Item description for Jesus and the Village Scribes by William E. Arnal...
Overview This volume challenges Gerd Theissen's dominant thesis of "wandering radicals" as the earliest spreaders of the Jesus tradition. Several conclusions emerge: (1) the textual evidence for the "wandering radicals" hypothesis is not tenable and it must be replaced with one that more closely comports with the evidence: (2) the immediate context of the Jesus movement, and of Q in particular, is the socio-economic crisis in Galilee under the Romans; and (3) the formation of Q is the product of Galilean village scribes in the Jesus movement reacting to the negative developments in Galilee that affected their social standing. Arnal moves decisively beyond earlier Q studies, which focused almost exclusively on literary history without dealing with the social realities of the first century.
Publishers Description Sets the early Jesus movement and Q within the context of the socio-economic crisis in Galilee.
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Studio: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.02" Width: 6.03" Height: 0.75" Weight: 1.09 lbs.
Release Date Apr 1, 2001
Publisher Augsburg Fortress Publishers
ISBN 0800632605 ISBN13 9780800632601
Availability 0 units.
More About William E. Arnal
William E. Arnal is an assistant professor in the Department of Religion and Classics at New York University.
William E. Arnal currently resides in the state of New York. William E. Arnal was born in 1967.
Reviews - What do customers think about Jesus and the Village Scribes?
Big Trouble in River City Dec 8, 2006
William E. Arnal is a scholar who received his doctorate in 1997 at the University of Toronto under the direction of John Kloppenborg. He has three books to his credit and many scholarly articles in prestigious journals. Both a critic and a historian he brings an unusual perspective to the matter of Christian origins. He is an atheist. He is also deeply read in the Marxist critics and has published scholarly works in that area as well. As he has stated and I paraphrase, he is a member of the Religious Studies Department and not the School of Theology. He sees no necessity for a scholar in his area of endeavor to be a confessing Christian. I agree fully with this conclusion. What I have read in this book and elsewhere about this young man indicates that he is a rising star in the field of Christian origins and academic criticism and is already considered to be a major scholar by his peers. He is safely ensconced as an associate professor, read tenured, in the Religious Studies Department at Regina University in Saskatchewan. This book and those of a few others by exceptional young scholars are being deeply discounted by their publisher Fortress Press. Expect to pay less than five dollars for a new copy of this book through online Christian bookstores.
This is a book in six parts. After a provocative introduction that forewarns the reader that major revisionism and criticism lie ahead, Arnal provides five chapters each of which is capable of being a stand alone essay. The big trouble I refer to above is that this book presents a massive challenge to the congenial presuppositions many of us have found in the "third wave" scholarship on the subject of Christian origins. My academic training in history lies elsewhere, but the degree to which I have been able to find a Jesus to suit my own needs and prejudices in current scholarship has troubled me immensely. The first chapter deals with the foundational idea of itinerant apostles, prophets and teachers in the Didache as explicated by Adolf von Harnak. Second, in chapters two and three, the reader is treated to a complete explanation and total dismantlement of Gerd Theissen's theory of itinerants as pivotal to the early spread of the Jesus movement. The sloppy methodological execution of Theissen exposed by Arnal comes as no particular surprise to this reader. When you use historical form to validate your own preconceived bias, you do no write history, you write polemics. And, as I have pointed out elsewhere in my reviews on this site, there is far too much polemic in what passes for scholarship in the writing of the history of Christian origins. Chapter four is an in depth study of the socio-economic realities of the Galilee that effected the "Q" community. Chapter five including the conclusion provides a detailed literary criticism of the "Q" document, and in light of all the foregoing a history of the "Q" people that naturally follows.
The prose in this book move from understandable to difficult to ponderous. It would appear that this work was intended for Arnal's peers rather than you and I, the lay readers. Expect to ultimately be burdened with the language of academic literary criticism. Whether you call it jargon or a meta-language, it is present and is opaque to many readers. And yet, there is an almost liberating truthfulness about this book as I see it. The assumptions questioned and challenged by this work should cause the open minded to completely reassess their understanding of the spread of formative Christianity. Ultimately, however, there is nothing here that should shake any one's faith. Nor, do I believe it was the intention of the author to do so. What is going on here is a corrective to the loose methodological criterion that have informed far too much of the third search for the historic Jesus and early Church history. Once again, we have been tripped up by our own preconceived bias. Shame on us. This book is an absolute must read. And please be advised, Arnal, Harland, and others have far more highly revisionist things to say on these topics which are available for you to read elsewhere. For myself, I find these scholars a breath of fresh air in a discipline that is generally far too self satisfied.