Book Thoughts #7: „A Beginner’s Guide to New Testament Studies” by Nijay Gupta

Nijay Gupta’s A Beginner’s Guide to New Testament Studies is aimed to introduce ‘relative newcomers’ to major debates in the field. The author has selected thirteen controversial issues and summarised major approaches to them. He avoids as much as possible technical language and attempts to lay succinctly the heart of each debate. At the end of each chapter, Gupta provides us with suggestions for further readings which are divided into categories of ‘beginner’, ‘advanced’ and books supporting specific positions on a given issue.

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Papyri Letters and New Testament Letters

Recently, my work on my MPhil thesis has made me think a little bit about the letter-form of Pauline letters. It occurred to me that this is a very good illustration of how knowledge about the ancient world helps us to read Scripture better. I am thinking in particular about non-literary letters that are known from papyri and their ability to inform our understanding of New Testament letters. 

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What I Have Learned about Manuscript Evidence

Five years ago, I wrote a short paper on Luke 22:43-44 for my seminary textual criticism class. As far as I remember, I got a good mark. But my paper was not good at all. I mostly relied on the apparatus of Nestle Aland and textual commentaries by Metzger and Comfort. I am still wondering how I managed to confuse 0171 with 1071. While the sigla of these manuscripts are deceptively similar, their relative weight in this case is incomparable. 1071 is a 12th century codex of four gospels which omits verses 43-44 in the main text but supplies them in the margin.1 0171 is probably the oldest manuscript that contains these verses. It was even dated as early as late second or early third century.2 But this was not the only problem with my paper. This year I decided to give this passage another try and see if I can write a better essay after five years. In the process of writing I realised that the most important lesson I have acquired is to always take a closer look at the manuscript evidence and not assume that Metzger or any other authority got it right. 

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Book Thoughts #4: „The Text of the New Testament” by Bruce M. Metzger and Bart D. Ehrman

When I took a New Testament Text class in seminary five years ago, we used a different textbook than Metzger and Ehrman. I have wanted to read through The Text of the New Testament ever since. It did not help, however, that I am rather a slow reader and my seminary reading list was always longer than I could manage. This year I took the new testament textual criticism class at Cambridge and I thought it was also a good time to finally read Metzger and Ehrman.

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Why I Am Writing my Thesis on Curses?

I am currently in the midst of writing my MPhil thesis on curses in Pauline letters. This means, among other things, that I spend a lot of time reading, thinking and writing about curses. And not just the imprecations that are found in the letters of Paul but also Greco-Roman curses that are roughly contemporary with them. So why did I choose this topic? It does not seem to be a particularly optimistic one. There are, indeed, more cheerful things to ponder, but studying curses is fascinating and helpful in many ways.

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Book Thoughts #3: „An Introduction to the Greek New Testament, Produced at Tyndale House, Cambridge” by Dirk Jongkind

I had read Dirk Jongkind’s book in June last year and intended to share my thoughts soon afterwards. But many things have occupied me since then that distracted me from updating this blog. Now, finally, I was able to catch up with things. I suppose better late than never.

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