Monday Mail: Porter and Westfall

I received a copy of Empire in the New Testament, edited by Stanley Porter and Cynthia Westfall, in the mail today for review. I’m excited about this for a number of reasons, among them being that I’m always challenged by Porter’s projects. But after perusing the table of contents, I’m even more ready to dive in to this volume.

The book is organized in a biblical-theological fashion. Each chapter discusses the theme of empire in a particular book or corpus in the New Testament, and these chapters are arranged in canonical order (with the exception of Luke and Acts being combined). There are also two preliminary chapters on empire in the OT, specifically in the life of David and in Isaiah, as well as two concluding ones on Jewish and early church interpretation, which I find very intriguing. This tells me that in a book titled Empire in the New Testament, the editors think it important to include OT and history of interpretation material. In my personal opinion, NT studies so often falters by not paying enough attention to the OT background of NT texts and themes, and so I am glad to see Porter and Westfall at least make the effort to include this vital aspect in their volume. (History of interpretation is pretty important, too.)

We’ll see how I like the rest of the book after I make it past the ToC. 🙂

5 thoughts on “Monday Mail: Porter and Westfall

  1. I hope you enjoy the book — I like it, but then I’m a little biased. You’ll find that many of the volumes from McMaster Divinity College’s (formerly annual, now biannual) Bingham Colloquium are organized along similar lines, both in terms of moving canonically through the NT (often with OT, church-historical, and other resources included) and riding a specific theme (in the thematic approach to biblical-theological scholarship championed by Walter Brueggemann, among others). I actually note in the intro to my essay in this volume the biblical-theological assumptions of the conference/volume’s organization; still puzzling through the implications for a theme such as empire.

  2. Matt,
    Thanks for commenting, and sorry for not responding sooner. I just started a new teaching job this semester and it has been very hectic (thus the absence of blogging). I just finished reading the book and am in the process of reviewing it, and I was very pleased with the book. I think Gordon Heath had some useful critiques, but I still found the essays to be by and large articulate, informative, and well argued.

    I actually especially enjoyed your chapter, particularly your thoughts on Philemon and your final thoughts. I said similar things about Philemon in my dissertation and it was nice to hear someone else make similar conclusions.

    Thanks again for stopping by!

    • Matt,
      No worries about the delay; I’m busy too. I’m glad to hear you enjoyed the book, and I too felt that Gord’s response presented a helpful way of tying the essays together at the end. In retrospect, I wish I’d been a little more explicit about my own use of early Christian commentators, as my dabbling in the early reception-history of some of the Pauline texts I highlighted makes it appear as though I’m being more synchronic with regard to intertextuality than I usually try to be.

      Thanks for the response. Where will your review appear? I’m working on my first review for RBL.


      • I submitted it to BBR, but still waiting to hear if it made it through. I only submitted it Monday though, so not surprised I haven’t heard back yet.

        What are you reviewing for RBL? That’s quite a task.


      • Nice — I’ve never reviewed for BBR, only Greco-Roman Christianity & Judaism, JHS, Literature & Theology, one or two others, and now RBL, for which I’m reviewing Christopher Stanley (ed.), _The Colonized Apostle: Paul through Postcolonial Eyes_ (Paul in Critical Contexts; Fortress, 2011). It took awhile to reach me, so I’m up against this and several other deadlines, but the book itself is quite enjoyable so far, mostly comprised of new research from the usual empire-critical and postcolonial suspects (Moore, Elliott, Punt, Marchal, Lopez, Zerbe, et al.).

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