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Hengel offers a rebuke to liberal biblical scholars
, December 22, 2006
This review is from: Acts and the History of Earliest Christianity: (Paperback)
There are three living biblical scholars known for holding back the tide of liberal biblical criticism: Richard Bauckham, N T Wright, and, of course, Martin Hengel.
The first thing you should know about Hengel is that his works are so famous and well respected that even his essays are published. So if you order a book by him you may want to check out the length first. This one is 126 pages, not including a terrific section at the end where he slams the so-called historical critical method.
Some of the points Hengel makes in this book: "form-criticism has not lived up to its promising beginnings in the 1920s" (p22). He shows little patience with those people who still, as if 150 years of studies rebuking them hadn't been enough, cling to the idea that Christianity borrowed something from the cults. (p 33)
He finds Luke (and yes, he does attribute Acts to Luke) to be "no less trustworthy than other historians of antiquity" (p 60). And we have "no reason to assume that he acted completely differently in Acts from the way in which he composed his first work" (p 61).
One important point: "One striking phenomenon here...is the fact that the message of the crucified and risen Messiah...founds its way to Greek-speaking Jews in a few years, and perhaps only months, after the resurrection event...This astonishing influence on outsiders, transcending the boundaries of language and culture, distinguishes earliest Chrristianity from all other Palestinian Jewish movements" (71). So why were Greek speaking Jews so attracted to this message? Why did it survive the persecutions which broke out immediately?
A very important and well written book. Don't miss it.
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