The Gospel, Narrative, and Culture: A Response to Douglas J. Moo and Judith Gundry-Volf -- By: Richard B. Hays

Journal: Bulletin for Biblical Research
Volume: BBR 09:1 (NA 1999)
Article: The Gospel, Narrative, and Culture: A Response to Douglas J. Moo and Judith Gundry-Volf
Author: Richard B. Hays


The Gospel, Narrative, and Culture:
A Response to Douglas J. Moo and
Judith Gundry-Volf

Richard B. Hays

The Divinity School, Duke University

First, I would like to express my thanks to the IBR for the invitation to engage in this conversation about my work, and to Douglas Moo and Judy Gundry-Volf for their careful and gracious responses. Not all responses to my book have been either so careful or so kind. Alongside several appreciative reviews, The Moral Vision of the New Testament has received harsh criticism from some of the moral revisionists whose voices are so insistent in the church today. (See, for example, the polemical and wildly inaccurate review by Dale Martin in JBL 117 [1998] 358-60.) By contrast, I feel very much that I am here among friends, among brothers and sisters in Christ, and I expect a fruitful conversation about the matters that my respondents have raised. Moral Vision does not pretend to be a definitive statement about the issues it addresses. It is, rather, an attempt to start a conversation and to propose a framework within which moral debate in the church can fruitfully proceed. The critiques offered here by Doug and Judy are precisely the sort of responses that my book seeks to elicit. So, with appreciation for their questions, I turn to the substantive matters at hand.

Response To Douglas Moo

It is my understanding that the IBR program committee intended for this session to focus on issues of sexual ethics as treated in The Moral Vision of the New Testament. Douglas Moo, however, has offered a more wide-ranging discussion of various aspects of the book. Thus, my response to Moo’s critique will follow the four rubrics of his outline.

(1) Exegesis. I appreciate Moo’s affirmation of my exegesis in Moral Vision. The book is first of all an exegetical study of NT texts. Many readers of the book, however, will no doubt be tempted to turn immediately to Part IV, where I discuss selected controversial moral issues (homosexuality, abortion, etc.), without first working through my readings of the texts. (Martin’s JBL review is a glaring example of

this omission: despite his vilification of the book, he never bothers to dispute—or even to acknowledge—any of its exegesis.) This approach defeats the aim of the book. Thus, I am pleased that Moo emphasizes the exegetical grounding of my arguments and gratified that he finds it generally solid and persuasive.

(2) Canon. The first problem here is the issue of intracanonical tensions. Moo joins me in acknowledging the existence of such tensions but believes it necessary to work m...

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