Baker Academic

Monday, December 1, 2014

Greg Carey reviews Keith's Latest Book

The always thoughtful Greg Carey reviews Jesus against the Scribal Elite for the Christian Century. Here is just a taste:
This book includes several examples of remarkably insightful biblical interpretation, particularly when [Chris] Keith examines the distinctive ways in which each Gospel treats Jesus’ relationship to literacy. One outstandingly presented case involves Mark’s “layered portrayal” of Jesus as a synagogue teacher in diverse contexts. Mark contrasts Jesus’ teaching with those of the “scribal-elite teachers,” combining Jesus’ teaching with his powerful deeds: “Where an audience is willing to allow Jesus’ exorcisms and healings to influence their view of his identity, he is accepted as a synagogue teacher,” but where the audience does not link Jesus’ deeds to his teachings, they reject him. Indeed, after the account of Jesus’ difficult visit to the Nazareth synagogue, Mark never again describes Jesus teaching in a synagogue. Thus “Mark portrays Jesus as a compelling teacher whose contemporaries did not expect him to be a synagogue teacher because he was a member of the manual-labor class.” Keith then goes on to show how Matthew and Luke subtly and not so subtly revised Mark’s version of the story to enhance Jesus’ teaching authority (Matthew) and his literacy (Luke).
I have now read three of Greg Carey's reviews and have decided that he is the world's finest book reviewer. He is level-headed, generous by default, but honest throughout. Most importantly, he engages the heart of the thesis and assesses the book accordingly. I wish that he would review every book.


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