Short Notices -- By: Anonymous
WTJ 40:1 (Fall 1977) p. 207
(Ed.) Jacob Neusner: Christianity, Judaism and Other Greco-Roman Cults: Studies for Morton Smith at Sixty. (Ed.) Jacob Neusner: Studies in Judaism in Late Antiquity, II. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1975. I Testament. xi, 330. Fl. 84, 00. II: Early Christianity. vii, 227. Fl. 72, 00. III: Judaism before 70. vii, 248. Fl. 78, 00. IV: Judaism after 70; Other Greco-Roman Cults; Bibliography. vii, 241. Fl. 64, 00.
Edited by Jacob Neusner, whose book Understanding American Judaism was reviewed in the fall 1976 issue of the Journal, these four volumes have been compiled in honor of his teacher, Morton Smith, professor of Ancient History at Columbia University, whom Neusner describes as “one of the great scholarly masters of this generation” (p. x). The essays are written by an international group of scholars, largely in English, with a sprinkling of French and German. The essays themselves cover a much wider range of scholarship, however, and apparently the publisher has gone to extreme lengths to include quotations from ancient languages. They are said to concentrate on themes of interest to Morton Smith (p. x), and judging by their scope this interest must center on the relationship of Christianity to Judaism, at the time of the rise of Christianity and immediately thereafter, a spread that is indicated by the titles of the respective volumes of the series.
The impact of Morton Smith’s influence is possibly indicated by the opening words of the essay of Robin Scroggs of Chicago Theological Seminary: “Morton Smith has consistently brought fresh insights and perspectives to the study of early Christianity and Judaism. One result has been a healthy antidote against the poison of overtheologizing which has been characteristic of so much New Testament scholarship during the neo-orthodox era” (II, p. 1). Indeed, it has been a tendency of contemporary theologians to reflect on the origins of neo-orthodoxy and to reach back for insights into the preceding liberal period. The direction Scroggs looks is towards Max Weber and Ernst Troeltsch, in their development and application of the “ideal-type” method, and he seeks to interpret the earliest Christian communities as a sectarian (versus church) movement. The tendency, therefore, appears to be away from a theologiz-
WTJ 40:1 (Fall 1977) p. 208
ing, which helped to spawn a “new hermeneutic,” that either ignored scientific canons or that attempted to develop a method that was super-scientific, back to a scientifically oriented approach. Scroggs’ approach appears to typify an attitude characteristic of the approach as a whole, which considers both Christianity and Judaism as cults,...
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