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The Literary-Historical Method and History

 COMMENT BY A READER: I like the “literary-historical” approach, but only up to a point, just so long as the claims of primitive history, the interpretations of bible scholars, and the anti-Semitic pronouncements of its religious authors, don’t outweigh or override the literature. After all, Jesus did NOT have personal biographers who took notes and reported what was going on throughout his lifetime. We only know of him as the protagonist within an ill-defined genre, someone carefully crafted after-the-fact in order to appear more god-like than human. Thus, it seems a mistake to treat the Gospel of Mark, or any similar ancient narrative (whether canonized or not), either as the legitimate retelling of history, or merely as one particular form of Greco-Roman storytelling.   RESPONSE: Yes, it anyone thinks the literary-historical approach involves making historical claims about the narrative they have misunderstood what it is trying to do. Let me explain. There are numerous ways, of course, that one can approach the Gospels of the NT, just as there are numerous ways that one can [...]

2020-04-03T17:19:23-04:00February 25th, 2014|Canonical Gospels, Reader’s Questions|

Feedback on Excursus

Warning.  This is a long post.   I am editing the first chapter of my Bible Introduction.  At its end, I give an excursus that explains that we will be approaching the Bible from a literary and historical perspective, not a confessional perspective.  It’s a very tricky and touchy topic, as this is meant for 19 and 20 year olds, most of whom know the Bible, if they do at all, only from church and Sunday school – believing perspectives.  I give this kind of excursus in my New Testament textbook, and most teachers like it.  But I’ve altered it for this book, to stress that the emphasis is both literary and historical.  I would like some feedback: do you think this works, is sensitive to students, yet is clear about what the book will be doing and why?  Let me know, if you feel so inclined. Excursus Most of the people who are deeply interested in the Bible in modern American culture are committed Jews or Christians who have been taught that this is a [...]

2020-04-03T19:09:40-04:00December 3rd, 2012|Book Discussions, Teaching Christianity|
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