Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Snap: Hal Taussig's "A New New Testament"



Despite having nearly 600 pages and being as thick as a phone book, there's virtually nothing of substance to Jesus Seminar founding member Hal Taussig's A New New Testament (hereafter ANNT). One reason is that the bulk of those pages are just the documents (canonical and otherwise) Taussig and his crew decided to select for their carbonated canon. The other is that you won't find any real arguments for there being a new and improved canon in the first place.

Well, let me clarify that. You will find arguments, if you think, "this book makes us feel better" or "this book represents our politically correct values" is an argument. What you won't find is any sort of argument related to any particular book's authenticity, authority, date, or historicity -- and that's actually a signifier of the fact that Taussig and his crew give all these books equal credence essentially because in historical terms, they regard them all as equally worthless: Which is also why what sort of emotional kick they get out of each is the main criterion of consideration.

So, in sum, in ANNT you'll find Taussig giving tearjerker stories about how some extracanonical book that would be best suited as birdcage liner (both in terms of historical and literary quality) made someone he showed it to deliriously happy, but you won't find anything to engage the intellect to any real degree. That means there's also nothing for us to engage here in any detail, either. Call this one a 600 page yawn.

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