20 August 2019
Professor James Harrison, a member of the Society of New Testament Studies, went to the 74th General Meeting of SNTS at Marburg, Germany, from late July to early August. This beautiful university city, through which the Lahn river flows, is conspicuous for the fact that the famous twentieth century New Testament scholar, Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976), taught in the Theology Department of the Philipps Universität. It was also the university at which another giant of New Testament scholarship, Adolf Deissmann (1866-1937), wrote his second book from 1888-1892.
While Jim was at Marburg, he co-hosted the Papyrology, Epigraphy and New Testament Seminar, along with Professor Peter Arzt-Grabner, from Salzburg University. This Seminar, in which there were three sessions, concentrated on the importance of ancient inscriptions and papyri for the interpretation of the New Testament. The Seminar will run a further four years before it comes up again for renewal.
The title of the paper which Jim presented at one of the Seminar sessions was titled The Citizenship Decrees of Hellenistic Ephesus and the Politeuma of Roman Philippi: Evaluating Paul’s “Alternative” Citizenship in Epigraphic and Papyrological Context. Here Jim explored a wide selection of the available documentary evidence from the Graeco-Roman world on citizenship and its relevance for four New Testament verses: Ephesians 2:12, 19; Philippians 1:27; 3:20. Paul, he argued, was contrasting the superiority of the new heavenly citizenship offered in Christ with one of the most prestigious awards that people in the early first century AD could have had conferred upon them. The paper will appear as a chapter in a 2020 book, edited by Professor Harrison and Dr Brad Bitner, called New Documents Illustrating the History of Early Christianity Volume 11: Ephesus. This will be the first of four volumes to come on the biblical cities, each published by Eerdmans Press, edited by Jim with various international and Australian scholars.
Professor James Harrison is the Research Director at Sydney College of Divinity.