Travel tools for the NT backpacker

According to Stanley E. Porter, whose Baedeker to idioms in the Greek New Testament is highly regarded, any New Testament adventurer worth their salt must be equipped with the latest on:

  1. Greek language and linguistics
  2. Textual criticism
  3. Theology
  4. Literary issues
  5. Epistolary issues
  6. Rhetorical issues
  7. Audience concerns
  8. History of interpretation

For Porter, blithely setting aside the need for these is not the answer — one must at the very least be conscious of and address them accordingly.

(And surely it’s not enough to be up-to-date only when you’re in school; at least keep your toes in the current afterwards, even if it’s through friends who soak themselves in the tide.)

Quite a panoply of -isms lurk in the landscape though. So I like how Michael F. Bird simplifies them, in logical order:

  1. source criticism: the sources used by the Gospel writers
  2. historical criticism: when the Gospels were written and where
  3. literary criticism: why they were written
  4. genre criticism: what kind of literature the Gospel writers thought they were writing
  5. redaction criticism: how they edited and adapted their sources
  6. narrative criticism: how the story in its current shape creates meaning
  7. textual criticism: how the text of the Gospels was transmitted
  8. canonical criticism: how the Gospels came to be accepted as the four official stories of Jesus sanctioned by the councils of the early church

To all this I emit an alrighty egad. Whee-argh! Still at the very beginning of my journey, and not halfway close to being packed.


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