Tuesday, May 11, 2010

C.H. Dodd on Unity and Diversity in the NT

In a little classic, but sadly now neglected book, C.H. Dodd in The Apostolic Preaching and its Developments, said this about unity and diversity in the NT:

"In this survey of the apostolic Preaching and its developments two facts have come into view: first, that within the New Testament there is an immense range of variety in the interpretation that is given to the kerygma; and, secondly, that in all such interpretation the essential elements of the original kerygma are steadily kept in view. Indeed, the farther we move from the primitive modes of expression, the more decisively is the central purport of it affirmed. With all the diversity of the New Testament writings, they form a unity in their proclamation of the one Gospel. At a former stage of criticism, the study of the New testament was vitalized by the recognition of the individuality of its various writers and their teachings. The result of this analytical stage of criticism are of permanent value. With these results in mind, we can now do fuller justice to the rich many-sidedness of the central Gospel which is expressed in the whole. The present task of New Testament criticism, as it seems to me, is the task of synthesis. Perhaps, however, 'synthesis' is not quite the right word, for it may imply the creation of unity out of originally diverse elements. But in the New Testament the unity is original. We have explore, by a comparative study of the several writings, the common faith which evoked them, and which they aimed at interpreting to an ever-widening public."

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