June Melbourne Symposium
Next Sydney Meeting
2016 FBS National Conference
March Melbourne Symposium
Chris Monaghan Now President of FBS
2015 Issue of Australian Biblical Review Mailed Out
FBS Member Achievements for 2014
2015 Annual General Meeting and 2016 Events
Sydney November Meeting
Report on August Melbourne Symposium
Sydney September Meeting
2016 Australian Biblical Review Rates Unchanged
Sydney June Meeting
May Melbourne Symposium
March Melbourne Symposium
FBS Member David Sim Achievement
2014 FBS National Conference Report
Sydney FBS Coordinator
Submitting FBS News Items or Comments
Current issue of
Australian Biblical Review
News and Coming Events

June Melbourne Symposium

The next symposium of the Fellowship for Biblical Studies in Melbourne will be held on Thursday, 2 June 2016 in the Stafford Room (above Eakins Dining Hall Foyer; enter by stairs or lift), Queen’s College (1–17 College Crescent, Parkville) at 6:30pm for a buffet meal at 7:00pm, followed by a paper titled: “The First Days of Jesus and the Role of the Disciples. A Study of John 1:19–51,” by Revd Prof. Frank Moloney, Director, Centre for Biblical and Early Christian Literature, ACU.
Bio: Born in Moonee Ponds, Melbourne, Professor Francis J. Moloney joined the Salesians of Don Bosco in 1960, and was ordained a Priest in 1970. After studies and teaching experience in Melbourne, he spent 11 years in Europe where he completed degrees in Theology (Salesian Pontifical University), Biblical Studies (Pontifical Biblical Institute) and a D. Phil. at the University of Oxford. Since then he has taught in Europe, Israel, the USA, and in Australia. After a number of years at CTC, he was the Foundation Professor of Theology at Australian Catholic University (1994-98), Professor of New Testament and Dean of the School of Theology and Religion at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC (1999–2005), and the Provincial Superior of the Salesians of Don Bosco in Australia and the Pacific (2006-2011). He is currently a Senior Professorial Fellow at ACU, and Director of the Centre for Biblical and Early Christian Literature. He is the author of numerous books and articles, both scholarly and popular. His most recent books have been Love in the Gospel of John. An Exegetical, Theological, and Literary Study of the Gospel of John (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013) and A Body Broken for a Broken People. Divorce, Remarriage, and the Eucharist (Melbourne: Garratt, 2015).
Please indicate your intention of attending the dinner to the Secretary. If you are coming, your reply must arrive by 5:00pm, Monday, 30 May. Cancellation up to this time is possible, but cancellation closer to the event will result in the full price being charged. The cost for dinner and drinks is $40, payable on the evening. Receipts are available on request from Brian Incigneri, the Treasurer.

Next Sydney Meeting

The next meeting of the Fellowship for Biblical Studies, Sydney and NSW Branch, will be on Friday, 27 May. It will be hosted at Macquarie University.

Mark Smith will be talking on “The Formation and Date of Judges 5” and Elizabeth Bloch-Smith will be talking on “Archaeological Insights into the Formation of Biblical Historical Narratives.” The talks will take place from 4.00–5.30 in building X5B on Level 3. It is further planned that there will be the opportunity to have lunch with the Smiths at around 1.30 (exact time to be confirmed) in the Macquarie Staff Cafe (W5A Level 3). To do this you will need to RSVP to Dr Kyle Keimer ( Attenders will have to buy their own lunch. It is also planned that from approximately 3.00–4.00 there will be a meet-and-greet with the Smiths before starting the lectures at 4.00. Enquiries should be directed to Ian Young (

2016 FBS National Conference

The 2016 National FBS Conference will be held Monday and Tuesday, 26–27 September 2016, at Yarra Theological Union, 34 Bedford Street, Box Hill. The keynote speaker will be Matthias Henze, Professor of Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism at Rice University, Houston, Texas.

A call has been sent out to FBS members to propose papers of 20 minutes length. Submissions should be made to Chris Monaghan by 30 June. The cost of the conference is $100, which includes lunches.

March Melbourne Symposium

The first Melbourne gathering of the Fellowship for Biblical Studies for 2016 was held on Thursday, 17 March 2015 at Queen’s College. The paper, entitled “Exceeding and Exuding Life: Towards an Ethics of Life in the Gospel of John,” was delivered by Professor Ruben Zimmermann, Professor of New Testament, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität of Mainz.

Chris Monaghan Now President of FBS

Mary Coloe has had to step down as FBS President and as a member of the Executive. Chris Monaghan, who was Vice-President, has been appointed President by the Executive.

2015 Issue of Australian Biblical Review Mailed Out

The 2015 issue of Australian Biblical Review was mailed out to subscribers on 23 September. The indexes of articles and authors and the full text of all book reviews can be accessed via the ABR Page.

FBS Member Achievements in 2015

The list of achievements by FBS members during 2015 is now online at the Achievements Page.

2015 Annual General Meeting and 2016 Events

The Annual General Meeting of FBS was held on Thursday, 5 November, at Queen’s College. After the AGM, a paper was delivered by our outgoing President, Dr Catherine Playoust, titled: “The Location of the Cloud of Witnesses: Complexities of Time and Space in Hebrews”.
The hearers of Hebrews are told in Heb 12:1 that as they run toward their heavenly goal they are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. These witnesses are evidently the people of faith who were described in the previous chapter, but their role in relation to the runners is not as clear as most recent scholarship implies. Moreover, the declaration is disconcerting from the perspective of the witnesses, who are neither peacefully asleep in the dust until the general resurrection nor settled safely in heaven. Their situation is no mere artefact of the phrasing, for the text states just beforehand that these people have not received what was promised to them, since their perfection will not take place apart from that of the hearers. Indeed, the awkward position in which the witnesses find themselves points to certain challenges of time and space that pervade the text.
Dr Catherine Playoust is a Lecturer at Catholic Theological College, University of Divinity, working in New Testament and related areas. She previously taught at Jesuit Theological College in the United Faculty of Theology. Catherine comes from Sydney and did her postgraduate studies in Boston, where she received an STL (WJST) and a ThD (Harvard). Her research interests include apocalyptic texts and the transformation of Jewish and Christian traditions in early Christian literature.

Good discussion followed. At the meeting, a vote of thanks was passed for the work of the outgoing President, Catherine Playoust, the outgoing Secretary, Keith Dyer and especially the outgoing NT Editor, Jamie McLaren, after his many years in the role. The following officers and members of the Executive were elected for 2016:

President:Mary Coloe PBVM
Vice-President:Chris Monaghan CP
Secretary:Merryl Blair
Treasurer:Brian Incigneri
ABR OT Editor:Anne Gardner
ABR NT EditorKeith Dyer
ABR Book Review Editor:Mary Coloe PBVM
Committee Member:Mark O’Brien OP
Committee Member:Sunny Chen

The following dates for the 2016 FBS Melbourne Symposiums were announced:

March 17 (Speaker: Rubin Zimmermann, from Halle, Germany)
June 2 (Speaker: Frank Moloney)
August 25 (Speaker: Norm Habel, from Adelaide)
November 3 (AGM; Presidential Address by Mary Coloe).

The 2016 FBS Conference will be held in Melbourne on Monday–Tuesday, 26–27 September, at Yarra Theological College, Box Hill.

November Meeting of Sydney Branch of FBS

The FBS Sydney and NSW branch held a meeting at Moore’s College on Friday, 6 November. It was a special event, with a launch of the recent book by Dr Martin Spadaro, Reading Matthew as the Climactic Fulfillment of the Hebrew Story (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2015). Dr Peter Bolt from Moore Theological College helped launch the book, and Martin gave a presentation of the ideas it covers. A description of the book is below:
This book presents a reading of Matthew’s Gospel based on the assumption that it was written to integrate with, advance and conclude the existing body of Scriptures which expected YHWH to come and judge the temple and its stewards. Assuming, then, that Matthew’s intention was to advance and conclude the existing Hebrew narrative, John the Baptist appears to be the last prophet sent by God to call Israel to repentance, while Jesus is presented as YHWH who has come to bring the Mosaic Covenant to its conclusion, according to its own terms. Through this lens, new understanding is gained from the infancy narrative, the Sermon on the Mount, the mission, the parables, Jesus' arrival in Jerusalem and the events that followed. By reading Matthew this way, a greater appreciation can be gained for its necessary place in the canon, and many of Matthew’s well-known conundrums can be meaningfully addressed. In writing a document for a Hebrew audience, Matthew understood the necessity to record the crimes against YHWH/Jesus in Israel as the ultimate cause for the termination of the ethnically and geographically bound covenant, which could then be replaced by the cross-cultural and international covenant the Christians now enjoy.
Report on August Melbourne Symposium

The August Melbourne symposium was held on Thursday, 27 August at Queen’s College. Rev. Dr Krzysztof Sonek (Head of the Department of Biblical Studies, Catholic Theological College, Melbourne) presented a paper on: “The True Nature of Jonah’s Sleep in 1:5–6: Translational Choices and Their Impact on Interpretation.”
Jonah 1:4 tells the story of a violent storm on the sea, and in 1:5 we hear sailors cry in despair, fighting against the merciless elements. The ship is about to break up, but Jonah goes down into the hold and falls asleep. Is the author of this narrative out of touch with the reality at sea? Is there a convincing explanation of this problem? In this paper, Dr Sonek looks at all major ancient versions and translations of Jonah 1:5–6 and the subsequent interpretation of these verses in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic tradition. He puts forward an alternative solution to the problem based on the analysis of the semantic field of the root RDM and proposes a tentative English translation of the text and offer conclusions regarding the history of the interpretation of Jonah 1:5–6. He will demonstrate that the traditional understanding of the story is rooted in the decision made by early interpreters to choose only one semantic aspect of RDM and is influenced by the Jonah/Jesus typology. While it is possible to recreate the historical process of mutual interpretative interdependence, a different explanation fits the linguistic and logical aspects of the text much better. When the polyvalence of RDM is taken into account, a new meaning of the verses in question can be proposed.

After extensive examination of the sources and the use of the root RDM, Dr Sonek proposed that Jon 1:5 should be translated: “And Jonah went down into the inner part of the ship and he lay down overwhelmed by terror, as if fast asleep.” Extended and profitable discussion and questions followed.

Krzysztof (Kris) Sonek OP is a lecturer at Catholic Theological College and current head of the Department of Biblical Studies. He lectures on the Pentateuch, Classical Hebrew and other biblical subjects. He has taught units in Scripture, Hebrew, and Biblical Interpretation at a number of institutions, including Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem, Israel; Oxford University, UK; Holy Trinity College, Tafara, Zimbabwe; Dominican Theological College, Krakow, Poland; and Blackfriars Studium, Oxford, UK. His current academic interests are in the reception of the Abrahamic narratives in Jewish and Christian commentaries in Late Antiquity. His recent publications are: Truth, Beauty, and Goodness in Biblical Narratives (Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2009); “Reading Gen 12:3 with Hans W. Frei,” Revue Biblique 119.1 (2012); “The Meaning and Significance of Gen. 21:1–7,” in Le sens littéral des écritures, Paris: Cerf, 2009; “The Divine Name in Exodus 3:14 as a Saturated Phenomenon,” Revue Biblique 116.2 (2009). He has had papers presented at the OT Seminar, Oxford University, 2013; the OT Seminar, University of Cambridge, 2012; and the SOTS Meeting, University of Cambridge, 2015.

The final meeting in Melbourne for 2015 will be the Annual General Meeting on November 5 with Dr Catherine Playoust giving the Presidential Address), at Queen’s College.

September Meeting of Sydney Branch of FBS

A meeting of the FBS Sydney and NSW branch was held on Friday, 4 September at Moore Theological College. The talk was given by Paul Barnett, Emeritus faculty member from Moore Theological College: “Paul in Rome (60–64/5).” An abstract is set out below.
Paul spent about five years in Rome, including for a period when he was absent. These were important years in Paul’s ministry. Yet serious questions arise from the key texts on which we depend to piece together the sequence of events.
  • Why was Paul silent about Peter in his letters to and from Rome?
  • Why does Luke leave the Acts narrative about Paul unfinished?
  • Based on Philippians, why was Paul confident of his release?
  • Why does Paul say so much about Timothy and Epaphroditus in Philippians?
  • Whose ‘envy’ was responsible for the deaths of Peter and Paul?
2016 Australian Biblical Review Rates Unchanged

The subscription rates for the 2016 issue of Australian Biblical Review will remain the same as for 2015. The subscription rates for ABR have remained unchanged since 2011. Current subscription rates and postage can always be found on the main ABR page.

June Meeting of Sydney Branch of FBS

A meeting of the FBS Sydney and NSW branch was held on Friday, 12 June. The talk was given by an international visiting scholar, Professor Cheol-Woo Park from Korea Nazarene University: “The Triadic Structure of the MT Book of the Twelve and the Literary and Theological Function of the Book of Jonah in It.” An abstract is set out below.
The corpus of the MT Book of the Twelve has the triadic structure of three blocks in it, and the Book of Jonah functions as the concluding book in the first block of the triadic corpus, functioning as a preparatory stage for its following two blocks that begin with the Book of Micah. This structural understanding may support the literary unity of the MT Book of the Twelve, and the canonical interpretation of the Book.
May Melbourne Symposium

The May Melbourne symposium was held on 21 May at Queen’s College. Professor James R. Harrison, Research Director, Sydney College of Divinity, spoke on “The Rhetoric of ‘Consolation’ in 2 Corinthians 1:3–11/7:4–13 in the Context of the Jewish and Graeco-Roman Consolatory Literature.” There was a good attendance and discussion afterwards.
‘Consolation’ as a topos has primarily been studied in relation to the epistle to the Philippians (Y. W. Smith [2003]; P.A. Holloway [2004]). Inexplicably, the motif of ‘consolation’ in 2 Corinthians has not commanded the same attention, apart from J. Kaplin’s study (HTR 104/4 [2011]: 433–55) of Paul’s understanding of grief and comfort from the perspective of Epictetus’ philosophy and Old Testament prophecy and laments (Isa 40:1–11; Lam 1–2). Paul’s terminology of ‘consolation’ (paraklêsis: 2 Cor 1:3, 4, 5, 6, 7; 2:7; 7:4, 7, 13), ‘affliction’ (thlipsis: 1:4, 8; 2:4; 7:4; cf. 4:17; 6:4) and ‘joy’ (chara: 1:24; 2:3; 7:4, 7, 9, 13) is woven throughout 2 Corinthians 1:1–2:13 and 7:4–13. Scholars who subscribe to a partition theory of 2 Corinthians 1–7 posit a conciliatory tone for the two previous passages, whereas 2:14–7:3, it is proposed, is polemical. However, D. A. DeSilva has challenged this position (AUSS 34/1 [1996]: 5–22) from the viewpoint of rhetorical criticism.

Another viable approach is to consider rhetorically each pericope (1:1–2:13; 7:4–13) against the backdrop of Graeco-Roman consolatory literature and the writings of Second Temple Judaism. Cicero speaks of the role of consolation thus: ‘These therefore are the duties of comforters: to do away with distress root and branch, or allay it or diminish it as far as possible, or stop its progress and not allow it to extend further, or to divert it elsewhere’ (Tusc. 3.31.76). It is worth remembering the popular tradition that the Athenian orator Antiphon (V. cent. BC) opened a ‘grief clinic’ at Corinth (ps.-Plutarch, Lives of the Ten Orators 832B–834B). The Corinthians, therefore, would have been familiar with the concept of ‘grief management’ and were probably responsive to the genre of ‘consolation.’. It may well have been pastorally strategic for the apostle to draw upon this familiar rhetorical reservoir in handling the deeply felt Corinthian hurt over his perceived breach of faith with them. Among many issues, the Corinthians were alienated by Paul’s failure to keep his promises (2 Cor 1:15–2:4) and, in one case, publicly opposed the apostle during his visit to the city (2:5–11; 7:12), with the result that some attached themselves to the interloping apostles (3:1–3). In response, Paul had dispatched his famous ‘letter of tears’ and, in the absence of any reply, was anxiously waiting for news from Titus regarding its pastoral success at Corinth.

How did Paul, by means of his consolatory rhetoric, ensure reconciliation with the Corinthian church? In seeking to assuage Corinthian grief and hurt over the tense ‘standoff’ with their founding apostle, does Paul strategically allude to some of the commonplaces of the Graeco-Roman consolatory tradition? To what extent does he diverge from them or, alternatively, transform their rhetorical impact through the ‘newness’ of the gospel revelation in Christ? What distinctive rhetorical elements from Second Temple Judaism and Paul’s gospel further framed his response?
Professor James R. Harrison, a member of SNTS, is the Research Director of the Sydney College of Divinity. He is the author of the prize winning Paul’s Language of Grace in Its Graeco-Roman Context (Mohr Siebeck, 2003) and Paul and the Imperial Authorities at Thessalonica and Rome (Mohr Siebeck, 2011). He edited with E. A. Judge, The First Roman Christians in the Roman World: Augustan and New Testament Essays (Mohr Siebeck, 2008) and, with S. R. Llewelyn, New Documents Illustrating Early Christianity Volume 10 (Eerdmans, 2012). He is editing Volumes 11–15 of the New Docs series in conjunction with Bradley Bitner and Julian Ogereau, translating inscriptions from each city with commentaries. Edited with L. L. Welborn, a new series, The First Urban Churches (SBL Press; 9 vols), will concentrate on the material evidence of the same cities and its intersection with the lives and writings of the early Christians. He has widely published articles and chapters in international journals and books. His research interests include the historical Jesus, the apostle Paul, Second Temple Judaism, the Graeco-Roman world, epigraphy, papyrology, numismatics and iconography.

Members must advise their intention of attending the dinner to the Secretary by email to Keith Dyer by 5:00pm on Monday, 18 May. Cancellation up to this time is possible, but cancellation closer to the event will result in the full price being charged. The cost for dinner and drinks is $35.00, payable on the evening. Receipts are available on request from Brian Incigneri, the Treasurer.

--> The other meetings in Melbourne during 2015 will be on August 27 with Rev. Dr Krzysztof Sonek OP (CTC, OT), and November 5 with Dr Catherine Playoust (CTC, NT for the AGM and Presidential Address), both at Queen’s College.

March Melbourne Symposium

The first FBS Melbourne symposium for 2015 was held on 19 March at Queen’s College. The paper, “The Scandal of a Male Bible,” was delivered by Professor David J. A. Clines, Emeritus Professor of Biblical Studies, University of Sheffield.
The Bible is a male book, written by men, to be read by men. That means that it is permeated by characteristically male values and ideals, some overt, others rarely noticed. Among these values are: the glorification of strength; the valorization of strength in action, which is violence and killing; the importance of size; the quest for honour; exclusionary holiness; womanlessness; totality thinking; binary thinking. These embedded values continue to influence Bible readers, often subconsciously. They are most potent when they affect the language of religion, and shape the picture of the Bible’s deity, the God of Christian and Jewish believers. The scandal is twofold: it is that the Bible is deeply compromised by its ubiquitous adherence to specifically male values, and that its masculinity is hardly ever noticed or mentioned, even in our much more egalitarian world.
Professor David Clines’s degrees are in Greek and Latin from the University of Sydney and in Oriental Studies (Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac) from St John’s College, Cambridge. He was appointed to the Department of Religion, Theology and the Bible of Sheffield University in 1964, and has spent his whole career there. He was Head of Department in 1994–2001, and has been a Publisher and Director of Sheffield Academic Press from 1976 to 2001 and of Sheffield Phoenix Press since 2004. His specialism has always been the Hebrew Bible, and his distinctive contribution has been the introduction of new methods of biblical criticism (e.g. rhetorical criticism, reader-response criticism, deconstruction, feminist criticism, ideological criticism). At the same time, he has made significant contributions to traditional forms of study, for example his commentary on Job and his editorship of the Dictionary of Classical Hebrew.

There was a strong attendance for this symposium, including six guests.

The other meetings in Melbourne during 2015 will be on May 21 with Dr Jim Harrison (Director of Research, SCD, NT), August 27 with Rev. Dr Krzysztof Sonek OP (CTC, OT), and November 5 with Dr Catherine Playoust (CTC, NT for the AGM and Presidential Address), at the same time and place.

FBS Member David Sim Achievement

FBS is pleased to announce that Associate Professor David Sim has been elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities. This significant achievement recognises Associate Professor Sim’s outstanding contribution to biblical studies both in Australia and internationally.

2014 FBS National Conference Report

The second Fellowship for Biblical Studies National Conference was held at Mandelbaum House at the University of Sydney on Monday, 29 September and Tuesday, 30 September 2014. The keynote speaker was Professor Mark Leuchter from Temple University, USA.

Those attending have reported that the conference was a great success, with 46 scholars participating in the discussions of the many papers presented. The next FBS national conference will be held in Melbourne in 2016.

Sydney FBS Coordinator

The Executive has appointed Dr Ian Young as Coordinator of FBS events in NSW (especially Sydney). His contact details are:

Dr Ian Young
Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies
School of Languages and Cultures
University of Sydney NSW 2006

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