Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Jeffrey Bingham: Whose Authority? Which Scriptures?: The Extent and Function of Canonical and Interpretive Authority in Early Christianity

WORKSHOP THEME: Whose Authority? Which Scriptures?: The Extent and Function of Canonical and Interpretive Authority in Early Christianity
WORKSHOP ABSTRACT: The papers will examine the porousness of canonical boundaries, the perspectives on prophetic and apostolic texts in relation to other ecclesiological texts and the rise of the wise interpreter in response to a succession of hermeneutical crises. We are concerned with several questions: What concepts of authority governed both the identification of “sacred” texts and their interpretation? Were
there explicit or implicit criteria expressed by those involved in these tasks? Did fringe, “not-quite-canonical” books help with delineation of what was fully canonical, even by means of contrast? In valuation of texts, was there a “sacred-profane, yet good” contrast rather than a “straight canonical-heretical” one? Is Metzger's claim that the early Church operated a criterion of 'hearing the voice of the Shepherd' in a text more than fanciful? Can one suggest something better than he did?
WORKSHOP PARTICIPANTS: D. Jeffrey Bingham (USA), “Irenaeus and the Other Books: Non-Canonical Christian Texts in His Polemic”; Scott Moringiello (USA), “The Pneumatikos as Scriptural Interpreter: Irenaeus on 1 Cor 2:15” ; Daniel Batovici, (UK) “Hermas in Clement of Alexandria”; Mark Elliott (UK), “The Significance of the Wisdom of Solomon for the Christian Canon and Theology”
PAPER PROPOSAL (D. Jeffrey Bingham [USA], “Irenaeus and the Other Books: Non-Canonical Christian Texts in His Polemic”): Irenaeus, in his polemic against his opponents, appeals to a variety of writings at his disposal in order to ensure a compelling argument. This paper will study the way in which Irenaeus uses Christian non-canonical texts (in particular, Hermas and other second-century writings) to aid his polemic, the manner in which he represents their place in the community’s structure of authority (naming some as Scripture, graphe), and compare his perspectives regarding these texts to the manner in which he views prophetic and apostolic texts. I will argue that although he reserves a prominent place for the texts of the Prophets and Apostles other texts are joined to them. (sometimes seamlessly) and treated as “authoritative” witnesses to the Apostle’s teaching.

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