Goulder and the Gospels: An Examination of A New Paradigm (JSNT Supplement Series 133)

Written by Mark S. Goodacre Reviewed By Kevin Ellis

It is a rare ability that allows one scholar to sum up the work of another. Yet, Mark Goodacre can do this with Michael Goulder’s work and combine in his critique both appreciation of it, and an assessment of its weaknesses. Post-graduate students would do well to get hold of this book and begin to learn of Goodacre. This is a book that should be on all Gospel Studies reading lists. Why?

The first reason is that Professor Michael Goulder is a towering figure in NT scholarship, and his work is therefore to be understood and interacted with even when disputed. The second is that Goulder’s theories have never been appropriately assessed. Does Goulder really have a case for dispensing with the existence of ‘Q’? How do we evaluate Goulder’s Lectionary approach to Gospel studies? I am not sure I know of a significant article where someone has interacted with Goulder, except on the premise that Goulder is wrong, and he or she is right. Goodacre’s dispassionate approach is refreshing. This made all the more so by his analysis of the detail of Goulder’s work and thus inevitably a close study of the biblical text. Such pains-taking scholarship is regarded as passé as we approach the end of the decade—the broad-brush approach being the ‘in thing’. Perhaps a plea for the start of the new millennium would be for more detailed analysis of the text. For these reasons this book is a rare treat.

However, I have one note of caution. Goodacre is guilty of not interacting with Goulder’s bigger picture. His recent resuscitation of Baur’s hypothesis is hardly interacted with. This is the hard part of dealing with Michael Goulder, his work is diverse and no one book will do justice to his work, but I, for one, am grateful that Goodacre has tried. Make sure your librarian has this book on order now!

Kevin Ellis

The Queen’s College, Birmingham