Baker Academic

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Best Not-new Books about Jesus?

Earlier this week I was emailing with a senior scholar in the field of historical research. S/he reminded me again of the value of including books from previous generations of scholarship in my classes. If you already know of whom I'm referring, then you've probably had similar conversations with him/her. In this particular conversation said scholar reminded me of two books that might be considered for a class on the "Sayings of Jesus."

T. W. Manson’s The Sayings of Jesus. This book focuses on material traditionally associated with Q, M, and L. It looks to have been recently re-published.

G. R. Beasley-Murray’s Jesus and the Kingdom of God. Not quite so old as Manson. But old-fashioned enough in approach (traditional historical-critical readings) to be included here.

Another book, recommended to me by a different person:

Eta Linnemann's Parables of Jesus: Introduction and Exposition. This is from her earlier form-critical years before she rejected historical-critical method. It also represents one of the earliest monographs by a female scholar in this field.

So now I put it to you. What is an older/oldish book that should be included in a Jesus class?

-anthony

27 comments:

  1. my undergraduate mentor David Dungan, Sayings of Jesus in the Churches of Paul (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmmm. I wonder what Christine Jacobi might say on this one.

      Delete
  2. I had the opportunity to read and interact with parts of C.H. Dodd's "Parables of the Kingdom" during a graduate seminar some years back (while I was doing my MA coursework), and it has had a place on my shelf and in my thought ever since.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'd include Eusebius's Gospel Problems and Solutions (there's a recent English edition), just to show how he handled some of the same issues. It's not that the old guys didn't notice!

    I'd also include something sermonic, such as Campbell Morgan's The Great Physician, which has lots of useful examples of how easy it is to get it wrong while having your heart in the right place.

    But I know these aren't quite what you meant...

    ReplyDelete
  4. Dodd's Parables of the Kingdom!

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Bible's pretty old.

    Anyway, what's the point of reading an old scholarly book? Haven't most/all it's conclusions been refuted by now? Sounds like a waste of time.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anonymous, I was thinking about mounting an argument against your comment. Then I realized that you posted this yesterday which is now dated and outmoded.
      -anthony

      Delete
    2. "The Bible's pretty old." You got it here first on the Jesus Blog.

      Delete
  6. Joachim Jeremias, New Testament Theology: Volume 1, The Proclamation of Jesus (London: SCM, 1970) is another title I would add.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anthony,
    Your remarks about Linnemann reminds me a bit about Constructing Jesus in which Dale Allison states: “when I undertook critical study of the canonical gospels, so many years ago ... my assumption was this: if an evangelist told a story about Jesus, we should be able to determine whether or not it happened ... I was, in retrospect, both vain and naïve. It was as though I were the master sleuth in a detective novel, imagining that I could, in each and every case, figure out what had actually transpired. In real life, however, many crimes go unsolved” (435-36). Allison have lost his former confidence of anyone tracing “with assurance the history of most of the traditions” (436).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ferdie, Linnemann's is a bit different than Dales in that she experienced something of a second religious awakening before changing her tune. As I understand it, Dale reasoned his was to a new method.
      -anthony

      Delete
    2. Sure Anthony. I was actually thinking about Linnemann's "earlier form-critical years" on the one hand, and Allison's rather strong criticism of form-criticism in his later work ...

      Delete
  8. Joachim Jeremias, The Parables of Jesus, 1972 I think.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Is Sander's Jesus and Judaism considered "oldish"? If so, then I think it's a book I wish I had been assigned to read in college.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is certainly from a older generation of Jesus scholarship. This book has the added element of being something of a signpost in the field. It should be read simply because it signals a revival of consciousness within HJR. So it's not simply "still useful."

      Delete
  10. Three suggestions:
    1. Albert Schweitzer, The Quest for the Historical Jesus--at the risk of stating the obvious, I suggest this one nonetheless. There's a reason Schweitzer was regularly referred to as a genius. I get the suspicion that while everyone refers to Schweitzer, not everyone is reading him closely. Especially students for whom 1906 seems a very very long time ago. And yet he always repays reading. Always. (Though, in my humble opinion, this is not his greatest work. Mysticism of Paul is.)

    2. C. H. Dodd, Parables of the Kingdom. The title deceives--this is very much a "Jesus book," and the classic counterpoint to Schweitzer's thoroughgoing eschatology. Once again, I wonder how often it is read and digested nowadays. Short, sweet, and packed with insight. They don't write 'em like this much anymore.

    3. Joachim Jeremias, New Testament Theology: the Preaching of Jesus (1971)--published posthumously and titled deceptively (subtitle should've been the title) this is very much a "Jesus book" is a gold mine of information. Despite the caricature that has arisen in some circles of Jeremias as relying solely on anachronistic rabbinic parallels, anyone who sits down and works through this volume cover to cover will encounter much judicious thinking and a veritable gold-mine of insights drawn from 20th century Jesus research. Sure, there's lots to disagree with, but even more to learn. Like Dodd, it also has the advantage of brevity, and chapters from it can be assigned easily.

    Sadly, the only one currently in print (as far as I can tell) is Schweitzer. So students may have to use that thing called the 'library'.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for this, Brant. I'll have to get my hands on no. 3.
      -anthony

      Delete
    2. Brant, this is absurd . . . expecting students to get to the so-called "library."

      Delete
    3. In my opinion, Strauss's Life of Jesus is in a similar category to Schweitzer's Quest. It always repays reading.

      Delete
    4. Advice from a librarian: The library should come to the students...So, make room in your syllabi for a librarian to spend time in your classrooms, fellas! Less (course) content, is more. And, face-to-face contact with an good information pro who cares about your kids, will help get the kids - not into the library necessarily, but into their research.

      Delete
  11. Hey Anthony, last night it dawned on me that my suggestions were:
    (1) Thesis (Thoroughgoing Eschatology--Schweitzer)
    (2) Antithesis (Realized Eschatology--Dodd)
    (3) Synthesis (Eschatology in the Process of Realization--Jeremias)

    Pretty funny, in a Hegelian kind of way.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Taking the "deep dive" into DF Strauss' "Life of Jesus" is a worthwhile adventure, if you have the time and attention...and aided by the fact you can read along with it at LibriVox.

    https://librivox.org/the-life-of-jesus-critically-examined-by-david-friedrich-strauss/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jack, I hadn't seen this comment when I added a comment to the same effect earlier. Glad to see we're on the same wave length!

      Delete
  13. It's not quite a book. And only speculatively old. But to read a simple compilation of the more commonly-recognized or supposed Q sayings, absolutely without any scholarly commentary whatsoever, is a revelatory and shocking experience.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I still have three NT books on my shelves from seminary days in the 1960's:
    My favorite for thoroughness is Todt's The Son of Man in the Synoptic Tradtion (2nd ed. 1965), also in the Bultmannian tradition Bornkamm's Jesus of Nazareth (3rd ed. 1960). Further, Feine, Behm, and Kummel, Introduction to the NT(14th ed., 1966).

    Gene Stecher
    Chambersburg, Pa.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gene, agreed on the first two! Toedt's book is especially underappreciated. I've never had the occasion to read the Feine et al intro.

      Delete