Sunday, November 30, 2003

Newsweek on Karen King and Mary Magdalene

There's a major feature in this week's Newsweek on Karen King, Mary Magdalene and Biblical women. You can view it all on-line here:

The Bible's Lost Stories

Features pictures and a radio special. One thing's for sure -- Karen King and Elaine Pagels have got their publicity machines working brilliantly -- their agents have certainly been busy.

Elaine Pagels radio programme

On Friday there was a radio programme in Boston devoted to Elaine Pagels's Beyond Belief and you can listen to it here:

On Point Radio: the Secret Gospel of Thomas

The whole programme (50 minutes) is Elaine Pagels in the studio being interviewed and it is an interesting listen; the first quarter of an hour or so is devoted to explaining what the the Gospel of Thomas is, its history, its relationship to the canonical Gospels etc. After the news break, the topic moves more to her personal spiritual journey and broader issues of canon and creed, and then there are phone calls from mid-way through the programme to the end. You can hear Elaine Pagels relaxing as the programme goes on -- the first fifteen minutes or so are her least coherent; by the end she is enjoying herself.

Galilee Unicode Font new version

Rod Decker has released version 0.6 of the Galilee Unicode Greek font. It covers
classical as well as koine Greek; also included are NA27-style sigla for textual criticism. Download plus details here:

Galilee Unicode Gk Font

AKMA, the Marriott Marquis and Richard Hays

In a recent blog entry, AKMA explains how much he likes the Marriott Marquis hotel, which I had described as "soulless". I think what I didn't like about it was the gaping absence of anything in the middle of the hotel -- a sort of central shaft of nothingness -- and then the storey after storey one after another stacking up identically to the very high ceiling. It reminded me a bit of the worst inner city British 1960s high-rises. But I did like the breakfast at the American Grille and the cook-to-order omelettes -- that was a real highlight. Funnily enough, like AKMA I also left my mobile phone charger in my hotel room so one would have thought that security would have been used to this.

AKMA mentions Richard Hays and links to his webpage. This was one I did not have listed, so I've now added it to Scholars: H. I was also delighted to click on I recommend and to see The Case Against Q listed!

Geza Vermes in The Guardian

Geza Vermes wrote this week's "Face to Faith" in The Guardian. It's essentially a trailer for his new book and I don't find it (the article) his most coherent writing, but here's the link:

What's sex got to do with it?

The Good Book, Programme 2

The second part of The Good Book, "Moses: The Great Law Giver", is broadcast on BBC Radio 2 tonight at 8 p.m. Listen live by going to BBC Radio 2 or listen after the broadcast here:

The Good Book

Explorator 6.30 and 6.31

Latest Explorator:

Explorator 6.31

I was away last week so did not post a link to Explorator 6.30 but you can find it on the same page.

Friday, November 28, 2003

Tyndale Tech and Red Light Green

The latest Tyndale Tech email from David Instone Brewer arrived last week. As usual it is full of interesting tips and links (though also as usual it is a NT Gateway free zone; I hope David is not boycotting me!). The theme this month is Full-text books and articles on the web. There are several links of interest. The first is something called Red Light Green. Here's the link:

Red Light Green

I've added to the NT Gateway: Bibliography (Search Engine) page with this description:

Project emerging from the Research Libraries Group "designed for undergraduates using the Web and the libraries that support them". delivers information from RLG members about more than 130 million books for education and research; and it links students back to their campus libraries for the books they select.

While updating that page, I noticed that the BSW Multi-Library Search is still not working so I've relegated it to the bottom of the page and added a note to that effect. I think it's not been working for some time now and so I'll drop the link soon if there's no change.

More on the ETS Membership Challenge

Further to my earlier posting on the Open Theism vote at the Evangelical Theological Society last week, David Mackinder has sent me this link to a page "devoted to all aspects of these proceedings":

ETS Membership Challenge

The Good Book

A new BBC radio series began while I was away on Sunday. It is called The Good Book and I have been lucky to be involved with this from the start as script consultant, contributor and also author of the accompanying booklets on Jesus and Paul. The series is broadcast every Sunday on BBC Radio 2, 8 p.m. in six episodes. It is beautifully narrated by Sir Derek Jacobi and features contributions from academics and spiritual leaders. The series has a colourful web site here:

The Good Book

You can listen to the first episode on-line by going to this first page and clicking on the audio link:

Episode 1: Abraham

Gays and Marriage in Atlanta

One more story from the AAR/SBL in Atlanta has made it to the media. This is by Brian Basinger from Online Athens and features comments from Bernadette Brooten, Antoinette Wire and Richard Horsley:

Religion, Bible scholars gather for Atlanta meeting
Gays and Marriage

James Ossuary in Atlanta

Last year's big topic at the SBL was the James ossuary which was on display in Toronto. It was less of a hot topic in Atlanta, but it was still getting talked about. Jim Davila has made some useful blog entries on this and I won't duplicate here. Go to:

More on the James Ossuary


Edward M. Cook weighs in . . .

Changed look

I've messed around a bit with the template to this blog. I was irritated by the fact that the main left margin in the body of the blog was frequently jagged; I couldn't work out why so I stripped it down and started again and have made the look a bit more lean.

Thursday, November 27, 2003

Other news from Atlanta: Open theism vote

I had meant to blog on this when I arrived in Atlanta last Friday but didn't get time. One of the big stories in Atlanta came from the Evangelical Theological Society who meet each year just before the SBL meeting. This year they had a big vote on whether or not to exclude two members, Clark Pinnock and John Sanders, because of their views on "open theism". In the end the society voted not to throw them out. There are several versions of the story on the web. For a shorter version go to this one on Crosswalk:

Russell Shubin, "A Referendum on Open Theism?".

For all the detail, go to this one on Christianity Today:

David Neff, Dispatch from Atlanta: What Fireworks?
Anxieties and attack turn to grace and truth as the Evangelical Theological Society votes on Open Theism proponents' membership.

Other SBL Blogs

Don't forget to go to Hypotyposeis, Paleojudaica and AKMA's Random Thoughts for more and varied reflections on the SBL. I saw all three fellow bloggers at the SBL, though AKMA only briefly as we both dashed in opposite directions. Jim Davila kindly performed a BUWAHAHAHAHAHAHA! for me when we met on the Saturday morning; now that audio blogging is available, perhaps he could perform this for the masses? Stephen Carlson I saw frequently at the SBL and got to hear hot off the press some very interesting new discoveries and possible discoveries he's made; really looking forward to seeing them published. In years to come no doubt there will be myriads of other bloggers at the SBL and people will laugh as they look back to 2003 and say, "Good grief; were there really so few blogs in the olden days?" and we will be proud to have been there early on. AKMA will be prouder still -- he was even blogging at the SBL in November 2002.

SBL Monday and Tuesday

So to Monday morning. Bear in mind that the sessions I attended are a tiny fraction of what was on; at any given time there are multiple sessions one would enjoy attending. And sometimes duty takes one away from a session one would parituclarly like to get to. But one that I was keen to get to was the Historical Jesus section on the topic of "Women and the Historical Jesus". The speakers were John Dominic Crossan, Kathleen Corley and Jane Schaberg. Each spoke for half an hour or so; they then debated among themselves a little, all pretty friendly first name terms stuff, and then the discussion was opened up to the audience. It was one of the least stimulating sessions I attended at the conference, mainly because of the room, the audience and the fact that they only had one microphone. As usual for the really big historical Jesus sessions, they'd used a ballroom and it was absolutely packed. It was dark and dingy and they only had one microphone between them. Even with the microphone, it was quite difficult to hear Jane Schaberg. And when they debated among themselves, there were constantly passing the microphone around from one to another. It's funny how those things stick in one's mind more than the subtance of the papers, but it was so difficult to listen to and I'm afraid I slept through more of this even than the Q section, and that's saying something.

Also on Monday I attended the Mark Group again. Papers were by Tom Shepherd, Michael Vines and Kelli O'Brien and all on the theme of literary aspects of the trial of Jesus in Mark. I find the Mark Group one of the more enjoyable sections because it doesn't stack the programme too fully and allows enough time for presenters to summarise their papers and plenty of time for discussion.

General comment about the organisation of the conference: although it was good to have everything close together, I did find it a bit harder to navigate my way around this time. Perhaps I was being dopey but I found myself asking for directions more than usual. It also seemed to me that the organisers had not got the room allocation right. Many sessions I went to were overcrowded, and especially the first Synoptics session. Presumably it is difficult to predict but it seemed that they got the rooms badly wrong sometimes; perhaps there was not quite enough space there for the conference.

I was really lucky on the Monday evening to be able to get away from the hotel and to stay with friends in Atlanta; a real highlight. Back again on Tuesday morning the fag-end of the conference did seem a bit of an anti-climax. Lots of people are in the process of leaving on Tuesday morning, and even those that are not are focused on leaving. So it's rough to have to present a paper right at the end of the conference. I enjoyed a last chance to get a breakfast in the Marriott Marquis. It was easily the best place for breakfast among those I tried (the Hyatt was especially poor); and the chef cooked omelettes to order in front of you -- great stuff. I sampled a bit of the textual criticism section before leaving and there were some interesting bits and bobs though I slept through most of what I did attend and spent the rest of the time chatting to an old friend outside the session.

As usual, the best memories of the conference are the personal contacts, the breakfasts, the steak and ale, good laughs, spending time with old friends, meeting new people. Had several useful discussions relating to future publishing projects too, so I'm feeling pretty fulfilled at the end of it, but still delighted to get home again.

SBL Sunday

I am not going to be able to remember the rest in order. Saturday sticks in my mind in a big way because of my own involvement. On Sunday I started enjoying myself properly. One of the sections I attended across Sunday and Monday was the Mark Group and the theme this year was Jesus' trial in Mark, the first day specifically focusing on the blasphemy charge and including papers from Adela Yarbro Collins and Jeffrey Gibson. The second of the Synoptics sections was the open session, with four papers, Stephen Moore, Albert Harrill, Alex Damm and Simon Gathercole. Gathercole's paper was excellent -- a defence of a Danielic application of the Son of Man language throughout Mark's Gospel, from the Son of Man has authority statements in Mark 2 through to the vindication of the Son of Man statements in Chapters 13 and 14, from revelation to suffering to vindication. It was a model of how to give an engaging paper -- clear but with a kind of relaxed good humour that engages the audience. I missed Bert Harrill because I wanted to hear Catherine Smith (one of our post-grads in Birmingham) speaking in the Biblical Language and Linguistics section -- a proud moment when one's own students present papers at an international conference. But dashed back to the Synoptics as soon as that was finished and just back in time for Alex Damm on the application of rhetoric to the Synoptic Problem. Damm is a graduate student of John Kloppenborg in Toronto. I was happy to hear him focus on the Mark-Without-Q hypothesis along with the Two Document Hypothesis in his paper, which was essentially an attempt to show that Luke's use of Q is more plausible than Luke's use of Matthew in the Beelzebub Controversy. He looked at rhetorically effective elements that are distinctive to Matthew which one would have expected Luke to have taken over had he known Matthew. I was not convinced by the argument myself and asked a question to the effect that Luke's use of Matthew and Luke's use of Q are not hypotheses competing on a par. We do not have Q, so that thesis functions at an automatic advantage in this kind of discussion. In particular, Luke's order here becomes Q's order, so it is fruitless to compare Luke's order of Q with Matthew's in this kind of context. But I am happy once again to hear the Farrer Theory being taken seriously; this has marked the work of several post graduate students from Toronto including Robert Derrenbacker and Zeba Crook.

Speaking of Derrenbacker, I attended the Q section on the Sunday too and Derrenbacker gave the best and most engaging of the papers there, admitting that Matthew's re-ordering of the Q material could be constituted as a problem for the Two-Source Theory, because it is so different from Q's order, but suggesting that Matthew was able to gain random access to Q by accessing it in notebook or codex format. The theme for the session was Matthew and Q and consisted of five papers, Marco Frenschkowski, Joseph Verheyden, Robert Derrenbacker, Clare Komoroske Rothschild and Linden Youngquist. I am afraid that my tiredness was really kicking in by this stage so I slept through at least some of all of these. (I sleep through at least some of pretty much all academic papers; it has nothing whatsoever to do with the quality of the papers; it's just a question of tiredness. Recommendation: if you want me to hear all of your paper, ask me to chair it and I might just manage to stay awake.). After the five speakers, Ulrich Luz gave thirty minute response to them all. It was his first SBL and was clearly enjoying the occasion. The chairing of the section was even worse than my chairing of the Synoptics section, though, since Luz finished after the scheduled finish and there was not time for the allotted discussion. I suspect that they were trying to cram too much in to the session to attempt to cover five papers and a major response and still have time for discussion.

Wednesday, November 26, 2003

Return from Atlanta

I have now returned from Atlanta where I was attending the SBL Annual Meeting. I had thought that I would be able to blog throughout the conference and made a first entry or two on Friday afternoon and early on Saturday morning. But that was that. I was simply too busy the rest of the time to find a moment to blog. But now that I am home (or at least sitting at an airport waiting for a bus), some scattered reflections.

Saturday was the worst day for me personally -- still tired from losing a night's sleep to travel and also the day on which I had first to give a paper at the CARG and then to preside at the Synoptics section. But first things first. I tend to mark the beginning of the meeting by the annual gathering of "e-listers", always at 11 on the Saturday at the Gramcord booth, and always organised by Jeffrey Gibson. I did a circuit about five times round the book display looking for the Gramcord booth and wondered if I was being uncommonly inobservant. I eventually found out that there was another whole room of book display and I headed down to that; it's the first time since I've been going to SBL that I've known them to use two different rooms. The e-listers meeting was good, some old friends and some new ones, and Gail Dawson took a photograph of the group.

The first session I went to was the CARG, the computer assisted research section. There were five presentations and mine was the fourth. I talked about the All-in-One Biblical Resources Search, talking a little about the history of the site, what I saw as its advantages and disadvantages and began to look to the future, specifically the creation of a fresh page on the Greek New Testament / Biblical Languages.

Straight afterwards I had my first experience of presiding at a session, the first Synoptics section (of two). The theme was Richard Bauckham (ed.), The Gospels for all Christians: Rethinking Gospel Audiences (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998). Sadly Richard Bauckham himself was not able to be present because of ill health. Dwight Peterson, one of the respondents, was also unable to be present through ill health. Late in the day, Richard Burridge had agreed to stand in for Richard Bauckham and Loveday Alexander for Dwight. The other panelists were Margaret Mitchell, Mark Matson and Theodore J. Weeden. I was delighted to be able to introduce Ted Weeden, known to many through his famous Mark: Traditions in Conflict, but his first SBL for something like thirty years. The session was absolutely packed -- people standing at the back, at the doors and squatting on the floor. Apparently Eerdmans brought the book back into print because of the session, and then they sold out from their book display. The session was very lively; I thought Margaret Mitchell's presentation and contributions (in particular) pretty powerful, though she exceeded her time limit even more than all the others did. [Strong mental note to self: next time be much stricter on speakers' going over allotted time]. Plenty of time for lively discussion. Lots of people commented on how enjoyable they had found the session. I haven't commented on the substance much; you can read Mitchell's and Matson's papers on-line still, along with Bauckham's summary paper. [located here.] Richard Burridge is also going to send me his notes from the session to upload. A friend told me over breakfast the next morning that he thought the pro-Bauckham team had won a narrow victory, perhaps 3-2, but that Mitchell had achieved some big hits (to mix sporting metaphors).

One other event on Saturday was the Continuum reception, this year an official launch party for T & T Clark International, which is to be Continuum's Biblical Studies imprint, incorporating Trinity Press International, Sheffield Academic Press and T & T Clark.

The meeting all nice and close together -- no long treks across the city to different meeting places. And everyone seemed to be in one of the main meeting hotels which were also all central. The one I was in, the Marriott Marquis, was the main convention hotel. Enormous, rather soulless place -- tall with glass elevators going up and down the middle; it had enough room for 2000 guests apparently. Some good food places around. I had my first experience of a Japanese steakhouse, where they cook the food in front of you on the hot plate in the middle of the table, juggling the utensils and so on. There was a very good local Atlanta beer too called something like Sweet Water or Fresh Water. The weather was quite nice -- great to get off the plane on Friday to blazing sunshine. It rained on Monday, but otherwise pretty nice throughout. More later.

Sunday, November 23, 2003

SBL Carg session

I went to two sessions at yesterday's SBL, the first the Computer Assisted Research Section. It was a good session, much better attended than last year, probably largely because of the location of the section at the central convention hotel, the Marriott Marquis. The five presentations focused on web-based applications, collaborative research and pedagogy. Susan Graham talked about the Theoweb project at the University of Exeter, Tim Bulkely talked about his Collaborative Hyptertext Commentary project -- he is the author of the on-line Amos commentary. Steve Delamarter discussed his research project funded by the Wabash centre, "A typology of technology use among theological educutors". [unfinished blog entry]

Saturday, November 22, 2003


Jim Davila reflects (who is blogging through his television set in an Atlanta hotel, itself a kind of feat of science-fiction) on the CARG abbreviation:
Science fiction readers will recall that in Keith Laumer's classic novel Dinosaur Beach the "Kargs" were evil Terminator-like robots from the future who came back in time to carry out dastardly deeds to change the course of history.

I'm sure the similarity in name is just a coincidence. Of course, I have presented a CARG paper myself iin recent years, so I would say that, wouldn't I?

Jeff Peterson had to explain the last phrase to me. Apparently it is used in blogeny as a kind of evil laugh -- practise saying it yourself with a kind of Dr Evil voice on.

All-in-One Biblical Resources Search

Ahead of a short presentation I am giving this afternoon in the CARG (Computer Assisted Research Section) here at the SBL Annual Meeting in Atlanta, I've uploaded a new trial version of my All-in-One Biblical Resources Search. There is more still to be done to it but so far I have done some work neatening up the look of the site, updating some of the searches and beginning (only beginning, I am afraid) a new page on the Greek New Testament. This is not formally released yet, but any feedback on it would be gratefully received, though please bear in mind that this is very much work in progress:

All-in-One Biblical Resources Search Version 3

Friday, November 21, 2003

Old article on Robert Gundry

This link is courtesy of Bible and Interpretation: Christianity Today have reproduced an article from back in 1984:

CT Classic: Evangelical Scholars Remove Robert Gundry for His Views on Matthew

It is about the removal of Robert Gundry from the Evangelical Theology Society for the views expressed in his commentary on Matthew's Gospel, in which he suggested that the evangelist himself creatively embellished gospel materials. Apparently the Evangelical Theology Society subscribed to the inerrancy of scripture and this was felt to be incompatible with that doctrine.

Simon Inscription

The big story emerging over the last few days is the inscription found on an ancient burial monument in Jerusalem mentioning Simon's name and a part of Luke 2.25. It has been publicised by Joe Zias here in Atlanta at the American Schools of Oriental Research in a talk yesterday. There are lots of news stories around about this. This link courtesy of Stephen Goranson from a Georgia newspaper called

Archaeologist discovers parts of New Testament verse on funeral monument

Arrival in Atlanta

I've arrived safely in Atlanta and hope to be able to blog my way through the conference once I'm settled. So more later. I've adjusted the time indication too for Atlanta (i.e. what you see below on each blog entry).

Thursday, November 20, 2003

See you in Atlanta

I depart soon for Atlanta, Georgia for the SBL Annual Meeting. I look forward to seeing some of you there. I also hope to be able to provide a few of my own reflections on the meeting as it goes on.

All-in-One Biblical Resources Search at SBL

On Saturday I am giving a short talk in the Computer Assisted Research Section (which by quirk of history is abbreviated CARG) on my All-in-One Biblical Resources Search. I am currently working on the latest version of the resource, deleting defunct searches, neatening up the code, adding fresh materials. I will preview elements of the new version in due course, but while I am updating I would be very grateful for any feedback on people's experience of the resource, especially things that I could improve. My guess is that there is a law of diminishing returns as one progresses through the site -- many use the Bible Versions and Translations page, some use the Biblical Resources page, few use the other pages. In fact I discovered to my horror this morning that there is very little on the General Academic and Religion Page that still works because of moving sites. The fact that I've not received a single email saying "What's gone wrong here?" suggests that that page, for example, is very seldom used. Anyway, if anyone does have suggestions for improvement, or feedback about what is most useful on the site, I would be happy to hear from them.

Whereabouts of Religion-Online

I haven't now been able to connect to Religion-online for some time; I know that one of my correspondents has had the same problem. It seems that the site is down. Does anyone know if or when it will return? It is a massive resource of useful material -- this is one we really don't want to lose!

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Robert Derrenbacker's homepage

Thanks to Bob Derrenbacker for notifying me of his new homepage at Regent College, Vancouver, now adjusted on the Scholars: D page.

Last SBL Papers

Two more papers relating to the NT on the SBL Program Units Page, and then I think that's pretty much the lot (i.e. no more on the web). These two are for the Wisdom and Apocalypticism in Early Judaism and Early Christianity section but are free standing on the site, i.e. located on the SBL site itself and not on a program unit page. Both PDF:

Adela Yarbro Collins - Composition and Performance in Mark 13

Rollin Ramsaran - From Mind to Message: Oral Performance in 1 Corinthians 15

Josephus Seminar at SBL

One more from the SBL Program Units Page:

Josephus Seminar 2003

Features the following full text papers, all PDF format:

John M G Barclay, "Josephus and his Audiences: Exploring Reading Options in a Commentary"

Jonathan J Price, "Josephus' reading of Thucidydes: A test-case in the BJ" [Response, Honora H. Chapman]

Miriam Ben-zeev, "Josephus' Ambiguities: His Comments on Cited Documents"

Claude Eilers, "Josephus' Caesarian Acta: History of a Dossier"

Tessa Rajak, "Who needs charters? Josephus in the light of Greek historiographical practice"

Amy-Jill Levine on The Passion

There's a report here on Amy-Jill Levine's reservations about The Passion of the Christ based on a speech given on Sunday. The report is by William Kelly of Palm Beach Daily News:

Scholar airs reservations about early 'Passion' script

Amy-Jill Levine was one of those scholars who saw the early script of the film; usually they are described as an "ad hoc" group, but not here. This report perpetuates the claim that the script was "stolen", something Paula Fredriksen and others on the committee have denied.

Tiny URL

A useful tip picked up via an entry on AKMA's blog -- the tiny URL site allows you to create a "tiny URL" instantly from any very long one -- great to stop URLs wrapping in email messages etc.:


I'd seen these tiny URLs on David Meadows's Explorator and never realised what they were. AKMA also suggests trying your initials on the end of a tiny URL to find out what comes up, for a bit of fun. (Mine's useless -- /msg gets a dead URL).

Monday, November 17, 2003

How to strike out text in html

I asked if anyone knew how to strike out text in html; David Mackinder kindly supplies the information: "the code is simple (but counterintuitive): it's 'del' within
angle brackets partnered with forward-slash 'del' within angle brackets -- it used to be 'strike', but that is now deprecated." So let me see if that works: "Three Versions of Jesus". Yep, looks like it; thanks David.

Karen King radio programme

There is a radio programme featuring Karen King on The Connection which is based in Boston:

Mary Magdalene Reconsidered

That takes you to the web page; click on "Listen to show" towards the bottom. It features both Karen King and Lesa Bellevie, the webmaster of a site on Mary Magdalene. It is 50 minutes long so a bit more depth than is usual in such programmes; there's a phone-in too. I've not listened to it all, but so far it is quite interesting.

SBL Semiotics and Exegesis section

I recently mentioned the SBL Program Units Page. Here's another section that has some papers available on the web for reading ahead of the meeting:

Semiotics and Exegesis Section

(Unfortunately, it has one of those annoying hidden frames that keeps the original URL in the address bar). The papers available include:

Liliana M. Nutu, "A Veil of One’s Own? Identity and The Pillow Book"

George Aichele, "The Poetic Function and the Gospel in/of Mark: a Post-Canonical Reading"

Richard Walsh, "Three Versions of Jesus" [Jesus has a line through it. Anyone know how to do that in html?]

Jerusalem Shroud

Jim Davila draws attention to this article on the Jerusalem shroud:

Discovery of Jesus-era shroud to be aired at UNC-Charlotte

And he adds that Shimon Gibson will be presenting a lecture on this at the SBL Annual Meeting too; I can't see that on the SBL Site, but I may be looking in the wrong places. The article above mentions that "He will discuss the findings again Wednesday at the American Schools of Oriental Research conference in Atlanta." I've had a look at the ASOR web site and it seems that Gibson is presenting on the Friday -- abstract available here.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

Karen King on Mary

Another article on Karen King on Mary Magdalene, with a photo:

Book probes Magdalene’s legacy
Author cites ‘Gospel of Mary’ in portrayal of 1st female apostle

Getting Streeter right

Stephen Carlson helpfully puts me right on Streeter on the Minor Agreements (see Goulder on the Minor Agreements); the view that τίς ἐστιν ὁ παίσας σε; were original to Mark 14.65 was apparently not Streeter's view, at least not in The Four Gospels. He followed Turner and anticipated Neirynck in arguing that the words were interpolated into Matthew from Luke. Since Stephen is quoting the 1926 edition, I'll double check my Streeter when I'm next in the office just in case (I mainly blog from home). But Streeter did originally hold a different view; I recall also that Tuckett changed his mind on this one, I think as a result of Neirynck's article on the topic, but this is another one that I need to look up.

Explorator 6.29

Latest Explorator has been posted by David Meadows:

Explorator 6.29

Saturday, November 15, 2003

Gospel of John review

Reviews of the Gospel of John are beginning to come in now, this one from the Washington Post:

'The Gospel of John': A Good-Faith Effort

It is particularly critical of the use of the Good News Bible for the translation, "a decidedly unpoetic and unevocative text". There's an error in the article -- "it makes sense that the company [Visual Bible International] would start with John" -- but it's their third departure, already having covered Matthew and Acts.

This review in the Orange County Weekly is more enthusiastic (and it makes the same mistake about this being the first project of Visual Bible International):

The Very Good Word: The Gospel of John converts without moralizing

Laupot follow-up

Eric Laupot has asked me to note that the follow-up to his article “Tacitus' Fragment 2: The Anti-Roman Movement of the Christiani and the Nazoreans”, Vigiliae Christianae 54 (2000), pp. 233-47, appears in Revue des etudes juives 162, nos. 1-2 (2003), 69-96.

More on Mary Magdalene

Also courtesy of Bible and Interpretation, a link to the Christian Science Monitor -- more on Karen King's new book:

Who was Mary Magdalene? The buzz goes mainstream

Marcus Borg Interview

There's an interview with Marcus Borg on Beliefnet concerning a new book he has out called The Heart of Christianity:

Why be Christian?
Revisionist Jesus scholar Marcus Borg explains why "Christianity makes persuasive and compelling sense."

Link courtesy of Bible and Interpretation.

Psychology and Biblical Studies

Further to the previous blog entry, the prize for the most funky program unit page has to go to this one:

Psychology and Biblical Studies

It is called "Psybibs" for short and has a guide to the sessions, draft papers, resources, bibliography, an email list. The site itself is anonymous.

SBL Program Unit Pages

One element that is easy to miss on the SBL Site is the following link:

Program Unit Pages

This is still very much an evolving part of the site and only a small number of program units have their own web sites. Those that do vary enormously from those that simply sketch out the programme for a given year to those that have full abstracts and even full papers available. But if you are travelling to the SBL this coming week, it is well worth having a look at these pages in case there is material here for sessions you are planning to attend. Print a few off to read on the plane journey over, especially if you're travelling from abroad.

Goulder on Minor Agreements

Stephen Carlson has an excellent discussion of Goulder's recent article in NovT in his Hypotyposeis blog. I have a couple of minor comments on Stephen's. He says that Goulder has launched primarily two angles of attack on the Q hypothesis, one argument relating to the Minor Agreements and the other to the alleged Matthaean language of Q. I would broadly agree with that -- these are the two areas I focused on in the first section of my Goulder and the Gospels which dealt with the Synoptic Problem. But I think one should probably add a third angle of attack, what one might call the redaction-critical argument. This is Goulder's attempt to show that Q is unnecessary given that one can make good sense of Matthew (Midrash and Lection in Matthew [London: SPCK, 1974]) and Luke (Luke: A New Paradigm [JSNTSup, 20; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1989]) without employing Q.

Two further things. First, I think Streeter argued on the Minor Agreement at Mark 14.65 -- and I've not checked this -- slightly differently from Neirynck and Tuckett. I think his case was that the words τίς ἐστιν ὁ παίσας σε; were original to Mark and that that is where Matthew and Luke got them from. Second, one of the strengths of Goulder's current article is that it explains why Matthew omits the blindfold -- it is because he has those mocking Jesus spitting into his face and if he were wearing a blindfold, they would be spitting into the cloth.

Peter Gabriel does music for Passion

One other thing new to the Passion FAQ is that Peter Gabriel has done the music for The Passion of the Christ. There are some samples available. There is a major link here with The Last Temptation of Christ which also had a soundtrack by Peter Gabriel.

And that's quite enough about this film for now.

More on lightning

After my musings on the lightning story (see previous blog entry), I've taken a look to see if any sources are named. This story names Steve McEveety (producer) as the source:

Controversial Film Struck by Lightning (Nov. 2)

So does this one, but with a fuller story, claiming that it hit Caviezel and Jan Michelini (Assistant director) and that it was the second time Michelini had been hit:

Jesus Actor Struck by Lightning (Oct. 23)

So that would make sense of the Gibson quotation about "another guy", if Michelini was the guy in question, and originally he alone was hit. This next source confirms that version and adds a little more detail:

Lightning Strikes Actor Playing Jesus

and it includes this account of the first strike:
Michelini was previously struck when a lightning fork zapped his umbrella during filming on top of a hill near Matera in Italy. He only suffered minor injuries consisting of mild burns to the tips of his fingers.
But now this next version is a conglomeration of all the above versions:

Jesus actor hit by lightning
Both Caviezel and his assistant director Michelini were struck. The main bolt hit Caviezel and one of its forks hit Michelini's umbrella.

Neither of the men sustained injuries in the incident.

Michelini has been nicknamed Lightning Boy after being struck twice by lightning during the filming in Italy. He had already suffered light burns on the tips of his fingers in an earlier incident during filming on a hilltop in the town of Matera.
The story is developed further still in this version, which has Michelini holding his umbrella on both occasions:

Lightning Strikes Set of Gibson's 'Passion'
The crew on the film nicknamed the unfortunate fellow "Lightning Boy" after he was struck twice by lightning.

The first time, lightning struck Michelini's umbrella during filming in Matera Italy, according to the AP. Although his fingertips were slightly burned, he once more entered the fray.

A few months later, the poor dupe held the umbrella over himself and actor Jim Caviezel, who plays Jesus Christ in the film. Sure enough, this time both shared human lightning rod honors, although they weren't seriously hurt.
I think I retract my earlier comments that this is a case where a story with an anonymous figure has subsequently acquired a name, but what it does show is just how little care the journalists in these stories are taking to try to represent their sources accurately; the personnel and the details vary quite substantially and yet as far as I can tell it all emerges from just one original associated press story quoting Steve McEveety.

Passion latest -- changes name again and whom did lightning strike?

A circular email has just gone round from The Passion fan website and there are some new FAQs there. It seems that the film has changed its name again -- it is now The Passion of the Christ. I'd say a slightly preferable title, if anything, given that it encourages people to ask what "the Christ" means in a way that "Christ" on its own does not (cf. Jesus Christ Superstar, Herod's song, "Someone Christ, King of the Jews"!).

One FAQ of interest is "Was Jim Caviezel really struck by lightning?". This story emerged recently in the media -- there were several news reports stating that Jim Caviezel had been struck by lightning during the filming. Some reported the event as if it had happened recently rather than during the filming, which was finished some time ago. Now this is an odd business, because I reckon that Jim Caviezel's name has only got attached to this story recently. Earlier on there was a story circulating about a person (anon.) getting struck by lightning -- but s/he was not named as Caviezel. Indeed the FAQ in question, which answers the above question with a "Yes!", also features the earlier version of the story, in an interview excerpt from Mel Gibson:
"There have been a lot of unusual things happening, good things like people being healed of diseases, a couple of people have had sight and hearing restored, another guy was struck by lightning while we were filming the crucifixion scene and he just got up and walked away."
Clearly the character is not Caviezel -- Gibson would not have described him as "another guy" and during the filming of the crucifixion, Caviezel would presumably have been on the cross and not able to get up and walk away. I wonder here whether we have something that often occurs in oral tradition, and is as prevalent in internet lore, the subsequent naming of an originally anonymous character? I can think of at least two ways that my theory could be refuted: (1) someone ask Jim Caviezel if he was struck by lightning when the filming took place; (2) someone find an early version of the story that names Caviezel rather than an anonymous "guy".

Friday, November 14, 2003

Gospel of John "factual"

I received an update from the Gospel of John film marketing people today featuring this comment, "Biblical scholars and theologians agree, THE GOSPEL OF JOHN is a factual portrayal of the earthly life and ministry of Jesus." Wow -- there's a claim for you! Anyway, if you're in the U.S. you can now order the DVD or video from the Gospel of John web site. The site also now has a clip of Peter Richardson talking about the film, with a little clip of Jesus with Martha from John 11:

Peter Richardson clip


David Mackinder points out, in relation to my blog entry on OUP Reading Room, that OUP's American site also has lots of sample chapters available. Unfornately it is not so straightforward to access them because they have abandoned the reading room approach. Here's a list of their sample chapters, but from their entire range of books:

OUP USA Sample Chapters

And here is a link to their Religion and Theology pages:

OUP USA: Religion and Theology

Thursday, November 13, 2003

SBL Synoptics Session

I've just uploaded the third of the papers for this year's SBL Synoptics Section (first one) on Saturday p.m.:

Mark Matson, "Interactive Rhetoric in Matthew: An Exploration of Audience Knowledge Competency"

Or access it via the NTGateway: Gospels and Acts pages.

There have been too changes to the programme for that session too. Sadly, both Richard Bauckham and Dwight Peterson have had to withdraw because of ill health and their places are taken by Richard Burridge and Loveday Alexander respectively.

Henry Ian Cusick article

There's an article on Henry Ian Cusick, who plays Jesus in the Gospel of John in today's Telegraph. It's a cracking read:

At last, a Jesus for all faiths

A couple of excerpts:
Not since Alec McCowen's live recitation of Mark's gospel has a performer had to acquire such word-perfect mastery of scripture. "It kept me in my trailer while the disciples were out having fun," he says. "When I emerged, they would go, 'Hey, JC, how are you doing today?' I would have loved to hang out with them more, but there just wasn't time."

. . .

The extras were Spanish gypsies. "They would bow slightly when I walked past, as if I really was Christ," recalls Cusick. "And on the day of the crucifixion, when I came out of the trailer wearing a crown of thorns, the whole set went quiet. It was eerie. The gypsies were saying, `Ay mi Jesús', beating their breasts, and then they broke into song."

. . .

For Christian audiences, the most unsettling aspect of the film is likely to prove the character of Jesus. Catholics and Protestants alike are accustomed to an identikit Christ whose features have been pasted together from the accounts of all four evangelists. By excluding all the synoptic material, The Gospel of John highlights the fact that the Jesus of the fourth gospel is a different person from the Jesus of Matthew, Mark and Luke.

Cusick brilliantly conveys the strange charisma of the Johannine Christ. This smiling rabble-rouser is self-confident and talkative; he knows he is "the way, the truth and the light". But these claims raise a thorny question. If Jesus said those things, how come the authors of the synoptic gospels failed to report them? The scholarly consensus is that the passionate soliloquies of John were put into Christ's mouth by the early Church. It doesn't make them any less powerful.
Wow -- a newspaper article that uses the word "synoptic". How refreshing!

Cambridge book samples

After having mentioned both Hendrickson's and Oxford's sample chapters on-line, today it's the turn of Cambridge University Press. A good number of their books now appear with a a sample chapter on-line. Have a look at:

Cambridge University Press: Biblical Studies

One or two examples:

Delbert Burkett, An Introduction to the New Testament and the Origins of Christianity

Francis Watson, Agape, Eros, Gender: Towards a Pauline Sexual Ethic

Maurice Casey, An Aramaic Approach to Q

Richard Beaton, Isaiah's Christ in Matthew's Gospel

Steve Walton, Leadership and Lifestyle: The Portrait of Paul in the Miletus Speech and 1 Thessalonians

Some of these also have the entire text available via the "ebrary" resource. I once made that a Featured Link, but it seems that it is no longer possible to view these whole texts for free, so the value of this resource is significantly diminished.

New URL for Studia Philonica

Thanks to Torrey Seland for this updated URL:

Philo of Alexandria: The Studia Philonica Annual Studies in Hellenistic Judaism

I've also added this to my Journals page.

Correct URL for OUP Reading Room

I accidentally pasted in the wrong URL for this yesterday. Thanks to David Mackinder for pointing it out. I've adjusted it in that entry and here it is too:

OUP Reading Room: Biblical Studies

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Foster's NovT article

In an article just published in Novum Testamentum, Paul Foster discusses the existence of Q with special reference to my work. (Paul Foster, "Is it possible to dispense with Q?", NovT 45 (2003), pp. 313-37). One element in his critique contains the serious charge that I have been "rather disingenous" and I would like to sketch an answer here. The context is "The Genre of Q" (pp. 332-4). Foster draws attention to a common argument that cites the Gospel of Thomas as evidence that Q-like documents existed, so strengthening the case for the Q hypothesis. He points out that Q sceptics like me remain unpersuaded:
The discovery of Thomas has not convinced Q sceptics either of
the possibility of the existence of Q or of the appropriateness of the comparison. Rather the criterion has been somewhat changed to try and remove Thomas from the debate. (p. 323).
Foster adds that I dismiss the positive evidence that Thomas provides in a "cursory manner", citing The Synoptic Problem: A Way Through the Maze (The Biblical Seminar, 80; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2001), p. 152, in which I had drawn attention to the narrative sequence that makes up the first third of Q, and which has no parallel in Thomas. Foster goes on to position Q on a continuum which has the Synoptic Gospels at one end and Thomas at the other; its genre "sits comfortably between these two extremes". Foster then adds that:
The manoeuvre that is made in order to rule Thomas out of consideration is therefore not only inappropriate, but seems to be rather disingenuous on the part of Goodacre. (pp. 323-4).
I have written two books on the Synoptic Problem, the first a textbook aimed at undergraduate students, with no Greek and only a handful of footnotes and called The Synoptic Problem: A Way Through the Maze (cited above, hereafter Maze), and the second a specialist treatment for scholars using Greek, with extensive engagement with the scholarship on the issues, called The Case Against Q: Studies in Markan Priority and the Synoptic Problem (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 2002) (hereafter Case). Foster has read both books, but in his discussion of my views on Thomas, he deals only with the former, the undergraduate textbook, and does not mention the latter. Case, Chapter 9 ("Narrative Sequence in a Sayings Gospel? Reflections on a Contrast between Thomas and Q") is a full exposition of the argument that appears only briefly in Maze. I am of course pleased that Foster is willing to take Maze seriously, but an undergraduate textbook, with only a paragraph or so on the given topic, can scarcely be the basis for a critique of a view spelled out at length in the scholarly treatment. Given this context, I must admit to being surprised to see the criticism that I had dealt with the Thomas and Q in a "cursory manner". Similarly, Foster (p. 324) draws attention to the discussion in Kloppenborg's Formation of Q with which -- as it happens -- I engaged in that context in Case. It is the full, specialist argument that requires treatment in a full, specialist critique.

Paul was kind enough to send me a draft copy of his article before it had been accepted for publication. I pointed out at the time that, in the light of his lack of engagement with Case here, I thought it a little unfair to charge me with being disingenuous. As I read it, this is a pretty serious thing to say about another scholar, and I would have thought that it is important to be clear about one's grounds for doing it.

Absent of that context it is not so straightforward to see what Foster finds so inappropriate about my claims about Thomas. It seems in part to be an alignment of my own views with those of previous Q sceptics, arguing that at first we said that there was nothing like Q therefore it is unlikely that it existed (Farrer certainly argued this way) and that now, in the light of Thomas's discovery, we have changed tack and argue that Thomas is not sufficiently similar to Q. But this is not my argument. In Case (as also, but much more tersely in Maze), the comparison has a clear context and a specific function. I contrast Q with Thomas and acknowledge and agree with Kloppenborg, Koester and Robinson that genre is not a "static grid", asking whether the narrative sequence that seems so fundamental to the first third (or so) of Q is better explained on the grounds that Q belongs to the Sayings Gospel genre (their view) or on the grounds that it is essentially that non-Marcan material that Luke takes over from Matthew (my view). In the light of several source-critical observations including that the narrative sequence stops at roughly the point where Matthew begins following Mark in sequence, I find it more plausible that this odd feature of Q is explained source-critically, on the assumption that Luke is using Matthew as well as Mark.

OUP Reading Room

The other day I referred to Hendrickson's sample chapters available on-line. Thanks to Holger Szesnat for pointing out something similar at Oxford University Press, though at present much less extensive than the Hendrickson's one:

OUP Reading Room: Biblical Studies

There are several things of interest here, including several selections (in one PDF file) from the Oxford Bible Commentary ed. by John Barton and John Muddiman and the opening chapter of E. P. Sanders's Paul: A Very Short Introduction.

JTS Online

I mentioned the latest JTS yesterday but could not work out why I couldn't access any of the files. Having read Jim Davila's blog on it, I realise that it was nothing I was doing wrong; it is that they haven't posted the files yet. A bit odd to send out email alerts without actually uploading the content of the journal, but I suppose electronic publishing is still in its infancy -- let's put it down to teething problems. I hope it does become available soon, though, because it apparently features a four page review of my Case Against Q and I want to read it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Who Was Mary Magdalene?

There are some interesting articles on the Beliefnet pages about Mary Magdalene:

Who was Mary Magdalene?

These pages were set up to correspond to an American television programme about the sensationalist Da Vinci Code book, but the site has a number of interesting articles from real experts including Karen King and John Dominic Crossan. Crossan's article, Why Jesus Didn't Marry has this fine opening:
There is an ancient and venerable principle of biblical exegesis which states that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be a camel in disguise. So let's apply that to whether or not Jesus was married. There is no evidence that Jesus was married (looks like a duck), multiple indications that he was not (walks like a duck), and no early texts suggesting wife or children (quacks like a duck) he must be an incognito bridegroom (camel in disguise).

Toddler Jesus Topples Egyptian Idols

BeliefNet have an excerpt from a book by Paul Perry called Jesus in Egypt: Discovering the Secrets of Christ’s Childhood Years, the excerpt in question focusing on the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew:

Toddler Jesus Topples Egyptian Idols

From the excerpt one gets the impression that the author is rather credulous; looking over on Amazon, Booklist has the following:
At first, as he reconstructs and then follows the trail, drinking water from healing wells and casting an eye on the bones of saints, it seems as if he simply believes the journey to have been a real event, but eventually he begins to wonder whether he is following "a complete fiction." Finally, though, he sees himself as a believer who "let his heart be his guide," concluding that it may not matter if the events are factual.
That helps one to get a feeling for the tone of it. Have a look at the clickable map -- great fun, e.g. have a look at Jesus' footprint discovered in Sakha in 1984

Map: Jesus in Egypt

Amitai Etzioni Notes on The Passion

Thanks to David Mackinder for this -- some notes on The Passion from Amitai Etzioni's blog:

More Press for the Passion of Christ.

Journal of Theological Studies latest

The October issue of the Journal of Theological Studies is now available. I won't repeat the list of contents here because there are -- as usual -- loads and loads of relevant book reviews. Table of contents available here:

Journal of Theological Studies 54/2 (October 2003)

International SBL Call for Papers

Call for papers for the International SBL has gone out today:

2004 International Meeting, Groningen, The Netherlands

Review of Biblical Literature

Latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature:

Bock, Darrell L.
Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels
Reviewed by Steven L. Cox

Foskett, Mary K.
A Virgin Conceived: Mary and Classical Representations of Virginity
Reviewed by Anna Janzen

Longenecker, Richard N.
Into God's Presence: Prayer in the New Testament
Reviewed by Jaime Clark-Soles

Neville, David J.
Mark's Gospel Prior or Posterior: A Reappraisal of the Phenomenon of Order
Reviewed by Suzanne Watts Henderson

Wilk, Florian
Jesus und die Völker in der Sicht der Synoptiker
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Monday, November 10, 2003

Kirby's Christian Origins

I will not conceal my delight that Peter Kirby has reconsidered his web site title "Did Jesus Exist?" (at, the home of a reproduction of Vernon Robbins's article on the "we" passages in Acts and much more, and has replaced it with Christian I had had a whinge about the title, so I think that this is a sound move. Don't forget to look out his new Early Jewish Writings site too.

Lummis and Farrer

Stephen Carlson adds some useful comments following on from my entry about E. W. Lummis. Looks like I can find a way of justifying still calling it the Farrer Theory. (And I shall continue to bash away at calling it also "Marcan Priority without Q" since it seems clear that in spite of repeated attempts to stress the Marcan Priority bit of the theory, some still don't quite grasp it).

Jane Schaberg on Mary Magdalene

Having looked at amazon, I see that Jane Schaberg, The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene: Legends, Apocrypha, and the Christian Testament (London and New York: Continuum, 2002) has been out for over a year. Perhaps one to pick up at SBL. There's a real industry of Mary Magdalene books out now. I recently received Esther de Boer, Mary Magdalene: Beyond the Myth (Harrisburg, PA: Trinity Press International, 1997).

Real Mary Magdalene

Useful article on Mary Magdalene here in the Washington Times:

The Real Mary Magdalene?, Jen Waters

Includes some comments from Liz Curtis Higgs who has a new book on Mary Magdalene (not heard of her before) and Jane Schaberg, author of the fascinating Illegitimacy of Jesus, who now has a new book out entitled The Resurrection of Mary Magdalene: Legends, Apocrypha and the Christian Testament. [Note: she's also also speaking at the SBL in Atlanta next week in a Historical Jesus session with Crossan and Corley -- should be interesting].

The article also has some comment on the role of Maggie in the rock opera !Hero, about which I've blogged a few times. This article has some comments from Rebecca St James who plays Maggie. I'd previously said that I didn't think Maggie was obviously Mary Magdalene. But Rebecca St James clearly thinks that's who she's playing, so it shows how much I know! Of course the name "Maggie" is derived from "Magdalene" too, just as in !Hero Kai is Caiaphas and Petrov is Peter. What I still think is interesting, though, is that here Mary Magdalene is aligned with the Samaritan woman from John 4. Has that connection been made in fiction before? Often she is the woman taken in adultery (John 8) or the Sinner of Luke 7.36-50 or both but this is the first time I've seen her as the Samaritan woman.

Sunday, November 09, 2003

Peter and Paul PBS site

Here's one I had missed until now. It's the PBS site for a television programme of the same name, presumably broadcast in the USA this year:

Peter and Paul and the Christian Revolution

The site is typical of PBS -- professionally designed, colourful, lots of thought. It uses Crossan, Horsley, Wright and others. It features some video clips too. A very good resource to get students interested. I've often used the PBS From Jesus to Christ site as a good way of getting students started.

Lummis Theory

Jeff Peterson comments on my Naming Synoptic Theories, "I wonder if it's not a bit unjust to Edwin Lummis to say that Farrer was "the first to work the theory out with rigour," as L. did write a (short) book working the theory out in considerable detail, admittedly in telegraphic prose and on the documentary assumptions of the Oxford Studies rather than the better account Farrer's article offered on literary assumptions. It's understandable that he's been neglected as he had no apparent influence (I still think it's unlikely that Farrer read him), but it's nonetheless time he was given his due." Jeff is referring to E. W. Lummis, How Luke Was Written (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1915) and he is of course quite right to give him his due. So "the Lummis Theory" it is then.

Explorer 6.28

David Meadows has posted the latest issue of Explorer:

Explorer 6.28

Latest NovT

Novum Testamentum 45 / 4 (October 2003) is out; these are the contents. Links are to the Ingenta Select pages which will give you access if you or your institution is subscribed:

Is it Possible to Dispense with Q?
Paul Foster

Ornatus: An Application of Rhetoric to the Synoptic Problem
Alex Damm

Two Significant Minor Agreements (Mat. 4:13 Par.; Mat. 26:67-68 Par.)
Michael Goulder

Son of Man, Stone of Blood (John 1:51)
J.C. O'Neill

A Figurative and Narrative Language Grammar of Revelation
G. Biguzzi

Book Reviews

There is one article here of particular interest to me, Paul Foster's, since it focuses on my two recent books, The Synoptic Problem: A Way Through the Maze and The Case Against Q. Some comments on this article later.

Saturday, November 08, 2003

Hendricksons Sample Chapters

Thanks to Holger Szesnat for pointing out to me that the Hendrickson's web site features dozens of sample chapters from their books. Some of these will be well worth my while looking through and linking to on the NT Gateway. In the meantime, why not browse through yourself and let me know of any you think would make particularly worthwhile links (at

Hendrickson Publishers

Here are a few of interest. The main link is to the PDF sample chapter; the second link is to the Hendricksons page on the book:

A. Andrew Das, "Undeserved Grace versus Strict and Deserving Obedience in Early Judaism", Chapter 1 in Paul, the Law and the Covenant (Peabody, MA: Hendricksons, 2001)

Michael D. Goulder, "Gods Ascending", Chapter 1 in Paul and the Competing Mission in Corinth (Peabody, MA: Hendricksons, 2000)

Halvor Moxnes, "Honor and Shame", Chapter 1 in Richard L. Rohrbaugh (ed.), The Social Sciences and New Testament Interpretation (Peabody, MA: Hendricksons, 1996)

Stanley Porter, "Methods and Assumptions in this Study of Paul in Acts", Chapter 1 in Paul in Acts (Peabody, MA: Hendricksons, 2001)

More later.

Friday, November 07, 2003

Mary Ann Tolbert on the crisis of creativity in Biblical Studies

One of the new articles on the SBL Forum (see previous blog entry) is an article by Mary Ann Tolbert in which she laments the current state of Graduate Biblical Studies:

Graduate Biblical Studies: Ethos and Discipline
Indeed, I think that we are on the verge of, if not in the middle of, a crisis in doctoral education in biblical studies, and it is a crisis of creativity. For a number of reasons many doctoral programs encourage preservation over creativity and safety over risk-taking. There are many factors leading to this situation, I think, including the present "conservative turn" of many religious traditions, which then tend to funnel more financial support toward conservative or ideologically supportive projects, producing what L. William Countryman has called "domesticated scholarship" and "stables of domesticated scholars." Another factor, which I would like to explore here at greater length, is certainly the internal multiplicity, perhaps even fragmentation, of the discipline itself.

Another article sounding a rather negative note and also in the current SBL Forum is by Thomas E. Philips:

Contingent Faculty and the Future of Biblical Studies

With provocative articles like these appearing, I think the lack of a forum in which SBL members can react to and engage with the views expressed is keenly felt. Some years ago, SBL experimented with an e-list called Graphai which sadly never really took off, perhaps largely from lack of focus. I'd have thought that now would be a good time to begin the experiment again. The fine-looking new web site, which is after all labelled a "forum" would be the ideal place to add in a forum in its technical sense, e.g. using the free Snitz software. If there are concerns about posting of inappropriate material, a small group of coordinators could straightforwardly moderate. At the moment, I'm not sure what the forum would be for discussing interesting articles like the one above.

New content on SBL Forum

The SBL Forum has been updated today with fresh material, including a "See you in Atlanta!" tag, a short report on the International Meeting in Cambridge in July, and some interesting articles:

SBL Forum

Early Jewish Writings, Kirby

Peter Kirby, creator of fine websites including Early Christian Writings and Gospel of Thomas Commentary now has another major web site:

Early Jewish Writings

Though I've not had time to explore it all yet myself, it certainly looks like it could be as useful as his Early Christian Writings web site. Thanks to Hypotyposeis for the link.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Naming Synoptic Theories

Stephen Carlson comments with insight on the vexed question of the naming of Synoptic theories, following on from my own comments on Kirk's review of the Goulder volume. Stephen makes his own proposals for how to attain some degree of clarity; one thing I find useful is his suggestion for how to use "theory" and "hypothesis". Stephen also notes that one of the problems with "eponymous names", like the Farrer theory, is that the wrong person can be credited. Farrer was scooped by James Hardy Ropes in the 1930s. I suppose the only thing I'd add is that Ropes's espousal of Markan Priority without Q (another name for it!) was somewhat brief and was only suggestive (see this excerpt from The Synoptic Gospels). He gives the impression of someone toying with the idea; Farrer was the first to work the theory out with rigour.

With many thanks to Michael Pahl for what follows, these issues came home to me today in a quotation from a recent book review by Craig Blomberg in JETS, Robert Thomas (ed.), Three Views on the Origins of the Synoptic Gospels. The three views are "Markan priority" (Two-Source and Four-Source Theory), Griesbach and literary independence. Blomberg apparently criticizes the book for the choice of these three "dominant" views and adds, "Had the book truly presented the three most common perspectives, we would have read about Markan priority, the Augustinian hypothesis (and its recent Goulder-Goodacre modification), and Griesbach." I am almost speechless. While it's nice to be mentioned and even to be thought of as an advocate of a "common" view, it is troubling that Blomberg apparently does not know what theory Goulder or I propose. That it is not only called a modification of the "Augustinian hypothesis" but that it is also listed as something different from "Markan priority" shows what a lot of work still needs to be done by Q sceptics like me to get our views known. In his recent article review of my Case Against Q in NTS, John Kloppenborg suggests that we use the term "Markan Priority without Q" or "MwQ" for short. I have used this myself in the past and it's tempting to use it more often in the light of comments like Blomberg's.

NT Society of South Africa Conference 2004

Bobby Louser has sent over this -- it's a call for papers for the New Testament Society of South Africa's Conference 2004:

Final Call for Papers: NTSSA 2004

This page looks very yellow, so I'm going to reproduce it here to save your eyes:



Dear Colleagues! Our next NTSSA conference will be held from the 13th-16th April 2004 at UNISA (Pretoria). The main theme of the Conference is: “Textual Features of Revelation”. Please reply to this as follows:

Main Group: Please supply the names, themes and abstracts of your four main speakers (one of which is your keynote speaker). Send it directly to Paul Decock (, and cc it to me:

For subgroups, we have four time slots of 70 minutes each available in our parallel sessions. One is normally used for a business meeting. We need your speakers, themes and abstracts to finalise the program. Send it directly to Paul Decock (, and cc it to me:

For individual speakers who would like to deliver a paper not connected with one of the subgroups, we have four time slots of 40 minutes each. Please submit your proposal together with an abstract to Paul Decock (, and cc it to me:

The cutoff date is 15th November 2003.


Hansie Wolmarans

James Ossuary again

Even if you're fatigued with the James Ossuary business, there are a couple of things well worth reading here. First, Bible and Interpretation have published the following useful article:

Jeffrey R. Chadwick, "Indications that the 'Brother of Jesus' Inscription is a Forgery"

This is apparently an article that Chadwick initially offered to Biblical Archaeology Review but which was rejected. The "Final Observation" at the end of the article is particularly interesting, drawing attention to Oded Golan's knowledge of ossuary 570 in Rahmani's Catalogue, which has a crucial similarity to the James ossuary (the reference to and the spelling of achui, "the brother of").

Then have a look at a fascinating entry in Stephen Carlson's Hypotyposeis blog:

More on the James Ossuary

featuring some discussion of Daniel Eylon's views from a recent talk.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Bauckham Oxford University Sermon

The University Church in Oxford (just across the way from my old college, Exeter -- ah -- happy memories) has its own web site including texts of sermons and articles. Here's one that interested me:

Richard Bauckham, "Macbride Sermon on the Application of Messianic Prophecy"

It was given on 23 January this year. A list of other university sermons from this year is found here:

University Sermons

Biblical Studies Bulletin

Quite by chance, while looking for something else, I ran across a useful resource:

Biblical Studies Bulletin

It's a kind of quarterly "newsletter" on issues connected with academic Biblical Studies and is edited by Michael Thompson of Ridley Hall, Cambridge. Each issue has some news, some book notices and reviews, some humour, some computer resources and so on. All 29 issues are available on-line, from 1996 to the present. The most recent is September 2003.

Is The Passion of Christ an autobiopic?

Thanks to Jim West for drawing attention to an interesting and well-written article about The Passion of Christ, situating it in Gibson's career and noticing the recurring crucifixion, violence, death, resurrection and martyrdom motifs that occur throughout his films. It's in a journal called The Village Voice:

Jessica Winter, "Mel Gibson's Jesus Christ Pose"

I would have thought that some of this is straightforwardly explained by the suffering / death / resurrection schema that is common to many films, E.T. being a classic example, and some is explained by Gibson's obsession with showing graphic violence, but in spite of that, I think Winter is on to something here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

Crosswalk and All-in-One adjustment

I've been doing some writing today for a publisher who asked for all Biblical quotations to be from the NRSV (New Revised Standard Version). Since it's easier to copy and paste than to re-type, I had to refresh my memory on the best internet resources for searching the NRSV. (formerly Goshen) provide a searchable NRSV as part of their Bible Study Tools and for a while I've had a form for searching this on the All-in-One Bible Versions and Translations page. One thing I'd always found a bit frustrating about this was that one could search for a word but not for a passage. Or so I thought. It seems that you can enter any given passage into the same search box and you'll get your results. So it's an even more useful resource than I'd realised. Perhaps it was just me, but my guess is that it is not. So I've made a mini-adjustment to the All-in-One so that it now says "Enter passage or search term" on the Bible Study Tools entry and "Enter passage or English word" on the Interlinear. I suppose it shows that web authors should keep using their own products to find out what works, what doesn't and how best to package it all.

Distance Learning Course at Leiden

This just on tc-list:

The Faculty of Theology of Leiden University is pleased to announce the

Distance Learning Course


This course is aimed at MA and PhD students in Old Testament and related
subjects. For general information, a brochure and an application form see

For further information please contact Dr. W.Th. van Peursen at

Prof. Dr. A. van der Kooij
Head of the Department of Old Testament of the Faculty of Theology

Dr. K.D. Jenner
Director of the Peshitta Institute

Dr. W.Th. van Peursen
Coordinator of the Distance Learning Programme of the Faculty of Theology

Kirk on the Goulder volume

One of the new RBL reviews (see below) is Alan Kirk's of The Gospels According to Michael Goulder. He comments at the end of his review:
The essays in this volume mark significant points of advance in contemporary debates. Taken in aggregate they are weighted against Goulder's various positions, and for the sake of critical balance one could have wished for a contribution by a scholar or two more sympathetic to aspects of Goulder's work.
Agreed; the volume could do with a little more balance. I think my invitation must have been lost in the post! Kirk makes some good points throughout in the review. Goulder is not at his strongest on the lectionary theory, though I argued in Goulder and the Gospels that it deserves a more sympathetic hearing than it usually receives. For example, it is not simply about the existence of correspondences but about where they occur. Kirk draws attention to Matt. 9.1-17 falling on 9th Ab in Goulder's scheme and finds the connection "tenuous". But how many references to fasting are there in Matthew? I can think of only one other, in Matthew 6, and Goulder's point would be that it is striking that one of the only two references occurs here. Kirk also comments that the point of a lectionary is for "commemoration" and suggests that Goulder is deficient here; perhaps so, but I think Goulder is thinking more broadly in terms of "fulfilment", rather like modern day lectionaries.

Kirk summarises Kloppenborg's sophisticated critique of Goulder effectively. I wonder whether either Kirk or Kloppenborg quite deal with the force of Goulder's point about Occam's Razor; the point for Goulder is dispensing with an hypothetical document, i.e. being able to explain the data plausibly without invoking an additional hypothetical document. If I've read Goulder right, it's not simply about auxiliary hypotheses.

Kirk also summarises Derrenbacker's critique of Goulder effectively; as I've said before, I find Goulder's Luke's scrolling backwards through Matthew one of the most implausible elements in his Luke.

I would add that one of the disappointing things about the volume overall is that it gives critics of Goulder a bit too easy a ride -- one might easily get the impression that Goulder's work on the Gospels is all pretty implausible if two of the pieces specially highlighted are the lectionary theory and the backwards-scrolling. This relates to another of my often-expressed concerns. I have objected to the use of the term "Farrer-Goulder Hypothesis" (e.g. in Case Against Q, Chapter 1) because it too easily ties Q scepticism to Goulder's particular take on it, thereby making it much easier for critics to reject opposition to Q. Kirk, for example, says "John Kloppenborg's essay probes for weak points in the Farrer-Goulder hypothesis (FGH)", but I don't think it does. It probes for weak points in Goulder's particular thesis, or Goulder's particular take on the Farrer Theory, Goulder's dismissal of the value of the Gospel of Thomas providing a good example. Overall one of my problems with the Kloppenborg essay discussed here by Kirk is that it does not distinguish clearly enough between the eight or so points that make up Goulder's "new paradigm" generally and the Farrer Theory specifically. The fact that some hold to the latter without by any means endorsing all the points that make up Goulder's "new paradigm" should give one pause.

New Review of Biblical Literature reviews

New NT related reviews on the Review of Biblical Literature:

Anderson, Janice Capel, Phillip Sellew and Claudia Setzer, eds.
Pauline Conversations in Context: Essays in Honor of Calvin J. Roetzel

Reviewed by Matthew W Mitchell

Baird, William
History of New Testament Research: Volume 2: From Jonathan Edwards to
Rudolph Bultmann

Reviewed by Alicia Batten

Rollston, Christopher A., ed.
The Gospels according to Michael Goulder: A North American Response

Reviewed by Alan Kirk

Gospels as propaganda

I've often talked about the Gospels as pieces of "propaganda" about Jesus, especially when introducing them in teaching or in media contexts. I find it helps to explain the concept of books about "good news". I always add a rider that this only works if we can get the negative associations of the word "propaganda" out of our minds. I've been doing some writing today and wanted again to use this term or perhaps something similar; I began to wonder what alternatives there might be. I clicked on the MS Word Thesaurus to find "misinformation, party line, half-truths, cant" listed as synonyms, so perhaps in future I need really to stress that rider about getting the negative associations out of our heads.


A brief interlude of general internet interest. I'd never heard the term "Googlistas" until Saturday's Guardian which had an interesting article on the attempts by Microsoft to buy up or replace Google:

Googlistas will never be Mooglesofters

I hope that Google can stay independent and maintain the quality of its service. Who now uses anything else? I suppose that if Microsoft does develop a rival, it needn't mean the end of Google just as Internet Explorer has not meant the end of Netscape. I still use Netscape a good deal -- and Netscape 7 is a great improvement on previous versions; e.g. for some reason my Netscape seems to find it much easier to read sites using unicode fonts than does my Internet Explorer. Looking at browser share among users of the NT Gateway, just over 6% of users access it using Netscape and just over 93% using Internet Explorer. Although overwhelmingly dominant, it hasn't completely usurped Netscape yet.

Monday, November 03, 2003

Galilee Font & Unicode adjustments

Thanks to Rod Decker for reminding me to update some details on my Fonts page. His very useful PDF paper on Unicode has been reworked and retitled:

What a Biblical Scholar / Student Should Know About Unicode

While on that page I also deleted a line about the Tyndale Fonts Kit; there was a problem with the final sigma in that kit, which was the vau/digamma rather than final sigma proper, but it was fixed after David and I had some interesting email exchanges on the topic several months ago. It's a good one-stop solution for your font needs, though in the long run we are all going to be using unicode so the sooner one gets used to it, the better.

OUP sale

Oxford University Press have announced an autumn sale, everything half price or less. Includes one of my colleague Sugi's books (Prof. Sugirtharajah). Here's the link to Bibles and Religious Studies titles in the sale:

Bibles and Religious Studies

Philosopher, Theologian and a Lawyer

Tonight's Quote . . . . Unquote on Radio 4 began with a nice quotation I'd not heard before:
"A philosopher is a blind man in a dark cellar at midnight looking for a black cat that isn't there. He is distinguished from a theologian, in that the theologian finds the cat. He is also distinguished from a lawyer, who smuggles in a cat in his overcoat pocket, and emerges to produce it in triumph."

William L. Prosser, "My Philosophy of Law," Cornell Law Quarterly, 1942
I've picked up that version of it from Lawyer Jokes Etc. after having gone searching for it; on Quote . . . . Unquote I think it was given out as anon., but from 1942.

Alleged Sources for the Passion of Christ

Also on Paleojudaica today is a link to the Baraita blog by Naomi Chana:

On Divine Histories

It's an informative addition to the discussion about The Passion of Christ because it can speak with authority on The Mystical City of God, or the Divine History of the Virgin Mother of God by María de Agreda (1602-1665), and The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich (1774-1824), allegedly used by Gibson to fill-out the screenplay for the film. Hollywood Jesus still lists the second of the two as a source for the film, but it seems that overall the claims that the film is based on this have diminished.

More on Jesus and Mary Magdalene

The programme to air in the US tonight on the sensationalist idea that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene etc. has generated a fair bit of media coverage. Jim Davila blogs on this today. He recommends reading Richard Bauckham's Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church and I'd second that -- it's one of my favourite recent books on the New Testament. Bauckham has an excellent summary article here that's worth reading (and listed on my Historical Jesus: Books, Articles and Reviews page):

Richard Bauckham, “All in the Family: Identifying Jesus' Relatives”, Bible Review April 2000

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Jewish Actress Proud to Be Mel Gibson’s Virgin Mary

This article on NewsMax provides another perspective on The Passion of Christ -- it's an interview with Maia Morgenstern, the Romanian actress who plays Mary and who is apparently the daughter of a holocaust survivor:

Jewish Actress Proud to Be Mel Gibson’s Virgin Mary

The same story appears here, by Naomi Pfefferman, in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles:

Actress Defends Gibson’s Jesus Film

Mis-hearing Monty Python

AKMA points out to me that I'd written arms for an ex-leper rather than "alms for an ex-leper" last night. Perhaps it was a hangover from an exercise my older daughter (aged 9) brought home from school the other day to list as many homophones as she could. There's a certain delight in my error -- mishearing elements from Life of Brian is of course the premise for the opening (post-credit) scene of the film, Blessed are the Greek, blessed are the cheesemakers etc.

There's a further odd little story I have related to this. A few years ago, when I was first putting together pages on Jesus Films, I went looking for an on-line script for Life of Brian. I found one headed "The world's most accurate Life of Brian script" and in it, Scene 2 begins "How blest are those who know that He's a god". This is nonsense -- the person taking down the script has misheard it; Jesus actually says "How blessed are those who know their need of God" -- it's the New English Bible version of the Beatitudes that's used in the rest of Jesus' speech. So I wrote to the person who was hosting the site and explained to him the correct wording. He wrote a kind email back saying that my interpretation was one of the more plausible interpretations he had heard of these opening words, but that he could assure me that he had listened to the film at full volume on his hi-fi and that his "interpretation" was the more accurate. I found this delightful in the light of the whole "Blessed are the cheesemakers" thrust of that scene and I shared the story with the Xtalk list. Steve Davies, who used to be the most regular and always the most stimulating poster on Xtalk, wrote a fine email that I wish I'd saved. He explained how the "pseudo-Python" reading, "How blest are those who know that he's a god", should not be dismissed too lightly since it fitted rather well with Thomas's view of Jesus.

Experts comment on Da Vinci Code

With a TV programme to air in the U.S. on Monday evening on the topic, the Da Vinci Code is discussed in this balanced article by Gary Stern in The Journal News:

Experts Dismiss Theories in Popular Book

Explorator 6.27

Latest Explorator now available:

Explorator 6.27

Galilee Unicode Font

Just announced on b-greek, Rod Decker has posted a beta of the unicode version of his Galilee font. You will find it here:

Galilee Unicode Greek Font

Rod has provided lots of useful information about how to download the font, design features and so on. If you don't yet know anything about unicode and you work with Biblical languages, then you need to know this: it is the future. Rod has one of the best pages available for explaining to scholars and students about unicode and it is here:

Biblical Language Fonts and Unicode

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Backlash against Gospel of John

On the whole The Gospel of John has steered clear of the controversy that has dogged The Passion of Christ but here is an article asking "How does Garth Drabinsky get away with what Mel Gibson can't?" It's pretty negative towards Drabinsky's film:

Martin Knelman, "Gospel according to GarthFilm raises concern"