Once in a while, I look at a so-called consensus in scholarship and roll my eyes. Such is the case with the pervasive and surprisingly resilient perspective that when St. Paul used the word Christos, he did not mean “messiah,” but rather used it as a name. I have always found this a hard pill to swallow, and it is high-time that somebody brewed a strong enough coffee to help folks wake up from this nonsense.
So, many thanks to Matthew Novenson who percolated a powerful cuppa joe in his revised dissertation called Christ Among the Messiahs (Oxford). If you want to read a summary of his work, filled with admiration, check out my recently published RBL review. Normally, when I review a book, I try to find at least 2 areas for improvement. (Usually, that is not too hard!) This is one of the first times that I was really at a loss given the creativity, thoroughness, and sheer sensibility of his monograph. Kudos to Novenson – dole yourself some extra haggis, Matthew, and celebrate a job well done!
JSNT has posted its yearly “booklist” online (for SAGE subscribers). If you are not familiar, the booklist is a long series of short book reviews organized by book theme. Each review is extremely brief (usually 2-3 paragraphs). While the reviews are not substantial, they do offer nice succinct evaluations. These reviews are particularly helpful when it comes to the many non-English books reviewed.
Earlier this summer I had a chance to read Graham Twelftree’s forthcoming monograph entitled Paul and the Miraculous (Baker). It is a very stimulating work that deserves wide attention and interaction. Here is my endorsement which, I believe, will appear on the back cover of the book:
“Modern Western biblical interpreters tend to view Paul primarily as an academic–a theologian and writer. Twelftree reminds us that he was far more than a writer, and his religious world was not only philosophical but also experiential. Twelftree collects and examines occasions where the historical Paul mentions and experiences the miraculous. Perhaps most valuable of all, this book attempts to explain how one might integrate Paul’s theology of weakness with his experience of the empowering Spirit. Well researched, fresh, engaging, and appropriately cautious about drawing tempered conclusions, this examination allows a neglected area of New Testament study to be brought into the forefront. While the reader may not agree with every part of Twelftree’s historical reconstruction of Paul, it is nearly impossible to reject his main hypothesis that the miraculous played an important role in Paul’s ministry and theology.”
—Nijay Gupta, assistant professor of New Testament, Northeastern Seminary, Roberts Wesleyan College