June Sydney Meeting
June Melbourne Symposium
April Sydney Meeting
March Melbourne Symposium
2018 FBS National Conference
FBS Member Achievements for 2017
2017 Annual General Meeting
2017 ABR Mailed Out
Sydney November Meeting
ABR Postage Rate Increase
Death of Bruce Malina
Report on the August Melbourne Symposium
Sydney August Meeting
2018 ABR Subscription Rate Rise
June Sydney Meeting
June Melbourne Symposium
April Sydney Meeting
March Melbourne Symposium
at New Venue
Current issue of
Australian Biblical Review
News and Coming Events

June Sydney Meeting

The second Sydney meeting for 2018 was held on Friday, 15 June, at Moore Theological College. The paper was presented by Dr Gareth Wearne (bio below*) with the title, “Recent theories about memory and the copying of biblical texts” (abstract below**).

Bio: Dr Gareth Wearne is a Lecturer in Biblical Studies in the Australian Catholic University’s Faculty of Theology and Philosophy. He was recently awarded the Dirk Smilde Scholarship at the University of Groningen’s Qumran Institute, which is devoted to Dead Sea Scrolls research.
Abstract: In recent years, approaches to textual criticism have been impacted by the development of models that emphasise the role of memory in the processes of copying and transmission (Person 1998; Martin 2010; Carr 2011). Such models foreground the role of the copyist as both reader and re-composer of literary texts and an active participant in the transmission process. Moreover, they emphasise the importance of the immanent tradition—that is “the set of metonymic, associative meanings institutionally delivered and received through a dedicated idiom or register either during or on the authority of traditional oral performance” (Foley 1995: 7)—as a potential source of inspiration and interference in the copying process. According to this view, textual criticism can offer unique insights into the reception and cognitive processing of authoritative texts in specific contexts. David Carr, especially, has foregrounded cognitive processes associated with the internalisation of written material and its reproduction from memory. He has proposed a typology of variants which may emerge from such a process, including inter alia the exchange of synonymous words, word order variation, and the presence and absence of conjunctions and minor modifiers (Carr 2011). Similarly, Raymond Person has advocated an understanding of the ancient Israelite scribe as performer, arguing that the processes of textual reproduction are analogous to oral performance inasmuch as they allow for greater or lesser degrees of “synonymous” variation—that is, variants which operate at the level of lexis but not semantics (e.g. the inclusion or omission of epithets; Person 1998). Yet, notwithstanding the explanatory potential of such models, others have sounded a cautionary note, pointing to recent theorists’ limited engagement with the manuscript evidence (Hendel 2016) and their failure to consider the current state of cognitive science when developing the theoretical basis of such models (Wearne 2017). This paper will survey the contours of recent discussions and ask can we really have a cognitively informed approach to textual criticism?
June Melbourne Symposium

The second Melbourne gathering of the Fellowship for Biblical Studies for this year was held on Thursday, 14 June, at the Centre for Theology and Ministry (CTM), 29 College Crescent, Parkville. The speaker was Prof. Dorothy Lee, who presented a paper titled: “Fictive Kinship and its Symbolism in the Literary Structures of 1 John.”
Brief Abstract: This paper explores notions of kinship in 1 John and the way they develop through the complex structures of the epistle.
Bio: Dorothy Lee is Frank Woods Research Professor of New Testament at Trinity College. Born in Scotland, she studied first Classics then theology, gaining a doctorate in Johannine studies at the University of Sydney. Since then she has published widely both in the Gospels, with a focus on narrative criticism and theology, and also in feminist studies.

Our other dinners are: 30 August: Sue Boorer (OT), 1 November: Rosemary Canavan (NT) and Annual General Meeting.

April Sydney Meeting

The first Sydney meeting for 2018 was held on 13 April. The paper was given by special guest, Dr Anne Gardner (from Melbourne) who gave a paper titled, “Why Nebuchadnezzar?” (see abstract below).
Bio: Dr Anne Gardner is an adjunct Senior Research Fellow at Monash University in Australia. She has published widely across the areas of the Hebrew Bible and the Inter-Testamental Literature.
Abstract: Why Nebuchadnezzar? In Daniel 4 and 5, Nebuchadnezzar makes an appearance, although recent scholars think that Nabonidus is the real character under the spotlight. Arguments for and against this viewpoint are assessed and it will be seen that while the story about Nabonidus plays a part in chapter 4, Nebuchadnezzar’s role is just as important. Historical elements that appear in the tale are brought to the fore as is the need to justify Israel’s God. The relevance of Nebuchadnezzar/Nabonidus and Belshazzar in the context of the events leading to the Maccabean crisis is apparent in Daniel 5 and links with the use of Belshazzar as a cipher in the headings to Daniel 7 and 8.
March Melbourne Symposium

The first Melbourne symposium of FBS for 2018 was held on Thursday, 8 March, at the Centre for Theology & Ministry, Parkville. The speaker was Dr Kris Sonek, who presented a paper titled: “Wrangling with Abraham: An Evaluation of the Recent Studies of Genesis 12–25.”

Abstract: In a forthcoming article to be published in Currents in Biblical Research, I have surveyed a representative selection of works on the Abraham narratives published over the last 17 years. To keep the survey within reasonable limits, the evaluation of modern trends in the study of Gen 12–25 had to be kept to the minimum. In this paper, I will offer extensive comments on the recent trends in the scholarship related to the Abraham narratives.

Our other symposiums for 2018 will be on 14 June (Dorothy Lee [NT]), 30 August (Sue Boorer [OT]) and 1 November (Rosemary Canavan [NT], with the Annual General Meeting).

2018 FBS National Conference

The 2018 FBS National Conference will be held in Sydney on 26–28 September at Australian Catholic University, North Sydney. Members are encouraged to consider submitting a paper to the conference and forward the call for papers to any contacts, especially PhD students who might be interested in submitting a paper. The procedure for submitting a paper and details of the keynote speaker for the conference, Dr Mark Brett, can be downloaded here.

FBS Member Achievements in 2017

The list of achievements by FBS members during 2017 is now online at the Achievements Page.

Annual General Meeting

The Annual General Meeting of FBS was held on Thursday, 2 November at the Centre for Theology & Ministry, Parkville. The Presidential paper was delivered by Dr Mary Coloe pbvm and was entitled, “The Missionary Prayer of Jesus: John 17:1$#150;26.” The paper was very well received and there was much discussion afterwards.

Bio: Mary teaches in the field of New Testament studies, with a particular focus on the Gospel of John. She has taught at the Australian Catholic University, and has also taught at Boston College, the Jesuit School of Theology Berkeley, and at the Ecce Homo Biblical Institute Jerusalem. She currently teaches at Yarra theological Union. She was recently appointed by the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity to participate in a 5 year Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Disciples of Christ.

A list of members’ achievements was presented to the meeting. This list is compiled at this time of year and achievements are listed on this web site. Any further achievements not notified yet should be emailed to the Secretary by 16 November, providing details of any publications or other notable achievements made during 2017. The list will be added to this site after that date.

The following officers and members of the Executive were elected for the next year:

President:Rosemary Canavan
Vice-President:Keith Dyer
Secretary:Merryl Blair
Treasurer:Brian Incigneri
ABR OT Editor:Anne Gardner
ABR NT EditorDavid Sim
ABR Book Review Editor:Michael Theophilos
Committee Member:Sunny Chen
Committee Member:Chris Monaghan

Melbourne events during 2018 will be:

Symposium, 8 March (Speaker: Kris Sonek)
Symposium, 14 June (Speaker: Dorothy Lee)
Symposium, 30 August (Speaker: Sue Boorer)
Annual General Meeting, 1 November (with the Presidential Address by Rosemary Canavan)

2017 Australian Biblical Review Mailed Out

The 2017 issue (Volume 65) of Australian Biblical Review has been mailed out to subscribers and members on 5 October. Details of all of the articles included in this issue are now online. The Index of Authors has also been updated. The book reviews are available in full text in the Book Reviews Section

Notice of the November Sydney Meeting

The next meeting of the Sydney branch of the Fellowship for Biblical Studies will be held on Friday, 3 November, 2017, at Moore Theological College, with lunch at 1.00pm at the “Tea point” area on Level 1 in the new main building of Moore College (1 King St, Newtown; please see map) where FBS met earlier in the year. The paper will be delivered at 2.00pm in an adjacent meeting room. The speaker will be Zachary Thomas (bio below), who will give a paper titled “New Light on Abel Beth Maacah in the Far North of Israel.”

Members must RSVP to Rachelle Gilmour if they are coming. Lunch is available for $7.50. Members must let Andrew Shead know by Tuesday, 31 October if they would like to be catered for (members are also welcome to bring their own lunch).
Bio: Zachary Thomas is a PhD student in the history and archaeology of ancient Israel, at Macquarie University. His thesis is concerned with developing a new model of the kingdom of David and Solomon in line with the native form of society in the ancient Near East. He has excavated at the site of Tel Abel Beth Maacah and others in Israel.
Extract: Abel Beth Maacah is primarily known in the Hebrew Bible from the events of 2 Samuel 20, in which Sheba Ben Bichri, having called for an abortive rebellion against king David, flees there only to be pursued by David’s general Joab. The subsequent negotiation between Joab and a ‘Wise Woman’ is itself an interesting but difficult interpretive challenge. Abel Beth Maacah is commonly located at the ancient site of Tell Abil el-Qameh in the Hulah Valley, in the far north of Israel practically adjacent to the Lebanese border. The site has been under archaeological investigation in a joint project of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Azusa Pacific University since 2012. These excavations have revealed exiting finds from several periods and in particular the early Iron Age, the historical setting for the events of David’s reign. The aim of this paper is to discuss how the results the site’s excavation may be considered together with the biblical record in shedding new light on this important locale.
ABR Postage Rate Increase

Australia Post has announced that the postage rates for international letters increase from 2 October 2017. The new subscription and postage rates for Australian Biblical Review can be found on the ABR Page.

Death of Bruce Malina

The renowned New Testament scholar, Dr Bruce J. Malina has died. See here for details and for an account of his life and work.

August Melbourne Symposium

The August Symposium of FBS in Melbourne was held on Thursday, 24 August at the Centre for Theology & Ministry, Parkville. The paper, delivered by Dr Liz Boase, Lecturer in Old Testament Studies, Flinders University, SA, was entitled, “Good Figs Bad Figs: Reading Jeremiah 24 as Chosen Trauma” (a work in progress).

Abstract: Jeremiah 24 comes as something of a surprise in the overarching narrative of the book. Those in exile are identified as “good figs,” the ones upon whom the future of Israel rests. The Jerusalem community, by contrast, are branded as “bad figs,” those upon whom God’s judgment will come. The identification of the exiled community as good figs interrupts the inevitable conclusion that those who remained behind were the favoured ones. Pointing to the shift in focus to the exilic community, as well as the message of future hope being based in the fate of this community, the text has been identified as emerging from the exilic community after either the first (597 BCE) or second (586) expulsions. There is little consensus, however, with regard to the provenance of the passage. Rather than attempting to argue in favour of one or other of these dates, this paper explores how this text might have functioned both for those exiled in 597 and for the exilic and post-exilic communities in the wake of 586 BCE. Drawing on the insights of both Jeffrey Alexander and Vamik Volkan, I will argue that this passage constructs the exile as a “chosen trauma,” contributing to the formation of a trauma narrative which helps to define communal identity. The paper will explore the usefulness of this interpretive approach for understanding the theological function of Jeremiah 24 within these fractured communities.

Liz Boase is senior lecturer in biblical studies at Flinders University/Adelaide College of Divinity. In recent years her research has focused in two areas: ecological hermeneutics and trauma hermeneutics. She is founding co-chair of the SBL section, Biblical Literature and the Hermeneutics of Trauma, and co-editor of Bible through the Lens of Trauma.

The paper was very well received and there was much discussion in the question session. The next gathering will be on 2 November for the AGM, and the Presidential address from Dr Mary Coloe pbvs.

Notice of the August Sydney Meeting

A meeting of the Sydney FBS was held on Friday, 25 August at Macquarie University, in The Museum of Ancient Cultures. The paper was given by Dr David Starling (see bio below)* on the topic, “‘She Who Is in Babylon’: 1 Peter and the Hermeneutics of Empire” (abstract below)**.
* David I. Starling teaches New Testament, Greek, and Theology at Morling College in Sydney, Australia. His PhD studies were at the University of Sydney and his thesis, on Paul’s use of exile imagery, was published as Not My People: Gentiles as Exiles in Pauline Hermeneutics (BZNW 184; de Gruyter, 2011). Subsequent publications include Theology and the Future: Evangelical Assertions and Explorations (London: T&T Clark, 2014; co-edited with Trevor Cairney), UnCorinthian Leadership (Cascade, 2014), The Gender Conversation (Wipf & Stock, 2016; co-edited with Edwina Murphy) and Hermeneutics as Apprenticeship (Baker, 2016). His current projects include commentaries on Ephesians, Colossians and 1 Corinthians.
**Abstract: A much-discussed topic in the last three decades’ scholarship on 1 Peter has been the stance that the author takes toward the values and ethos of the Graeco-Roman social environment within which the readers conducted their lives as communities of Christ-followers. The benchmarks for the discussion were set by David Balch and John Elliott, whose debate in the early 1980s established the terms of the conversation as a set-piece contest between “conformity” and “resistance” as rival accounts of the letter’s relationship to its socio-political context. More recently, scholars including David Horrell, Warren Carter, Jennifer Bird and Betsy Bauman–Martin have argued that the long-running “Balch–Elliott debate” needs to be focussed more deliberately on the particularities of the imperial context and the shape that it gave to the power-structures within which the letter’s readers were required to relate to their social environment. In this paper, I build on their work and respond to their proposals, arguing that another crucial particularity of the text that needs to be taken into account is the tradition of understanding within the author encourages his readers to interpret that imperial power and their relation to it. With those two considerations in mind, this paper examines the ways in which the author’s use of OT traditions contributes to the stance that he urges his readers to take toward the imperial dynamics of fear, patronage and honour that shaped their socio-political context, tracing the ways in which both the socially “conformist” and the socially “resistant” dimensions of the letter’s injunctions are expressed in terms of scriptural categories and grounded in scriptural patterns of judgement. The picture that emerges is one that offers a more coherent and, arguably, more plausible account of the rhetorical strategy and social ethics of 1 Peter.

2018 ABR Subscription Rate Rise

The subscription rate for the 2018 issue of Australian Biblical Review will rise to $24.00 (plus postage). This is the first price rise since 2010. The discount for Australian and New Zealand subscribers has been removed, so all subscribers will pay the same rate from next year. Current subscription and postage rates can always be found on the ABR Page.

June Sydney Meeting

An FBS meeting was held in Sydney on Friday, 16 June, at Moore Theological College. The speaker was Dr Kit Barker from Sydney Missionary and Bible College who gave a paper titled: “Trapped in Time: The Rhetorical Function of Dischronology in the Book of Judges” (see abstract below).
Dr Kit Barker is Lecturer in Old Testament at Sydney Missionary and Bible College. He is the author of Imprecation as Divine Discourse: Speech Act Theory, Dual Authorship, and Theological Interpretation (Eisenbrauns, 2016) and co-editor of the recently published Finding Lost Words: The Church’s Right to Lament (Wipf & Stock, 2017). He and his family attend Narrabeen Baptist Church where Kit serves as an elder.
Abstract: Two lines of inquiry have shaped recent discussion of the book of Judges: chronology and rhetoric. Many regard the chronology of the cycle section as problematic and attempt to reconcile the account with the temporal reference in 1 Kings 6:1. Others are concerned with the rhetoric of Judges, focusing on the final chapters and debating their relationship to the central section of the book and to the Deuteronomistic History. To date, these two lines of inquiry have largely been discussed in isolation from each other. This is unfortunate. Instead, I argue that the presentation of chronology in the book’s final form is central to its rhetorical strategy. Specifically, the presentation of chronology aids an elaborate rhetorical strategy of entrapment, unveiled in the final chapters with the reference to Phinehas. I propose that this disclosure of dischronology “springs the trap” of the earlier chapters and reveals the rhetorical climax of the book.
June Melbourne Symposium

The June Symposium of FBS in Melbourne was held on Thursday, 8 June at the Centre for Theology & Ministry (CTM) in Parkville. On the 500th anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation a paper was presented by Dr Stephen Haar, titled “‘To Be Lutheran Is To Be a Bad Exegete’: Reading the Bible in the Light of the Lutheran Reformation.”
Abstract: In Pauline scholarship the label ‘Lutheran’ has been used as an ‘out-of-bounds’ marker: a slur synonymous with being ‘traditionalist,’ advocate for the ‘old perspective,’ or simply being ‘wrong’. However, in the interest of academic clarity, and out of fairness to the living tradition that bears this name, it needs to be said that this pejorative use of the label ‘Lutheran’ in recent scholarship has been unhelpful at best. This presentation will explore what it means to read, or more accurately listen to the Bible with Luther. It will consider what Luther continues to offer academic study of the Bible in the twenty-first century.
Stephen Haar is the Academic Dean and Vice-Principal of Australian Lutheran College (ALC); a college of the University of Divinity. He is also Senior Lecturer (Biblical Studies). An ordained pastor of the Lutheran Church of Australia (LCA), Stephen served as a parish pastor for 26 years prior to joining the faculty of ALC in 2005. He has been a member of the Australian Lutheran-Roman Catholic Dialogue, since 1995, and serves on the LCA Commission for Theology and Inter-Church Relations.

April Sydney Meeting

The first FBS meeting in Sydney for 2017 was held on Friday, 28 April, 1–3pm at Moore Theological College. Prof. Elaine Wainwright presented a paper titled “Attentive to Weeds and Trees: Listening Anew to the Matthean Jesus” (see the abstract below).
Elaine Wainwright is Professor Emerita Theology of the University of Auckland where she worked for 13 years (2003–15). She is a New Testament scholar specialising in the Gospel of Matthew and contemporary hermeneutical perspectives for reading biblical texts. Her most recent publication is Habitat, Human, and Holy: An Eco-Rhetorical Reading of the Gospel of Matthew, the Earth Bible Commentary on the Matthean Gospel and she is currently co-authoring a feminist commentary on the Gospel of Matthew for the new Wisdom Commentary Series edited by Barbara Reid and published by Collegeville Liturgical Press.
Abstract of Paper: In a recent publication, Habitat, Human, and Holy: An Eco-Rhetorical Reading of the Gospel of Matthew, I developed a framework for reading biblical texts ecologically in response to the profound ecological challenges our world is facing. This paper will engage with that framework but will nuance it further as a result of a review panel at the recent SBL meeting in San Antonio. I will give particular attention to those texts in which material elements such as weeds and trees characterise Jesus’ teaching.
March Melbourne Symposium at New Venue

The first Melbourne symposium was held on Thursday, 16 March at the Wyselaskie Auditorium, Centre for Theology & Ministry (CTM), Parkville, with a paper by Dr Mark O’Brien OP titled: ‘Discerning the Dynamics of Jeremiah 1–25 (MT).’

It is generally agreed that the Book of Jeremiah is the product of several stages of editing or redaction. Does the final product have any order or unity, or is it, in the words of McKane ‘a rolling corpus,’ a somewhat untidy collection of prose and poetry? This paper will argue that the various parts of Jeremiah 1–25 (MT) have been carefully assembled in order to unfold a coherent theology of the Word of God via the dynamic interaction of key characters.
Mark O’Brien is a Dominican priest who did his theological studies in Australia, Ireland, Rome and the US, obtaining a DTheol from the MCD in 1987. He currently lectures in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament at Catholic Theological College and Yarra Theological Union. His most recent book is Restoring the Right Relationship. The Bible on Divine Righteousness. (Adelaide: ATF, 2014).

Other dates and speakers for the year are:

8 JuneDr Stephen Haar (Dean of ALC; Senior Lecturer in Theology)
24 AugustDr Liz Boase (Lecturer in Old Testament, Flinders University)
2 NovemberAGM and Presidential address from Dr Mary Coloe pbvs

FBS News

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