Studies in the Bible and Antiquity appears in its sixth issue with a new look, new editorship and new diversity of content. With these changes we are working to meet the evolving needs and interests of contributing scholars and readers, and to expand the numbers of both. We are pleased with the results and believe our readers will be, too. We extend our deepest thanks and sincere appreciation to all of our authors, editors, and advisory board members, past and current, who have contributed so much to the journal.
This issue opens with a study by Shon Hopkin of the Renaissance Jewish author Joseph ben Samuel Sarfati (d. 1527). Sarfati served as the personal physician to Pope Clement VII and moved competently and comfortably within both Jewish and Christian society. But he also wrote poetry in Hebrew on a range of cultural and literary subjects which, as Hopkin shows, makes subtle use of Hebrew biblical allusions to warn his Jewish readers of “becoming too fully enthralled or connected with the Christian religion and culture of his day.”
Then Daniel Sharp discusses a verse of Paul of exceptional interest to Mormons: “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?” Sharp reviews “four recent attempts to understand 1 Corinthians 15:29 as something other than vicarious baptism” to determine if, as these scholars claim, “the vicarious baptism interpretation has really been laid to rest.”
These articles are followed by a roundtable of responses to the first two volumes of the BYU New Testament Commentary (BYUNTC), recently published as ebooks. First, Philip Barlow adds here to his distinguished work on Mormons and the Bible a discussion of the commentary project as a whole and of some fundamental questions that the published volumes have raised for him. Barlow notes the vital contribution that recent “informed and candid” treatments of Mormon history have made to building a faith that is “more deeply rooted and organically flexible, rather than brittle and easily withered” by intellectual challenges. He suggests, “the times may be nigh when a parallel competence, candor, and thoughtfulness will need to thrive among Latter-day Saints in understanding the Bible.” For this modern understanding, says Barlow, the BYUNTC could potentially provide a “scaffolding”: “Done well, such a work would allow for both spiritual and scholarly spheres, not just their outward forms. Done exceedingly well, the volumes may militate against scholarship becoming inert and faith naïve.”
We’re offering free access to Barlow’s article with the hope that you’ll also subscribe to the digital edition for only $10. Download the free piece here.
A trio of articles then examine the commentaries themselves and their subjects. D. Jill Kirby discusses Richard D. Draper and Michael D. Rhodes, The Revelation of John the Apostle (2013), with specific consideration of how this commentary transects contemporary biblical commentary genres. Grant Underwood reflects on the diversity of thought on the Revelation of John in early Mormonism and the challenges inherent in writing a modern Mormon commentary on a book of the Bible. Lastly Mike Pope examines some critical issues regarding Luke 22:43-44 and its treatment in S. Kent Brown’s The Testimony of Luke (2014).
A roundtable like this is new for Studies and so are book reviews. The issue concludes with reviews of two important recent books on the medieval reception of the Bible, respectively, into Arabic (Griffith) and in the Latin West (van Liere). We plan to expand our book reviews in the future and will continue to explore new forms of content. Contributors and readers are encouraged to send us submissions and comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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