Reviews of

The Sermon on the Mount and Spiritual Exercises

In Brill, George Branch-Trevathan, Gospels, Matthew, Nathan Charles Ridlehoover, Philosophy on October 23, 2020 at 2:54 pm

2020.10.18 | George Branch-Trevathan. The Sermon on the Mount and Spiritual Exercises: The Making of the Matthean Self. NovTSup 178. Leiden: Brill, 2020. ISBN 978-90-04-42444-9.

Review by Charles Nathan Ridlehoover, Columbia International Seminary.

George Branch-Trevathan is Assistant Professor of Religion at Thiel College, Greenville, PA. As a recent graduate of Emory University (PhD), Branch-Trevathan presents in The Sermon on the Mount and Spiritual Exercises: The Making of the Matthean Self a revised version of his doctoral dissertation. The following monograph is an ambitious project. Although Branch-Trevathan begins with a simple enough question (and incidentally ends with the same question): how do people attain rigorous moral ideals? —the answer is much more complicated. The project is an interdisciplinary approach to the subject in which the fusion of biblical studies and moral theology works toward Branch-Trevathan’s intended conclusion. With assistance from the historian and theorist of philosophy Pierre Hadot, Branch-Trevathan sets out to describe Matthew’s ethic as idealized in the Sermon. More specifically, Branch-Trevathan states, “Matthew implies that one can becomes the self his gospel idealizes through using these sayings [the Sermon on the Mount] in transformative exercises, in which Hadot calls ‘spiritual exercises’” (pg. 45). 

Faith as Participation

In Gregg S. Morrison, Jeanette Hagen Pifer, Mohr Siebeck, Participation, Paul on October 2, 2020 at 3:17 pm

2020.10.17 | Jeanette Hagen Pifer. Faith as Participation: An Exegetical Study of Some Key Pauline Texts. WUNT II 486. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2019. VII + 258 pp. ISBN: 978-3-16-156476-5.

Review by Gregg S. Morrison, Birmingham, Alabama (USA).

Jeanette Hagen Pifer, currently Assistant Professor of New Testament at Biola University, has written a stimulating work that focuses on Paul’s conception of πίστις and union with or participation in Christ as found in 1 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, and Galatians. The monograph, published in Mohr Siebeck’s WUNT II series, is a revision of her doctoral dissertation at Durham University, which was supervised by Professor John M. G. Barclay. The book consists of seven chapters—an introduction and conclusion with the second, third, and fourth chapters entitled “Faith and Participation in…” 1 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, respectively. Pifer’s discussion of Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians is divided into two chapters and entitled simply “Galatians 2:15–21” (chapter 5) and “Galatians 3–6” (chapter 6).

Christ’s Associations

In Community, Jason Borges, John S. KLOPPENBORG, NT social setting, Yale University Press on September 11, 2020 at 3:00 pm

2020.09.16 | John S. Kloppenborg. Christ’s Associations: Connecting and Belonging in the Ancient City. New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 2019. ISBN: 9780300217049.

Review by Jason Borges, Durham University.

New Testament scholarship since the 1970s has explored the social history of early Christian origins. Wayne Meeks, Abraham Malherbe, Gerd Theissen, Howard Kee, and others charted the social aspects of early Christ communities, with a focus on the leadership structure, economic status, and ritual activities of these groups. John Kloppenborg’s Christ’s Associations stands in this current of social-science history and extends the conversation.