Monday, December 08, 2014

Hays' Reading Backwards

1. If you were to ask me the top influences on me as a New Testament scholar, James Dunn probably comes first. For all my griping Tom Wright is probably second. Then I think the tie goes next to Richard Hays and Krister Stendahl.

[I am of course sui generis as a Hebrews person--the interpretation I preach came neither from a mortal nor through a mortal, but... just kidding]

I'm sure Hays doesn't know it but I actually co-dedicated one of my church-directed Paul books to him, N. T. Wright, and of course my Doctor father, Dunn. I'm rather bad about telling people that I have dedicated books to them. My old professor David Thompson just happened to wander through the Seminary building last month and, as he was leaving, it suddenly occurred to me that I had co-dedicated a book to him as well. ;-) Dr. Bauer, yours is signed and also sitting on my desk.

If by chance Richard Hays or Tom Wright stumble on this post, I'd be glad to send you a copy if you need something to balance out your bed. :-)

2. But I'm on a tangent again...

Hays' new book, Reading Backwards, promises to be very memorable indeed. His books are all quite significant. Practically every one is a benchmark of some sort: The Faith of Jesus Christ, Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul, The Moral Vision of the New Testament...

This is a book about the way in which the Gospel authors breathed the Old Testament as an intertext. Hays of course is known for leaning more toward the side that sees the NT authors as presupposing more rather than less of the literary contexts they quote and to which they allude. "Metalepsis" is his middle name, meaning that he thinks allusions pull in significant meaning from the texts with which they interact.

For today I just read his Preface. [I particularly resonated with the part about it being hard to get much scholarly writing done as an academic Dean] He puts some stakes down. He is including John. He will be looking at the Greek OT rather than the Hebrew, since the Gospel authors were drawing on the Greek, not the Hebrew. He is not particularly friendly to Q but is good friends with Mark Goodacre (just kidding). He is in the "Early High Christology Club" (as opposed to Dunn, who is in the High Christology club and the late Maurice Casey, who was in the Christology Club--in joke).

He mentions the scholars who have most influenced him in this area (not that he always has agreed with them): C. H. Dodd, Barnabas Lindars, Nils Dahl, Donald Juel (who is closer to my thinking), Hans Frei, Joel Marcus, N. T. Wright, Larry Hurtado, Richard Bauckham, Daniel Boyarin, and Kavin Rowe. David Moffitt gets the nod for being the real author of the book (again, just kidding).

Well, that's just the Preface. But it promises to be a most excellent read, first delivered as lectures at Cambridge and, eventually, to be a full scholarly treatment (probably after he steps down from being Dean ;-)

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