The Latest Issue of JGRChJ: Articles on Greek Language and Papyrology

jgrchjI recently received my copy of the latest volume of the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, which contains articles from all three of the co-bloggers here, among several other intriguing ones. Due to the recent closing of Sheffield Phoenix Press, which has published the journal since its inception, this volume is the first with their new publisher, Pickwick (Eugene, OR). The volume maintains the sharp look of the journal, with the cover design keeping with the theme of the previous volumes.

Stan contributes two essays in this volume, the first entitled “The Synoptic Problem: The State of the Question,” which is an expansion of a paper he delivered in the Synoptic Gospels section at the Evangelical Theological Society annual meeting (San Antonio, TX, November 15, 2016).

His other essay is “The Use of Greek in First-Century Palestine: A Diachronic and Synchronic Examination,” in which he argues that Greek was not only the lingua franca of the administration of first-century Palestine, but it was pervasively used by people of a variety of social and economic strata within a wide variety of social domains. Greek was not only used by the social elite, but most likely the vernacular (primary or even secondary language) for a wide range of social groups, including middle- and lower-class people. He draws attention to the complexities of the languages of first-century Palestine.

Hughson also has an article in this volume, addressing a similar issue, entitled “The Language of the New Testament from a Sociolinguistic Perspective,” which draws upon research from his doctoral dissertation, now published as The Multilingual Jesus and the Sociolinguistic World of the New Testament (LBS 12; Leiden: Brill, 2015). He identifies the multilingualism prevalent in ancient Palestine (much more than has been discussed already), and seeks to address the complexities of diglossia and code switching in this environment.

In fact, these two articles by Stan and Hughson, along with Jonathan Watt’s article “Semitic Language Resources of Ancient Jewish Palestine,” were initially papers delivered at a sociolinguistics conference called “Forging Linguistic Identities: Language in the Nation, the Region and the World: An International Conference,” in one session called The Languages of First Century Palestine (held March 16-18, 2017, sponsored by the Foreign Languages Department at Towson University in Towson, MD). We wrote about the conference previously here and here.

Finally, my article, “Ancient Letters of Recommendation and 2 Corinthians 3.1-3: A Literary Analysis,” was based on a paper presented at the Society of Biblical Literature, in the Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds section (Baltimore, MD, November 2013). It focuses on the ancient letter of recommendation and how it affects our understanding of 2 Cor 3:1–2. Using resources from literary analysis, particularly drawing on the approaches of Norman Petersen and David Rhoads, Joanna Dewey, and Donald Michie, I make the case that Paul’s comment to the Corinthian church should be read with a lot more personal investment than we might initially.

I don’t mean to take away from the other articles in this volume by not summarizing them here—shout out to the other authors, Seth Ehorn and Mark Lee, Matthew Oseka, Greg Stanton, and Preston Massey—but I look forward to reading through them in the near future!

Full length articles are initially available on the JGRCHJ website, but as the physical volume has been published and printed, it may be a matter of days before the pdf versions are taken down. But in case you missed it, the price of the volume (hardcover) on the publisher’s website is only $30.

— David I. Yoon


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