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NEW BOOK: The State of New Testament Studies (eds. McKnight and Gupta)

I was very grateful to receive this new book edited by Scot McKnight and Nijay Gupta when it was released. I have been carefully working through it. For anyone serious about New Testament studies, this is a very valuable collection of essays.

A little backstory. In 2004, Baker Academic released, The Face of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research, edited by Scot McKnight and Grant R. Osborne. This book offered an overview of the state of various fields in biblical studies: Historical Jesus studies, Pauline studies, research on the various Gospels, etc. Of course, a lot of water has passed under the bridge since 2004.

Take, for example, historical Jesus research. Tools once thought indispensable–the so-called “criteria of authenticity”–are now being challenged by numerous scholars. Indeed, leading Jesus researchers such as Dale Allison are now jettisoning them altogether. That is not to say all are on board with such developments, however. The new book edited by McKnight and Gupta features a piece by Rebekah Eklund looking at these conversations. Of course, at the time of the original book it would have been surprising to think that scholars would one day be dispensing with the criteria altogether.

A comparison of the essays on Matthew in the two volumes also reveals how far biblical studies has come since 2004. In the original book, the chapter on Matthew focused largely on whether or not Matthew’s community should be located “within” or “outside” of the synagogue (extra/intra muros debate). As I explain in a post dedicated to John Kampen’s new book, recent work has problematized that dichotomy. In the new book, then, Rodney Reeves shows that the terms of the debate are essentially problematic because, among other things, scholars now recognize the highly variegated nature of the first-century Jewish world.

Finally, I should also say something about Pauline studies. The new book has essays by Michael Bird and Michael Gorman discussing recent trends in Pauline studies. Among other things, discussion on Paul’s Jewishness continues. Moreover, one can hardly overstate the impact John Barclay’s magnum opus, Paul and the Gift (Eerdmans, 2016) has had on the field. Suffice it to say, some very important work is being done Pauline studies these days.

Anyways, as the title suggests, this book is very helpful for anyone trying to get a grasp on the present state of New Testament studies. I highly recommend it.

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