The most recent Syndicate symposium, focusing on Chris Keith’s Jesus Against the Scribal Elite, is in its second week. Last week there were pieces by Dagmar Winter and Tobias Hagerland. This morning my piece, and Chris’s response to my piece appeared. As anyone who has read my writing on this or my previous blog knows, I am largely sympathetic to the social memory approach undertaken in recent years by the likes of Chris Keith, Rafael Rodriguez, Anthony Le Donne, etc. You will hear that appreciation in my response to the book, though my reflection is largely devoted to an analysis of the book’s reception, both within the guild and the Christian community. We would love to hear any comments or reactions you might have.
The latest Syndicate symposium was posted this morning. This one focuses on critical responses to Chris Keith’s excellent little book, Jesus Against the Scribal Elite (Baker Academic, 2014). The symposium begins with an introduction from Chris Tilling and reflections from Dagmar Winter, which is followed by Chris Keith’s response to Winter’s piece. Since I am participating in this symposium, I had a chance to read, in advance, both the articles and Chris Keith’s response to each. I think those who are interested in the issues raised by Keith’s book will find this symposium both engaging and enlightening.
This morning I received an alert that my review of Chris Keith’s recent volume, Jesus Against the Scribal Elite: The Origins of the Conflict (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2014) had been published in the most recent fascicle of Theology. Regrettably, I had a rather tight word limit so I could not say as much about this book as I would have liked. You will obviously get the impression, however, that I liked this volume very much. It combines scholarly creativity with academic substance and pedagogical sensitivity. I have mentioned this elsewhere, but Chris is one of the few really gifted academics I know who can write about complex topics in a very engaging way. He does more of that here. I do have some concerns (which I express in the review) that some of the material in the middle of book will be a bit too advanced for some non-specialist readers. Such is the challenge of taking the complexities of discussions in our field and presenting them to non-specialists without too much oversimplification. Still, I think the payoff will prove to be greater than any difficulties readers might face. And for the record, I intend to use this book as a supplemental text in my Jesus and Gospels course next Spring.
The video embedded below features Chris Keith discussing the central thesis of his most recent book, Jesus Against the Scribal Elite. (You can also find the video on the Baker Academic Blog where there is further information about the book.) Since I am planning to post a review of the book here later in the week, I thought the video would serve as a useful primer for our readers.
I have just returned from a stimulating three days in London, during which I presented at the conference, “Evil in Second Temple Judaism and Early Christianity,” at St. Mary’s University in Twickenham. I was going to spend time this morning writing a wrap-up, but it appears that Steve Walton has already done that. I echo what Steve has written there. Also, thanks go to Chris Keith for the invitation and for putting together such a fantastic lineup. Several people have asked me about my paper in particular, and have asked whether the papers will be published. The proceedings of the conference will appear in the WUNT series, likely in 2015, and will be edited by Chris and Loren Stuckenbruck. (I will happily send along a copy of my paper to those who have asked.)
Ok, so I just checked and in my last three weeks of blog inactivity, Nijay has literally posted 14 different times. (I think he’s trying to make me look bad.) During that period I have been a little busy, first finishing exams and then finishing up a paper I’ll be giving at this conference in London in a little more than a week. When I return from London I have a bunch of stuff to post about, but for now, I thought I’d mention a few books that I am reading at the moment as I plan on reviewing them here on the blog. Summer is a good time to catch up on (late) book reviews and other books I have been too busy to pick up. Here are nine I’m currently reading, seven of which I plan to discuss here:
I am currently reviewing this one for Biblical Theology Bulletin. I received it awhile back when I was working on my book on Markan character studies and I found it extremely useful for my historical overview of Markan research on the disciples. This is a second edition of Black’s revised dissertation, which was an “instant classic” when it was first published back in 1989. Black’s insightful analysis of the different types of redaction criticism, as well as the failures and successes of redaction critical method remains poignant and thought-provoking. The substance of the original book remains the same, though Black has added a lengthy “Afterword” (43 pages) in which he discusses redaction criticism in the 25 years since the initial publication of his book. I have several thoughts about this book that I hope to share in due course.
I am currently reviewing this one for Catholic Biblical Quarterly. Tony (whom I have not yet met) has a very good blog named Apocryphicity, devoted to all-things-Apocrypha. If you’ve read his blog, you won’t be surprised by the quality of this book. Those who know me well know that I love to research and write, but they also know that I am a teacher first. That’s why I love getting solidly-researched, well-written books aimed at students. I am not finished with the book yet, but I can already tell you that it’s a great fit for the classroom. I do intend to try it out the next time I have an opportunity to teach a course on the non-canonical literature.
Like the previous book, I am also reviewing this one for Catholic Biblical Quarterly, though I have yet to do more than simply leaf through a few pages. Back in 2011, Ehrman (who is well-known to anyone who might read this blog) and Plese (a leading authority on Christian Gnosticism) published a book entitled, The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations, in which they provided original language texts–complete with text-critical discussions–and translations of non-canonical writings about Jesus. This book covers the same writings from that previous volume but with English-only translations and without all of the scholarly jargon. Like the Burke book, I think this has the potential to be a useful classroom resource. I will say more about this once I’ve had a chance to go over it in greater detail.
I am reviewing this one for Theology. I read (and really liked) Chris’ related book, Jesus’ Literacy , and I have already read the first two chapters of this one. Chris writes that this book is part three of a three-part “Spielbergian” project (my words, not his) in which he deals with various issues and various angles related to the literacy of Jesus (see here and here for the previous two works). I have made no secret of the fact that I think very highly of Chris Keith’s scholarship. He is a creative, intelligent, and productive scholar, especially in light of his age. I look forward to working my way through the rest of the book.
This book came to me in the mail awhile back. I have been asked by Fortress Press to provide a review here on the blog (which I will due by summer’s end) and was just asked today to review it for a journal. I have had a chance to look over several chapters (but, if I’m being totally and completely honest), I have only really perused the four or five sections in which Cor interacts with my own work. This is not as utterly self-serving as it sounds. In November I will be on a panel with Cor, Alicia Myers, Steve Hunt, Frank Moloney and others at SBL in which we deal with Johannine characterization. I already know that I have some strong disagreements with Cor, but I also find his work stimulating. One of the strengths of what I’ve already read is that Cor is definitely read up on all of the important research in this area.
OK, I have to be honest and say that I haven’t even looked at this one yet. Like the previous book, I just received this in the mail so that I can read up for our November session at SBL. I recently had the chance to meet Alicia who is moving to Campbell University, right down the road from where I teach. I will likely provide a review of this one closer to November, but I did want to mention it.
I agreed to review this one for Biblical Theology Bulletin, but I am not really sure what to say or think about it. This book is different in focus and content from the volumes I typically review and I’m just not sure what to do with it. Crump wants to look at the Scriptures through a Kierkegaardian lens while giving a nod to issues like authentic faith and Scriptural authority (issues I am a little tired of discussing in public), all while questioning the value of the historical critical method. It’s been an *interesting* read thus far. Tune in and I’ll say more once I’m done.
Finally, I’m also reading the competing 8. Ehrman and 9. Bird (et al) volumes….but don’t worry, I don’t plan to review either one here on the blog. There’s much too much of that going on in the blogosphere right now.
Over at the Marginalia Review of Books, Helen Bond reviews Jesus Criteria and the Demise of Authenticity (ed. Chris Keith & Anthony Le Donne). After a thorough consideration of the book’s subject matter she concludes that the volume should be considered “essential reading for anyone even contemplating any kind of reconstruction of the historical Jesus.” Check out her review, and more importantly, check out the book. If you get a chance, you should also check out Bond’s very useful book, Historical Jesus: A Guide for the Perplexed.