My rating: 5 of 5 stars
There are passages in the New Testament that have a credal feel to them; stanzas that have a texture and tone that seems to lend itself to song. Matthew E. Gordley, dean of the College of Learning and Innovation at Carlow University, examines these portions in his newly released 252 page paperback, "New Testament Christological Hymns: Exploring Texts, Contexts and Significance". It is a mildly specialized manual, but is accessible to most perceptive and thoughtful readers.
In "New Testament Christological Hymns" Gordley explores several "hymnic passages" in detail. His aim is "to provide a comprehensive, comparative, and exegetically informed analysis of New Testament christological hymns in light of their cultural, literary, and theological contexts" (11).He begins by giving the genealogy of New Testament hymnic studies, appreciatively interacting with the critiques. He then moves on to examine hymns in the Greco-Roman world, as well as in Judaism, how they were used, and the narratival functions they fulfilled. Not only is this a valuable historical recollection, but the portion on resistance poetry was rather intriguing.
In chapters three through six, the author spends serious time scrutinizing Philippians 2.5-11, Colossians 1.15-20, John 1.1-18, Hebrews 1.1-4, several segments in Luke and Revelation. Gordley dialogues with numerous scholars who see these passages as hymns and those who don't. He walks through the structure of the passage, as well as what the paragraph was meant to do. With each "hymn" the author also looks for internal indications that might give any indications on early Christian worship.For me, one of the most thought-provoking aspects of the author's analysis was on these hymns being resistance (anti-imperial) poetry. Though I think the writer may be overstating the case, nevertheless it got the wheels in my head turning.
"New Testament Christological Hymns" is a worthwhile volume. I spent several Sunday evenings reading it, not only for the informative aspects, but in a devotional way. Whether you agree with the author's conclusions or not, you will gain a deeper appreciation for each of these passages, and see in them details you have missed. You also may find your heart getting strangely warmed as you delve into the purpose and point of each New Testament section. I highly recommend the book.
Thanks to IVP Academic for sending me a copy of this volume for the review. I sought, and they provided. I asked and they gave. I knocked and they opened the opportunity for me. They made no demands, other than that I give my honest review. And that is what is set before your eyes.
You can easily snag a copy of the book here: "New Testament Christological Hymns"
View all my reviews