I stumbled across this article from Steve Mason via Bible and Interpretation on the categories of "Judaism" and "gospel." Well worth the time to read in full. Here's a sample:
Methods and Categories: Judaism and Gospel [Steve Mason]
“Remember: You never get too good for the basics.” Some such admonition will be familiar to anyone who has trained in a sport, a musical instrument, or a language. Usually we are attracted to these things because we have seen an expert at work, and we aspire to their fluency and command. We want to be able to deliver a flying side kick at will, or to make any sound we wish on the piano keyboard, or to feel perfectly at ease communicating with locals in a foreign country. But there is always a coach around to insist that you cannot do the spectacular unless you constantly train in the basics: the grammar, the scales, the posture, and flexibility and strengthening. We all expect that we will have to go throughthe basics at the beginning. The hard part is the realization, months or years into training, that we never transcend those basic building blocks of the art: constantly playing the major, minor, and chromatic scales; working endlessly on balance, flexibility, and form; struggling to understand a decidedly un-sexy foreign grammar.
It is much the same with academic work. Professors occasionally complain about having to teach large introductory courses year after year. But our complaints have more do with the “large” part of this, and maybe some frustration at what appears to be declining standards of literacy among new students, than with the prospect of going over the basics again each year. I suspect that many important books and articles have developed from the teaching of introductory courses. It is there that we must come to grips over and over again with the most basic tools and evidence of our disciplines and figure out the most effective ways for new students to understand their importance and learn them thoroughly. It is there that we must handle the most commonsense questions—many of them naïve, yes, but occasionally jolting us out of our entrenched ways of thinking, when a student simply asks why something is claimed to be so. Each year, as we progress with our more specialized research and writing, we return to “the basics” with new eyes, new questions, and new approaches.
Remarkably enough, this constant questioning sometimes exposes weaknesses in the foundations of what we do. This brief essay can do little more than suggest some of these questionable basics, underpinning both our methods and our categories. Hoping not to try the reader’s patience unduly, I’ll focus on two concrete categories, Ioudaismos (usually translated “Judaism”) and euangelion (usually “gospel”), and merely broach some larger issues of method in my conclusion.