Thursday, September 16, 2010

What to include in a lecture entitled "New testament Overview"?

What to include in a lecture entitled "New testament Overview" that lasts a mere 2 hours?! The rest of that particular course covers specific NT books and the theme of New Creation in more depth.

Thus far, I am looking at background issues, namely the story of Israel, first-century Judaism(s), the wider Greco-Roman world and aspects of the social world of first-century Mediterranean life (honour-shame, Patron-Client etc)

I then turn to look at a number of NT documents in this light:

  • The Gospels (linking this in with the story of restoration outlined above). This leads into a look at Luke-Acts in terms of salvation-history.
  • Paul's letters (doing the same, while summarising the general gist of his letters as a whole at the same time as overviewing different approaches to Paul' theology)
  • Hebrews in 10 minutes (relying on David deSilva's reading here) and
  • Revelation in 10 minutes (Bauckham's approach in a nutshell – a word I accidentally typed as 'butshell', which sounds rude)
  • Then I try to answer the question, 'must I be a NT scholar to be able to read and preach from the NT?' – which will give you a clue as to the nature of my audience.

Would you add / chop anything here?


At 9/16/2010 1:02 PM, Blogger Mike W said...

If you could somehow do all that while telling the story of the early church that recieved these documents, that would be good too. Not in a 'every passage must secretly be talking about a community conflict' kind of way, but just to get the sense of what was going on for this small but growing sect before and while the NT was written.
And if you pull it off, can I get a copy?

At 9/16/2010 1:45 PM, Anonymous Don said...

I'd maybe chop the patron-client bit- unless you can spend a lot of time giving qualifications. The idea of its applicability to New Testament texts has come under a lot of criticism over the past 18 months.

Look for Jonathan Marshall's 'Jesus, Patrons, and Benefactors: Roman Palestine and the Gospel of Luke'(2009 in particular; but also see Erlend D. MacGillivray 'Re-evaluationg Patronage and Reciprocity in Antiquity and New Testament Studies' JGRChJ; David Downs' Is God Paul’s Patron? The economy of Patronage in Pauline Theology' (2009). Also keep a look out for Susan Sorek's forthcoming book 'Remembered for Good'.

At 9/16/2010 7:00 PM, Blogger Matt said...

Dr Tilling,
I'm a PhD student in the US and am working on an overly ambitious and probably-will-never-be-finished dissertation on a canonical reading of the NT (where canonical = paying attention to the order of the books). Much of my focus is on new creation; I'd be interested to hear more about what you say in your lecture concerning it if you have time.


At 9/16/2010 10:21 PM, Anonymous Doug Chaplin said...

I'd say that was over-ambitious. It's a lot to cram into 2 hours. What I don't get a sense of is what you want them to take away from the lecture.

This looks as thought you expect them to be biblically knowledgeable but critical scholarship ignorant. How much of what you take for granted will be either new or shocking to them?

Would you be better to touch a little more on some trajectories through Christian origins that help them locate the books? Would you also be better to try to cover fewer books, and pick instead a whole book and a couple of selected passages and show in more detail how helpful the big pictures of Second Temple Judaism and the Hellenistic World are at doing practical reading and exegesis of the nitty-gritty detail?

Just a few questions, which depending on your audience might be worth pondering.

At 9/17/2010 1:43 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Guys, thanks to you all for these helpful comments.

Don, I've nipped that out of my lecture - I'll have to look at those resources first. Thanks.

Mike (and Matt), I have no idea if they will put my talk online - it will be delivered in Sheffield, St Thomas Crookes (School of Theology) - they have a webpage, so perhaps it will be available.

At 9/17/2010 8:34 PM, Anonymous dan said...

I disagree with Don. I think an understanding of the patron-client dynamics in Graeco-Roman society is absolutely crucial to understanding a lot of what is going on with both Paul and Jesus. Don't cut that bit out, just know what you're talking about (for example, while Downs challenges deSilva's argument regarding God as Patron, Jesus as Broker, and Jesus-followers as clients, there is still a lot more that is said in discussions of this issue -- and an increasing agreement regarding Paul's rejection of patron-client relationships -- that really is important to our understanding of what is going on in his letters).

If I were you, I wouldn't discuss the NT documents at all in the first lecture (since you are returning to them later). Instead, I would focus on (1) Second Temple Judaism(s), nature, history, tensions, scriptures, etc.; and (2) the Graeco-Roman world (not just honour-shame and patron-client issues, but also the imperial ideology/cult, the economics of both the Roman empire and the Jewish Temple-State (this is important for understanding the original audiences of the letters in the NT and how they might hear what was written) and so on.

You'll have more than enough material there to cover two hours.

At 9/18/2010 11:54 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thanks Dan,
I did something similar, and mentioned the Patron business in relation to deSilva's reading of Hebrews. I need to read up on thsi one.


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