Friday, October 31, 2003

Online or Invisible

Stephen Carlson (Hypotyposeis blog entry) draws attention to a very interesting article:

Steve Lawrence, "Online or Invisible"

This is reproduced from Nature, Volume 411, Number 6837, p. 521, 2001 and provides research from the area of computer science and related disciplines that "More highly cited articles, and more recent articles, are substantially more likely to be freely available on the web". It's an effective plea to scholars to make their research available on-line. I'd add from my own experience that while it's generally not welcome to put your books on-line, publishers are more than happy to allow one to reproduce one's academic articles on-line. And by doing so there is no question that you get a far, far wider audience than if you only allow it to remain in the journal or collection in which it first appeared. So let me echo Stephen Carlson's exhortation to academics to make their work available on-line; it's not just the wider academic community but you yourselves who will benifit.

Articles on women in the NT by Kenneth Bailey

Thanks to Richard Anderson on Synoptic-L for drawing attention to two articles by Kenneth Bailey, linked by the theme of women in the NT, in a journal called Theology Matters (Vol. 6, no. 1, January / February 2000). The two articles are in a single PDF file, so I can't give you URLs for each separate one. So if you want the second, click on the link and scroll down.

Kenneth E. Bailey, "Women in the New Testament: A Middle Eastern Cultural View"

Kenneth E. Bailey, "The Women Prophets of Corinth: A Study of Aspects of 1 Cor. 11.2-16"

US TV set for "Jesus' wife" storm

Thanks to Helenann Hartley for this from BBC News Online:

US TV set for "Jesus' wife" storm
A leading US TV news reporter has said her network is taking a risk with a news special which asks whether Jesus Christ had a wife.

It's clearly crackpot stuff (e.g. "The programme is partly based on the best-selling novel The Da Vinci Code"); it will be interesting to see if it does cause the "storm" predicted.

Jews and Christians Reading the Bible: A Forum

Robert Kraft on Ioudaios mentions the following:

Jews and Christians Reading the Bible: A Forum

It's at Bryn Mawr college next week, 6-7 November 2003. It's a nice looking web site, if a little over-elaborate. It is to feature a Webcast, which should be interesting. So I'll try and remember to post a reminder here when it starts.

Jim Davila blogged this on Tuesday; I'm a bit behind this week!

Dante's Inferno Test

Jim Davila takes Dante's Inferno Test and makes it to the second level of hell. Well, it looks like I've made it to purgatory! You can take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test by following that link.

Lawrence Wills's Ancient Jewish Novels

An issue of Forward out this week has a chatty review of Lawrence M. Wills (ed. and translator), Ancient Jewish Novels: An Anthology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003):

Something Old: A Collection of Ancient Novels Plumbs Antiquity and Proselytizes for Piety

Reviewer is Mark Jay Mirsky. He's clearly enjoyed reading Joseph and Aseneth in particular and comments
Joseph's eccentric romance with his Egyptian bride, who merits only a single line in the text of the Bible, echoes the Book of Ruth in its themes of conversion to Judaism and steadfast loyalty. "Joseph and Aseneth," however, is almost parody. The elements of exaggeration in Aseneth's conversion and Joseph's exalted status remove these characters from any realistic world and set them in a ritualized one of operatic melodrama — far from the austere riddles of the Book of Ruth, which continues to fascinate contemporary novelists, such as Cynthia Ozick. Does this in part explain why "Joseph and Aseneth" and several sister narratives were excluded by the redactors who established the rabbinic canon?
Answer: no, not even in part.

Update: previously blogged in Paleojudaica.

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Margaret Mitchell's SBL Synoptics Section paper

As I've mentioned before (see here), we have a session planned for the Synoptics Section at the Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting in Atlanta in a few weeks time on The Gospels for All Christians thesis. Margaret Mitchell's paper for that session is now available to view in advance:

Margaret M. Mitchell, "Patristic Counter-Evidence to the Claim that 'the Gospels were written for all Christians'"

Or navigate from the NT Gateway Gospels and Acts or from the Synoptic Gospels Section web site where it will be available soon.

Latest JSNT

The latest Journal for the Study of the New Testament has appeared -- Volume 26, Number 1 (September 2003). The message below is the alert sent by ingenta who do the on-line version of the journal. Everyone can read abstracts by following the links below; those whose institutions subscribe to the journal should also be able to read the full-text of the journal.

Journal for the Study of the New Testament, a journal from Sheffield Academic Press is now available online via the Ingenta Select service, and contains the following articles:

Discussion Articles
Asceticism and Christian Identity in Antiquity: A Dialogue with Foucault
and Paul
Halvor Moxnes

Sex Slaves of Christ: A Response to Halvor Moxnes
Jorunn Økland

Asceticism and Christian Identity in Antiquity: A Response
John Riches

'Leave the Dead to Bury their own Dead': Q 9.60 and the Redefinition of
the People of God
Crispin H.T. Fletcher-Louis

'Teaching You in Public and from House to House' (Acts 20.20): Unpacking
a Cultural Stereotype
Jerome H. Neyrey

Ancient Oleiculture and Ethnic Differentiation: The Meaning of the
Olive-Tree Image in Romans 11
Philip F. Esler


To view this issue online, please go to:

PhD-positions at the University of Groningen

This posted on behalf of Dr George van Kooten of the University of Groningen:

Three PhD-positions at the University of Groningen
Jewish and Christian Traditions

The Faculty of Theology & Religious Studies of the University of Groningen announces a search to fill three Ph.D. positions.

The Faculty runs three research programmes, among which a programme in Jewish and Christian Traditions. Excellent and suitable candidates, who have finished a relevant MA, are encouraged to apply. The research group consists of Professor Ed Noort (OT, Archaeology & Biblical Theology), dr Jacques van Ruiten (OT & Early Judaism), Professor Florentino García Martínez (Early Judaism & Qumran), dr Eibert Tigchelaar (Early Judaism & Qumran), Professor Gerard Luttikhuizen (NT & Gnosticism), and dr George van Kooten (NT & Hellenism).

At this stage, candidates should only send their curriculum vitae, a title of proposed research, a brief research proposal including a presentation and definition of the principal questions and problems, a brief general outline of the prospective table of contents, and a specification of referents, altogether certainly not exceeding two pages. Please send your application to Professor Ed Noort, Email, before November 10th, 2003. After initial screening, the most suitable candidates will be invited to submit a full-scale proposal. For further enquiries, contact Professor Noort, Telephone 0031-50-363 55 67 (office); 0031-598-35 07 54 (home), or Email

The PhD appointments entail a 4-year fixed term contract, pay award rising over the years from EURO 1,683 to 2,258 per month. After one year an assessment takes places.

The University of Groningen is a strong, interdisciplinary university in the Netherlands. There is a direct connection between London Stansted and Groningen Airport (Ryanair).

Review of Ehrman

An article in the Boston Globe by Scott Bernard Nelson speaks enthusiastically of Bart Ehrman's twin publications Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew and Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It Into the New Testament. The review is by Scott Bernard Nelson:

Combing through lost articles of faith

!Hero worship

An enthusiastic article about the !Hero Rock Opera in the St Petersburg Times On-line:

'Hero' Worship
In !Hero, The Rock Opera, the Jesus of the Gospels is transformed into a dreadlock-wearing street preacher for the hip-hop generation.

I've blogged about this before [e.g. here]. I've now listened to the CD frequently and I'm a fan. If you like Jesus Christ Superstar, you'll probably like this. The article features some interesting quotations from Eddie DeGarmo who co-wrote the piece:
"They were a people that had come out of bondage," DeGarmo said of the Jews. "They were a people that were downtrodden in their own society, and I feel like the African-American folks have come through some of those things that parallel that. It's just like God to reach down and pick the person that would be the least likely to rise up . . . and I just thought it was very appropriate to depict Christ as an African-American in !Hero."
Michael Tait plays Jesus and in says,
"As a little boy growing up in the inner city of Washington, D.C., being the son of a pastor, at my dad's church and other churches around the city, I'd always see these pictures of this blond-haired, blue-eyed Jesus," he said.

As he got older, Tait studied the Bible and realized that Jesus likely was not white, and he probably wasn't black, either.

"The truth is, he probably looked more like a terrorist, if you really break it down," Tait said. "I mean Jewish, Middle Eastern, dark, woolly hair. But the fact is, it's provocative."
Sounds like he might have seen Son of God (Jesus the Complete Story in the U.S.) -- a couple of people said to me at the time that that face looked a bit like something from Crimewatch.

The article also says that "Grammy winner Rebecca St. James is Maggie (Mary Magdalene)". I've not read the novels, but there are no signs that Maggie is Mary Magdalene from the CD; the only clear identification is with the woman from Samaria in John 4; that story has its own song called "Secrets of the Heart" -- only time I've heard a song based on this story. You can see a bootleg of this being performed on the Hero! web site here:

Secrets of the Heart (starts just under a minute into this clip)

Inevitably, Mel Gibson's film gets mentioned,
DeGarmo has stayed away from the controversy that surrounds Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of Christ. In !Hero, the savior's opponents are not depicted as people of a specific culture. They are pegged as government officials and "street urchins" who don't believe what Hero preaches and think he and his followers are a danger to life as they know it.
What the article doesn't point out, though, is that the one clearly identified Jewish character, the chief rabbi Kai (loosely based on Caiaphas, but also a composite of Gospel scribes and Pharisees), is a stereotype baddy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

New Horsley book

Richard Horsley has a new book out. How does he manage to write so much? Here's the press release (with the usual rider that other publishers are welcome to send me their press releases and so to get some free publicity if they want it!).

Horsley Explores the Intersection of Religions, Rhetoric, & Political Life

MINNEAPOLIS (October 27, 2003)—In Religion and Empire: People, Power, and the Life of the Spirit Richard Horsley brings his considerable skills to bear on the timely questions concerning religious rhetoric and empire-building. How do the teachings of Jesus impact our understanding of the uses of power? How can we understand the invocation of God in modern political rhetoric? These questions and more are explored in order to help readers develop a clearer sense of modern religious and political issues.

In this perceptive look at ways politics and religion entwine, Horsley examines patterns of relations between imperial power and religion, describing how ancient and modern empires subjugate peoples by co-opting their local religious practices and attitudes, and identifying similarities between resistance movements.

“The most important task before us may be to consider how religious practices are related to the imperial power relations that have determined people’s lives for centuries, but have gone unnoticed and unanalyzed.”
—from the Introduction

Key Features

- Discusses Jesus, modern Islamic movements, and U.S. foreign policy

- A major move forward in establishing the history and social role of the Pharisees

Richard Horsley is Distinguished Professor of Liberal Arts and the Study of Religion at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He is the author and co-author of numerous books, including Jesus and Empire and Jesus and the Spiral of Violence, both from Fortress Press.

Religion and Empire is the newest addition to the Facets series from Fortress Press.

The Facets Series, brief, brilliant treatments of vital aspects of faith and life, offers gems of religious writing from leaders who address today’s more important or pressing questions—biblical, theological, and moral. Other volumes recently released include: Walter Brueggemann, The Spirituality of the Psalms (0-8006-3450-0); Rosemary Radford Ruether, Visionary Women (0-8006-3448-9); John Kaltner, Islam: What Non-Muslims Should Know *0-8006-3583-3); Philip Hefner, Technology and Human Becoming (0-8006-3608-2); Walter Wink, Jesus and Nonviolence (0-8006-3609-0); James M. Robinson, editor, The Sayings of Jesus: Q in English (0-8006-3451-9); Martin Luther King, Jr., The Measure of a Man (0-8006-3449-7); Brevard S. Childs, Biblical Theology: A Proposal (0-8006-3481-0); N. T. Wright, The Contemporary Quest for Jesus (0-8006-3492-9); John B. Cobb Jr., Christian Faith and Religious Diversity (0-8006-3483-7); Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Who Is Christ for Us? (0-8006-3480-2); John R. Polkinghorne, Traffic in Truth (0-8006-3579-5); and Gösta W. Ahlströn, Ancient Palestine: A Historical Introduction (0-8006-3572-8). Each book, offered at an economical price, presents a special angle that uniquely illumines an area or issue.


Religion and Empire
Format: 96pp; 4.25 x 7";
ISBN: 0-8006-3631-1
Price: $6.00
Publication: November 2003

To order Religion and Empire please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the web site at To request review copies or exam copies please visit the website at or call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234. For interviews, speaking engagements, and writing assignments please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or email

More catch-up blogging to come, but probably not until tomorrow morning.

Monday, October 27, 2003

Next blog on Wednesday

I'm away from computers for the next few days; look out for the next blog entry on Wednesday.

Friday, October 24, 2003

Peter Lampe, From Paul to Valentinus

Another Fortress Press release (where are the other publishers?):

““This study is so masterful in its grasp of a vast array of evidence, so solid and innovative in its methodology, and so audacious in conception that it is bound to become a classic. The most important historical and sociological study ever written on Roman Christianity.”
Robert Jewett, Interpretation

Fortress Press To Release Peter Lampe’s From Paul to Valentinus

MINNEAPOLIS (October 22, 2003)—In a path-breaking and widely hailed study, newly available in English, author Peter Lampe integrates history, archaeology, and social analysis to retrace rise and shape of the earliest Christian communities in Rome. “Brilliantly conceived and masterfully executed” (Prof. John H. Elliott), Lampe’s social history of Roman Christianity builds on archaeological, inscriptional, and juridical sources, to complement the reading of the great literary texts from Paul’s Letter to the Romans to the writings of Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, Montanus, and Valentinus.

Meticulously and thoroughly reworked and updated for this English-language edition by the author from the second German edition of his Die staedtromischen Christen, From Paul to Valentinus is a groundbreaking work, broad in scope and closely detailed. Lampe reconstructs the social status of early Christians, the shape of their communities and leadership, the Christians’ relation to the Judeans living in Rome, and the gradual “fractionating” of the community there.

Among the scholarly plaudits for his work:

“This impressive work puts our study of early Roman Christianity on a new and more certain empirical basis and must now serve as the point of departure for all subsequent research. . . . Lampe has expanded our database and has provided the most extensive social profile of Roman Christianity currently available.”
— John H. Elliot, Catholic Biblical Quarterly

”Lampe shows that there are both archaeological and literary grounds for saying that the early Roman Christian community was at first indistinguishable from the Jewish one, form which it emerged as perhaps a less affluent underclass of God-fearers. Lampe’s book will impress all who read it as a well-informed attempt to synthesize a vast amount of data in a serious, informed, and scholarly way.”
— Alan F. Segal, Journal of Biblical Literature

“Peter Lampe’s extremely thorough study of the Roman Christians ... I would judge it the best work on an early Christian Church I have read in the last decade... Lampe exhibits such balance and care that I would find myself hard-pressed to write the usual review, agreeing with some points and disagreeing with others. His conclusions are likely to be the basis of most on-going discussion ... The interest of these (Lampe’s) theses for church history, as well as for New Testament, should be obvious.“
— Raymond E. Brown, em. Professor of New Testament at Union Theological Seminary, NY, in: The Heythrop Journal, July 1988, 359-60

“This is a learned and enjoyable study of the social history of the Christian community in Rome... It is not one of those social histories that wishes to substitute social factors for ideas and theologies, but a book which derives its strength from its perceptions of the intimate links between doctrine and life. Dr Lampe knows how to use epigraphic and juristic evidence... He equally knows his way round the catacombs and the archaeological evidence...And the freshness of his approach enables him to illuminate familiar texts from the Apostolic Fathers or the Apologists... Among the most interesting parts of a very good book are the pages on Justin Martyr.“
— Henry Chadwick, em. Professor of Divinity, Cambridge University, in: Journal of Theological Studies, April 1990, 228-9

“The author’s interesting and informative work is a notable landmark... The sociological approach to the evidence, successfully exploited by Wayne Meeks in his study of the Pauline churches, has found an able continuator in Lampe’s thorough and scholarly examination of the first two centuries of Roman Christianity.“
— W.H.C. Frend, em. Professor of Ecclesiastical History at the University of Glasgow,
in: Journal of Ecclesiastical History 1990, 278-9

Peter Lampe is Professor of New Testament at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. He is the author of the commentary on Philemon in Das Neue Testament Deutsch series (1998).


Format: jacketed hardcover, 528 pages
Item No: 0800627024
Publisher: Fortress Press
Release Date: November 10, 2003
Price: $42.00

To order From Paul to Valentinus please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the web site at To request review copies or exam copies please visit the website at or call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234. For interviews, speaking engagements, and writing assignments please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or email

Secret Mark

The latest entry on Hypotyposeis relates to Secret Mark, some reflections on Bart Erhman's recent Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003). Stephen Carlson includes references to a web site I've never seen before, Bryan Cox's Secret Mark, which has reproductions of the following:

The Mar Saba Clementine: A Question Of Evidence by Quentin Quesnell
(CBQ, January 1975, Volume 37:1, pp. 48-67)

On The Authenticity Of The Mar Saba Letter of Clement by Morton Smith
(CBQ, Vol. 38:2, Apr. 1976, pp. 196-199)

A Reply To Morton Smith by Quentin Quesnell
(CBQ, Vol. 38:2, Apr. 1976, pp. 200-203)

Pitts Theology Library Digital Image Archive

Thanks to Richard Wright for drawing my attention to the massive database of woodcuts at Pitts Theology Library (Candler School of Theology, Emory University):

Pitts Theology Library Digital Image Archive

Go to "Simple Search" and choose "1523 Bibl" from the drop down menu next to "Call number" as a good way to begin.

Free software for learning Greek

At the Greek Study Day here on Wednesday, there was some discussion of memorisation. One thing that got mentioned was the number of useful little programmes for learning vocabulary and so on; and it was nice to hear the NT Gateway mentioned in this context. In the light of that discussion, I've just run a check on all the links on the Greek New Testament Gateway: Computer Software page and all are functioning fine. I've dropped the last two, however. Harry Hahne's Computer Assisted Bible Analysis review is now so dated as to be useless so I've deleted the link. And Drew Berkemeyer's Greek IQ Flash has now become a commercial service renamed i-Know It New Testament Greek so that link has been deleted too in line with my policy only to link to free materials.

More on SBL Ossuary session

There's a bit more detail on the SBL session on the Ossuary in the editorial of the current Bible Archaeology Review:

First Person: Gearing up for the Conference Season
Excerpt: "BAS has organized a panel at the SBL meeting on the James ossuary inscription (“James, the son of Joseph, the brother of Jesus”) and the Jehoash inscription, featuring scholars André Lemaire of the Sorbonne, Kyle McCarter of Johns Hopkins University, Chaim Cohen of Ben-Gurion University and Ed Greenstein from Tel Aviv University (for details on this session, see “The Debate Continues’). Less well-known to the community of Bible scholars are two scientists who will discuss the report of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) committee that declared both of these inscriptions to be forgeries. These independent scientists are Richard Newman of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, a leader of the museum conservation community; and James Harrell, an officer of ASMOSIA (Association for the Study of Marble and Other Stones in Antiquity) and a professor of Geology at the University of Toledo. The final speaker will be the owner of the ossuary—and alleged forger—Oded Golan.

Unfortunately, several people connected with the IAA or the IAA committee declined to join the panel. Professor Yuval Goren, who provided the scientific analysis to the committee, declined our invitation even though he will be in Atlanta at the time. Amir Ganor, the IAA’s chief fraud investigator, is also going to be in Atlanta at the time. Ganor was willing to appear on the panel, but Shuka Dorfman, the director of the IAA, refused to allow this.

Uzi Dahari, the IAA deputy director and chairman of the IAA committee that pronounced the inscriptions to be forgeries, has told several people that the forging of the inscriptions involved a conspiracy of several people, including an “honored Israeli archaeologist.” Unfortunately, Dr. Dahari also declined our invitation to join the panel. So has Dr. Avner Ayalon, the Israel Geological Survey scientist who performed the isotope experiments showing that the coating (patina) on the inscriptions could not have been formed in a natural way by resting in a cave for 2,000 years.

Research Assistant job at University of Gloucestershire

There is a job being advertised at the University of Gloucestershire, a Research Assistant in New Testament studies, to work with Prof. Andrew Lincoln, 3 years fixed term contract. Full details at this link:

Research Assistant in New Testament Studies

James Ossuary Update: Lemaire fights back

André Lemaire provides a detailed answer to the IAA report on the James Ossuary, which declared the ossuary a forgery:

Ossuary Update: Israel Antiquities Authority’s Report Deeply Flawed

It's pretty detailed. Whatever one thinks of this business (I'm a non-expert here, inclined to accept the IAA judgement, but interested in this critique), the article is a model of patience and clarity and well worth a read. On the whole it avoids polemic, which is refreshing after yesterday's "acrid stench of burning straw", which makes entertaining reading at first but afterwards leaves a nasty taste in the mouth.

The link above, to the Biblical Archaeology Review web site, also features details of a session at the SBL in Atlanta on Sunday morning at which Lemaire, Golan, Shanks et al will be discussing the ossuary.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Philip Esler on Romans

Just announced by Fortress:

Philip Esler Provides Fresh Analysis of Paul’s Most Important Letter

MINNEAPOLIS (October 23, 2003)— What is the purpose of Paul’s letter to the Romans? In Conflict and Identity in Romans: The Social Setting of Paul’s Letter Philip F. Esler provides an illuminating analysis of this epistle, employing various social-scientific methods, along with epigraphy and archaeology. His conclusion is that the apostle Paul was attempting: (a) to facilitate the resolution of intergroup conflict among the Christ-followers of Rome, especially as between Judeans and non-Judeans; and (b) to establish a new identity for them by developing a form of group categorization which subsumes the various groups into a new entity.

“This is an important study of Paul’s letter to Rome that breaks out of the traditional boundaries of doctrine interpretation. Employing insights from recent social science, Esler argues that Paul offers the diverse churches in Rome a common ingroup identity that could overcome their ethnic conflicts and make cooperation possible. They need to understand that every ethnic group stands equally under sin and under grace. This innovative book makes Romans more important than ever for a world still torn by ethnic conflict.”

—Robert Jewett

Harry R. Kendall Professor of New Testament Emeritus
Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

“Esler provides his readers with a discerning, exciting, and masterful reading of St. Paul’s letter to the Romans. He hones his exegetical lenses with the full range of tools available to the modern interpreter: ancient Mediterranean history and archaeology, philology, patristics, historical and literary criticism, history of interpretation, and social science criticism. He defines terms that most interpreters leave at the intuitive level, such as ethnic and ethnicity, Greeks, Judeans, righteousness. He clearly articulates the societal processes by which groups maintain their distinctiveness and identity over against others groups (Christ-movement groups and Israel, Israelites and ‘Gentiles’). He dialogues with modern commentators from Bultmann and Käsemann to Dunn and Moo. For an incisive, penetrating, and sensible grasp of Romans, there is nothing better than Esler’s work. The unassuming and unostentatious style in which the book is written belies the freshness of insight and brilliance of perception that the author offers his readers.”

Bruce J. Malina, author of The Social Gospel of Jesus

“Noted for his insightful use of social-scientific methods of studying various portions of the New Testament, Esler applies his considerable skills to Paul’s most famous letter. The results are both stimulating and insightful. This is perhaps the most skillful and helpful social scientific treatment of Romans thus far rendered by any one to date. Highly recommended.”

Ben Witherington III, author of Jesus the Sage

- Romans and Christian Identity
- Explaining Social Identity
- Ethnicity, Ethnic Conflict, and the Ancient Mediterranean World
- The Context: Rome in the 50s CE
- The Letter’s Purpose in the Light of Romans 1:1-15 and 15:14-16:27
- Common Ingroup Identity and Romans 1:1-3:20
- The Foundations of the New Identity (Romans 3:21-31)
- Abraham as a Prototype of Group Identity (Romans 4)
- The New Identity in Christ: Origin and Entry (Romans 5-6)
- Pauline Leadership and Group Exemplification in Romans 7
- The Exalted Character of the New Identity (Romans 8)
- Israel and the Christ-Movement (Romans 9-11)
- Descriptors of the New Identity (Romans 12-13)
- The Weak and the Strong (Romans 14:1-15:13)

Key Features
- A completely fresh analysis of Paul’s most important letter
- Integrates anthropology, epigraphy, and archaeology
- Diagrams and charts

Philip F. Esler is Professor of Biblical Criticism at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. Among his publications are Community and Gospel in Luke-Acts (1987), The First Christians in Their Social Worlds (1994), and Galatians (1998). He is also the editor of three major works: Modeling Early Christianity (1995), Christianity for the Twenty-First Century (1998), and The Early Christian World (2000).


Format: 384 pp; 6 x 9"; ; -c cover; sewn
ISBN: 0-8006-3435-7
Price: $29.00
Publication: October 2003

To order Conflict and Identity in Romans please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the web site at To request review copies or exam copies please visit the website at or call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234. For interviews, speaking engagements, and writing assignments please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or email

Hollywood Jesus News

Lots more information of interest on both The Passion of Christ and The Gospel of John, including a review of the latter, in Hollywood Jesus' latest newsletter just out:

Hollywood Jesus News

Passion to open on Ash Wednesday

The U.S. release date for The Passion of Christ is now set for Ash Wednesday; it will be distributed in the U.S.A. by Icon and Newmarket, the latter also the distributor for Memento, a cracking film. Thanks to Jim West for this link:

Ash Wednesday open for Gibson's 'Passion'

Goodspeed's birthday

1871 - Birth of Edgar J. Goodspeed, American Greek New Testament scholar. He taught at the University of Chicago from 1898 to 1937. In 1931, he co-authored with J.M.P. Smith "The Bible: An American Translation," better known today as "Smith and Goodspeed." This courtesy of I'm just in time, I think, before midnight strikes.

AKMA on Wright

AKMA blogs on that Wright letter to the Guardian which I blogged yesterday:

Don't Do It!

AKMA is irritated by Wright's casual use of the term "postmodern" and challenges:
Bishop Tom, if you’re so concerned with “what the texts actually say,” please cite for me one single scholar of postmodernity who invokes “a synthesis of widely disparate traditions in support of that contemporary western phenomenon, ‘the religious quest’.” I’ll even try not to quibble over who counts as a “scholar,” trusting that if you care enough to think about what you said, you will care enough not to scrounge up some shabby lackwit who justifies theoretical fustian by labelling it “postmodern.”

New Blog -- Stephen Carlson

A new weblog of interest to scholars and students of the NT has recently appeared:

Hypotyposeis: Sketches in Biblical Studies

The blogger is Stephen Carlson, whom many will know from his fine Synoptic Problem Homepage as well as his many excellent contributions to the academic e-lists over the years. From more recently, see his work on NT Stemmatics. Stephen is a fine scholar and I look forward very much to reading this blog, which yesterday featured an interesting post on the James Ossuary. Excerpt:
After the forgery was uncovered, I was quite dismayed that the initial scientific report of the ossuary had been so unrealiable [sic], so I decided to analyze the report from Rosenfeld and Ilani of the Geological Survey of Israel (GSI) published in BAR, vol. 28, no. 6, (Nov./Dec. 2002), p. 29, in greater detail. As it turned out, the actual report merely established the antiquity of the ossuary and its analysis of the inscription was too inadequate to have been relied upon.

Exchange between E. P. Sanders, Crossan & Reed

Thanks to David Mackinder for drawing this to my attention. There's a fascinating exchange between E. P. Sanders and John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan Reed on the New York Review of Books:

Who Was Jesus? An Exchange

Sanders had written a lengthy review of Crossan and Reed's Excavating Jesus in April's New York Review of Books, entitled Who Was Jesus?. The latter is unfortunately only available to subscribers ($64 a year; or purchase the article alone for $4) but the current exchange, in which first Crossan and Reed answer Sanders and then Sanders replies is available on-line from the above link. It's pretty acrimonious stuff, e.g.

"E.P. Sanders's confused presentation of Excavating Jesus ["Who Was Jesus?" NYR, April 10] is suffused with the acrid stench of burning straw. It also contains basic misunderstandings of our position on Jesus, Judaism, and the Roman Empire, that is, on most everything in our book.
One thing is quite baffling in Crossan and Reed's letter, the claim that "Scholars of early Christianity have always criticized his refusal to use source-analysis in studying the gospels". I don't know of any scholar who makes this criticism, let alone it "always" having taken place; nor would it be a reasonable claim to make given Sanders's publications on source-criticism of the gospels. Sanders wonders whether this might have been an "insider's joke", though I'm not quite sure how it would work.

Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Wright answers Armstrong

On Sunday I blogged about Karen Armstrong on Heaven and Hell and wrote "my guess is we'll see a letter from Tom Wright in The Guardian before too long (watch this space)." How's this for prophesying? It's taken no more than four days:

Tom Wright, Letter to The Guardian

Excerpt: "I do not deny that there is a life after death; but, in company with the New Testament and orthodox Judaism, I lay greater weight not on that temporary state, but on resurrection, ie a new bodily life (after "life after death") within a renewed creation. "

Jesus' bathhouse

Sensational article in today's Guardian:

Is this where Jesus bathed?
"A shopkeeper running a small souvenir business in Nazareth has made a sensational discovery that could dramatically rewrite the history of Christianity . . .

. . . . Shama began excavating the tunnels after he and his Belgian wife, Martina, bought the shop in 1993, and found a series of 4ft-high passages, separated by columns of small bricks supporting a white marble floor. In one corner they found a walled-off room where a residue of wood ash revealed it once served as a furnace . . . . .

The American excavators are convinced that what Shama has exposed is an almost perfectly preserved Roman bathhouse from 2,000 years ago - the time of Christ, and in the town where he was raised. In a piece of marketing that is soon likely to be echoing around the world, Shama says he has stumbled across the "bathhouse of Jesus". The effects on Holy Land tourism are likely be profound, with Nazareth becoming a challenger to Jerusalem and Bethlehem as the world's most popular site of Christian pilgrimage . . . . .

Professor Richard Freund, an academic behind important Holy Land digs at the ancient city of Bethsaida, near Tiberias, and Qumran in the Jordan Valley, says the significance of the find cannot be overstated. Over the summer he put aside other excavation projects to concentrate on the Nazareth site. "I am sure that what we have here is a bathhouse from the time of Jesus," he says, "and the consequences of that for archaeology, and for our knowledge of the life of Jesus, are enormous."
David Meadows adds some more background and comments "Now it appears that we've got another potential bone box brewing . . ."

Luke Johnson on the Creed again

Christianity Today has an interview with Luke Johnson on his new book on the creed:

Editor's Bookshelf: 'We live what we believe'
"The Creed is a guide to reading the New Testament. It gets what is essential in the Christian story. And what is essential is its mythic dimension. It is rooted in historical events of the Crucifixion, the burial, the Resurrection, and the historical persons, Jesus, Mary, and Pontius Pilate. But at heart, the Christian claim is mythic, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to God's self. The creed's understanding, in other words, is ontological and not historical."

The site has a whole load of other stuff on the new book too including a review and an excerpt:

David Neff, Editor's Bookshelf: Ground Rules

Excerpt: The Countercultural Creed

Greek Study Day

Today I've attended the Greek Study Day sponsored by the LTSN: Classics Centre. You can see the programme here. This was the third of these days; like the last one it was hosted by the University of Birmingham over in Staff House, who put on an excellent spread for lunch. About 25 attended, mostly from Theological Colleges and Bible Colleges in the UK though there were a handful of us from Universities. It was run by Geoffrey Williams (Spurgeons College), Steve Walton (London Bible College) and Jane McLarty (University of Cambridge) and the theme was "Helping Students Study the Greek New Testament". The day was most enjoyable -- lots of enthusiasm, lots of sharing of good ideas, lots of examples of good practice and so on. These days have a very congenial spirit -- they are all about helping one another in our task of teaching Greek. Attendance at the last one has actually affected the way I teach and assess Greek, and the same will definitely be true of this one. If you are a Greek teacher living in the UK, I strongly encourage you to come to the next one -- it will be very well worth your while. In particular, I'd like to see some more of my colleages from Theology departments in the universities who are teaching Greek.

After Philip Seddon from the Dept of Theology here in Birmingham welcomed everyone to the event, the first session was a presentation by Steve Walton and Jane McLarty on the "John for Beginners" project. This project emerged directly out of the previous Greek Study day and addresses the need for students beginning to work with Biblical texts to have some guidance on how to navigate their way through. This has been an LTSN funded research project in which materials were produced by Jane, Steve and Geoffrey Williams and then test run on "focus groups", i.e. groups of students at the relevant stages of learning. This was essentially the same report that Steve and Jane presented at the BNTC in September and it was as positively received here as there. The plans are to publish the results on the web and perhaps too in a book.

The next session was entitled "Back to first principles or defending the space? Why is learning Greek important for students of theology?" and began with Philip Seddon (Birmingham) and Paul Woodbridge (Oak Hill College, London) each giving their perspectives on why they think it is important for Theology students to learn Greek. Philip mentioned several factors including the role it plays in a department like ours where different religions are taught and where students of Islam, for example, learn Arabic; it would clearly be a disgrace if there was no Hebrew or Greek in such a setting. Paul focused more on the ministerial training side of things and mentioned, for example, that appealing to students' desire to get closer to the words of Jesus could be a factor in persuading them to take Greek, something I have some concerns about -- but that's why I'm more comfortable teaching in a university setting. There was an excellent discussion after Philip and Paul spoke, as with each session during the day.

After coffee there was a discussion about Memorisation: How Much is Really Necessary? This was led by Geoffrey Williams (who began with tales from Wallace and Gromit) and Ian MacNair. MacNair used to teach Greek at London Bible College and has written an introductory grammar that many still use, though I've not looked at it myself. Again it was a good discussion on how one aids the process of memorisation and on how much is necessary. The inductive / non-inductive debate reared its head here, not least because John Dobson was present, the author of an introductory text book that goes the inductive route. Dobson sat on the front row and was pretty vocal and kept a copy of his book close to hand throughout the day. I've no doubt that Baker publishers would be delighted to see how vigorously he champions the book in contexts like this.

One of the values of this session was the sharing of experience of different examinations, some advocating having grammars available as well as lexicons in intermediate Greek examinations and most advocating a strongly text and context based examination rather than too much out of context parsing and word testing. This began to raise the question over the usefulness of a central depository for different syllabi, examinations and so on. I think this would be a good idea for comparing notes and encouraging good practice and have offered the NT Gateway as a place for doing this should others be willing.

After lunch, it seemed that the general feeling was that it would be preferable to roll both of the planned simultaneous workshops into one. So first up was Jonathan Pennington and Ian MacNair on Teaching Beginners: Sharing Good Practice. This continued the discussion about what those present have found useful in practice. Jonathan, a PhD student teaching at St Andrews at the moment, but who comes from America, talked a bit about the Mounce grammar which he used in America but which is hardly known here at all. He talked briefly about the Jeremy Duff replacement of Wenham, which is due out next year, and which is being used in various places in the UK already as a test-run.

Unfortunately I had to leave early to pick up the kids from school so missed the last session on Intermediate Students led by Jane McLarty and John Proctor. If anyone present would like to add their comments on this or any of the rest of the day, feel free and I will publish them here.

A fine and productive day. I'd encourage anyone who is able to make it to the next one (assuming that there will be a next one) to do so.

TV tonight

Since RogueClassicism has American TV covered, I hope international readers will excuse me mentioning UK programmes. Tonight, Five has Revealed: Alexander the Great's Mysterious Death at 8 p.m.:
Documentary in which former Scotland Yard Commander John Grieve tries to shed some light on the mysterious death of Alexander the Great at the age of 32. One of the world's greatest military leaders, he was on the verge of conquering the known world in 323 BC before falling foul to a simple fever. But were there more sinister causes for his untimely death?

Guardian Review of Pompeii programme

David Meadows points out a Guardian review of Pompeii: The Last Day (see my previous blog entry on):

Nancy Banks-Smith, "Go With the Flow"

As Meadows points out, "he (sic) seems to be rather too engrossed in his (sic) own writing style" [note: she's a woman] for it to be clear whether or not she liked it. I loved it, I must say, but I'm a sucker for CGI and the rest -- it beats those el-cheapo documentaries where they jerk the camera around and blur the picture lots. There's an emerging trend in BBC1 documentaries to dispense with "experts", i.e. academic talking heads, in favour of more drama and CGI, again a mainstay of the el-cheapo documentary, no doubt because "experts" are cheap. I find that a bit disappointing -- I like the talking heads; I like to have at least a bit of analysis and not just narration; but I'm not the typical BBC audience.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003

Andreas J. Köstenberger

Another addition to the Scholars pages, this time to Scholars: I, J, K:

Andreas J. Köstenberger

Köstenberger is based at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, U.S.A. Don't be put off by the look of the web site, which at first site strikes one like an amateur bible-bashing site; scroll down to the bottom and the final sentence, "His special interests include hermeneutics . . ." Hidden in this sentence -- and I nearly missed it -- are several major additional pages to the web site, each with several full text reproductions of academic articles Köstenberger has written. And given that most of these appear in journals that will not be accessible to everyone, this is an excellent contribution to scholarship. I'll set about adding individual links to the articles on the NT Gateway as I get time to do it, but in the mean time, here are the section links:

Thanks to Holger Szesnat for bring this page to my attention.

Monday, October 20, 2003

Markus Bockmuehl

A new addition to the Scholars: B page:

Markus Bockmuehl's Teaching Resources

Described as follows: "This unofficial website serves primarily to facilitate student access to some of my current teaching materials in Cambridge, with one or two extras thrown in." Includes full publication list, including a link to his BBC Lent talk from 2002, Jesus Through Christian Eyes (which you can read or listen to). Thanks to Holger Szesnat for the link.

Brill Backlist

Brill have announced a major sale on some of their backlist -- up to 70% off. This is to celebrate 320 years since they were founded, and there are 320 books on offer, lots on Biblical Studies:

Brill Backlist Offer 2003

Favourite Jesus Film

Jim Davila points out an article from the Tennessean:

What's your favorite 'Jesus' movie?

One correspondent in the article says that his favourite is Jesus of Nazareth, adding that "I like it for its faithfulness to the text. I believe it is based upon the gospel of Mark and its dialogue is taken word for word from the text". Unfortunately, he "believes" incorrectly. Jesus of Nazareth is actually in the tradition of King of Kings, Greatest Story Ever Told et al in being a harmony of the four Gospels with lots of extra "made-up" bits, so it's far from faithful to any particular text.

Jim's favourite is Last Temptation of Christ and asks about others of us. I think Last Temptation is flawed genius -- there are parts that are wonderful, e.g. the stoning of Mary Magdalene (partly based on the woman taken in adultery, John 8) followed by Jesus' attempt to speak to the assembled group; the first scene in the Temple is fantastic too -- especially Jesus' confrontation with Caiaphas -- lots of powerful raw emotion in contrast to the Temple scenes in most of the other films. So this might be my favourite too, but too much of it is rather ponderous. I love Jesus Christ Superstar and it's the one I've seen and heard most often. I like the Miracle Maker -- found it especially powerful the first time I watched it. And it's one I can watch with the kids. I've also very much enjoyed the recent Jesus directed by Roger Young (1999) and I like bits of the Visual Bible's Matthew. My least favourite are Godspell, embarrassing to watch, Pasolini's Gospel According to St Matthew, very boring, and the 1979 Jesus film which is allegedly the most watched film of all time but also very flat. Jesus of Nazareth and King of Kings I like bits of. That's a long-winded answer. I think in order I'd say (1) Jesus Christ Superstar, (2) Miracle Maker, (3) Last Temptation of Christ and then the rest. But if I'm allowed Life of Brian, then I put that top; it's still funny. "Only the true Messiah denies his divinity" -- genius.

Miri Rubin on Mary

Miri Rubin guested on Start the Week today on Radio 4, talking about Mary (mother of Jesus) ahead of a lecture she is giving on Thursday 30 October; if you missed it you can listen here:

Start the Week

Sunday, October 19, 2003

Pompeii: The Last Day

Interesting TV programme tonight, 9 p.m., on BBC1:

Pompeii: The Last Day

That link takes you to the BBC's web site on the programme. I saw a preview today and it looked like it might be v. good; I loved the Colosseum programme last week, but then I am a sucker for CGI and the like. That was a BBC/Discovery co-production, like many documentaries now, so it will probably air in the US soon too; my guess is that this will be the same.

Explorator 6.25

Latest Explorator out today:

Explorator 6.25, October 19 2003

Luke Johnson on the Creeds

This from is on Luke Timothy Johnson's new book on the creeds:

A Catholic scholar makes a modern case for Christianity's creeds

There's a link to his web page at the bottom, but it has an error. Here's the correct link: Luke Timothy Johnson. Not a lot there -- it's one of those standard faculty sketches.

Tom Wright does Face to Faith

Bishop Tom is not only talked about but talking in yesterday's Guardian, penning this week's "Face to Faith":

That Special Relationship

It's quite clever, drawing parallels between the Anglican primates' gathering in London in the face of "unilateral actions in north America" and UN responses to America's doing the same in Iraq. But in the end it's more about "how to talk" than the talking itself, so one is left with the impression that this is somehow far too complex an issue to deal with in one newspaper column, and personally I'd like to have a bit more than that. Here's an excerpt:
Many, myself included, want to insist (in new ways) on the authority of scripture. But it is equally urgent to reinstate reason as well. Without that, we are left with empty rhetoric, whether the nasty version ("You only say that because you're a liberal/ homophobe, or whatever") or the nice version ("We have to go on listening to each other").

Karen Armstrong on Heaven and Hell

This by Karen Armstrong in yesterday's Guardian:

This is Our Heaven -- or Hell

The opening line: "The Bishop of Durham has recently suggested that a belief in heaven or hell is not a core tenet of Christianity." This is not quite what he said (see previous blog entry) and my guess is we'll see a letter from Tom Wright in The Guardian before too long (watch this space). One or two other items in the article are a bit debatable, e.g.
When Jesus described the Kingdom of Heaven, he too expected its inauguration in this world. Indeed, in St Mark's gospel, he began his mission with the news that the Kingdom of God had already arrived. People would find it within themselves.

The first part of this is very C. H. Dodd; I don't think anyone defends that kind of realised eschatology for Mark now, do they? And the second part is at best Luke rather than Mark. But hey, Karen Armstrong knows loads more than I do about other religions and the history of God, so I'll shut up.

Saturday, October 18, 2003

Dallas Exhibition

A good on-line exhibition with some high quality photographs, with thanks to Stephen Goranson for drawing it to my attention and also Gary Dykes on the TC-List:

Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book

Lots of material of interest; includes the following:

Pauline Fragment

It's from a Coptic version of the epistle to the Colossians, dating from the third century (text critic experts: what is this?).

You can also download all the photographs in a zip file -- scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Formation of the Canon page

For a long time there has been a short section on the NT Gateway on the formation of the canon. Holger Szesnat commented that it was rather tucked away (on the Early Church and Patristics page) and that he had only run across it by accident. So what I've done is to release it up from there and give it its own page: Formation of the Canon. It's a short page so there is plenty of room for expansion. I've also taken Judaica and Early Church and Patristics out from under the "Ancient World" heading on the front page so that they are listed more prominently (NT Gateway: main page).

Ancient Rome from the Earliest Times down to 476 A.D.

N. S. Gill's Ancient / Classical History draws attention to a complete on-line book on that site

Robert F. Pennell, Ancient Rome from the Earliest Times Down to 476 A.D.

It dates from 1890 and I've enjoyed browsing through it, especially at the Specimen Examination Papers from late 19th C. Harvard.

Image of P39

Harold Scanlin on the TC-List draws attention to a fine high res image of P39 in the ATLA Cooperative Digital Resources Initiative. It seems to be impossible for me to provide a link to the page directly (I've tried), so you'll have to go to the main link and search. There are 29 images of Oxyrhynchus papyri in the collection altogether. There's no straightforward way that I can find to browse the collection, but a good way of making sure you are seeing everything is to go to this page: Limit by Collection, tick the box you are interested in and return to the main search page, leave all fields blank and press submit. That then brings up everything within that particular collection.

Is The Passion more violent than Kill Bill?

Christianity Today rounds up some comments on concerns about gratuitous violence in The Passion of Christ:

Film Forum: Is The Passion More Violent than Kill Bill?

Greek NT Grammatical Search

Back to NT matters, Jim Darden has added a couple of improvements to:

Greek New Testament Grammatical Search

(See yesterday's blog entry on this). Neuter added and it is viewable in 800x600. Thanks, Jim, it's looking good.

In Our Time

A bit removed from the NT, I know, but there was an interesting In Our Time yesterday on:

The Schism - the thousand year fault line between East and West in Christianity

Follow that link to view the web page and listen on-line.

Archbishop speaks

Those outside the UK, or those within it who don't listen to Today, might have missed the Archbishop of Canterbury's first interview since taking up the post, on just after 8 this morning:

Dr Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury

Lots more information and news on the BBC web site:

Church split over gay bishop election

Thursday, October 16, 2003

Passion Renamed

Jim Davila refers to this article from NBC 17 giving a little more on the name change:

Gibson Renames Movie About Christ

The article says that the title The Passion was already claimed by another film. It also says that internationally it may still be released under the original name.

Tyndale Tech Email

I referred the other day to the latest Tyndale Tech email. David Instone Brewer has now uploaded it to the web:

Tyndale Tech, October 2003: Lexicons for Biblical Languages

P39 in the news

Peter Head on TC-List draws attention to the following article:

Art expert sued over Gospel deal

Apparently it's about P39. Peter also provides this link to the Sotheby's Catalogue:

Gospel of St John

It features a fine photograph of the fragment.

Biblical Greek Words and New Testament Greek Grammar

This link just posted on b-greek:

Biblical Greek Words and New Testament Greek Grammar

The author, Jim Darden, says that it's "just for simple look-ups". I've tried a few searches on it with mixed success rates. It looks like it could be useful. A few suggestions: I had to go to 1024 x 768 to see it properly, which should be unnecessary with such a simple design. I'm not sure either why there's no neuter under gender. Tony Fisher's search is at the moment better but that could change.

Head to head: Gay Church Debate

From BBC News, this feature puts two opposing views on the question of gay bishops "head to head", Dr Philip Giddings first and Revd. Gareth Williams second:

Head to head: gay church debate

One could blog all day on this issue, of course, but what I've tended to do is stick to features that deal with questions of Biblical interpretation.
Giddings: "What is wrong, from the Bible's standpoint, is homosexual practice. That's because the Bible clearly teaches that the only acceptable context for sexual intercourse is within marriage, and marriage is only between a man and a woman.

Therefore, sexual intercourse outside heterosexual marriage is sinful and must be repented of. Homosexual practice falls within that category."

Williams: "As regards the Bible, the problem I have is that many people who take the view that the Bible is against homosexuality are approaching a rich and complex text rather too simplistically.

Two thousand years on we know so much more about what makes us human.

Reading the Bible with a naivety that pretends to know nothing of what modern human psychology tells us about the givenness of our sexuality only perpetuates injustices towards lesbian and gay people."

The Passion of Christ

I've adjusted my links so that they are now The Passion of Christ rather than The Passion. I've also added a link to the Hollywood Jesus page on The Passion.

Conference on Rhetorical Criticism and Scriptures

The 8th International Conference on Rhetorical Criticism and Scriptures (South Africa, 2004) entitled THE RHETORICS OF BODY, POLITICS, AND SCRIPTURE has been announced by Tom Olbricht on Rhetoric-L. The announcement is too large to reproduce in the blog, so I've posted the Word document here:

The Rhetorics of Body, Politics and Scripture

Textual Criticism: Journal and E-List page

Just noticed that my Textual Criticism: Journal and E-List page was out of date so have refreshed all the links. When I adjusted the main E-Lists page, it looks like I forgot to change the relevant pages elsewhere.

Christopher Skinner on Mark 3.14

Wieland Willker on the TC-List draws attention to the following article:

Christopher W. Skinner, '“Whom He Also Named Apostles”: A Textual and Narrative-Critical Solution to Mark 3.14'

It's a well-written and thorough piece and good to see textual criticism working alongside narrative criticism.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Dale Martin's page

I've just added Dale Martin's faculty page at Yale University under Scholars: M.

Jesus in the Talmud

From, a note about an article from Index-Online on Jesus in the Talmud; Jim includes a link to Google's cache of the article by Steven Bayme that is under discussion. If this doesn't make sense, just go to Paleojudaica and follow the links from there.

The Passion of Christ

Jim West notes updates on The Passion from the Passion-Movie web site. Apparently the aim is to get the film out in the USA on 25 February 2004 and it is now to be called The Passion of Christ. As usual with all these things, there is no indication of potential release dates outside the US.

Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Richard Bauckham's SBL Paper

Richard Bauckham has made available the following paper ahead of the SBL Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia coming up in November:

Richard Bauckham, "For Whom Were the Gospels Written?" (web)

I've also made it available at the NT Gateway in PDF:

Richard Bauckham, "For Whom Were the Gospels Written?" (PDF)

For details of the session of which this will be the lead paper, see:

Society of Biblical Literature Synoptics Section

Or follow the links from the NT Gateway: Gospels and Acts: Web Sites page. One addition to the electronic programme (though it does appear in the print programme) is that Theodore J. Weeden will be responding along with Dwight Peterson. It's a session I am looking forward to very much since the book on which it is focused, Richard Bauckham (ed.), The Gospels for All Christians? Rethinking Gospel Audiences (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997) is an important one and deserves more attention than it has received so far. I'll blog any updates as they come in; Margaret Mitchell's and Mark Matson's papers will also be available for uploading to the web soon.

Jeffrey Gibson's SBL paper

Jeffrey Gibson is reading a paper to the Mark group at the forthcoming SBL Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Georgia. He has uploaded the paper to the web for people to consult and provide feedback. In order to access it, you first have to join a Yahoo! Group here:

J. B. Gibson Writings

Once you've joined, go to this PDF:

The Function of the Charge of Blasphemy in Mark 14.64

More on Brown

Some more details on the Brown / Moloney book are available on the Doubleday web site:

An Introduction to the Gospel of John

Raymond Brown on John

From Bible and Interpretation, a link to an article in something called the Desert Sun announces posthumous publication of material from Raymond Brown on the Gospel of John:

Scholar's Conclusions about the Gospel of John
Brown was revising the commentary when he died in 1998, and material he completed has been issued as a new and important book, "An Introduction to the Gospel of John" (Doubleday), edited by the Rev. Francis J. Moloney.

The short article doesn't say a lot, though it does have time for some caricatures of what "liberals" say. It's an Associated Press piece which probably means something similar will crop up in several other papers, though I haven't looked. But it's at least interesting to hear about the new book.

Monday, October 13, 2003

More on Baldwin

Stephen Carlson points me to Matthew Baldwin's current homepage (see previous blog entry on)

Homepage of Dr Matthew Charles Baldwin

which includes one other unpublished piece from last year's SBL (PDF):

Jewish and Christian Ritual in the Ps.-Clementine Recognitions

But the website overall looks a bit half-done.

Explorator 6.24

Since I wasn't around to blog over the weekend I didn't do my usual link to the latest Explorator from David Meadows. It comes out each Sunday; you can sign up to get it by email if you wish. It's always well worth looking at. This is the web version:

Explorator 6.24

Colosseum: Rome's Arena of Death

David Meadows blogs about a BBC programme on tonight entitled Colosseum: Rome's Arena of Death. Looks like good viewing to accompany my washing up. Meadows mentions an article from the Scotsman but for more detail, there's one of those nice illustrated BBC web sites here:

Colosseum: Rome's Arena of Death

Torrey Seland's Resource Pages

Over the weekend, Torrey Seland has updated his pioneering web site:

Resource Pages for Biblical Studies (October-November 2003 edition)

There's some useful looking new material there which I look forward to exploring.

New NT Gateway frontpage

Many thanks to Steve Walton, Holger Szesnat, Stephen Carlson, Helen-Ann Hartley and Jim Davila for their feedback on the experimental new front page for the NT Gateway. It seems to be popular, so I've decided to implement it. One of the advantages appears to be that it helps users to get more quickly to where they want to be on the site, i.e. everything is one click away. If you haven't had the chance to give your feedback yet, it's not too late. Let me know what you think because I'll be doing more adjusting yet.

In my redesign, I've tried to keep to W3C XHTML 1.0 Transitional but I've failed; this comes partly, I'm afraid, from working with FrontPage. I used to hand-code everything (as did Viola when she did some work on the site a couple of years ago) but have recently done most of the updating on FrontPage for speed's sake. For updates, it's OK, but for this kind of redesign it's not so good. But I'm gradually stripping out some of the rubbish I've introduced and will make sure it validates again asap.

Note that I'm keeping the old design (if I was into marketing, I'd call it the "classic design"!) for all the other pages except the Blog. I think it works well there, where one may want to continue to navigate around the site, but needs it compactly on the left. But there's a little work still to be done there, e.g. to introduce a Weblog button at the top.

Laurel and Hardy and Jesus

I was at a most enjoyable Laurel and Hardy day yesterday here in Birmingham at the MAC. I noticed on repeated films that the cinematographer was one George Stevens. Could it be the same George Stevens who over thirty years later directed The Greatest Story Ever Told? I looked it up on the IMDb and indeed it was. It seems that he did the cinematography on a run of Laurel and Hardy shorts from 1927 to 1930.

On entire PhDs as PDFs

Peter Head comments on my blog entry on Matthew Baldwin's thesis "I say: If you are going to do it a single pdf file is not the best idea! Not for viewing at home. Some sort of abstract/introduction and then chapters in pdf would be a whole lot better." I say: maybe, but when I've ordered a dissertation from UMI they come in one big PDF file just like this. You can order them printed out but that costs more. Also, if you have it in one file it is easier to search. And it's better than nothing. Peter also points out that it doesn't say on the web page whether or not it was a successful thesis; but it is headed by "Matthew Charles Baldwin, M. Div., Ph.D.", so I think it's implicit.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Matthew Baldwin, Whose Acts of Peter?

Thanks to Stephen Carlson for pointing this out to me:

Matthew C. Baldwin, Whose Acts of Peter? Text and Historical Context of the Actus Vercellenses (PhD dissertation, University of Chicago, 2002)

Full text of this successful PhD Dissertation is available in PDF. Would that more people would do this, not least because it would save me or our library from forking out to UMI to purchase theses! Seriously, it is a great way of getting your work known, especially since recent PhDs are inevitably at the beginning of their careers. I'd think there'd be no doubt at all that you can get your work much more widely read by doing this. You have to be very keen to read something before you purchase from UMI.

Further adjustments

I've made some further adjustments to the new main page:

New Testament Gateway New Main Page: Trial Run

I've tried to unclutter the top part a little more and to give it room to breathe; I've brought the search box back up and I've tidied the bottom part of the page up. The challenge is to get something that looks OK in both Explorer & Navigator and in both 800x600 and 1024x768 and I think I'm getting there. The latter is particularly important to me since I gave a paper at the SBL Computer Assisted Research Section (CARG) on the NT Gateway and saw how the old pages looked in 1024x768 -- I'd never thought to check.

Thursday, October 09, 2003

New main page for NT Gateway

I'm trying out a new look for the front page of the NT Gateway. It's uploaded already but I've not yet made it the main page. I'd be really grateful if anyone reading can have a look and let me have any thoughts. Does it get the thumbs up? Or are there problems with it? I've gone for a site-map style of page, the idea being that users will be able to click through to their desired page now much more quickly:

New Testament Gateway New Main Page: Trial Run

Many thanks for any feedback. The side menu will stay the same on all the other pages.


I'd wondered why no-one ever seemed to sign my guestbook any more and I've just realised, in my revamping of the front page of the NT Gateway, that I've had the wrong URL for goodness knows how long. It's hosted by Bravenet and I should probably have paid more attention to their email circulars. Anyway, if anyone wants to cheer it up a bit by adding an entry, here's the new URL:

Mark Goodacre's Guestbook

Letter to Mel Gibson

Alan Sereboff writes an open letter to Mel Gibson in It's quite a powerful read; he's a Jewish screenwriter; he's seen the film and he loved it:

A Letter to Mel Gibson

My feelings on the film, as a filmmaker, are clear. As a Jew, I left the movie feeling a greater sense of kinship and closeness to my Christian brothers and sisters than I ever thought imaginable. I see “The Passion” as one of the most powerful uniting tools to ever take advantage of the single medium capable of such a task, namely, film.

Unicode Greek New Testament & Septuagint

Earlier today I mentioned James Naughton's excellent Unicode Greek Inputter. Let me now mention a couple of other resources he has put together. Go to the following page:

Unicode Classical Greek

and you will find a nice unicode Greek New Testament which you can save to your own PC in one file either as an "HTML help" file or as a PDF. Also available is a Septuagint text in the HTML help format. He does say what the editions of either the LXX or the Greek NT are, though, I am afraid.

Passion Sparks internal Jewish debate

Reported in Bible and Interpretation, an interesting article from the JTA News ("Global News Service of the Jewish People"):

Gibson's movie about Jesus sparks internal Jewish debate

There's a more sophisticated perspective here than is evident in most of the news coverage on this issue.

Journals Page

I've updated the NT Gateway Journals page with the new URLs for the Journal of Biblical Literature. If the free on-line back issues remain for a period of time, I'll begin indexing the individual articles on the NT Gateway in keeping with my policy to try to index publicly available (free) peer-reviewed journal articles. But I'll hold on for a little first -- there's nothing worse than indexing everything only subsequently for it to disappear or, in this case, for it to return to SBL members-only.

Wednesday, October 08, 2003

Unicode Greek Inputter

Very useful resource for those, like me, who are just coming to terms with unicode for typing Greek:

Unicode Greek Inputter

It's devised by James Naughton from Oxford. This is how he describes it:

The Unicode Greek Inputter is a small utility for producing polytonic Greek text with an ordinary English keyboard, using a betacode-like input method. Paste your resulting text into Unicode programs such as OpenOffice, Word 97 or 2000. Save the utility as an html file for use offline.

I've tried it out and it is an excellent resource. The hint at the end is very useful -- plan ahead now for when it vanishes from the web!

Vindolanda Tablets On-line

Pete Philips on the Johannine Literature e-list mentions this fine web site:

Vindolanda Tablets On-line

Fascinating information, beautifully presented, on the Vindolanda writing tablets, written in ink on post-card sized sheets of wood, excavated at the fort of Vindolanda, immediately south of Hadrian's Wall in the north of England and dating to the late first and early second centuries AD. Not strictly a New Testament related link, I know, but indirectly of interest.

AHRB Greek Bible Project

One link from the latest Tyndale Tech (see previous blog entry) is:

AHRB Greek Bible Project

From their site:

This project, directed by Dr Tessa Rajak and Dr Sarah Pearce, with Dr James Aitken as Post-Doctoral Research Fellow and Dr Jenny Dines as Research Associate, will provide a re-evaluation of the Greek Bible as a source for Jews' interpretation of the political, social and intellectual culture of their hellenistic world (defined as continuing into the period of the early Roman Empire).

It's based at Reading University. There is some material of interest (but no link to the NT Gateway -- what?!) and a trial run for the following:

The Database of Septuagint Greek

This looks like it will be a really valuable resource in time. It's described as "A database of political legal and administrative words in the LXX and contemporary literature". I am particularly encouraged to see major projects like this having a strong web presence -- it would be excellent if the results are all disseminated via the web. At the moment the web design of the database wants a bit of work -- you have to go to 1024x768 to view it properly, a bit like the old SBL site prior to the revamp. And there is a lot of scrolling down to do in Netscape 7. And they need to switch their spellchecker on. But these are minor gripes -- I look forward to seeing this develop.

Tyndale Tech

The latest Tyndale Tech newsletter has just appeared from David Instone-Brewer. The theme for this one is Lexicons for Biblical Languages. The emailed version has gone out but it's not yet on the web (check Tyndale Tech Emails for older ones). There are some interesting links in the new one that require some exploration.

!Hero Rock Opera

My copy of !Hero finally arrived yesterday. Haven't listened to it all yet, but it's pretty enjoyable so far, but with some qualms (see below). It reminds me a lot of Jesus Christ Superstar. There is a character called Maggie who at first I'd thought was bound to be the Mary Magdalene figure but it seems that she is the Samaritan woman from John 4. Mary the mother of Jesus is fairly prominent too, and as usual there's a Peter (Petrov) and Judas (Jude). It's in the tradition of harmonising the Gospels, with the Wedding at Cana quite early on, then to Rejection at Nazareth (Brooklyn Synagogue) then the Samaritan woman; later the beatitudes (influenced from both Matthew and Luke -- "Blessed are the poor -- blessed are the poor in spirit") and Jairus' Daughter. Musically it's kind of rock / hip hop with elements of the big musical, reasonably varied in styles, sometimes a bit predictable but often quite powerful. I'm a bit concerned at this stage about the character KAI, the "chief rabbi" and clearly a baddy and a composite of Caiaphas and Pharisees & scribes from the Gospels. He is in collusion with Devlin, the police chief, who corruptly allows KAI to run his "tiny neighbourhood". Looks like it could be perceived as being as anti-Jewish as Jesus Christ Superstar. More when I've finished listening.

Theology WebSite on Irenaeus

The Theology Website's Electronic Text Index has recently added some new texts including Irenaeus's Against Heresies. Somewhat annoyingly, though, there is no indication of where this text is derived from. The page has some other texts of interest including some Nag Hammadi material, but it is not clear to me whether or not copyright clearance has been obtained on these (and judging from the annotation under the Gilgamesh epic, one might guess that it hasn't).


I'm a bit late latching on to this. I read AKMA's blog and had seen that he was enjoying being in the Boston area but hadn't realised that he was there for the BloggerCon, a conference at Harvard on October 4-5 "celebrating the art and science of weblogs". There are some interesting bits and bobs at that link, e.g. lots of essays.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003

Magic and Paganism in Early Christianity

This press release just out from Fortress [Let me add that the reason I mention Fortress books here is that they are good enough to send me their press releases; if any other publishers wish do the same, I'm happy to include their announcements here too.]

MAGIC AND PAGANISM IN EARLY CHRISTIANITY Makes Fascinating Account of the Book of Acts

MINNEAPOLIS (October 7, 2003)— Many forms of magic and paganism were practiced at the time of Jesus. What were these practices, and how did the earliest followers of Jesus react to them?

Hans-Josef Klauck, an expert in Greco-Roman religious practices, describes this world in which the early churches were founded in his new book, Magic and Paganism in Early Christianity, and he relates to it the many experiences recorded in the Book of Acts.

Klauck describes the religious world into which Christianity was born, by looking at it from the many experiences of the first Christians as recorded in Acts. For example: Peter encounters Simon the magician, the people of Lystra want to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas, and a soothsaying slave-girl is the occasion for conflict in Philippi.

We come to Athens where Paul finds the city full of idols but also discovers an altar “to an unknown god” and delivers the famous Areopagus speech, and to Ephesus, where some burn their books of magic formulae, while others provoke a riot in the name of Artemis.

Magic and Paganism in Early Christianity makes for a fascinating account of these phenomena and their significance for Christianity historically and today.

“Professor Klauck, writing briskly, but with respect for the complexity of the matters he takes up, demonstrates clearly the tension that remained between inculturation and evangelization. A stimulating book indeed.”

Abraham J. Malherbe, Yale Divinity School

“In his reading of the Book of Acts against the background of the various religious views and practices prevailing in the Roman-Hellenistic world, Professor Klauck is drawing upon his astounding expertise in the field of ancient religion and philosophy. . . . This is thought-provoking and exciting reading.”

Jürgen Roloff, University of Erlangen-Nürnberg


* A fresh treatment of the Book of Acts in light of Greco-Roman religions

* Extensive bibliography

* Multiple indexes

Author: Hans-Josef Klauck is Professor of New Testament and Early Christian Literature at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. His most recent book with Fortress Press is The Religious Context of Early Christianity (2003). He has also published commentaries and monographs on 1 Corinthians, the Johannine epistles, and New Testament theology. He is also a member of the Hermeneia editorial board.

Translator: Brian McNeil is a native of the U.K. who now lives in Germany. He also translated Klauck’s The Religious Context of Early Christianity.


Format 144pp. 5-1/2 x 8-1/2” paperback 4-color cover perfect

ISBN: 0-8006-3635-X

Price: $15.00

To order Magic and Paganism in Early Christianity please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the web site at To request review copies or exam copies please visit the website at or call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234.

Changes in the NT Gateway

In spare moments I'm working on changing the main page of the NT Gateway. Now that I'm blogging regularly, I don't need to use the main page to communicate the latest updates; and I've abandoned the Logbook too, so I have decided to make the main page more useful for browsing, to set out clearly all the different sections. I am encouraged to do this further because I think many people never find certain parts of the New Testament Gateway -- they've never realised they exist. But it's a heck of a job; I find I can't get it to look just right. I want to keep the basic look and style of the NT Gateway as far as possible but I'd like something resembling iTanakh's front page, which I think pretty useful for browsing. I hope to get there in the end.

At the same time, I've made the decision to abandon the monthly Featured Links. Frankly, this has become one of the least enjoyable parts of doing the NT Gateway and in general my philosophy of the site is that I need to be enjoying it to carry on doing it. There's something about the pressure of deciding on each month's featured links, and trying as carefully as I can to write a good review of each of the links. And I've always found that there'll be a month when I have loads of possibilities and then a month where there is nothing. Further, with blogging I'm able to flag things up properly as and when they come up and the more informal way of doing this feels un-pressurised. I'll keep the archive of Featured Links there, but from now on the formal side of that will be dropped. I've been poor at keeping them updated over the last year anyway -- it's become very patchy -- and it makes the site look like it's not regularly updated, which I don't like. So I'm afraid it's going, at least for the time being. You can come to the blog instead!

Academics and blogging

From Paleojudaica an enjoyable couple of links to Why are there so many of the leading bloggers academics? and How do you get an academic to blog? -- from The Volokh Conspiracy, which I hadn't seen before. The latter certainly applies to me. I enjoyed reading and the idea had never even formed in my head to have a go myself until a remark from Jim Davila to the effect that it would be good to see more blogs in related areas. As for why blogging is popular among academics, I'd guess that it's as much as anything to do with the very simple fact that we are used to writing a lot; it's one of our most basic ways of communicating.

Monday, October 06, 2003

Review of Biblical Literature Latest

Latest reviews from the SBL's Review of Biblical Literature announced this evening:

Hatina, Thomas R.
In Search of a Context: The Function of Scripture in Mark's Narrative
Reviewed by Kenneth D. Litwak

Merenlahti, Petri
Poetics for the Gospels?: Rethinking Narrative Criticism
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Nickle, Keith F.
The Synoptic Gospels: An Introduction
Reviewed by Ian Scott

Stirewalt, M. Luther
Paul: The Letter Writer
Reviewed by Gerald L Stevens

Why Was Shammai so Angry?

An enjoyable read in Haaretz by Ben Zion Fischler on the origin of the expression "while standing on one foot":

Why was Shammai so angry?

Chris Rowland in the Guardian

There was a fine piece from Christopher Rowland (Dean Ireland professor of exegesis of holy Scripture at the University of Oxford) in the "Face to Faith" column in Saturday's Guardian:

Paul's Letters of Tolerance

BDAG page

Rodney Decker has a fine page on the Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich, Danker Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (now since the 3rd edition BDAG rather than BAGD, Danker getting promoted in the order!). There's a nice powerpoint presentation on the history of this lexicon with pictures; there are links to reviews of the new edition and more:

Review: Bauer/Danker 3rd ed. Greek-English Lexicion (BDAG)

Update: link added to the Greek NT Gateway: lexica page

Sunday, October 05, 2003

Bishop Tom on Sunday

Today's Sunday programme had a feature on and interview with Tom Wright, specifically picking up the Times article Durham's new Bishop abolishes heaven and the soul which I mentioned the other day. Listen on-line:

The New Bishop of Durham