Models and methods in social-scientific interpretation: a response to Philip Esler
Horrell, David G.
University of Exeter
Journal for the Study of the New Testament
Philip Esler’s lengthy review of The Social Ethos of the Corinthian Correspondence focused on theoretical and methodological issues which are important to the debate about how a social-scientific approach to the New Testament should be developed and practised. This essay responds to Esler’s arguments, particularly those concerning the use of models. Firstly, drawing on the work of various social scientists, especially anthropologists, it is argued that a model-based approach is open to serious criticisms. The problems with such an approach are illustrated from Esler’s most recent book. Secondly, the weaknesses in Berger and Luckmann’s theory of ‘the social construction of reality’ are further demonstrated. These weaknesses indicate that their important insights need to be woven into the framework of a more critical social theory. Thirdly, and most briefly, the significance of the major argument of The Social Ethos is defended.
© 2000 SAGE Publications