The Mod | “The Making of Christian Morality: Reading Paul in Ancient and Modern Contexts” by David G. Horrell

Tuesday, 16 Jul 2019 | 7/16/2019 | Staff
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This work is a collection of essays written over the past two decades by the prominent British New Testament scholar, David Horrell. In the not-so-distant past, mainstream scholars typically tried to study the New Testament merely in an objective, historical way. More recently, many of these scholars have shown renewed interest in how biblical texts may inform contemporary theological and ethical issues. Horrell writes as part of this latter movement. The book’s essays cover a wide range of topics related to the Pauline epistles. In Horrell’s own words, the three Parts of the book move “from the concrete social circumstances in which the earliest [Christian] communities gathered, through studies of Paul’s ethics, to the contemporary appropriation of the Pauline writings…” (xiii).

It is worth mentioning up front that although each chapter on its own is coherent, the essays do not come together very well to constitute a unified and coherent book. Near the beginning of the volume, Horrell admits that there are “a few points of overlap” (xiii) among the essays. This is an understatement—many discussions and comments that appear one place in the book are repeated elsewhere. Horrell decided not to eliminate the repetitiveness because he wished to uphold the integrity of the individual essays. The essays also contain a number of sections that repeat material from other books Horrell has written. Having read his work Solidarity and Difference (2d ed., 2015) shortly before reading the present volume, I noticed many strikingly similar discussions between the two. It is obviously within the author’s (and publisher’s) discretion to construct a book with this internally and externally repetitive material, but potential readers should be aware of this.

Part - Chapters - Deals - Context - Churches

Part I (chapters 1-4) deals with the “sociohistorical context” of the early Christian churches and their surrounding communities. These essays engage scholarly debates that aren’t on...
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