Canadian Society of Biblical Studies Annual Meeting
Réunion annuelle de la Société canadienne des études bibliques
University of Alberta/Université d’Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta
May 24-27 Mai, 2000


Programme with Abstracts

Wednesday, May 24 / Mercredi, 24 Mai

14:30-21:00 (T2-39)
CSBS Executive Meeting / Réunion du Comité Exécutif

Thursday, May 25 / Jeudi, 25 Mai

8:45–12:00 (T1-90)
Religious Rivalries / Les rivalités religieuses
Theme: Local Studies
Presiding/Présidence: Steven Muir (Calgary)

Keir Hammer (Toronto) and Michele Murray (Bishop’s) “Religious Symbols in the Sardis Market”

This paper explores the use of religious symbols in the business district of Sardis with a special focus on the Byzantine shops bordering the Synagogue wall. The religious symbols, both Jewish and Christian, seem to have been displayed in full view with one shop displaying both Jewish and Christian symbols. The use of these symbols raises intriguing questions about the competition for religious, social space and the delineation of group boundaries in what appears to be a non-hostile environment (i.e. none of the religious symbols were defaced). What is especially compelling about the seemingly non-hostile environment is the question it provokes about the role of commerce in the competition for social space.

Tim Hegedus (Waterloo Lutheran) “Some Astrological Motifs in the Book of Revelation”

It is well known that the early Christians tended to repudiate Greco-Roman astrology. However, astrology was widespread in the culture and religions of the Roman empire; as such, it was a fundamental element of the social world to which the early Christians belonged and in which they participated. It would be surprising, therefore, if the Christians exhibited nothing but unanimous hostility to astrology. And indeed there were exceptions, such as the positive portrayal of the Magi and the star in Matthew 2.1-12. In the context of western Asia Minor early Christian responses to astrology can also be discerned in passages from the book of Revelation. My paper examines how details of astrological lore were adapted and used to express Christian themes in two passages from this text, Rev 4:6b-7 and Rev 12.1-17.

Respondent/Réponse: John Marshall (Toronto)

10:30-10:45 Break/Pause

Theme: Urban Studies
Presiding/Présidence: Colleen Shantz (St. Michael’s)

Mary Ann Beavis (Saskatchewan) “The Greco-Roman School and Christian Origins”

Although early Christianity had a “scholastic” dimension at an early stage, the place of the Greco-Roman urban institution of the school in the lives of Christians, and the role of education in the development and dissemination of Christianity, has not received much attention in recent scholarship. In this paper, I will revisit this topic, with special reference to the concept of “competition.”

Jack N. Lightstone (Concordia) “Urbanization in the Roman Levant and the Inter-religious Struggle for Success”

Urbanization constituted a major feature of Roman Imperial policy, from Britain to northwestern Mesopotamia. Conceived, in all likelihood, as a tool for the imposition and application of Roman law and for the “Romanization” of the peoples of the empire, urbanization effected over time a radical transformation of the social relations in the various regions of the empire. Among these transformations was the reformulation of lines of power, authority, deference, merit and honour-- elements so integrally related to religion, to intra-religious and inter-religious competition and co-existence. This paper will undertake: (1) briefly to survey the foremost features of, and scholarship on, urbanization in the Roman Empire over the first several centuries CE; (2) to highlight examples from the Imperial Levant of the attendant social transformations; and (3) to discuss the importance of these transformations in understanding inter- and intra-religious relations.

Respondent/Réponse: Terry Donaldson (Wycliffe)


8:45-12:00 (T1-93)
Hebrew Bible / Bible Hébraique
Literary Readings/Lectures littéraires

Presiding/Présidence: Kim Parker (Memorial)

8:45 Bernon Lee (Wycliffe) “The Syntactical Structure of Biblical Legal Texts”.

With reference to Leviticus 18, 19, and 21, this paper proposes that the primary factor for the segmentation of legal texts consisting of brief command series is the nature of inter-clausal sequence. Where sequence is concerned, the four categories are asyndesis, subordination, coordination, and consecution (succession). Clauses may be divided further between verbless and verbal clauses. Generally, asyndetic verbless clauses mark major topical boundaries in series of commandments and asyndetic verbal clauses sub-divide individual units by breaking up coordinate command clauses. Furthermore, extraposition and the chiastic inversion of clausal elements are also considered as subsidiary features marking syntactical disjuncture.

9:15 David Bergen (Calgary) “Deuteronomy as Mise en Abyme in Deuteronomistic History”

W. M. L. de Wette’s (1805) linking of Deuteronomy with Josiah’s discovery of the book of the law in the temple has for the last two centuries maintained as near a consensual point of agreement as any in biblical scholarship. New literary critical analyses can lend important contributions to scholarly understandings of the relationship between Deuteronomy and the reforms of King Josiah (2 Kgs. 22-3). Following André Gide and Lucien Dällenbach, this paper describes Deuteronomy’s function as a mise en abyme in the Deuteronomistic History and explores its role as a “character witness” within this reflexive narrative.

9:45 David Jobling (St Andrew’s) “Syrians (Collective and Individual) in the Elijah and Elisha Stories: A Literary Approach”

The programmatic statement in 1 Kings 19:15-18 anticipates for the Syrian king, Hazael, a role in the subsequent events which, while somewhat obscure, is plainly central. Extensive references to Hazael and other Syrians in the following chapters (through 2 Kings 13) underline this importance. But the particular roles played by the Syrians raise some questions. This construction of the “foreigner” seems markedly different from other such constructions in the narrative books of the Bible (esp. of Egyptians, Canaanites, Philistines), on which a good deal of work has recently been done. The two lengthy stories in 2 Kings 6:8 - 7:20 appear to fit much better into the context described by chap. 13 (the time when Hazael dominated Israel) than into their present setting. As part of a larger project of literary-ideological reading of the Elijah-Elisha stories, this paper will approach such questions by trying to specify the role(s) of the Syrians within the literary dynamics of this piece of biblical narrative.

10:15-10:30 Break/Pause

10:30 Robert Culley (McGill) “The Kingship of Yahweh Psalms”

The Kingship of Yahweh Psalms, Psalms 47, 93, 97, 98, and 99, are sufficiently similar to each other that they form a group. This has long been recognized as, for example, when they were called enthronement psalms by.3 Sigmund Mowinckel because they were thought to be part of a ritual of Yahweh’s enthronement. My interest is in the texts as poems and how their language and imagery is configured not only within the group but also in the individual psalms such that the interplay of configurations leads to and opens up possible readings.

11:00 Michael De Roche (Memorial) “Itinerary as Structuring Device in Genesis 12-13”

In this paper I argue that the itinerary that marks Abram’s journey in Genesis 12-13 plays a number of important literary roles. First, it defines the journey as a circle, which functions as a metaphor of Abram’s relationship to the divine command and promises of 12:1-3, 7. It also serves to link a number of events and episodes together that otherwise appear unrelated to one another. Most important of these are the accounts of Abram’s sojourn in Egypt (12:10-20) and the separation of Abram from his nephew, Lot (13:5-13). These episodes, I maintain, bear upon the reader’s understanding of the way in which the divine command and promises unfold and take shape in the story of Abram’s life. A full appreciation of the way this is accomplished, however, depends upon recognising their place in the journey as marked out by the itinerary.

11:30 J. Glen Taylor (Wycliffe) “On the Relation of the Jacob and Joseph Cycles in Genesis”

In this paper I will argue in favour of the view that the Joseph and Jacob cycles bear a close thematic and historical relationship. After briefly reviewing previous scholarship in support of affinities between these two blocks of material, I will point to additional similarities in plot development and structure as well as in words, phrases and character portrayal. Finally it will be suggested that several points in common are owed to a common Egyptian background to the narratives.


13:00-14:00 (T1-90)
Special Student Session/Session pour étudiants
How to evaluate/assess student learning in biblical studies courses/
Comment évaluer l’apprentissage des étudiants dans les cours en études bibliques
Presiding/Présidence: David Bergen (Calgary)

Panel Discussion: Nicola Denzey (Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs), Anne Moore (Calgary), Dietmar Neufeld (British Columbia) and Harold Remus (Wilfrid Laurier)

Postgraduates frequently begin their teaching careers with tremendous excitement, thrilled with the prospect of introducing students to the world of religion and the Bible. Then those first assignments start rolling in, and enthusiasm fades in the face of misunderstood and misapplied ideas. What pedagogical goals are appropriate to value-laden and confessionally-loaded courses in biblical studies? What evaluative methods best assess and advance undergraduate learning? Come to this special student session and learn some tricks of the biblicist’s trade.


13:00-14:00 (T1-93)
The Bible and Contemporary Culture/La Bible et la culture contemporaine
Presiding/Présidence: S. Tony Cummins (Canadian Theological)

13:00 Lissa M. Wray (Wycliffe) “Hagar, Privilege, and Power”

The Hagar story, often passed over except for its implications to the Abraham cycle, demonstrates fascinating and shifting patterns of privilege and power. Applying a narrative methodology and reading with a canonical sensitivity, this paper explores these patterns. The narrative art demonstrates a privileging of Hagar. Further, privileging is apparent through the unique form of annunciation in the text. Finally, exploration of Hagar and Exodus parallels overturns common Hagar perceptions given through New Testament references. Hagar’s story poses challenging questions to both academy and church on the perception and use of privilege and power.

13:30 Kim I. Parker (Memorial) “Adam, the Postmodern Bourgeois Liberal”

This paper explores the Bible’s cultural influence on the West by drawing a connection between liberalism, postmodernism, and the early chapters of Genesis. On the surface, it appears as if God creates a stable order with the.4 division into binary opposites (differentiation): light and dark, day and night, earth and sea, plants and animals, and so on. A deconstructive reading, however, reveals that there is a tendency for certain things to meld together and defy originary binary opposition (integration). This tension is also exemplified by the description of “Adam,” as male and female (differentiation), and as androgynous “earth creature” (integration). I will argue that the integration/differentiation tension in creation itself reflects a similar tension in postmodern liberalism wherein a “politics of difference” (differentiation) pull against universal rights of freedom, equality, and procedural justice (integration).


13:45—14:30 (J200)
Student Essay Prize / Prix pour travaux d’étudiant(e)s
Presiding/Présidence: John S. Kloppenborg (St. Michael’s)

14:15 Founder’s Prize Daniel Smith (Wycliffe College, TST) “The ‘Assumption’ of the Righteous Dead in the Wisdom of Solomon and the Sayings Source Q”

14:45 Joachim Jeremias Prize Diane Wudel (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) “Enticements to Community: Formal, Agonistic, and Destabilizing Rhetoric in the Sermon on the Mount”

15:15-16:30 (T1-103)
CSBS Annual General Meeting / Assemblée annuelle de la SCÉB

16:45-17:45 (T1-103)
Presidential Address/Conférence du Président
Presiding/Présidence: John S. Kloppenborg (St. Michael’s)
John Van Seters (North Carolina)
“Creative Imitation in the Hebrew Bible”

18:15-22:00 Egge's Barn (Fort Edmonton Park)
CSBS Annual Dinner / Banquet annuel de la SCÉB


Friday, May 26 / Vendredi, 26 mai

7:30 (TBA)
Women Scholars’ Breakfast / Petit déjeuner des femmes


9:00-12:00 (T1-90)
Trajectories of Biblical Tradition/ Trajectoires des traditions bibliques
Presiding/Présidence: Lorenzo DiTommaso (McMaster)

9:00 Eileen Schuller (McMaster) “The Contribution of the Cave 4 Manuscripts to the Study of the Thanksgiving Psalms (Hodayot) from Qumran”

The Thanksgiving Scroll (1QHa), published in 1954 by E. L. Sukenik, a collection of over thirty individual psalms of thanksgiving, was one of the most significant scrolls found in cave l at Qumran. In 1955 another two small fragments (1Q35/lQHb, DJD 1) were published which are the remnants of a second copy of some of these psalms. Now some forty-five years later, six additional copies of these psalms have been published (DJD XXIX), and these raise many new questions and problems. This paper will discuss significant features of 4QHa-e/4Q427-431 and 4QpapHf/4Q432 (particularly in terms of how they differ from lQHa) and the contribution of these manuscripts to our understanding of the origins and composition of this collection.

9:30 Cecilia Wassen (McMaster) “Who’s In and Who’s Out According to the Damascus Document? The Case of Women.”

This paper examines questions of status and membership of women in the group behind the Damascus Document (D). It explores how D defines the boundary between the in-group and the out-group, with a particular focus on the covenant as identity boundary. Within the context of self-identity, this paper investigates how women are perceived: do women belong fully in the in-group, or are they marginal within this group? Special attention will be paid to the oath of entrance (CD XV 1-XVI 9), the oath of women (CD XVI 10-12), and categories of excluded persons (4Q266 8 i). Some comparisons will be made to other Dead Sea Scrolls manuscripts such as The Rule of the Congregation, the Community Rule, and the War Scroll.

10:00 Tyler F. Williams (North American Baptist) “The Shape and Setting of the Qumran and Masoretic Psalters”

Since the discovery and publication of the so-called Qumran Psalms Scroll (11QPsa), many aspects of the traditional understanding of the development and formation of the book of Psalms have been called into question. One area of debate has been the nature of the relationship between the Qumran and Masoretic Psalters. This paper will examine the structure and content of the Qumran Psalms Scroll (11QPsa) vis-à-vis the Masoretic Psalter, and explore how the differences in structure and content reflect the ideology of their respective communities. This will include an analysis of the different views of the relationship between 11QPsa and the Masoretic Psalter in recent scholarship, as well as a new proposal for understanding their relationship.

Break/Pause 10:30-11:00

11:00 John F. Horman (Waterloo) “Talking about God in the Gospel of Thomas”

Thomas makes relatively little use of the terms “God” and “Lord”. “Heaven” as a synonym for “God” is also relatively rare, and is found mainly in sayings which Thomas has taken from his sources. Instead, he prefers the term “Father”. Interestingly, this tendency is heightened by the Coptic translator, who omits “God” in Th. 27. Thomas does not, however, seem to be making theological points by preferring “Father” to “God” and “Lord”, nor is he advancing some notion of a hidden Father behind a lesser Creator; if Thomas believed in an incompetent or malevolent creator, he found no reason to mention it. Rather, his use of the term “Father” for “God” has deep roots in the Christian movement, from the lifetime of Jesus to almost our own age. From a social perspective, however, this focus on the term “Father” is interesting, since family ties are frequently denounced in the Gospel of Thomas, as they are also in his sources. Thomas never mentions Jesus’ father; his mother and brothers rarely appear, and there is no mention of a sister. In Thomas, Jesus’ divine father, and his disciples as brothers, replace all natural family ties.

11:30 Tony Chartrand-Burke (Toronto) “The Greek Manuscript Tradition of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas”

The most recent critical edition of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas, a second-century text featuring tales of Jesus as a child, was published in 1866 on the basis of two late Greek manuscripts. Since that time interested scholars have focused their energies on the numerous versions of the text (Syriac, Ethiopian, etc.), all of which appear to be translations from an early Greek recension of this gospel, and which therefore represent better witnesses to the text than the published Greek manuscripts. The proposed paper will present an overview of an additional six unpublished Greek manuscripts which shall bring our knowledge of the Greek text closer to this early recension. A forthcoming critical edition based on this evidence will offer us a vastly different reading of this important, yet neglected text.


9:00-12:00 (T1-93)
History of Biblical Interpretation / Histoire de l’interprétation de la Bible
Presiding/Présidence: Steve Wilson (Carleton)

9:00 John Sandys-Wunsch (British Columbia) “Amateurs and Professionals in 17th Century Exegesis”

In the history of biblical scholarship professional scholars have often been confused with the amateurs. Professional scholars were men like Cornelius à Lapide, Estius, and Cappell who contributed to the advancement of our knowledge with solid and painstaking work. Amateurs such as LaPeyrère, Hobbes, and Spinoza tended to popularize either long standing problems or the work of the professionals, although like amateurs in other disciplines,.6 they could on occasion come up with new ideas. This paper is an attempt to redress the balance and demonstrate how much the well-known amateurs were dependent on their sources.

9:30 Frederik Wisse (McGill) “Myopia in the Study of the History of Early Christianity”

With thirty seven, mainly literary, texts as the only surviving evidence for the history of the first hundred years of Christianity, it is not surprising that historians have fallen victim to a kind of myopia in which the diversity inferred from this very limited and peculiar textual evidence is thought to be representative of the diversity of the whole of the early Christian movement. The paper analyses and critiques the different ways that the relationship between texts and early Christian history has been conceptualized, and argues that a model borrowed from natural history can serve as a helpful corrective.

10:00-10:15 Break/Pause

10:15 Jo-Ann Badley (Newman Theological) “Disembodying Paul: the Modern Quest for Paul’s Spirit”

Despite Paul’s insistence that faith is an embodied experience (e.g. 1 Cor.15), modern Pauline theologians have not attended to the importance of the physical world in Paul’s thought. Current theological reflection on the creation and feminist proposals that embodiment is significant press re-assessment of this lacuna. This paper argues that modern studies of Paul, beginning with Baur, conceptualize Christian faith in such a way that they neglect physical considerations. This neglect is not corrected by either the re-assessment of eschatology in Paul or the redescription of first-century Judaism underlying the new perspective. I will argue that the salvation history framework which has shaped Pauline theology has limited its purview.

10:45 Vernon Robbins (Emory) “The Emotional-Psychological Texture of Early Christian Texts”

As a result of Thomas Olbricht’s call, at a recent International SBL meeting in Finland, to study pathos in biblical literature, a number of interpreters have begun to analyze the role of emotions in New Testament literature. Within socio-rhetorical interpretation, initial attention to emotions has surfaced in analysis of the sensory-aesthetic texture of a text. Now this is being expanded to focus on the relation of emotions both to the psychological and the ethical dimension of New Testament literature. This paper will discuss the manner in which different configurations of emotions in different kinds of early Christian discourse work together to create a complex emotional-psychological-ethical system of thought and action.


2:00-1:00 (TB38)
AGM of the Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion/
Assemblée annuelle de la Corporation canadienne des sciences religieuses


3:00-15:00 (T1-90)
Hebrew Bible/Bible Hébraique
Social Reality and Sitz im Leben/ Réalité sociale et Sitz im Leben
Presiding/Présidence: Tyler Williams (North American Baptist)

13:00 Lyle Eslinger (Calgary) “Circumcision and Submission” (Genesis 17)”

Given the cross-cultural significance of the penis as a symbol of virility, ritual scarification in a patriarchal culture is a riddle. The logical extension of the symbolism would have been (and remains) techniques to augment or prosthetically enlarge the organ. The paper will review some of the primatology on penile display and dominance. A close reading of Genesis 17 will bring primatology together with patriarchal mythology to suggest the logic of Abraham’s paradoxical gesture..7

13:30 Frank Clancy (Waterloo) “Hate and Dating Old Testament Texts”

The Old Testament is riddled with “hate propaganda.” The story of Lot, through the incestuous relationships with his daughters, becoming the father of the Ammonites and Moabites (Gen. 19: 30-38) seems to be a later addition, so we should ask when and why was the text written? By examining archaeological evidence and texts, we may determine when it was written and, then, why it was written. Other texts may be examined in a similar fashion. Why did Jacob switch hands when he blessed Joseph’s children? (Gen 48) Why are all the positive forces or personalities in Joshua through 2 Samuel carefully excised from the territory of Samaria? When and why did the people and the district in northern Samaria called Manasseh? A careful examination of the “hate propaganda” seems to indicate a very late, possibly Hasmonaean, date for most of the texts.

14:00 Gary N. Knoppers (State College, PA) “‘Great Among his Brothers,’ but Who is He? Social Complexity and Ethnic Diversity in the Genealogy of Judah”

Privileged both by position and by coverage, the lineage of Judah (1 Chr 2:3-4:23) anchors the presentation of all the other Israelite tribes in the genealogical prologue of 1 Chronicles 1-9. Nevertheless, the genealogy of Judah exhibits great complexity; adjectives such as “disordered,” “confused,” and “incoherent” have been used to describe it. Although many literary studies have concentrated on the issues of sources and redactions and many historical studies have employed the lineages to reconstruct the earliest history of Judah (in the preexilic period), this study explores a largely neglected set of issues: the relevance of the genealogy’s composite structure, the heterogeneous social-ethnic makeup of the tribe, and the genealogy’s possible function(s) in Persian Yehud. In raising the question of self-identity, special attention will be given to the presence of Qenites, Canaanites, Ishmaelites, Moabites, and Egyptians in the lineage. Another goal of the paper will be to contrast the tremendous ethnic diversity exhibited by Judah in Chronicles with the exclusiveness promoted in Ezra and Nehemiah.

14:30 Daniel R. Miller (Michigan) “Regarding Molech Worship in Pre-Exilic Judah: An Explanation of ‘Making to Pass (Through the Fire)’”

According to one interpretation of the biblical text, the Israelites offered child sacrifices to a chthonic deity called Molech in the valley of ben-Hinnom just outside Jerusalem, at Tophet. Some scholars have questioned whether the text is truly referring to child sacrifice, because of the use of the enigmatic phrase “(make to) pass (through the fire).” This paper will analyze the relevant passages, and argue that this scepticism is unfounded. A fresh interpretation of “passing through fire” will be offered which, if correct, would make the sacrifice interpretation irrefutable.


3:00-15:00 (T1-93)
New Testament/Nouveau Testament
Jesus and the Gospels/Jésus et les évangiles
Presiding/Présidence: Alan Kirk (Mount Allison)

13:00 William Klassen (Waterloo) “The Contribution of Jewish Scholars to the Quest for the Historical Jesus”

This paper deals with the contribution of Jewish scholars to the quest for the historical Jesus. It summarises Susannah Heschel’s recent book on Abraham Geiger, the founder of Reform Judaism, and the Historical Jesus. It notes how the work of Jewish scholars is totally missing in Schweitzer’s book at first but in later revisions becomes more visible. It suggests that certain key themes present in the controversy between Geiger and Strauss-Renan are with us still. It then outlines the contribution made by Geza Vermes and concludes with David Flusser. While paying lip-service to the Jewishness of Jesus, little usage is made of the contributions of Vermes or Flusser by the most recent spate of Lives of Jesus, which, in this author’s opinion, leads to a considerably distorted result. In effect the Cynic Jesus replaces the Jewish Jesus. In Canada it has opened the door to fraudulent attempts to help people “read the Bible with Jewish eyes.” The United Church with its well-meaning attempt to deal constructively with the Jewish elements in its heritage has been particularly seduced by this latest Pied Piper.

13:30 Wayne Litke (Alberta) “‘Lord, Lord:’ kurios as Magic Word (Matthew 7:22-24)”

The thesis of this paper is that Matthew 7:22-24 was written to counteract the tendency of early Christians to use the divine title kurios as a magic word, both for the working of wonders and as a “password” into the kingdom.8 of God or the afterlife. Comparisons are made between this use of kurios and the magical use of names in Greco-Roman and Jewish circles. Pertinent NT passages, such as 1 Corinthians 12:3; Mark 9:38-39 and Acts 19:13-16, are also examined as they relate to this practice.

14:00 Colleen Shantz (St. Michael’s) “The Functional Unity of Q 7:31-35”

Like other sections of Q, the comparison of reactions to John and Jesus (7:31-35) shows signs of a composite history; furthermore, the three sayings of which it is composed are often thought to fit together awkwardly, if not contradictorily. Yet the passage is not without its own unifying logic when read in light of anthropological studies of the use of proverbs and parables in daily life. The field studies of Peter Seitel and Carol Fontaine’s work on the use of proverbs within narratives of the Hebrew Bible offer some insight into the logic that holds this passage together. This paper examines both that logic and the social contexts that are most likely to require it.

14:30 David J. Hawkin (Memorial) “The Truth behind the Johannine Schism”

Despite much discussion of the exact contours and origins of the beliefs of the Johannine secessionists (cf. I Jn 2:19) they are still not well understood. This paper suggests that we will gain more insight into their theology when we realize that they had a Greek, rather than a Hebraic, understanding of the notion of truth. The author of I Jn, on the other hand, has an understanding of truth which is Hebraic and more in accord with that found in the Fourth Gospel. It is interesting, moreover, that the understanding of truth which many modern interpreters have (especially, e.g., Rudolf Bultmann) is closer to that of the sessionists than it is to that of the Fourth Evangelist.


3:00-15:00 (T1-96)
The New Testament/Nouveau Testament
The Epistles/Les épîtres
Presiding/Présidence: Richard Ascough (Queen’s Theological)

13:00 Bradley H. McLean (Huron) “The Social and Religious Context of the Galatian Churches: An Epigraphical Study”

This paper is based upon a forthcoming corpus of 242 inscriptions from the Konya regional archaeological museum. This epigraphic evidence illustrates the differences between Phrygian, Lycaonian, Isaurian, Hellenistic, and Roman cultures in the area where the churches of Iconium, Lystra and Derbe were founded and--if one accepts the southern Galatian hypothesis--in the area of the Galatian churches. This paper will discuss the relevance of this evidence with respect to the social and religious context of early Christianity in this region. The presentation will be accompanied by a slide presentation.

13:30 William Richards (Emmanuel and St. Chad) “A Little Wine for the Stomach: áthe Mix of Form and Function in First Timothy”

The letter to “Timothy the True” exhibits a number of epistolary and structural features which signal both the situation in early Christianity that its “Paul” was trying to advise, and the form under which it was presenting his blend of administrative directives and personal counsel. As a “letter-essay” 1 Timothy not only presumes a corpus of Paul’s writings already in circulation, but also offers itself as a summary of the apostle’s advice, so that a later generation of Pauline Christians might read his literary legacy correctly.

14:00 James Knight (Toronto School of Theology) “Was Paul Mending Jew/Gentile Divisions in Rome?: A Reappraisal of the Occasion and Purpose of Romans”

Paul’s letter to the Romans appears to be a letter in search of a situation. A plausible proposal for the letter’s occasion is not self-evident, leading to a scholarly state of affairs known as the “Romans debate.” While the debate continues, the dust has settled, more or less, as a majority of scholars have endorsed the hypothesis that Paul wrote the letter to counter divisions between Jews and Gentiles within the Roman house churches. This particular proposal boasts of compelling internal and external evidence, yet a closer look at the hypothesis reveals that the proof is problematic..9

14:30 S. Tony Cummins (Canadian Theological) Orality and Embodiment: the Presence of Jesus in the Letter of James”

Commentators have long been puzzled by the paucity of explicit references to Jesus and the supposed minimalist christology of the Letter of James. However, it is the contention of this paper that Jesus is in fact everywhere present, principally in two fundamental and interrelated forms. First, in the appropriation of pre-synoptic sayings of Jesus by James, this attesting to the ongoing and pervasive role of the voice of the historical Jesus in establishing and shaping the various Christian communities in receipt of this letter. Second, in the recognition that this voice is not simply to be remembered and restated; rather it is to be embodied by means of a corporate faith, wisdom, and love, which is engendered and enabled by the now exalted Jesus present with his people. It is this oral and embodied presence of Jesus - both as earthly voice and living Lord - which constitutes James’ christology and which gives the letter much of its purpose and power, then and now.


15:15-17:30 (T1-91)
Senior Scholars Reflect upon the Field of Biblical Studies /
Les réflexions de nos membres distingués sur le champs des études bibliques
Panel Discussion with Robert Culley (McGill), Dan Fraikin (Queen’s), Lloyd Gaston (Vancouver School of Theology) and Peter Richardson (Toronto)
Animation: Margaret Dufour MacDonald (St Francis Xavier)

17:00-19:00 (Butterdome)
University of Alberta President’s Reception/Réception du président

20:00-21:30 (TL 12)
Harold Remus (Wilfrid Laurier) : ‘Things’-- A Case Study in Late Antiquity
jointly with CTS, CSSR, CSBS, CPS
Reception to follow (21:30-23:00; LH-Banquet)


Saturday, May 27 / Samedi, 27 mai

8:45-12:30 (T1-90)
Reading Biblical Texts/Lire les Textes bibliques
a. Female Figures in Vision and Narrative/
Les images des femmes dans les visions et les narrations
Presiding: Rebecca Idestrom (Western Pentecostal)

8:45 Dietmar Neufeld (British Columbia) “The Seduction of Sumptuous Clothing: The Whore and the Bride in the Apocalypse”

This paper will examine the way in which clothing in the Apocalypse functions to advertise the eschatological values of its author. Clothes make the person - you are what you wear. Ancient Pagans, Judeans and Christians endow clothing with considerable symbolic value. The beauty of the bride is likened to luxury items. Conversely luxurious self-display in dress, usually associated with feminine displays of wantonness, is utilized to demarcate and define corruption and immorality. In clothing is found the means of signifying treasured principles and despised aversions. Clothing functions as a second skin to reflect one’s true character. Sumptuous self-display is both a sign of immorality, corruption, hybris, and tyranny and a sign of blessing and election. The unrighteous are frequently portrayed as abominably naked - shamefully exposed. The Apocalypse regularly deploys clothing motifs to express ideas that stand in opposition to pagan culture. Much attention is given to the white clothing of Jesus and of those who share in his reign. In stark contrast is the lurid show of the whore with her fornicating paramours who traffic in lavish garments. The whore and the bride are both pictured attired in sumptuous clothing. The whore is clothed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and jewels and pearls. Ornamented with jewels, veils and.10 cosmetics, she is a luxuriously laden seductress tempting the faithful. Inhabitants of this city are portrayed as flirting daringly and destructively with her, hypnotically fascinated with her alluring enticements. She represents scandalous seduction - a warning to the indolent to guard against the wiles of this sumptuously clad seductress. The bride, while symbolic of the descending holy city, is adorned with jasper, gold and glass. The city’s foundation, perhaps the bride’s foundation garment, is festooned with every jewel. She represents sanctioned seduction - an invitation to the faithful to trade in her enticements.

9:15 Dilys Patterson (Ottawa) “‘The Earth Shook at Her Voice’”: Mother Zion as an Agent of Transformation in 4 Ezra”

Vision 4 of the late first century Jewish apocalypse 4 Ezra is unique among Jewish literary works. In this vision, the main character, Ezra, meets a woman mourning in a field. After a brief conversation in which Ezra laments the destruction of the Temple, the woman transforms into the holy city Jerusalem and is identified as Mother Zion. Drawing on the work of Edith Humphrey who demonstrates that a shift in corporate identity is facilitated by the transfiguration of female figures in some apocalypses, this paper will trace the process of that transformation. Focusing on two critical elements in this vision, women’s role in mourning rites and the use of the biblical metaphor Mother Zion, this paper examines how the author uses maternal imagery to convey the need to heal and reconstruct Jewish identity through the study of the Law.

9:45 Marion Ann Taylor (Wycliffe) “Real and Imaged Women in the Book of Ezekiel”

The Book of Ezekiel presents numerous challenges to readers. We will consider both the negative imaging of women and also the more positive but less obvious images and portraits of women in the book. New insights into life in the exile will also be used to illuminate the text.

10:15-10:30 Break/Pause

b. Prophets and Prophecy/Les Prophètes
Presiding/Présidence: Glen Taylor (Wycliffe)

10:30 Ehud Ben Zvi (Alberta) “What if Jonah Was Considered A Runaway Servant?”

This paper explores the network of meanings and connotations that may have arisen within the ancient community of rereaders of the Book of Jonah by a characterization of Jonah-at least in part-as a “runaway servant/slave.” Such a characterization was far from being unlikely, given the understanding of prophets as YHWH’s servants, and cf. Jonah 1:9 (LXX). The paper builds, among others, on some observations in R. J. Ratner “Jonah, the Runaway Servant,” Maarav 5-6 (1990) 281-305, and then leads the discussion into new directions.

 11:00 Keith Bodner (Tyndale) “Nathan: Prophet and Politician?”

In the biblical narratives of the early monarchy, there is an uneasy relationship, in at least two cases, between prophet and king. There are a number of examples which emerge whereby the reader is unsure if the prophet is speaking a “divine oracle”, or whether his words reflect his own particular “political” agenda. With the prophet Samuel, his relationship with King Saul is complex, and there are moments where Samuel’s own biases emerge. Moreover, the narrative reveals several instances where the prophet is contradicted by God, causing an element of destabilization to occur with respect to the prophet. The case is similar with Nathan the prophet, who has a complex relationship David; this paper will explore the presentation of Nathan in the narrative, and compare it with that of Samuel.

11:30 Rebecca Idestrom (Western Pentecostal) “The Role of the Spirit in Isaiah”

This paper will examine the role that the Spirit of God plays in the book of Isaiah. The Spirit is active in judgment and purging, in anointing and resting upon the Messianic king and God’s chosen servant, and in bringing about restoration and renewal. In judgment the Spirit is described as a cleansing fire. In restoration the Spirit is described in terms of water or rain being poured out from on high, transforming the land and the people. The anointing of the Spirit is necessary for the king or servant to accomplish their mission, to bring about justice and righteousness.

12:00 Francis Landy (Alberta) “The Parable of the Vineyard (Isaiah 5.1-7) and the Poetics of Mourning”

Isaiah 5.1-7 is a poem of mourning, for a lost world, a lost relationship, and as such is typical of Isaiah as a whole, in which irretrievable loss mingles with impossible resurrection. It is a poem of guilt, of uneasy self-justification, masked by the scene of judgement. For it is mourning for that which is destroyed in and by the poem, which is a transcription of the process of condemnation. The poem, in its formal perfection, is a work of violence, and thus an expression of death-drive. But it is the death of that which one most loves, and hence auto-destruction. The rhetoric of elucidation and entrapment in the surface structure of the poem is thus reversed, or at least attenuated, by the problem of who precisely is entrapped, who is the speaker, and what is elucidated. The growing horror and the abysmal regresses of the poem, as the parabolic wraps are taken off to reveal insoluble and irretrievable grief, account for its incompleteness, its supplementarity, as it is projected into the text in which it is embedded. The transformations of the parable ensure that it will not go away, that it expresses a nagging neurosis and a repeated desire for resolution.


9:00-12:15 (T1-96)
Feminisms, Culture and the Bible / Feminismes, culture et la Bible
Presiding/Présidence: Erin Runions (McGill)

Given that women’s oppression is systematized and propagated within culture and through cultural texts, the Seminar’s first session explores the relationship between feminist biblical scholarship and cultural studies. This session looks at the connections between women’s lived realities, cultural texts (literature, film, etc.) and biblical treatment of women. Two initial papers will introduce theoretical background for this session (Schmidt) and explore the possibilities for of this work in feminist biblical scholarship to date (Black).

Andrea Schmidt (McGill) “Returning the Gaze: Feminism and Cultural Studies”

Fiona Black (Alberta) “Looking in New Directions: Feminist Biblical Scholarship and Cultural Studies”

Christine Mitchell (Carleton) “Jezebel in the Nursery”

In this paper, I examine the retellings of the stories of biblical women in children’s Bibles, using the story of Jezebel as a test case. First, I provide a reading of the story of Jezebel in 1-2 Kings, focusing on a depiction of Jezebel as a dangerous political presence in the story. I then turn to an examination of the theory of rereading and retelling. Finally I examine the depiction of Jezebel in a variety of children’s Bibles and collections of bible stories and relate these depictions to my reading of Jezebel. The political and ethical considerations of retellings make up the concluding parts of the paper.

Break/Pause 10:15-10:30

Mary Louise Mitchell (McGill) “Rape and Ethnic Cleansing in Bosnia and Lamentations”

Lamentations 5 reflects on the aftermath of the fall of Jerusalem, the suffering and shame of the conquered women and men during the sack of the city. My aim is to compare this account of the suffering of the defeated to that recounted in news dispatches of Roy Gutman on ethnic cleansing of Bosnia in A Witness to Genocide. Focus will be on the rape of the women and on the shaming of the men. My aim is to contribute feminist reflections on how this type of ethnic cleansing depends on a common honour-shame code among victor and vanquished.

Alyda Faber (McGill) “Redeeming Sexual Violence? A Feminist Critique of Lars von Trier’s Breaking the Waves”

Given the mimetic solicitation of iconography, it is necessary to consider the social and political functions of particular images of Christ. My paper explores the iconography of the Woman-Christ in Lars von Trier’s film, Breaking the Waves, particularly in its representation of Bess, a feeble minded and waif-like member of a strict Calvinist religious community on the northwest coast of Scotland. Bess, an exceptionally devout and ardent worshipper of God, becomes, in obedience to her husband’s requests, a prostitute and martyr. Although film critics have wondered at Bess’s “Calvary of carnality,” they have nonetheless endorsed her uncommon goodness. Indeed, von Trier states that his intention in making this film was to “work with unassailable ideas...to do a film about goodness.” But few critics have questioned, as I do, the form this “goodness” takes: the sexual violation and.12 sacrifice of a woman. With special reference to Catherine MacKinnon’s essay, “Sexuality,” I expose the patriarchal conventions of von Trier’s image of goodness as the Woman-Christ, and the sexual violence it legitimates under the guise of a radical and liberating vision.



Rhetoric and Early Christian Discourse/
Rhétorique et discours des prémiers chrétiens
sponsored jointly by the CSBS and CSSRhetoric

14h00 - 17h30 (T1-91)
Presiding/Présidence: Willi Braun (Alberta)

William E. Arnal (New York) “The Rhetoric of Social Affiliation: The Making of Christian Associations in Early Christianity”

Understanding communication as an eminently social practice allows us to analyze the developments and manifestations of its usage in terms of definable historical circumstances. Specifically, attitudes toward language, and the actual use of language as a persuasive tool may shed light on the stance of early Christian groups toward the broader social configuration in which they operate. The paper will focus on the fashion in which specific hermeneutical assumptions underpin the rhetoric and argumentation of the Gospel of Thomas, and how those assumptions may be co-ordinated with the social context (and stance vis -à-vis that context) of the tradents of Thomas.

Gregory L. Bloomquist (St. Paul) “Refining Ideological Analysis”

Ideological analysis has become both a crucial scholarly pursuit and a flashpoint of discussion regarding the value of rhetorical analysis for the interpretation of texts. A major advance on the discussion has been provided by Vernon Robbins via his incorporation of “ideological texture” into the “socio-rhetorical” interpretation of texts. In fact, the ideological texture might be considered the pinnacle of interpretation in socio-rhetorical analysis. Nevertheless, and perhaps for that reason, this texture stands in need of refinement. In my presentation I will attempt to show both where “ideological texture” is an advance and how it can be further refined.

Theodore de Bruyn (Ottawa) “The Limits of Discourse: Measures, Trends and Validity”

What can be inferred from discourse about the process of Christianization? My presentation will explore the uncertainties of discourse analysis in terms of measures, trends and validity. Measures are rhetorical cues that are judged to be significant indicators of Christianization. Trends trace a process of change in the use of these cues. The validity of what is deduced from these measures and trends turns on the relationship between what is authorized in discourse and what is appropriated in practice. Herein lies the dynamic of Christianization, of which discourse offers only glimpses. I will draw examples from two or three strata of texts running from the second to the fifth centuries CE.

John Kitchen (Alberta) “‘Freed From the Yoke of Servitude’: Saints’ Lives and the Rhetoric of Redemption in Latin Hagiography of the Early Middle Ages”

Hagiographic writings ranging from the sayings of the Egyptian desert monks to the miracle stories about Gallic holy men describe situations in which saintly power frees people from imprisonment or slavery. How the discourse of such accounts reflects the meaning of liberation and redemption in early medieval Christian communities is a fundamental question that has not received sustained treatment. In an attempt to offer a preliminary investigation into the literature’s significance as a form of redemptive discourse, the discussion will begin by focussing on hagiography that utilizes scriptural passages to justify dramatic episodes of saints freeing people from a condition of “social death” (a phrase that resonates not only with the actual rhetoric of the Latin texts but also with contemporary social-scientific discussions on slavery). After considering the justificative function of biblical texts in specific vitae,.13 the inquiry will treat the question of how such rhetorical strategies articulate the layered meanings associated with change in social status — specifically, how stories of liberation “typify” the redemptive experience by collapsing the boundaries not only of social and religious life but those of heaven and earth as well. The concluding observations will suggest that such narratives represent a form of Christian discourse that subverts rhetorical tendencies characteristic of certain patristic authors who justify, in theological terms, social stratification as the inevitable outcome of a “fallen world.”

Margaret Y. MacDonald (St. Francis Xavier) “The Rhetoric of Domesticity in Colossians”

Household codes entered early Christian literature for the first time via Colossians. The extent to which these codes represent a straightforward adoption of conventional social ethics has been a subject of debate. Moreover, because it is a self-contained unit which appears to have been inserted into the letter rather abruptly, the function of the Colossian household code (Col. 3:18-4:1) within the broader concerns of the letter has seemed by no means clear. In this paper it will be argued that the code is integral to the purpose of Colossians and to the stance being adopted in relation to “false teaching.” In particular, the paper aims to illustrate how household teaching serves as a rhetorical strategy for the author to address ascetic currents in Colossae, and more generally, to create a place for believers in society at large. Feminist interpreters have frequently drawn attention to the fact that with the introduction of the household code, Pauline Christianity was taking a very significant step in the direction of patriarchy. The paper explores the relationship between this explicitly patriarchal ideology and the lives of women and slaves.

Christine Mason Sutherland (Calgary) “Augustine, Ethos and the Integrative Nature of Christian Rhetoric”

It has long been recognized that the key difference between classical and Christian rhetoric is that the classical is human centred, whereas the Christian is God centred. Some of the implications of this recognition are yet to be fully worked out, particularly as they affect our understanding of the most important figure in the transition from classical to Christian rhetoric, Augustine of Hippo. Classical theory recognizes that the establishment of ethos is to some extent co-operative, but in effect the dominant model of the relationship between speaker and audience is adversarial: the audience is to be overcome. In Hebrew rhetoric, on the other hand, persuasion is vested in the hearer; ethos therefore is not a question of the orator’s skill but of the relationship between speaker and audience. In his insistence on the importance of audience, and in the necessity that the speaker live his message and deliver it in humility, Augustine is in the Hebrew tradition. His rhetorical theory is characterized not by competition but by co-operation, the love of God working equally in both speaker and audience to bring about communication. It looks forward to the Burkean model of communication as identification.


19h30 (TL 12)
Vernon K. Robbins (Emory)
“Socio-Rhetorical Interpretation of the Bible: What is it? Why do we do it? What is gained by it?”

A socio-rhetorical approach presents a thick description of texts by setting multiple modes of analysis and interpretation in a dynamic relation to one another. Perceiving that a text contains multiple textures of significations, meanings, and effects, the approach explores inner texture, intertexture, social and cultural texture, ideological texture, emotional-psychological texture, and sacred texture. Interpreters use this approach, because they are convinced that multiple disciplinary insights present richer, fuller insight into the nature of texts as social, cultural, and ideological discourse. A major gain is the achievement of a transcultural mode of biblical interpretation — a mode that invites dynamic interaction among interpreters of Christianity in multiple contexts around the world.

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Page created by: John L. McLaughlin
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Last update:
December 20, 2004