A few years ago, I was asked by the editor of a publishing company to dream up a volume that contained some of the greatest critical hits concerning the letters of James, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John and Jude. Because this is the area I am most interested in, I jumped at the chance and the result is the new book The Catholic Epistles: Critical Readings (London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2021).
After a significant amount of work — who knew that gathering permissions, making translations (thanks for the invaluable help, Amy Obrist!), and writing introductions and annotations would be so time consuming! — the volume is finally finished. Designed as a reference volume for researchers and graduate students focusing on the Catholic Epistles, this work brings together 29 academic essays concentrating upon the Letters of James, Peter, John, and Jude in one convenient volume. Among others, there are essays written by Richard Bauckham, David Horrell, Raymond Brown, Judith Lieu, Joel Green and John Elliott. Four of the essays have been translated from German and are presented for the first time in English translation (essays by Martin Hengel, Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr, Theo Heckel and Wolfgang Grünstäudl).
Divided into four distinct sections, the volume begins with an analysis of the Catholic Epistles as a collection, before moving on to discuss historical-critical and theological studies, methodological approaches, and, finally, reception history. Taking care to situate foundational essays in the history of scholarship that may be hard to find or contextualize, I offer a brief introduction to each section and then draw each section to a close by providing a list of annotated readings (just over 90 of them) which prompt further study and engagement. At well over 600 pages my hope is that this will be a somewhat comprehensive resource for those studying the Catholic Epistles.
Encouraging and facilitating the study of the Catholic Epistles has been a central focus for me. I hope that this volume will make these critical studies more widely available for scholars and students of these too often overlooked texts. Hopefully the book will help readers discover the rich theological and practical insights woven into these early Christian letters. The Catholic Epistles are treasures hidden in plain sight not only in the text of each letter, but also in viewing these seven letters together as a coherent witness to early faith in Jesus Christ.