Exploring “Trinity in/and the New Testament” is a challenging task. Francis Watson points to some of those challenges when he summarizes certain trends in recent New Testament scholarship in relation to Trinity:
Modern biblical scholarship has no great love for the doctrine of the Trinity. It likes to warn its customers that, if they read a biblical text in the light of what was to become the orthodox Nicene theology of the fourth century, they will inevitably be committing the sin of anachronism. The doctrine of the Trinity should be left to church historians and systematic theologians: it has no place in “our” field.
Addressing the question of Trinity in the New Testament could, therefore, be seen among some biblical scholars as a retrospective act, one which entails a looking back anachronistically at first-century texts through the lens of a fourth-century doctrine. Such an approach can lead to survey articles which gather texts across the New Testament containing or hinting at “trinitarian formulae” or the naming of G*d as Father, Son, and Spirit. Recent scholarship has, however, challenged biblical scholars to undertake a more nuanced approach to the task. In this chapter, I propose to explore and lay out some of the contemporary hermeneutical and interpretive issues involved in the naming of G*d as Trinity and/in the New Testament, leading to an articulation of a multi-layered approach. The limitations of this chapter will, however, allow me the space to explore only the first layer of the approach, and I will do this through the gospel of Matthew. It is my hope that this limited beginning will encourage readers to explore further the rich and complex imaging of G*d in the New Testament, only some of which drew later theologians into naming G*d as triune.
Many have undertaken to write a comprehensive account of the development of feminist biblical criticism generally and of feminist New Testament studies in particular. In this chapter, it seemed good to me, having followed these things closely from the beginning, to give an account of how this particular hermeneutical approach has been manifest in Matthean studies. Similarly, however, to the way in which the Lucan “orderly account” (Luke 1:1) remained in dialogue with many other undertakings, so too will this exploration of what is unique to Matthean feminist interpretation have as its dialogue partner the past twenty-five years of feminist New Testament and Gospel criticism.
Twenty-five years is a significant marker for this study as 1983 saw the appearance of In Memory of Her, Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza's groundbreaking reconstruction of early Christian origins and her provision of a theoretical framework for feminist New Testament studies that would impact the discipline for the subsequent quarter century. It was also the year in which the first specific feminist study of Matthew appeared, namely Janice Capel Anderson's “Matthew: Gender and Reading,” which was the opening article in an edition of Semeia entitled The Bible and Feminist Hermeneutics, edited by Mary Ann Tolbert. Both these studies model what has developed in feminist New Testament interpretation. First each author explores feminism as a hermeneutic, perspective, ideology, or worldview that informs every aspect of her interpretive project.
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