I just received my copy of a new book edited by my friends, Frank Dicken (who is also a former student) and Julia Snyder. The book, Characters and Characterization in Luke-Acts (LNTS 548; London: Bloomsbury/T & T Clark). Here’s a description from the back of the book:
Like all skilful authors, the composer of the biblical books of Luke and Acts understood that a good story requires more than a gripping plot – a persuasive narrative also needs well-portrayed, plot-enhancing characters. This book brings together a set of new essays examining characters and characterization in those books from a variety of methodological perspectives.
The essays illustrate how narratological, sociolinguistic, reader-response, feminist, redaction, reception historical, and comparative literature approaches can be fruitfully applied to the question of Luke’s techniques of characterization. Theoretical and methodological discussions are complemented with case studies of specific Lukan characters. Together, the essays reflect the understanding that while many of the literary techniques involved in characterization attest a certain universality, each writer also brings his or her own unique perspective and talent to the portrayal and use of characters, with the result that analysis of a writer’s characters and style of characterization can enhance appreciation of that writer’s work.
Part One consists of seven chapters devoted to character issues in the Gospel of Luke. Part Two consists of six chapters devoted to Acts. The book also boasts an all-star lineup of scholars working in the US, UK, and Germany, including: Sean A. Adams, Cornelis Bennema, Hannah M. Cocksworth, John A. Darr, Frank E. Dicken, Stephen E. Fowl, David B. Gowler, Joel B. Green, James L. Ressguie, Julia A. Snyder, F. Scott Spencer, Steve Walton, and Brittany E. Wilson.
Receiving this book made my day for two reasons. First, I am proud to be associated with both Frank and Julia and happy for their accomplishment. Second, I am excited to see further work being done on characters and characterization in the NT narratives. This represents the third book on the subject in the Library of New Testament Studies; the first two were my books, Characters and Characterization in the Gospel of John, and Character Studies and the Gospel of Mark (co-edited with Matt Hauge). As I understand it, Matt Hauge is also working on Characters and Characterization in the Gospel of Matthew. I am excited that this work on characterization is continuing.
Congrats to Frank and Julia!
If it seems that every time you click a link on social media this past week, you are hearing about the upcoming AAR/SBL meetings in San Diego, it’s probably because many of us are giddy about the opportunity to gather with friends, buy discounted books, eat at high end restaraunts, and oh yeah, present and listen to papers. What makes this whole scenario even better (at least here in the US) is that when we return home we go right into the Thanksgiving holiday. Thus, SBL is like a pre-holiday!
This year I will be giving a paper in the Johannine Literature Group in which the topic is “Characterization in the Gospel of John.” Here’s the lineup:
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room 25 B (Upper level) – San Diego Convention Center (CC)
Theme: Characterization in the Gospel of John
Ruben Zimmermann, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz, Presiding
Christopher W. Skinner, Mount Olive University
Toward a Theory of Character for Interpreting the Gospel of John (20 min)
Cornelis Bennema, Wales Evangelical School of Theology
The Scope and Limitations of Using a Uniform Approach to Character in the Gospel of John (20 min)
Alicia D. Myers, Campbell University Divinity School
Topographies of Person: Mapping Ancient Characterization in the Gospel of John (20 min)
Break (5 min)
Steven A. Hunt, Gordon College, Francois Tolmie, University of the Free State and Ruben Zimmermann, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
Character Studies in the Fourth Gospel: Methods, Trends, Results (20 min)
Francis J. Moloney, Australian Catholic University
The Final Appearance: Characters in John 20 (and 21) (20 min)
James L. Resseguie, Winebrenner Theological Seminary
Character and Point of View: The Beloved Disciple as Test Case (20 min)
Discussion (25 min)
If you’re interested in the subject, we’d love to see you there. Everyone on the panel has written something of substance on the topic in recent years. I’m really looking forward to the interaction.
Last week I ran across the title of a book that was too interesting not to order. The book in question was Sanghee M. Ahn’s monograph, The Christological Witness Function of the Old Testament Characters in the Gospel of John (Paternoster Biblical Monograph Series; Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2014). I am interested in characters, Christology, the Old Testament, and the Gospel of John, so I immediately realized, “here’s a book with everything!” Here is a description of the book, Ahn’s revised dissertation:
This book investigates the narrative function of the Old Testament characters in the Gospel of John. The intriguing thesis is that the Hebrew characters in John’s narrative uniformly function as a witness for the messianic identity of Jesus. The Jewish scriptural traditions (Hebrew and intertestamental ones) are compared to shed light on John’s indebtedness for its formation of his Christology. A compelling argument ensues that informs our understanding, not only of the Gospel itself, but also of Jesus Christ revealed in the Gospel.
Earlier this week the good people at Wipf and Stock sent along an exam copy for me to peruse. It remains to be seen if this book really has “everything.” I have only just begun to read, but the one thing I can say right away is that this book is extremely well researched. It looks to me as though Ahn has read practically everything directly and/or indirectly related to his subject matter in English, German, and French. I wouldn’t be surprised if over half the word count for this book was found in the footnotes! The bibliography alone spans 60 pages! I look forward to saying more about this book in due course. Congratulations to Professor Ahn on the publication of his monograph!
I just noticed that my forthcoming book, Character Studies and the Gospel of Mark (co-edited with Matt Hauge) is now available for pre-order on Amazon. It’s not set to be out until October, but if you order now, you can have the distinction of being one of the first people to own it. I mean, isn’t that incentive enough? And here’s the thing, it will only cost you $114. What a bargain! If you’re still not convinced, here’s the table of contents:
1. ‘The Study of Character(s) in the Gospel of Mark: A Survey of Research from Wrede to the Performance Critics’ (1903 – 2013) Christopher W. Skinner
2. ‘History, Theology, Story: Re-Contextualizing Mark’s “Messianic Secret” as Characterization’ Elizabeth Struthers Malbon
3. ‘The Creation of Person in Ancient Narrative and the Gospel of Mark’ Matthew Ryan Hauge
4. ‘God as Healer of Creation in the Gospel of Mark’ Ira Brent Driggers
5. ‘The Characterization of Jesus as Lord in Mark’s Gospel’ Joel F. Williams
6. ‘Characterizing the Non-Human: Satan in the Gospel of Mark’ Elizabeth E. Shively
7. ‘The Narrative Rhetoric of Mark’s Characterization of Peter’ Paul Danove
8. ‘Women in Mark’s Gospel’ Susan Miller
9. ‘“Their Great Ones Act as Tyrants Over Them”: Reading Mark’s Characterization of Roman Authorities from a Distinctly Roman Perspective’ Adam Winn
10. ‘Gentile Characters and the Motif of Proclamation in the Gospel of Mark’ Cornelis Bennema
Of course, this won’t be the last I’ll say about the book, but if you pre-order now, you can ignore all of my future posts on this topic. 🙂
I just got the official word that my paper, “Toward a Theory of Character for Interpreting the Gospel of John,” will be part of a session sponsored by the Johannine Literature group at this year’s annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. I am excited about this for several reasons: (1) This is an area that I obviously care a lot about (see here and here), (2) I get to present alongside my friend and doctoral advisor, Frank Moloney, and (3) I have submitted proposals to this section two or three times previously and have been rejected each time. The group of presenters at this session includes a number of people who have been doing significant work in this area for some time now. Here’s the lineup:
Characterization in the Gospel of John
- Presider: Ruben Zimmerman
- Christopher Skinner, Toward a Theory of Character for Interpreting the Gospel of John (20 min)
- Cornelis Bennema, The Scope and Limitations of Using a Uniform Approach to Character in the Gospel of John (20 min)
- Alicia D. Myers, Topographies of Person: Mapping Ancient Characterization in the Gospel of John (20 min)
- Steven A. Hunt, Character Studies in the Fourth Gospel: Methods, Trends, Results (20 min)
- Francis J. Moloney, The Final Appearance: Characters in John 20 (and 21) (20 min)
- James L. Resseguie, Character and Point of View: The Beloved Disciple as Test Case (20 min)
This should be a really good session. If you are interested in narrative criticism, characterization, or the Gospel of John, you will likely find something useful there.