Saturday, September 30, 2006

Nativity theatrical trailer

As Peter Chattaway notes on FilmChat, the theatrical trailer is now available on the website of The Nativity Story, the forthcoming film based on the Birth Narratives of Matthew and Luke:

The Nativity Story

The site also has the teaser trailer and several featurettes. It's a nice looking production; I am very much looking forward to it. Fans of Jesus films can be grateful to the ongoing Passion of the Christ effect of reigniting interest in big budget Jesus films. (If only someone could get the Visual Bible's Gospel of Mark kick-started).

From the two-and-a-half-minutes of trailer, it is clear that it follows the traditional harmonizing approach to the Birth Narratives, with annunciation to Mary from Luke, wise men and prophecies from Matthew, census and journey to Bethlehem from Luke, slaughter of the innocents from Matthew -- and so on.

I've been meaning to blog on this for eternity, but Bible Films and FilmChat are right on top of it and keep posting on the news as it comes in, so don't forget to check them out regularly.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Galatians and Acts in film

Over on Bible Films Blog, Matt Page has an excellent post on the way that different films have treated the discrepancies between Acts and Galatians: Galatians vs Acts in Film. I showed the relevant clip from Peter and Paul to my Paul class last week (cf. Teaching Notes 1) and it was excellent for encouraging a bit of discussion about the issues. The film handles the discrepancies brilliantly, tending to take Paul's side, as it were, and aligning the "people from James" in Gal. 2.11-20 with Judas and Silas from Acts 15, so that one has an initial victory for Paul followed by a rethink by James. Barnabas (Herbert Lom) gets shouted at by Anthony Hopkins's Paul about John Mark on the back of Paul's having just shouted at Peter, deftly combining the Acts 15 and Gal. 2 reasons for the split between Barnabas and Paul. And just after Barnabas has left, Silas remains and asks to go with Paul for the next stage of the journey.

As often, films can stimulate the imagination when one is engaging in the historical task and one thing this one makes me wonder when I go back to Acts 15 is whether in fact the presence of Judas and Silas there witnesses to a much more complex outcome to the council than one might realize at first. Why do Judas and Silas need to be sent with the letter to Antioch when Paul and Barnabas, on the logic of the Acts narrative, could have taken it? Has Luke drawn together different strands in Acts 15, one in which Paul and Barnabas effectively get a green light from Peter and James, and one in which a letter is composed and sent with Judas and Silas? I would like to explore this option a little further in later posts.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Pope affirms importance of Gospel of Thomas and Acts of Thomas

Well, I am being a little cheeky in making that the headline of this post since it refers to only one sentence, but it's nice to see the Gospel of Thomas and the Acts of Thomas getting a mention in Pope Benedict XVI's address today. Here are the last two paragraphs of the address, courtesy of Zenit, with the mention of the Gospel and Acts of Thomas at the end of the first paragraph below:
The fourth Gospel has preserved for us a last note on Thomas, on presenting him as witness of the Risen One in the moment after the miraculous catch on the Lake of Tiberias (cf. John 21:2). On that occasion, he is mentioned also immediately after Simon Peter: an evident sign of the notable importance that he enjoyed in the ambit of the first Christian communities. In fact, in his name, were later written the "Acts" and the "Gospel of Thomas," both apocryphal, but in any case important for the study of Christian origins.

Let us recall, finally, that according to an ancient tradition, Thomas evangelized in the first instance Syria and Persia (so says Origen, as referred by Eusebius of Caesarea, "Hist. eccl." 3,1) and later went as far as western India (cf. "Acts of Thomas" 1-2: 17 and following), from where Christianity also later reached the south of India. We end our reflection with this missionary perspective, hoping that Thomas' example will increasingly confirm our faith in Jesus Christ, our Lord and our God.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Jerusalem Council: Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 15

One of the big issues, perhaps the biggest issue, in Pauline chronology relates to the location of the Jerusalem council. Is the incident narrated by Paul in Gal. 2.1-10 the same incident narrated by Luke in Acts 15? The correspondences between the two accounts are pretty striking, especially when one allows for the difference in perspective inevitable when one has two different writers separated by time, perspective and person:
  • Paul is accompanied to Jerusalem by Barnabas and other(s).

  • The point at issue is Gentiles and the Law, specifically circumcision.

  • There is discussion with the chief apostles about the future for the Gentile mission

  • These chief apostles are identified, in both, as Peter and James. (Paul also names John).

  • Both accounts assume the presence of others who are inimical to Paul and Barnabas.

  • In both, Paul (and Barnabas) make report of their mission, Gal. 2.2, I "set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles"; Acts 15.4, "they reported everything God had done through them", cf. also Acts 15.11, "they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them".

  • In both, there is agreement between Paul and Barnabas and the Jerusalem apostles, Gal. 2.9, "James, Peter[c] and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me" and Acts 15.4, "When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders".

  • In both, the account is followed by a split between Paul and Barnabas in Antioch (Acts 15.33-41, Gal. 2.11-20), in Acts because of a disagreement about John Mark, in Galatians because Barnabas joined Peter in withdrawing from table fellowship with Gentiles.
On the correspondence between the two passages, Pierson Parker writes:
It certainly looks as though these accounts cover the same history, for it would be hard to imagine two such councils, on the same subject, involving the same people, with the same sequence of events, in the same places, and with the same denouements -- right down to a quarrel between Paul and Barnabas ("Once More, Acts and Galatians", JBL 86 (1967): 175-82 [175]).
In spite of these links between the two passages, some align Gal. 2.1-10 not with Acts 15 but with a previous visit to Jerusalem in Acts 11.27-30 (for a recent blog defence of this view, see Michael Pahl on The Stuff of Earth). In contrast to Acts 15, here there are few correspondences between the two accounts. The only clear one is that in both, Paul goes to Jerusalem with Barnabas, something that Gal. 2.1-10 also has in common with Acts 15. So why the popularity of the view that Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 11.27-30? In part it is because the apparent conclusion of the Acts 15 account appears to be different from the conclusion of the Gal. 2.1-10 account. In the former, a letter is composed in which certain basics are stressed. In the latter, Paul is insistent that nothing was added to him or his gospel. Moreover, it is noted that Paul speaks of speaking "privately to those who seemed to be leaders" (Gal. 2.2) whereas Acts 15 appears to depict a public meeting. But the main reason for this identification is that Acts 11.27-30 is the second time that Paul has visited Jerusalem, just as Gal. 2.1-10 is the second time that Paul has visited Jerusalem. Gal. 1.18-20, Paul's first visit, would therefore parallel Acts 9.26-30, Paul's first visit in Acts. And if Acts 11.27-30 is Paul's second visit, the argument runs, it is noteworthy that where Paul says that he went up "by revelation" (Gal. 2.2), which would be paralleled in Acts 11.28, where Agabus has a prophecy about world-wide famine, the prophecy that provides the basis for this so-called "famine visit".

This major motivation, to defend the historicity of Acts by aligning Paul's second visit in Acts with Paul's second visit in Paul (Galatians), is actually unnecessary if one pays careful attention to Luke's narrative practices. I will repeat here my remarks from my previous post. Paul's first two visits to Jerusalem in Acts 9 and 11 are in fact the same visit narrated by Luke twice. On the second occasion that he narrates it, in 11.27-30, the notes of time are specific. On the first occasion that he narrates it, in 9.26-30, the notes are vague. Luke is telling this as (what we would call) a flash forward. Notice the phrasing:
Acts 9.25-26: 25 λαβόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς διὰ τοῦ τείχους καθῆκαν αὐτὸν χαλάσαντες ἐν σπυρίδι 26 παραγενόμενος δὲ εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐπείραζεν κολλᾶσθαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς καὶ πάντες ἐφοβοῦντο αὐτόν μὴ πιστεύοντες ὅτι ἐστὶν μαθητής

Acts 9.25-26: 25 But his disciples took him at night and let him down through an opening in the wall by lowering him in a basket. 26 When he had appeared in Jerusalem, he attempted to associate with the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe that he was a disciple.
Luke is careful here not to say "Then Paul came to Jerusalem . . ." or "After a year Paul came to Jerusalem". He is narrating the event that Paul himself dates as "after three years", and which Luke places in its proper place in the narrative in 11.27-30. As I argued in my previous post on Pauline Chronology, one can see that Luke knows the true chronological location of the first visit because of the anachronistic mention of "his disciples" in Acts 9.25, at a point before Paul has any disciples.

But if this is the right way of reconstructing what is going on in Acts, what are we to make of the interesting correlation between Paul's "by revelation" (Gal. 2.2) and Agabus's prophecy (Acts 11.28)? It is important to see what Paul actually means by "revelation". Here in Galatians, and elsewhere, Paul is talking specifically about direct communication between himself and God, not via external human agency. Notice, for example, the way that Paul sees his gospel as coming by "revelation" shortly before the mention of "revelation" in 2.2:
Gal. 1: 11 γνωρίζω γὰρ ὑμῖν ἀδελφοί τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τὸ εὐαγγελισθὲν ὑπ' ἐμοῦ ὅτι οὐκ ἔστιν κατὰ ἄνθρωπον 12 οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐγὼ παρὰ ἀνθρώπου παρέλαβον αὐτό οὔτε ἐδιδάχθην ἀλλὰ δι' ἀποκαλύψεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ

Gal. 1: 11 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. 12 For I did not receive it or learn it from any human source; instead I received it by a revelation of Jesus Christ.
In Gal. 2.2, Paul is continuing the emphasis on direct divine motivation for his actions with respect to Jerusalem. He is clearly not talking about the words of a prophet who had come from Jerusalem. Paul does not use the term "revelation" when he is talking about words that come through human agency, even prophetic ones.

What, then, of the objection that Galatians 2 apparently speaks of a private meeting where Acts 15 speaks of a public meeting? Here it is worth remembering that one is going to expect divergences like this between two accounts of the same meeting, and alongside this it is worth noticing that Paul only speaks about "laying out the gospel I preach among the gentiles" to those of repute (Gal. 2.2). He does not depict the remainder of the exchange as a private, closed one. But even if one does read the whole of Gal. 2.1-10 as depicting a private meeting, and stresses this as a difficulty for the Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 15 identification, this only increases the difficulties for the Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 11.27-30 identification. For those who identify Gal. 2.1-10 with Acts 11.27-30 also identify Gal. 1.18-20 with Acts 9.26-30, and this identification only moves issues connected with public / private to another place. Contrast the two accounts:
Gal. 1: 18. Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. 19 But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord''s brother. 20 (Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying.)

Acts 9: 26 When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them, moving about freely in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord.
Let me be quite clear about what I am arguing here. Those who think that Acts 11.27-30 equates with Gal. 2.1-10 regularly say that Acts 15 cannot equate with Gal. 2 because the latter depicts a private event. But for the Acts 11.27-30 = Gal. 2.1-10 equation to work, one has to overcome exactly the same difficulty with respect to Acts 9.26-30 // Gal. 1.18-20, where one depicts a private and the other a public event.

The biggest problem, however, with the attempt to identify Acts 11.27-30 with Gal. 2.1-10 comes with the burden placed on the proportions of Luke's narrative in Acts. Remember that Paul says his first visit to Jerusalem (Gal. 1.18) was "after three years" and his second was "after fourteen years" (Gal. 2.1). No one is agreed on whether this is seventeen years in total, or whether the fourteen years includes the initial three, but either way we have at least fourteen years between the events depicted in Acts 9 (Paul's conversion and first visit to Jerusalem) and Acts 11 (Paul's second visit to Jerusalem). Even if it did not seem bizarre that fourteen years are thought to have gone by in the space of less than two chapters, the indications in the text are in fact suggestive of a much shorter period. Luke's narrative leaves Paul (still Saul at this point in Acts) in Tarsus in 9.30 and picks him up from there in 11.25, after having told the story of Peter and Cornelius in the mean time. In 11.26, Barnabas takes Paul to Antioch where they stay for a year (11.26) before going to Jerusalem together (11.27-30). This rather precisely timed scenario fits very well with Paul's "after three years" of Gal. 1.18. Luke is here narrating, in Acts 11.27-30, Paul's first visit to Jerusalem, and Acts 9.26-30 was a flash forward. This is a far more satisfactory reading than one which tries to find fourteen years in between Acts 9 and 11.

As if this were not enough to persuade us of the difficulties of the identification between Acts 11.27-20 and Gal. 2.1-10, it is worth adding that in Acts 12, Herod Agrippa dies. Herod's death is usually dated to 44 CE, which does not give us anything like enough time for the at least fourteen years between Paul's conversion and his second Jerusalem visit. In other words, to grid Galatians 1-2 onto Acts 9-11 places an intolerable burden on the Acts narrative. Far from harmonizing Paul with Acts, which is the intention, it just creates anomalies.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

A Chronological Clue in Acts 9.25

One of these days I will get around to my post on why I'm sure, with the majority, that Gal. 2.1-10 and Acts 15 are essentially accounts of the same Jerusalem apostolic council, but as I was writing that post I noticed something I'd not spotted before and I want to write it down while it is still fresh. The thing I noticed was a Lucan chronological clue in Acts 9.25, but first let me give a little context.

Luke narrates five trips of Paul to Jerusalem after his conversion, in 9.26-30, 11.27-30 (and 12.25) ("famine visit"), Chapter 15 (Jerusalem council), 18.22 (brief mention) and 21 and following (trials etc.). In Galatians, Paul narrates two trips to Jerusalem, the first in 1.18-20, dated three years after his conversion and the second in 2.1-10, dated "after fourteen years". One of the major problems for Pauline chronology is how it can be that Luke narrates two visits to Jerusalem before the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 // Gal. 2.1-10 whereas Paul only narrates one. It is absolutely not, as John Knox was keen to point out, that Paul simply forgot to mention a visit. In Gal. 1.20 he swears an oath about the truth of this narrative. So what on earth are we to do with Luke's two visits, the one in 9.26-30 and the other in 11.27-30?

One solution to the problem is popular especially among conservative commentators and that is to equate Paul's Gal 2.1-10 visit not with Acts 15 but with Acts 11.27-30, so that Acts 9.26-30 is the equivalent of Gal. 1.18-20, Paul's first visit after three years. Thus, while Paul is writing Galatians, the events of Acts 15 have not even taken place yet. This solution is problematic for a variety of reasons that I hope to explain in a subsequent post, but one of the reasons for its popularity is that it apparently deals with this major contradiction between Paul and Acts. (Actually, it doesn't -- it's much more problematic than the more natural Gal. 2.1-10 // Acts 15 reading.) What I'd like to suggest is that when one reads Acts carefully, it is straightforward to see what Luke is doing, especially when he leaves behind little clues.

Paul's first two visits to Jerusalem in Acts 9 and 11 are in fact the same visit narrated by Luke twice. On the second occasion that he narrates it, in 11.27-30, the notes of time are specific. On the first occasion that he narrates it, in 9.26-30, the notes are vague. Luke is telling this as (what we would call) a flash forward. Notice the phrasing:
Acts 9.25-26: 25λαβόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς διὰ τοῦ τείχους καθῆκαν αὐτὸν χαλάσαντες ἐν σπυρίδι 26 παραγενόμενος δὲ εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐπείραζεν κολλᾶσθαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς καὶ πάντες ἐφοβοῦντο αὐτόν μὴ πιστεύοντες ὅτι ἐστὶν μαθητής

Acts 9.25-26: 25 But his disciples took him at night and let him down through an opening in the wall by lowering him in a basket. 26 When he had appeared in Jerusalem, he attempted to associate with the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe that he was a disciple.
Luke is careful here not to say "Then Paul came to Jerusalem . . ." or "After a year Paul came to Jerusalem". He is narrating the event that Paul himself dates as "after three years", and which Luke places in its proper place in the narrative in 11.27-30.

Now this is something I have always taught students when we study Pauline chronology and so far I have not had any good reason to doubt this explanation of events. But I began to wonder today whether there might in fact be an actual clue in Acts 9 that Luke leaves, the kind of clue that one sees elsewhere in Luke-Acts when the evangelist has drawn forward an event out of sequence. Let me explain what I was looking for. One of the most famous Lucan transpositions of events is the Rejection at Nazareth Story in Luke 4.16-30. He places this event at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, shortly after the Temptation story. In Mark and Matthew, it happens much later (Mark 6.1-6 and par.). But Luke betrays his knowledge of its original location with the extraordinary comment in 4.23, "Do here in your hometown what we have heard that you did in Capernaum." Well, Jesus has not even been to Capernaum at this point in Luke's narrative. What is going on is that Luke is imagining the event in its Marcan setting, well into Jesus' Galilean ministry, and not in the new setting he has provided.

So I began to wonder: is there anything in Acts 9 like this? I think there is. Have a look again at the passages previously quoted:
Acts 9.25-26: 25λαβόντες δὲ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ νυκτὸς διὰ τοῦ τείχους καθῆκαν αὐτὸν χαλάσαντες ἐν σπυρίδι 26 παραγενόμενος δὲ εἰς Ἰερουσαλὴμ ἐπείραζεν κολλᾶσθαι τοῖς μαθηταῖς καὶ πάντες ἐφοβοῦντο αὐτόν μὴ πιστεύοντες ὅτι ἐστὶν μαθητής

Acts 9.25-26: 25 But his disciples took him at night and let him down through an opening in the wall by lowering him in a basket. 26 When he had appeared in Jerusalem, he attempted to associate with the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe that he was a disciple.
"His disciples"? Who are these people? Paul has only just been converted in Luke's context -- he is still at the point of being partnered. He does not yet have a group of disciples. What I think is happening here is that Luke is betraying his knowledge that that incident, the escape from Damascus, occurred later in Paul's life, when it is reasonable to speak about Paul as having disciples, and not very soon after conversion, as Luke depicts it. Likewise, the visit to Jerusalem in the next verse is displaced from its natural home later in Paul's ministry.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

SBL Midatlantic Region Paper Title

I was asked this morning for my title for my paper at the SBL Midatlantic Region next March. I was asked to speak on Q, and my title is going to be "The Devil is in the Detail: Dispelling Doubts about Dispensing with Q". Details of the meeting and Call for Papers went on-line today:

Midatlantic Region of the Society of Biblical Literature

Jesus & Utopia: Looking for the Kingdom of God in the Roman World

Latest from Fortress:

“Mary Ann Beavis locates Jesus’ teaching about the Basileia of God in a richly drawn landscape of ancient utopian movements—illuminating indeed!”

Stephen J. Patterson, Professor of New Testament, Eden Seminary; author of Beyond the Passion: Rethinking the Death and Life of Jesus (Fortress Press, 2004)

A Dramatic New Approach to Jesus and the Movement that Took His Name

MINNEAPOLIS (September 21, 2006)—Scholarship on the historical Jesus and, now, on the "Jesus movement" generally divides into separate camps around two sticky questions: was Jesus an apocalyptic prophet and was the movement around him political, that is nationalistic or revolutionary?

In Jesus & Utopia Mary Ann Beavis moves the study of the historical Jesus in a dramatic new direction as she highlights the context of ancient utopian thought and utopian communities, drawing particularly on the Essene community and Philo's discussion of the Therapeutae, and argues that only ancient utopian thought accounts for the lack of explicit political echoes in Jesus' message of the kingdom of God.


* Ancient Utopias, Jesus, and the Kingdom of God

* Ancient, Classical, and Hellenistic Utopias

* Biblical Utopias: From Eden to the Kingdom of God

* Ideal Communities in Early Judaism: Essenes, Therapeutai, Havurot

* Jesus and the Kingdom of God in Biblical Scholarship

* Jesus’ Preaching of the Kingdom of God in Utopian Context

* From Basileia to Ekklēsia

Mary Ann Beavis is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Religious Studies and Anthropology at St. Thomas More College, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. The author of Mark’s Audience (1989) and editor of The Lost Coin: Parables of Women, Work, and Wisdom (2002), she has written numerous articles on utopian currents in the ancient world, New Testament representatives of wealth and poverty, and the parables of Jesus. She is also founder and editor of The Journal of Religion and Popular Culture.

Jesus & Utopia: Looking for the Kingdom of God in the Roman World

By Mary Ann Beavis

Format: 6” x 9”, paperback, 224 pages
ISBN: 0-8006-3562-0
Price: $22.00
Publisher: Fortress Press
Rights: World

To order Jesus & Utopia please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the Web site at To request review copies (for media), or to discuss speaking engagements or interviews, please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or e-mail To request exam copies for classroom use (professors) go to

Biblical Studies Bulletin 41

The latest Biblical Studies Bulletin from Grove Books and connected with Ridley Hall, Cambridge is now available on-line:

Biblical Studies Bulletin 41 (September 2006)

If features the good news of a delay of the eschaton -- the BSB will continue after all, and there is a useful piece on Hebrews commentaries by Peter Head.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Year in America

A year ago today we arrived in North Carolina, USA, having left Birmingham on Tuesday 20 September, flown from London Gatwick on Wednesday 21 September in the early afternoon, arriving in late afternoon at Raleigh-Durham International Airport, and waking up in America for the first time on Thursday 22 September. That first semester, after a honeymoon period at cheap hotels, turned out to be far tougher than I could possibly have imagined, so much so that I went through a phase where I didn't even blog, but happily that was short lived and by the end of November we were well settled, and subsequently it has been an enjoyable year as well as a challenging one. I am lucky to be in a job with great colleagues and great students, and to live in a nice neigbourhood in a lovely area with an amazing family.

Jesus sighting: Jeremy Sisto

A major Jesus sighting in the USA tonight on the premiere of NBC's Kidnapped. Jeremy Sisto, best known here for his portrayal of Jesus in Jesus, the 1999 American mini-series, played the central character Knapp, an independent former FBI agent, now an expert rescuer of victims of kidnaps.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians? III

[See also Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians? I and Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians? II]

I am grateful to Michael Pahl on The Stuff of Earth for his response to my earlier posts, and to others for their interesting thoughts on Pauline Chronology, helpfully listed by Stephen Carlson on Hypotyposeis. Before engaging some of the interesting issues raised there in later posts, please indulge me for the time being with part three of my series on why I think Galatians was written by Paul after 1 Corinthians.

The point in this post is to ask the question: From where and from whom did Paul receive his gospel? 1 Corinthians and Galatians present contrasting answers to this question, answers that make much more sense if one sees Galatians having been written after 1 Corinthians. The relevant portions of the two letters are these:
1 Cor. 15.1-11: Now I would remind you, brothers and sisters, of the gospel that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand, 2. through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you -- unless you have come to believe in vain. 3. For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, 4. and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, 5. and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died. 7. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 9. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them -- though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. 11. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

Gal. 1.6-12: I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel -- 7. not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are confusing you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8. But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed! 9. As we have said before, so now I repeat, if anyone proclaims to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let that one be accursed! 10. Am I now seeking human approval, or God's approval? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still pleasing people, I would not be a servant of Christ. 11. For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12. for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians, Paul makes it clear that the gospel he preached to the Corinthians was a gospel he shared with those who were apostles before him; indeed he received the gospel from them, and passed it on to the Corinthians as of first importance. In context, Paul is dealing with those in Corinth who say that there is no resurrection. He stresses that the gospel that he and other apostles proclaim is united on the importance of the resurrection: he received it and he passed it on. Paul's γάρ (for . . .) in verse 3 shows that this tradition he has passed on (παρέδωκα . . . παρέλαβον) is the content of the "gospel" he refers to in verse 1. And Paul's "we" in verse 11 is referring to himself alongside those others he has just mentioned ("I or they", εἴτε . . . ἐγὼ εἴτε ἐκεῖνοι. . . ). (This kind of ecumenical policy is used by Paul uses elsewhere in 1 Corinthians, most famously in 1 Cor. 11.16, "But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have the churches of God." It is the kind of appeal that Paul cannot make in Galatians.)

In Galatians, he is facing a very different kind of problem, one where he finds himself at variance with others, and possibly even those same Jerusalem apostles. Now the last thing he can do is appeal to "what we proclaim", including in that first person plural those who were apostles before him. He makes the same stress on the importance of keeping true to the gospel that one first received, but it is going to cause grief to draw in what in fact other apostles believe since this is one of the very things under consideration in the epistle. So Paul stresses the divine origin of his gospel -- he received it by revelation, which, in Paul, means something that came not through human agency.

In 1 Corinthians, Paul is able to make an effective argument on the grounds of the gospel he shared with the Jerusalem apostles. They all believe this gospel; they all preach it; the Corinthians have received it; they should not now turn away from it by saying that there is no resurrection. In Galatians, Paul wants to stress that his apostleship, his revelation, his gospel comes from God. He did not get his gospel from human beings -- he did not even go up to Jerusalem until three years after his conversion. (Before God, he says, he was not lying). This is the account of someone writing after the earlier, irenic, ecumenical Paul of 1 Corinthians. It is very difficult to imagine Paul so calmly laying himself open to possible misinterpretation in 1 Cor 15 if he was writing this after the really serious crisis in Galatia.

The point is that it is easy to see from 1 Corinthians 15 how Paul might have been thought to be dependent on the Jerusalem apostles, at least as far as the content of his gospel is concerned, because here, and presumably in his earlier preaching, he has appealed to their authority, and to the reception of his gospel from them. It is much harder to imagine Paul so stressing that kind of line after the trouble he has experienced in Galatia, where he has to go to some pains to extricate himself from the impression that his gospel is received from others.

Reading the Bible Responsibly —A Theological Rationale for Postmodern Interpretation

New from Fortress:
Reading the Bible Responsibly — A Theological Rationale for Postmodern Interpretation

MINNEAPOLIS (September 18, 2006)—In Faithful Interpretation: Reading the Bible in a Postmodern World, A. K. M. Adam, one of the leading voices in postmodern criticism, brings together some important questions introducing postmodern interpretation and arguing its urgent importance for the life of the contemporary church.

Does postmodernism threaten biblical theology, or is it the antidote to the conceits of modernism? Can historical criticism preserve Christological orthodoxy from the perils of “docetic” interpretation? Does postmodernism dissolve meaning in an ocean of pluralism that undermines biblical authority? How do texts “mean,” anyway; and how can faithful Christians find their way through the bewildering landscape of postmodern interpretation?

In Faithful Interpretation A.K.M. Adam takes on all these questions and more, offering a comprehensive vision of an honest, responsible, and faithful interpretive practice.

“For over fifteen years, A. K. M. Adam has been patiently urging us to abandon the modern quest for the holy grail of correct interpretive method. In these illuminating and instructive essays, Adam helps us see not only why such a quest is bound to fail, but also where to direct our energies instead. For as Adam rightly reminds us, for that community called church, the practice of reading the Bible is not primarily about ‘getting it right,’ but about being transformed into a more faithful embodiment of the gospel.”

Philip D. Kenneson, Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Milligan College

“In these essays A. K. M. Adam deploys his firm grasp of postmodern intellectual trends toward thoughtful, probing examinations of biblical interpretation. The range of topics is impressive. His prose is both graceful and erudite. His analysis is critically acute and theologically edifying. Here is theological hermeneutics at its best.”

Stephen Fowl, Professor of Theology, Loyola College in Maryland

A. K. M. Adam is Professor of New Testament at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and priest at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Evanston. He is author of Making Sense of New Testament Theology (1995) and What is Postmodern Biblical Criticism? (Fortress Guides to Biblical Scholarship, 1995), and editor of Postmodern Interpretations of the Bible: A Reader (2000).

Faithful Interpretation: Reading the Bible in a Postmodern World

By A. K. M. Adam

Format: 5.5” x 8.5”, paperback, 176 pages
ISBN: 0-8006-3787-9
Price: $20.00
Publisher: Fortress Press
Rights: World

To order Engaging the Bible please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the Web site at To request review copies (for media), or to discuss speaking engagements or interviews, please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or e-mail To request exam copies for classroom use (professors) go to

Monday, September 18, 2006

New Chorus of Women’s Voices Engages the Bible Critically

Latest from Fortress:

"This book is a treasure of focused illustrations, from many cultural perspectives, of how women’s consciousness and creativity is transforming biblical interpretation and thus human society."

— Carolyn Osiek, Brite Divinity School

New Chorus of Women’s Voices Engages the Bible Critically

MINNEAPOLIS (September 18, 2006)— The newly released Engaging the Bible: Critical Readings from Contemporary Women brings together some of the leading luminaries in feminist, womanist, and multicultural critical biblical studies.

In this book edited by Choi Hee An and Katheryn Pfisterer Darr, each woman describes her unique perspective and offers her reading of a particular biblical scene. This is an ideal text for courses on feminist and multicultural biblical interpretation. It includes discussion questions for each chapter and a list of suggested readings.


Choi Hee An, Editor
Lecturer and Director of the Anna Howard Shaw Center at Boston University School of Theology

The Prophetic Bible
Cheryl Townsend Gilkes
John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Sociology and program chair in African-American Studies at Colby College

The Postcolonial Bible
Kwok Pui-Lan
William F. Cole Professor of Christian Theology and Spirituality at Episcopal Divinity School

The Communal Bible
Aida Irizarry-Fernandez
District Superintendent for the Metropolitan Boston Hope District, New England Conference, of the United Methodist Church

The Feminist Critical Bible
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza
Krister Stendahl Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School

The Public Bible
Carter Heyward
Howard Chandler Robbins Professor of Theology, emerita, at Episcopal Divinity School

Katheryn Pfisterer Darr, Editor
Professor of Hebrew Bible at Boston University

Engaging the Bible: Critical Readings from Contemporary Women

Edited by Choi Hee An and Katheryn Pfisterer Darr
Format: 5.5” x 8.5”, paperback, 144 pages
ISBN: 0-8006-3565-5
Price: $18.00
Publisher: Fortress Press
Rights: World

To order Engaging the Bible please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the Web site at To request review copies (for media), or to discuss speaking engagements or interviews, please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or e-mail To request exam copies for classroom use (professors) go to

Review of Biblical Literature latest

Latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the NT heading:

David A. Ackerman
Lo, I Tell You a Mystery: Cross, Resurrection, and Paranesis in the Rhetoric of 1 Corinthians
Reviewed by Michael R. Licona

Dale C. Allison
Studies in Matthew: Interpretation Past and Present
Reviewed by Graham N. Stanton

John T. Fitzgerald, Thomas H. Olbricht, and L. Michael White, eds.
Early Christianity and Classical Culture: Comparative Studies in Honor of Abraham J. Malherbe
Reviewed by Joseph Verheyden

Karen L. King
The Secret Revelation of John
Reviewed by David E. Aune

Michael Willett Newheart
"My Name Is Legion": The Story and Soul of the Gerasene Demoniac
Reviewed by W. R. Telford

Richard W. Swanson
Provoking the Gospel of Luke: A Storyteller's Commentary: Year C
Reviewed by Joel B. Green

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians? II

In comments here and in a post today on Busybody, The Difficulty of Dating Galatians, Loren Rosson asks about the relationship of the following, similar formulas:
1 Cor. 12.13: For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit.

Gal. 3.27-8: For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
The relationship of the two formulas is clear not only from the Jew / Greek and slave / free pairings but also the fact that both have an explicitly baptismal context. But where Gal. 3.28 has "there is neither male nor female", this is absent from 1 Cor. 12.13. Now if 1 Corinthians was written after Galatians, Paul has taken out the male and female phrase, perhaps in light of the issues in Corinth connected with women in worship (1 Cor. 11.3-16; 14.33b-6). In Heretics, Lüdemann calls this a "treacherous" move, if I remember correctly. So here is an advantage if Galatians post-dates 1 Corinthians: Paul's addition of the more liberated "male nor female" represents his more mature, developed thought, not something that he dropped because his attitude had changed.

But of course we do not arrange Paul's letters in a particular order so that they become more palatable for us. The question is whether the historian can imagine why Paul might have added the phrase in Galatians? As it happens, there is a good reason. Galatians is all about circumcision. Paul is insistent that Gentile males in Christ do not need to be circumcised; indeed, to accept it is tantamount to turning to another gospel. In such a context, one of the issues relates to women. The discussion in Galatians is all, typically, a very androcentric affair, but what Paul sees in 3.28 is that baptism, unlike circumcision, is an initiation rite that involves women as well as men. Perhaps it was this context that caused him to reformulate the statement. I would like to think so.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians?

I've been doing some thinking about Pauline Chronology recently and one thing that consistently surprises me is that 1 Corinthians is so often held to post-date Galatians. I don't think this is right. I think it more likely that Galatians was written after 1 Corinthians, but before 2 Corinthians. The strongest evidence for this is the role played by the collection in the Corinthian letters and the epistle to the Romans:
1 Cor. 16.1-4: ‘Now concerning the contribution for the saints: as I directed the churches of Galatia, so you also are to do. On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that contributions need not be made when I come. And when I arrive, I will send those whom you accredit by letter to carry your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me.’

2 Cor. 9.1-4: ‘Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the offering for the saints, for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year; and your zeal has stirred up most of them. But I am sending the brethren so that our boasting about you may not prove vain in this case, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be; lest if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we be humiliated - to say nothing of you - for being so confident.’

Rom. 15: 24 For I do hope to see you on my journey and to be sent on by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a little while. 25 At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem in a ministry to the saints; 26 for Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to share their resources with the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do this, and indeed they owe it to them; for if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material things. 28 So, when I have completed this, and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will set out by way of you to Spain.
It cannot escape the most cursory of readers that Galatia has dropped out in between the writing of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. Paul is still on good terms with the Galatians in 1 Corinthians, and has recently given them directions concerning the collection. By 2 Corinthians and Romans, they are no longer mentioned as participants in the collection. The rupture with the Galatian churches, to which the epistle to the Galatians bears witness, has occurred in between the writing of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. Paul has lost those churches, and Galatians is his last desperate attempt to win back people he sees as apostate.

That 1 Corinthians was written before the Galatian crisis is clear not just from the role played by the collection but also by comparing remarks made in the respective epistles. Consider the following, one of the most remarkable things Paul ever said:
1 Cor. 7.19, Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Keeping God's commands is what counts.
The very problem he faced in Galatia was that his opponents were stressing circumcision as a commandment of God. He would not have said something like that after the difficulties at Galatia. Indeed, the Galatian experience encourages him to reformulate the above remark:
Gal. 5.6: For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

Gal. 6.15: Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation.
The similarity in tone between 2 Cor. 10-13 and Galatians has often been remarked upon, and it is a similarity that makes still more sense if 2 Corinthians and Galatians were written close in time to one another.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Brondos Reframes Pauline Theology

This is the latest from Fortress (strange -- all this free advertising and still not a free book in sight):
Brondos Reframes Pauline Theology

MINNEAPOLIS (September 15, 2006)— Even as theologians have become more critical of classic theories of atonement, biblical scholars have continued to rely upon such theories as a basis for interpreting Paul's teaching regarding salvation and the cross. In the newly released Paul on the Cross, David A. Brondos looks to the recent advances in New Testament scholarship to argue for an alternative understanding of Paul's doctrine of salvation and the cross.

Paul, says Brondos, understood Jesus' death primarily as the consequence of his mission: to serve as God's instrument to bring about the long-awaited redemption of Israel, in which Gentiles throughout the world would also be included. For Paul, Jesus' death is salvific not because it satisfies some necessary condition for human salvation, as most doctrines of the atonement have traditionally maintained, nor because it effects some change in the situation of human beings or the world in general. Rather, Jesus' God responded to Jesus' faithfulness unto death by raising him, thereby ensuring that all the divine promises of salvation would be fulfilled through him.

Jesus' death forms part of an overarching story culminating in the redemption of Israel and the world. It is this story, and in particular what preceded and followed Jesus' death on the cross, that makes that death redemptive for Paul.

“Brondos offers a fresh rereading of the Gospels, Acts, and the Pauline letters that will spur others to reread and rethink these texts. His argument raises significant challenges to those who caricature Paul as the inventor of Christianity, as will as to those who follow the ‘New Perspective on Paul.’ This book will serve as a valuable stimulus for exegetical and theological clarification regarding the atonement, the story of redemption, and the Christian view of time.”

Mark Reasoner, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies, Bethel University; author of Romans in Full Circle: A History of Interpretation (2005).

David A. Brondos is Professor of Theology at the Theological Community of Mexico, an ecumenical consortium of seminaries in Mexico City, where he teaches systematic theology and biblical studies. An ordained ELCA minister, he is author of The Letter and the Spirit: Discerning God’s Will in a Complex World, Lutheran Voices (2005).

Paul on the Cross: Reconstructing the Apostle’s Story of Redemption

By David A. Brondos

Format: 6” x 9”, paperback, 256 pages

ISBN: 0-8006-3788-7

Price: $20.00

Publisher: Fortress Press

Rights: World

To order Paul on the Cross please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the Web site at To request review copies (for media), or to discuss speaking engagements or interviews, please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or e-mail To request exam copies for classroom use (professors) go to

The Pope on Harnack and the New Testament -- and Muslims

Pope Benedict's recent speech at the University of Regensburg in Germany (September 12), a celebration of the role played by logos as reason in theology, has some interesting remarks about "dehellenization" in the history of Christianity, which I draw to your attention lest you missed them in the current fracas surrounding other parts of the speech. Quoting from a (not great) English translation on The Guardian:
The liberal theology of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries ushered in a second stage in the process of dehellenization, with Adolf von Harnack as its outstanding representative. When I was a student, and in the early years of my teaching, this programme was highly influential in Catholic theology too. It took as its point of departure Pascal's distinction between the God of the philosophers and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

In my inaugural lecture at Bonn in 1959, I tried to address the issue, and I do not intend to repeat here what I said on that occasion, but I would like to describe at least briefly what was new about this second stage of dehellenization.

Harnack's central idea was to return simply to the man Jesus and to his simple message, underneath the accretions of theology and indeed of hellenization: this simple message was seen as the culmination of the religious development of humanity. Jesus was said to have put an end to worship in favour of morality. In the end he was presented as the father of a humanitarian moral message.

Fundamentally, Harnack's goal was to bring Christianity back into harmony with modern reason, liberating it, that is to say, from seemingly philosophical and theological elements, such as faith in Christ's divinity and the triune God. In this sense, historical-critical exegesis of the New Testament, as he saw it, restored to theology its place within the university: theology, for Harnack, is something essentially historical and therefore strictly scientific.

What it is able to say critically about Jesus is, so to speak, an expression of practical reason and consequently it can take its rightful place within the university . . . .

. . . . Before I draw the conclusions to which all this has been leading, I must briefly refer to the third stage of dehellenization, which is now in progress. In the light of our experience with cultural pluralism, it is often said nowadays that the synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early Church was a preliminary inculturation which ought not to be binding on other cultures.

The latter are said to have the right to return to the simple message of the New Testament prior to that inculturation, in order to inculturate it anew in their own particular milieux. This thesis is not only false; it is coarse and lacking in precision. The New Testament was written in Greek and bears the imprint of the Greek spirit, which had already come to maturity as the Old Testament developed. True, there are elements in the evolution of the early Church which do not have to be integrated into all cultures. Nonetheless, the fundamental decisions made about the relationship between faith and the use of human reason are part of the faith itself; they are developments consonant with the nature of faith itself . . . .
The speech, especially in translation, does not make easy reading, and I have gone over it several times. How far those gathered would have been able to pick up some of the finer nuances, I'm not sure. What does seem clear is that the media could and should be reporting this speech more responsibly. I am neither a Catholic nor a Muslim, but it is clear that the remarks that are now being widely quoted function in the context of the speech in a way that is not being reported accurately. Most media sources (e.g. today's BBC One O'Clock news, which I often catch while eating my breakfast here) are able to see that when talking about violence, the Pope was quoting Manuel II Paleologus (described as "the erudite Byzantine emperor", late 14th century), but what is more important is that the remarks are quoted in order to get to what in fact is the theme of the whole speech, Faith, Reason and the University,
The decisive statement in this argument against violent conversion is this: not to act in accordance with reason is contrary to God's nature. The editor, Theodore Khoury, observes: For the emperor, as a Byzantine shaped by Greek philosophy, this statement is self-evident.
Nevertheless, I can't help thinking that a little extra caution might have been useful given the brief nature of the quotation and discussion of Manuel II Paleologus. I am not an expert on Islam, but I would be troubled by the implication that some might take that Islam does not embrace reason, especially here:
But for Muslim teaching, God is absolutely transcendent. His will is not bound up with any of our categories, even that of rationality. Here Khoury [editor of the Manuel II Paleologus dialogue in question, MSG] quotes a work of the noted French Islamist R Arnaldez, who points out that Ibn Hazn went so far as to state that God is not bound even by his own word, and that nothing would oblige him to reveal the truth to us. Were it God's will, we would even have to practise idolatry.
This is where, I think, some additional clarity and sensitivity might make a useful contribution. And on the other side, those who are overreacting to the speech might well wish to demonstrate the importance of reason in their thinking by engaging it rather than caricaturing it.

Moreschini and Norelli, The Letters of Paul and of the Pauline Tradition

Many thanks to Holger Szesnat for this one, which I've just added to the Paul: Books and Articles page:

Claudio Moreschini and Enrico Norelli, “The Letters of Paul and of the Pauline Tradition”, Chapter 1 in Early Christian Greek and Latin Literature: A Literary History (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005)

It's made available by Hendrickson as a PDF sample chapter. It's such an excellent, clear introduction to issues involved with the study of Paul that I will be recommending it to my undergraduate Paul class.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Split between Paul and Barnabas II

I posted some thoughts the other day on the Split between Paul and Barnabas, wondering whether it might help us with some of those vexing issues of Pauline chronology. There were lots of useful comments, for which thanks to all concerned. A couple of things in particular arise from these: (1) The brief reference to Barnabas in 1 Cor. 9.6 need not imply friendship (e.g. Jim West). (2) The relevance of the data on Barnabas is adjusted if Galatians 2.1-10 = Acts 11.27-30; 12.25 rather than Galatians 2.1-10 = Acts 15. On the second point, I am not at all persuaded by the case that Acts 11.27-30 represents the visit to Jerusalem Paul is talking about in Galatians 2. The case that Acts 15 and Gal. 2 are talking about the same Jerusalem council seems to be to be very strong indeed. I'll blog on why I think so in due course, and also on what I think is going in in Acts 11.27-30. But (1) is, I think, an important objection to making anything of the 1 Cor. 9.6 reference to Barnabas, particularly given that:
  • There is no hint in the Corinthian correspondence that Barnabas played any role in the mission to Corinth. This is a significant silence (i.e. an argument about silence and not an argument from silence) given that others involved in Christian mission in Corinth are mentioned so often, Timothy, Titus, Apollo, Sosthenes.

  • The primary evidence from Paul lines up with the secondary evidence of Acts here, that the split with Barnabas had in fact already happened before the mission to Corinth, let alone 1 Corinthians.

  • If 1 Cor. 9.6 comes from a time before Paul's split with Barnabas, the window for the writing of 1 Corinthians that would be implied by this is simply too small. I can't believe that 1 Corinthians was written in between Jerusalem (Gal. 2.1-10) and Antioch (Gal. 2.11-20).
In short, then, and against my earlier speculation, I doubt that we can make much of 1 Cor. 9.6 as helping us out with Pauline chronology. The split between Paul and Barnabas had already happened by this point, but Barnabas is mentioned in the same way that Paul mentions others who are not actually his best mates, e.g. in the same context the brothers of the Lord and Cephas.

In an unexpected way, though, this has thrown up something relevant for reflecting on Pauline chronology. Given that 1 Corinthians and, indeed, the earlier mission to Corinth, appear to be post the Paul-and-Barnabas partnership, this is an important piece of evidence against Lüdemann's theory of an early mission to Corinth (early 40s). I need to go back to Lüdemann to see if he deals with this, and how.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Teaching Notes 3: A Q Sceptic takes on Q

[Previous posts in this semester's Teaching Notes series: Teaching Paul; Teaching Notes 1; Teaching Notes 2: Playing with Paul on Powerpoint]

I have talked a little in my previous posts about teaching Paul in a course called Rel 108: The Life and Letters of Paul. I have not yet discussed the other undergraduate course I am taking this semester, Rel 102: Introduction to New Testament. This is now the third time that I have take the course at Duke, twice last year and once this (I am only teaching it once a year in future -- twice a year is far too much for the same course, however much fun it is). For some students, this will be their only NT course; for some their only Religion course. For others, it will form the basis for going on to Historical Jesus and / or Life and Letters of Paul. My philosophy with NT Introduction is to try to make it as balanced as possible without making it boring. As far as I am concerned, that means that it is important to take a little extra time if there is a topic of particular interest to the course instructor. It will not, therefore, surprise anyone that I like to take three (75 minute) sessions on the Synoptic Problem.

Broadly, I divide up these sessions into (1) Introduction plus data, (2) Triple Tradition and Marcan Priority, (3) Double Tradition and Q. The first is particularly important -- I am critical of those who launch into the study of the Synoptic Problem by jumping straight to solutions to it. This encourages people to view the data through the lens of the solution in question, usually the Two-Source Theory. In the session on Marcan Priority, I focus in on the competing claims of the Griesbach Hypothesis vs. Marcan Priority theories (i.e. Farrer and Two-Source). In today's session, the third, which focused on Double Tradition and Q, I took half the session to present the case for Q and the second half to present the case against. I thought it might be worth mentioning here since Tim Lewis has called on people to share their experiences of Teaching Q on his new Source Theory blog.

What I attempt to do is to present the case for Q as clearly and strongly as possible. I don't preview objections, I avoid using terms like "supposedly" and "allegedly" and in general make the attempt to imagine myself into the position of a real life Q theorist, something that is not too difficult because I know (and like) quite a lot of them. I enjoy this exercise very much and regard it as indispensable if the students are to get a feel for the generally perceived plausibility of the case for Q. Of course to do this in 30 minutes is not easy, but I distill it to four key arguments (Luke's order, Luke's lack of Matthew's additions to Mark, Luke's lack of M and Alternating Primitivity). After the break (we take a four-five minute break at the mid point), I present the case against Q, attempting to lay out my objections to the points made in the first half. I should add that I am aware that the overall rhetorical effect of doing things like this is to present my own view as the more plausible, and in general students are usually persuaded, at least if their comments and mid-term papers are anything to go by. Given those circumstances, I always make clear that my own view is the minority one, that the Q theory is the majority view and that it essential that they come to terms first hand with what the majority are saying. In an attempt to pursue that goal, for example, I set them Bart Ehrman's chapter on the Synoptic Problem before the class so that they can experience the consensus view directly.

There is one argument I never use in teaching but which always comes through in student written work and comments and I am never entirely sure what to make of it. It seems to worry most undergraduate students a great deal, far more than it worries me, that Q is hypothetical. I always get asked, "But what is the evidence for it?" where by evidence, they mean manuscript witness. When I explain that there isn't any, I get some funny looks. I then often have to explain that this is not as big a deal as it might sound to them, but I am seldom able to convince people about this. I can't imagine what it must be like for a Q theorist who has to deal with the same questions. Perhaps I get asked because they are precociously attempting to add to the problems they perceive that I have with it, but I don't think so.

One of the delights of teaching Duke students is that they so often anticipate objections before one has made them. When I was talking about alternating primitivity as an important argument in favour of Q, I used the text book examples of "Blessed are the poor" vs. "Blessed are the poor in spirit" and "Our father in heaven" vs. "Father". At the beginning of our second half, one student pronounced herself unconvinced by this argument since, she said, it could be that Luke simply liked less flowery, more concise terminology, as she did when she was redacting other people's material. Another pointed out that some appearances of greater primitivity might be illusory given a careful look at Luke's actual preferred characteristics and tendencies. Sometimes I think my job is a bit too easy. (But then again, I'm the one up, working after midnight, reflecting on my teaching!).

N. T. Wright on Trusting the Gospels

Over on Paleojudaica, Jim Davila draws attention to this new piece on Beliefnet:

Can We Trust the Gospels?
None of the Gnostic texts--or any other recently unearthed find--can trump the four canonical gospels
By N.T. Wright

It is apparently an excerpt from Simply Christian: Why Christianity Makes Sense, published earlier this year. Jim quotes the following piece:
The version of Thomas we now have, like most of the Nag Hammadi material, is written in Coptic, a language spoken in Egypt at the time. But it has been demonstrated that Thomas is a translation from Syriac, a language quite like the Aramaic that Jesus must have spoken (though he pretty certainly spoke Greek as well, just as many people in today's world speak English as a second language). But the Syriac traditions that Thomas embodies can be dated, quite reliably, not to the first century at all, but to the second half of the second century. That is over a hundred years after Jesus's own day--in other words, seventy to a hundred years after the time when the four canonical gospels were in widespread use across the early church.
Jim adds that he is "very skeptical in principle of our ability to say that Thomas was composed (or transmitted) specifically in Syriac". So am I. Wright's source for the claim is Nicholas Perrin's Thomas and Tatian: The Relationship Between the Gospel of Thomas and the Diatessaron, which attempts to demonstrate that Thomas was originally composed in Syriac and that it was dependent on the Diatessaron. Nick Perrin (my co-editor on Questioning Q) was Tom Wright's research assistant and it is clear that Wright himself is convinced by the case, but at this point I think it is fair to say that several others are not (e.g. see reviews by Parker, Poirier, Shedinger and Williams). My own qualms, which I have shared with Nick, relate to the verbatim agreement, in Greek, between Thomas and the Synoptics, which create difficulties for the Syriac composition theory.

The excerpt also notes:
What's more, despite efforts to prove the opposite, the sayings of Jesus as they appear in Thomas show clear indications that they are not as original as the parallel material (where it exists) in the canonical gospels. Sayings have, in many cases, been quietly doctored in Thomas to express a very different viewpoint.
I am very much inclined to agree, except that it is important to point out what Wright does not, that the canonical Gospels also feature material that has been "doctored to express a very different viewpoint". Indeed, that is the whole point of redaction criticism. I think one always needs to be careful, in discussions of canonical and non-canonical gospels aimed at beginners with no training in Biblical Studies, to make clear that what one sees in non-canonical gospels is at least in continuity with what is underway in canonical gospels, viz. changes are constantly being made that speak to the needs of that author's differing situation. Having said that, I am inclined to agree with Wright (see the continuation of the paragraph above, which I won't quote here), and against some Thomas scholars, that the "god" of Thomas is often difficult to equate with the God of the canonical Gospels, especially in relation to the role played by the Scriptures in Thomas. I can't see anything that implies respect for the Old Testament in Thomas and a lot that implies disdain.

Another statement needs some qualification, I think:
Thomas and the other works like it--that is, almost all the so-called "gospels" outside the New Testament--are collections of sayings. There is hardly any narrative about things Jesus did or things that happened to him.
This seems to me to be an overstatement. "Almost all"? Gospel of Peter, Protevangelium of James, just to mention two of the earliest?

On the other hand, it is always refreshing to hear Q scepticism making its way into popular books:
I have never shared the enthusiasm for a source widely referred to as "Q," which many suppose lies behind Matthew and Luke.
In my own case, I have always wished I could share the enthusiasm some have for Q because it would so greatly add to our concrete data from early Christianity to know that there was this written source that pre-dated Matthew and Luke. It is to Wright's credit that he does not take the easy road here popular with many a conservative critic to seize on the Q hypothesis as a means of securing early, accurate information about Jesus' preaching.

Update (Thursday, 20.24): Michael Bird comments on Perrin's book on Euangelion.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Unnecessary abbreviation

I mentioned earlier a review of Mark Chancey's recent book and it gives me the opportunity to make a minor gripe. The reviewer begins "Mark Chancey (hereafter C.) . . ." and then for the rest of the review it is "C. says" etc. Is it just me or do others find this unnecessary abbreviation, even of authors' names, rather annoying? Does it really take so much longer to write "Chancey" than to write "C."? If one is annoyed by having to write that each time, one could easily write a little macro, or do a find and replace or similar. It certainly doesn't take any longer to read "Chancey" than "C."; in fact to read the actual name is quicker because you don't keep stopping to think, "Now who is the author again?" I take this review just as an example of this bizarre bit of contemporary style; it's now pretty common. Much too common for my liking.

Update (Wednesday, 20.55): See several useful comments on this post and especially Brandon Wason's remark that it is apparently obligatory for the BMCR, which I had forgotten. All the more reason for one to complain about it, of course. To encapsulate what I think is problematic and surprising about this usage: it is note form creeping into published prose, remarkable in an electronic era where one does not even need physically to type out every common word. This kind of thing should be becoming less common now and not more.

Richard Hays gives Prevatte Lecture Series

This news release appears on Campbell University's website and relates to a renowned colleague at Duke:

Campbell Divinity School to host Prevatte Lecture Series
Campbell University’s Divinity School will host its annual Prevatte Biblical Studies Lecture series next month.

Dr. Richard Hays, the George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School will deliver a series entitled “Reading Scripture Through the Eyes of the Gospel Writers”. The first lecture will be held Monday, October 23rd at 7:00 pm in Taylor Hall. The second and third lectures will be held on Tuesday, October 24th at 10:40 am and at 1:45 pm. Tuesday services will be held at Memorial Baptist Church, adjacent to campus. The series is open to students and alumni of the Divinity School as well as ministers and interested lay persons in the region . . .
Click on the link above for the full press release.

Mark Chancey, Greco-Roman Culture and the Galilee of Jesus

On his Novum Testamentum blog, Brandon Wason draws attention to this BMCR Review:

Mark A. Chancey, Greco-Roman Culture and the Galilee of Jesus (Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series, 134; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006)
Reviewed by Thomas J. Kraus, Hilpoltstein

I was delighted to hear about this second book from Chancey, following hot on the heels of his Myth of a Gentile Galilee, a revised version of his Duke PhD dissertation. A quick visit to the Cambridge University Press website gives one a good amount of information about the book including an excerpt (pp. 1-10 of the book, which breaks off just as you are getting interested, which, I suppose, is the point) and link to a Google Book Search on it:

Greco-Roman Culture and the Galilee of Jesus
Mark A. Chancey

Review of Biblical Literature latest

Latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the NT and related heading:

David Brakke
Demons and the Making of the Monk: Spiritual Combat in Early Christianity
Reviewed by Virginia Burrus

Jo-Ann Brant, Charles W. Hedrick, and Chris Shea, eds.
Ancient Fiction: The Matrix of Early Christian and Jewish Narrative
Reviewed by Loveday Alexander

Steve Moyise and Maarten J. J. Menken, eds.
Isaiah in the New Testament
Reviewed by Michael P. Knowles

John Nolland
The Gospel of Matthew
Reviewed by James P. Sweeney

James A. Smith
Marks of an Apostle: Deconstruction, Philippians, and Problematizing Pauline Theology
Reviewed by Veronica Koperski

Robert B. Stewart, ed.
The Resurrection of Jesus: John Dominic Crossan and N. T. Wright in Dialogue
Reviewed by Michael R. Licona

Stephen D. Renn, ed.
Expository Dictionary of Bible Words: Word Studies for Key English Bible Words Based on the Hebrew and Greek Texts: Coded to the Revised Strong's Numbering System
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

R. S. Sugirtharajah, ed.
The Postcolonial Biblical Reader
Reviewed by Peter Smit

Friday, September 08, 2006

The Split between Paul and Barnabas

I have been wondering recently whether Barnabas might help us with some of the vexed problems of sorting out Paul's chronology. Paul and Luke are agreed that there was a major split between Paul and Barnabas, and they are agreed on the timing, not long after the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15 // Gal. 2.1-10), though they disagree on the content of the dispute between them:
Gal. 2. 11. But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13. The rest of the Judeans joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.

Acts 15. 36 Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.
He never appears again in Acts, nor does he appear again in Paul's correspondence except in 1 Corinthians 9, one tantalising, brief reference:
1 Cor. 9.6: “Or do only Barnabas and I not have a right to refrain from working?”
It looks like, when writing 1 Corinthians, Paul was still friendly with Barnabas. But if that is the case, we have only a narrow window for the writing of 1 Corinthians. The letter is clearly written after the Jerusalem Council since the collection is now underway (see 1 Cor. 16), but if it is also written while Paul is still friendly with Barnabas, it is written in that narrow window between the events reported in Gal. 2.1-10 (Jerusalem Council) and Gal. 2.11-20 (Dispute at Antioch). Is that a large enough window?

Introduction to Textual Criticism

Following on from Pete Williams's question about the best introduction to textual criticism, Stephen Carlson offers his opinion. Debate is between the Alands and Metzger. But I'd start anyone off with David Parker, The Living Text of the Gospels (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997). Amazon have it on "Search Inside" so you can get a good taster before buying. And there are limited previews on Google Books too, like a lot of CUP's stuff. I recommend this book because it introduces you not just to the discipline of textual criticism but also to why it matters and why it is interesting.

Source Theory Blog

Let me join Stephen Carlson in his welcome to Tim Lewis's new blog, Source Theory, which aims to "introduce the Synoptic Problem to students", one of my favourite topics, and something that has been on my mind over the last week or two since I am currently covering that with my New Introduction Class. Welcome, Tim. I've added the blog to my blogroll.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Electronic editions of LNTS / JSNTS

Many thanks to Daniel Foster for the following news from Logos Software:

We now have three prepublication products on offer that include volumes from JSNTS or articles from JSNT:

Library of NT Studies: JSNTS on Paul (17 volumes)

Library of NT Studies: JSNTS on the Gospels and Acts (16 volumes)

Sheffield Reader Collection (12 volumes)

These collections, along with the host of other products coming out of the Continuum über-license, enhance the theological breadth and variety of resources available for Logos Bible Software. We hope to attract new users who have never given a thought to Logos or who haven't checked in lately and don't realize what a wide range of material is being made available for our platform.
I have also belatedly added Logos Bible Software Blog to my blogroll. (I've dropped some other currently silent blogs into Limbo at the same time. As always, they return to the blogroll once they revive).

10,000 + spam messages

Is anyone else getting spammed furiously at the moment? Most of my spam goes straight into my Gmail spam folder -- Gmail has a pretty good filter. But because of the odd bit of bleed-through into my Inbox, one can spot trends and I noticed this morning that I had received over 10,000 (ten thousand) spam messages since last night. That is a seriously large amount, isn't it? Good thing I didn't have to delete them all manually.

Paula on Paul

On Paleojudaica, Jim Davila draws attention to a great interview with Paula Fredriksen on Vision:

Interviews: Paula Fredriksen
Paul and Paula

You can read the full interview, or you can watch a clip. It's full of interesting remarks, and would be ideal for new students of Paul -- I am going to recommend it to my class. Some personal highlights:
The way most modern people get their idea of ancient history is through the movies. In the movies, Romans dress differently from everybody else. The Romans are the ones speaking with a British accent, and the good, liberty-loving slaves are speaking with American accents. It’s an oral coding for the different populations.
It is so encouraging that an American has spotted that too, an aspect of American films British people often laugh about. (It's not just true of the ancient world; baddies in American films set in the contemporary world often have English accents, even when they are supposed to be French or German).
In I, Claudius, when Herod Agrippa comes on stage after he’s been home in Palestine for a few years, he has prayer curls the way an 18th-century Polish Jew would, because the movie has only a few seconds to indicate visually who the character is. But the historical Herod, of course, would have looked just like any other Roman. And Paul, for that matter, would probably have been clean-shaven too. People dress like each other if they’re contemporary. This idea of clearly separate populations comes from trying to code these people—historically, when we try to distinguish between them, and also visually, with movies, to make it easier to tell the story. In real life, these populations all swim in the same sea. The Western Jewish population is speaking the great Western vernacular of Greek, and there’s a normal tendency to adopt local habits.
I must admit that I've never imagined Paul as clean shaven, but come to think of it, that description of his appeareance in The Acts of Paul and Thecla does not mention a beard (and it does mention his eyebrows). I was also intrigued by Prof. Fredriksen's answer to the following:
DH: We hear increasingly about the new perspective on Paul; what exactly is the “old” perspective?

PF: The old perspective on Paul is that he became a Christian, and that that meant something other than being Jewish. It’s captured very nicely in a children’s Christian cartoon I once saw, where Paul is on the road to Damascus, and he has the Jewish male head covering—the kippa—on his head. He gets knocked down, the shining light is on him, Jesus speaks to him, and for the rest of the cartoon he doesn’t have a kippa anymore. Finished. He’s “Christian.” Christianity is so easily imagined as somehow the opposite of Judaism, because that’s how Christianity has presented Judaism to itself in the centuries long after Paul. In Paul’s lifetime, Christianity is only understandable as an extreme form of Judaism. And Paul thinks of himself as a Jew. What’s his choice? The only other option would be to think of himself as a gentile.
But I would also have liked to have heard her answer to the question "What is the new perspective?" because the answer to that question is not entirely clear to me. It's a bit like "What is the third quest of the historical Jesus?" It is coming to mean some quite different things to different people. I hope to post a little more on my thoughts on that, as it happens, in due course.

Judith Newman on Scripturalization

It's good to see the following abstract mentioned on Torrey Seland's Philo of Alexandria blog:

Judith H. Newman, University of Toronto
The Composition of Prayers and Songs in Philo's De Vita Contemplativa (30 min)
(30 min)
Abstract: "In contrast to Greek pagan prayer and in spite of its infinite variety, early Jewish prayers are marked by their interpretive engagement with Torah. How can we account for this production of scripturalized prayers? This paper compares the "philosophy" practiced by the Therapeutae at Mareotis with the nature and function of prayers at Qumran to argue that all such utterances were offered as manifestations of internalized torah, conceived through the prophetic gift of divine spirit."

This is part of a session at the SBL Annual Meeting in November with the following information:

S19-72Philo of Alexandria
Joint Session With: Philo of Alexandria, History and Literature of Early Rabbinic Judaism
11/19/2006 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM Room: 140A - CC
Theme: Reception of Philo of Alexandria in Rabbinic Judaism and Early Christianity: The Question Revisited

The entire session looks most interesting, and lines up James Kugel (Newman's teacher), Maren Niehoff and Daniel Boyarin. (Perhaps I may add that I am a fan of Kugel's work -- his The Bible as It Was is a real favourite).

The reason for my interest in Newman's work on what she calls "scripturalization" is that I have attempted to apply the same concept to New Testament texts and specifically the Passion Narrative. I have a piece due out soon on this called "Scripturalization in Mark's Crucifixion Narrative" in Geert Van Oyen and Tom Shepherd (eds.), The Passion in Mark (Contributions to Biblical Exegesis and Theology; Leuven: Peeters, 2006): 33-47. I have another article on the same topic due out next year.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Zhubert addition of LSJ

The fantastic has now added access to Liddell-Scott (as well as Middle Liddell) via the Perseus site (see LSJ and Middle Liddell Lexicons Online). This means that you can click on a given word in the Greek NT on Zhubert and as well as word frequencies and all the other things you go to Zhubert for, you can also get a direct link to LSJ and Middle Liddell.

Teaching Notes 2: Playing with Paul on Powerpoint

[See also Teaching Paul and Teaching Notes 1]

Monday night was the second of my classes on The Life and Letters of Paul, another two-and-a-half hour slot. This one confirmed to me what I suspected from the first class, and what one could in any case have predicted, that this is a long session and that concentration and energy levels are flagging by the end, for the students too. The 15 minute break mid-way is very much needed, and I was pleased that there was a good amount of interaction from the students in the first half. I had asked them to read the second half of Acts as preparation (alongside a couple of chapters of Horrell) and they were full of interesting questions and observations. As the semester progresses, I am going to formalize the process of interacting on the pre-class reading by providing lists of questions they have to answer on the passages in question, and they will bring these to the class.

The topic yesterday was "The Paul of Acts and the Paul of the Letters". Some of this is enjoyably straightforward, introduction to the issues surrounding what Luke tells us about Paul and what Paul tells us about Paul, but other parts are more complex. In particular, Pauline chronology, and getting Acts alongside Galatians (and the rest) is a topic that is not easy to introduce to newcomers and it takes a little patience and teasing out. And for the first time in such a course, I decided to spend some time on the order (sequence) of Paul's letters, not least because it is a topic that I have begun to find fascinating and rewarding myself. Teaching is always so much more enjoyable, both for the teacher and the students, if the teacher has a particular perspective on the evidence, an original idea or a different slant.

As I was preparing my fairly detailed hand-out, I began to wonder whether the hand-out might on this occasion be usefully supplemented with a Powerpoint Presentation. As I mentioned last time, one of the perks of a larger class is that you get to teach in one of the nice large Divinity School classrooms, and these offer you far better technical facilities. In other words, you don't have to take in your own laptop and spend ages unlocking boxes and setting up. There is a console with full room controls, PC, CD and DVD player, big screen, microphone, the works. I don't think I have ever used Powerpoint before in a regular undergraduate lecture. I am one of those who sometimes uses it in public lectures or presentations, especially where I need to provide illustrations, but I find its usefulness limited in the weekly class. On this occasion, though, the thing that made me want to use it was the complexity of the data on the hand-out, with lots of quotations, views and ins-and-outs. I was concerned about two related things: (1) Would the students be able to follow the material on the hand-out, along with my lecture, over such a long period? (2) Would I be able to follow the material on the hand-out over such a long period? My concern on the latter is that I tend to prepare lectures carefully, but I deliver them largely from memory, occasionally using the hand-out to remind me of structure. But the more detailed the hand-out and the longer the class, the less straightforward it is to do that. So the Powerpoint Presentation acted as a kind of autocue, an aid for me keeping my thoughts coherent and ordered.

I was quite pleased with this as a device. It helped greatly in keeping me focused on the right material in the right order. Order is important -- it is too easy for me to leap to a related point that I might, in fact, have been planning to use at a different and more appropriate point. And it is too easy to miss out a given point altogether because one's eyes have slipped on the hand-out, or one's memory has forgotten the structure.

I began thinking about the use of Powerpoint again recently having read Scot McKnight's "curmudeongly carpings" in PowerPointing in Class: Not! on Jesus Creed, a post that received 68 comments, coming in all directions. I think I stand somewhere in the middle on this kind of debate. My general feeling is: use it if it is going to enhance your presentation in an important way; don't use if for its own sake. I suspect that Prof. McKnight might, one of these days, become a convert -- his seventh point, in which he admits that it has some uses, sounds like someone teetering on the edge of dabbling in it. Of his other points, the first, "it minimizes the word and the ability to speak with words", need only be the case if one uses it badly or inappropriately. One might as well say the same thing about hand-outs, which can also be used well or misused. The second point, though, I have a lot of sympathy with:
About 50% of the time something goes wrong: the computer doesn’t work, the connection doesn’t work, the screen doesn’t come down.
Too true; that's happened to me many a time, and I stopped using technology in classes in Birmingham for that reason. The only thing I'd add here is that it is ideal, if possible, to get to the classroom in good time, well ahead of the class. You can then check that everything is working fine. If you you are lucky enough to have Teaching Assistants, as I am, you can even ask them to do this (but I like to know for myself that everything's working -- a little neurosis doesn't do one any harm).

Further comments on Scot McKnight's critique:
Third, it’s an all-consuming passion for some to the effect that without PowerPoint they can’t teach. You can tell this when the stuff doesn’t work: they don’t know what to do with themselves.
If that's the case, then they are simply bad teachers and they have a lot of work to do. I must admit that I have sometimes wondered if Powerpoint helps to turn bad teachers into mediocre ones.
Fourth, most of the time it is just outlines on the screen; hand them out or speak your way through them. It permits more eye contact.
I agree that eye contact is important. One of the things that I dislike about Powerpoint is that it can encourage people to stare at the screen instead of engaging with me. The "hand them out" point, though, draws attention to one of the values of Powerpoint. If you have a detailed hand-out, you can then use Powerpoint to provide some visual representation of a handful of key points. In other words, I would always want to use it in addition to a hand-out and not instead. If you have hearing-impaired people in your class too, a detailed hand-out is ideal -- they then have a resource to take home and study and which can supplement the Powerpoint.
Fifth, it takes so much time to produce a presentation that its yield is less than its effort. How do I know this? I hear profs and preachers talk about how much time is involved.
No, I don't agree with this. It takes 30-40 minutes to put a simple Powerpoint presentation together, perhaps even less if you have already prepared your hand-out. And if you've used one once, you can go back and enhance it on another occasion.
Sixth — this is probably the bottom-line for me (that’s a pun) — it seems to me to be the transfer of the business model to the classroom, and teaching the arts and humanities is not business. Business dazzles. Human communication is not dazzling: it’s eye ball to eye ball talking.
Agreed, yet there are topics in our area that are data-intensive. This week I've had Pauline chronology on Monday and Synoptic Problem today, both data-rich, intensive subjects. Indeed, unless the students get a basic feeling for the data, they will have no idea how to navigate their way through the solutions (perhaps one of the reasons that some students want to rush to theories and solutions before they have mastered the data). I reckon that on such occasions, or on occasions where lots of pictures are going to be helpful, Powerpoint can be ideal. But it's like any tool: it's the way you use it that matters.

However, I am not sure whether I will use it again in the near future. One of the things that I dislike about it in the undergraduate regular lecture context is that it makes it harder to encourage student participation, not least because it gives the impression that they are an audience of a show, the passive participants in someone else's performance.