Literary novelty of the New Testament

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Winter 25-8-2010

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



‘The Literary Novelty of the New Testament’, was the topic for this year’s Slattery Lecture, delivered by Father Justin Taylor SM, at The University of Notre Dame Australia’s Fremantle Campus.

A teacher, researcher and professor in the fields of New Testament and Christian origins, Fr Taylor, presented a convincing argument that the New Testament was the first literary work in the ancient world that made ordinary people its central characters.

“The literary treatment of ordinary people in the Gospels was without precedent in Greek or Roman literature and constituted a literary revolution,” said Fr Taylor.

“The Gospels treat the everyday world and ordinary people in a way that is realistic and serious, even tragic.”

Fr Taylor said the importance of reading about everyday people in the New Testament reflected on Christian belief and impacted on later European culture.

“This new aesthetic, different from the classical tradition, reflects a new social reality and ultimately belief in the incarnation of God in a person of low degree,” he said.

Notre Dame Dean of Philosophy and Theology, Professor Matthew Ogilvie, said Fr Taylor’s lecture highlighted some interesting points about the influence of the New Testament.

“Father Taylor made it clear that the New Testament was so novel in its treatment of ordinary people, it would seem that the development of modern democracy and the notion that ‘all people are created equal’ would have been impossible without it,” he said.

Philosophy and Theology graduate, Karl Brown, agreed with Professor Ogilvie, saying Fr Taylor presented an insightful and convincing lecture on the influence of the New Testament on the modern world.

“Father Taylor presented his argument with a clear genius that made his points seem almost obvious after he had explained them,” he said.

Fr Taylor was ordained a Catholic priest in 1966, obtaining his PhD from the University of Cambridge in England in 1972. He is also Co-Director of a research seminar in New Testament at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

In 2006, he received the degree of Doctor of Divinity from the University of Cambridge.

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