Reading the New Testament: Contemporary Approaches

Reading the New Testament: Contemporary Approaches

Reading the New Testament: Contemporary Approaches

Reading the New Testament: Contemporary Approaches


Reading the New Testament offers an exciting and contemporary approach to New Testament Studies, which have changed dramatically in the past thirty years. James Crossley combines an introduction to traditional methods of source, form and social-scientific criticism with postcolonial, gender and political frameworks. He discusses reception-history, covering areas such as popular culture, party politics, historical theology and the politics of contemporary scholarship. He discusses Paul and Christian origins in continental philosophy, as well as offering a more traditional analysis of Paul's theology and the quest for the historical Jesus. A selection of readings from contemporary scholarship is provided in the final chapter of the book.

Reading the New Testament has been carefully designed to help students think critically and in wide-ranging ways about the texts of the New Testament and will prove a valuable resource for everyone engaged in serious study of the Bible.


Readers should emphatically not read this book as a series of definitive ways in which to read this collection of texts which have been the subject of disputes, often bloody, for effectively two millenia. This book is not called, How to Read the new Testament. Perhaps the plural of the subtitle – Contemporary Approaches – might already imply that this is a guide to different ways in which readers can approach the texts. In fear of sounding quaint and sentimental, one of the aims in this book is to open the way for readers to search for more and more ways of reading the texts which inevitably could not all be covered in this introductory book.

One of the key purposes of this book is to introduce students, and relative newcomers to advanced biblical studies, to a greater range of approaches to the New Testament than the standard introductions. Standard introductions to the New Testament, at least in the experience of this writer, place a heavy emphasis on issues such as place of writing, authorship, theological agendas, literary structure, original historical context, broader historical contexts, key themes, and other traditional historical and literary approaches. There is, obviously, nothing wrong with such approaches, and they absolutely will not be ignored in this book, though there would be little point in producing yet another traditional introduction. However, New Testament studies, and biblical studies more widely, has so many more different approaches than is usually found in introductory textbooks and the omission of a range of creative and innovative approaches in textbooks fails to provide approaches for students who are not necessarily interested in the more traditional and seemingly ‘mainstream’ approaches to biblical texts. The mere ‘fact’ that the study of the New Testament, like any academic discipline, has so many different approaches not typically covered in introductory textbooks seems, to this writer at least, a failure and simply reinforces the idea that certain ‘mainstream’ approaches are the ‘best’ approaches.

This book is divided into four distinct sections. The first section, ‘History’, will introduce classical historical critical approaches to the New Testament – from source criticism to the quest for the historical Jesus – and more recent developments which might loosely be labelled ‘historical’ – from postcolonial . . .

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