Reading the New Testament: Contemporary Approaches

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Reading the New Testament offers an exciting and contemporary approach to New Testament Studies, which have changed dramatically in the past thirty years. James G. Crossley combines an introduction to traditional methods of source, form and social-scientific criticism with postcolonial, gender and political frameworks. He discusses reception history, covering areas such as popular culture, party politics, historical theology and the politics of contemporary scholarship. He discusses Paul and Christian origins in continental philosophy, as well as offering a more traditional analysis of Paul's theology and the quest for the historical Jesus. A selection of readings from contemporary scholarship is provided in the final chapter of the book.

Reading the New Testament has been carefully designed to help students think critically and in wide-ranging ways about the texts of the New Testament and will prove a valuable resource for everyone engaged in serious study of the Bible.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'This is an outstanding introduction to the New Testament, and especially to the many varied ways in which it is being interpreted in contemporary scholarship. It is the only introduction known to me which gives a comprehensive introduction to contemporary New Testament scholarship, and it does so with the exemplary clarity needed by elementary students. This also reflects the author’s exceptional learning.'Maurice Casey, University of Nottingham, UK

'This book is essential reading for students and scholars alike, not only within biblical studies but also in those several fields like philosophy, critical theory, and psychoanalysis which have become aware once more that there is no critique of Western culture without a reworking of biblical traditions and their place in this legacy.

James Crossley has emerged as one of the most brilliant and productive of a new generation of biblical scholars able to articulate the profound significance of understanding biblical traditions for contemporary political and cultural analysis. Those who learn to read the New Testament with Crossley will discover not only the original culture within which the New Testament writings were written but also contemporary politico-cultural contexts from which new and often explosive interpretations continue to emerge.

Crossley’s book is a call for contextually engaged reading and creative rethinking of biblical texts and their ongoing life in a post-secular culture. There are many good introductions to the New Testament on the market today, but Crossley’s is the only one that is absolutely essential.'Ward Blanton, University of Glasgow, UK

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415485319
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 7/26/2010
  • Series: Reading Religious Texts Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 200
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

James Crossley is Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies at the University of Sheffield. His research interests include the New Testament and biblical scholarship in historical, cultural and political contexts. His publications include Jesus in an Age of Terror (Equinox, 2008).

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements xi

1 Introduction: How to Read the New Testament 1

What is 'The New Testament'? 2

Part 1 History 7

2 Reading Historical Documents Historically: From Historical Criticisms to Literary Criticisms and Back Again 9

What is History? 9

Storytelling and Haggadah 12

Historical Approaches and the New Testament I: Source Criticism 15

Historical Approaches and the New Testament II: Form Criticism, Redaction Criticism and Literary Criticism 20

Historical Approaches and the New Testament III: Social Scientific Criticism 25

Summary 31

Key Words 31

Further Reading 32

3 Contemporary Historical Approaches to the New Testament: Identity and Difference 33

Identity and Difference 33

Identity, Networks and Christian Origins 36

Postcolonial Criticism 38

1 Peter and Revelation in Postcolonial Contexts 40

Summary 43

Key Words 44

Further Reading 44

4 Applying Methods Old and New 45

Mark 6.17-29: Form and Context 45

Storytelling 48

Telling Stories about Men and Women 49

Historical and Literary Locations: from Precise Datings to Postcolonial Mimicry 51

Summary 54

Key Words 54

Further Reading 55

5 The Quest for the Historical Jesus 56

The Criteria of 'Dissimilarity' and 'Embarrassment' 56

The Criterion of Historical Plausibility 59

The Criterion of Multiple Attestation 63

The Criterion of Multiple Criteria 63

The Resurrection and the Supernatural 67

Summary 70

Key Words 70

Further Reading 71

Part 2 Revolutionary Origins of Christian Beliefs? 73

6 The New Testament and the Origins of Major Christian Theological Ideas 75

Christology, the New Testament and the Origins of Christianity 75

Why Did Christology Happen? 81

Summary 84

Key Words 84

Further Reading 85

7 Paul, the Law, Faith and Salvation: Old Perspectives, New Perspectives, Different Perspectives 86

Perspectives on Paul 86

Was Paul consistent? 88

Origins of Paul's Theology: Jesus? 91

Social Origins of Paul's Theology 93

Summary 96

Key Words 97

Further Reading 97

8 Paul's Revolution for Our Times? Paul and Continental Philosophy 99

Jacob Taubes 99

Alain Badiou and Slavoj Zizek 103

Paul among the Marxists 106

Paul the Totalitarian? 109

Summary 113

Key Words 113

Further Reading 113

Part 3 Reception 115

9 What is 'Reception History'? 117

Reception History and Historical Theology 118

Reception History: An Aid to 'Correct Interpretation'? 119

Reception History: Anything Goes? 122

A Fear of Ancient History? 128

Summary 129

Key Words 130

Further Reading 130

10 Methods and Questions in Reception History 131

Reception History and Historical Criticism 132

Reception History: Historical Change and Cultural Contexts 133

Reception History: National and International Contexts 136

Reception History and Individual Influence 139

The 'Effects' of New Testament Texts and New Testament Narratives 141

Summary 148

Key Words 148

Further Reading 148

11 How to Read New Testament Scholarship 150

New Testament Scholarship and the 'Great Man' View of History 150

Race, Ethnicity and Judaism in New Testament Scholarship 153

'The Arab World' in New Testament Scholarship 157

Are New Testament Scholars a Threat to Anyone? 159

Final Remarks 161

Summary 162

Key Words 162

Further Reading 163

Part 4 Extracts from New Testament Scholarship 165

12 Scholars Reading the New Testament 167

Justin Meggitt on Living Standards in the Ancient World 167

Stephen Moore on Postcolonialism and the Book of Revelation 169

Markus Bockmuehl on Reception/Effective History 171

Shawn Kelley on Rudolf Bultmann and Reading Scholarship in Context 173

Notes 176

Index 183

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