chapter  10
19 Pages

Methods and Questions in Reception History

With the sheer mass of material available for research, how can we go about analysis of reception history? In terms of a classic verse-by-verse commentary, those interested in mainstream and orthodox Christian theology have life a little easier in that the boundaries are relatively clear: a scholar can simply look at the ways major theologians in Christian history have interpreted a given verse. Then, as we saw above with the examples from Thiselton and Bockmuehl, it is possible to move on the questions of why a certain interpretative decision was made by a given theologian, whether that verse or passage has been interpreted ‘accurately’ and ‘fairly’, and whether a particular insight has been missed by traditional historical critical approaches. Those who want to write a commentary with a more ‘anything goes’ atti-

tude to reception history do not have such clear boundaries. Selecting evidence is a problem at the best of times but selecting evidence for a reception-historical commentary of the ‘anything goes’ variety is even more difficult. Ultimately, how does a reception-historical commentary of a more open variety avoid the problem of seeming random? Luz recognised this problem even though his boundaries were relatively fixed:

Making choices was unavoidable … While it is relatively easy to gain an overview of the most important Matthew commentaries in church history, the material in other theological and nontheological texts and even more in art, the history of piety, literature, and so on, is nearly infinite.1