Shaily Patel: Queer Criticism

Shaily Patel, “Excursus: Methods of Ideological Criticism,” in Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction To the Early Christian Writings, sixth edition (OUP, 2016), 193.

Like feminist criticism, queer criticism is a way of reading the New Testament that contests certain norms depicted in the text, especially those that privilege heterosexuality and fixed gender roles. Queer criticism analyzes how these norms are established and maintained both in the biblical text and in modern scholarship. Those who use queer criticism question the use of the biblical text to privilege heteronormativity (i.e., the position that only heterosexuality is normal and valid.

Shaily Patel: Postcolonial Criticism

Shaily Patel, “Excursus: Methods of Ideological Criticism,” in Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, sixth edition (OUP, 2016), 192.

Postcolonial criticism emphasizes the influence that empires and imperial policies, both ancient and modern, have on the texts, history, and scholarship of the New Testament. Postcolonial interpreters analyze how historical empires are depicted in biblical texts and how these texts both reflected and shaped the attitudes and concerns of the subjects of these empires. They read the New Testament by viewing the first Christians as subjects of the Roman Empire. A postcolonial critic might ask how being ruled by Rome configured the way the followers of Jesus understood themselves and their place in the world.

Bart D. Ehrman: The Significance of John 9:22

Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, sixth edition (OUP, 2016), 187-188.

This verse [i.e. John 9:22] is significant from a socio-historical perspective because we know that there was no official policy against accepting Jesus (or anyone else) as messiah during his lifetime. On the other hand, some Jewish synagogues evidently did begin to exclude members who believed in Jesus’ messiahship toward the end of the first century. So the story of Jesus healing the blind man reflects the experience of the later community that stood behind the Fourth Gospel. These believers in Jesus had been expelled from the Jewish community, the community, presumably, of their families and friends and neighbors, in which they had worshiped God and had fellowship with one another.

Their expulsion from their synagogue had serious implications for the Christian community’s social life and for the way it began to understand its world and its stories about its messiah, Jesus.

Bart D. Ehrman: Book Publishing in the Ancient World

Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, sixth edition (OUP, 2016), 178.

When thinking about the relationship of the New Testament writings to one another, we must constantly bear in mind that in the ancient world books were not published as they are today. In the modern world, books are mass-produced and sold all over the world, with the distribution of copies taking weeks at the most. In the ancient world, books were copied one at a time, and distribution was haphazard at best. In-house literature was not advertised, and circulation was random and uncontrolled.

Bart D. Ehrman: How Modern Readers Form Their Own Gospel Account

Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, sixth edition (OUP, 2016), 163.

When modern readers act as if [the Gospels of Mark and Luke were portraying Jesus in precisely the same way], for example, by thinking that Jesus said all of these things on the cross, some of them recorded by Mark and others by Luke, they take neither account seriously, but rather create their own account, in which Jesus is portrayed as all things at one and the same time. But Mark has one way of portraying Jesus and Luke another, and readers who combine their two portraits form a different Gospel, one that is neither Mark nor Luke.

Bart D. Ehrman: Luke vs. Matthew on Mary and Joseph’s Hometown

Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, sixth edition (OUP, 2016), 155-156.

One of the telling differences between the two accounts has to do with the question of Mary and Joseph’s hometown. Most people simply assume that the couple lived in Nazareth. In the familiar story of Luke’s Gospel, Mary and Joseph leave town for a trip to register for the census in Bethlehem during the rule of Augustus as emperor and Quirinius as governor of Syria…Mary happens to give birth there (2:1-7), and the couple then returns home just over a month later (2:39; following the law spelled out in Leviticus 12).

Before examining this account in greater detail, we should recall what Matthew says about the same event. Matthew gives no indication at all that Joseph and Mary made a trip from Galilee in order to register for a census. On the contrary, Matthew intimates that Joseph and Mary originally came from Bethlehem. This is suggested, first of all, by the story of the wise men (found only in Matthew), who arrive to worship Jesus after making a long journey in which they follow the star that evidently appeared some two years earlier in the heavens to indicate his birth (Matt 2:2, 16). They find Jesus in Bethlehem in a “house” (not a stable or a cave; Matt 2:11). Unless one had reason to think otherwise – and Matthew gives readers no reason for doing so – one would assume that the house is where Jesus and his family normally live.

Bart D. Ehrman: Matthew’s Criticism of Jewish Authorities

Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, sixth edition (OUP, 2016), 147.

Perhaps the best way to explain Matthew’s extensive criticism of the Jewish authorities is to say that his own community continued to experience opposition from non-Christian Jews, especially influential scribes and rabbis of the local synagogue(s), who accused them of abandoning Moses and the Law, of becoming apostate from the Jewish religion through their ill-advised faith in Jesus.