלְאָךְ, ἄγγελος) with Israel into the promised land to guard them on the way (לִשְׁמָרְךָ֖ בַּדָּ֑רֶךְ, φυλάξῃ σε ἐν τῇ ὁδῷ). Mark’s use of Ex 23.20 has a prophetic ring to it, pointing to John the Baptist’s role as the forerunner (ἄγγελος) of the Lord’s entry into the land.

Malachi 3:1 is a prophecy of the coming of YHWH’s messenger as a forerunner to the Lord’s sudden appearance in his temple (3:1). According to Malachi, YHWH will send his messenger to clear the way for him, which will result in the sudden appearance of YHWH in his temple. Unlike Ex 23:20 where YHWH’s messenger prepares the way for Israel, the messenger of Mal 3:1 will prepare the way for Lord himself.[2]

Isaiah 40 is the beginning of a lager section (40-55), containing echoes back to Israel’s exodus from Egypt. The writer of Isaiah writes of a grand coming of the Lord. Isa 40:1-2 proclaims an end to warfare and the removal of iniquity. Isa 40:3-4 describes the preparation that is to take place for the YHWH’s coming, with 40:5 revealing how YWHW will come: “Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together.”

Each of the three citations have a context of exodus/exile, which plays a role in Mark’s immediate context as we shall see.

Wilderness Motif in Mark

According to Mark, the beginning of the gospel message, as indicated in  the OT citations, is in the proclamation of John the Baptist. According to Mark, John the Baptist is the one that is spoken of in Isa 40:3 as the voice crying out in the wilderness: ἐγένετο Ἰωάννης [ὁ] βαπτίζων ἐν τῇ ἐρήμῳ καὶ κηρύσσων βάπτισμα μετανοίας εἰς ἄφεσιν ἁμαρτιῶν (1:4). It is here—in the wilderness (ἔρημος)—where John performs his ministry of baptism. All of Judea and Jerusalem (πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμῖται πάντες) go out to him to be baptized in the Jordan (1:5). Further, it is in the wilderness where Jesus comes to be baptized by John (1:9-13). It is no coincidence, in light of the OT citations, that Mark begins his Gospel not with a genealogy like Mathew or even Luke, or with a beginning similar to John’s. Rather, Mark’s beginning is the beginning of the final exodus, which has been inaugurated by the coming of the Messiah.

Unlike the first exodus, in which Israel left the bondage of Egypt for the land flowing with milk and honey, this exodus called for a coming out of the promised land (καὶ ἐξεπορεύετο πρὸς αὐτὸν πᾶσα ἡ Ἰουδαία χώρα καὶ οἱ Ἱεροσολυμῖται πάντες) to the wilderness. It is from the wilderness that we find Jesus returning to Galilee and proclaiming that “the time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel [πεπλήρωται ὁ καιρὸς καὶ ἤγγικεν ἡ βασιλεία τοῦ θεοῦ· μετανοεῖτε καὶ πιστεύετε ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ]” (1:14-15). Whereas in the first exodus, Joshua leads Israel in a battle to rid the land of foreign nations. In this final exodus, Jesus rids the land of unbelief and the power of Satan.


1. While I will not enter into the discussion on the conflation of the of Ex 23:20 and Mal 3:1, this is nevertheless a serious textual matter. Markan scholar Rikki Watts has recently written a post at the Gospel Coalition Blog answering this very question. See also his contribution on Mark’s use of the OT in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, edited by Carson and Beale. 

2. Rikki Watts, “Mark” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament. Ed. by Carson and Beale, 118. Watts notes that Malachi’s use of Ex 23:20 and Isa 40:3 “suggests that Malachi sees the delayed second exodus as an ironic recapitulation of the first. Whereas in the first exodus Yahweh sent his messenger to prepare Israel’s way by destroying the idolatrous nations, now the messenger prepares Yahweh’s way, and it is faithless Israel who, having become like those nations, is under threat.”

(Review) The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICNT)

Gareth Cockerill
“The Epistle to the Hebrews (NICNT)”
Published: 4/12/2012
ISBN: 978-0-8028-2492-9
792 Pages

How do you replace a legend? When an iconic sports figure leaves the sport he loves, how does that team ever replace him? It comes to no surprise to those who know me that I am a die-hard fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins. I remember staying up late on a number of occasions to watch the Pens play deep into overtime in the Stanley Cup playoffs (side note: The Pens have played in two of the top five longest games in Playoff history). When my favorite player Mario Lemieux decided to hang up his skates, I thought hockey was over in Pittsburgh. Who could ever replace the face of the Pens franchise? Thankfully a new superstar has emerged in Pittsburgh!

In the world of New Testament commentaries there is arguably no greater name than the late Frederick Fyvie Bruce. So when the time came to replace Bruce’s commentary on Hebrews in the NICNT, the baton had to pass to someone who could pick up the mantle of Hebrews studies and take readers further than what Bruce had accomplished. It goes without saying that this would be no small task, and time will eventually tell if Gareth Cockerill has succeeded as a worthy replacement for Bruce.

In the twenty-plus years since Bruce’s NICNT was last revised, there has been a number of excellent commentaries published on the epistle to the Hebrews. One can quickly bring to mind Johnson’s contribution to the NTL series, Ellingworth’s exhaustive NIGTC volume, O’Brien’s excellent addition to the PNTC volume, and Koester’s AB commentary. Thankfully there has been no shortage of fine critical commentaries published.

When I pick up a critical commentary on Hebrews one of the first things I look at is the author’s treatment of the structure of Hebrews. This is a topic of much interest for me personally, as I have spent a good amount of time reading (and re-reading) books, journal articles, and essays on the structure of Hebrews. Cockerill uses roughly sixteen pages to discuss various aspects of the structure of Hebrews. He interacts with the important works in the field of study (Vanhoye, Übelacker, Swetnam, Guthrie, Westfall, Koester, etc.), highlighting their strengths and weakness. This synthesis of previous studies lays the ground work for Cockerill’s own understanding of the structure of Hebrews.

Cockerill describes his treatment of the structure as one that is “sensitive to the formal features of the text, to its use of Scripture, and to the rhetorical shape.” But according to Cockerill, his analysis “puts considerable emphasis on the pastor’s use of imagery and on the concrete way in which he has arranged his material to motivate his hearers…The final justification for this structuring is the insight it provides into the individual parts and total impact of this sermon” (62). While Cockerill does provide much in the way of justification for his structuring, it nonetheless is a little convoluted in its presentation. Instead of presenting a linear rationale for his structuring, I often found myself flipping back and forth, trying to conceptualize the overall structure of Hebrews. This is not to say that his argument is flawed, it just could have been presented in a much easier-to-follow format.

The parallels between certain sections of Hebrews are brought out in a clear and convincing manner. For example, Cockerill notes that 1:1-2:18/12:4-29 form a chiasm:

God has Spoken in his Son (1:1-2:18)
(a) In His Son (1:1-4)
(b) Through the Eternal Son (1:5-14)
(c) Don’t Neglect “So great a salvation” (2:1-4)
(d) By the Suffering Son (2:5-18)
God Speaks/Will Speak in His Son (12:4-29)
(‘d) The Suffering of Legitimate Sons and Daughters (12:4-13)
(‘c) Don’t Fall into Apostasy (12:14-17)
(‘b) Through the Son from Heaven (12:18-24)
(‘a) At the Judgment (12:25-29)

Cockerill offer a number of helpful charts that illustrate his argument. These are helpful, considering the above comments on the difficulty of following Cockerill’s argument at some points.

In light of this, anyone who has spent anytime with Hebrews knows that there are patterns and intricate features that the author Hebrews utilized all throughout his letter. As the various studies on the structure of Hebrews mentioned above show, there is no real unanimity when it comes situating Hebrews within any particular structure. Nonetheless, Cockerill has taken the best from all of these and has presented a well argued and coherent discussion on the structure of Hebrews.

Inevitably when one thinks of Hebrews, one of the firsts things that come to mind—other than who the author is—are the so-called “warning passages.” No doubt these have been the rise and fall for many. While there are many articles, books, etc. written on these passages, it is important that they not be divorced from their historical and linguistic context. Too often we can isolated them and use them as proof texts in or Calvinist/Arminian debates. While I do not have time to discuss each of the passages individually, I will note that Cockerill does a fine job in situating these tricky passages within their respected contexts. He shows how each of them relates to their surrounding context and continues the discussion forward. The reader will find a great amount of care for these sections.

As I mentioned above, it will be sometime before we know if Cockerill is a worthy replacement for Bruce. But what I can say is that Cockerill is off to a good start! He has a fine introduction; a detailed and exhaustive commentary; and he is sensitive to both the author and the readers. I think it is safe to say that when a student or pastor is looking for a commentary on Hebrews, Cockerill should be added to the “commentaries on Hebrews hall of fame.”

Review of Pheme Perkin’s First Corinthians (ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑ Commentaries on the New Testament)

First Corinthians

ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑ Commentaries on the New Testament
Pheme Perkins
Baker Academic, 2012

Thanks to Baker for this review copy

With the publication of Pheme Perkins commentary on First Corinthians, the excellent ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑ Commentaries on the New Testament now has eight volumes in print (two more volumes are scheduled to be published later this year: 1-2 Peter and James-Jude), Each subsequent volume continues to solidify this set as a must have for every pastor and scholar.

I cannot say enough great things about this informative and essential set of New Testament commentaries. The ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑ series is informative and up-to-date in New Testament scholarship, all while being compact and concise. Each of the volumes in ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑ highlight important cultural practices or literary affinities shared with other contemporary Greco-Roman documents by means of visual aids and sidebar examples from primary source material, paying close attention to the ancient narrative and rhetorical strategies of the biblical author. By doing so, this allows the text of the New Testament to shape both the theology of moral practice of the readers. Unlike some critical commentaries, the ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑ New Testament commentaries comments on the final, canonical form. What this means is that instead of long, technical discussions on the how the New Testament came to be, the ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑ series comments on the final canonical text as we have it today. This frees the commentator to do what a commentator does: comment on the text.

Pheme Perkins contribution is no exception. A professor at Boston College, Perkins is the author of a wide variety of New Testament subjects. She has written a number of commentaries on the letters of Paul, the Gnostic Gospel, the Synoptic Gospels and women in the New Testament. She brings her vast knowledge of the New Testament and Greco-Roman backgrounds to the text of First Corinthians.

In the introduction (pg. 3-47), issues regarding the urban setting of Christianity in the first-century are helpfully highlighted from the start. Instead of beginning with the traditional author, date, theology of, etc., Perkins discusses the practices and habits of the people of Corinth. This allows the reader to gain insight into the everyday life of first-century Corinth—this insight becomes valuable as your progress through the text of First Corinthians (i.e. 1 Cor 8; 10). As for the date of First Corinthians, Perkins suggests a date early in the spring of 55/56 AD (pg. 18). The discussion on letter writing (pg. 19-28) and all that it entails (i.e. writing, delivering, reading, etc.) is one of my favorite sections of the introduction. Perkins masterfully explains the intricacies of letter writing in antiquity. This includes the materials used for writing as well as the means of delivery.

The final section of the introduction is on the theological themes of 1 Corinthians. Perkins discusses very important topics in a concise manner; theological themes such as salvation, Scripture, the Jesus tradition in Paul, the Spirit, and resurrection are explained clearly. Because of the limits of the series, it may have been more helpful to focus on fewer themes, giving Perkins more pages to work with. For example, only a half of a page is devoted to the discussion of resurrection, which in light of 1 Cor 15 and the discussion of resurrection is somewhat puzzling.

The commentary proper is broken up into eight chapters:

The Letter opening (1:1-9)

  • Against Divisions: God’s Wisdom (1:10-2:16)
  • Against Divisions: Paul and Apollos as Exempla (3:1-4:21)
  • Reports about Unholy Conduct among Believers (5:1-6:20)
  • Questions in a Letter from Corinth (7:1-11:1)
  • Problems in the Community Assembled for Worship (11:2-14:40)
  • Reports That Some Deny the Resurrection (15:1-58)
  • The Letter Closing (16:1-24)

Each of the eight chapters follows a similar format for the periscope at hand. First is a section on introductory matters. These introductory matter are informed by the section being commented on. For example, there are sections on important text-critical issues, vocabulary and themes of the pericope, and others. Following a discussion on introductory matters is the commentary proper. Concluding each chapter is a section on the theological issues that are raised by the text of 1 Corinthians.

I find this format to be useful and very helpful for the reader. It allows for consistency and also helps keep the commentator on track. Often times I have seen commentators go of the beaten track to chase rabbits, never to return again. This is not the case with Perkins work. She allows for discussion on text-critical issues, lexical matters, and other important matters for commentators to highlight. In my opinion, this is what makes this series so valuable: it allows the commentator to go into detail without skipping over textual matters that are important and should be included in commentaries, regardless of the audience.

Commentary writing is no easy task. Because of editorial or publisher decisions, an author may find him or her self handcuffed by word limits and other various things, which may stifle a commentators discussion. That is not to say that all concise commentaries inevitably sacrifice depth on the altar of pragmatism. Far from it! But I must believe that for any commentator writing on a book of the Bible there is a sense that not every rock has been unturned. Nevertheless, Perkins offers a concise and jammed pack commentary on First Corinthians. There is much to be said for this excellent contribution to Pauline studies. This is the perfect commentary to have alongside your Bible as you read and study through the text of First Corinthians. Perkins’ will guide, not dominate your study of the text. I highly recommend this volume along with the rest of the ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑ Commentaries on the New Testament.

Paideia: Commentaries on the New Testament on Pre-Pub

My employer Logos Bible Software has on Pre-Pub the excellent ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑ (Paideia) Commentary series. I cannot say enough wonderful things about this series! I first came into contact with ΠΑΙΔΕΙΑ through James Thompson’s volume on Hebrews. I was immediately struck with how well this series is able to take a lot of critical and exegetical information and condense it into smaller chunks, all without compromising the message of the text. Since Thompson’s contribution, I have picked up every volume that has since been published and have not been disappointed one bit! I urge you head over to Logos and place your Pre-Pub order. This is a amazing deal for an fabulous set of commentaries.

Deuteronomy and Exhortation in Hebrews: A Study in Narrative Re-presentation (A Review)

David M. Allen, Deuteronomy and Exhortation in Hebrews: A Study in Narrative Re-presentation. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe: 238. Mohr Siebeck, 2008

Hebrews, therefore, does not just use Deuteronomy; it becomes a new Deuteronomy.

With these words, David Allen concludes his marvelous study on the use of Deuteronomy Auctor’s letter to the Hebrews. Prof Allen’s monograph offers a detailed study of language, background, and narrative of Deuteronomy, especially the Song of Moses and its contribution to the composition and argument of the letter to the Hebrews. Allen’s book was a delight to read as it was informative.

The follow review will highlight a few points points of the book, offering praise and critique along the way. Not too often does one read a book and find his views about a given topic confirmed 0n almost every point. This is precisely what I found myself doing. Before I began reading–before I had even known about Prof Allen’s monograph–I was coming to some of the same conclusions that are argued for in Deuteronomy and Exhortation in Hebrews: A Study in Narrative Re-presentation.

In chapter one Allen summarizes the scholarship of Hebrews and Deuteronomy, particularly the use of the OT in Hebrews. Early on, Allen begins to build a case that Hebrews shares many affinities with Deuteronomy, specifically with Deut 32. There is also a lengthy section of the text of Deuteronomy as well as a section on Intertextuality and and Methodology. Allen acknowledges George Guthrie’s seminal work on the structure of Hebrews. Allen agrees with Guthrie’s analysis of two distinct thoughts in Hebrews: doctrinal and hortatory (p.12). While I agree with a lot of what Guthrie argues for in his work, I am not convinced that he–and Allen–are correct in treating them as distinct.

Chapter three focuses on the use of Deuteronomy in Hebrews. Allen analyzes the OT in Hebrews at four different levels: (direct) quotations, string allusions, echoes, and narrative affiliations. Each of these levels presents more of a challenge as Allen progresses through Hebrews. While I do think Allen makes a strong case for his argument, presenting much in favor of his view, I am nevertheless not as convinced at points. This is not because of a weakness in his argument, but rather because I am always uneasy when it comes to echoes and allusions of the OT in the NT. Even Allen admits this is a tricky practice: “Defining echoes is more complex and some element of subjectivity is inevitable in their identification” (p.17). In all, his treatment of the intertextuality is one of the best on Hebrews I have yet to read.

Because a textual link to Deuteronomy is not as strong in Hebrews, Allen’s thesis is based heavily on themes, motifs, and other OT pictures. It is here that I find his argument fascinating and very convincing. One of the strong points of Allen’s work is his insistence that just like Israel stood at the doorstep to the promised land, so too the New Covenant community (i.e. the Church) stands at the doorstep of the promised land. Allen argues that for Israel it was an exodus, but for the Church is a an eisodous: a entering in.

I wish I had more time to go more in-depth in my review of David Allen’s fabulous book. I would highly recommend this work to anyone who wants to understand Hebrews at the discourse level. Hebrews can be a difficult and confusing book, but David Allen paints a narrative masterpiece that weaves through the epistle, allowing the reader to see the big picture of Hebrews. Allen closes his work with the following:

By undertaking this intertextual engagement with Deuteronomy, the epistle’s writer transfers his audience away from their allegiance to an outdated, redundant Sinai existence, dons Mosaic garments and addresses them afresh on the plains of Moab. Within Hebrews’ new covenant situation, the exhortation to “Choose Life” remains as pressing as ever.

NB: If you want to read this work for yourself, here is a link to David Allen’s dissertation online.

No Matter How Hard I Try…

I just cannot get away from the Letter to the Hebrews! It is rich in theology, intertextuality, exhortations to endure in the faith, warnings to shake ones complacency, and most important of all: Jesus! Hebrews is the most Jesus rich of all the writing of the New Testament!

The Translation of Ceslas Spicq’s “L’Épitre aux Hébreux”

The Epistle to the Hebrews (2 vols.)If you know me, you know two things: First, I love the Epistle to the Hebrews. And second, you probably know more about Ceslas Spicq’s L’Épitre aux Hébreux (The Epistle to the Hebrews) than you care too. Well, to say that I am excited about what I am about to say would be an understatement. I am pleased to announce that my awesome employer, Logos Bible Software, is looking to publish the first ever English edition of Ceslas Spicq’s magisterial commentary. Yes, you read that right! Now, everyone I have ever talked to death about this work—how awesome it is, how it needs to be translated, how I am going to do whatever I can to get it translated—can rest assured that I will not talk about it…as much.

My History with Ceslas Spicq

My love for this great French scholar began back during my undergraduate days. I was beginning my love for all things Epistle to the Hebrews. It the last semester of my major, Greek, that I took exegesis of the Epistle to the Hebrews. I was loving life and enjoying my critical study of the Greek text. I checked out every major commentary the library had on Hebrews (my classmates were not too thrilled, to say the least), and I began to work through them and I kept running into one name over and over. Can you guess who this was? Indeed, it was Mr. Spicq. Now, I tried desperately to track down a copy, but there were none to be found. Anywhere! This was frustrating me because every major commentator on Hebrews interacted with Spicq, and I wanted to see what made this man so vital that he was worthy of interacting with.

I soon came to find out that not only was Spicq’s commentary impossible to find, it also was not in print (I think it may have only been published the initial time in 1952-53) or translated into English. For a budding Hebrews scholar and bibliophile, this is simply unacceptable! I made it my mission in 2006 to see to it that there would be an English edition for the world to enjoy.

If at First You Do Not Succeed…

A few years back a good friend and I decided that we could not sit around and wait to see an English edition of Spicq. So, we jumped into our cars and headed down to Pasadena, to Archive’s Bookstore. The owner of the bookstore also owns a publishing house that specializes in re-prints of classic works. We had a good converstaion with him, pleading our case as to why Spicq needed to be re-published and translated. We left there with a promise that he would do what he could to make this happen.

Well, weeks turned into months and I heard nothing from the owner of the bookstore. During that time I also tried to contact the publisher and inquire about rights, permissions, etc. I never once got a reply. Well, we finally heard back from the owner of the bookstore and he said that he tried to get in touch with the publisher, but they never returned their message. So, the dream was dead. I figured if Archives could not make this happen, it will never come to pass.

Try and Try Again…

Flash-forward now to 2012. With the help of two wonderfully kind gentlemen—Father Benedict Viviano and Rev Dr Jerome Murphy-O’Connor—this time I was able to get in touch with the French Publisher Gabalda and get permission to do an English translation of Spicq. This has been a dream of mine for a number of years. I must say, Logos has been awesome to let me go out and make this dream a reality. They supported my efforts and shared my desire to see Ceslas Spicq’s work translated and shared with the world.

Now, all that you need to do is head over to Logos and get your order your in today. By placing your Pre-Pub order, you are holding your place in line. You are not charged a dime until the book is published and shipped to you electronically. So what are you waiting for? Go to Logos now and make my dream a reality.

Before I finish, go check out my post on the Logos Blog. It will give you my “apologetic” for Ceslas Spicq’s L’Épitre aux Hébreux.

Update: This is the week of blessing for me. After years of searching the internet, trying hard to find a copy of vol 2 of L’Épitre aux Hébreux, I can say now that my journey has ended! I have finally have the complete set of of Ceslas Spicq’s L’Épitre aux Hébreux. Now I will look for his Esquisse d’une Histoire de l’Exégèse Latine au Moyen Age.

The Christ Hymn

One of my favorite sections of Scripture is Philippians 2:5-11. In this passage Paul paints for us a beautiful picture of humility and self-denial in the person of Christ. All to often I read this hymn and I am immediately struck by how I fail to model such humility. Whereas Christ climbs down the latter of success and praise from others, I seem to want to climb as high as I can up that very latter. When you examine the text, you get a picture of just how far down the latter Christ goes.

5 τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ, 6 ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ, 7 ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος· καὶ σχήματι εὑρεθεὶς ὡς ἄνθρωπος 8 ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ. 9 διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα, 10 ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων 11 καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός (Phil 2:5-11).

Paul frames his hymn with a command in v.5: τοῦτο φρονεῖτε ἐν ὑμῖν ὃ καὶ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ (Have this way of thinking among yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus). The demonstrative τοῦτο functions in both a backward as well as forward pointing manner, reminding the reader of what was previously said and also preparing the reader for what follows. Already Paul has exhorted the Philippians to act in a way which cares more for the concerns of others rather than themselves. But in case the Philippians do not know how this looks, Paul gives them the ultimate example of humility, Christ Jesus.

While much has been said in regards to Phil 2.6-11 and the deity of Christ, I tend to think that this is not the main focus of Paul’s argument. While he does in fact make mention of Christ’s deity, ὃς ἐν μορφῇ θεοῦ ὑπάρχων (Although he existed in the form of God…), it is in passing and assumed. It is hard to believe that in light of the command in v.5 Paul would focus on Christ’s deity as their motivation to think in a particular manner. The reader may ask himself, How can anyone attempt to even try to have the mindset of Christ since he is God? Rather, Paul focuses on the humanity of Christ.

What exactly was the attitude(s) that Paul says was characteristic of Jesus?

  1. He did not grasp for what was rightfully his (οὐχ ἁρπαγμὸν ἡγήσατο τὸ εἶναι ἴσα θεῷ). Although he was God, he did not concern himself with the privileges, honor, or status that came with the title God. In an honor and shame culture like the one we find in Phillipi, the pursuit of glory and honor meant everything. But Jesus did not climb that latter.
  2. Instead, he emptied himself of this pursuit by taking the form of a slave (ἀλλὰ ἑαυτὸν ἐκένωσεν μορφὴν δούλου λαβών, ἐν ὁμοιώματι ἀνθρώπων γενόμενος·). Right here we see the irony of this in full effect. Christ, who is God, refuses to cling to his title, and instead goes the other way and takes on the status of a slave. The Master becomes the slave.
  3. The climb down the latter of success ends with three nails and a cross (ἐταπείνωσεν ἑαυτὸν γενόμενος ὑπήκοος μέχρι θανάτου, θανάτου δὲ σταυροῦ). The Lord of glory willing submits to the most shameful death imaginable. In first-century Palestine there was no more shameful way of dying. Not only is the physical pain unbearable, but while you are hanging there in pain you are also suffering the pain of shame, mockery, and rejection.

Thankfully the hymn does not end there. God does not leave Christ with the shame of the cross to bear. Instead, he exalts him higher than he previously was and gives him a name more glorious than any name (διὸ καὶ ὁ θεὸς αὐτὸν ὑπερύψωσεν καὶ ἐχαρίσατο αὐτῷ τὸ ὄνομα τὸ ὑπὲρ πᾶν ὄνομα). And it is at this name, Jesus, that every knee will bow and tongue confess Jesus is Lord (ἵνα ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ πᾶν γόνυ κάμψῃ ἐπουρανίων καὶ ἐπιγείων καὶ καταχθονίων καὶ πᾶσα γλῶσσα ἐξομολογήσηται ὅτι κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς εἰς δόξαν θεοῦ πατρός).

In a culture saturated in honor and the drive for success, Paul turns the whole thing upside down and gives us a picture of what true humility looks like. Instead of seeking honor and praise from man, seek rather how you can serve others in a manner that may lead to your death. But do not worry, God will reward you in heaven.

In closing I am reminded of the words of the Master: “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.”

The Dead Sea Scrolls in High Def

Thanks to the good folks over at Google, we now have the privilege of being able to view the DSS in high def from our home.

The Israel Museum welcomes you to the Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project, allowing users to examine and explore these most ancient manuscripts from Second Temple times at a level of detail never before possible. Developed in partnership with Google, the new website gives users access to searchable, fast-loading, high-resolution images of the scrolls, as well as short explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history. The Dead Sea Scrolls, which include the oldest known biblical manuscripts in existence, offer critical insight into Jewish society in the Land of Israel during the Second Temple Period, the time of the birth of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. Five complete scrolls from the Israel Museum have been digitized for the project at this stage and are now accessible online.

It goes without saying how important these writings are to both Jewish and early Christian studies. There discovery in the middle of last century was perhaps the greatest archaeological find in the past hundred-plus years.

As of right now, five of the scrolls have been digitized and placed online for viewing: the Great Isaiah Scroll, the War Scroll, Commentary on the Habakkuk Scroll, the Temple Scroll, and the Community Rule Scroll.

For those who may not know much about the Scrolls, they have included a section on their site that gives the reader the basic information about their discovery, their nature and significance, the Qumran Community, and the Shrine of the Book, where the Scrolls reside in Israel.

[HT: Jim]

The Use of Exodus in Hebrews: A Multi-Part Review

Below is the template that I will follow for my review of King L. She’s The Use of Exodus in Hebrews. As I read and review each chapter I will add links to each corresponding chapter.

Part One: Descriptive Use of Exodus in Hebrews

1. Introduction

2. Descriptive Analysis of Significant Exodus Citations and Cultic Vocabulary in Hebrews

Part Two: Prescriptive Use of Exodus in Hebrews

3. Presuppositions of a Prescriptive Analysis in Hebrews

4. Prelude to Prescriptive Analysis in Hebrews

5. Auctor’s Attitude toward the Old Testament in Light of the Christ Event

6. History of the Interpretive Influence of Exodus

7. Auctor’s Typological Use of Exodus in Light of the Christ Event

8. Hermeneutical Methodology Employed in the Use of Exodus by Auctor

9. Conclusion

You’ve Got Mail

Many thanks to Peter Lang for sending my way a copy of King L. She’s The Use of Exodus in Hebrews. I am excited to start reading this book, as Hebrews as been a main area of study for me these past six years. Keep an eye out for the review.

Quote of the Day

On healings and exorcisms in our world today, T. Desmond Alexander writes:

…It is possible for Jesus’ followers also to experience in the present something of the eschatological age in terms of healings and exorcisms. However, this will always be less than what awaits us. God may heal, here and now, but not on every occasion. There may be occasions, here and now, when evil powers are defeated, but not always. This should not surprise us. The present evil age will eventually give way to the next. If we all received from God complete holiness and wholeness now, there would be no need for the new earth. As it is, however, we live on an earth presently controlled by the evil one. Only when Satan is finally defeated shall we know life as God intended it (From Eden to the New Jerusalem,155: emphasis added).

Presently we find ourselves living in the tension of the already-but-not-yet. We are now experiencing the kingdom of God as believers, but the kingdom awaits its full consummation. We await the return of the king of kings, who will bring with him the new heavens and new earth we long for. But as Alexander states, right now we only “have a glimpse of what the coming age will be like.”

The Passing of a New Testament Giant and Personal Hero

I suppose it was his name that first caught my attention. I was a young Christian who was just given a wealth of books from the library of a friend. One of the books that I was given was a commentary on the Gospel of John. While skimming through it I noticed the amount of detail and precision that filled the pages. Although at the time I knew not a lick of Greek, I nevertheless appreciated the amount of detail that the author went into. That author was the great New Testament exegete, Charles Kingsley Barrett.

I suppose it is safe to say that C. K. Barrett was one of the main reasons why I not only majored in Greek, but he is also a major influence in regards to academic discipline and rigor. His commentary on John was the gateway for me into the world of academic studies. As I started to branch out into the world of critical studies, Barrett was a helpful guide, pointing me in the direction of many standard academic tomes. As the world of critical scholarship began to open its illustrious doors, I soon began to see the name Barrett around every corner. Not only was Barrett a Johannine scholar, I soon realized that he was trained in classics, and had is hand in almost every scholastic cookie jar in New Testament studies.

So, as the years passed I began to acquire as many of his writings as I could. One work in particular comes to mind. While in college I ran across a reference to a festschrift written honor of Barrett entitled “Paul and Paulinism.” I immediately searched the web for a copy of is work. Not only did I discover it was out of print, but used copies at that time would cost me well over a hundred dollars. Being the starving college student that I was, I sadly had to pass it by. Now flash forward a few years, and a random search of Amazon reveals a copy for the staggering price of $20. Still the starving college student that I am, I could nevertheless pass it by this time.

You can imagine my sadness as I read earlier this morning that Charles Kingsley Barrett passed from this life to glory. He was 94 years old (1917-2011). He spent his career teaching in university of Durham as professor of divinity, retiring in 1982. Barrett was also heavily involved in the Methodist church in England. Some of his works included a two-volume commentary on Acts, commentaries on 1 Corinthians, Romans, articles on the eschatology in Hebrews, Acts, John, and a myriad of other works. So, today I encourage you to pick up a Barrett book or article and read with me the work of a brilliant New Testament exegete.

Thoughts on Scripture: Jesus Before Pilate and Herod (Luke 23)

I was reading this afternoon the account of Jesus before both Pilate and Herod in Luke’s gospel (Lk 23.1-25). What caught my attention as I was reading was the two different responses these men had while Jesus was standing in their presence. One, Pilate, responded in a political manner. He was far more concerned with keeping the peace-and his job-than he was with justice. Because he feared that the Jewish leaders and their followers would riot if they did not receive the judicial outcome they so lusted after, he gave into their blood-thirst and had Jesus traded for (ironically) a man guilty of insurrection and murder. Jesus was to be crucified all because Pilate did not have the spine to stand up to a people under his own authority.

On the other hand, Herod was far more interested in the miracle worker that he heard so much about. He cared far less for the accusations and charges that were levied against Jesus. All he wanted was for Jesus to put on a show and entertain him. So when Jesus refused to entertain Herod’s childish request, Herod had him humiliated and mocked and sent back to Pilate to face his accusers one last time.

The responses by Herod and Pilate to Jesus is no different then as it is today. Many people refuse to submit to the sovereignty of Christ because he threatens their way of life. To turn to Christ is to turn from the accolades of this world. Others, instead of turning from Christ turn to him for a religious high or religious experience. One has to look no further than the television to see men supposedly casting out demons and healing people’s headaches or whatnot. These people will follow Jesus when they feel a religious high or experience. But the instant things go south, and life begins to bring trials into their lives they are gone like the wind.

The true followers of Christ follow him to the cross. They cling to him when things are good and when life is a living hell on earth. They know that they have left everything to follow Jesus, and they will follow him to death if necessary. So I ask myself: What kind of follower am I?

Lord, grant us this day to turn our eyes from the pleasures of this world and to turn our eyes and hearts to the beauty of your cross. Amen

Exegetical Sandbox: Thoughts on the Temple

I have been reading a very informative and intriguing book by T. Desmond Alexander entitled From Eden to the New Jerusalem: An Introduction to Biblical Theology. The main premise of his book is tracing The Temple motif from Gen 1-2 all the way through Rev 21-22. Although I am not unfamiliar with this line of exegetical thought (I have read a similar argument in Beale’s monumental work on The Temple and the Church’s Mission), Alexander nevertheless affirms in my mind that he is on target. While I hope to give a review of Alexander’s book in the coming weeks, this is not the point of my post.

While reading through some of Alexander’s book, I began to think of the implications it would have on my own reading of Scripture. I have long been intrigued by the church being called the temple:

  1. Οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι ναὸς θεοῦ ἐστε καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν; εἴ τις τὸν ναὸν τοῦ θεοῦ φθείρει, φθερεῖ τοῦτον ὁ θεός· ὁ γὰρ ναὸς τοῦ θεοῦ ἅγιός ἐστιν, οἵτινές ἐστε ὑμεῖς. (1 Cor 3.16-17)
  2. ἢ οὐκ οἴδατε ὅτι τὸ σῶμα ὑμῶν ναὸς τοῦ ἐν ὑμῖν ἁγίου πνεύματός ἐστιν οὗ ἔχετε ἀπὸ θεοῦ, καὶ οὐκ ἐστὲ ἑαυτῶν; (1 Cor 6.19)
  3. τίς δὲ συγκατάθεσις ναῷ θεοῦ μετὰ εἰδώλων; ἡμεῖς γὰρ ναὸς θεοῦ ἐσμεν ζῶντος, καθὼς εἶπεν ὁ θεὸς ὅτι ἐνοικήσω ἐν αὐτοῖς καὶ ἐμπεριπατήσωκαὶ ἔσομαι αὐτῶν θεὸς καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔσονταί μου λαός (2 Cor 6.16)
  4. ἐν ᾧ πᾶσα οἰκοδομὴ συναρμολογουμένη αὔξει εἰς ναὸν ἅγιον ἐν κυρίῳ (Eph 2.21)
  5. πρὸς ὃν προσερχόμενοι λίθον ζῶντα ὑπὸ ἀνθρώπων μὲν ἀποδεδοκιμασμένον παρὰ δὲ θεῷ ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον, 5 καὶ αὐτοὶ ὡς λίθοι ζῶντες οἰκοδομεῖσθε οἶκος πνευματικὸς εἰς ἱεράτευμα ἅγιον ἀνενέγκαι πνευματικὰς θυσίας εὐπροσδέκτους [τῷ] θεῷ διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 6 διότι περιέχει ἐν γραφῇ· ἰδοὺ τίθημι ἐν Σιὼν λίθον ἀκρογωνιαῖον ἐκλεκτὸν ἔντιμον καὶ ὁ πιστεύων ἐπʼ αὐτῷ οὐ μὴ καταισχυνθῇ. 7 ὑμῖν οὖν ἡ τιμὴ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, ἀπιστοῦσιν δὲ λίθος ὃν ἀπεδοκίμασαν οἱ οἰκοδομοῦντες, οὗτος ἐγενήθη εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας 8 καὶ λίθος προσκόμματος καὶ πέτρα σκανδάλου· οἳ προσκόπτουσιν τῷ λόγῳ ἀπειθοῦντες εἰς ὃ καὶ ἐτέθησαν. 9 ὑμεῖς δὲ γένος ἐκλεκτόν, βασίλειον ἱεράτευμα, ἔθνος ἅγιον, λαὸς εἰς περιποίησιν, ὅπως τὰς ἀρετὰς ἐξαγγείλητε τοῦ ἐκ σκότους ὑμᾶς καλέσαντος εἰς τὸ θαυμαστὸν αὐτοῦ φῶς· 10 οἵ ποτε οὐ λαὸς νῦν δὲ λαὸς θεοῦ, οἱ οὐκ ἠλεημένοι νῦν δὲ ἐλεηθέντες (1 Pet 2.4-10. Although the word temple does not occur, it is safe to assume that it is alluded to in 2.5: οἶκος πνευματικὸς).

So what is the point of all of this? Well, I for one was raised in a tradition that taught that the temple will again be rebuilt in Jerusalem during the promised “millennial reign” of Christ. But the more I read the Scriptures, the more I am convinced that this is not the case. For example, The OT describes God as dwelling among his people, primarily in the holy of holies in the tabernacle and then the temple. But there is a significant change in the NT. Now, as 1 Cor 3.16 indicates, τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ οἰκεῖ ἐν ὑμῖν (the spirit of God lives in you). If the Jerusalem temple is to be rebuilt, then will the Spirit of God no longer dwell in us, but rather return to the the function of dwelling among us? In my understanding, the best illustration of this is Christ himself. In the person of Christ the fullness of the God dwells: ὅτι ἐν αὐτῷ κατοικεῖ πᾶν τὸ πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος σωματικῶς (Col 2.9). Also, the play on words in John’s Gospel is more than just a coincidence, for in his incarnation Jesus has tabernacled among men: Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας (John 1.14).

I am sure more can be said. But these are just some of my musings on this topic, topics of which I hope to develop more in the future. But for now I leave you with these thoughts.

A Word from Paul

…Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ δόντος ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν ἡμῶν, ὅπως ἐξέληται ἡμᾶς ἐκ τοῦ αἰῶνος τοῦ ἐνεστῶτος πονηροῦ κατὰ τὸ θέλημα τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ πατρὸς ἡμῶν, ᾧ ἡ δόξα εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων, ἀμήν (Gal 1.3b-5).

When you sit and think about, for Christ to give his life for sinners like us is the most amazing thing we mortals will ever see.

Quote of the Day

Biblical theology is that discipline which sets forth the message of the books of the Bible in their historical setting. Biblical theology is primarily a descriptive discipline. It is not initially concerned with the final meaning of the teachings of the Bible or their relevance for today. This is the task of systematic theology. Biblical theology has the task of expounding the theology found in the Bible in its own historical setting, and its own terms, categories, and thought forms

George E. Ladd. A Theology of the New Testament (20).

Advice to Live By

Over at Biblical Exegesis and Interpretation, James Tucker has an excellent post that all who are students of Greek/Hebrew should heed. I cannot agree more with the advice he gives for those of us who take the study of the languages of Scripture seriously. So, head over there and thank James for advising us on how we can be better students of God’s word.

Codex Sinaiticus: The Story of the World’s Oldest Bible (pt. 3)

Setting to Work

In chapter-four Parker discusses in some detail the various aspects that go into producing a manuscript in the fourth-century. Topics discussed in this chapter are focus on the materials, techniques, people, place, budget, and binding of Sinaiticus. Also included is a brief section on palaeography (the study of ancient writing). Because of the amount of detailed information contained in this chapter I will on focus on a few interesting points.


Parker’s detailed discussion on the production of parchment in antiquity was quite fascinating. Maybe it’s me, but I found the whole process that goes into making sheets of paper suitable for writing amazing and quite remarkable really. What we have discovered from manuscripts that we have found written on parchment is that they tended to be made from the skins of sheep of calves. The process that went into skinning the animal all the way to the finished product of paper contained many time-consuming steps.

The skins had to be soaked in some form of acidic or alkaline bath. Next, the hair had to be scraped off. Once the hair was removed, it was returned to a bath for further soaking. It was then removed from its bath and stretched out and scraped thinner. Finally, after drying out and scraped for its determined thickness, it was cut to its predetermined size and rubbed with pumice stone.

What we know of Sinaiticus and the parchment used for it is that it is one of the highest quality codices from antiquity ever discovered. The amount of care, detail, and expense that was put into Sinaiticus is without compare. According to Parker

“What is certain is that the makers [of Sinaiticus] were exceptionally skilled, and that they worked with excellent materials. It is clear that no expense was spared” (45).

Usually in parchment manuscripts we would find many places of defect scattered throughout the manuscript. This is not so with Sinaiticus. While we do find defects, they are few and far between, usually found in the margins of the pages (45). Further, the difficulty finding veins on the pages is probably due to a very thorough job in draining the blood. Another aspect which indicates a more professional job in producing Sinaiticus is the thinness of the pages. Parker indicates that the thickness of the pages of Sinaiticus range from 100-150 micrometres, with the average page size somewhere in the neighborhood of 116.2. when compared to the thickness of Parker’s own book (125 micrometres) we see just how amazing this really is.

In case you may be interested in the production process of parchment, I have included this brief video illustrating for us just went into making parchment paper

The Scribes

Another informative section was on the scribes of Sinaiticus. Parker indicates that Tischendorf (the discoverer of the codex) identified four different scribes, which he labeled A, B, C, D. Each of these scribes were responsible for the writing of particular sections of Sinaiticus. Imagine the amount of hours that Tischendorf must have spent analyzing the pages of Sinaiticus and cataloguing the differences he found, and then placing these differences into four different groups. The even more astonishing thing is that he was able to accomplish this without the technology of computer readily available to us today. That alone speaks to the genius and dedication of Tischendorf. Since Tischendorf’s work there has been some changes to the number of scribes identified responsible for Sinaiticus, but nothing too radical. What can be said regarding Sinaiticus is that there were a number of scribes working on this manuscript. Both in the writings and correcting stages, scribes would assist each other in the writing of Sinaiticus.


Although misplaced in my opinion, the section on palaeography is an important one. No doubt a page-and-a-half summary of palaeography will not cover every aspect of the subject, nevertheless it is a vital part of a book like this. Parker briefly outlines some examples of differences in the writing style of Sinaiticus, things such as differences in letter formation, compression of the text as the scribe reached the end of a margin, spelling errors consistent with one particular scribe, etc. All of these idiosyncrasies are discovered by studying the writing style and observing changes and patterns in the text.

Another job of the palaeographer is to determine the approximate date of a manuscript. Because a scribe would not date his manuscript once he finished, it is up to the palaeographer to determine the dating of a particular manuscript. According to Parker, he is aided in such a task by means of external and internal clues. Externally, things like paper type, elaborate artwork, and historical circumstances may help shed light on a date for a manuscript. Internally, things like writing style (was the script in capital or lowercase letters?) may give clues for dating. It’s safe to assume that the job of a palaeographer is one of great detail. He must be a master of the language written on the manuscript, and he must be one of great patience and discipline.

There is much more that can be covered in chapter-four, but I will leave it here. One thing I have noticed is that Parker references Sinaiticus a number of times in his examples. It would benefit the reader greatly to access Sinaiticus online and follow along with Parker as he describes aspects of Sinaiticus in detail.

Codex Sinaiticus: The Story of the World’s Oldest Bible (pt. 2)

Making a Bible in the Year 350

After laying a historical/theological foundation in chapter two, Parker begins to turn his attention to Sinaiticus itself.

In the opening pages of chapter three, Parker lists a number of “defining characteristics” of a codex. Because a codex is written by the hand of a scribe(s), there is a certain amount of freedom in how he shapes his manuscript. He is able to define his margins at the exact length he needs for his writing. Also, he is given the freedom to include decorative aspects to the manuscript, unique to his own work. The scribe is in full control of every aspect of his work, from beginning to end.

On the negative side, because a codex or manuscript is hand written in ink this allowed for later scribes to add what he felt was missing, or correct what he felt was a wrong reading of the text. Sinaiticus was not immune to scribal corrections or additions. For example, see the image below


What we notice is that an addition has been added to the bottom of the text by a later scribe, altering the neat flow of the block of text. At other places in Sinaiticus the original text has been erased with no chance of recovery. All of these additions and omissions are important in understanding the textual history of Sinaiticus and in aiding the recovery of the original reading. Regarding these changes to the text, Parker writes

The kind of changes that will have occurred range from alterations in the spelling which reflect the way the scribe was used to speaking the word rather than the correct spelling, through a wide range of unconscious errors, to places where conscious decisions were made (28).

The remaining focus of chapter three is on the contents of Sinaiticus. Sinaiticus originally contained the Greek OT (including the Apocrypha), the New Testament, and two additional writings: The Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistle of Barnabas. Parker gives us a survey of these textual units, including a nice analysis of each unit. The canonization of the Old and New Testament was a long and tedious process, but Parker does a nice job navigating the reader through the process in the limited space he has. While some readers may not agree with his conclusions regarding the process of canonization, one cannot argue that he presents his case in a fair and sensitive manner.

Parker concludes with the hypothesis that because Sinaiticus includes books not considered part of the canon, but nonetheless still useful for catechumens, it may be that Sinaiticus was used as a family or community Bible. As the title indicates, the making of Sinaiticus took place in the middle of the fourth-century. This was a volatile time in the history of the Church and no doubt the production of Sinaiticus was influenced to a certain degree by the theological tension in Christendom.