Archive for the ‘Daily Thoughts’ Category

I am presently working through a fantastic monograph: Benjamin E. Reynolds, The Apocalyptic Son of Man in the Gospel of John (WUNT 249; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2008). I highly comment this for your reading pleasure and will soon post a review.


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My New Theme Song….

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Dear Friends,

Today is September 23rd. A birthday of no little significance for it can be equated with the “beginning of all things.” Note the following, well known, inscription:

Paulus Fabius Maximus came up with the notion of changing the local lunar calendar with the solar reckoning of the Julian calendar, as it was used in Rome. This idea was proposed to the Provincial Assembly, responsible for emperor worship at the provincial level. He writes:

(It is hard to tell) whether the birthday of our most divine Caesar Augustus (ἡ τοῦ θειοτάτου Καίσαρος γενέυλιος ἡμέρα) spells more of joy or benefit, this being a date that we could probably without fear of contradiction equate with the beginning of all things (τῇ τῶν πάντων ἀρχῆι) …he restored stability, when everything was collapsing and falling into disarray, and gave a new look to the entire world that would have been most happy to accept its own ruin had not the good and common fortune of all been born, Caesar Augustus. (Lines 4–9)[1]

This letter prefaced the actual reply of the Assembly which is commonly referred to as the Priene calendar inscription (ca. 9 BCE):

[30] Decree of the Greek Assembly in the province of Asia, on motion of the High Priest Apolionios, son of Menophilos, of Aizanoi- WHEREAS Providence that orders all our lives has in her display of concern and generosity in our behalf adorned our lives with the highest good: Augustus, whom she has filled with arete [virtue] for the benefit of humanity, [35] and has in her beneficence granted us and those who will come after us [a Savior (σωτῆρα)] who has made war to cease and who shall put everything [in peaceful] order; and whereas Caesar, [when he was manifest], transcended the expectations of [all who had anticipated the good news], not only by surpassing the benefits conferred by his predecessors but by leaving no expectation of surpassing him to those who would come after him, [40] with the result that the birthday of our God (τοῦ θεοῦ) signaled (ἦρξεν δὲ τῶι κὀσμωι τῶι δι᾽ αὐτὸν εὐαγγελίων ἡ γενέυλιος ἡμέρα τοῦ θεοῦ) the beginning of Good News for the world because of him; . . . [47] . . . (proconsul Paul Fabius Maximus) has discovered a way to honor Augustus that was hitherto unknown among the Greeks, namely to reckon time from the date of his nativity; therefore, with the blessings of Good Fortune and for their own welfare, [50] the Greeks in Asia Decreed that the New Year begin for all the cities on September 23, which is the birthday of Augustus; and, to ensure that the dates coincide in every city, all documents are to carry both the Roman and the Greek date, and the first month shall, in accordance with the decree, be observed as the Month of Caesar, [55] beginning with 23 September, the birthday of Caesar.[1]

Furthermore, with regard to such a significant birthday, I would also like to remind you of Augustus’ divine birth, it is said, the god Apollo in the form of a snake, came upon Atia, his mother, and divinely bore him. Therefore, Augustus was thought to be both man and god while living, this notes a significant development in Roman imperial theology (cf. Suetonius, Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Life of Augustus 94.1-11; Cassius Dio also records this).

[1] Here the Enlish of the inscription has been taken from Danker whereas the Greek was supplemented from Dittenberger (OGIS): IPriene 105.30-56=OGIS 458.30-56; Frederick W. Danker, Benefactor: Epigraphic Study of a Graeco-Roman and New Testament Semantic Field (St. Louis, MO.: Clayton Pub. House, 1982), 217; W. Dittenberger (ed.), Orientis Graecae Inscriptiones Selectae (2 vols., Leipzig: S. Hirzel, 1903-5; repr. Hildesheim: Olms, 1960) 2.48-60. In his commentary on this inscription Danker notes the many semantic parallels between these notions with regard to Caesar and the same terms with reference to Jesus in the New Testament (i.e. “savior, gospel,” and the notion of beneficence to the whole world) (220).

[1] Graham Stanton, Jesus and Gospel (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 31

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Quote of the Day

In South Africa a common mythological expression of the role of biblical discourses in the dispossession of blacks runs like this: “When the white man came to our country, he had a Bible and we had the land. The white man said to the black man, ‘Let us pray.’ After the prayer, the white man had the land and the black man had the Bible.” – Itumeleng J. Mosala, Biblical Hermeneutics and Black Theology in South Africa (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 153.

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In recent weeks my personal reading habits as well as my preparation for my master’s thesis has left me vexed by the matrix of Jewish apocalypticism, ANE apocalyticism, and its relation to the politics of empire. I’m currently, among other works, working through J. J. Collin’s The Apocalyptic Imagination. Though this is far from a new work, rather it is a standard in the field, I am reading it for the first time and have been very impressed with Collin’s facility with the materials coupled with the ease with which he communicates the subject matter. I will certainly be commenting more upon this work and the ideas expressed therein (as well as those evoked in my own small mind as I read).

On another note I now turn my attention to the GRE, that looming, villainous latch-key to open or close various doors in my future. On one hand I am deeply concerned that after having expended so much time and effort in order to maintain a very high GPA, worked diligently to find and pursue extra curricular activities that would comport with my desires, aims, as well as personal development, that how I do on this test could be determinative for whether people even consider my background, academic history, and Vitae! It would be a lie not to say that this in itself is a rather frightening thought, although I still have the utmost confidence that I will likely do well on the test. Though I am rather unnerved about the math section.

Now to the existential aspect of my post. In the last several weeks, I have been “blessed” (though I am very leery of using that type of rhetoric) to have such wonderful, fulfilling, and meaning time with my wife, daughter, and son. During the drive to Indiana and Tennessee my seat in the van was right next to my daughter Gennavieve. In the last few months, due to suicide Hebrew, advanced Greek grammar, and several other classes together I was so pressed for time that I didn’t get the chance to just stare in my daughter’s young eyes, see the vibrancy and love that illuminates those small blue eyes. I think one of the most meaningful parts of the trip was the time I had to simply bond with my daughter, trapped in the car, the opportunity to arose for me to communicate with my infant (who can’t talk!) extensively. We made faces at each other the whole time, smiling, and playing. She has added so significantly to the meaning, purpose, and value of my life—for which I am eternally grateful. This family time has been a season of refreshing, grounding, and joy. Indeed, I think my relationship with God has grown closer through my relationship with my family and children, maybe you really will know “them” or even “yourself” through “their” or “your own” fruit!

In retrospect I wonder, what does apocalypticism have to do with life, the struggle, and empire? I think it has far more that we often give credit for. My thoughts of late have been plagued by the perpetual inquiry of in what way the apocalyptic imagination is influence by and a response to the oppression of empire, the inculcation of the colonial ideology upon the colonized, and the resistance discourse of the latter against the former!

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