Michael Kochenash published his revised dissertation from Claremont School of Theology as Roman Self-Representation and the Lukan Kingdom of God (Lexington Books/Fortress Academic) in 2020. A student of Dennis R. MacDonald, Kochenash has continued to pursue a similar brand of mimetic criticism as his Doktorvater—that is, a branch of source criticism that sees the composition of early Christian and Jewish narratives as deliberate reconfigurations, imitations, and subversions of existing Greco-Roman cultural stories, models, and ideologies of the elite, governing class—with excellent results. Although the positionality of author to empire is more complex than can be characterized in a convenient soundbite, Kochenash argues that the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were written in part from their author’s narrative opposition to certain facets of Roman imperial logic, particularly those expressed in the recorded deeds of Augustus, propaganda spread through numismatic evidence, and in Virgil’s Aeneid, among other places, chiefly to spread an inclusive, pro-Gentile, and universalizing salvific message about the Lukan Kingdom of God. Kochenash joined the New Books Network to discuss all these topics and more from his unique comparison of Luke-Acts to cultural and political themes known to the author that scholars have continued to remember as “Luke.”
Rob Heaton, this episode’s host, has also written a critical review of Kochenash’s book, forthcoming with Rhea Classical Reviews.
Michael Kochenash (Ph.D., Claremont, 2017) is a Radboud Excellence Initiative Fellow at Radboud University (Nijmegen, Netherlands) specializing in the New Testament and early Christian literature. He previously held teaching and research appointments in the United States and China. His research interprets early Christian and Jewish narratives as products of ancient Mediterranean literary production, with a special focus on their use of literary models from Jewish Scriptures and classical Greek literature. Among his previous publications are numerous journal articles and book chapters relating to Luke-Acts and other early Christian narratives, and he also co-edited Christian Origins and the New Testament in the Greco-Roman Context (Claremont Press, 2016), a Festschrift for Dennis MacDonald.
Rob Heaton (Ph.D., University of Denver, 2019) hosts Biblical Studies conversations for New Books in Religion and teaches New Testament, Christian origins, and early Christianity at Anderson University in Indiana. He recently authored The Shepherd of Hermas as Scriptura Non Grata: From Popularity in Early Christianity to Exclusion from the New Testament Canon (Lexington Books, 2023). For more about Rob and his work, please see his website at https://www.robheaton.com.
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