Today I ran across Susan Hylen‘s review of my book, John and Thomas: Gospels in Conflict? in the most recent fascicle of Interpretation (65 : 311). Susan teaches at Vanderbilt and I got a chance to meet and hang out with her a little bit at last year’s SBL in Atlanta. She wrote an excellent little book (which I highly recommend) called Imperfect Believers: Ambiguous Characters in the Gospel of John, that was published right around the same time as my book. I am also pleased to note that she is contributing to a book on Johanine characterization I’m editing with the Library of New Testament Studies (slated for Fall 2012).
Anyway, in her review, which is generally quite positive, she writes:
Skinner’s work is a useful reminder that scholar’s who engage in constructing a history of the early church often neglect complex literary questions. . . .For those interested in characterization, Skinner’s interpretations of Thomas and Peter are the most developed of the characters he treats. He suggests that Peter and Thomas are characterized similarly: both characters show significant misunderstandin, but are rehabilitated in the end. . . . The book’s strengths are Skinner’s reading of Thomas’ character, and the resulting contribution to the question of conflict between the Gospels.
Hylen does take me to task for spending too much time on traditional exegetical questions while not attending as carefully to issues of characterization. I have two responses to her critique. First, it was a dissertation and that’s what my committee wanted to see. Second, since I was trying to enter a historical-critical debate using narrative-critical exegesis, I wanted to spend as much space possible examining the entire text.
Overall, I am appreciative of Hylen’s careful reading of my book. I’m also glad that she seems to have understood what I was trying to do (unlike, I believe, Stevan Davies, who gave me a less than flattering review in CBQ).