Trends in biblical interpretation come and go, even while the basic text has endured for almost two millennia. New and forthcoming biblical studies books can’t leave the apostle Paul alone, continue to find new things to say about Jesus, offer feminist readings, and examine the social and political uses of the Bible. Below is a cross section of new works.
An Anomalous Jew: Paul Among Jews, Greeks, and Romans by Australian scholar Michael F. Bird (Eerdmans, Nov.) also shows Paul roiling the waters in his own time, stirring controversy and being viewed by contemporaries as strange.
The Bible in Political Debate: What Does It Really Say? edited by Frances Flannery and Rodney A. Werline (T&T Clark, out now) addresses the myriad ways in which biblical interpretation is misused to further particular political viewpoints and agendas.
Biblical Truths: The Meaning of Scripture in the Twenty-First Century by Dale B. Martin (Yale Univ., Feb. 2017) argues that limiting biblical study to the ancient meaning of the text has produced bad history, bad theology, or both. He then shows how theology and Scripture can remain vital today.
The Day the Revolution Began: Reconsidering the Meaning of Jesus’s Crucifixion by N.T. Wright (HarperOne, out now) offers a comprehensive interpretation of Jesus’s sacrifice and its significance for the Christian faith.
Destroyer of the Gods: Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World by Larry W. Hurtado (Baylor Univ., out now) examines the ways in which Christians were social nonconformists in the ancient world, a stance that at best irritated and at worst threatened Roman rulers.
Echoes of Scripture in the Gospels by Richard B. Hays (Baylor Univ., out now) makes a case for the Gospel writers’ imaginative and diverse figural readings of Hebrew Scripture to locate Jesus in the story of Israel.
Galatians and the Rhetoric of Crisis: Demosthenes—Cicero—Paul by Nina E. Livesey (Polebridge, Nov.) compares Paul’s polemics to those of the Greek orator and the Roman philosopher, analyzing the rhetorical strategies each used to convince his audiences.
The Genesis of Liberation: Biblical Interpretation in the Antebellum Narratives of the Enslaved by Emerson B. Powery and Rodney S. Sadler Jr. (Westminster John Knox, Apr. 2017) explores how enslaved African-Americans used the Bible as a source of liberation and empowerment.
Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction by John T. Carroll (Westminster John Knox, out now) produces the narrative, context, and structure of each Gospel in clear and accessible language suitable for undergraduate students.
Justice for All: How the Jewish Bible Revolutionized Ethics by Jeremiah Unterman (Jewish Publication Society, Mar. 2017) demonstrates that the Jewish Bible, by radically changing the course of ethical thought, came to exercise enormous cultural influence.
A Man Attested by God: The Human Jesus of the Synoptic Gospels by J.R. Daniel Kirk (Eerdmans, out now) reiterates and defends the view that the Gospels present Jesus as an ideal human.
Paul and Gender by Cynthia Long Westfall (Baker Academic, Dec.) aims to offer a coherent Pauline theology of gender, tackling some notorious interpretive problems in certain passages and reframing gender issues to move the conversation forward.
Paul Behaving Badly: Was the Apostle a Racist, Chauvinist Jerk? by E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien (IVP, Nov.) argues that the apostle Paul offended Roman perspectives and scandalized Jewish sensibilities with a Christian faith that was deeply disturbing to others in his day.
Reading the Bible with the Founding Fathers by Daniel Dreisbach (Oxford Univ., Dec.) addresses the perennial question of whether America’s founders were, to some extent, informed by religious—specifically Christian—ideas.
When in Romans: An Invitation to Linger with the Gospel According to Paul by Beverly Roberts Gaventa (Baker Academic, Nov.), this year’s president of the Society of Biblical Literature, sifts key themes from Paul’s opus that mattered then and that remain relevant to contemporary readers.
The Wisdom Commentary series, overseen by general editor Barbara E. Reid (Liturgical Press), is adding six new volumes in the feminist commentary series launched last year: Baruch and the Letter of Jeremiah (out now); Psalms, Books 2-3 (Nov.); 1-2 Timothy, Titus (Nov.); 1-2 Thessalonians (Nov.); Song of Songs (Nov.); Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (Dec.).
Wisdom’s Feast: An Invitation to Feminist Interpretation of the Scriptures by Barbara Reid (Eerdmans, out now) opens the reader to feminist methods of interpreting Scripture.