Ernest van Eck

Ernest van Eck
University of Pretoria | UP · Departament of New Testament Studies

MA DD

About

153
Publications
61,150
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672
Citations
Additional affiliations
September 2014 - November 2014
University of Toronto
Position
  • Professor
January 2011 - present
University of Pretoria
Position
  • Professor (Full)
July 2006 - December 2010
University of Pretoria
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
Education
January 1991 - September 1993
University of Pretoria
Field of study
  • New Testament
January 1990 - November 1990
University of Pretoria
Field of study
  • Greek
January 1989 - December 1989
University of Pretoria
Field of study
  • New Testament

Publications

Publications (153)
Article
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An unexpected patron: A social-scientific and realistic reading of the parable of the Vineyard Labourers (Mt 20:1–15) Many readings of the Parable of the Labourers in the vineyard want to treat the owner as representing God. Knowledge of actual agricultural practices relating to the management of vineyards suggest, on the contrary, that the details...
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This article presents a social-scientific and realistic reading of the parable of the Unmerciful Servant. The parables of Jesus are realistic stories about everyday events in 1st-century Palestine that evoke specific social realia and practices known to its first hearers. As recent studies on the parables have shown, papyri from early Roman Egypt p...
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In the quest for the historical Jesus, memory studies are seen as an important breakthrough in the study of the historical Jesus and the way forward in establishing the historicity of the Gospel traditions. This article evaluates the claim made by memory studies by evaluating memory studies’ critique on the methodology of the criteria approach. In...
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This article presents a social-scientific and realistic interpretation of the parable of the Feast. The characteristics of a pre-industrial city are used to determine the realism of the parable. The social-scientific interpretation of the parable considers meals as ceremonies. The cultural values embedded in meals, namely honour and shame, patronag...
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This article proposes a methodology for interpreting the parables of Jesus. The methodology put forward has as starting point two convictions. Firstly, the difference between the context of Jesus’ parables as told by Jesus the Galilean in 30 CE and the literary context of the parables in the gospels has to be taken seriously. Secondly, an effort ha...
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The organisational structure of the United Methodist church shares many features with the early catholic institutions. Increased institutionalisation, that is, authority connected with office, is the clearest sign of Early Catholicism. By the late first century, the titles of bishop (ἐπίσκοπος), elder (πρεσβύτερος) and deacon (διάκονος) denoted spe...
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This article proposes an alternate way of reading the parable of Jesus with special emphasis on Luke 18:1–8. The goal of this contextual reading is the search for the liberation of the violated and disenfranchised widows in independent Zimbabwe. In the reading of the parable, the sociocultural and historical context of Luke is used for an informed...
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This article presents a literary exegetical analysis of the prologue (John 1:1-18) of the Johannine narrative with special attention to the author’s (narrator’s) point of view. The author sets the tone of his gospel and writes with literary beauty while showing his theological points of view that will be seen throughout his narrative to follow. He...
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The parables told by Jesus the Galilean, when read from a realistic perspective, can be seen as a window to the exploitative socio-economic, political and religious situation of the peasantry in first-century Roman Palestine. The Galilean’s parables picture this exploitative world, and also speak of ways to address the societal ills of his day. In...
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After the colonial era in the early sixties, the practice of employing and paying workers in Cameroon both in the civil service and in the private sector became very crucial, considering the fact that the situation of unemployment is so endemic to Cameroon as a paradigm for Africa’s unemployment. From an economic perspective, Cameroon has a booming...
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In any research of the biblical themes in Scriptures, the exegete must exercise discipline in strictly adhering to an exegetical process wherein the text is permitted to speak for itself in the context of the passage. This article therefore explored the literary traits and analysed characterisations in the story of the lame man at the pool of Bethe...
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This article examines the fifth petition of the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew in the light of Ewe-Ghanaian conflict management model. Theoretically, the article employs a combination of the historical-critical and indigenous mother tongue biblical hermeneutical approaches to explore the implication of the petition for Ewe-Ghanaian Christian spirituality...
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This article argues that the contemporary mainline understanding of marriage (theology of marriage), especially in the local South African denominational context, is not ‘based on the Bible’, but rather on a cultural construct. Moreover, this construct is not based on Judeo-Christian values and norms; it is the result of early Christianity’s encult...
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This article seeks to reconstruct the phrase τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον (Mt 6:11; Lk 11:3) in the light of an African predicament with the Ewe-Ghanaian context in focus. The article posits that the various interpretations of the phrase throughout the epochs of Christianity have arisen as a result of the ambiguity associated with ἐπιούσιος and the...
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This article examines the phrase άλλα ροσαι ημάς άπό του πονηρού in Matthew's rendition of the Lord's Prayer through the Ewe-Ghanaian demonological lens. It employs a combination of the historical-critical and indigenous mother tongue biblical hermeneutics methods to address the ambiguity associated with the phrase άπό του πονηρού in the petition....
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This article aims to present a realistic reading of the parable of the Lost Coin in Q. A realistic reading of the parable focuses on the social realia invoked by the parables, that is, the social realities and practices (cultural scripts) embedded by any given parable. As will be indicated, available documented papyri can be used to identify the po...
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Van Eck, E, 2018, Hedrick, C.W., 2016, Parabolic figures or narrative fictions? Seminal essays on the stories of Jesus, in Review of Biblical Literature 11/2018, https://www.bookreviews.org/pdf/11306_12573.pdf.
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The Department of New Testament and Related Literature (formerly the Department of New Testament Studies) for the past 100 years has had a proud tradition of practicing life-giving theology. From very early on, several members of the department were critical voices against exclusive and discriminatory narratives of their time. Representing the voic...
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The history of Zimbabwe is characterised by a series of challenges, which, at different turning points, manifested themselves through violent conflicts, since its independence in 1980. Faced with the challenges associated with violence, socio-political, economic and religious conflicts, civil unrest and polarisation of the Zimbabwean society from 2...
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Jesus preached the kingdom of God, with the principle of general reciprocity as a cardinal aspect. For Jesus, this kingdom was an alternative social world to the oppressive and exploitative social system of the Greco-Roman world. This article seeks to analyse the parable of the Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32), focusing on Luke 15:11-13, against the socio-...
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This article examines the phrase ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου in Matthew and Luke’s versions of the Lord’s Prayer in the light of Ewe-Ghanaian eschatological vision. Theoretically, it uses a combination of the historical–critical and indigenous Mother Tongue Biblical Hermeneutical approaches to explore the implication of βασιλεία for the Ewe-Ghanaian Chri...
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New Perspective scholars challenge Protestant interpretations of Paul. It used to be the case, they state, that Protestants assumed that Paul was to Judaism as Luther was to Medieval Catholicism. Both men supposedly reacted against legalistic religions and championed grace-based faiths. However, in 1977, E.P. Sanders wrote Paul and Palestinian Juda...
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This article traces the meaning of κατάλυμά and πανδοχεῖον in available Roman-Egypt papyri, the LXX, early-Jewish literature, and Greek writings to determine the meaning of πανδοχεῖον [inn] used in Luke 10:34. It is argued that a lexical study of κατάλυμά and πανδοχεῖον and available information on travel in the ancient world indicate that there is...
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A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels. By J.R. Daniel Kirk. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2016. Pp. xvii + 638. Cloth, $60.00. The most recent works on the Christology of the New Testament (e.g., Bauckham, Rowe, Hays, Hutardo, Gathercole, Boyarin, and Fletcher-Louis) argue that the gospel narratives...
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To interpret biblical texts appropriately, it is important to understand the social institutions and scripts that underlie the text. The similarities between some concepts of personality in first-century Mediterranean society and the Akan society of Ghana makes it possible to read the letter to the Hebrews (hereafter referred to as Hebrews) through...
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This article deals with Jesus and the outsiders in John 4, with particular focus on John 4:1-42. Methodologically, the study focuses on social identity theory, and asks the question of how Jesus gets the Samaritan woman, who is a member of the outside group, into the insider group. The focus of the study is thus what the behaviour and attitude of t...
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To interpret biblical texts appropriately, it is important to understand the social institutions and scripts that underlie the text. The similarities between the concepts of personality in first-century Mediterranean society and those of the Akan society of Ghana makes it possible to read the letter to the Hebrews (hereafter referred to as Hebrews)...
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On the occasion of the 500 year commemoration of the Reformation and the centenary celebration of the Faculty of Theology HTS Centenary Volume Two is dedicated to the Netherdutch Reformed Church in Africa (NRCA), the oldest partner of the theological faculty at the University of Pretoria – with grateful recognition to what the NRCA contributed to t...
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The aim of this chapter is twofold. Firstly, the chapter presents a comprehensive study of the meaning of the term ἀναίδειαν in extant papyrological evidence. The conclusion reached is that the term, as is the case in early Jewish and patristic writings, the LXX, Graeco-Roman literature and in early Christian writings, always carries a negative and...
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This article pays tribute to the contribution made by Yolanda Dreyer regarding critique on the prevalence of patriarchy in society, as well as her defence of homosexuality as a normal sexual orientation. Taking as point of departure her work on the woman as created in God’s image, it is argued that understanding the metaphor ‘created in God’s image...
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This article, taking the Faculty’s centenary celebration slogan of ‘Gateway to’ as cue, reflects on the contributions made by lecturers in the Department of New Testament Studies, University of Pretoria, that ‘opened the gates’ for the disadvantaged, excluded and marginalised. How did these scholars envisage inclusive believing communities and an o...
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Marcus Borg, one of the most prominent New Testament scholars in the past four decades, is considered by many in the Netherdutch Reformed Church of Africa as a liberal scholar. His understanding of the origin of the Bible, the way he interprets the Bible, and what he sees as the status and function of the Bible, should therefore be dismissed. A com...
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The Akan people of Ghana have concepts of ethnicity and social identity which are similar to those found in the Mediterranean world, which find expression in the issues addressed in the letter to the Hebrews. This similarity makes the reading of Hebrews in light of Akan ethnicity and social identity possible, giving one the expected meaning from th...
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Ethnicity reasoning offers one way of looking at social identity in the letter to the Hebrews. The context of socio-economic abuse and hardships of the audience creates a situation in which ethnicity in social identity becomes an important issue for the author of Hebrews to address. This article is a social-scientific study which explores how the a...
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A text cannot read itself. We have to read it, and in this reading there is not only one normative reading or one normative context from which a text can be read. Biblical studies has long been and still is influenced by a particular normative cultural context: the assumptions and values of the Western European and North Atlantic, male-dominated an...
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Understanding the people we meet in the Letter to the Hebrews (hereafter: Hebrews) with Western concepts of personality is misleading. This is because people in today's Western society are different from those who lived in Mediterranean societies during the first-century. This article uses personality as a social-scientific model to study Hebrews....
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Papyri from early Roman Egypt that are contemporaneous with first-century Palestine provide ancient comparanda of the economic and social practices and realities presupposed by the sayings and parables of Jesus. As such, these papyri, where applicable, provide a window through which the realism of Jesus' parables can be assessed. In this paper, a s...
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The parable of the Feast (Lk 14:16b–23) is perhaps the example par excellence in the New Testament that addresses spatial justice and reconciliation. In the parable, Jesus advocates for the eradication of all boundaries linked to the social–economic status of the marginalised. The parable argues, from a social justice perspective, that there is no...
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This article offers a critique of the contemporary Contemplative Tradition’s view of spiritual transformation from the lens of the universally accepted letters of Paul. The article argues that contemporary contemplatives, especially Dallas Willard and Richard Foster, differ from Paul in three principle areas. Firstly, whereas Paul’s concept of tran...
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A recent empirical study on food shortage in South African urban townships indicates that food shortage embodies multi-faceted aspects with broader social implications, such as the sense of personal dignity, the ability to openly associate with others and a loss of self-identity. It is argued that the parables of Jesus, when read as symbols of soci...
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This article presents a narratological reading of the Gospel of Mark with special attention given to the role, function and rhetorical impact of point of view. It is argued that through the use of ‘witnesses’ ranging from the omniscient narrator, to the character God, to the Old Testament Scriptures, the author of Mark presents a point of view that...
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This article presents a narratological reading of the Gospel of Mark with special attention given to the role, function and rhetorical impact of point of view.It is argued that through the use of ‘witnesses’ ranging from the omniscient narrator, to the character God, to the Old Testament Scriptures, the author of Mark presents a point of view that...
Research
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Book review of J.G. Crossley, 2015, Jesus and the chaos of history: Redirecting the life of the historical Jesus, Oxford University Press, Oxford (Biblical Refigurations.), in Histos 10 (2016) xviii–xxii, http://research.ncl.ac.uk/histos/documents/2016RR04 vanEckon Crossley.pdf.
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This article investigates the role of the Law in the Lutheran Church of Uganda. It investigates how the Law is understood and lived among Lutherans in Uganda. Luther, the sixteenthcentury Reformer, understood and interpreted the Law in terms of the social and cultural context of his time. Luther’s background is very different and so much removed fr...
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This article reflects on a possible methodology that can be used to interpret the parables of Jesus preserved in the Synoptics (and the Gospel of Thomas). It is argued that the available versions of the parables of Jesus have already been allegorised, and that this should be taken into consideration when the extant versions of parables are interpre...
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Globalisation develops at a staggering pace that envelopes and infiltrates local South African communities in various ways. Through technology a person can have access to anything today. Should the church try to keep up, or compete with such a reality? This article aims to encourage the church to develop a responsible missional character, which emb...
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This article presents how Paul, in 1 Thessalonians, executes the process of the formation of the Thessalonian community. Using the sociological concept of symbolic boundaries, it is argued that the resources – (1) the kerygmatic narrative, (2) the local narratives, and (3) the ethical norms – that Paul incorporates into the letter take an essential...
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This article presents a social-scientific and realistic reading of the parable of the Merchant, also known as the parable of the Pearl. The parable is interpreted against the backdrop of two cultural scripts that were part of the social world of its first hearers; a negative perception of merchants and mercantilism, and the concept of limited good....
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The Editorial Board of HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies pays tribute to Prof Dr Pieter G.R. de Villiers, an internationally recognised scholar and esteemed colleague. Prof De Villiers has been the Executive Director of the Centre for Christian Spirituality and Ethics since 1990 and has been a Research Fellow and Professor Extraordinarius...
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This article attempts to read the parable of the Sower (Mk 4:3b–8) as a parable of the historical Jesus. In this reading, the focus is different from almost all previous interpretations of the parable. It is proposed that the Sower should not be understood in terms of realistic agricultural practices in 1st century Palestine, but in terms of the re...
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Jesus’ Parable of the Rich Fool: Luke 12:13-34 among Ancient Conversations on Death and Possessions. By Matthew S. Rindge. Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2011. Pp. 299. Paper, n.p. In this revision of his doctoral dissertation (Emory University, 2008), Rindge take as his point of departure that Luke’s parable of the Rich Fool is situa...
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Van Eck, E., 2014, Carey, G., 2012, The Gospel according to Luke: All flesh shall see God's salvation, Sheffield Phoenix, Sheffield, Review of Biblical Literature 02/2014, http://www.bookreviews.org/BookDetail.asp?TitleId=9082.
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The practice of ministry is an intricate issue which involves the combination of individual efforts from diverse backgrounds. This diversity has been a breeding ground for conflict between the clergy and all the stakeholders involved in parish administration. This article attempted to highlight some of these conflicts, using the Presbyterian Church...
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Die debat oor homoseksualiteit val in baie kringe nog vas by die bespreking van sewe tekste uit die Bybel. Hierdie artikel bring die sewe tekste weer eens onder die soeklig. Die eerste vertrekpunt is dat die artikel poog om nie-teoloë by die gesprek betrokke te kry, en daarom word tegniese teologiese vaktaal so ver moontlik in die teks vermy en na...
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This commentary stands in Liturgical Press's long tradition of publishing biblical scholarship and interpretation for Bible readers answering the Second Vatican Council’s call to make access to Scripture ‘open wide to the Christian faithful’. The first five Chapters focus on the gospels and Acts, and address the common questions that relate to int...
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In this contribution the relationship between mission, identity and ethics in Mark was investigated by means of a postcolonial and social-scientific reading, with a focus on patronage as a practice that constituted the main bond of human society in the 1st-century Mediterranean world. Mark's narrative world is a world of three kingdoms (the kingdom...
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This article provides a social-scientific interpretation of the role of fasting in Jesus' parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:9-14. Specifically, the article considers such social realia as honour and shame, collectivism, and purity in the interpretation of the text. The textual and social contexts of the text are considered. I...
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This article presents a social-scientific reading of the parable of the Mustard Seed. It is argued that the parable is not a parable of growth or contrast, and does not allude to the Old Testament. In taking the specifics of the Lukan version of the parable seriously, it is proposed that the Mustard Seed questions religious respectability as unders...
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In modern Western culture, gossip is seen as a malicious activity that should be avoided. In ancient oral-cultures, gossip as a cultural form did not have this negative connotation. Gossip was a necessary social game that enabled the flow of information. This information was used in the gossip network of communities to clarify, maintain and enforce...
Data
Van Eck, E., 2012, ‘Eschatology and kingdom in Mark’, in J.G. van der Watt (ed.), Eschatology in the New Testament and some related documents, pp. 64-90, Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen. (Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 315.)
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In modern Western culture, gossip is seen as a malicious activity that should be avoided. In ancient oral-cultures, gossip as a cultural form did not have this negative connotation. Gossip was a necessary social game that enabled the flow of information. This information was used in the gossip network of communities to clarify, maintain and enforce...
Article
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The Jewish peasantry as a character group in the Gospel of Luke has, thus far, not really attracted much attention in Lukan scholarship. In cases where it has been studied, scholars have often treated ὄχλος [crowd] and λαὸς [people] as synonymous characters. But the question of Jesus' identity, as depicted in the New Testament, was crucial to the e...
Chapter
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This article investigates the concepts of eschatology and kingdom in Mark from a narratological point of view. Special attention is given to the narrator's use of story time and plotted time, the narrative function of Mark 13, and the Son of man sayings in the Gospel. The two most important conclusions reached are that Mark uses the Son of man sayi...
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This article presents a social-scientific and realistic interpretation of the parable of the lost sheep (Lk 15:4–6). Attention is given to the history of the interpretation of the parable, its integrity and authenticity, and verisimilitude. It is argued that the Lukan-version (Q 15:4–6) of the parable represents the earliest layer of the historical...
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Based on a specific understanding of social memory, this article develops a social-scientific model of social memory. The model is then applied to three social memories of the events surrounding Archelaus’ journey to Rome to get his kingship over Judaea confirmed in 4 BCE: Josephus’ War (2.80—100), his Antiquities (17.208—323), and the social memor...
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This article attempted to read the parable of the minas in a 30 CE context, employing a social scientific reading. The integrity of the parable was delimited to Luke 19:12b–24 and 27. It was argued that this version of the parable (that stems from Q) goes back to the earliest layer of the historical Jesus tradition and is a realistic version of the...
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This article presents a social-scientific interpretation of the parable of the friend at midnight. As starting point, attention is given to the history of the interpretation of the parable, as well as to its integrity and authenticity. A social-scientific reading of the parable is then presented. The parable is read against the socio-economic and p...
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Van Eck, E., 2011, Cupitt, D., 2009, Jesus & Philosophy, SCM Press, London, in Ars Disputandi 11, 37-39, http://www.ArsDisputandi.org.
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In this article the argument is put forward that Jesus' parables portray him as a social prophet, as many of the issues addressed by Old Testament prophets (such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos and Hosea) are common themes in Jesus' parables. As proof for and further elaboration on the abovementioned argument, two of these themes from Jesus' parables, re...
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Van Eck, E., 2011, Tomson, P.J., 2005, Presumed guilty: How the Jews were blamed for the death of Jesus, Fortress Press, Minneapolis, in HTS Teologiese Studies/Theological Studies 67(3), 512-514.
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The pastor’s handling of trauma analogous to Jesus’ healings and exorcisms, studied from a cross cultural perspective, can be understood as acts of relocation or cope-healings. Special attention is given to the way in which Jesus healed, the results of his healings and how those who where healed and witnessed Jesus’ healings reacted. It is argued t...
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The relationship between Christology and ethics in Colossians – praxis for the postmodern believer and church In Colossians, there is a close relationship between Christology and ethics. This relationship provides answers to the many questions that face the postmodern believer and the church in the current secular world. Believers constantly battle...
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This article aimed to examine the Nederduitsch Hervormde Kerk van Afrika’s (NHKA) understanding of church office, and measure it against ‘office’ or ministries in the New Testament, and more specifically against Jesus’ calling to discipleship in Mark 8:34. The relevance of the historical Jesus for contemporary church theology is indicated by the ‘e...
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This article presented a metaphorical testimonial approach in the interpretation of 2 Timothy 2:19 and the use of sealing. As starting point, attention was given to the concept of 'seal' through the Old Testament and Ancient Near East. These periods attest the fact that sealing was also utilised in a figurative way as a sign of ownership, property...
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The pastors� handling of trauma analogous to Jesus� healings and exorcisms The pastor�s handling of trauma analogous to Jesus� healings and exorcisms, studied from a cross-cultural perspective, can be understood as acts of relocation or cope-healings. Special attention is given to the way in which Jesus healed, the results of his healings and how t...
Data
In a fear-filled world people are asking – perhaps more than ever – what happens after we die. This popular fascination with the end, with death and with what (if anything) lies beyond it has also influenced the theme and the direction of academic work in the theological field. For this reason, an informed analysis of the resurrection debate has be...
Article
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In a fear-filled world people are asking – perhaps more than ever – what happens after we die. This popular fascination with the end, with death and with what (if anything) lies beyond it has also influenced the theme and the direction of academic work in the theological field. For this reason, an informed analysis of the resurrection debate has be...

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