Emerging Approaches in New Testament Studies

Todd Penner and Davina C. Lopez

in Biblical Studies

ISBN: 9780195393361
Published online September 2011 | | DOI:
Emerging Approaches in New Testament Studies

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The study of the New Testament and early Christian texts has undergone major shifts in recent years. Discussion of such shifts has often focused on the “linguistic turn” and “poststructuralist” approaches that paved the way for scholars in the late 1970s and 1980s to reshape the interpretative landscape. Postcolonial, feminist, queer, gender-critical, and similarly inclined New Testament hermeneutical endeavors arose out of these earlier interpretive shifts. While these shifts are critically important for any understanding of the direction of New Testament research since the 1980s, this entry focuses on more recent developments in the field: those emergent approaches that might, in some respects, be viewed as responses and even reactions to some of the post-linguistic-turn methodologies. The context for these emergent trends in New Testament scholarship can be linked to major shifts in higher education in the first decade of the 2000s, which witnessed an increasing accent on interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary interactions with subject matter (including an encouraging of cross-disciplinary engagements between the humanities and social sciences). For example, the rise of cognitive science, particularly its application in the social sciences and even in some humanities disciplines, has been a major influence. Further, the increasing emphasis on secularism in the academy, as well the discipline of philosophy undergoing a “turn to religion,” has also played major roles in the formulation of newer approaches. Other major influences are the entrenchment of media studies departments and, not in small part, the shifts that have taken place in higher education as a whole with the ascendancy of the “millennial generation” of undergraduates. One of the major shifts in these newer approaches is that the Bible as cultural artifact is engaged in terms of its reception in diverse historical and social contexts, including an increasing interest in media, cinematic and otherwise. Likewise, the present sociohistorical moment is one in which interpreters must contend with the legacies of war and empire as well as the continuing dominance of empiricist ways of knowing. While social-scientific methods are still of value, these are increasingly merged with other modes of investigation, such as rhetorical criticism and social-location theory. The application of cognitive psychology has just begun to make a substantive mark on the direction of New Testament interpretation. Overall, then, any serious study of the New Testament in its current context needs to be attentive to these emergent approaches and the disciplinary shifts in inquiry that have resulted.

Article.  8842 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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