NT Lament In Current Research And Its Implications For American Evangelicals -- By: Keith Campbell

Journal: Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society
Volume: JETS 057:4 (Dec 2014)
Article: NT Lament In Current Research And Its Implications For American Evangelicals
Author: Keith Campbell


NT Lament In Current Research And Its Implications For American Evangelicals

Keith Campbell*

* Keith Campbell is visiting lecturer of NT and Christian studies at Shanghai Normal University, No. 100 Guilin Road, Shanghai, China 200234.

I. Introduction

Shortly after OT scholar Hermann Gunkel (re)identified the lament genre in 1933, NT researchers began exploring its influence on the NT. Explorations gradually increased, with significant contributions spanning several NT genres and disciplines. The time has come to critically assess this field, to provide avenues for future researchers to explore and, of more specific concern to JETS readers, to raise awareness that American evangelical NT scholars have largely overlooked this field—to the detriment of evangelical churches.

Covering contributions made to the Gospels, Paul’s letter to the Romans, the book of Revelation, and NT theology, my assessment begins in the 1980s after OT lament research had matured and when narrative and theological interests in the NT lament began to emerge.1 To provide an overview of the field, I summarize in the first three sections influential contributions to NT lament research before assessing these contributions in the fourth section. In the final section I explore various ways that evangelical scholarship, with a view toward influencing the church, can (and should) build upon these contributions.

II. Gospels

I begin with a groundbreaking, unpublished dissertation that, to my knowledge, every researcher (myself included) has overlooked: Rosann Catalano’s “How Long, O Lord?”2 Catalano is groundbreaking not because her exploration of

the NT is exhaustive (as the phrase “A Systematic Study” in her subtitle implies; she only focuses on Mark’s Passion, especially the echoes therein), nor because she accurately adjudicates how Mark appropriates the lament (see discussion below), but because she presciently and incisively detects a need for this investigation. To my knowledge, she is the first American researcher to explore the lament with a specific and sustained exegetical and theological emphasis on the NT and, in light of that, to ask what the lament means for the modern (in her case, Roman Catholic) church.3 Her primary argument is that, based on Mark’s Gospel, the NT does not nullify a Christian use of the OT lament. Rather, lament should be a central aspect of the Christian life.

Particular focus of lament research in the Gospel...

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