15 July 2009

finding herem?

Hyung Dae Park, Finding Herem?: A Study of Luke-Acts in the Light of Herem (London: Continuum, 2007).

This study is a publication of Park's PhD thesis submitted through London School of Theology in 2005. It has been commended to me by the supervisor, Steve Walton, because of the superb work in OT background and Second Temple context which make up the first two chapters. And I must agree that this study is a lesson in intertextuality of which NT scholars should pay attention. It is a thorough presentation of the relevant material from the Jewish tradition which is then well integrated into the narrative of Luke-Acts.

Park moves through the concept of הרם (separation from common use or contact) as it is introduced to the community of Israel, and then is used and developed throughout their history. For the OT material, Park works through the material in straightforward canonical order. In regards to Second Temple literature and Luke-Acts, he works more thematically (themes which he has developed from the OT concepts): mandatory הרם, voluntary הרם, etc.

It is an interesting study which takes on many difficult passages within Luke-Acts, including the narrative of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5). Here Park identifies the concept of הרם as found in Joshua 7:16-26. This background is not the most identified background, but admittedly fills in more of the gaps-of-understanding than other proposals. And Park also gives a reading of Jesus as both mandatory and voluntary הרם (cf. 146-163). Further, he identifies the movement of הרם into the realm of redemptive - which he foreshadowed in the background material - to a more complete understanding of Luke's atonement theology (contra. Bultmann).

Ethically, there is an interesting point made by Park at the conclusion of his study: "The basic characteristic of voluntary הרם is giving without expecting any reciprocal advantage" (176). Here is an idea which stems directly from the Jesus tradition (esp. the Jesus Creed tradition). On the other side of this coin he refers to events in Acts, "In contrast, giving with the expectation of reciprocal advantage is described negatively in Luke-Acts" (176). That which is set aside for God's use should be kept for that purpose. A strong foundational ethic.

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