Mary Margaret McCabe (‘Plato’s Ways of Writing’ in Fine, Oxford Handbook, 99) rightly sees that Plato’s dialogue form constitutes…

a philosophical claim: that theoretical discussion can only be carried out within a particular culture

This has obvious resonances with philosophical hermeneutics in the tradition of Schleiermacher – Heidegger – Gadamer – Ricoeur. I think that the influence of Plato on hermeneutical thought has perhaps been under-recognised when it has been taken up in the field of biblical studies. All of the major players in philosophical hermeneutics have been strongly influenced by Plato. Schleiermacher, for example, translated and edited Plato’s works. But sometimes in biblical studies, the impression is given that Schleiermacher started the modern study of hermeneutics by simply reflecting theoretically on what had been going on in practice in Judeo-Christian traditions of Bible reading. This is only partly illuminative. Plato should be recognised as an important influence.

On the other hand, it is certainly the case that the Hebrew Scriptures can be seen to express Plato’s later conviction that wisdom is found through dialogue with the wise, rather than through the making and reading of countless books. So it’s not out of place to reflect on Judeo-Christian interpretative practices in considering the (pre-)history of hermeneutics.

I’ve just been pointed to a German review of my 2013 monograph, Paul and the Rhetoric of Reversal. It is by Dominik Wolff in Theologische Literaturzeitung (June 2015). The review does an excellent job of getting to the heart of my argument, and describing the flow of the book. It ends by kindly saying:

Overall, Malcolm’s work is an interesting and important contribution to the chorus of interpretative voices.

I’ve just finished Simon Blackburn’s Plato’s Republic: A Biography. It was a very enjoyable engagement with Plato’s work, coming from a sceptical but appreciative philosopher. It made me rethink some of the ways I’ve read the work in the past, and introduced me to some interesting features in the reception of Plato’s most famous dialogue.

Recently, my review of Paul J. Brown’s Bodily Resurrection and Ethics in 1 Cor 15 appeared in the Review of Biblical Literature, here.

Here’s the publisher’s description of the book:

Description: New Testament scholars have long recognized a relationship between the future resurrection and ethics. Paul J. Brown contributes to this ongoing discussion by tracing Paul’s logic for connecting the moral imperatives in 1 Cor 15 to the bodily resurrection. The author examines the afterlife belief system of the resurrection-deniers and proposes that their eschatology was informed by Greco-Roman mythology. This enabled the Corinthians to embrace the bodily resurrection of Jesus as a hero and reject the prospect of their own. Brown suggests that Paul strategically leveraged their Greco-Roman thinking in his discussion of the resurrection to argue that their in-Christ status made them partakers of the Messiah’s beatific afterlife, and that the Greco-Roman practice of patron emulation should motivate them to live in imitation of the heavenly man.

And here’s a snippet from my review:

To my mind, the key contribution of this work is the demonstration of a cultural milieu in which the nature, behavior, and afterlife of heroes might provide a model for the sort of viewpoints and behaviors evident in 1 Cor 15. Brown’s argument that this milieu helps explain how some in Corinth could uphold the resurrection of Christ while denying the resurrection of the dead seems to me to be persuasive and helpful, even if it is presented as overly certain or sufficient at points. This alone counts the book as a worthy contribution to the study of this key chapter in 1 Corinthians.

Kind farewell

This morning Bec and I enjoyed a kind and touching farewell at Trinity. I’m grateful for the five years I’ve had there.

I was kindly sent a copy of the latest edition of Vox Reformata: Australasian Journal for Christian Scholarship. This edition is devoted to the Corinthian correspondence, and looks to have some interesting articles. A number of the previous editions look very interesting too – you can find the info here.

A couple of weeks ago I resigned from my position at Trinity, effective as of the end of next week. I’m still very much an advocate of the college, but it’s time for me to step down from this role and do other things. So the college is now advertising for a new full time lecturer/senior lecturer in New Testament. The full details of the position are here. (If the link is no longer up, it means the position is no longer open.)

I hope this is filled by someone who is gripped by grace, academically capable, and pastorally experienced,


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