Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dan Harrington on New Biblical Scholarship e.g. Pheme Perkins

Nobody surveys new biblical scholarship better than Prof. Dan Harrington of Weston School of Theology, editor of New Testament Abstracts, and here's a new survey in America for March 31, 2008.

I like Pheme Perkins' Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels very much but I'm not quite ready to consider it as a required text. I think that statements about Peter in Matthew are too open to anachronism: Peter "on the one hand provides a link between the teaching of Jesus as it is remembered and practiced in the church of Matthew's day and Jesus himself. On the other hand, Peter also appears as an everyman figure possessing the weaknesses and strengths that any disciple might posses" (p.189). This is nuanced but not quite enough. Ekklesia in Matthew 16 describes something more like an assembly. The problem is that the word "church" conveys much too much of our modern connotations of public religious building. I know its in modern translations but textbooks don't have to reinforce it. (And I know what Tyndale says: congregacion!)

I'll continue reading the book this Spring. And I'll continue to look for a discussion of the relationship of "community" to "church" in the book since both terms occur and overlap but are distinct. I'm wondering, for example, why there's a community/church in Matthew's gospel but only a community in Luke's gospel.

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