Edited by J. Brian Tucker and Coleman A. Baker, this hefty handbook offers readers an opportunity to discover the latest trends in social scientific research as it relates to the documents of the New Testament. It is comprised of two major sections, the first being fairly brief and the second the bulk of the collection:
Part 1: Methodological Studies:
2. An Outline of Social Identity Theory – Philip F. Esler
3. Social History and Social Theory in the Study of Social Identity – Andrew D. Clarke and J. Brian Tucker
4. Ethnicity and Social Identity – Aaron Kuecker
5. Ritual and Social Identity: The Deutero-Pauline Shaping of Early Christianity – Minna Shkul
6. Letter Writing and Social Identity – Matthew J. Marohl
7. A Narrative-Identity Model for Biblical Interpretation: The Role of Memory and Narrative in Social Identity Formation – Coleman A. Baker
8. Nodes of Objective Socialization and Subjective Reflection in Identity: Galatian Identity in an Imperial Context – Robert L. Brawley
Part 2: Textual Studies:
9. Group Norms and Prototypes in Matthew 5.3-12: A Social Identity Interpretation of the Matthean Beatitudes – Philip F. Esler
10. Suffering and the Creation of Christian identity in the Gospel of Mark – Paul Middleton
11. Textual Orientations: Jesus, Written Texts, and the Social Construction of Identity in the Gospel of Luke – Rafael Rodríguez
12. Filial Piety and Violence in Luke-Acts and the Aeneid: A Comparative Analysis of Two Trans-ethnic Identities – Aaron Kuecker
13. Social Identities, Subgroups, and John’s Gospel: Jesus the Prototype and Pontius Pilate (John 18.28–19.16) – Warren Carter
14. Children of Abraham, the Restoration of Israel and the Eschatological Pilgrimage of the Nations: What Does It Mean For ‘In Christ’ Identity? – Christopher Zoccali
15. Social Identity and Conflict in Corinth: 1 Corinthians 11.17-34 in Context – Mark Finney
16. ‘If Anyone is in Christ, New Creation: The Old has Gone, the New has Come’ (2 Cor. 5.17): New Creation and Temporal Comparison in Social Identity Formation in 2 Corinthians – Kar Yong LIM
17. Galatians 2.1-14 as Depiction of the Church’s Early Struggle for Community-Identity Construction – Atsuhiro Asano
18. Adopted Siblings in the Household of God: Kinship Lexemes in the Social Identity Construction of Ephesians – Daniel K. Darko
19. Echoes of Paul’s Philippians in Polycarp: Texts that Create Identity – Sergio Rosell Nebreda
20. New Identity and Cultural Baggage: Identity and Otherness in Colossians – Minna Shkul
21. Stereotyping and Institutionalization as indications of Leadership Maintenance in the Pastoral Epistles: 1 Timothy as a Test Case – Jack Barentsen
22. Paul’s Particular Problem – The Continuation of Existing Identities in Philemon – J. Brian Tucker
23. Social Identity in the Epistle to the Hebrews – Steven Muir
24. Calling on the Diaspora: Nativism and Diaspora Identity in the Letter of James – K. Jason Coker
25. ‘Aliens’ among ‘Pagans’, ‘Exiles’ among ‘Gentiles’: Authorial Strategy and (Social) Identity in 1 Peter – Todd D. Still and Natalie R. Webb
26. The Agapé Feast in 2 Peter, Imperial Ideology, and Social Identity – R. Alan Streett
27. Identity in First John: Sinless Sinners who Remain in Him – Rikard Roitto
28. Constructing Identity in the Epistle of Jude – Ritva Williams
29. Israelite Ethnic Identity Responding to the Roman Imperium in Revelation – Markus Cromhout
As potential readers can see, it is a very comprehensive collection. And it is, by and large, a well written collection. And it decidely is a very informative collection. However, the methodological section is not, to this reader, as engaging as the textual section. But that probably has more to do with my own interests than it does with the quality or usefulness of the pieces offered in the first part by its authors and editors.
Indeed, I found the textual studies so intriguing that I am happy to commend the collection to persons working in the field of social science and New Testament. Why? For insights like these, in a discussion of the Agape Feast of the early Church:
This mealtime coming together in Jesus’ name was a politically subversive act because it challenged Rome’s ideological claims and right to rule the world, while it upheld Christ’s right to rule the world as God’s authorized king. In essence, the Christian banquet was an act of non-violent resistance to the empire (p. 484).
Examples could be easily multiplied.
There is, however, a problem with the volume and that is its rather high cost. $200 will place it out of the reach of a majority of researchers (though research libraries could and should acquire it). And $200 is certainly outside the budgets of Grad Students or Undergrads who really could benefit not only from reading it, but having it to hand for regular consultation (which of course cannot be done with library books- they have to be returned).
There is an e-book edition available as well, but it’s $169. Doubtless there is some sort of academic discount for either the hardback or the e-book, but without such a discount I am afraid that the volume will not be read, or used, as widely as it can, and really, if I’m perfectly honest, should.
Nonetheless, if one has the resources to purchase this volume when it comes out, one should. It will prove to be quite useful for a fairly long time.*
*I appreciate the paperback ‘advance readers copy’ I was given by Bloomsbury for the purpose of reviewing.