Married Kristen Katherine Norman; children: Laura, Lukas. Education: Cornerstone University, B.A.; Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, M.A.; University of Nottingham, Ph.D. Hobbies and other interests: Golf, walking, and bird watching.
Home—Libertyville, IL. Office—North Park University, 3225 West Foster Ave., Chicago, IL 60625. Agent—Carol Showalter, Paraclete Press, P.O. Box 1568, Orleans, MA 02653. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected].
Writer, minister, lecturer, and educator. Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Trinity International University, Deerfield, IL, former professor; North Park University, Chicago, IL, Karl A. Olsson Professor in religious studies, 1994—.
Hall of Honor, Cornerstone University, in recognition of basketball career.
A Light among the Gentiles: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Second Temple Period, Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1991.
Galatians: From Biblical Text to Contemporary Life, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1995.
1 Peter: The NIV Application Commentary from Biblical Text to Contemporary Life, Zondervan (Grand Rapids, MI), 1996.
A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings of Jesus in National Context, Eerdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1999.
(With Matthew C. Williams) The Synoptic Gospels: An Annotated Bibliography, Baker Books Grand Rapids, MI), 2000.
(Author of introduction) Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter, editors, The Synoptic Gospels, Sheffield Academic Press (Sheffield, England), 2001.
Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion in the Gospels, Westminster John Knox Press (Louisville, KY), 2002.
The Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others, Paraclete Press (Brewster, MA), 2004.
Contributor to periodicals and publications such as Christianity Today, Covenant Companion, Books & Culture, Decision, and Moody Monthly.
Introducing New Testament Interpretation, Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI), 1989.
(With Joel B. Green) Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, InterVarsity Press (Downers Grove, IL), 1992.
(With Grant R. Osborne) The Face of New Testament Studies: A Survey of Recent Research, Baker Academic (Grand Rapids, MI), 2004.
WORK IN PROGRESS:
The Death of Jesus, a monograph for Baylor University Press.
Writer, Jesus studies scholar, and educator Scot McKnight is a prolific author and expert on religious history. As a historian and scholar, McKnight has served as a consultant in biblical history and the historical aspects of Jesus for news outlets such as Fox News, WGN, Newsweek, Time and U.S. News & World Report. McKnight is also a minister, and he frequently speaks and preaches in churches around the country on topics such as the teachings of Jesus, conversion, atonement, and the connections between Judaism and early Christianity.
In A Light among the Gentiles: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Second Temple Period, McKnight departs from the opinions of a number of his colleagues that Second Temple Judaism was a missionary religion that relied heavily on evangelism and that vigorously pursued conversion of Gentiles. "Jewish literature reveals positive attitudes toward the conversion of gentiles but no organized missionary program," remarked Anthony J. Saldarini in Theological Studies. Further, there existed "no certain procedure and ritual for receiving converts," Saldarini observed, which strongly suggests that converting gentiles was not a prominent mission of early Judaism.
Though there are negative comments about Gentiles to be found in Jewish literature of the time, "these statements are religiously based: it was the vices of Gentiles which Jews abhorred," observed Stephen Westerholm in the Journal of Biblical Literature. McKnight suggests that Jews and Gentiles of the period lived among each other harmoniously, without any particular missionary zeal between them. "While Jews certainly saw themselves as a 'light to the Gentiles' and were delighted when Gentiles were attracted to that light, they did not themselves set out to evangelize the Gentile world nor see such a mission as their task," Westerholm commented. McKnight's "evaluation of evidence is balanced, sensible, and clear," Saldarini remarked. "McKnight is to be commended for broadening the debate of the issue, defining the terms of the discussion so carefully, and arguing his case in an informed and sensitive manner," Westerholm concluded.
In A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings of Jesus in National Context, McKnight provides a detailed study of the national political context of early Judaism, placing Jesus and his teachings in the national context of Israel. The book is divided into six chapters. The first chapter explores the vision of Jesus, political aspects that suggest Jesus wanted to see the nation of Israel restored. The second chapter looks at the God of Jesus and themes of God as inflexibly holy and God as relationally loving. In the remaining chapters, McKnight discusses the Kingdom Now Present and the Kingdom Yet to Come, which contain notions of a current and future "Kingdom of God" that "would involve liberation of Israel from her enemies," wrote Mark Allan Powell in Interpretation. McKnight also studies the ethic of Jesus in terms of conversion and cost, as well as in terms of morality.
In the book "McKnight rightly emphasizes that 'Jesus taught no new thing about God, and his experiences of God were consonant with what other Jews … had already experienced or were experiencing'" in their lives, commented Jeffrey S. Siker in the Journal of Biblical Literature. "This is where McKnight is at his best, in highlighting the first-century national context in Judaism as providing the best social and theological setting for understanding Jesus," Siker remarked. In addition, Siker noted that "a serious flaw in McKnight's book is the uncritical assumption that as historians we can enter into the self-consciousness of Jesus with as much self-confidence as McKnight displays," and warns against retroactively injecting orthodox Christian doctrine into Jesus' life and actions. However, P. K. Meyer, writing in Choice, called A New Vision for Israel "remarkably lucid and informative, exemplifying careful attention to much significant literature on its topics."
Religious conversion in evangelical, Catholic, and Protestant churches share many characteristics, with few distinguishing traits unique to each, McKnight observes in Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion in the Gospels. The book is written, however, "to help the churches recover the individuality and variety of conversion witnessed to by the New Testament," remarked Edgar Krentz in Currents in Theology and Mission. Using the stories of nineteen men and women who came to Christianity in varying ways, McKnight explores conversion in six modern sociological dimensions: context, crisis, quest, encounter, commitment, and consequences for life. He also applies these dimensions of conversion to a variety of conversion stories from the Gospels. McKnight finds that many conversion experiences are not so much radical religious turnarounds or abrupt acquisitions of intense belief as they are the result of a distinct, gradual, widely varied process of acquiring religious conviction. In many cases, conversion involves a recognition of what is already present in the individual in the form of revitalization or renewal of already existing faith. "Effectively integrating Biblical and sociological studies with classical and contemporary biographies, McKnight provides a balanced and wide-ranging analysis of Christian conversion," commented F. Scott Spencer in Interpretation. A Publishers Weekly reviewer called the book "well-reasoned" and "persuasive." Engaging in "a careful reading of this book will open many areas of thought and discussion about modes of evangelism" and missionary work, Krentz observed.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
A New Vision for Israel: The Teachings of Jesus in National Context, Erdmans (Grand Rapids, MI), 1999.
Choice, January, 2000, P. K. Meyer, review of A New Vision for Israel, p. 953.
Currents in Theology and Mission, December, 2002, Edgar Krentz, review of Turning to Jesus: The Sociology of Conversion in the Gospels, p. 474.
Interpretation, October, 2000, Mark Allan Powell, review of A New Vision for Israel, p. 437; January, 2004, F. Scott Spencer, review of Turning to Jesus, p. 88.
Journal of Biblical Literature, summer, 1994, Stephen Westerholm, review of A Light among the Gentiles: Jewish Missionary Activity in the Second Temple Period, pp. 330-332; summer, 2001, Jeffrey S. Siker, review of A New Vision for Israel, p. 376.
Publishers Weekly, January 28, 2002, review of Turning to Jesus, p. 288.
Theological Studies, March, 1992, Anthony J. Saldarini, review of A Light among the Gentiles, p. 180.*