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NT Studies in the 20th Century

November 3, 2010

A couple of years ago I was invited to write a large essay-length survey of NT studies in the 20th century for an Italian dictionary project.  It has now been published and my complementary copy arrived in today’s post:  Dizionario del sapere storico-religioso del novecento, ed. Alberto Melloni (2 vols.; Bologna:  il Mulino, 2010).  The English-language version of my essay appeared earlier as a journal article:  Larry W. Hurtado, “New Testament Studies in the Twentieth Century,” Religion 39 (2009): 43-57.  (I’ve put the pre-publication version on the “Essays, etc.” page of this site.)

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  1. Larry,

    Thank you for posting this helpful essay. I’m a historical theologian teaching NT survey at a liberal arts college and I am always trying to catch up on NT scholarship.



  2. Rich Griese permalink

    Would be great if someone would put together a list of the 10 most important discoveries we have made regarding the history of early Christianity in the last ten years. Or even a list of the top ten things since David Friedrich Strauss’s time. I am coming more and more to feel that almost nothing is being learned of major importance about early christian history. No matter how hard I look for lists of major advances in our knowledge of early Christian history I cannot find lists of such an item anywhere. When I ask individual academics, they sort of shrug there shoulders, and may say “we’ve made advances in textual criticism” or “the nag hamadi scrolls were a great discovery”… The first is a tool, and send is a find.

    And do not say anything about early christianity. they may be tools or material for some such potential major advance, but they are not advances in our understanding of early Christian history in themselves.

    If people are now blogging about christian history, and even individual academics, are now actually creating their own blogs, and posting almost daily, where are lists of the major things we have discovered?


    • “Discoveries” sounds more like archaeology or bench science than what we do in historical studies. There are developments, sometimes even significant changes in opinions, shifts in the kinds of questions, in assumptions, etc. And these can produce major changes in a field. But they don’t appear over night. It’s typically at least 5 years and often more like 10 years before the community of scholars satisfies itself that some new idea is valid. The more of a change is involved, the more critical scholars are of it (appropriately), and the more it takes to win acceptance.
      But you propose a very interesting idea: a top-10 list of significant developments in our understanding and approach to earliest Christianity. Would that do? A nice exercise for scholars in the field! If you read my article on 20th cent NT studies, you’ll see some hints of some things, but not framed that way.

  3. Thank you so much for posting so many great resources for those of us who have little access (or none at all) to the scholarly journals!

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