Skip to content

NT Studies: Looking Back at Inaugural Lecture

March 1, 2017

This afternoon I’m to meet with some of our PhD students to discuss a couple of my published essays, one of which is my inaugural lecture:  “New Testament Studies at the Turn of the Millennium:  Questions for the Discipline” (published in Scottish Journal of Theology 52 [1999]: 158-78).  So, I took some time re-read it this a.m., and I’ve also just uploaded a copy under the “Selected Published Essays” tab on this site.

From → Uncategorized

  1. Donald Jacobs permalink

    Professor Hurtado, what a fascinating essay of yours that I’ve never read before. It answers many questions I had wondered about, including your perspective on religion in Scotland and postmodernism in scholarship. It’s really interesting to read your appreciation for the Presbyterian tradition associated with the ancient university you joined 20 years ago.

    On a couple of thing I wonder if the passage of time has prompted further reflection. In particular you argued that the Church of Scotland was still central to cultural life, and seem depismiseive of “secularism”. Since you wrote that essay, religion in Scotland, and the Church of Scotland in particular, has suffered extraordinary decline. ….
    I wonder if you’ve read the work of Professor Steve Bruce from Aberdeen on secularisation in Scotland and elsewhere, most particularly in his recent book “Scottish Gods”, and if you consider this impacts your argument for the relevance of NT study in Scotland.

    Considering developments in the church and society over the past two decades, and your argument that academic study of the NT is relevant to contemporary church and broader cultural life, I wonder if you think the department could have done more to examine issues relevant to Scotland at this moment in history such as: homosexuality and sexual ethics, war and peace, patriotism and nationhood, through the prism of NT studies?

    As someone who was in a Scottish Secondary school when you wrote this essay, you are correct that “Religious Education” was an examinable subject in as much as there was a Standard Grade and Higher syllabus available for use. However in practice most schools did not offer the subject at Standard Grade or Higher, and few Scottish pupils would ever have sat the exam – is my experience anyway. In practice “Religious Education” was one hour a week and not offered as a full subject in the timetable in later years.

    I was also interested to see that you cited Richard Evans as defender of empiricism and traditional scholarship. This was before he even published his key work on the subject: In Defense of History. I wonder if you have read the response to this book by the excellent historian of Scottish religious history Professor Callum Brown: “Postmodernism for Historians”. This is one of my favourite books on historiography, alongside Richard Evans.

    Thanks for sharing this interesting essay. Have you thought of producing some sort of follow up?

    • Donald: My essay didn’t particularly emphasize the role or place of the Church of Scotland in Scotland, but of Christianity in the UK and western culture/history more widely. Your comments about decline in membership of the CofS are correct, but don’t speak to my essay. Christianity, and the NT in particular, remain essential for understanding western history, whatever the fate of institutional Christianity hereafter.
      As for how Scottish schools treat Religious Studies, I can’t comment. Again, my lecture wasn’t focused on that topic, but on the importance of religious knowledge for modern society.
      I confess that other pressing demands have prevented me from keeping up with the intra-academy debates in depts. of history about post-modernism. I may return to some things in the essay in the future, but have other immediate demands on my time right now.

  2. Graham Corcoran permalink

    Hi Larry just finishing DeStroyer of the gods I got our local church of Ireland library to order it in so they will have it on their shelves. Found it very help full wondering what to read next. All the best Graham Corcoran.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: