This innovative study is the first to consider the Gospel of John as story in the ancient media context of oral communication and oral performance. Richard Horsley and Tom Thatcher creatively combine the fields of Jesus studies and ancient media studies in their analysis. Taking the main conflict evident in John’s story of Jesus as the key to its plot, they discern how this Gospel portrays Jesus engaged in a concrete program of renewal and resistance.
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Recent scholarship on John’s Gospel has opened fresh perspectives on the book’s historical context and its significance for the study of the historical Jesus. This welcome volume by Richard Horsley and Tom Thatcher invites readers to consider the Gospel in light of the socially complex world of Roman Palestine. Following an interdisciplinary approach, they engage not only the best recent literary and historical work on John but also major developments in the field of media studies. The result is a contribution that will engage the attention of scholars and students alike.
—Craig R. Koester, professor and Asher O. and Carrie Nasby Chair of New Testament, Luther Seminary
Two skilled scholars here provide a brilliant and creative synthesis of literary and social-historical-political approaches. Richard Horsley and Tom Thatcher offer fresh ideas in an area of scholarship that has sometimes become stagnant . . . Their holistic approach to the Fourth Gospel is innovative, well-informed, and informative.
—Craig S. Keener, professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary
Challenging an established scholarly history of isolating sayings from Gospel narratives and dissecting texts into sources, Horsley and Thatcher exhibit an admirable aptitude for synthesis. Their approach combines narrative criticism, text criticism, media studies, performance criticism, and a sociology of power relations into a unified theory. Thoughtfully perceptive and genuinely innovative, this timely book may well change the way we think about the Gospels as historical narratives, the feasibility of the Jesus quest, and the conventional divide between the Gospel of John and the Synoptics.
—Werner H. Kelber, Isla Carroll Turner and Percy E. Turner Professor Emeritus of Biblical Studies, Rice University
Richard Horsley is distinguished professor emeritus of liberal arts and the study of religion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Among his many previous books are Jesus and Empire and Jesus and the Powers.
Tom Thatcher is professor of biblical studies at Cincinnati Christian University and a founder of the John, Jesus, and history group in the Society of Biblical Literature. His other books include Jesus the Riddler: The Power of Ambiguity in the Gospels and Why John Wrote a Gospel: Jesus—Memory—History.