Dr. Rata and Dr. Harmon to present papers at the Evangelical Theological Society

The 61st Annual Meeting of ETS will take place in New Orleans, LA, Nov. 18-20, 2009. Grace Theological Seminary’s very own Dr. Tiberius Rata and Dr. Matt Harmon will each be presenting papers at this convention. Below are the summary descriptions of their research to be shared at ETS:

Dr. Tiberius Rata

Chair, Biblical Studies Department
Professor of Old Testament Studies
Grace College and Theological Seminary

Does it take a village?  Issues in Ezra-Nehemiah authorship

The authorship of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah has been the subject of continuous debate, conjecture, and research.  Because both Ezra and Nehemiah write in the first person, many scholars agree with the Talmud that Ezra wrote most of the work, while Nehemiah finished it.  Most scholars also suggest that an editor/compiler put the book together in its present form.  My paper will examine the textual and linguistic arguments for and/or against these options, with a special emphasis on the analysis of the Hebrew/Aramaic employed in both books.

Matthew S. Harmon, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of NT Studies
Grace College & Theological Seminary

Title: Letter Carriers and Paul’s Use of Scripture


Within the discussion of Paul’s use of Scripture, scholars have frequently wondered how his predominantly Gentile congregations would have recognized his often subtle allusions to and echoes of the Old Testament, let alone their broader context. One solution has been to suggest that the carrier of the letter played a role in further explaining its contents. In order to assess the validity of this possibility, this paper begins by exploring the role of letter carriers in the ancient world. A survey of the Pauline epistles indicates that although his letter carriers performed a similar range of tasks; they were more than merely letter carriers. They were similar to Greco-Roman envoys, sent as a manifestation of Paul’s parousia and authorized to act on his behalf. As a result of this survey two implications emerge for the study of Paul’s use of Scripture and the audience’s competency to recognize it: (1) Paul’s use of envoys suggests they were authorized to further explain the contents of the letter, including his use of Scripture; (2) Given the letter’s role to mediate the very presence of Paul himself, it is reasonable to conclude that his envoys engaged in teaching, a central component of his own ministry. Thus there are solid grounds for suggesting that Paul’s letter carriers played a role in helping the audience to recognize OT allusions and echoes, as well as their original context.

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