How to tell the biblical story in a way that makes a difference


1 Jun 2023

Probably, for most people interested in biblical studies, “historicism” is a bad word, associated either with a positivist historical-critical methodology that hammers the theological life out of a text or with a certain mode of nineteenth century German historical idealism that culminated in the racist teleogies of Nazism.

The New Historicism is no longer very new—it emerged as a philosophical and literary critical movement, mainly in America, in the early 1980s. It has taken a while for biblical scholars like me to catch on to it, but it has attracted some attention over the last twenty years as a way of re-engaging with the historicality of texts after poststructuralism or, we might say, post-poststructuralism. Michal Beth Dinkler does quite a lot with it in her recent book Literary Theory and the New Testament (2019).

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