In this careful analysis, Matthew Skinner explores the trial narratives of Jesus, Paul, Stephen, and others in the Gospels and Acts who found themselves brought before powerful individuals and groups, often with deadly consequences. His close study of these texts is essential for those interested in the early church's relationship to the sociopolitical structures in which Christian belief emerged. He shows how the narratives helped shape early Christian identity as these communities sought to understand both the political implications of the emerging Christian gospel as well as the dangers and opportunities their sociopolitical context presented. He also reflects on the theological resources and paradigms these texts offer to Christians today.
A"Skinner makes a compelling case for trial stories as the key to the intersection of story, theology, and politics in the New Testament. By including the trial narratives of Acts, as well as the Gospel stories of JesusA' trial, Skinner demonstrates the pivotal role played by stories of judgment and political power in the formation of Christian identity.A" Gail R. OA'Day, Senior Associate Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs and A.H. Shatford Professor of Preaching and New Testament, Candler School of Theology, Emory University A"Focusing on the trial narratives in the canonical gospels and book of Acts, and using a range of methods, Matthew Skinner deftly explores the issue of early Christian interactions with the sociopolitical structures of the Roman empire. What emerges is a complex depiction of ambiguous and precarious interactions marked by conflict, mutual judgment, assertions of various kinds of power, and constructed identities. Also emerging in this insightful study are some gospel challenges for engagement with contemporary so-cietal structures and political power.A" Warren Carter, Professor of New Testament Brite Divinity School, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth Texas The clashing narratives, social worlds, and claims to authority in our own courtrooms are all too familiar. In this engaging study, Matthew Skinner takes us into the same drama in the Gospels and Acts. The Trial Narratives vividly reminds us that the "powers that be" are not all that powerful when viewed in the light of God's history, and we dare not trust either their claims to justice or our ownA" Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Helen H.P. Manson Professor of New Testament Literature and Exegesis, Princeton Theological Seminary