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This review is taken from PN Review 60, Volume 14 Number 4, March - April 1988.

ROOM FOR FAITH David Jasper, The New Testament and the Literary Imagination (Macmillan) £25.00

It is evident that the New Testament uses a wide range of natural language, and since natural languages differ, and ancient ones require tactful and laborious scholarship if we are to understand them rightly, we are in some difficulty about the New Testament, about the tone Christ is taking (not always the same) and the status of prophecy, of proverbial wisdom, and of traditional poetry. The attempt to fit the New Testament into a precise logical, quasi-scientific body of belief or morality is in a way ridiculous; its language often eludes precise theological definitions. The fact that the New Testament has in many places an identifiable Jewish theological context, together with the fact that it has acquired for us a theological context quite different from that earlier one, bedevils our interpretations.

And yet the Gospels speak directly and simply to simple and direct people, and they do so everywhere, in all languages, and have always done so. If this is not a special effect of the Holy Ghost, then it is an amazing stroke of nature or of genius, because there are no other books that have quite the same effect. Literary critics, or at least comparative literature scholars, should have a good deal to say on the subject. Joachim Jeremias and Auerbach and others have in fact contributed largely to our understanding of the way the New Testament works. David Jasper is a trained theologian and an English literature scholar. His bibliography includes the sound and ...


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