Books (Academic and University Presses):
1. Matthew W. Bates, Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017).
We are saved by faith when we trust that Jesus died for our sins. This is the gospel, or so we are taught. But what is faith? And does this accurately summarize the gospel? Because faith is frequently misunderstood and the climax of the gospel misidentified, the gospel’s full power remains untapped. While offering a fresh proposal for what faith means within a biblical theology of salvation, Matthew Bates presses the church toward a new precision: we are saved solely by allegiance to Jesus the king. Instead of faith alone, Christians must speak about salvation by allegiance alone. Includes discussion questions for students, pastors, and church groups. Endorsed by Gary Anderson, Michael J. Gorman, Michael F. Bird, and Joshua Jipp. Foreword by Scot McKnight.
Reviews: ***Here for further discussion of Salvation by Allegiance Alone***
2. Matthew W. Bates, The Birth of the Trinity: Jesus, God, and Spirit in New Testament and Early Christian Interpretations of the Old Testament (Oxford / New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).
How and when did Jesus and the Spirit come to be regarded as fully God? The Birth of the Trinity offers a new historical approach by exploring the way in which first- and second-century Christians read the Old Testament in order to differentiate the one God as multiple persons. The earliest Christians felt they could metaphorically “overhear” divine conversations between the Father, Son, and Spirit when reading the Old Testament. When these snatches of dialogue are connected and joined, they form a narrative about the unfolding interior divine life as understood by the nascent church. What emerges is not a static portrait of the triune God, but a developing story of divine persons enacting mutual esteem, voiced praise, collaborative strategy, and self-sacrificial love. The presence of divine dialogue in the New Testament and early Christian literature shows that, contrary to the claims of James Dunn and Bart Ehrman (among others), the earliest Christology was the highest Christology, as Jesus was identified as a divine person through Old Testament interpretation. The result is a Trinitarian biblical and early Christian theology. Endorsed by Joel B. Green, Larry Hurtado, Lewis Ayres, and Matthew Levering.
Print reviews: Joshua Jipp (Themelios); Matthew Novenson (ExpT); Patrick Madigan (Heythrop); Joseph Martos (Theological Studies); Brandon Crowe (WTJ); Steve Moyise (Theology). Web-based reviews: Peter Leithart, First Things blog (part I, part II); Scott Swain, Reformation21 (part I, part II); Michael Bird (Euangelion); Madison Pierce RBECS; Max Botner (The Two Cities); Derrick Peterson (blog); Johnny Walker (blog); Nathaniel Clairborne (blog): Ched Spellman (blog); Lindsay Kennedy (mydigitalseminary).
3. Matthew W. Bates, The Hermeneutics of the Apostolic Proclamation: The Center of Paul’s Method of Scriptural Interpretation (Waco, Tex.: Baylor University Press, 2012).
Paul’s method and motivation in interpreting his ancient scriptures—commonly called the Old Testament—remains enigmatic and controversial. Various hermeneutical theories for Paul are critically assessed by evaluating them in light of a neglected resource—the history of Paul’s interpretation of the Old Testament as witnessed by early Christians such as Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Origen. By bringing Paul into more intimate conversation with those who received Paul’s interpretations, it is discovered that Paul makes use of an ancient person-centered reading technique, prosopological exegesis, which has not hitherto been discussed in biblical scholarship. It is argued that Paul’s hermeneutic is governed by a received Christocentric narrative that can be described as both kerygmatic and apostolic. As such, for Paul the received apostolic proclamation serves as a lens through which he gazes on his ancient Jewish Scriptures. Primary conversation partners include Richard Hays, Francis Watson, Christopher Stanley, J. Ross Wagner, Daniel Boyarin, and D.-A. Koch. Endorsed by Michael J. Gorman.
Print reviews: Matthew Novenson (ExpT); Morna Hooker (JTS); Joshua Jipp (Themelios); Robert B. Foster (RBL); Peter Rodgers (RSR); Matthew Emerson (BTB); James Howard (BBR); Dieter Sänger (ThLZ); Joseph Dodson (TrinJ); Mark Reasoner (CBQ). Web-based reviews: Ben Blackwell, Dunelm Road blog (part 1, part 2); Greg Boyd, ReKnew blog (part I, part II, part III); Kyle R. Hughes, Early Christian Archives blog (part I, part II, part III); Patrick Schreiner, Ad Fontes blog (part I, part II, part III, part IV); Joshua Mann (blog); Tyler Stewart (blog).
Refereed Journal Articles:
1. Matthew W. Bates, “A Christology of Incarnation and Enthronement: Romans 1:3-4 as Unified, Nonadoptionist, and Nonconciliatory, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 77 (2015): 107-27.
Abstract: Fresh purchase on well-worn problems in Romans 1:3-4 can be gained by paying careful attention to neglected details in reception history. It is argued that the pre-Pauline material in Romans 1:3-4—despite considerable scholarly opinion to the contrary—is unredacted, nonadoptionist, and nonconciliatory. A more accurate assessment of the christology of Romans 1:3-4 finds that after his resurrection, Jesus, who was in fact the preexistent Son of God, was appointed to a new office described as “Son-of-God-in-Power,” not adopted. It can also be shown as probable—although this has rarely been noted—that the author of the protocreed (and hence Paul also) intends to refer to Mary’s instrumental contribution in bringing the preexistent Son into fleshly existence with the compact phrase τοῦ γενομένου ἐκ σπέρματος Δαυὶδ (“who came into being by means of the seed of David”). The christological foci are the two transitions in the divine life of the Son, entering human existence and being installed as Son-of-God-in-Power—what later tradition would call the incarnation and the enthronement. Reviewed by Michael Bird.
2. Matthew W. Bates, “Cryptic Codes and a Violent King: A New Proposal for Matt 11:12 and Luke 16:16-18,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 75, no. 1 (2013): 74-93.
Abstract: A new proposal for Matthew 11:12 and Luke 16:16 is put forward. Jesus as he is portrayed is intentionally making a cryptic allusion to the violent opposition of Herod Antipas against the emerging kingdom movement. This proposal is supported by the presence of hidden transcripts in the near context of each passage—Matt 11:7-8 and Luke 16:17-18. Βιάζεται in Matt 11:12 is passive, and the translation with coded paraphrase should run: “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven is experiencing brutal opposition [code: by people such as Antipas], and brutal men [code: like Antipas] are laying [violent] hands on it.” Meanwhile, Luke 16:16c is a continuative clause, βιάζεται is middle, and Luke 16:16-18 contains numerous coded referents: “The law and the prophets were until John; from that time the kingdom of God is being proclaimed, and everyone [code: especially Antipas] is acting violently toward it. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the law to fall [code: John was right in his criticism of Antipas for his flagrant violation of the law]. Everyone [code: such as Antipas] who divorces his wife [code: the Nabatean princess] and marries another [code: Herodias] commits adultery, and the one [code: Antipas] who marries a woman divorced by her husband [code: Herodias] commits adultery.” Reviewed by J. R. Daniel Kirk.
3. Matthew W. Bates, “Why do the Seven Sons of Sceva Fail?: Exorcism, ‘Magic’, and Oath Enforcement in Acts 19,13‑17,” Revue biblique 118, no. 3 (2011): 408-21.
Abstract: The precise reason for the failure of the seven sons is revealed by a careful inspection of their adjuration. When the seven sons appeal to Jesus as the ὁρκώματος, the enforcer of the oath, the do so in an inept fashion. In contradistinction to first-order magical texts which seek to enhance the incredible power and wide-reaching dominion of the ὁρκώματος, the seven sons instead detract from the ὁρκώματος by appealing to “the Jesus whom Paul preaches,” as if a mere human can add to Jesus’ power. This bumbling adjuration confirms that this pericope is intended as a parody.
4. Matthew W. Bates, “Closed-Minded Hermeneutics?: A Proposed Alternative Translation for Luke 24:45,” Journal of Biblical Literature 129, no. 3 (2010): 537-57.
Abstract: A new translation is suggested for Luke 24:45–τότε διήνοιξεν αὐτῶν τὸν νοῦν τοῦ συνιέναι τὰς γραφάς. Traditionally the verse has been translated, “Then he [Jesus] opened their [the disciples’] minds so that they could understand the Scriptures.” It is argued that an overlooked alternative merits serious consideration, “Then he [Jesus] exposited the Scriptures so that they could understand their meaning.” The alternative is undergirded by a number of linguistic, semantic, and contextual considerations, but most vitally by Luke’s own usage elsewhere. Just as is proposed for the alternative translation, Luke takes τὰς γραφάς as the object of διανοίγω in Luke 24:32 explicitly and Acts 17:2-3 implicitly.
5. Matthew W. Bates, “Beyond Stichwort: A Narrative Approach to Isa 52,7 in Romans 10,15 and 11Q Melchizedek (11Q13),” Revue biblique 116, no. 3 (2009): 387-414.
Abstract: Traditionally the linkage of Old Testament citations within the pesharim of the Dead Sea Scrolls has been explained by recourse to the label Stichwort or ‘catch-phrase’. This paper seeks to move beyond the Stichwort explanation by exposing and comparing the metanarratives underlying the citation of Isaiah 52:7 in 11Q Melchizedek (11Q13) and Romans 10:15. The juxtaposition of 11QMelch with Romans 9-11 casts fresh light on the narrative logic of both texts. One result is that the convoluted category of ‘apocalyptic’ in Pauline theology is shown to be more cosmological than forensic in the case of Romans 9-11.
6. Matthew W. Bates, “Justin Martyr’s Logocentric Hermeneutical Transformation of Isaiah’s Vision of the Nations,” Journal of Theological Studies, n.s. 60, no. 2 (2009): 538-55.
Abstract: Within the book of Isaiah itself, the author’s vision of the future of the nations takes on three basic forms: (1) subjection to Israel, (2) pilgrimage to Zion, and (3) incorporation into Israel. Justin employs a logocentric reading of Isaiah within which the distinct voice of the prophet is entirely swallowed up by the divine logos. By this logocentric reading strategy Justin transforms each of the three Isaianic themes in the following way. (1) The subjugation of the nations to Israel becomes the eschatological
subservience of Israel to Jesus the Messiah. (2) The pilgrimage of the nations to Zion is interpreted metaphorically as the spiritual journey of the Gentiles to the God of Israel through Jesus Christ. (3) The incorporation of the nations into Israel is transformed into the inclusion of obdurate ethnic Israel into the Christian church. Justin’s polemical use of Isaiah as a rhetorical tool for crafting the self-definition of the Christian community over against the synagogue stands as an important testimony to the status of Christianity in its relationship to Judaism in the second century.
Articles in Books (by Invitation):
1. Matthew W. Bates, “Prosopographic Exegesis and Narrative Logic: Paul, Origen, and Theodoret of Cyrus on Ps 69:22-23” in Greek Patristic and Eastern Orthodox Interpretations of Romans (ed. Daniel Patte and Vasile Mihoc; Romans Through History and Cultures 9; London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2013), 105-34.
Abstract: In comparing Paul’s exegesis of Psalm 69:22-23 in Romans 11:9-10 with that of Origen and Theodoret of Cyrus, it is determined that each interpreter exegetes in a christological fashion with respect to a controlling narrative. Moreover, given the norm of continuity in the interpretative tradition in early Christianity, it is determined that recourse to later Christian interpreters might help uncover fresh insights into the exegetical practices of earlier figures. For instance, Origen’s use of prosopographic exegesis with respect to Psalm 69:22-23 in Romans 11:9-10 suggests Paul might possibly have used the same technique. And Theodoret’s development of an interpretative historia (narrative) of exile and return is also suggestive for Paul’s Deuteronomic exile-and-return framework. (Note: although published after some of my other work, this was actually my first exploration of prosopographic exegesis, or, as I now prefer to call it, prosopological exegesis).
2. Matthew W. Bates, “Beyond Hays’s Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul: A Proposed Diachronic Intertextuality with Romans 10:16 as a Test-Case” in Paul and Scripture: Extending the Conversation (ed. Christopher D. Stanley; Early Christianity and Its Literature 9; Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2012), 263-292.
Abstract: Richard Hays deserves the lion’s share of the credit for introducing the modern literary study of intertextuality to biblical studies in his enormously influential, The Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989). In so doing, Hays devoted himself almost exclusively to exploring the resonance between Paul and the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament). Although acknowledging its seminal brilliance, this article critiques Hays’s approach as overly narrow by reexamining intertextuality as described by Julia Kristeva. It is argued that for any given text in which Paul cites the Old Testament, a fully healthy intertextual model must look not just at the pretext (i.e., the Septuagint), but must also expand to explore co-texts and post-texts. It is further argued that all biblical scholars, not just those studying Paul, who employ intertextuality as a critical method would be better served by the diachronic intertextual model developed herein. The usefulness of including co-texts and post-texts in fixing Paul’s probable meaning is demonstrated by an exegesis of Romans 10:16, in which Paul cites Isaiah 53:1 (“O Lord, who has believed our audible message”). With regard to Romans 10:16, a new proposal for other scholars to consider is advanced–Paul uses prosopological exegesis to assign the apostles as the collective speaker of the Isaianic quote.
Invited Web-Based Publications:
- “Interview with Matthew Bates on The Birth of the Trinity—Part I” Nov. 13, 2015. The Theological Miscellany blog.
- “Interview with Matthew Bates on The Birth of the Trinity—Part II” Nov. 16, 2015. The Theological Miscellany blog.
- “Good Friday: Divine Abandonment or Trinitarian Performance?” April 3, 2015. The Oxford University Press blog.
- “Response: Hermeneutics of Apostolic Proclamation (pt 2).” Dunelm Road. Oct. 9, 2013. A invited response to Ben Blackwell’s review of my first monograph.
- “Response: Hermeneutics of Apostolic Proclamation (pt 1).” Dunelm Road. Oct. 4, 2013.
1. Review of Michael J. Gorman, Becoming the Gospel: Paul, Participation, and Mission (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015) in Catholic Biblical Quarterly (forthcoming).
3. Review of Wesley Hill, Paul and the Trinity: Persons, Relations, and the Pauline Letters (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015) in Theological Studies 77 (2016)L 218-19.
4. Review of Gareth L. Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews. (NICNT; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2012) in Biblical Theology Bulletin 44 (2104): 220-21.
5. Review of Michael J. Gorman, Inhabiting the Cruciform God: Kenosis, Justification, and Theosis in Paul’s Narrative Soteriology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009) in Biblical Theology Bulletin 41 (2011): 104-05.
6. Review of Stanley E. Porter, ed., Dictionary of Biblical Criticism and Interpretation (London and New York: Routlegde, 2007) in Biblical Theology Bulletin 40, no. 4 (2010): 234-35.
7. Review of J. R. Daniel Kirk, Unlocking Romans: Resurrection and the Justification of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008) in Biblical Theology Bulletin 40, no. 3 (2010): 168-69.
8. Review of Brevard S. Childs, The Church’s Guide for Reading Paul: The Canonical Shaping of the Pauline Corpus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008) in Biblical Theology Bulletin 40, no. 1 (2010): 57-58.
9. Review of Sara Parvis and Paul Foster, eds., Justin Martyr and His Worlds (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007) in Biblical Theology Bulletin 39, no. 4 (2009): 222-23.