Directions in New Testament Methods

Directions in New Testament Methods

Directions in New Testament Methods

Directions in New Testament Methods

Excerpt

Dear fellow New Testament student:

Welcome to the world of academic New Testament studies! Although you may already be quite familiar with the NT itself, you will quickly realize that the critical methods employed in studying these writings are wide-ranging, complex, and often controversial. Each method presents the beginning student with unique challenges. You will be expected to learn each method's technical vocabulary (ranging from "textual apparatus" to terms like Sitz im Leben, "genre" or "paraenesis"); grasp its theoretical background (requiring at least basic familiarity with a vast spectrum of interdisciplinary fields from sociology to literary theory to historiography); and explore the history of the method (from the 16th century work of Erasmus on textual criticism to Gunkel's turn of the century work on form criticism to the most recent developments in fields like canonical criticism, structuralism, or "the new rhetoric"). With this basic knowledge presumed, you must then deal with conflicts between fundamentally different methodological presuppositions: e.g., while form and source criticism divide the text in order to understand it, narrative and canonical criticism demand a holistic reading to grasp a text's meaning. As a beginning student, you easily can lose your way in the midst of this thick theoretical forest, and may in fact neglect your most important task: to use these methods in order to deepen your own understanding of the NT.

We, the students of Theology 201, Introduction to New Testament Methods, also found ourselves facing this daunting forest of complex issues. Fortunately, from the very first day of class, our professor, William Kurz, S.J., offered us a unique opportunity to combine our theoretical learning with practical application. For each method, we were assigned readings to familiarize ourselves with the prerequisite background for the methodological theories, then immediately were asked to apply the . . .

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