Chris Zeichmann recently interviewed James Crossley about his book and his thoughts about the state of NT scholarship, among other things. It’s a very good interview, which is why I’m reblogging it here. Here is a snippet:
Chris Zeichmann: What is Jesus in an Age of Terror about?
James G. Crossley: The book is about the ways in which dominant cultural, political or ideological (or whatever term you prefer) positions influence contemporary scholarship. In particular, it involves the ways in which influential Anglo-American attitudes towards and policies involving the Middle East, including Israel, over the past 40 or so years have affected scholarship on the historical Jesus and New Testament/Christian origins. And so there were chapters on the ways in which the Mediterranean and “the Arab world” are viewed in New Testament scholarship in terms of Orientalism “hideously emboldened” (to use Derek Gregory’s phrase) or on how the repeated, often duplicitous and regularly patronising emphasis on the Jewishness of Jesus is part of a broader discourse on the role of Jews and Judaism in relation to post-1967 Israel. The approach is based on an understanding of the ways in which the mainstream media and intellectuals, consciously or unconsciously, frame debates in favour of elite political opinion, hence I also included a chapter on biblioblogging as a way of making greater connections between the mainstream media and biblical scholarship.
CZ: You imply throughout your writings that the study of the New Testament often lacks ethical grounding. What would “proper” New Testament scholarship look like to you?
JGC: I think there does need to be more ethical awareness of the things we do beyond repeating “we all have presuppositions” (or the like) before just going ahead and behaving as we would have done anyway. I don’t have too many suggestions how to do this beyond challenging the morally dubious (no bad thing perhaps) but I think mainstream scholarship, e.g. historical Jesus scholarship, debates on Pauline theology, as well anything else, from reception history to literary criticism, need to take seriously ideological criticisms. It is unfortunate that the patronising rhetoric of Jewishness and relationship to the Other remains strong in (say) historical Jesus scholarship, despite the critiques made over the past ten years which are too often bypassed. But if what I write could help in any way towards the establishment of justice and peace in historical Jesus studies, or indeed anywhere else in New Testament scholarship, I would be deeply grateful.
Do read on, it’s excellent. James is a great scholar and a good person with many interesting things to say. We might not always agree, but we often agree more than we disagree, which is saying something. Also a chapter of James’ on the Gos. John can be found in the book ‘Is This Not the Carpenter‘, currently in press, and it is a great contribution. With thanks to Chris for posting this on Facebook.