Brandon Wason tagged me in his list of five influential books and it seems like an interesting idea so I have posted my list. Like Brandon this is the first of a two part list. I have included the books that have most influenced the current directions in my research. My next list will highlight the five primary sources which have most influenced my work.
1. E. Randolph Richards, Paul and First-Century Letter Writing. While I may disagree with Richards on a great number of topics, this work prompted me to take seriously the manner in which Paul wrote his letters. Richards demonstrates that Paul used a secretary (amenuensis) when he wrote his letters and provides a spectrum of the different types of secretaries available in antiquity. Additionally, Richards emphasizes the importance of the various types of letter carriers and the possible influence on Paul’s letters from members of his team.
2. The Romans Debate. I discovered this work early in my graduate work and it alerted me to many of the issues surrounding Romans. The amount of subjects covered in this work is staggering. The Romans Debate started me thinking about topics such as manuscript studies, the importance of identifying the purpose for each letter, letter writing, rhetoric, and the New Perspective. I have always found Dunn’s solution to Paul and the Law to be the most elegant and appealing solution. It is unfortunate that I cannot agree with him and have my own solution which is far more complicated and unappealing.
3. Bruce Malina, The New Testament World/ S. Scott Bartchy papers. Malina’s work is an excellent starting point for coming to grips with the importance of understanding the social world in which the New Testament developed. S. Scott Bartchy is my adviser and his works demonstrate how useful this information can be when combined with excellent exegesis. I especially recommend the following papers by S. Scott Bartchy: “‘When I’m Weak, I’m Strong’: a Pauline paradox in cultural context”; “Who should be called father? Paul of Tarsus between the Jesus tradition and patria potestas”; “The historical Jesus and honor reversal at the table”; and “Undermining Ancient Patriarchy: The Apostle Paul’s Vision of a Society of Siblings.”
4. Lauri Thuren, Derhetorizing Paul. This was the first work that introduced me to rhetorical criticism. Soon after I read Kennedy’s influential work New Testament Interpretation through Rhetorical Criticism which furthered my interest in rhetorical criticism.
5. Rhetoric and the New Testament: Essays from the 1992 Heidelberg Conference. This is the book that really pushed and refined my interest in rhetoric and how it can and should be applied to the New Testament. There are a vast array of articles but the two most influential on my work are those by Porter and Reed which stress the limitations of applying rhetoric to Paul’s letters.
I suppose I am supposed to tag some people so I will start with an old school move I learned on the playground and tagback Brandon Wason for part 2 of his list. The other four are Pat McCullough, Nijay Gupta, Peter Head, and Michael Bird.