Ronald F. Hock, "Reading the Beginning of Mark from the Perspective of Greco-Roman Education," 291–309
How would a well-educated Christian of the first century have read and assessed the beginning of the Gospel of Mark (1:1–15)? Answering this question reveals much that readers today would otherwise miss. An educated Christian at that time meant being rhetorically trained and so this reader would have used that training to read the gospel. He would have identified it as a narrative, indeed as a biographical narrative, as seen in the convention of naming the subject's father (1:1) and hometown (1:9). He would have looked to see if these verses displayed the qualities of a narrative, such as clarity, as seen in the use of the nominative case, unlabored diction, and starting at the beginning (1:1). He would have identified these verses as also a rhetorical introduction to the whole of Mark and hence would have read them to see if they fulfilled the functions of an introduction, such as gaining the reader's attention, as seen in its announcement of something momentous: the fulfillment of a long-awaited prophecy (1:2–3), the identification of Jesus as Son of God (1:11), and the imminence of the reign of God (1:15).
Charles W. Hedrick, "Is the Baptism of Jesus by John Historically Certain?" 311–322
Many recent publications regard the baptism of Jesus by John as historically certain, or virtually so. This essay argues that unless one assumes the existence of an incipient oral form of the synoptic master-narrative that included Mark 1:9 in some form, there is no certain evidence until the latter half of the first century that John baptized Jesus.
Carey C. Newman, "Narrative Apocalyptic in Ephesians," 323–337
Two, mutually exclusive ways to read Paul now dominate. One school of thought construes Paul as a covenant theologian who is gripped by a singular narrative about the Israel and Jesus. The other school of thought sees Paul as an apocalyptic theologian who focuses on God's dramatic intrusion into and disruption of the cosmos in Jesus. The former privileges continuity, while the latter emphasizes discontinuity. This article uses Ephesians as a sounding board for how Paul was first received. The article discovers the presence of both apocalyptic and narrative in Ephesians. Both apocalyptic and narrative fund the theological, scriptural, symbolic, and rhetorical world of Ephesians. But the article also retraces the ways that Ephesians consciously uses apocalyptic to interpret, reframe and restage covenant. Ephesians does so, particularly, by employing non-Biblical cosmic myths about a primal, cosmic Anthropos. Finally, the article explores how Ephesians can conjoin both narrative and apocalyptic in its theological enterprise. Ephesians capitalizes on the implications inherent in the enchained symbols of cross and resurrection one narrative, one apocalyptic to describe God's purposes for Jesus, the Church, and the World.
Ross Harriman, "Ecclesiology Under Pressure: The Importance of Theological Solidarity Language in 1 Thessalonians," 339–352
A neglected element in ecclesiological analysis of 1 Thessalonians studied in this paper is the crucial link between ecclesiology and its theological roots. Paul forges this link through “theological solidarity language.” Theological solidarity language is language that solidifies bonds within the group and with God by rooting the communal identity in common beliefs in and relationships with this God. Paul uses this language to reaffirm and reemphasize communal identity and solidarity against communal conflict and suffering. The particular shapes this language takes in 1 Thessalonians include insider language and theological and pneumatological incorporation into union with God.