Plenary papers for the 2018 Conference:
Of Tombs and Texts: Jerusalem's Necropolis and the Burial of Jesus
Professor Mark Goodacre, Duke University, NC, USA
Chair: Helen Bond
Theophanic Christology in the Gospel of Matthew (The Graham Stanton Memorial Lecture)
Professor Roland Deines, Internationale Hochschule, Liebenzell, Germany
Chair: John Barclay
The author of Matthew’s Gospel presents to its readers a world full of divine activities. Angels appear and talk to humans, as do ancient heroes from the past. God can be heard and his Spirit can be seen, but the same is true for the devil and his demonic hosts. All these divine forces make appearances in Matthew’s gospel as they have an interest in the world of humans. They are not aloof bystanders in the unfolding drama but have a part to play. This theiophanic realism is perhaps one of the main obstacles for contemporary readers when it comes to the historical plausibility of the Gospel’s account. How serious can an author be taken, who attributes historical agency to divine beings and reckons “transempirical realities” as experienceable? For the people of Israel, and accordingly for Jesus and his followers among Israel, theiophanies were an important and often decisive means of God’s active involvement in the historical process. They form an essential – a visible, tangible, and audible – part of the divine partaking and presence in Israel’s history. Matthew deliberately uses this kind of story-telling at the beginning and end of his story, where angels appear, God’s voice can be heard, the Spirit descends visible and risen saints walk the streets of the “Holy City.” In these passages Jesus is object of the divine action.
In the middle section of the Gospel, however, the main representative of the divine world is Jesus. In Matthew’s description, his public ministry can be read as a theophanic demonstration, as nearly every aspect of his ministry relates to elements of divine self-disclosures and divine identity. In this central part, all theiophanic activities serve to increase the status of Jesus: the demons who know him have to obey him; the heroes of Israel’s sacred past (and the disciples—present and future) have to listen to him (17:3-5); and God authorizes him and his way to the cross in front of the three disciples (17:5). This paper will summarise these observations under the title of a “theophanic Christology” and explore the consequences this may have for the understanding of Jesus.
The Use of Scripture in the Gospel of John: Recent Trends and New Possibilities
Dr Catrin Williams, University of Wales Trinity St David, Lampeter
Chair: Susan Docherty