The New Testament as Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

The New Testament as Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)

Kyle Keefer

Language: English

Pages: 136

ISBN: 0195300203

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

The words, phrases, and stories of the New Testament permeate the English language. Indeed, this relatively small group of twenty-seven works, written during the height of the Roman Empire, not only helped create and sustain a vast world religion, but also have been integral to the larger cultural dynamics of the West, above and beyond particular religious expressions.

Looking at the New Testament through the lens of literary study, Kyle Keefer offers an engrossing exploration of this revered religious text as a work of literature, but also keeps in focus its theological ramifications. Unique among books that examine the Bible as literature, this brilliantly compact introduction offers an intriguing double-edged look at this universal text--a religiously informed literary analysis. The book first explores the major sections of the New Testament--the gospels, Paul's letters, and Revelation--as individual literary documents. Keefer shows how, in such familiar stories as the parable of the Good Samaritan, a literary analysis can uncover an unexpected complexity to what seems a simple, straightforward tale. At the conclusion of the book, Keefer steps back and asks questions about the New Testament as a whole. He reveals that whether read as a single document or as a collection of works, the New Testament presents readers with a wide variety of forms and viewpoints, and a literary exploration helps bring this richness to light.

A fascinating investigation of the New Testament as a classic literary work, this Very Short Introduction uses a literary framework--plot, character, narrative arc, genre--to illuminate the language, structure, and the crafting of this venerable text.

About the Series: Combining authority with wit, accessibility, and style, Very Short Introductions offer an introduction to some of life's most interesting topics. Written by experts for the newcomer, they demonstrate the finest contemporary thinking about the central problems and issues in hundreds of key topics, from philosophy to Freud, quantum theory to Islam.




















Jesus, the Gospel of Mark tends to destabilize the reader and to make the narrative just as challenging as its protagonist. To put it another way, the Gospel of Mark creates paradox, and nowhere is the paradoxical nature of the gospel more apparent than in the events that lead up to Jesus’ death. Almost immediately after this discourse with the disciples, Jesus begins to focus upon his impending death. Again gathering the disciples together for a private session, Jesus tells them that ‘‘the Son

gospel, Jesus cannot stop talking about himself and, if the conversation begins to stray away from his concerns, he will forcefully pull it back. The difference between Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman is that she does not lose patience and has the tenacity to jump through the verbal hoops that Jesus pulls out. By the end of chapter 4, the Samaritan woman, along with many of her townspeople, believe in Jesus as the Messiah. with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, Jesus proffers special

the recipients of the letter are who Paul constructs them to be, not exactly the same as 75 Paul and his letters This strident voice of Paul assumes that, by isolating himself, he can convince the Galatians that they are engaging in incorrect practices. Reading between the lines of this letter, the Galatians have started to practice rituals associated with Judaism, especially circumcision. When Paul wishes that the agitators would castrate themselves, he sarcastically points to this practice,

my neighbor?’’ [Jesus] ‘‘Here’s a story about a beaten man and a Samaritan. Now you tell me who the neighbor is.’’ [Lawyer] ‘‘The Samaritan.’’ [Jesus] ‘‘Then you should love that Samaritan, the outcast who comes to your aid.’’ If one should love a neighbor, and if the Samaritan plays the role of ‘‘neighbor,’’ then the lawyer should love the Samaritan. Furthermore, if the lawyer must love the Samaritan, the lawyer identifies not with the giver of mercy but with the recipient of it. In other words,

Good Samaritan, 5–7 Gregory the Great, 43–44 E Enuma Elish, 77, 79 Ephesians, 69, 73 G Calvin, Jean, 91 Canon, 98–103, 109, 113, 114 Chaucer, Geoffrey, 13–17 Cicero, 2 1 Corinthians, 15, 17, 60, 69, 70, 113 2 Corinthians, 60, 63, 71, 75, 113 H Hamlet, 109 Handel, George Frideric, 93–95 Harry Potter series, 78–81 119 Hebrews (epistle), 52, 110–11 Holy Spirit, 40, 42–43 literary criticism, 4–5 literature, definition of, 9–10 Lord of the Rings, 78–80 Luke, Gospel of, 5, 36–40, 43, 102, 106

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