A Neglected Factor (and Book) in NT Studies
In a now-famous (among NT scholars) essay published originally in 1975, the great Nils Dahl drew attention to, “The Neglected Factor in New Testament Theology,” Reflections 75 (1975): 5-8; reprinted in Nils A. Dahl, Jesus the Christ: The Historical Origins of Christological Doctrine (ed. Donald H. Juel; Fortress Press, 1991), 153-63. That “neglected factor” is “God”.
In comparison to the oodles of studies published on Christology, and the many on numerous other topics, it was (and remains) hard to find much written on “God.” Over a couple of decades back, I was asked to write a major article on “God” for a reference work on the Gospels. I trawled through ca. 20 years of New Testament Abstracts (the major index of scholarly journal literature in the field), and I think I found a total of four articles relevant to the task.
More recently, I was asked to write the volume on “God” for a monograph series, “Library of Biblical Theology.” Again, I found the bibliographical task easy! A few further publications had appeared since I wrote that article, but there remained plenty of scope for further work.
I was set a word-limit, and I try to stay within one if given. So, the result was a modest-sized volume: God in New Testament Theology (Abingdon Press, 2010), 152 pp. including bibliography & indexes. But, within the limits assigned, I tried to do justice to major matters.
Unfortunately, that book has been one of the best kept secrets of the publishing world! The only review I recall was a nice one in Spanish. And the reason seems to be that the publisher didn’t send the book out for reviews. (It would take a lot of convincing for me ever to go with Abingdon Press again!) But I find myself often referring readers of this blog site and others as well to the book, as it’s the place where I’ve tried to map the main contours of the “God-discourse” that we find in NT writings.
So, acknowledging the naked self-publicity involved, I do think that, in good conscience, I can recommend the book to those who would like to study who/what the “God” of the NT writings is. Whatever its faults, on the subject of “God” there isn’t a whole lot of competition out there still!