Entering the Fray
A Primer on New Testament Issues for the Church and Academy
In modern times the relationship between the church and academy has been strained and tension-filled. Mainstream church culture has often been skeptical of Bible scholars, depicting them as self-serving intellectuals trying to out-think God by devising new and controversial interpretations. Just as well, academics have often leveled harsh critiques against church culture, painting pastors and laity as anti-intellectual pseudo-spiritualists. Entering the Fray argues that, in spite of the wide gap between the academic and ecclesiastical worlds, the modern church should be aware of the key discussions taking place among biblical scholars. To be sure, the average churchgoer has not been tuned in to scholarly conversations concerning matters such as the Messianic Secret, Q, the Historical Jesus, the pistis Christou debate, and related topics. In fact, they may have purposefully tuned out! Some, however, are simply unaware that any such dialogue has taken place, and beyond the internet, may not have the first clue as to how to explore the details. This primer seeks to function as that "first clue" by helping congregants, pastors, and students of the Bible enter into the fray of scholarly discussions that, over the last few hundred years, have shaped both the academy and church.
"New Testament studies are often a beehive of contentious debates. Halcomb surveys several of these debates and guides his readers away from the killer bees of confusion and takes them to the honeycomb of understanding. If you want to get a grip on some hot-potato topics in biblical studies without frying your figurative fingers, then Halcomb does a sterling job of introducing readers to several big debates and showing what the various interpretative options are. Great for students!"
--Michael Bird, Highland Theological College
"Navigating New Testament scholarship can be daunting. In Entering the Fray, Halcomb proves to be a reliable guide. This thorough-yet-succinct presentation introduces the major issues and players of the last four hundred years. With a personal touch, Halcomb demonstrates what scholars do and why the church needs scholarship. This book is for anyone who ever wondered about New Testament scholarship and what impact it has on their faith and life."
--John Byron, Ashland Theological Seminary
"Entering the Fray offers non-specialists an easily accessible path into scholars' conversations on key concerns, such as the nature of the New Testament canon, the relationship between the Gospels, and the historical accuracy of Acts. In all twelve chapters, Halcomb explains why the scholars' discussions should matter to the church."
--Lynn H. Cohick, Wheaton College
"This book aims to not only make the major scholarly issues known to the reader, but to introduce the reader to the scholars who have studied and discussed those issues . . . Halcomb works to build a bridge between the academy and the church, and the result is a unique opportunity for Christians to experience something like a speed-dating round with several centuries' worth of scholars!"
--James F. McGrath, Butler University
"Halcomb does the church and academy a great service by answering the big question of why the church needs academic studies . . . This is a good book for all who want to seek the truth behind the text. Whomever 'enters the fray' will come out on the other side a better and more learned student of the Bible."
--Sam Tsang, Hong Kong Baptist Theological Seminary
Michael Halcomb is a PhD Candidate in biblical studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, and teaches at Centenary United Methodist Church in Lexington, Kentucky. He is the author of People of the Book: Inviting Communities into Biblical Interpretation (Wipf and Stock, 2012).