The British-American New Testament Academic Divide

I am currently reviewing the second edition of W. Meeks’ well-known The Writings of St. Paul (Norton & co.).  It is an amazing anthology of texts by Paul, texts closely related (apocryphal), and texts about Paul (patristic, early modern, modern).  the updated version includes modern scholarly reflections on Paul and approaches to studying his letters.  A sampling of the newly-added scholars includes: Boyarin, Segal, Fredriksen, Paul Meyer, Stowers, Bassler, Malherbe, M.M. Mitchell, Dale Martin, etc…  As Meeks was trying to offer a ‘sampler of modern apporaches to Paul and His Letters’ – where are the Brits?  I was suprised to not see folks such as N.T. Wright, James Dunn, CK Barrett, John Barclay, Francis Watson, Morna Hooker, etc…  To me, this is symptomatic of the unfortunate British-American divide in NT scholarship.

What has helped to bridge this gap, or at least begin some shuttling, is the whole ‘theological interpretation’ enterprise and the Center of Theological Inquiry which does not appear to be anti-British.  As a Durham student, I am disappointed that Prof. Meeks did not see it fit to include any of the Durham scholars who have made a huge impact on NT scholarship – not least in Pauline studies!

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5 thoughts on “The British-American New Testament Academic Divide

  1. I think you will be able to resolve this riddle and it is not a British-American divide by reading the following two articles. I will email you the Hays piece.

    In his 2004 SNTS presidential address, Meeks said:

    “We should start by erasing from our vocabulary the terms ‘biblical theology’ and, even more urgently, ‘New Testament theology.’ Whatever positive contributions these concepts may have made in the conversation since Gabler, we have come to a time when they can only hinder understanding.”

    Wayne A. Meeks, “Why Study the New Testament,” New Testament Studies 51 (2005): 155-70.

    quoted in

    Richard Hays, “Reading the Bible with Eyes of Faith: The Practice of Theological Exegesis,” Journal of Theological Interpretation 1/1 (2007): 5-21.

  2. Mark Goodacre would be great to ask about that. He came from Birmingham to here at Duke. There is certainly no prejudice against the Brits here at Duke but I can’t speak for Meeks!

  3. I think a much more pressing question is: why is it often the case that only British and American scholars contribute to works such as this while the rest of the scholarly world is excluded from participation? The divide between the US and Germany or Britain and France (let alone non-Western countries) is much greater than the one mentioned here. Other than that, I agree with Andy that much here has to do with Meeks’ perspective vis-a-vis that of the general trend in British NT studies.

  4. Thanks for the comments. I did not bother with the whole story on the Meeks’ book, but suffice it to say, even though he neglected that little Island in Western Europe, he did include many contributions from continental scholars and I am appreciate of that. But, I could also ask, why no Aussie or Kiwis? Edwin Judge?

    I noticed, as well, that Meeks steered clear of evangelicals and fundamentalists, but we’ll not discuss that now…

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