Ten Theology Books to Watch For – August 2018

August 9, 2018 — Leave a comment

 

Here are a some excellent theology* books that will be released this month:

* broadly interpreted, including ethics, church history, biblical studies, and other areas that intersect with theology

See a book here that you’d like to review for us?
Contact us, and we’ll talk about the possibility of a review.

  

Gospels before the Book 

Matthew Larsen

Oxford UP

What does it look like to read the texts we now call the gospels like first- and second-century readers? There is no evidence of anyone regarding the gospel as a book published by an author until the end of the second century. So, put differently, what does it mean to read the gospels “before the book”? For centuries, the ways people discuss the gospels have been shaped by later ideas that have more to do with the printing press and modern notions of the author than ancient writing and reading practices. In Gospels before the Book, Matthew D. C. Larsen challenges several subtle yet problematic assumptions about authors, books, and publication at work in early Christian studies. He then explores a host of under-appreciated elements of ancient textual culture such as unfinished texts, accidental publication, post-publication revision, and the existence of multiple authorized versions of the same work. Turning to the gospels, he argues that the earliest readers and users of the text we now call the Gospel according to Mark treated it not as a book published by an author, but as an unfinished, open, and fluid collection of notes (hypomnmata). In such a scenario, the Gospel according to Matthew would not be regarded as a separate book published by a different author, but as a continuation of the same unfinished gospel tradition. Similarly it is not the case that, of the five different endings in the textual tradition we now call the Gospel according to Mark, one is “right” and the others are “wrong.” Rather each represents its own effort to fill a perceived deficiency in the gospel. Larsen offers a new methodological framework for future scholarship on early Christian gospels.

 

Reading Mark in Context: Jesus and Second Temple Judaism 

Blackwell / Goodrich / Maston, Eds.

Zondervan

Over the last several decades, the Jewishness of Jesus has been at the forefront of scholarship and students of the New Testament are more than ever aware of the importance of understanding Jesus and the Gospels in their Jewish context. Reading Mark in Context helps students see the contour and texture of Jesus’ engagement with his Jewish environment. It brings together a series of accessible essays that compare and contrast viewpoints, theologies, and hermeneutical practices of Mark and his various Jewish contemporaries.

Going beyond an introduction that merely surveys historical events and theological themes, this textbook examines individual passages in Second Temple Jewish literature in order to illuminate the context of Mark’s theology and the nuances of his thinking. Following the narrative progression of Mark’s Gospel, each chapter in this textbook (1) pairs a major unit of the Gospel with one or more sections of a thematically-related Jewish text, (2) introduces and explores the historical and theological nuances of the comparative text, and (3) shows how the ideas in the comparative text illuminate those expressed in Mark.

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