Wednesday, December 03, 2008

New Books on Gospels

A couple of good books on the Gospels from Mohr/Siebeck that you should note are:

Adam Winn, The Purpose of Mark's Gospel: An Early Christian Response to Roman Imperial Propaganda (WUNT II.245).

In this book, Adam Winn addresses the long debated question of the purpose of Mark’s gospel. After placing the composition of Mark in Rome at a time shortly after the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple, he seeks to reconstruct the historical situation facing both the Markan evangelist and his community. This reconstruction focuses on the rise of the new Roman Emperor Vespasian and the aftermath of the Jewish Revolt in Rome. A significant feature of this reconstruction is the propaganda used to gain and secure Vespasian’s power-propaganda that included oracles and portents, divine healings, and grand triumphs. Of particular interest is the propagandistic claim that Vespasian was the true fulfillment of Jewish messianic prophecies. Winn argues that such a claim would have created a christological crisis for the fledgling church in Rome-a crisis that called for a compelling Christian response. Winn seeks to demonstrate that Mark’s gospel could be read as just such a response. He demonstrates how the major features of Mark’s gospel-his incipit, Christology, teaching on discipleship, and eschatology-can be read as a counter résumé to the impressive résumé of Vespasian. In the end, this project concludes that Mark was composed for the purpose of countering Roman imperial propaganda that had created a crisis for its author and community.

Yuzuru Miura, David in Luke-Acts: His Portrayal in the Light of Early Judaism (WUNT II.232).

Yuzuru Miura undertakes a scholarly analysis of all references to David in Luke-Acts, which has not been done so far. Previous studies of David have dealt with parts of the references to David in Luke-Acts, focusing on the subject of Davidic messianism, but it was only the Davidic genealogical character. However, Davidic messianism has another aspect - the typological character. In order to analyze all references to David in Luke-Acts, the Davidic typological character in Davidic messianism has to be considered. Thus, in the first part of this book, the author seeks to grasp the first-century Jewish perceptions of the picture of David, such as David in the LXX, the OT Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, the Qumran Manuscripts, the writings of Philo and Josephus, and early rabbinic thought. Then, in the second part, he analyzes all references to David in Luke-Acts in light of the first-century Jewish perceptions of David. Such a perspective - considering both the genealogical and typological characters of Davidic messianism - uncovers the overall function of Luke's efficient and well-organized use of the figure of David in his narrative to legitimize Jesus as the Davidic Messiah. Furthermore, such a perspective throws fresh light on various Lukan theological issues.

See review in AusBR.


Andrew Faris said...

Both sound interesting to me, but especially the David in Luke-Acts book. Do you know if anyone has attempted any such study in Matthew?

Michael F. Bird said...

Just so happens that one of my Ph.D students is investigating that very topic!

John Smuts said...


Do you know if anyone has pursued the idea that Mark was written in order to be memorised?

e.g. Clement of Alexandria?

“Mark, the follower of Peter, while Peter was preaching the gospel publicly in Rome in the presence of certain of Caesar’s officers, … being requested by them that they might be able to commit to memory the things which were being spoken, wrote from the things which were spoken by Peter the Gospel which is called According to Mark.”

(Adumbrationes ad 1 Peter 5: 13)

Of course this would have a major impact on how you viewed the book's structure.