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New Testament Studies: Questions for the Discipline (and proposed responses)

September 3, 2012

When I accepted the Chair of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology in 1996, I was asked to perform the required task of giving an inaugural lecture (something expected of all Professorial level appointees in the University of Edinburgh).  People do different things, but I was advised/invited to “set out my stall” and take the lecture as an opportunity for the kind of broad reflections on one’s discipline that one rarely gets a chance to offer.  Approaching the turn of the millennium, as we were then, I indulged in some rather broad questions, and I found it stimulating and useful to do so.  I was also pleased subsequently that it found publication, suggesting that it might be of some use to others as well.

Although it may only mean that my thinking hasn’t progressed as it should have, re-reading the lecture now after 16 years, I don’t see anything much that I’d change.  For those who are interested, I provide here a PDF of the published form, by permission of the Scottish Journal of Theology.

Inaugural Lecture–SJT

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  1. Dear Mr. Hurtado:

    Sorry if this is the wrong place to post this.

    At, I recently wrote a brief review of the book “CHRIST’S VEN-
    TRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity” by Eric Zuesse:

    I wrote that I was more persuaded by the case you make in your books and the
    author responded against your case. Since you could express that better than
    me, would you please respond to him?

    • Er, uh, from the blurb on Amazon, the book by Zuesse is so out of touch with any of the evidence and findings of scholars that it would be a serious mis-use of time to try to engage it in any details. IT’s the sort of author and book that deliberately by-passes scholarly publication and review, goes straight for the under-prepared “popular” market who may be bamboozled more easily. And don’t forget: Zuesse isn’t an academic. He needs to make his money flogging books. So, the more sensational the better, the more inflammatory to traditional Christians and the more exciting/confirming to opponents of traditional Christianity, the better the sales. It’s the sort of irresponsible stuff that is entirely driven by motives of financial gain. Rather like the supermarket tabloids and their claims of “I had a baby impregnated by a Martian!” Not worth your time, really.

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