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Few documents in world history can match the inspirational impact of the New Testament. For all its variety – gospels, letters and visions – this first-century collection of texts keeps always at its centre the enigmatic figure of Joshua/Jesus: the Jewish prophet who gathered a group around him, proclaimed the imminent end of the world, but was made captive by the authorities of Rome only to suffer a shameful criminal's death on a cross. When his followers (including former persecutor Saul/Paul) became convinced that Jesus had defeated extinction, and had risen again to fresh life, the movement crossed over from Palestine to ignite the entire Graeco-Roman Mediterranean world. The author shows how the writings of this vibrant new faith came into being from oral transmission and then became the pillar of a great world religion. He explores their many varied usages in music, liturgy, art, language and literature. In discussing its textual origins, as well as its later reception, Moxnes shows above all how the New Testament has been employed both as a tool for liberation and as a means of power and control.
Halvor Moxnes is Professor of New Testament Studies at the University of Oslo, Norway. His books include The Economy of the Kingdom: Social Conflict and Economic Relations in Luke's Gospel, Putting Jesus in his Place: A Radical Vision of Household and Kingdom, and Jesus and the Rise of Nationalism: The Nineteenth-Century Quest for the Historical Jesus (I.B.Tauris, 2012).
Table of Contents
Introduction: What is the New Testament? PART I: BEGINNINGS 1. Becoming Christians: Letter-making as Community Formation 2. Memory and Identity: The Gospels as Jesus Biographies 3. Included or Excluded: When was the New Testament Created? PART II: SHAPING HISTORY 4. 'Christianity Goes to Press': The Publishing History of the New Testament 5. Images, Sounds and Stories: Reflections of the New Testament in the Cultural History of the West 6. Charity, Equality and Prejudice: The Ambiguous Heritage of the New Testament PART III: READING AND MEANING-MAKING 7. Historical Readings: The Innovation of New Testament Scholarship 8. 'Reading from this Place': The End of the 'Objective Reader' Conclusion: The Future of the New Testament