Larry Hurtado and Lea Keck on whether the NT is a ‘field of study’

    

In case you missed it, here’s a fascinating post by Larry Hurtado, based on a very interesting article by Leander Keck about whether we should consider the New Testament as a ‘field of study’ separate from other early Christian literature. Hurtado’s conclusion is particularly interesting to me:

In short, for theological purposes the NT is (and should be) a “privileged” body of texts.  But for historical purposes we should both take account of the breadth and diversity of early Christian literature and also the dynamics that from a remarkably early point gave to certain texts a special status and authority among at least many (most?) early Christian circles.

What do others think? Please do respond in the comments.


6 thoughts on “Larry Hurtado and Lea Keck on whether the NT is a ‘field of study’

  • Timothy J. Christian

    Hi Steve, it seems to me that NT scholars today must have competency in some other body of ancient literature, whether that be the Apostolic Fathers, extra-biblical texts, Nag Hammadi, DSS, etc, to compare to the NT. NT scholars can’t just be experts of the NT text. They must also be experts of the NT and some other comparative literature. It seems impossible for one scholar to be responsible for ALL this literature. Competent enough to be conversant? Absolutely. But not a full blown scholar in all of its secondary literature as well. My focused area of study is rhetorical criticism and as such I’ve immersed myself in the Ancient Greek and Roman literature as pertains to ancient rhetoric (handbooks, progymnasmata, speeches of Lysias, Isocrates, Demosthenes, Cicero, etc.). So perhaps the NT is not “a field of study” (Hurtado), but rather “fields” of study.

    Reply
    • Steve Walton Post author

      Thanks Timothy: that’s very helpful, and I do agree. The difficulty for most (as you acknowledge) is the sheer breadth of material to master today—but that means we need each other as scholars, and that’s no bad thing!

      Reply
        • Steve Walton Post author

          I do agree. How can we make that our practice, other than by reading each others’ stuff? Can you think of practical ways we can collaborate?

          Reply
  • Paul Anderson

    Thanks, Steve and Larry; as one who reviewed J.B. Lightfoot’s newly published partial commentary on John (along with several other essays) at SBL last year, it strikes me that many New Testament scholars have not read the second-century fathers on the Johannine literature. This has led to “default” theories of authorship, all of which have far greater evidentiary problems and liabilities than a modified approach to the traditional view. Especially Lightfoot’s “external evidences” are work reviewing again critically.

    Reply
    • Steve Walton Post author

      Thanks Paul; I’m always impressed when I use Lightfoot’s commentaries (and encourage students to use them) by his breadth of knowledge of ancient sources within and outside the Christian communities.

      Reply

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