Baker Academic

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lonergan, Authenticity, and Plato's Cave

If you have not yet discovered Jonathan Bernier's new blog "Critical Realism and the New Testament" here is your chance. Jonathan's blog relates his expertise in New Testament studies to his fascination with mathematician, priest, philosopher, and theologian, Bernard Lonergan. In his latest post, he wonders if Plato's cave allegory might give us a better way into the notion of "authenticity" in New Testament studies.

http://criticalrealismandthenewtestament.blogspot.com/2014/07/shadows-of-authenticity.html

Bernier writes, "Thus we can see that the criteria did not fail because they did not measure up to the task for which they were formulated but because more fundamentally that task did not measure up to intelligence or reason." Against Chris Keith (who has published on this topic more than anyone else), I think that I agree with Bernier on this point. Chris has taken the line first put forward by Morna Hooker: the traditional authenticity criteria were not invented to authenticate historical material. But (and this is my counter point) researchers develop new tools all the time without  a full view to their range of application. If we are to criticize the criteria for authenticity, we must do so on two levels: (1) our notion of "authenticity" carries baggage of false assumptions about what historians do with data and facts; (2) the individual criteria - judged each upon their own logic and output - often create more problems than they solve.

Perhaps once Chris has returned from his holiday, we can revisit this topic.

-anthony

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Inkling Edition of Sumney's Bible Introduction


Fortress Press has made Jerry Sumney's excellent introduction to the Bible available in an e-format. I was part of the team that enhanced this edition. It includes:

...the full text of the print textbook PLUS the chapter summaries and primary sources from the print Study Companion, PLUS enhancements that engage students like never before!
• Audio and video clips that further explain key concepts
• Poptips, links, and callout boxes for deeper learning
• Guided tour, slideshow, and hotspot images for visual learners and better understanding
• Self-tests that lead students to additional information about questions they answered incorrectly
• Social note-taking that optimizes group study and whole-class inquiry and discussion
• Full-text search capabilities, bookmarks, highlighting, and note-taking features for discovering, synthesizing, and retaining important information

In addition to being part of this team, I was also the lead author for the study companion. This companion text (available in both print and e-formats) is heavy on excerpts from Ancient Near Eastern texts (both inside and outside the Bible) and questions for discussion/reflection. It is written for beginners.

-anthony

Chris Keith and Hard-wired Reading Strategies

Dr. Keith writes of his hermeneutical development for Pete Enn's "Aha" series:

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2014/07/aha-moments-biblical-scholars-tell-their-stories-11-christopher-keith/

-anthony

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Dr Chris Tilling, “Paul, Evil, and Justification Debates”—Chris Keith

Below is Dr Chris Tilling's lecture from the 2014 Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity Conference at St Mary's University, Twickenham.  It's title is "Paul, Evil, and Justification Debates" and basically Chris takes on the world.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Christopher Skinner, “Overcoming Satan, Overcoming the World”—Chris Keith

Here is Dr Christopher Skinner's lecture from the 2014 Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity conference here at St Mary's University, Twickenham.  It's on the role of evil in the cosmologies of Mark's Gospel and John's Gospel, entitled "Overcoming Satan, Overcoming the World," and opens with a quotation from George the Animal Steele!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Anthony Le Donne: “Jesus told me that if I looked upon Daisy Duke with lust in my heart, I was guilty of adultery”—Chris Keith

Pete Enns is hosting a very interesting series of blog posts on his blog under the theme of "aha moments," where scholars and non-scholars alike are (or will be) discussing the process that took them away from an overly conservative reading of Scripture.  Don't miss the latest installment, from the Jesus Blog's own Dr Anthony Le Donne.  It includes such classics as:

"Lust was a big deal when I was an adolescent. For boys of a certain age, lust is a fulltime job."

"Jesus told me that if my right eye continued to sin, I should pluck it out. And here I was looking upon Linda Carter with both eyes!"

"But any way you slice it, Ezra 9-10 is deeply troubling—especially so to folks with an owner’s manual view of the Bible."

"A high view of Scripture—for me at least—is one that views the Bible as much more than an owner’s manual."

This entry in the "aha moments" series shows why it was such a privilege to work alongside Anthony for two years.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Dr Tommy Wasserman, “Variants of Evil in the New Testament”—Chris Keith

Here is Dr Tommy Wasserman's lecture from the 2014 Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity Conference at the Centre for the Social-Scientific Study of the Bible.  Tommy evaluates several instances where issues involving evil and Satan likely prompted scribes to alter the text of the New Testament.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Prof Dr Loren Stuckenbruck, “How Much Does the Christ Event Solve?”—Chris Keith

Here is the video of the keynote lecture from our 2014 Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity, delivered by Prof Dr Loren Stuckenbruck and entitled "How Much Does the Christ Event Solve?"  If you're interested in the relationship between Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity, you do not want to miss this.  Loren weighs in pretty heavily on recent Pauline scholarship.  The question and answer session at the end is also illuminating.

Friday, July 11, 2014

My Interview with Simon J. Joseph (Part Two) - Le Donne


I was able to interview Simon Joseph earlier this week about his new book: The Nonviolent Messiah: Jesus, Q, and the Enochic Tradition. Today I conclude this interview. You can read part one here.

ALD: In your book, you claim that Jesus was “consistently nonviolent.” This would seem to contradict some passages in the Gospels that suggest otherwise. You will, no doubt, be accused by some readers of cutting out and dismissing several passages that are problematic for your thesis by labeling them “inauthentic.” Have you overextended your thesis by concluding that Jesus was “consistently” nonviolent?
SJJ: I understand that my proposal of “thoroughgoing” consistency might be difficult for some to accept, but I find this ironic for several reasons: first, because we all value (even insist upon) consistency in our everyday lives – in our friendships, relationships, social networks, when/where we buy our favorite foods, use various products and services, etc. We all expect and anticipate a certain level of consistency in these things (otherwise we go elsewhere).
    On another level, we value consistency as an ethical good and tend to equate it with integrity, reliability, and, most of all, trustworthiness. The less consistent people are, the less we tend to trust them.
    On an even more pertinent level – when many conservative Evangelicals approach the Scriptures, they hold a consistent view of Scripture: everything in Scripture is categorized as “inerrant” because contradictions would undermine the authority of Scripture. The irony, of course, is that this very faithfullness to the consistency of Scripture creates interpretive problems – because the Scriptures do not appear to be consistent but rather contradictory in many instances. Scriptural inerrancy affirms the necessity of consistency but must do so by denying inconsistencies. It’s important to point out that it is the critical detection of these very inconsistencies that has so often resulted in major theoretical advances in biblical scholarship (e.g., the Documentary Hypothesis, the Synoptic Problem, redaction criticism, etc.).
     Often the default position is that Jesus’ inconsistency represents some kind of divine “mystery” and is therefore beyond investigation or scrutiny. In a different context, the concept of divine mystery could be affirmed, but in this instance, it is not likely, and highly problematic. First, the Gospels are human productions, literary products of a particular time and place that reflect their authors’ attempts to preserve the inspiring words and deeds of Jesus, and they were as unavoidably influenced by their own cultural resources, personalities, and interests as we are. Second, this is essentially a confessional, not a critical position. Criticism means making choices, decisions, and judgments – and justifying those choices – with evidence and reason, not presupposing that everything in the text is authentic.
     Put simply, I propose that Jesus was consistent when it comes to the topic of violence. What this means is that he was nonviolent personally, theologically, and eschatologically – even if the authors of the Gospels were not. This dissonance between the Jesus of history and the canonical Gospels is axiomatic in critical biblical scholarship. We shouldn’t shrink from this. In fact, embracing this dissonance effectively undermines the domestication of Jesus in the Christian theological tradition and might yet help restore the controversial Jesus that we still find everywhere on the pages of the Gospels. I am tempted to conclude that if our research is not controversial, then we are not doing our jobs properly.

ALD: Simon, as you may know, I’m a pacifist and a Christian. I also make my living as a Jesus historian. I would like nothing more than to believe in a thoroughgoing non-violent messiah. But allow me to push back a bit here. I imagine that Jesus struggled with the role of violence (be it divine or otherwise) in the coming of God’s kingdom. I’m also willing to imagine a Jesus who changed his mind on this topic. Moreover, we have an analog with Malcolm X. MX seems to have changed his tune on a number of topics toward the end. So I would take issue with the assumption that a “confessional” rather than a “critical” position has made me less receptive of a thoroughgoing non-violent Jesus.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Great Resource for Intro to Bible / Hermeneutics Classes - Le Donne

If you haven't been keeping up with Peter Enns, shame on you! Pete has had yet another brilliant idea. He has asked several biblical scholars to write briefly of an "aha" moment that moved them toward a more sophisticated reading of Scripture. His latest is guest blogger is Christopher Skinner.

You can also read posts in this series by Charles HaltonMichael PahlDaniel KirkJohn Byron, and Pete himself.

These posts are concise and just the right tone for undergraduates. If you're teaching an introduction to the Bible or hermeneutics class, you might consider a few of the above as required reading. You can look for my post in this series soon.

-anthony

Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer on "Evil at Qumran”—Chris Keith

Continuing our posting of lectures from the 2014 "Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity," I am happy to share today Dr. Jutta Leonhardt-Balzer's lecture on "Evil at Qumran."