Earlier in the week I checked my campus mailbox and found this treat waiting for me: The Synoptic Problem: Four Views (ed. Stanley E. Porter and Bryan R. Dyer; Baker Academic). I have always been a fan of the “four views” (or “three views”) format. I find them helpful for introducing students to a given subject and useful for helping a professor get a bird’s-eye-view of the salient points for and against a specific view.
This book features the following lineup of scholars/arguments:
Craig Evans: Two-Source Hypothesis, Mark Goodacre: Farrer Hypothesis, David Peabody: Two-Gospel Hypothesis, Rainer Riesner: Orality and Memory Hypothesis
I was happy to see focused attention given to the Farrer Hypothesis and to Riesner’s “Orality and Memory” Hypothesis. I think this coverage of the topic is particularly useful since: (1) Q skepticism has grown quite a bit in recent years—largely due to the efforts of Mark Goodacre—and needs to be given serious consideration by students of the NT; and (2) research on orality and social memory has significantly impacted our study of the gospels and the historical Jesus in recent years. This book is a welcome addition to the spate of works on the Synoptic Problem. I am planning to use this as one of the primary texts the next time I teach an undergraduate course on the gospels.
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.
Over at the Jesus Blog, Anthony Le Donne is revisiting the recent impact of social memory on historical Jesus studies. In two posts (see here and here), Anthony attempts to add some much needed nuance to a conversation that often generates more heat than light. As I read the first post, there is an overarching plea to students and scholars: If you are going to offer a critique of social memory, read the best work being done by the best scholars (Keith, Rodriguez, Schroeter, et. al.), then engage their arguments rather than the arguments of those you want to critique. The second post provides a more substantive interaction between Anthony and Zeba Crook, one of the more recent critics of memory in Jesus research. As with most anything Anthony writes, the posts are worth a read.