Rather than reading the Catholic Epistles in isolation, understanding the individual historical situation of each letter as the single, determinative context for their interpretation, Letters from the Pillar Apostles argues that a proper understanding of these seven letters must equally attend to their collection and placement within the New Testament canon. Resisting the judgment of much of the historical-critical analysis of the New Testament, namely that the concept of canon actually obscures the meaning of these texts, it is the canonical process by which the texts were composed, redacted, collected, arranged, and fixed in a final canonical form that constitutes a necessary interpretive context for these seven letters. This study argues that, through reception history and paratextual and compositional evidence, it is possible to discern a ‘collection consciousness’ within the Catholic Epistles; as such, they should be read and interpreted as an intentional, discrete canonical sub-collection of texts within the New Testament. Furthermore, such ‘collection consciousness’ is neither anachronistic to the meaning of the letters nor antagonistic to their composition but provides new depths of interpretation, astutely presented in Letters from the Pillar Apostles.
Introduction – Reading the Catholic Epistles as a Collection: A Proposal
1. Approaches to the Catholic Epistles as a Canonical Collection: A Status Quaestionis
2. Assumptions and Methodology
3. Development and Canonization of the Catholic Epistles
4. Paratextual Evidence of Collection Consciousness in the Catholic Epistles
5. Compositional Evidence of Collection Consciousness: Tradition and Catchwords in the Catholic Epistles
6. Compositional Evidence of Collection Consciousness: Framing Devices and Themes in the Catholic Epistles
7. Conclusion: Hermeneutics of Reading the Catholic Epistles as a Coherent Collection
Endorsements and Reviews
In this important monograph, Darian R. Lockett illuminates the case for canonical interpretation on several fronts: by proposing a promising approach to thinking through the idea of canon; by articulating a case for treating the Catholic Epistles as a distinct, early letter collection; and by highlighting fascinating connections among the letters themselves.
A.K.M. Adam, University of Oxford
Darian R. Lockett has written a fascinating study of the Catholic Epistles from the canon critical point of view. I cannot think of anyone who could do that better than him. The result is clear, complete, and compelling.
Peter H. Davids, Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church, Houston