My RBL Review of “Who Do People Say I Am? Rewriting Gospel in Emerging Christianity”

I just received an email that my review of Vernon K. Robbin’s Who Do People Say I Am?: Rewriting Gospel in Emerging Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013) has been published at the Review of Biblical Literature. Basically, Robbins looks at the different representations of Jesus in 11 ancient “gospels”:

  1. Q (*note: Robbins takes the existence of the hypothetical Q source as his starting point and, while he cites the Synoptic “double tradition” passages in Matthew and Luke, I followed the convention of Q scholars in citing this “text” according to the Lukan references in the interests of saving space. I evaluated Robbins’s proposals about Q on his terms (i.e. assuming the Two Source Theory), but I recognize the growing skepticism about Q from proponents of the Farrer, Griesbach or more chaotic theories.
  2. The Gospel of Mark
  3. The Gospel of Matthew
  4. The Gospel of Luke
  5. The Gospel of John
  6. The Gospel of Thomas
  7. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas
  8. The Infancy Gospel of James (or the Protevangelium of James)
  9. The Gospel of Mary
  10. The Gospel of Judas
  11. The Acts of John

My review attempts to cover the main points that Robbins made about each Gospel as well as offer some praise or constructive criticism on his reading of select texts. I conclude that the strength of this popular introduction to Gospel literature is that it models for students how a historian tries to empathetically enter into the worldview of another from the past and explain how he or she found meaning in a certain set of beliefs and practices. Please pass on any comments or questions about the review in the comments.

*Update: see also the recent review by Brian LePort.


2 Responses to My RBL Review of “Who Do People Say I Am? Rewriting Gospel in Emerging Christianity”

  1. Dyfed says:

    Hi Michael,

    Ordered – and this morning received – this book on your say so. I’m a non-academic atheist with a serious interest in New Testament (there’s a mix!), so I follow and enjoy your blog. I’m particularly interested in Historical Jesus research. I note from your bio that your PHd is from Sheffield, where, I believe Prof James Crossley teaches New Testament. I have enjoyed his book Reading The New Testament greatly. As a layman I do find some of this more academic literature difficult, however, the more I read, the more I’m able to grasp and understand. Thanks for your blog. Looking forward to reading Robbins’ book.


  2. Thanks for reading the blog and I hope you will find Robbin’s book helpful. James Crossley was my PhD adviser at Sheffield and it was a lot of fun working with him. Other helpful introductions, if your interest is in the New Testament and “apocryphal” Gospels, may be Richard Burridge’s “Four Gospels, One Jesus?” and Tony Burke’s “Secret Scriptures Revealed.” Best wishes.

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