Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Jesus and the Village Scribes: Galilean Conflicts and the Setting of Q

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Jesus and the Village Scribes: Galilean Conflicts and the Setting of Q

Article excerpt

By William E. Arnal. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001. xiv + 290 pp. $26.00 (paper).

In this book based on his 1997 dissertation under John S. Kloppenborg, Arnal's thesis is that the language of reversal or uprootedness in Q is best explained as the work of village scribes in Galilee who have lost social status as a result of economic/political changes in first century Galilee. The book, however, is mostly prolegomena to his reading of Q's reversal language, for Arnal is as much concerned to demonstrate the inadequacy of the itinerancy hypothesis for understanding Q. In the first two chapters, Arnal describes Harnack's, Theissen's and more recent arguments for itinerancy, demonstrating both their weaknesses and the ideological (cultural) subtexts that made these views attractive to their authors and adherents. Then he argues the weakness of the evidence for itinerancy in the Didache and Q. These chapters are helpful summaries of much material, and the relating of Harnack's and Theissen's thought to their own social contexts is innovative and helpful.

The long chapter on the socioeconomics of Roman Galilee is a superb distillation of the material. His view, similar to but independent of Richard Horsley's, is that the relatively closed, self-sufficient subsistence economy of Galilee was seriously disrupted by the extraction of wealth for the elites made possible by the foundings of the cities of Sepphoris and Tiberias in the early first century C.E. He concludes that the village scribes, the literate local administrative retainers, were the most seriously dislocated, indeed rendered superfluous by the economic dominance of the cities, and that they were the likely composers and redactors of Q, fighting for their old way of life. The final chapter then explores how Q's rhetoric would make sense as the program of such displaced village scribes. …

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