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Fr. Duane Johnson reads St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians with close fidelity to the text, the result of which is to hear the text as Scripture, offering a hermeneutical advantage often missed in Pauline studies. The author thus offers expanded insight into the Apostle’s proclamation of the salvific work of God in his crucified Son; what this means for the people of God, both Jew and Gentile alike; and of special importance for Pauline studies, Paul’s affirmation of the evidential witness of the Holy Spirit among the Body of Christ.

Nicolae Roddy, Ph.D.
Professor of Theology (Biblical Studies)
Creighton University, Omaha, NE

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The 2019 Symposium of the Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (OCABS), will be held March 8-9, 2019, at St. Elizabeth Orthodox Church, in St. Paul, MN. The keynote speaker is Dr. Robert Miller, Ordinary Professor of Old Testament, School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America.

Building upon the success of OCABS's inaugural gathering, papers presented at the 2019 Symposium will be published in the Journal of the Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies. Other presenters include the V. Rev. Dr. Paul Nadim Tarazi, Professor Emeritus, St. Vladimir's Seminary, Dr. Nicolae Roddy, Professor of Hebrew Bible-Old Testament, Creighton University, and Dr. Richard Benton and Fr. Marc Boulos, co-hosts of the Bible as Literature Podcast. A special episode of the Bible as Literature will be recorded live at the symposium.

OCABS is committed to empowering current and future generations of teachers and scholars already possessing a love for Scripture. This dynamic collaborative enterprise cannot help but benefit the lives of students and parishioners in a world in need of hearing the divine Word.

Donations will be used to cover travel expenses for presenters as well as Friday lunch and dinner and Saturday lunch for all who attend. Parishioners of St. Elizabeth are offering home-stays for OCABS participants who might otherwise prefer not to stay in a nearby hotel. Please contact press@ocabs.org if you would like this hospitality. You may wish to arrive Thursday, March 7, and stay through Sunday Liturgy, March 10.

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This year’s OCABS Symposium was hosted in Charlotte, NC. Special thanks to event organizers Fr. Bill Mills and Fr. Timothy Lowe, and to the parishioners of Nativity of the Holy Theotokos Orthodox Church for their gracious hospitality. The symposium brought together pastors and academicians from as far away as Los Angeles, CA; Houston, TX; Alberta, Canada; and El-Koura, Lebanon. The quality of this year's ten OCABS Symposium papers reached the highest level ever in bridging the gap between academia and the parish. These papers, along with other contributions by pastors and scholars who could not attend, will be published in a Festschrift volume, to be edited by Ms. Andrea Bakas.

In addition to the fine presentations, the Friday session ended with a dinner in celebration of the 75th anniversary of Fr. Paul Nadim Tarazi's birth, along with the recent release of his magnum opus The Rise of Scripture (OCABS Press, 2018). Many of Abouna's students, friends, and family offered touching testimonials to the many valuable contributions he has made to so many over the years. The gala event was also graced by the participation of OCABS co-secretary, Dr. Daniel Ayuch, Professor of New Testament at the Institute of Theology, University of Balamand, in Lebanon. In addition to presenting the first paper of the symposium, Dr. Ayuch delivered the Saturday luncheon keynote address, "Nomads of the Word: Reading the Book of Acts from a Semitic Perspective."

Already we are excited and looking forward to next year's 2019 OCABS symposium, details of which will be sent out within a few months. In the meantime, let us encourage one another as we continue our labors on behalf of the teaching of Scripture in the classroom and the parish. Remember that OCABS Society is our shared resource for support and encouragement and the exchange of information.

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Eisenbrauns, an imprint of PSU Press, is happy to announce the publication of the latest book in the Explorations in Ancient Near Eastern Civilizations series:

The Dragon, the Mountain, and the Nations:

An Old Testament Myth, Its Origins, and Its Afterlives, by Robert D. Miller II

$64.95 | Hardcover Edition

ISBN: 978-1-57506-479-6

408 pages 6”x9”

https://www.eisenbrauns.org/books/titles/978-1-57506-479-6.html

The dragon-slaying myth has a hoary ancestry, extending back long before its appearance in the Hebrew Bible, and a vast range, spanning as far as India and perhaps even Japan. This book is a chronicle of its trajectories and permutations. The target of this study is the biblical myth. This target, however, is itself a fluid tradition, responding to and reworking extrabiblical myths and reworking its own myths. In this study, Robert Miller examines the dragon and dragon-slaying myth throughout India, the proto-Indo-European cultures, and Iran, and among the Hittites as well as other ancient Near Eastern and Mesopotamian traditions, and then throughout the Bible, including Genesis, the Psalms, Daniel, and ultimately the New Testament and the book of Revelation. He shows how the myth pervades many cultures and many civilizations and that the dragon is always conquered, despite its many manifestations. In his conclusion, Miller points out the importance of the myth as a hermeneutic for understanding key parts of biblical literature.

Table of Contents:

Introduction

Part I: East of Ginger Trees

1. India

2. Proto-Indo-Europeans

3. A Global Myth?

4. Iran

Part II: The Matter of the North

5. Hittites

6. Hurrian Influence

7. From the Libraries of Ugarit

8. Myths of Mesopotamia

Part III: Canaanite Epic and Hebrew Myth 9. The Old Testament: Overview 10. The Psalms 11. Genesis 12. The Rest of the Old Testament 13. Greek Traditions 14. Daniel 15. Second Temple Jewish Texts

Part IV: Naming the Dragon Slayer

16. The New Testament

Conclusions

Appendix

Bibliography

Indexes

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The Bible as Literature podcast has launched Tarazi Tuesdays, a new weekly series featuring Fr. Paul Nadim Tarazi. In a spinoff from their regular weekly show, Dr. Richard Benton and Fr. Marc Boulos continue their discussion with Fr. Paul, posing questions meant to challenge audiences and further enrich their own study of Scripture. 

In the first episode, The Bible as Literature is re-broadcasting a lecture presented by Fr. Paul on January 12, 2018. The talk was given during a book signing at St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Phoenix, Arizona. The content makes for an excellent introduction to the series. 

The Bible as Literature and Tarazi Tuesdays are part of the Ephesus School Network (ephesusschool.org).

Episode 1 of Tarazi Tuesdays is available here: 

https://ephesusschool.org/the-rise-of-scripture/

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The Journal of the Orthodox Center for the Advancement of Biblical Studies (JOCABS) promotes scholarship in biblical studies, homiletics, and religious education among Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians around the world.Vol 10, No 1 (2017)“Shall we, then, be baptized for the dead?”: An Answer to the Problem of 1 Corinthians 15:29 and Vicarious Baptism

Rev. Fr. Joshua Schooping

Sin of Apostasy and Militarism in Hosea

Richard C. Benton, Jr.

Vol 9, No 1 (2016)Paul’s Letter to the Churches of Galatia

Very Rev. Dr. Paul Nadim Tarazi

The Quest for Mark’s Sources: An Exploration of the Case for Mark’s Use of First Corinthians
Thomas P. Nelligan, Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2015

Review by Tom Dykstra

The Gospel of Matthew within the New Testament Canon

Very Rev. Dr. Paul Nadim Tarazi

 

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By Merja Merras

Today, in the State of Israel, there is much discussion about the circumcision of boys on the eighth day. Messianic Jews, in particular, ponder the question:  Has the time to reject this old tradition finally arrived?

The rule of circumcision was given by God to Abraham and his descendants (Gen 17:9-14) and thereafter understood as the principal sign of belonging to the Jewish congregation. But is it so? If we take a closer look, old beliefs can be reconsidered in a new light.

When we look at the Old Testament as a totality, the central issue is obedience or disobedience of the law and not circumcision. The promise given to Abraham (“I will bless you…”) was extended to his descendants, not because they were circumcised, but only because Abraham kept the commandments faithfully. In Deuteronomy, circumcision of the heart (10:16-22; 30:4-6), which means obedience to the law, was already considered more important than fleshly circumcision.  In the book of Joshua, one can clearly see that it was obedience to God's law, not circumcision, that was demanded, both of Israelites and the other nations. In both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, fleshly circumcision played no role whatsoever in the new covenant, which was binding upon those returning from exile.

In the last section of Scripture, the Writings, there is no mention at all of circumcision. This part of Scripture was written to invite the nations to adopt the torah, and with it true wisdom, since Greek wisdom was not able to encompass all wisdom. On this point, it would have been possible to ordain circumcision as a tangible sign of someone’s endorsement of the law, but such was not the case. Those who accepted the challenge of the Bible’s spiritual message gathered in congregations where Scripture was read to them and, in conformity with Genesis 17, circumcised their male children at the age of eight days. Yet, this custom in and of itself was not a distinctive mark (Jer 9:23-26), since it was part of the Hamite and Semite cultures.

The Apostle Paul, who was a Jew, also understood circumcision in this way, writing in his Letter to the Romans (2:25-29): “He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal.”

Why, then, is circumcision practiced among Jews to this day? This “dormant” habit of circumcision comes to life and even “steals the show” in the Maccabean literature, which deals with the revolt by  Palestinian followers of Scripture against the Seleucids, the heirs of Alexander of Macedon.  The king, Antiochus Epiphanes, had disgraced the Jewish Sanctuary, making the priest Mattathias furious.  Mattathias asked Jews to join him in revolt: “And Mattathias and his friends forcibly circumcised all the uncircumcised boys that they found within the borders of Israel.” (1 Macc 2:45-46)  The Maccabees and their followers were using circumcision as a “national flag”, a “standard”, around which they could easily rally followers to their own agenda.

The western part of Syria, the province Yehud, was declared independent by the Maccabees, and remained as such for some time. King Herod set out to build a massive temple in Jerusalem and needed income from outside his tiny state.  All “followers of the Law” were invited to support the project. The inhabitants of Yehud were the yehudim. In those times, Judaism developed more around political than religious issues. The religious aspect of circumcision was only a medium of control to secure support for the interests and aims of the “followers of the dictates of scripture” in Yehud.

Today, this mechanism finds its counterpart in the way that the leaders of the State of Israel seek to “impose” their views on Jews around the world in order to secure support for their political agenda.

God’s law and Jesus’ Gospel are meant for all nations, not just the yehudim. This point is already made in the first pages of the Old Testament. Although written and addressed to Israel, other nations are continuously mentioned and encouraged to follow the law. In contrast, the letters of the Apostle Paul are both written and expressly addressed to all the nations, not just to the Jews. Since this teaching had to sound the same as the law of the Old Testament, it refers to the law continuously. The teaching of the “new teacher,” Paul, had to reflect the entire teaching of the Old Testament, thus, the Old and the New Testament form a totality.  But by reading the Old Testament, Jews can already understand the message of circumcision, found throughout: nothing is of significance but obedience to the law.  One God, one law and one message for all nations.

Ref. Paul Nadim Tarazi, The Rise of Scripture.  OCABS  2017. 319-332.

Original Post: https://simeonjahanna.com/2017/11/26/miksi-ymparileikkaus-on-niin-suuri-juttu-raamatussa-vai-onko/

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This monograph presents an entirely new solution to the synoptic problem. It demonstrates that the Acts of the Apostles functioned as the structure-giving hypotext for the Gospel of Matthew. Accordingly, the Gospel of Matthew is a reworking of not only the Gospel of Luke, but also, in a strictly sequential way, of the Acts of the Apostles. This strictly sequential, hypertextual dependence on Acts explains the Matthean relocations of the Marcan and Lucan material, numerous Matthean modifications thereof, and many surprising features of the Matthean Gospel. Critical explanations of such features, which are offered in this monograph, ensure the reliability of the new solution to the synoptic problem.

Available Now

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Merja Merras (simeonjahanna.com) Okko Balagurinin haastattelussa nousi esiin useasti hänen oleskelunsa Israelissa ja tutustuminen sikäläiseen elämänmenoon. Tiedän, että Nyky-Israelissa keskustellaan paljon poikien 8-päiväisenä tehtävästä ympärileikkauksesta ja siitä, olisiko jo aika luopua tästä perinnäistavasta. Erityisesti messiaaniset juutalaiset pohtivat tätä.

Vanhan testamentin ympärileikkaussääntö (1.Moos. 17:9-14) annettiin Abrahamille ja hänen jälkeläisilleen, ja siitä lähtien sen on ajateltu toimineen keskeisenä juutalaisen uskon merkkinä. Mutta onko niin? Kun tarkemmin katsomme asiaa, vanhat uskomukset joutuvat uuteen valoon.

Vanhaa testamenttia kokonaisuutena tarkastellen astuu lihallisen ympärileikkauksen sijaan keskeiseksi lain noudattaminen tai noudattamatta jättäminen, ei ympärileikkaus. Lupaus joka Abrahamille annettiin, jatkui hänen jälkeläisilleen vain koska Abraham pysyi laille kuuliaisena, ei siksi, että jälkeläiset ympärileikattiin. Lihallista ympärileikkausta tärkeämmäksi nousi jo 5. Mooseksen kirjassa sydämen ympärileikkaus (10:16-22; 30:4-6) eli Jumalan käskyjen noudattaminen. Joosuan kirjasta käy myös selvästi ilmi, että lain eli Jumalan tahdon noudattaminen oli se, mitä vaadittiin sekä israelilaisilta että vierailta kansoilta, ei ympärileikkausta.

Jeremiaan ja Hesekielin profetioissa ei ympärileikkauksella ole mitään roolia siinä uudessa liitossa, joka kuulutetaan maanpaosta palaaville. Vanhan testamentin Kirjoitukset –osassa ei ole yhtäkään mainintaa ympärileikkauksesta. Tämä viimeisin Vanhan testamentin osa on kirjoitettu kutsumaan kansakuntia omaksumaan toora ja sen mukana tosi viisaus, sillä kreikkalainen viisaus ei pysty kattamaan viisauden koko kuvaa. Tässä kohdin olisi ollut mahdollisuus tuoda ympärileikkaus kuvaan mukaan näkyvänä merkkinä henkilön sitoutumisesta lakiin, mutta sitä ei tehty. Näin ajatteli myös apostoli Paavali Roomalaiskirjeessään (2:25-29): ”Oikea juutalainen on se, joka on juutalainen sisimmässään, ja oikea ympärileikkaus on sydämen ympärileikkaus, jota ei saa aikaan laki, vaan Henki.”

Miksi ympärileikkaus sitten säilyi juutalaisten keskuudessa aina tähän päivään asti? Tuo uinuva ympärileikkaustapa heräsi henkiin toisella vuosisadalla eKr, jolloin makkabealaiset nousivat kapinaan seleukidikeisari  Antiokos Epifaneen häpäistyä juutalaisten uskontoa. Makkabealaiset käyttivät ympärileikkausta ”kansallisena viirinä”, juutalaisen omana tunnusmerkkinä, joka erotti ”lain kansan”  ”uskottomista”.  Itäisen välimeren seudut oli muodostettu Jehud-nimiseksi provinssiksi, mutta makkabealaiset onnistuivat muodostamaan siitä lyhyeksi ajaksi itsenäisen Jehud-valtion. Kuningas Herodes rakennutti tuolloin Jerusalemiin temppelin, mutta tarvitsi siihen varoja pienen valtionsa ulkopuolelta, ja näin kutsuttiin ”lain noudattajia” kaikkialta tukemaan hanketta. Jehud nimisen valtion asukkaat ja kannattajat olivat jehudim eli juutalaisia. Näin juutalaisuus kehittyi noina aikoina pikemminkin poliittisen tilanteen kuin uskonnon ympärille, ja ympärileikkaus toimi siinä merkkinä kuulumisesta tähän poliittiseen ryhmään. Tätä näkemystä veivät eteenpäin Jeesuksen ajan fariseukset ja uskonkiihkoilijat, vastauksena roomalaisten karskille ylivallalle. Sama toistuu meidänkin aikanamme. Nykyisen Israelin valtion johtajat pyrkivät kaikin keinoin syöttämään omaa näkemystään maailman eri puolilla asuville juutalaisille varmistaakseen näiden tuen johtajien omalle agendalle esim. Palestiina-kysymyksessä.

Jumalan laki ja Jeesuksen evankeliumi on tarkoitettu kaikille kansoille, ei vain juutalaisille. Tämä on sanottu jo Vanhan testamentin alkulehdillä.  Vanha testamentti oli tosin kirjoitettu ja osoitettu Israelille, mutta jatkuvasti puhutaan muista kansoista ja rohkaistaan heitä lain noudattamiseen. Paavalin kirjeet taas oli kirjoitettu ja nimenomaan osoitettu muille kansoille, ei vain juutalaisille. Tämän opetuksen tuli kuulostaa samalta kuin Vanhan testamentin laki, ja siksi niissä jatkuvasti viitataan lakiin.  ”Uuden opettajan” opetuksen tuli heijastaa Vanhan testamentin koko opetusta.  Näin Vanha ja Uusi testamentti muodostavat kokonaisuuden, jossa toista ei voi ymmärtää ilman toista. Onneksi juutalaisilla on kuitenkin mahdollisuus ymmärtää ympärileikkauksen sanoma jo Vanhan testamentinkin lukemisen kautta: vain Jumalan tahdon noudattaminen merkitsee jotain, eivät temput tai uhrit.  Tuo kokonaisuuden sanoma on: Yksi Jumala, yksi laki ja yksi sanoma kaikille kansoille.

Merja Merras translated Fr. Paul Tarazi's Land and Covenant into Finnish in 2011. Julkaisupäivämäärä: 2011 (suomeksi), 2009 (englanniksi). 

Original Post: https://simeonjahanna.com/2017/11/26/miksi-ymparileikkaus-on-niin-suuri-juttu-raamatussa-vai-onko/

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The Very Rev. Fouad Saba, pastor of St. George in Coral Gables, FL, presents a copy of the book to Patriarch JOHN X.

(Antiochian.org) Recently, His Beatitude JOHN X, Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, honored his American flock by visiting our nation's capital to raise awareness of the plight of Christians in the Middle East. The cradle of our faith—the land that has sustained our families, communities, and churches for centuries—finds itself trapped in the crossfire of international unrest. In the face of spiritual and cultural despair, His Beatitude, accompanied by His Eminence Metropolitan JOSEPH, took the international podium at the Hudson Institute to stress the permanency of Christians in the Middle East.

It is providential, even as the Patriarch proclaimed his message of hope, that another son of Antioch—one who taught His Beatitude during his studies in the early seventies at the St. John of Damascus Theological Institute in Balamand, Lebanon—released a new book touching on similar themes. In The Rise of Scripture, published by OCABS Press, Fr. Paul Tarazi transports his readers back two millennia, to the people of the same same region, struggling to survive in the face of similar challenges. 

The basic point in Scripture, Fr. Paul explains, is reflected in the Bible's lengthy discussion of our liberation from the powers of servitude under Pharaoh: God is our Father and our Shepherd, and under his care we have nothing to fear from our enemies. The hope for our future, Tarazi teaches, is not in the many human powers and civilizations, but in the Scriptural God, who has sustained us in peace since the time of the Apostles, and will forever sustain us through the vicissitudes of human history.

http://antiochian.org/book-antiochian-scholar-presented-patriarch-john-x

 

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