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Divine Instruction in Early Christianity

Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament Series No. 2, Vol. 246

By Stephen E. Witmer
December 2008
Mohr Siebeck
Distributed by Coronet Books
ISBN: 9783161496080
237 pages, 9 1/8 x 6 1/8 "
$102.00 Paper Original

Stephen E. Witmer investigates one aspect of early Christian self-understanding: the conviction of some early followers of Jesus that they had been, and were being, taught by God, in fulfillment of OT prophetic promises (especially Isa 54:13 and Jer 31:33-34). In this study, he contextualizes the Christian understanding of divine instruction through analysis of divine instruction in the Old Testament and early Jewish literature.

Of particular interest is the development of the idea of an eschatological teaching of God in some prophetic literature and early Jewish literature. With this context in place, the author focuses on the idea of divine instruction in the Johannine corpus. He argues that the Fourth Gospel re-interprets the prophetic promise of divine instruction in light of the teaching of Jesus and the Spirit, and that the concept functions in the Fourth Gospel polemically and as a means of self-legitimation.

The consequences for human teaching are addressed through an examination of the Johannine letters, focusing particularly on 1 John 2.20, 27. The final chapters then extend the study beyond the Johannine corpus by investigating the key Pauline references to divine instruction and by providing a close reading of Matt 23.8-10.