Special Episode!— New Testament Review (@NEWTReview) June 12, 2018
Richard Hays and Joel Marcus discuss Historical and Literary approaches to the New Testament and their relationship to Christian Theology. https://t.co/a2sHGpWwCs
We omitted the Q&A because their discussion was already rather long and the questions were difficult to hear. There was one question, however, I wanted to highlight. Fady Mekhael, a newly minted MTS from Duke Divinity and a Research Fellow with the Bible Society of Egypt, made a particularly astute point.
I won't make any attempt at capturing Fady's wording but he asked Richard Hays (who was championing literary approaches to the New Testament) whether the literary shape/project/interests of an author aren't often ascertained (and sometimes I would suggest constituted — think Thucydides' Peloponnesian War or Tarantino's “Inglorious Bastards”) in the way that author misrepresents historical events. It’s one factor among many in understanding the author but you simply cannot discern what Philip K Dick was doing with “Man in the High Castle” if you don’t know that Nazi Germany in fact lost World War 2. Likewise, Mark for Jesus' relationship to the Law (Mk 7) or Acts for the relationship of Paul and James. Hays and Marcus both agreed that in the case of the gospels and the historical Jesus, historical and literary criticism were inextricably inter-dependent.
I’m not going to weigh down this post with a thousand worthy caveats (e.g. “meaning” is not co-terminus with authorial intent) but Fady’s question is an important reminder that literary and historical approaches (as Hays and Marcus were using the terms) ought not be divorced.