Friday, August 12, 2011

review of Structuring Early Christian Memory

I don't know how other scholars keep track of who has reviewed their works, in which journal, and what they've said. It seems to me that you just kind of accidentally encounter a review that you didn't know was being written.

That happened to me last week. I accidentally discovered that Kelly Iverson, of St Andrews University (Scotland) reviewed my published thesis in the Journal for the Study of the New Testament. His brief review is positive and exactly the kind of thing an author hopes for (accurate, fair, critical, etc.). Here's an excerpt, if you're interested:
This study is a welcome addition to historical Jesus studies and provides a fresh perspective that deserves careful attention. For those who may be relatively new to the fields of performance and social memory, this volume offers an informative summary and helpful bibliography. In addition, there is detailed interaction with several textual examples (exorcisms and healings) that illustrates the potential usefulness of the approach. Given the broad objective of this monograph, some will not be convinced that the thesis sufficiently undermines the traditional criteria of authenticity or develops an unobstructed path forward. This volume does, however, make a reasoned argument for appreciating the variability in the Jesus tradition within the contours of an oral culture.

These, I think, are all fair comments. For lengthier and more substantive critiques of the traditional criteria of authenticity, see my "Authenticating Criteria: The Use and Misuse of a Critical Method" (Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 7/2 [2009]: 152–67), as well as the forthcoming volume, Jesus, History, and the Demise of Authenticity (Chris Keith and Anthony Le Donne, eds.; T&T Clark International), for which I contributed an essay on the failings of the criterion of embarrassment.

For Kelly Iverson's full review of Structuring Early Christian Memory, you can follow this link (you'll need to search for "Structuring Early Christian Memory," or you can scroll down to p. 44).

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