The wonderfully named Dr Ben Witherington III is one of my favourite contemporary biblical scholars (he has a blogspot on Beliefnet here too – I should add it to my blogroll). Yes, I know I go on and on about Tom Wright, but I do read others! BWIII is especially keen on socio-rhetorical criticism. I used his I & II Thessalonians commentary when teaching on that subject recently and have just bought his Romans commentary to prepare for the upcoming course on Romans I am doing for Anima Education.
An interesting thing to note is that while Witherington III sees I Thessalonians as a classic “epideictic” letter, he rejects the common categorisation of Romans in this genre, and sees it rather as a “deliberative” letter. For what it is worth, I reckon BWIII is on the money with this. I was reading our (local) Fr Brendan Byrne’s commentary on Romans last night, and found that he, along with the majority, does class Romans as “epideictic”. I think it depends on what you think Paul was writing the letter to achieve (although, there is far more stylistic evidence in 1 Thessalonians of the “epideictic” genre than in Romans). If you think he is writing to commend himself and his theology to the Romans, you might think “epideictic”. If however you stand with folk like N.T. Wright (here I go), and see that Paul is addressing a real problem among Roman Christians (the relationship between Gentile and Jewish Christians – sort of Galatians in reverse) you will agree with BWIII that it is deliberative.
Anyway, all that aside, Dr Witherington is coming to Melbourne courtesy of the “PRAXIS: Ongoing Professional Development for Ministers and Pastors”. Here are the details. I have already enrolled. If you are keen on the latest trends in New Testament exegesis, I strongly encourage you to come along too:
A morning with Ben Witherington III
An opportunity to hear from a world-renowned New Testament scholar and author on some of the contemporary Biblical issues in pastoral ministry. Join with colleagues in this interactive time of exploring contemporary patoral and scriptural issues with plenty of time for Q&A.
Friday 30th July: 9.30 – 11.30am
Churches of Christ Theological College
44-60 Jacksons Road, Mulgrave
Cost: $10 (covering Ben’s travel costs and morning tea)
Numbers are limited so get in early. RSVP firstname.lastname@example.org or 9790 1000