Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado

9780567655950Bloomsbury sent along for review this recently published volume and my review of it follows the publisher’s notice.

Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado, Editor(s): Dieter Roth, Chris Keith.

Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism is organized into three parts: Mark’s Gospel, Manuscripts and Textual Criticism, and Monotheism and Early Jesus-Devotion. With contributors hailing from several different countries, and including both senior and junior scholars, this volume contains essays penned in honor of Larry W. Hurtado by engaging and focusing upon these three major emphases in his scholarship. The result is not only a fitting tribute to one of the most influential New Testament scholars of present times, but also a welcome survey of current scholarship.

To begin, then PART ONE: MARK’S GOSPEL, Chapter One: “Is It as Bad as All That?”: The Misconception of Mark as a Gospel Film Noir by Holly J. Carey, leads things off (the editors having listed the numerous contributions of Hurtado to the discipline) and she argues that Mark should be viewed as something other than some sort of ‘dark’ film noir. In Chapter Two: Early Christian Book Culture and the Emergence of the First Written Gospel by Chris Keith, Chris interacts with the scholarship of Johnson, Kelber, and Hurtado on the subject of books and writing in the late Second Temple period. Chapter Three: Jesus as God’s Chief Agent in Mark’s Christology from the desk of Paul Owen, attempts to persuade readers that Mark’s ‘Christology’ was ‘higher’ than we normally believe. I don’t think he’s right but he gives it a good try and some of his arguments are mildly convincing. The entire essay, though, is very much worth reading as it may prove persuasive to others of a less cynical and skeptical bent.

Interest shifts in PART TWO: MANUSCRIPTS AND TEXTUAL CRITICISM where Chapter Four: Mark, Manuscripts, and Paragraphs: Sense-Unit Divisions in Mark 14–16 by Sean A. Adams, who strives mightily to show how ancient and modern editors attempt to impose a certain reading on the text of Mark by the way in which they arrange what Adams calls ‘sense units’. This particular essay is among the most interesting of the volume.

Chapter Five: From “Text-Critical Methodology” to “Manuscripts as Artefacts”: A Tribute to Larry W. Hurtado by
Thomas J. Kraus, is a well considered appreciation of the honoree. Chapter Six: Origen’s List of New Testament Books in Hom. Jos. 7.1: A Fresh Look by Michael J. Kruger was not at all interesting to the present reviewer (maily because I find Origen odious). But others will enjoy it (because they enjoy the sort of self-mutilation which Origen enjoyed). Chapter Seven: P45 as Early Christian Artifact: Considering Staurogram and Punctuation in the Manuscript by Dieter T. Roth, is, in contrast to the Origen piece, utterly un-mutilated. Along with entertaining anecdotes about Hurtado and his first encounter with P45 Roth also makes confession of his interest in something called Guiness and the difference between it in Dublin and elsewhere. Roth is a top notch scholar and an engaging writer. Chapter Eight: P45 and Codex W in Mark Revisited by Tommy Wasserman, is a very technical essay which reminds me of a scientific paper on some chemistry problem (I suppose. I’ve never actually read a scientific paper on chemistry so I’m really just guessing here in order to make the point that Wasserman’s essay is quite, quite technical).

The last portions of the volume forces us to consider the topic of MONOTHEISM AND EARLY JESUS-DEVOTION. Accordingly, in Chapter Nine: Who, What, and Why?: The Worship of the Firstborn in Hebrews 1:6 by David M. Allen, is an attempt to explain that difficult text and includes a discussion that a comparison with Hebrews 13:21 may prove useful to the exegetical enterprise. Chapter Ten: Devotion to Jesus Christ in Earliest Christianity-An Appraisal and Discussion of the Work of Larry Hurtado by Richard J. Bauckham, is classic Bauckham. I.e., previous criticisms are rehashed and a different (or at least sort of different) way forward is hinted at. If readers haven’t yet seen Bauckham’s critique of Hurtado, this would be the place to start.  Chapter Eleven: Hebrews and Wisdom, by Mary Ann Beavis, is a feminist hermeneutical approach to the Epistle to the Hebrews and the way I feel towards Origen is the way I feel towards that particular and particularly narrow and eisegetical methodology.

And last, but certainly not least, Chapter Twelve, Christology, Martyrdom, and Vindication in the Gospel of Mark and the Apocalypse: Two New Testament Views by Paul Middleton, draws reader’s attention to the topic of martyrdom and how these two early Christian texts understand the subject. It’s quite good really and another of the better essays in a volume of essays which by and large are exceptionally fun to read (with the exception of two).  And it includes the beloved subtitle post :.

The collection is important for both its focus and its quality. It focuses on the interests of the honoree and engages critically with his approach and understanding of the issues and it is comprised of essays of a very high quality (even if not always personally interesting). The editors are to be commended in equal measure with the contributors. They have ‘done Larry proud’ as we would say here in the South.  You should read this volume and by all means get your librarian to acquire it.

1 thought on “Mark, Manuscripts, and Monotheism: Essays in Honor of Larry W. Hurtado

  1. $107.99 for a pdf version… Really? Bloomsbury definitely wants to make sure only the wealthy have access to the deep truths contained within. I’ll pass.


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