Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Methodology Query

David asked me in the comments on the last post, to highlight a couple of books that I like on methodology, and to ask the rest of you for suggestions as well. What a good idea. Please include your favorites in the comments, and I will move them to the main post.

My personal favorites
Favorite methodological study
  • Rudolph Bultmann, "What is Form Criticism?" in R. Bultmann and K. Kundsin, Form Criticism: Two Essays on New Testament Research (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1934/1962).
Favorite overviews
  • The series put out by Fortress Press, "What is ...?"
  • John Hayes and Carl Holladay, Biblical Exegesis: A Beginner's Handbook (Atlanta: John Knox, revised edition1987).
Favorite methods to use
  • New Tradition-Historical Criticism
  • Interdisciplinary methods, particularly from Anthropology, Sociology, and Psychology
  • Oral-Rhetorical methods
A Favorite quote about method
  • Paula Fredriksen in Jesus of Nazareth (p. 7): "Once method determines our perspective on our sources, how we see is really what we get."


John Shuck said...

Thank you for this! Can you point me to a resource(s) on New Tradition Historical Criticism? I don't think I have heard that term before.

Also, I am naive here, and this is probably a dumb question, but how do we do oral-rhetorical criticism when we only have written texts?

Anyway, resources that describe your three methods would be helpful.

It seems we have moved a long way since I was in seminary from Form Criticism, Redaction Criticism, and Narrative Criticism.

Great post!

April DeConick said...


Wow have we ever moved a long way. The older methods are still useful as long as we realize their limitations - that they can't always produce the results that the pioneers thought they could.

New Tradition Historical Criticism is my own attempt to bring Tradition criticism up to date. I have a chapter about it in Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas.

Oral-Rhetorical studies try to understand the creation of texts within cultures that are dominated by orality and illiteracy. There are many studies, so I will just give you a few names of scholars who have or do work in this area: Albert Lord, Miles Foley, Walter Ong, Werner Kelber. This should get you started.