He hopes his work ends up as a sort of prolegomena to Christian ethics (214). He only gives cursory attention to the extra-canonical writings. Most of the formation process was influenced by Judaism, not Gnosticism or something else (167). He takes several positions which contrast with Dodd (167, and holds that the date of the parousia was never a real concern for the believers, 103). He makes use of a tempered form criticism (210, and introduction). Apostolicity seems to be his idea of the most important criteria for determining whether a work was canonical or not (189). He thinks the gospels were written as a way of teaching those who had converted about Christ (132). For example, he thinks that Matthew was written as a way of showing new converts how to answer questions about Jesus when confronted by Jews (form criticism coming into play). He thinks persecution came from not just Jews but from the imperial cult, who did not understand how these people were different from Jews (117). He holds that all the NT writings were written from the perspective of answering certain questions about their faith, and from the viewpoint that Christ was the interpretive key to the OT (71). It’s interesting that he seems to suggest that the Apostolic Christians saw themselves as the true Israel. The church then also (including greeks) was the new, true, Israel (39).Yet, they were certainly Jewish in nature, celebrating the feasts, even if not in the normal manner (18).

Contributions:

  • Unique approach
  • Conservative, in my mind acceptable for those of faith.

Weaknesses:

  • A bit unstructured, chapters seem to ramble.
  • It has been said that he goes beyond his evidence: For example, in attempting to scrutinize Christ’s attitude toward Temple sacrifice, M. seems to make too much of the argument from silence (pp. 15-16). Again, in equating Luther’s principle of scriptural inspiration with that of the primitive Church, M. outruns his evidence (p. 71).

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