I announce publication of the thesis of yet another of our recent PhD students, Dr. Sean Adams, who is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow here in the School of Divinity:
The Genre of Acts and Collected Biography. Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 155. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013.
The genre of Acts continues to be a debated topic in New Testament scholarship. Despite its literary relationship to the Gospel of Luke a majority of scholars assign these books to two different genres: Luke is traditionally viewed as a biography of Jesus, and Acts as a history of the early church. Comparing in detail the structure and content of Acts with the formal features of history, novel, epic, and biography, Adams challenges the dominant view that Acts is a history, arguing that the best genre parallel for the Acts of the Apostles is in fact collected biography; the first monograph-length work to argue for such a perspective.
By taking this view Adams addresses a number of interpretive issues. For example, it helps explain the structure of Acts, its focus on the disciples and the advancement of the Christian message, and its need to delineate in-group and out-group members, particularly through their interaction with either Peter or Paul. Additionally, it provides an interpretation for the ending of Acts that not only understands the existing ending as an intentional composition by the author, but also explains why Luke did not recount Paul´s trial and death. The shift away from Paul to the preaching of the kingdom of God reinforces the thrust found in a number of collected philosophical biographies that a disciple is only as important as his faithful adherence to and proclamation of his master´s teaching.
In this work Adams models a fluid and flexible perspective on genre. More than just a collection of formal features, Adams shows that genres are to be understood in light of their cultural context and relationships to other genres. Moreover, genres form a dynamic system whose boundaries are constantly in flux. This flexible and malleable understanding of genre provides a strong warning to biblical scholars and classicists who might be tempted to apply rigid generic definitions.
The publisher’s link on the book is here.
Another of our PhD graduates of recent years, Michael J. Kruger (PhD in New Testament & Christian Origins, 2004), is to be inaugurated as President of Reformed Theological Seminary (Charlotte Campus) on 20 October 2013. “Mike” as we know him, is also Professor of New Testament in the seminary.
He is also a commendably productive scholar, commencing with his landmark study of the extra-canonical text referred to as “P.Oxyrhynchus 840,” a portion of an otherwise unknown early Christian text of a gospel-like nature: Michael J. Kruger, The Gospel of the Savior : An Analysis of P.Oxy.840 and Its Place in the Gospel Traditions of Early Christianity (Leiden: Brill, 2005).
He has gone on to publish a number of other studies as well, and we congratulate him on his new appointment and wish him well in his new administrative duties.
Another of our recent PhD graduates, John R. Markley, has had his thesis published in a respected monograph series: John R. Markley, Peter–Apocalyptic Seer (WUNT 2.348; Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013. Congratulations, John!
The focus of the book is on the question of whether/how the portrayal of Peter in the Gospel of Matthew was shaped by the apocalyptic genre. Markley argues affirmatively, proposed that in Matthew the figure of Peter is presented as more than a disciple and positive or negative example, but also as an exclusive recipient of revelation of Jesus’ significance.
My colleague, Paul Foster, acted as primary supervisor for the thesis (and has a good reputation for guiding PhD students to success in their work).
Dr. Ken Dark, who gave us some informative sessions earlier this year, has now made headlines with his proposal that he may have identified the site of Dalmanutha, mentioned in the Gospel of Mark. The story in Huffington Post appears here.
I’m delighted to be able now to release news of a truly important project completed: The completion of the digital photographing of the remarkable cache of ancient papyri housed in the Chester Beatty Library (Dublin). These papyri include portions of biblical manuscripts that are among the earliest extant, both OT and NT writings, and many other extra-canonical texts as well.
I approached the CBL earlier this year about this, and the CBL Director, Dr. Fionnuala Croke, enthusiastically agreed to take the project forward. On my recommendation, it was given to Dr. Daniel Wallace and his team in the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts (Dallas, Texas). You can read his press-release on the CSNTSM here.