Monday, May 20, 2013

News of a New New Testament

There have been several discussions of the project spearheaded by Hal Taussig called A New New Testament.  See the description here:
It is time for a new New Testament. 
Over the past century, numerous lost scriptures have been discovered, authenticated, translated, debated, celebrated. Many of these documents were as important to shaping early-Christian communities and beliefs as what we have come to call the New Testament; these were not the work of shunned sects or rebel apostles, not alternative histories or doctrines, but part of the vibrant conversations that sparked the rise of Christianity. Yet these scriptures are rarely read in contemporary churches; they are discussed nearly only by scholars or within a context only of gnostic gospels. Why should these books be set aside? Why should they continue to be lost to most of us? And don’t we have a great deal to gain by placing them back into contact with the twenty-seven books of the traditional New Testament—by hearing, finally, the full range of voices that formed the early chorus of Christians? 
To create this New New Testament, Hal Taussig called together a council of scholars and spiritual leaders to discuss and reconsider which books belong in the New Testament. They talked about these recently found documents, the lessons therein, and how they inform the previously bound books. They voted on which should be added, choosing ten new books to include in A New New Testament. Reading the traditional scriptures alongside these new texts—the Gospel of Luke with the Gospel of Mary, Paul’s letters with The Letter of Peter to Philip, The Revelation to John with The Secret Revelation to John—offers the exciting possibility of understanding both the new and the old better. This new reading, and the accompanying commentary in this volume, promises to reinvigorate a centuries-old conversation and to bring new relevance to a dynamic tradition.
There have been a series of contributions to the Huffington Post on this new publication:

There are at least two posts directly discussing or written by Hal Taussig, the general editor:  see here (for an interview) and here for a more recent piece by Taussig himself posted today (5/20/2013).

There are two pieces (here and here) written from a Jewish, Rabbinic perspective, both of which seem to be particularly fond of The Thunder: Perfect Mind.  And then a more general discussion here.

Jim Davila has noted that it sounds a bit gimmicky (and it does), but anything to give attention to apocrypha.

The council that voted on which texts to include consisted on 19 members; they added 10 texts.

The ten texts are: Prayer of Thanksgiving, Gospel of Thomas (no surprise here), Odes of Solomon, The Thunder: Perfect Mind, Gospel of Mary, Gospel of Truth, Prayer of Apostle Paul, Acts of Paul & Thecla, Letter of Peter to Philip, Secret Revelation of John.

The council included:

  • Margaret Aymer -- Associate professor of New Testament and area chair of biblical studies at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Ga., and a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).
  • Geoffrey Black -- General minister and president of United Church of Christ.
  • Sister Margaret Brennan -- Member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and former president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
  • Lisa Bridge -- Program manager for children and youth ministries at Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church in New York City and an expert in yogic and Buddhist traditions.
  • John Dominic Crossan -- Professor emeritus in religious studies at DePaul University and former co-chair of the Jesus Seminar.
  • Rabbi Nancy Fuchs Kreimer -- Editor of a forthcoming collection of spiritual essays by female Jewish scholars.
  • Bishop Susan Wolfe Hassinger -- Retired bishop of the United Methodist Church and the bishop-in-residence and a lecturer at Boston University School of Theology.
  • Bishop Alfred Johnson -- Retired bishop in the United Methodist Church and pastor of (United Methodist) Church of the Village in New York City.
  • Chebon Kernell -- Pastor of First American United Methodist Church in Norman, Okla.
  • Karen L. King -- Professor of divinity at Harvard University.
  • Celene Lillie -- Doctoral candidate in New Testament studies at Union Theological Seminary.
  • Stephen D. Moore -- Professor of New Testament at Drew University Theological School.
  • J. Paul Rajashekar -- Professor of systematic theology at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America).
  • Bruce Reyes-Chow -- Social media consultant and former moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
  • Mark Singleton -- Professor at St. John's College in Santa Fe, N.M., and an expert on yoga.
  • Sister Nancy Sylvester -- Member of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and former president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
  • Barbara Brown Taylor -- A professor of religion at Piedmont College, author and Episcopal priest.
  • Rabbi Arthur Waskow -- Director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia and a leader in Jewish renewal and peace movements.
It raises the question, though:  if you were to add anything to the New Testament (or if you were to recommend an ancient Christian text for people today to read that is not in the current NT), what would it be?  (And, though not addressed in this project, if there were any books in the NT you would like to see removed, what would it be?)

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