Five Stones and a Sling
Memoirs of a Biblical Scholar
Michael Goulder is a scholar who has always taken an original approach to the Bible and biblical criticism. He has developed five major theories, which challenged received opinion among the learned; and the book tells the story of how these ‘stones’ fared when confronting the biblical establishment. He wryly admits that his slinging has been rather less successful than David's against Goliath.
Among his five theories a special place must be given to his demonstration of how much of the teaching ascribed to Jesus actually derived from the evangelists—the Lord's Prayer for example being composed by Matthew out of Jesus' prayers in Gethsemane. The parables too are the composition of the evangelists, Matthew characteristically writing of kings and rich merchants, while Luke speaks of women, stewards, a beggar and a Samaritan. A long-rooted error Michael Goulder has valiantly opposed has been the belief that Matthew and Luke were both dependent on a lost source, Q; in fact, he argues, Luke was familiar with Matthew's Gospel and copied or developed its teaching as he thought best.
Goulder has worked at the Old Testament as well as the New. He concludes that the Psalms were not the individual prayers of pious Israelites, as Gunkel and others supposed, but the compositions of kings or their poets, deploring national disasters and praying for blessing at the great autumn festival.
This account of Goulder's scholarly work is fascinatingly interwoven with that of his life and ministry; and there are many anecdotes and vignettes of other people that are both amusing and interesting. He was ordained a priest in the Anglican Church, and though he resigned his Orders in 1981, he never lost his love of the Bible.
Michael Goulder was Professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Birmingham prior to his retirement in 1994.
Publication November 2009 (not yet published)