Robert Myles’ Pretty Good Review of Crossley’s ‘Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism’

Over on his blog, Myles writes

Following on from my previous multi-post review of James Crossley’s recent book Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism (here and here), I want to skip a few chapters (hopefully returning to them at a later stage) and focus on Crossley’s eighth chapter, “‘Forgive Them; for They Do Not Know What They Are Doing!’ Other Problems, Extremes and the Social World of Jesus.” In terms of the overall argument of “neoliberalism” as an ideological context for Jesus scholarship, Crossley situates this chapter as dealing with an “extreme” that is able to become centrist and pose as non-ideological. The chapter makes an important contribution, and while I do not have space to go into all the details, I have raised some particular points of interest.

It’s a pretty good review actually and especially insightful is the following snippet-

To confirm Crossley’s observations [about Malina] up to this point, we need only to turn to a quote by Malina in the recent edited volume, Methods for Matthew (2009). In his contribution, which introduces the social scientific approach and its influence on Matthean scholarship, Malina writes (158):

the social systems, cultural values and behaviors, and person types of Mediterraneans are all alien to modern Western readers. The way to access those social systems begins with a comparative understanding of contemporary Mediterranean people and their traditional values. Thus, we may access some of the social systems of biblical peoples through comparative analysis of villagers in Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Palestine, and Egypt (but not Israelis, since Israelis are a non-Semitic, central European people of Turkic origin).

Not only is the blurring of ancient and contemporary geographical regions somewhat awkward, but the last statement is, one might reasonably conclude, most revealing.

Readers will know that Crossley takes Malina to task for his rather bizarre views on ‘Jews’.  Give Myles’ whole series a look.

About Jim

I am a Pastor, and Lecturer in Church History and Biblical Studies at Ming Hua Theological College.
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2 Responses to Robert Myles’ Pretty Good Review of Crossley’s ‘Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism’

  1. Emanuel Pfoh says:

    Awkward indeed, but not without a base actually. Shlomo Sand has argued something like that and his arguments may be controversial but not crazy. However, the anthropological linking of biology with culture is nowadays baseless and outdated, going back to the racist theories of the 1930s. I think Malina (together with many from the Context Group) has a point with Mediterranean comparativism and understading the culture behind the Gospels; however, his methodology fails at some point, and when it reaches the absurd (anti-Semitism?), one cannot but agree with Crossley’s criticism.

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  2. Pingback: Review of James Crossley’s “Jesus in an Age of Neoliberalism” – Part 4 | Auckland Theology, Biblical Studies, et al

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