The Spirit and the Scriptures

rech20.v008.i02.coverI’m excited to share that I have a new article available in the Journal of Early Christian History. This article was in part spun out of my book The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit to provide some categories and clarity for thinking about the different ways in which the Holy Spirit relates to the words of the Old Testament, as presented in early Christian writings.

In his book The Birth of the Trinity, Matthew W. Bates introduced the categories of the Spirit speaking as a “primary speaking agent” and an “inspiring secondary agent,” but he did not develop these or provide criteria for thinking about how to differentiate between these proposed categories of usage. It’s my hope that this article serves to advance this discussion in a much more concise and carefully articulated way than what is found in the book.

Here’s the abstract:

While recent research into the early Christian reading practice of prosopological exegesis, which seeks to identify various persons (prosopa) as the “true” speakers or addressees of a scriptural text in which they are otherwise not in view, has highlighted the complexities involved in attempts to identify the Holy Spirit as the prosopological speaker of Old Testament quotations, there remains a need for clear criteria by which scholars can distinguish between different forms of the Spirit’s speech. Building on terminology suggested by Matthew Bates, this article proposes just such a means of distinguishing between when the Spirit functions as the primary speaking agent and when it functions as an inspiring secondary agent, with the former endowing the Spirit with a sufficient degree of theodramatic personhood to make its speech truly prosopological in nature. Applying this criteria to an analysis of Cyprian of Carthage’s use of prosopological exegesis in On Works and Alms (De opere et eleemosynis), this article challenges the conclusions of David Downs by demonstrating that the Spirit does not truly speak from its own person in this treatise, though Cyprian may make some moves in this direction elsewhere in his writings. As a result of this study, we have not only a means of better assessing the extent of the pneumatological discontinuity between Cyprian and his Carthaginian predecessor Tertullian but also a clearer path forward for future scholarship that seeks to investigate how early Christian writers conceived of the relationship between the Spirit and the Scriptures.

An offprint of the article is available on this website under Academic Archives.

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Helsinki 2018

IMG_1404I’ve just returned from the 2018 SBL IM in Helsinki, where I presented two papers on early Christian pneumatology (one on the Epistle of Barnabas and one on Irenaeus). Despite the heat wave pummeling Finland along with the rest of Europe (oddly, the saunas still seemed wildly popular despite every non-air conditioned environment (read: everywhere) itself feeling like a sauna, Helsinki was a wonderful city to visit: beautiful, clean, welcoming. Expensive, too, but that’s par for the course in the Nordic countries.

This conference was particularly memorable because I at long last got to see a book of my own for sale and because I now had grad students coming up to me with questions about their research and so on, as if I were in fact a “grown-up” who has “made it.” If only they knew!

What’s next? There was a particularly fine group of Apostolic Fathers scholars present for my Barnabas presentation, and they gave me some really helpful suggestions and guidance for perhaps turning that into a published article. Besides that, I’ve got research to do for my Denver presentation that brings issues related to the development of the regula fidei into discussion with my work on prosopological exegesis. Ever onwards…

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The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit: Available Now!

4015296.jpgBrill has now published The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit: Prosopological Exegesis and the Development of Pre-Nicene Pneumatology as both an e-book and hardcover. The publisher’s blurb is as follows:

In The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit, Kyle R. Hughes offers a new approach to the development of early Christian pneumatology by focusing on how Justin, Irenaeus, and Tertullian linked the Holy Spirit with testimony to the deity and lordship of the Father and the Son. Drawing extensively on recent studies of prosopological exegesis and divine testimony in the ancient world, Hughes demonstrates how these three pre-Nicene Christian writers utilized Scripture and the conventions of ancient rhetoric and exegesis to formulate a highly innovative approach to the Holy Spirit that would contribute to the identification of the Spirit as the third person of the Trinity.

Not having published a book before, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from the process, but I have to say that Brill was an incredible partner throughout. Having used Brill’s Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae series extensively in my research, the series seemed a natural fit for my own work, and I couldn’t be happier to have my book appear as vol. 147 of the series. Ordering information is available here. Enjoy!

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Release Date and “Tour” for Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit

Brill has set 30 May 2018 as the release date for The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit. The publisher’s page for the book can be found here; the official blurb for the book is as follows:

In The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit, Kyle R. Hughes offers a new approach to the development of early Christian pneumatology by focusing on how Justin, Irenaeus, and Tertullian linked the Holy Spirit with testimony to the deity and lordship of the Father and the Son. Drawing extensively on recent studies of prosopological exegesis and divine testimony in the ancient world, Hughes demonstrates how these three pre-Nicene Christian writers utilized Scripture and the conventions of ancient rhetoric and exegesis to formulate a highly innovative approach to the Holy Spirit that would contribute to the identification of the Spirit as the third person of the Trinity.

Some spin-off material building out of this project will be presented at this year’s Society of Biblical Literature International and Annual Meetings in what I’m jokingly calling my “book tour.” The papers I’m presenting are as follows:

SBL International Meeting (Helsinki)

“Irenaeus and the ‘Gnostic’ Roots of ‘Orthodox’ Pneumatology” (Early Christianity section)

“The Spirit of Barnabas: Pneumatology and the Construction of an Early Christian Identity” (Apostolic Fathers section)

SBL Annual Meeting (Denver)

“The Prosopological Speech of the Son and the Development of Pre-Nicene Christology” (Development of Early Christian Theology section)

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Publication Update: Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit

7586I’m excited to share the news that a revised edition of my dissertation, The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit: Prosopological Exegesis and the Development of Pre-Nicene Pneumatology, is under contract with Brill and will be published in the series Vigiliae Christianae Supplements. The final version of the manuscript has been submitted, and so I’m anticipating a publication date of late 2018. As someone who has made great use of many of the volumes in this series, I’ve long believed that this VCSup is the best fit for my book. I’m very much honored that they’ve accepted my work for inclusion, and am eager to see the book in print (at least, that is, until the reviews come in…but that’s all part of the fun).

In other news, a spin-off from the book will be published as an article in the Journal of Early Christian History as “The Spirit and the Scriptures: Revisiting Cyprian’s Use of Prosopological Exegesis.” Print publication will probably also be late 2018, but an electronic version should be available by summer.

More details to come!

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An Essential Bibliography: Tertullian

Over the course of writing my Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit (TTS), I have had the opportunity (pleasure? trouble?) of reading almost everything under the sun related to Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and Tertullian. As a service to others embarking on their own research into these ante-Nicene Fathers, I’ve made a list of what I have found to be the most helpful works for each of these figures. Please note that this is NOT by any means meant to be a comprehensive bibliography; I’ve only selected works that I think would be a good place for other researchers to start from (accordingly, I’ve focused almost exclusively on English-language monographs in this and previous bibliographies). Happy researching!

TERTULLIAN OF CARTHAGE

tertullian

Timothy David BarnesTertullian: A Literary and Historical Study (Oxford: Clarendon, 1971). More recent surveys include Zilling (2004) and Henne (2011). This extremely influential book deconstructed the traditional biography of Tertullian (based on the writings of Eusebius and Jerome) and has thus been enormously important for subsequent researchers on Tertullian, although you will still find the pre-critical biography in many general works. Barnes’ proposed chronology of Tertullian’s writings is also most helpful.

J. Patout Burns, Jr., and Robin M. JensenChristianity in Roman Africa (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014). See also Decret (2009). These are helpful overviews of the distinctive beliefs and rituals of early African Christianity that situate Tertullian in his historical context.

Eric OsbornTertullian: First Theologian of the West (Cambridge: CUP, 1997). This is probably the best single volume introduction to Tertullian’s theology on the market, covering all of the most significant themes across Tertullian’s writings.

David RankinTertullian and the Church (Cambridge: CUP, 1995). Rankin challenges the traditional view of Tertullian, which held that he formally left the orthodox church in order to join with a separate Montanist faction in Carthage.

Christine TrevettMontanism: Gender, Authority and the New Prophecy (Cambridge: CUP, 1996). Trevett’s intriguing thesis is that the condemnation of Montanism likely stemmed from controversy over the nature of authority, with Montanism’s promotion of direct revelation threatening established church leadership. For other important works on the New Prophecy, see Heine (1989) and Tabbernee (1997).

David WilhiteTertullian the African: An Anthropological Reading of Tertullian’s Identities (Millennium-Studien 14; Berlin: De Gruyter, 2007). Wilhite also focuses on Tertullian’s African context, utilizing an anthropological perspective that some researchers will probably find more or less helpful than others.

**A word on texts and translations: most of Tertullan’s works can be found in either CCEL, FC, or SC, but note for Against Praxeas the most recent critical edition is that of Sieben (FC 34; 2001), based on the edition of Scarpat (1985), though the most recent English translation, with commentary, remains that of Evans (1948).

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PhD Complete!

Kyle Hughes PhD DissertationIt’s been a long time coming, but last month I earned my PhD (Theology/History of Early Christianity) from Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. It was a surreal experience to defend my research in front of such an erudite group of men and women who had come from all over the world to participate in this event and then be handed my diploma marking the end of a journey that has been at least four years, if not more, in the making. Special thanks are due, of course, to my supervisor, Prof. Dr. Jan van der Watt, and my co-supervisor, Prof. Dr. Chris de Wet. Nijmegen, it turns out, is an incredibly beautiful city filled with friendly folk who love to bike and eat delicious Dutch pancakes — my wife and I heartily recommend it to anyone visiting the Netherlands in the near future and are looking for a less-touristy alternative to Amsterdam. Still, the highlight of this program for me was not visiting Nijmegen nor the finished research product itself but rather the opportunity to interact with and learn from these two men who exhibit the highest virtues not only as scholars but as individuals.

So, what now? Vocationally, I will continue my work as a secondary history teacher at my present school, and starting this fall will also be taking on the responsibility of chairing the history department. Though teaching at the university level has a lot of attractive things to commend it, the stability of my present job, the opportunities it affords for building meaningful relationships with students, and the wonderful relationships I have with my colleagues all point to this being the right fit for me during this season of life.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that I won’t still try and keep one foot in the door of academia. Most importantly, I am working on revising my dissertation for publication (stay tuned for more updates on this); “The Trinitarian Testimony of the Spirit” will, I hope, be available for eager researchers soon. Beyond this, I have some unfinished business with Cyprian, Origen, and perhaps even Clement of Alexandria, and also hope to embark on a project that ties together my professional and academic life—namely, an approach to U.S. history that integrates biblical theology and church history in order to foster deep conversation about competing visions of the good life. More on this, too, soon. For now, thanks again to all of you that have meant so much to me over the course of this journey!

PS: a recording of my defense can be found here: https://youtu.be/NDcPuwG1F44

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