Resurgent Semitisms In The Testament Theology -- By: Arthur H. Lewis

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 17:1 (Winter 1974)
Article: Resurgent Semitisms In The Testament Theology
Author: Arthur H. Lewis


Resurgent Semitisms In The Testament Theology*

Arthur H. Lewis

Bethel College, St. Paul, Minnesota 55112

Silver anniversaries always call for a celebration and a joyful feast such as we have received here tonight. We are united in gratitude and praise to God for His gracious provision during these twenty-five years. Our society has experienced steady growth in members and influence, yet it remains loyal to the goals set down by its charter members, many of whom are here with us in places of honor. The Evangelical Theological Society continues to be a koinonia of teachers and students, diversified in theological disciplines, but united by a common love for Christ and by a common commitment to study, to practice, and to proclaim His infallible Word.

This year we salute guests and members who work in areas related to the New Testament. I doubt that the Society has ever welcomed so many specialists from one discipline to a single meeting. It is also appropriate for a representative from the Old Testament field to show a neighborly interest in the flurry of activity that is in progress just over the fence in the department of New Testament.

A natural topic of conversation for teachers of Hebrew and Greek allied disciplines is the importance of semitisms in the New Testament. A new awareness of this subject was impressed upon me last Spring as I began to read through a Hebrew New Testament while on Sabbatical leave in Jerusalem. Speaking as a non-specialist, I intend my remarks to be a report for society members outside the field of New Testament and who may not be aware of the expanding resources from Judaism that are currently affecting our understanding of the text and message of the New Testament. “Resurgent semitisms” is a reminder of their persistent reappearance in the history of New Testament criticism. Let me begin with a brief sketch of the linguistic studies of the semitic features of the text. studies narrowed primarily to the syntactical evidence in the canonical books of the New Testament.

*Presidential Address at the 25th Meeting of ETS, December, 1973. 3

Linguistic Studies

European scholars for centuries had included Aramaisms in their normal investigation of the meaning of the Greek New Testament until Baur and the Tubingen School made a Jewish origin for Paul and the Gospel writers seem untenable. Yet, there were individual scholars and exegetes in Europe who continued to study the semitic background of the Scriptures. Gustaf Dalman was one, as his philological work in the Gospels will reveal.1

Here in America there was C. C. ...

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