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Fall 1989 · Vol. 18 No. 2 · pp. 108–12 

Current Research

Elmer A. Martens

Matties, Gordon H. Ezekiel 18 and the Rhetoric of Moral Discourse in the Book of Ezekiel, Vanderbilt University, 1989, (Doctor of Philosophy in Hebrew Bible). Advisor: Dr. Douglas A. Knight.

This dissertation investigates the function of moral discourse in Ezekiel 18 and the place of legal language and conceptions in Ezekiel’s ethics.

Taking its lead from a common proverb, the disputation speech subordinates traditions and forms to a larger intention: to shape the virtuous life, to establish responsibility for moral choice, and to motivate the transformation toward a new and cohesive social order.

Chapter I presents a brief discussion of the relationship of Ezekiel to Israelite tradition. The exegesis explores the form critical (Chapter II) and traditio-historical (Chapter III) elements of the text that color the rhetorical strategy and suasive potential of the text. Chapters IV, V, and VI investigate several traditional moral problems. Chapter IV deals with the identity of the moral agent, the shaping of the moral community, and the place of the individual in that community. Chapter V focuses on the character of the moral agent in relation to the function of law in moral discourse. Ezekiel 18 taps the shared goals and language of Israel’s traditions, and offers a creative center in Israel’s narrative tora around which personal and corporate identity can be constructed. Chapter VI explores the divine role in moral formation and moral discourse, with special interest in the relationships between ethics and theodicy, and between human responsibility and divine enablement. Ezekiel 18 presents a comprehensive moral vision that roots divine and human action in the covenantal reality of Israel’s narrative tradition and a profound awareness of the pathos of God.

The dissertation argues that Ezekiel’s ethics are not simply extensions of a particular theological core tradition, but an envisioning of a new future with a view to a community of character with a renewed identity and mission.

Ezekiel 18 stands at the liminal moment between Ezekiel’s harsh judgments and his bold eschatological vision. Its goal is the reconstitution of peoplehood among whom the {109} divine presence is known and made known through the integrity of character in the practice of justice and righteousness.

Kasdorf, Hans. A Century of Mennonite Brethren Mission Thinking, 1885-1984, University of South Africa, Pretoria, (Doctor of Theology in Missiology, 1986). Promoters: Dr. D. J. Bosch and Dr. P. G. Hiebert.

First, the dissertation establishes the ecclesiological legacy of the Mennonite Brethren within the sixteenth-century Anabaptist/Mennonite movement. In Czarist Russia from 1789 onward Mennonites focused more on institutional maintenance than on missionary outreach until the 1830s when spiritual renewal began. In the midst of that revival was born the Mennonite Brethren Church in 1860.

Inspired by their experience of new life in Christ and stimulated by Pietists, Moravians, and Baptists, the Brethren began to reflect on their biblical and Anabaptist legacy and soon emerged as a vigorous missionary church, first in Russia, then also in anglophone America and other countries of the world. During the first 25 years or so, the Mennonite Brethren actively engaged in evangelistic activities among their own people, in German settlements of Lutheran, Reformed and Roman Catholic traditions, as well as among Russian people. But we find no record of any attempt on their part to missionize the tribal peoples in the Molotschma area—and that despite the fact that proselytization in the Orthodox Church was forbidden by law while evangelization among the unchurched peoples was not. It is also striking that for a period of some 20 years (1885-1905) the early missionary zeal shifted from work in Russia to “gentile mission” in India. In the course of a century they have missionarily expanded to 27 countries, commissioned more than 800 missionaries (of whom 624 have given a combined total of 7,949 years of service to foreign missions), and have a current annual budget of over five million dollars.

The most critical issue in all of this is their dynamic mission theology. Four stages can be identified with allowances for overlap and continuation. (a) Implicit wholistic theology which simply assumes that mission is undergirded by the teachings of Jesus in terms of preaching, teaching, healing, {110} and helping. (b) A salvationist theology in which the emphasis is on a theology of Christ’s death on the cross. (c) A kingdom theology in which attention is given to a Lordship Christology and a discipleship lifestyle. (d) A trinitarian theology has surfaced in more recent years, seeing mission in terms both vertically and horizontally.

The focus of this entire study is more a critical reflection of the philosophy than of the history of Mennonite Brethren mission. Since the Mennonite Brethren understand themselves as the Church in mission, the dissertation analyzes their mission structures, their sustaining mission forces—such as denominational organizations, personnel and financial resources—as well as their theology, philosophy, and relationships of mission. Six tables and 20 graphs enhance the understanding of these areas.

Professor Bosch calls this a “very thorough review and evaluation. . .one of the most incisive treatments of any specific group’s mission thinking.”


Born, Jacob Bryan. “ ‘Walking in His Ways’—Story and Command in Deuteronomy’s ‘Way’ Language.” 124 pp. 1989.

Doubroff, Tim. “Spiritual Warfare Foundations: A Study from the Third Gospel.” 126 pp. 1989.


Barkman, Dwayne. “Inclusiveness in the Church” (Acts 11:1-18).

Berg, Waldo. “Marriage and Vocational Ministry” (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).

Born, Philip. “Filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:15-20).

Brosseau, Jean-Victor. “Ministering to Children of Alcoholics" (Ezekiel 18:1-20; 30-32).

Duerksen, Gerhard. “Godliness, Contentment and Simplicity” (1 Timothy 6:2b-10).

Ewert, Steven. “Aids and the Church’s Response to the Individual” (Luke 5:12-16).

Falk, David. “The Call to Ministry?: An Examination of the Markan Call Narratives” (Mark 1:14-20; 2:13-17; 3:13-19).

Heidebrecht, Karen. “The Johannine Jesus and Women” (Gospel of John).

Klassen, Garth. “Joy in Ministry” (Philippians 4:4-9).

Kliewer, Lynn. “Hope in Despair: The Possessions of the Heart” (Job 17:11-16).

Lovalvo, V. James. “Divorce and Remarriage” (Matthew 19:3-12).

Peters, Alfred Jr. “Middle Management as a Leadership Style” (Exodus 3:16-4:18 and 16:1-36).

Purnomo, Phebe. “The Farewell Commandment” (Matthew 28:16-20).

Reimer, Wilbert. “Role Confusion: Christian Masculinity for Marriage Relationships” (Ephesians 5:21-33).

Rolleman, Robert. “A Sabbath for Humanity” (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).

Rowe, Connie. “Conflict in the Church” (James 4:1-12).

Schmidt, Darrel. “General Principles for Christian Giving” (2 Corinthians 9:6-15).

Somerville, Jim. “The Lostness of the Lost” (Romans 1:18-32).

Sukkau, Erika. “The Relative Importance of the Nuclear Family” (Matthew 10:32-42; 12:46-50).

Sukkau, Robert. “Spiritual Warfare and Intercessory Prayer” (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Unger, John. “Call Narratives in Acts” (Acts 6:1-7; 13:1-3).

Wall, Gary. “When Leaders Disagree” (Acts 15:36-41).

Wiebe, David. “Children and Communion in the Mennonite Brethren Church” (1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

Wiebe, Valerie. “Dependence: An Obstacle to Maturity” (Genesis 1-6).

Wiens, Victor. “The Church of Antioch: A Model for the Internationalization of the Church and Its Mission” (Acts 11:19-30; 12:25-13:3).

Zook, Julia. “Is Spiritual Warfare a Mandate for the Church?” (Ephesians 1:15-23).

*Theses (100-120 pp.) and Senior Seminar Essays (30-35 pp.) were completed to meet M.A. and M.Div. requirements at Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary (1989), and are catalogued in Hiebert Library.

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