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Historiography, the Historical Jesus, and Atonement Theory
Recent scholarship on the historical Jesus has rightly focused upon how Jesus understood his own mission. But no scholarly effort to understand the mission of Jesus can rest content without exploring the historical possibility that Jesus envisioned his own death. In this careful and far-reaching study, Scot McKnight contends that Jesus did in fact anticipate his own death, that Jesus understood his death as an atoning sacrifice, and that his death as an atoning sacrifice stood at the heart of Jesus' own mission to protect his own followers from the judgment of God.
In Jesus and the Politics of Roman Palestine, Richard A. Horsley offers one of the most comprehensive critical analyses of Jesus of Nazareth’s mission and how he became a significant historical figure. In his study Horsley brings a fuller historical knowledge of the context and implications of recent research to bear on the investigation of the historical Jesus. Breaking with the standard focus on isolated individual sayings of Jesus, Horsley argues that the sources for Jesus in historical interaction are the Gospels and the speeches of Jesus that they include, read critically in their historical context. This work addresses the standard assumptions that the historical Jesus has been presented primarily as a sage or apocalyptic visionary. In contrast, based on a critical reconsideration of the Gospels and contemporary sources for Roman imperial rule in Judea and Galilee, Horsley argues that Jesus was fully involved in the conflicted politics of ancient Palestine. Learning from anthropological studies of the more subtle forms of peasant politics, Horsley discerns from these sources how Jesus, as a Moses- and Elijah-like prophet, generated a movement of renewal in Israel that was focused on village communities. Following the traditional prophetic pattern, Jesus pronounced God’s judgment against the rulers in Jerusalem and their Roman patrons. This confrontation with the Jerusalem rulers and his martyrdom at the hands of the Roman governor, however, became the breakthrough that empowered the rapid expansion of his movement in the immediately ensuing decades. In the broader context of this comprehensive historical construction of Jesus’s mission, Horsley also presents a fresh new analysis of Jesus’s healings and exorcisms and his conflict with the Pharisees, topics that have been generally neglected in the last several decades.
Traditions in Oral and Scribal Perspectives
Few scholars have influenced New Testament scholarship in the areas of orality, memory, and tradition more profoundly than Birger Gerhardsson. Today, as these topics have again become important in biblical scholarship, his pioneering work takes on a new light. Though the esteemed contributors may differ on issues in the burgeoning study, they have all enthusiastically taken on the dual task of evaluating Gerhardsson’s contribution anew and bringing his insights up to date within the current debate.
Additional contributors are Loveday Alexander (University of Sheffield), David E. Aune (University of Notre Dame), Martin S. Jaffee (University of Washington), Alan Kirk (James Madison University), Terence Mournet (North American Baptist Seminary), and Christopher Tuckett (University of Oxford/Pembroke College).
Beyond The Oral and the Written Gospels
Werner Kelber's The Oral and the Written Gospel (1983) introduced biblical scholars to interdisciplinary trends in the study of ancient media culture. The book is now widely recognized as a milestone and it has spurred wide-ranging scholarship. On the twenty-fifth anniversary of its publication, new developments in orality theory, literacy theory, and social approaches to memory call for a programmatic reappraisal of past research and future directions. This volume address these concerns. Kelber himself is interviewed at the beginning of the book and, in a closing essay, he reflects on the significance of the project and charts a course for the future.
A JPS Guide
This new volume in the acclaimed JPS Guides series is an invaluable companion to the Jewish Bible, providing readers with ready access to important facts and Bible basics: # how the Bible became the "Bible"; its origins, content, and organization # distinctions between the Jewish Bible (the Tanakh) and Christian Bibles # a short history of Bible translations, and how they differ # Bible commentaries # storytelling, poetry, law, prophecy, and Wisdom literature # popular methods of Bible study # finding meaning through midrash In addition, there are summaries of all the biblical books; dozens of text boxes; an extensive glossary of Bible terms, places, and people; maps, charts, and tables; and large foldout timelines and family trees--all in color. Contributions are by leading Bible scholars and educators: Marc Zvi Brettler, Joyce Eisenberg, Michael Fishbane, Michael V. Fox, Leonard Greenspoon, Jill Hammer, Stuart Kelman, Adriane Leveen, David Mandel, Lionel Moses, Shalom Paul, Benjamin Edidin Scolnic, Ellen Scolnic, David E. S. Stein, Barry Dov Walfish, and Andrea Weiss.
Comparative Exegesis in Context
Biblical interpretation is not simply study of the Bible's meaning. Historically, it has also served as a primary medium for cultural and religious exchange between the great religious traditions of the West. Focusing on moments of signal interest in the history of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic scriptural interpretation from the ancient, medieval, and early modern periods, Jewish Biblical Interpretation and Cultural Exchange offers a unique comparative perspective. Each of the essays treats its subject in relation to the larger cultural context and to other contemporary interpretative traditions. Sources and authors examined in the book include late biblical and early postbiblical compositions, rabbinic legal and homiletical interpretation, Jerome and other early Christian exegetes, Islamic exegesis in both the Qur'an and early Muslim tradition, medieval Jewish and Christian exegetes, and biblical interpretation as evidenced in early modern illustrations of biblical scenes.
The histories of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic interpretation are presented not merely as parallel but as deeply interrelated, not only as reacting and polemicizing against each other but often as appropriating the tools and methods of their rival traditions. Biblical exegesis thus emerges as a forum of active and intense cultural exchange. The volume comes at a crucial time in the study of Jewish relations with Christianity and Islam, and shows how deeply connected and intertwined these three religious traditions truly are.
Ancient and Contemporary
Although Jewish tradition gives tremendous importance to the Hebrew Bible, from the beginning Jewish interpretation of those scriptures has been practiced with remarkable freedom. Karin Hedner Zetterholm introduces the legal, theological, and historical presuppositions that shaped the dominant stream of rabbinic interpretation, including Mishnah, Talmud, and Midrashim, discussing examples of different interpretive methods, and explores the contours of Jewish biblical interpretation evident in the New Testament and the legacy of ancient traditions in the way different Jewish movements read the Bible today. Students of the history of biblical interpretation and of Judaism will find this an important and engaging resource.
The pseudo-Clementine writings are one of the most intriguing and valuable sources for early Jewish Christianity. They offer a second- or third-century polemic against the form of Christianity that eventually won out, the Gentile-majority, law-free Christianity that took Paul as its champion. Carlson's interest here is in the highly unusual theory expressed in the Homilies that the Pentateuch is saturated with “false pericopes,” and that the teaching of Jesus, the “true prophet,” is the criterion for establishing what the Pentateuch really means. This, creative study examines the pseudo-Clementine writings and sheds light on our understanding of the early Jewish followers of Jesus.
The Gospel in Literary Imagination
Thomas Gardner artistically describes Jesus—"the Word made flesh"—as a poem penned by God for the world, and John—author of the Fourth Gospel—as the poem's interpreter. John's structural patterns, repetitions, and narrative interventions invite readers to experience for themselves the beauty of the divine poem. John in the Company of Poets deepens this invitation by re-imagining the biblical text through the eyes of such artists as Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Wendell Berry, and T. S. Eliot, offering a literary reading of the Gospel based upon their powerful poetic replies. Poets are our best readers, contends Gardner, and his deft analysis forges a fresh path into the issues and tensions of John's Gospel.
Like other volumes in the Texts @ Contexts series, these essays de-center the often homogeneous first-world orientation of much biblical scholarship and open up new possibilities for discovery.