The essays in this volume are revised versions of papers presented at Context and Kerygma: The St Andrews Conference on New Testament Interpretation and the Social Sciences held in St Andrews from 29 June to 3 July 1994. A number of those who attended are members of the (largely US) Context Group: Project on the Study of the Bible in its Cultural Environment, and there were further participants from Scotland, England, Ireland, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Germany and South Africa.
The usual modus operandi of the Context Group (on which see Esler 1993b), consisting of collegial yet forthright discussion of papers to assist their authors prepare them for publication, was adopted at this Conference and, as a result, most of the essays have been modified to take into account views expressed by a particular nominated respondent or in discussion following their delivery. So although the reproduction of these views themselves would not have been possible here, they flavour the essays which follow.
I am grateful to my colleagues Dr R.A. Piper, the Principal of St Marys, and Professor R. Bauckham for the help they gave me before and during the Conference. I am also particularly indebted to Ms Helen-Ann Francis, a Senior Honours student in the School of Divinity at St Andrews, for having been a cheerful and efficient administrative assistant during the course of the Conference and also for the long hours she spent in helping to get the manuscript ready for submission to the publisher, especially in the preparation of the composite List of References and Indices, and in proof-reading. Mr Scott Hastings, a postgraduate student at St Andrews, also assisted with proof-reading.
The Routledge staff, especially Mr Richard Stoneman, have encouraged this project from its inception and have seen to the publication of the manuscript with their usual professionalism and good humour.
The dedication to my cousin Fr James Esler SM, of Sydney, Australia, represents a small acknowledgement of a much older debt.
Philip F. Esler
1 May 1995