Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Article on the Passion

And still they keep coming. This well-written piece by Thomas Doherty appears today in Australian newspaper The Age, apparently originally in Los Angeles Times:

Personal Passion Breaks Hollywood's Commandments

What Doherty says about DeMille ("he covered all the theological bases by placing on the payroll a Protestant minister, a Catholic priest and a rabbi") is still more clearly getting played out in the theological advisory committee behind The Gospel of John, which is beginning to look like a brilliant move. Doherty obviously knows his Jesus films; I like his one-word characterisations of the following and may have to use them for essay questions in the future,

Only with the collapse of the Production Code did offbeat and irreverent portraits dare to desecrate the image: countercultural (Jesus Christ Superstar, 1973), blasphemous (Monty Python's Life of Brian, 1979) and hallucinatory (Martin Scorsese's The Last Temptation of Christ, 1988).

Also worth noting -- he gives a release date of Ash Wednesday, February 2004, presumably for Australia?

Homosexuality and the Bible from Fortress

This press release on a timely book is just out from Fortress Press:

Scholars Debate Homosexuality and the Bible in New Book from Fortress Press

MINNEAPOLIS (September 30, 2003)— Few recent issues have sparked such debate in the churches as homosexuality, same-sex unions, and ordination of gays and lesbians. A new Fortress Press book is being praised for its frank presentation of two sharply contrasting views on the biblical witness.

This debate strikes such a deep chord for a number of reasons. Open dialogue in the Christian churches on these topics is still fairly recent. And sexual identity is so fundamental to personal identity that these questions are not simple decisions but cut to the core of one’s humanity. The issues at stake are complex and include biblical interpretation, biology, psychology, sociology, law, ethics, and church politics. Furthermore, there are deep emotions manifested in the church’s discussions: guilt, shame, anger, fear, and embarrassment about discussing in public issues surrounding such deeply private matters. A key point of contention is the biblical witness—its meaning, use, and authority.

In Fortress Press’s newly released Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views, two New Testament scholars examine the biblical passages on the subject of same-sex sexual behavior and how this relates to modern questions of construing homosexuality and sexual orientation. Discussing both Old Testament and New Testament passages, each author also raises important interpretive and moral questions and then offers a response to the other’s assumptions, assertions, and conclusions.

Chief questions examined by professors Dan O. Via and Robert A. J. Gagnon include the distinctions between purity systems and sin, the church’s use of ancient Israel’s laws, the nature of the practices Paul was addressing, how the biblical passages relate to our contemporary concerns, the church’s treatment of members who are homosexuals, and the assumptions we bring to reading the Bible in our modern contexts.

It is hoped that these contributions will inform readers, enliven the discussion, and bring fresh perspective to these issues-for personal reflection, in congregational study groups, in college and seminary courses, and in church judicatory assemblies.

Praise for Homosexuality and the Bible

Homosexuality and the Bible is a timely contribution that should be read by all sides in the debate that threatens to divide all churches. I know of no other work that so clearly illumines the biblical issues at the heart of the controversy surrounding homosexuality.”

Stanley Hauerwas
Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School

“This is an excellent contribution to a debate which is set to run and run in most parts of Christendom. I know of no finer presentation of all the main issues. The authors set out their cases and responses to one another with rigour and yet with an admirable absence of rancour. Be warned: this book may force you to change your mind!”

Graham Stanton
Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge

“The issue of homosexuality before the church is indeed a wearisome task, and people of good will on both sides of the vexing question wish we could for a while talk about something else. But of course that is not possible because not only are there real issues at stake, but the lives of real people are at risk around the issue. This book presents the key arguments, pro and con, with clarity, reasoned thought, and for the most part with civil discourse. We will wait, along with Via and Gagnon, to be led to newness beyond competing advocacies to a new chapter yet to be written. That of course is the work of the Spirit. . . .”

Walter Brueggemann
William Marcellus McPheeters Professor Emeritus of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary

“With unmatched clarity, the two sides of the homosex debate are set forth. Persons who read this volume will make their decision ‘knowing the issues.’”

Charles H. Talbert
Distinguished Professor of Religion, Baylor University

“This particular dialogue book should further the discussion of this important matter, as it lays out well the exegetical, hermeneutical, and personal issues involved and at stake. Highly recommended.”

Ben Witherington III
Professor of New Testament, Asbury Theological Seminary

“Two esteemed New Testament scholars claim the Bible as ultimate authority for Christian faith and life, address the biblical witness regarding homosexuality, and come to strikingly different conclusions. How can this be? Issues of exegetical meaning and theological method are pivotal, and the interpretive choices confronting us are here clearly on display. Christian leaders and churches challenged by questions surrounding the voice and role of Scripture on same-sex relations will find in this dialogue an invaluable chart for navigating these confusing waters.

Joel B. Green
Dean of the School of Theology and Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Asbury Theological Seminary

“Here, in brief and eminently readable form, are presented two opposing views of the controversy that rages within our churches. Robert Gagnon’s brilliant and lucid condensation of his principle arguments should be a significant asset for clergy and laity alike, while Dan Via opens new vistas and challenges.”

Catherine Clark Kroeger
Associate Professor of Classical and Ministry Studies, Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary

“This book presents a vigorous and illuminating debate about the implications of scripture for contemporary attitudes toward homosexuality. While I find Via’s arguments more cogent, the debate itself will be quite helpful to Christians as they think through their own positions in light of scripture. I strongly recommend this book.”

James F. Childress, Hollingsworth Professor of Ethics, University of Virginia

“Two adept spokespersons propound contrasting ways of listening to Scripture on the question of same-sex erotic relationships. Readers who already hold positions on either extreme will likely find here only reinforcement for their views. But the great, often silent, majority in the middle that struggles with this vexing issue will find provocative material on both sides that begs for critical reflection.”

Robert L. Brawley
Albert G. McGaw Professor of New Testament, McCormick Theological Seminary

Dan O. Via is Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Duke University Divinity School. He is author of several Fortress Press books, including The Ethics of Mark’s Gospel (1985), Self-Deception and Wholeness in Paul and Matthew (1990), and What is New Testament Theology? (2002).

Robert A. J. Gagnon is Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and author of The Bible and Homosexual Practice (2001).


Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views

By Dan O. Via and Robert A. J. Gagnon
ISBN 0-8006-3618-X Paperback 127pp 5.5” X 8.5”" $13.00 (Canada $20.95)

To order Homosexuality and the Bible please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the web site at www.fortresspress.com. To request review copies or exam copies please visit the website at www.fortresspress.com or call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234. For interviews, speaking engagements, and writing assignments please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or email toddb@augsburgfortress.org

Corpus Paul info.

A correspondent points out that the Corpus Paulinum information page has out of date information on how to subscribe to the list. The correct information can be found here so I've added a note to my E-Lists page while we await Jeffrey Gibson's update.

Monday, September 29, 2003

Enthusiasm for Gospel of John

Still the Visual Bible Gospel of John gets good publicity, though often of the "Before there was Mel, there was Garth" variety you see here from the New York Times:

Appeareth St. John, Quietly, Cautiously

Visual Bible have just put out a press release too:

New Jesus Film Receives Rave Reviews from Top Media

Crucifixion through the wrists

Jim Davila mentions several other films which get crucifixion right. While preparing materials for a Jesus and the Gospels course which I begin tomorrow, I noticed Jim Charlesworth's article on Jesus and Jehohanan: An Archaeological Note on Crucifixion, an ExpT article from 1973 but reproduced by PBS.

Torrey Seland adds discussion board

I know I'm not the only one who pays regular visits to Torrey Seland's pioneering Biblical Resources site. A recent addition (last week) is a discussion board; nothing on it yet except Torrey's introductory message but I'm sure that will soon change:

Resource Pages for Biblical Studies ("Discussion Board" on left).

Beginning of term blues

After days of happy blogging, the beginning of term (technically yesterday but I'm still up so it doesn't feel like yesterday) absorbs every last minute spare and then more time too. Add to that that I needed to get my tax return in by today, one of the worst jobs in the world, and umpteen other things. I caught a bit of Beyond Belief, last in the series, while working earlier. It was a discussion of homosexuality and as you might imagine there was plenty about scriptural interpretation. Also this evening, the latest Review of Biblical Literature reviews were announced. Here are NT related ones:

Griffith, Terry
Keep Yourselves from Idols: A New Look at 1 John

Légasse, Simon
L' épitre de Paul aux Romains

Schnackenburg, Rudolf
The Gospel of Matthew

Vines, Michael E.
The Problem of Markan Genre: The Gospel of Mark and the Jewish Novel

Wire, Antoinette Clark
Holy Lives, Holy Deaths: A Close Hearing of Early Jewish Storytellers

Sunday, September 28, 2003

The Passion again

Jim Davila reports on another article on The Passion, this one in Toledoblade.com. Apparently there is now a petition web site, seethepassion.com. Small item of interest -- that Mel Gibson's hands make an appearance in the film -- in banging the nails into Jesus' hands. (You can see them in the trailer). Jim Davila comments that it is a shame that they are depicted as nailing through the palms rather than the wrists. I can think of at least two films where they do nail through the wrists, The Day Christ Died (practically the last shot in the film) and Jesus (Roger Young, 1999), both TVMs interestingly enough. Anyone know of any others?

Christ in the Crossfire

Don't you love those newspaper headlines? An excellent article summing up everything that's been happenning on The Passion news stories in the U.S. is in today's Observer (which for the non-Brit readers is the UK's oldest surviving Sunday newspaper):

Christ in the Crossfire

Explorator 6.22

It's Sunday afternoon, so the latest Explorator has just arrived:

Explorator 6.22, September 28 2003

Friday, September 26, 2003

SBL site completely revamped

Jim Davila draws attention to the completely revamped SBL site:

Society of Biblical Literature

The new site design is leaps and bounds better than the old one, which was -- frankly -- a bit of a dog's dinner. Much more intuitive and easy to use. There's a new forum on the front page:

SBL Forum, the new online presence of the Society of Biblical Literature. SBL Forum features essays, interviews, and news from the world of biblical scholarship, plus digital resources, opportunities in the field, and Society activities. Our premier issue celebrates the King James Bible, which was commissioned almost 400 years ago.

I've had a look round the rest of the site and most of it is the same material much better organised, e.g. the Biblical Fonts page is looking good. One development is that it seems that the Journal of Biblical Literature now has free back issues. You only have to log in with your SBL membership number for the current issue. This tidies up the way the old site was, with one year freely available (2000) and the rest requiring log-in. One minor complaint -- some of the old URLs appear not to forward to the new site. I always think that that is a mistake; but so many people do it.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Still more on the Passion

There are still daily stories all over the American media (still very little here in the UK) about The Passion. There's a report from a baptist pastor in Orlando, Florida called Steve Smith -- "Two Films of Tremendous Value". He was invited to one of the private screenings and he loved it; he has also seen The Gospel of John and he loved that too. You couldn't find a bigger contrast than in "Will The Passion Crucify the Jews?" by Rabbi Tovia Singer, but he hasn't seen the film. As Jim Davila reported yesterday, there is news that an Australian distributor has been found.

More from Christianity Today's Biblical Archaeology Week

More from Christianity Today's "Biblical Archaeology week"

Christian M.M. Brady, What Do the Stones Cry Out?

With the subtitle, "Beware of claims that archaeology disproves -- or proves -- the Bible is true". And

David Neff, CT Classic: "Listening to the Fifth Gospel"

Not the Gospel of Thomas, I'm afraid, but "The sun-baked ruins of the Holy Land have a story to tell", an article from 1990.

Half price Synoptic Problem

I am happy to find a copy of my book The Synoptic Problem: A Way Through the Maze half price -- at the SPCK Online Bookshop, £7.50. I thought it a bit overpriced at £14.99 when it first came out, so it's good to see it's now available a bit cheaper. So if you haven't got your copy yet, here's your chance! Apologies for the self-promotion, but if I can't peddle my own wares, who can?

R. E. O. White Obituary

In today's Herald an obituary of R. E. O. White who died aged 89 on September 4.

Rev R. E. O. White, Obituary

White was author of several books on the New Testament including The Biblical Doctrine of Initiation (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1960). His Festschrift appeared in 1999, S. E. Porter and A. R. Cross (eds.), Baptism, the New Testament and the Church: Historical and Contemporary Studies in Honour of R.E.O. White (JSNTSup, 171; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1999).

Crossan and Reed's Top Ten

Jim Davila also links to his blog entry August 2 2003, which links to a Washington Post article updating Crossan & Reed's Top Ten Archaeological Discoveries. It sent me back to the book, John Dominic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed, Excavating Jesus: Beneath the Stones, Behind the Texts (London: SPCK, 2001); their top ten archaeological discoveries for excavating Jesus are on pp. 1-6; I was curious to see which one drops out of the top ten to be replaced in the article above by the James ossuary. The one that drops out is the Apostle Peter's House (p. 3). As it happens, this is present in Witherington's list.

But in contrast with Witherington, Crossan and Reed distinguish sharply between "Archaeological Discoveries" and "Exegetical Discoveries". BeliefNet have the full excerpt from the book available here:

The Top Ten Exegetical Discoveries for Excavating Jesus

I'm not entirely comfortable, in spite of the caveats ("Not everyone will accept or believe the discoveries to be true", p. 6, etc.), with putting the Dead Sea Scrolls (no. 1) and the Nag Hammadi codices (no. 2) along with source-critical theories, even where the source theories are rightly the consensus (no. 3, Marcan Priority). I can go and look at the Dead Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem or the Nag Hammadi codices in Cairo -- these are more than "exegetical" discoveries. But I'm not confident about several others on the list -- especially dependence of Matthew and Luke on Q (no. 4), the independence of Thomas (no. 6) and the common sayings tradition in Q & Thomas (no. 7), but also probably the existence of an independent source in the Gospel of Peter (no. 9). No. 4, the existence of Q, I have given my reasons for finding unpersuasive (see the Case Against Q); no. 6 (independence of Thomas) will have to await my book and no. 7 falls with those two.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Jerusalem Shroud

Jim Davila also comments on the Ben Witherington III article and has some links to details on the shroud Shimon Gibson unearthed in 2000. There was an excellent documentary on this last year on ITV, made by CTVC. I've just taken a look at the CTVC web site and see that that documentary is now available on video (see CTVC sales). I mention it because a couple of people from the U.S. got in touch with me at the time the documentary was broadcast as someone in the UK who could video it and asked if there was any way they could get a copy. So if they are still after it, now it can be purchased.

Shroud DNA

In relation to yesterday's blog about the prolific Ben Witherington III, Wieland Willker has pointed me to an FAQ on the Turin Shroud web site:

Has DNA testing ever been performed on the Shroud?

The answer is not very promising for Witherington's hope that DNA from the shroud will correlate with DNA from the James ossuary.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Darrell Bock on the Passion

A New Testament scholar who has seen The Passion expresses his opinion on Beliefnet:

'You Can't Whitewash the Events of the Bible', Interview with Darrell Bock

Bock is an evangelical scholar at Dallas Theological Seminary. He's pretty sympathetic to the film. Having read Paula Fredriksen's and Amy-Jill Levine's radically differing assessments, it is difficult to know what to make of Bock's analysis.

The Prolific Ben Witherington III

Christianity Today has now posted a second article by Ben Witherington III:

Top Ten New Testament Archaeological Finds of the Past 150 Years

Witherington concludes his list, not surprisingly in view of his other article in the current Christianity Today, to say nothing of his book on the subject, with the James Ossuary. Yet the most controversial element in his "Top Ten" will undoubtedly be the Shroud of Turin. I must admit that this one surprised me -- I didn't realise any serious NT scholars defended the authenticity of the shroud since the carbon dating; perhaps that just shows how ignorant I am. But also it's surely not an "archaeological find", is it? No-one dug this up, unlike the 2,000 year old Jerusalem shroud unearthed by Shimon Gibson in 2000.

Even more startling to a sceptic like me are Witherington's hopes for DNA testing on the bone box and the shroud:

So, I like to say, James is in the box, and Jesus is on the box, because of the resurrection. And perhaps, if we are able to test the bone fragments of the box soon, and compare the DNA evidence to the evidence produced in the '80s about the gene string and DNA derived from the blood samples on the Shroud, we may just have a double confirmation of the artifacts I have discussed at the beginning and end of this essay. Stay tuned.

I wonder how many share Witherington's optimism? Certainly not me, I'm afraid. I'm also a bit surprised about a major omission from Witherington's list, the Nag Hammadi codices and especially the Gospel of Thomas. Perhaps I spend too much time with Thomas, especially these days, but I can't imagine that P52, which is in Witherington's Top Ten, can be a more important discovery than the massive find of the Nag Hammadi codices, can it?

Witherington remains extraordinarily prolific -- there's an interesting little piece also just posted called Inside CT: The Article We Didn't Print, which showers praise on Witherington and reveals that apparently he wrote the above mentioned article in just one day.

OT in NT Conference, April 2004

I've just added a Notice on the Annual Conference on the Use of the Old Testament in the New Testament, organised by Steve Moyise. See the Notices page or go to:

Annual Seminar on the Use of the Old Testament in the New Testament

Biblica Fascicle 84/3 (2003)

Just announced, the latest Biblica on-line:

Biblica Fascicle 84/3 (2003) (scroll down).


Jean-Noël ALETTI, "Romains 4 et Genèse 17. Quelle énigme et quelle solution?" , Vol. 84 (2003) 305-325

Hanna ROOSE, "Joh 20,30f.: Ein (un)passender Schluss? Joh 9 und 11 als primäre Verweisstellen der Schlussnotiz des Johannesevangeliums", Vol. 84 (2003) 326-343

Floyd PARKER, "The Terms "Angel" and "Spirit" in Acts 23,8", Vol. 84 (2003) 344-365

Tobias Nicklas, "‘153 große Fische’ (Joh 21,11) Erzählerische Ökonomie und ‘johanneischer Überstieg’" , Vol. 84 (2003) 366-387

John TOPEL, "What Kind of a Sign are Vultures? Luke 17,37b" , Vol. 84 (2003) 403-411

Witherington on the James Ossuary

Jim Davila reports on an article in Christianity Today -- Ben Witherington III's defends its authenticity:

Bones of Contention

I wonder how long it took the editors to think up that headline?

Greek Helps is back

No sooner had I announced its demise than Michael Luper's Greek Helps returns with a new URL (click link or go to Learning New Testament Greek).

Parables that didn't make the grade

If you fancy a good laugh, have a look at a new thread on a bulletin board at the Ship of Fools web site:

Parables that didn't make the grade

Features the parable of the two hamsters, the parable of the shepherd who found his lost sheep but then the other 99 went missing and more. Some of them amused me, anyway.

Learning New Testament Greek page

With a new term approaching, I've been checking my Learning New Testament Greek page and am sorry to see that several good sites have gone missing. No sign of Michael Luper's Greek Helps or of Bruce Robertson's Accent Quiz Applet, the latter great fun. Clyde Wilton's complete on-line course has gone too. If anyone knows of the whereabouts of these, I'd be grateful to hear, but Google has not managed to dig them out if they are still around somewhere.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Holy Land Photos latest

If you haven't visited Holy Land Photos before, let me recommend it -- packed full of hundreds of quality photographs of the Holy Land. Version 3 of the site has just been announced. The site is especially worth visiting for the current featured collection -- the Galilee (Jesus) Boat

Gerd Lüdemann, The Life of Jesus

Bible and Interpretation have just published an essay by Gerd Lüdemann in which he summarises the concluding section of his book Jesus After Two Thousand Years: What He Really Said and Did (London: SCM, 2000 and Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus, 2001):

The Life of Jesus: A Brief Assessment

It's a challenge that all Historical Jesus scholars should try -- to produce a brief sketch like this. It is reminiscent of E. P. Sanders's attempt to do something similar at the beginning of Jesus and Judaism. With Lüdemann's, I can't help thinking that he pauses just a bit too long on certain of his own idiosyncracies, e.g. he labours the point on Jesus' having been "fathered in dubious circumstances". Have a look at Lüdemann's characteristically outspoken assessment of Jesus at the end of the piece too.

One nerdy point I can't resist making: Bible and Interpretation do not seem to have mastered the art of representing umlauts on the web, but it's quite a simple bit of code, ü in which "u" is the letter to receive the umlaut (etc.).

Beyond Belief today

Today's Beyond Belief on Radio 4 is apparently about "Religion and Cyberspace" so I'll be listening. Don't know who will be on the programme -- it's not me.

Religion has embraced the internet as enthusiastically as any big business, and you can read up on the weird and wonderful as well as the mainstream faiths through your computer.

But has the world wide web changed the way we worship? Does it lessen the significance of the body and the importance of meeting others face to face? And could we ever have a spiritual experience in cyberspace?

If you're not in the UK, listen live on the internet at 4.30 p.m. BST (BBC Radio 4 web site here) or the programme is archived not long afterwards for you to listen to.

Price of International Shipping on !Hero

I finally got round to ordering my copy of the CD of the new Jesus rock opera !Hero yesterday (see blog entry on !Hero) and had one of those very annoying on-line ordering experiences where I went through screen after screen filling in details and then finally, right at the end, found out that the cheapest international shipping rate for the $13 CD was going to be $41! What a racket! So my advice -- if you're outside the US, don't buy it from the !Hero web site. Surf around and you should be able to find a better deal (as I eventually did). Why don't these people put the shipping costs upfront?

Galilee Font

Rodney Decker has developed further his "Galilee" Greek font (new release version 1.02). It includes bold and italic faces for the font.

Galilee Greek Font

That links to a page about the font -- useful stuff. One of the drawbacks of some of the other free fonts available on the web is that they don't have information pages like this, particularly useful for those starting out with it for the first time.

Decker is currently working on developing a Unicode version of the font, which will be a welcome development. If you don't know much about Unicode yet, it happens that Rod Decker has one of the best pages available for explaining it to the newcomer:

Biblical Language Fonts and Unicode

Sunday, September 21, 2003

This day in ancient history

One of the features of the RogueClassicism blog that I enjoy is "This day in ancient history". I've no plans to do the same thing here, but might from time to time mention the regular feature "Today in History" on the Ship of Fools Web Site. Among the offerings for today, this day in 1792 became Day 1 Year 1 in revolutionary France's de-Christianized calendar; it's St Mary Magdalene's day; today in 1823, Joseph Smith found the Book of Mormon on gold plates in a stone box buried on top of a hill in Ontario County, New York; and in 1984, in the heart of the miner's strike, the then bishop of Durham, David Jenkins, in the words of the web site, "made himself more notorious than ever by - in his own enthronement sermon - accusing Ian MacGregor, the boss of the mining industry, of being an 'imported elderly American'". Yes, I remember that. I wonder if the new bishop of Durham (with one intervening between him and Jenkins), Tom Wright, will be as controversial? Unlike Jenkins, he certainly won't be announcing his scepticism about the virgin birth or the bodily resurrection -- we can be sure of that. As it happens, I did hear a brief mention of him yesterday morning on BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme. Apparently he is one of those supporting a group called "Fulcrum", from the sound of it a kind of progressive evangelical group within the Anglican Church.

Latest on the Passion

It seems to be getting nastier all the time; here is one of the latest offerings:

Frank Rich, The Greatest Story Ever Told

Jim Davila comments on this in Paleojudaica.com, with updates.

There's a report about Rich's article here on NewsMax.com:

Phil Brennan, NY Times' Rich Lashes Out at Mel Gibson, O'Reilly

Then read Frank Brennan's response:

A Response to Frank Rich & the Times

Extraordinary to watch all this from the UK, where the story has hardly caused a ripple. I haven't met a single person yet who has even heard of the film, let alone the controversy surrounding it.

Meanwhile, a sentence from Russell Crowe is getting widely reported,
The Gladiator star was asked on radio what he thought of the film, which was shot entirely in Aramaic, Hebrew and Latin. Crowe slammed the project. "I think he's got to get off the glue," Crowe said. (e.g., see here).

Vernon Robbins article on-line and Kirby's new web site

Peter Kirby announced today that he has uploaded, with permission, a version of Vernon Robbins's classic article on he "we" passages in Acts:

Vernon K. Robbins, "By Land and By Sea: The We-Passages and Ancient Sea Voyages", originally in: C. H. Talbert (ed.), Perspectives on Luke-Acts, (Perspectives in Religious Studies, Special Studies Series, No. 5; Macon, Ga: Mercer Univ. Press and Edinburgh: T.& T. Clark, 1978), pp. 215-242

Peter Kirby has also written his own survey of the passages mentioned in Robbins's article and has uploaded it to the same site:

Peter Kirby, "First Person Perspective in Ancient Sea Travel"

I haven't had a chance to read this carefully, but it seems that Kirby ends up with a negative response to Robbins's thesis. The site on which these articles appears is a new one, run by Kirby himself, and rather unpromisingly entitled "Did Jesus Exist?". He explains:

Many web pages present a point of view on the existence of Jesus, but they usually contain apologetics or polemic, not critical scholarship. DidJesusExist.com is dedicated to publishing articles distinguished by their attention to detail and reasoned approach.

It's good to hear about the "detailed and reasonable approach" but a great shame about the title. Let me appeal to Peter to rethink it: you've got a good mind, you think critically, you write well, you've been a great service to the academic community in the production of Early Christian Writings, The Gospel of Thomas Commentary and more, but scholars simply will not visit or take seriously a web site entitled "Did Jesus Exist?". You've lost a large part of your readership before starting. Besides, if there are essay reproductions like the one from Vernon Robbins, this is surely not directly relevant to the theme of whether or not Jesus existed, is it? The site looks promising -- please reconsider the title.

Latest Explorator

Latest Explorator has just arrived, so I know it must be Sunday. Web version is at:

The Explorator Newsletter: 21 September 2003

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Mary Coloe

It was good to meet Mary Coloe recently at the British New Testament Conference in Birmingham -- she travelled all the way from Australia to speak in the Johannine Literature seminar. Mary has a homepage at Australian Catholic University and it includes -- as I like to see on scholar's homepages -- some reproductions of articles:

"Raising the Johannine Temple (Jn 19:19-37)," Australian Biblical Review (2000) 47-58.

"Households of Faith (Jn 4:46-54; 11:1-44)," Pacifica (October 2000) 326-333.

"Like Father Like Son. The Function of Abraham in Jn 8," Pacifica (1999) 1-11.

"The Structure of the Johannine Prologue and Genesis 1," Australian Biblical Review, 45 (1997) 40-55.

Particularly useful when it's journals like Australian Biblical Review! No disrespect intended, but not many UK libraries subscribe to it. I remember calling up an issue from the Bodleian in Oxford a while ago and the box arrived with the one I wanted missing -- very annoying.

Brethren of the Lord

In last week's Review of Biblical Literature announcements, I was interested to read my friend Matti Myllykoski's review of Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner (eds.), The Brother of Jesus: James the Just and His Mission. He linked, in that review, to something I'd missed before on the net:

J. B. Lightfoot, The Brethren of the Lord

It's an interesting article from 1865, excerpted from his Commentary on the Epistles of St. Paul, and reproduced on the Philologos Religious On-line Books web site.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Biblical Archaeology's Dusty Little Secret

Interesting article in Christianity Today, just posted, by Gordon Govier and subtitled "The James bone box controversy reveals the politics beneath the science", but it reflects on the broader stakes in biblical archaeology more generally, so it's not just a rehash of the James ossuary news:

Biblical Archaeology's Dusty Little Secret

Backlash against Akenson

A vociferous response to Akenson's outspoken article appears today from Bruce Waltke, professor emeritus of biblical studies at Regent College, UBC, professor of Old Testament studies at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Fla., and a member of the advisory committee for The Gospel of John:

The Gospel of John: Let he who is without sin . . .


In sum, Prof. Akenson's scholarship is poor, his tone is grating and his arguments bogus. Ironically, he piously asks us to redeem the text "by informed, discriminating and gentle scholarship," when his own diatribe amounts to hate literature against Mr. Drabinsky and Christians. I say "hate literature," because among many other charges, he maligns true believers as "lunatics" for believing "that Jesus's blood be shed to complete God's plan for the[ir] salvation."

Donald Akenson's effort to discredit the greatest story ever told has, in fact, discredited the author and Canadian culture.

Peter Chattaway on Gospel of John and The Passion

Nice article by Peter Chattaway (author of a good article linked on the NTGateway Celluloid Jesus pages called Jesus at the Movies):

Passion 'softened,' John comes to screen

He suggests that there are signs that Mel Gibson is "softening" The Passion's alleged anti-semitism in reaction to criticism. Chattaway is the first to pick up on something that has concerned me, though, and rather makes me dread seeing the film, the violence and gore:

What does concern me, though, is the thing that Gibson keeps pitching as the film's main selling point: its graphic violence.

As evangelical broadcaster Michael Coren noted in the National Post (see editorial, page 12), the medieval Roman Catholic church was "obsessed with gore," and even had "a virtual blood cult within it" -- and elements of that persist today.

The depiction of violence for its own sake has become all too common in modern cinema, even in films that purport to take it more seriously, and I would say this is especially evident throughout Gibson's career. I hope he will be able to take his audience beyond the physical torment to some deeper spiritual place. But we'll just have to wait and see.

Nice suggestion on The Gospel of John: "Oh, and a note to the producers: If you're really serious about filming the entire Bible, perhaps you could include John's epistles on the DVD as bonus features. They're a little too short to be released on their own."

!Hero Web Site

The web site for the new Rock Opera is at:

!Hero On-line

It includes audio samples, news, the chance to buy the music etc. and you can get an idea of the feel of the piece quite quickly. Click on "Media" for a trailer. The tour apparently began this month in New York and continues in other places in the U.S.A. in November.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

New Rock Opera on Jesus

Well, it's all happening at the moment. I can remember a time when people were bemoaning the end of the attempts to produce Jesus films, and looking back to the golden age that even included the extraordinary musicals Jesus Christ Superstar and Godspell. Now this isn't on the cards as a film yet, but there is apparently a new Rock/Hip Hop opera based on Jesus life. Have a look at the details again on Crosswalk:

"!Hero" - Christ's Life Inspires New Rock/Hip-Hop Opera, David Schrader

From the article:
Poetic license firmly in hand, they chronicle the modern day title character (played by Tait), who was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, flees with his family from a hostile government to the Jewish section of Brooklyn, New York, and begins to speak out against the systems of the world. Along the way, Hero selects his disciples from the docks of the East River, delivers the Beatitudes in Central Park, and shines in glory from the observation deck atop the Empire State Building. Odd as these twists may seem with their liberties, the plot remains reverent in message and should be duly intriguing to newcomers and seasoned believers alike.

Sounds a bit Godspell to me. I look forward to hearing more.

Crosswalk review of Gospel of John

Jeffery Hodges on the Johannine-Literature list points out a review on the Crosswalk site:

"The Gospel of John" - Movie Review, Holly McClure.

Very enthusiasitic; and interesting to see the effect that a John-only film has on the reviewer, who is clearly a keen Christian, "Because this is a literal translation of the Gospel of John, there are a few scenarios and characters missing that are familiar to many people who have read the other Gospels . . . I feel it’s important to recognize that there may be a few people who see this movie who don’t know the story of Jesus, who aren’t familiar with the Scriptures and therefore have no idea of what happened in the other Gospels. So you may want to fill in the blanks with answers to some of those questions if you happen to attend the movie with an unbeliever." This film is going to be great for us NT scholar-types who are always struggling so hard to get our students not to "fill in the blanks" from other Gospels!

Johnny Cash's Spoken Word New Testament

I've been looking for an excuse to mention the sad news of the passing of Johnny Cash on September 12 and now I have one. (I've been a fan since seeing Johnny Cash on an old episode of Columbo featuring his version of the old Hank Williams classic "I saw the light"). My excuse for mentioning Johnny Cash:

Cash's spoken word New Testament" to be re-released
The original 19-hour recording of the entire New Testament by "one of the most distinctive voices of the twentieth century" as noted by The Washington Times, was produced by Dyann Rivkin and published by Thomas Nelson in 1989. It won the prestigious Angel Award presented by Excellence in Media.

The recording was inspired by Cash's mother, Mrs. Carrie Rivers Cash, who encouraged her son for more than twenty years to record the - Bible. Cash said that he approached the recording with "fear, respect, awe, and reverence for the subject matter."

"John carefully reviewed 27 different Bible translations before approaching us about the recording of the New King James Version," noted Sam Moore, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.
[. . .]
Funnily enough, it's the same publisher (Thomas Nelson) as the teen bible previously mentioned.

Vatican cardinal praises 'Passion'

Courtesy of Jim West, a reference to a CNN article on a Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos's praise for the film:

Vatican Cardinal Praises 'Passion'

"A triumph of art and faith" apparently.

A Bible that looks like a magazine

Loads more about Revolve on its publisher's website:

Revolve, NCV: The Complete New Testament

Includes a thee and a half minute advertisement full of teenagers saying how old and "freaky" normal bibles look, but how accessible this one is.

Albert Mohler doesn't like it much -- "This product just might take trivialization to a whole new level" -- see:

"Not Your Grandmother's New Testament: A Look at 'Revolve'"

The publisher's web site (above) links to more friendly assessments.

"Teen Girls Going Ga-ga for Jesus"

That's a quotation from God's Word Goes Glossy, an article on Fox News about Revolve, "a magazine that’s slicked up the New Testament for girls aged 12 to 17":

“We wanted to make sure that it was something that teen girls liked and could identify with, but we wanted to make sure it was theologically in line with what pastors are teaching," Laurie Whaley, editor of Revolve, told Fox News.

[. . . ]

While some may consider Revolve "dorky" rather than "way cool," the glossy version of the good word appears to be a hit. One teenager enthusiastically told the Twin City's Pioneer Press that her peers were all impressed with the magazine.

[ . . . ]

“We came to realize we need an avenue, a venue to be able to tell teen girls ‘You're special, you're worthwhile, you're valuable,’” said Susie Shellenberger, author of "Girl Talk With God."

But not everyone agrees that having questions and answers like the ones in the "Blab" section of the magazine are helpful. Among the Q&As: "Was Jesus a vegetarian? No: Plenty of fish, some lamb. What's wrong with following horoscopes? It's condemned in Scripture."

[. . .]

Revolve's text is also sprinkled with statistical factoids, like this one nestled next to Jesus' talk with the Samaritan woman who had many men (John 4): "Didya Know: 63 percent of teens who have had sex say they wish they had waited."

I must admit that to me it looks horribly like the kind of thing that The Onion parodies so well, especially the enthusiastic quotations from those who have used it. I notice the word "factoid" rears its head too. This is an Americanism, I think? I was listening to BBC Radio FiveLive recently and an American correspondent mentioned a "factoid"; Simon Mayo asked him what a factoid was and the correspondent replied, "It's a kind of fact, but with -oid added on the end."

14C Titulus Crucis Dating: Medieval

Stephen Goranson reports on the Xtalk list on the following article: Francesco Bella and Carlo Azzi, "14C Dating of the 'Titulus Crucis,'" Radiocarbon [journal] v.44 n.3 (2002 [received 2003]) 685-9. Apparently they report on radiocarbon dating of the walnut wood relic in Rome, thought by some to be the tablet from the cross of Jesus Christ: it has a 2-sigma date range of 980 to 1146 AD.

Also according to Goranson, they refer to another publication which discusses the possibility that this tablet is a copy of the original: Rigato, ML. 2002. Il Titolo della Croce di Gesu. Confronto tra i Vangeli e la Tavoletta--Reliquia della Basilica Eleniana a Rome. Dottorato nella Facolta di Teologia. Pontificia Universita Gregoriana. Roma.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Akenson on the new Jesus films

Donald Akenson, author of Saint Saul: A Skeleton Key to the Historical Jesus has written an article on the two new Jesus films,

Garth, Mel: Of all the sacred texts to bring to the screen, why did you pick the most adversarial Gospel?

The "Garth" of the tile is Garth Drabinsky, the man behind the revamping of the Visual Bible and one of the producers of the new film. This is the first really anti-Gospel of John piece I've seen, though Akenson brings the Gibson film in too. For an example of the flavour of the piece:

"Why would anyone want to be faithful to such a text? It can be redeemed by informed, discriminating and gentle scholarship. But, to film a literal version of the Gospel of John is like filming a faithful version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion."

So Akenson overstates things rather. His remark that "Drabinsky's literalist version of the Gospel of John, financed by the far-right, evangelical Visual Bible International Corporation", even if it were accurate, does not pay attention to the fact that Drabinsky took care to get an advisory board of scholars together, none of whom -- as far as I could see -- are marked by far right, evangelical credentials. I'd have thought that they'd have good reason to be a bit annoyed with the piece.

Anthony J. Saldarini Memorial Page

Many of us were very sorry to hear of the death of Anthony Saldarini in September 2001. There's now a memorial page devoted to him at:

In memory of Anthony J. Saldarini

The page includes the full text of one of his last lectures on Christian-Jewish relations, "CHRISTIAN ANTI-JUDAISM:The First Century Speaks to the Twenty-First Century" (The Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Jerusalem Lecture, April 14 1999, Chicago). The page also links to:

Daniel J. Harrington, S. J., Homily for the Funeral of Professor Anthony J. Saldarini.

What brought all this to my attention was Dove Booksellers have just announced that they are selling Anthony Saldarini's Library.

More actors in more than one Jesus film

It's great to know that I am not the only one to find such trivia interesting. Matthew Page sends the following, not all from "proper" Jesus films, but interesting nonetheless:

Charlto Heston - Greatest Story & Ben Hur
Robert Wilson (only actor to play Jesus twice) - Day of Triumph & I Beheld his Glory
Joseph Schildkraut - The King of Kings (Judas) & Greatest Story Ever Told(Nicodemus)
Frank Thring - Ben Hur (Pilate) & Herod (King of Kings)
Peter Ustinov - Nero (Quo Vadis) & Herod (Jesus of Nazareth)
Finlay Currie - Quo Vadis, Ben Hur
Edward Hardwicke - Son of Man (Judas) and Mary the Mother of Jesus

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Gospel of John to show at SBL/AAR meeting in Atlanta

Thanks to Jeff Staley on the Johannine-Literature list for pointing out that The Gospel of John will be showing at the SBL/AAR Annual Meeting in Atlanta. It is the Sunday evening of the meeting; couldn't find it in the SBL programme details, but it is there on the AAR site:

Annual Meeting 2003: Programme Highlights: Films

In the likely event that it won't have been released in the U.K. before November, this is good news indeed for people like me!

Sexy Subtitles

Jim Davila comments that the likely reason for the Secret Gospel of Thomas subtitle for Elaine Pagels' book is marketing: "It's a sexy subtitle: secret Gospels sell well. But then, I'm a cynic". I'm sure Jim's right. Someone mentioned to me recently that it's a great idea to try to get "Jesus" into the title of your book if at all possible -- it'll double your sales. Since hearing that, I can't help noticing how many books inappropriately have Jesus in the title.

At least my book on Thomas will be about Thomas. Speaking of Thomas, I'm reading an excellent book at the moment by Risto Uro, Thomas: The Gospel of Thomas in Historical Context (London & New York: T & T Clark International, 2003). It's just out. Unfortunately very expensive -- £50 or $85 for 200 odd pages; I hope that's not the way that Continuum's prices are going to go. I picked it up cheap at the BNTC. I'll report on it when I've finished reading.

Latest Review of Biblical Literature reviews

Review of Biblical Literature latest reviews:

Bryan, Steven M.
Jesus and Israel's Traditions of Judgement and Restoration

Chilton, Bruce and Jacob Neusner, eds.
The Brother of Jesus: James the Just and His Mission

Fortna, Robert T., and Tom Thatcher, eds.
Jesus in Johannine Tradition

Marshall, John W.
Parables of War: Reading John's Jewish Apocalypse

Oakes, Peter, ed.
Rome in the Bible and the Early Church

Riley, Gregory J.
The River of God: A New History of Christian Origins

Here's a few more

Another I've thought of: Ian Holm is Pontius Pilate (voice of) in The Miracle Maker and was Zerah (a vocal member of the Sanhedrin) in Jesus of Nazareth. And Antony Quinn was Barabbas in the film of the same name and Caiaphas in Jesus of Nazareth. Another link between those two films: Ernest Borgnine is the centurion in Jesus of Nazareth and Lucius in Barabbas. I'm on a roll!

More actors who crop up in more than one Jesus film

Thanks to Helen-Ann Hartley of Worcester College, Oxford for the following: "Not sure these count, but Howard Gaye was Jesus in two films 'Intolerance' (1916) and 'Restitution' (1918). John Drew Barrymore played Judas AND Jesus in the film 'Pontius Pilate' (1964) - not sure how he managed that!"

I hadn't heard of the film Pontius Pilate before. I looked it up in the IMDB, which lists it under Ponzio Pilato (1962). It looks extraordinary; cast includes Basil Rathbone as Caiaphas! Another film that has one actor playing two parts is Godspell which has David Haskell as John and Judas (and likewise one actor plays the two parts in the theatrical version).

Monday, September 15, 2003

Actors who crop up in more than one Jesus film

Interesting to see that Christopher Plummer is the narrator in The Gospel of John. Q.: Which other Jesus film has he cropped up in? A.: Jesus of Nazareth in which he was Herod Antipas. For the Jesus film addicts / nerds among you (or am I the only one?), I can think of at least one other who crops up twice in Jesus films. Donald Pleasence (the one who goes blind in The Great Escape) is the Satan figure in the temptation sequence in The Greatest Story Ever Told and Melchior (one of the wise men) in Jesus of Nazareth. Can anyone think of any more?

Gibson vs. Drabinsky

The release of The Visual Bible: Gospel of John has clearly introduced a new element into the negative reporting about Gibson's The Passion. If you're not heartily sick of reading about it -- and I must admit that I'm not yet -- this article from The Globe and Mail contrasts the two films, with The Gospel of John coming out pretty favourably, though the author clearly hasn't viewed either yet!

Scholars Back Charges Against Gibson

Rev. Prof. Norman Porteous dies age 104

Old Testament scholar Norman Porteous died on September 3 aged 104. The Times published an obituary earlier today:

The Rev Professor Norman Porteous: Obituary

Search added

I've added a search facility on the left. It's the same Pico search engine that indexes the whole of the NT Gateway (basically it just crawls everything on the NT Gateway except things I tell it not to). I could add a separate one for the blog if there's sufficient demand for that, but I doubt there would be, and I can't think that that would be particularly more useful than the combined one.

Like a red rag to a bigot

Curious Observer article yesterday on the problems of "mixing religion and art", combining discussion of the Mel Gibson film with David Blaine and Damien Hirst and suggesting differences between British and American perceptions:

"Seen from here, the Gibson row seems peculiar to God-obsessed America, whose constitution separates state and church but whose President treats the two as conjoined twins. This is a country where 94 per cent of adults believe in the Almighty and where New Yorkers cheer with reverence when Blaine stands still for a very long time, pretending to be a statue."

Like a Red Rag to a Bigot, Mary Riddell

MovieGuide.org review of Gospel of John

From the Johannine Lit. e-list (post by Arne Halbakken), a MovieGuide.org review of The Gospel of John:

Visual Bible: The Gospel of John: Review by Ted Baehr

Strong conservative Christian bias, but he clearly loved the film.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

AKMA's blog

And he has a blog too, called AKMA's Random Thoughts, pretty regularly updated and looks lively. From what I've read through so far there's not a lot of NT related stuff given that he's an NT prof., but there are bits and bobs, e.g. see his:

Review of Elaine Pagels, Beyond Belief.

I was actually really disappointed with that book; I read it a couple of months ago. I think my problem with it was that its subtitle (The Secret Gospel of Thomas) led me to expect an entire book about Thomas, on which I'm writing a book myself at the moment. But what there was on Thomas -- and there's not a lot -- I was already familiar with from Pagels' academic articles. How odd that the book went through with that subtitle -- doesn't make much sense to me.

A. K. M. Adam's Webpage and a disseminary

A. K. M. Adam's webpage just added to the Scholars: A page. Some interesting information there, e.g. an article entitled "The Disseminary: What Theological Educators Need to Learn from Napster". So what on earth is "The Disseminary"? It's defined as "a site that uses electronic technology to spread as much theological nourishment as possible, without devoting energy to policing the results of that distribution. No degrees. No requirements. No restrictions. Put it out where users can grab it" and it has its own web site at http://www.disseminary.org. I've known AKMA for a few years; we usually bump in to each other at the SBL Annual Meetings; I'm surprised I hadn't realised until now that he had such a strong web presence.

Other Jesus Film Gets Less Play

There's an associated press story by Richard Ostling just out and doing the rounds. It has some interesting comments on the Visual Bible Gospel of John:

Other Jesus Film Gets Less Play


"One of the Jewish scholars, Alan Segal of Barnard College, told a Toronto media preview that "it's a stunning and illuminating film." But Segal also acknowledged that, of the four Gospels, John is "the most Jewish in its subject matter, and the most anti-Jewish in its perception."

John emphasizes Jesus' own claims to be the Messiah and the Son of God, which sets up a sharp conflict among Jews. By John's account, the Temple authorities plotted early on to kill Jesus and pressed a hesitant Pilate to give the Roman go-ahead for crucifixion.

The scholars provide words of explanation that scroll down the screen before the action begins, noting that crucifixion was a Roman punishment not sanctioned by Jewish law and that Jesus and all his early followers were Jewish.

The scholars' words also tell viewers that John was written "two generations after the Crucifixion" and reflects a period of growing friction between early Christians -- who were living within Jewish communities -- and Jewish leaders."

Explorator 6.20

Latest Explorator has just been sent out. See:

Explorator 6.20

Saturday, September 13, 2003

The Gospel of John film

I've now also added a new page on The Gospel of John:

Celluloid Jesus: The Gospel of John

This is the new Visual Bible word-for-word version of the Gospel of John. It's about three hours long and directed by Philip Saville. The Visual Bible were also responsible for the 1997 Matthew ; but this film has a new director and a new Jesus. The film's official web site is impressive and has loads of information including trailer:

The Gospel of John: A Major Motion Picture . . . Word for Word

The film appears to be opening in the U.S.A. from September 26. There are no indications yet when it will be released elsewhere. The film has an impressive advisory committee with lots of names that will be familiar to NT scholars and students, Peter Richardson, Adele Reinhartz, Alan Segal, Carolyn Osiek, Stephen Reid, Patricia Dutcher-Walls, Charles Hedrick, Bruce Waltke and Tony Michael. The web site also has a good-looking academic reading list, including several on "Anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism", interesting in the light of the criticisms of Mel Gibson's film. See:


At the bottom of this page, they've listed "Some Films on the Life of Jesus" and they've copied and pasted directly from my Celluloid Jesus index page. Nice to know they're using the NT Gateway, though it would be nicer still if it got a little acknowledgement or even a link!

New Yorker Article on The Passion

The New Yorker has published a 14-page article on Gibson's The Passion entitled "The Jesus War"; it is by Peter J. Boyer and is apparently in the September 15, 2003 edition. The text of the article has been posted on the net here:

The Jesus War by Peter J. Boyer

The Passion, Mel Gibson

I've created a new page in the Celluloid Jesus bit of the NT Gateway for the new Mel Gibson directed film The Passion:

Celluloid Jesus: The Passion

Jesus of Montreal DVD

Jesus of Montreal (dir. Denys Arcand, 1989) has recently been released on DVD. Thanks to James Knox for sending me the press release:

Jesus of Montreal DVD Press Release

Old Testament and Ancient Near East

Although this is a New Testament web log, there's an Old Testament site worth mentioning, not least because I often get asked the question "Is there an Old Testament Gateway?". In addition to iTanakh and the Old Testament Gateway, another useful site that's just come to my attention is The Old Testament and the Ancient Near East by Ralph W. Klein, Christ Seminary-Seminex Professor of Old Testament and editor of Currents in Theology and Mission. It's a good and pretty full collection of links, suitably broken down into digestible sections, with a memorable URL (http://www.ot-studies.com) and it's searchable. A couple of negatives: there's no indication of when the last update took place, so it's impossible to track new additions and changes to the site, unless I'm missing it somewhere. I'd also say that Prof. Klein has tried to cram too much onto individual pages, especially The World of Biblical Studies, which limits the usefulness of the search engine provided. Further, the frames set up means that the basic URL stays in the location bar throughout, making it hard work to bookmark or link to individual pages on the site. And he doesn't refer to the NT Gateway or the All-in-One Biblical Resources search, but I won't hold that against him : ) . In spite of the minor gripes, an excellent new site.

David Instone-Brewer

While surfing round the Tyndale House web site, I realised that I hadn't added David Instone-Brewer's homepage to my Scholars pages. I've now corrected that. There's lots of Instone-Brewer elsewhere on the NT Gateway, but somehow I'd neglected to add his homepage. In addition to that Tyndale staff page, he also has a site called Background to the Bible which features, among other things, the fine web resource called Marriage and Divorce Papyri of the ancient Greek, Roman and Jewish world, a Featured Link back in March 2000. It's well-worth spending time surfing around Instone-Brewer's web site(s) -- there's lots there. One minor grievance -- he has one of those annoying sticky URLs that won't shift from your browser location bar when you hit "back".

Peter Head's page fixed

I mentioned recently Peter Head's homepage. The problem on it has now been fixed and it reads nicely again:

Peter Head's Homepage

Friday, September 12, 2003

The Brick Testament

While in the mood, if you haven't seen this before, it's a treat:

The Brick Testament

First saw reference to this -- I think -- in my colleague David Parker's inaugural lecture, so it must be an academically respectable site.

Bible Jokes and Study

Since it's the weekend, here's a link I've recently been sent. It won't make its way onto the NT Gateway proper, but you might be amused by some of the jokes: Bible Jokes and Study OnLine.

Brian K. Peterson

An addition to the Scholars pages, Brian K. Peterson. While updating that page, I see that Mark Allan Powell's page has gone missing. Anyone know where it's moved to?

Jim West's Biblical Studies Resources

Jim's URL has changed to http://www.biblical-studies.org -- a bit easier to remember! I've adjusted the link on my Biblical Resource Index Pages on the gateway and have reorganised the order of the links (e.g. dropped Webnexus down the list now that it's not been updated for such a while).

More Biblical Theology Bulletin Journals

Here's the next batch, also courtesy of Gail Dawson's searches. If anyone has the time to do further searches, or comes across others of interest to NT scholarship, let me know and I'll post a notice here. In the meantime, I'll need to index these on their respective pages on the NTGateway (with the exceptions of the book reviews, which I don't as a rule index on the NTGateway -- would expand the site out of all proportion):

"Drinking Blood at a Kosher Eucharist? The Sound of Scholarly Silence"
Author/s: Michael J. Cahill
Issue: Winter, 2002

"Paul and the Victims of His Persecution: the Opponents in Galatia"
Author/s: Richard B. Cook
Issue: Winter, 2002

"John H. Elliott, 1 Peter: an appreciation." (Book Review)
Author/s: Paul J. Achtemeier
Issue: Fall, 2002

"The widow: homeless and post-menopausal." (term "widow" in the Bible)
Author/s: Carolyn S. Leeb
Issue: Winter, 2002

"Zechariah's unbelief and early Jewish-Christian relations: the form and structure of Luke 1:5-25 as a clue to the narrative agenda of the Gospel of Luke."
Author/s: Steven R. Harmon
Issue: Spring, 2001

"One form of social exchange or two? 'Euergetism,' patronage, and testament studies." (Roman and Greek ideas of patronage)
Author/s: Stephan J. Joubert
Issue: Spring, 2001

"How unclean were tax-collectors?"
Author/s: Hyam Maccoby
Issue: Summer, 2001

"Matthew 6:9-13//Luke 11:2-4: an eschatological prayer?"
Author/s: Jeffrey B. Gibson
Issue: Fall, 2001

"Opening blind eyes: a revisioning of Mark 8:22-10:52."
Author/s: Marie Noel Keller
Issue: Winter, 2001

"The Jesus Movement and social network analysis: (part II. The social network)."
Author/s: Dennis C. Duling
Issue: Spring, 2000

"Jesus' eating transgressions and social impropriety in the gospel of Mark: a social scientific approach"
Author/s: Dietmar Neufeld
Issue: Spring, 2000

"Editorial dilemma: the interpolation of 1 Cor 14:34-35 in the western manuscripts of D, G and 88."
Author/s: D.W. Odell-Scott
Issue: Summer, 2000

"Hyam Maccoby, Ritual and Morality: the Ritual Purity System and Its Place in Judaism." (Book Review)
Author/s: John F. Craghan
Issue: Fall, 2000

"Of what charges? (Luke 16:1-2)." (parable of the dishonest steward)
Author/s: John G. Lygre
Issue: Spring, 2002

"The Bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33): a problematic wedding."
Author/s: Carolyn Osiek
Issue: Spring, 2002

"Andries van Aarde, Fatherless in Galilee: Jesus as a Child of God." (Book Review)
Author/s: Robert L. Mowery
Issue: Summer, 2002

"John Paul Heil, The Transfiguration of Jesus: Narrative Meaning and Function of Mark 9:2-8, Matthew 17:1-8, and Luke 9:28-36." (Book Review)
Author/s: John F. Craghan
Issue: Summer, 2002

"Networks and exchanges: Ephesians 4:7-16 and the community function of teachers."
Author/s: Peter W. Gosnell
Issue: Winter, 2000

"Titus: epistle of religious revitalization."
Author/s: Kenneth D. Tollefson
Issue: Winter, 2000

"Thomas L. Brodie, The Crucial Bridge: the Elijah-Elisha Narrative as an Interpretive Synthesis of Genesis-Kings and a Literary Model for the Gospels." (Book Review)
Author/s: Robert Karl Gruse
Issue: Winter, 2000

Biblical Theology Bulletin Articles

Here is the first batch of individual articles of interest from the on-line Biblical Theology Bulletin. The difficulty with FindArticles is that it doesn't have a browsing facility on a given journal, so one has to proceed by a series of searches. Anyway, these all courtesy of Gail Dawson's searches, for which many thanks:

"Why Does the Gospel of Mark Begin As It Does?"
Author/s: Santiago Guijarro
Issue: Spring, 2003

"Healing stories and medical anthropology: a reading of Mark 10:46-52"
Author/s: Santiago Guijarro
Issue: Fall, 2000

"Rethinking the Judean past: questions of history and a social archaeology of memory in the first book of the Maccabees"
Author/s: Mario I. Aguilar
Issue: Summer, 2000

"Jesus, healer of the Canaanite woman's daughter in Matthew's gospel: a social-scientific inquiry."
Author/s: Stuart L. Love
Issue: Spring, 2002

"Exegetical eschatology, the peasant present and the final discourse genre: the case of Mark 13."
Author/s: Bruce J. Malina
Issue: Summer, 2002

"Improving Bible translations: the example of sickness and healing."
Author/s: John J. Pilch
Issue: Winter, 2000

"Spaces and places, whence and whither, homes and rooms: 'territoriality' in the Fourth Gospel."
Author/s: Jerome H. Neyrey
Issue: Summer, 2002

"Time, communion, and ancestry in African biblical interpretation: a contextual note on 1 Maccabees 2:49-70. "
Author/s: Mario I. Aguilar
Issue: Fall, 2002

"The construction of Galilee as a place for the historical Jesus-Part I"
Author/s: Halvor Moxnes
Issue: Spring, 2001

"The construction of Galilee as a place for the historical Jesus--part II."
Author/s: Halvor Moxnes
Issue: Summer, 2001

"Interpreting the Bible with the Value Orientations Model: History and Prospects"
Author/s: John J. Pilch
Issue: Summer, 2002

"Jesus was not an egalitarian: A critique of an anachronistic and idealist theory."
Author/s: John H. Elliott
Issue: Summer, 2002

"What kind of canon do the lectionaries constitute?"
March 22 2000 by Gerard S. Sloyan

" 'Thus faith comes from what is heard' (Romans 10:17): how much of the Bible do people hear?"
June 22 2002 by Gerard S. Sloyan

Plenty to feast on here! I'm particularly pleased to be able to access Elliott's piece on "Jesus was not an egalitarian". I'd recently read the second part of this on early Christianity, which was published in Biblical Interpretation, I think this year, and the first part in BTB has been on my reading list. It's a provocative critique of a current trend in Historical Jesus (and other NT) studies, especially Crossan & Schuessler Fiorenza but also others.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

Biblical Theology Bulletin

I'm grateful to Gail Dawson for drawing my attention to the presence on FindArticles.com of full-text articles from Biblical Theology Bulletin. I hadn't spotted this before when indexing Harvard Theological Review and other journals on the NTGateway. I've added the main link to my Journals page. Now is the more hefty task of adding the individual relevant articles. As far as I can tell, the archived material is 2000 to the present, i.e. it doesn't go back quite as far as HTR and others. Still useful to have it on-line for free; my institution doesn't subscribe to it so a boon for me. I'll list the ones Gail has dug out later today.

Kohlenberger on Gender Accurate TNIV

Here's another one of interest from the (new to me) Priscilla Papers:

John Kohlenberger III, "What About the “Gender Accurate” TNIV? A review of the recently published Today’s New International Version." (PRISCILLA PAPERS Spring 2002: 16:2, pp. 1-9).

It's an excellent piece, a model of good comparative study of Bible translations; I particularly like the wealth of examples from TNIV and other translations. I must confess that I hadn't realised that there was a Today's New International Version. Kohlenberger explains the history of the emergence of this translation, which -- because of the controversy it generated among evangelicals -- will not replace the New International Version but will exist alongside it. TNIV has its own website:

Today's New International Version TNIV Bible

Fee Article

Recently published article by Gordon Fee:

The Cultural Context of Ephesians 5:18–6:9 (PDF)

Its subtitle is "Is there a divinely ordained hierarchy in the life of the church and home that is based on gender alone?" which will give you some idea of the target audience. It's from a journal / magazine I hadn't heard of before, called PRISCILLA PAPERS (Winter 2002: 16:1). An excerpt to give you a taste:

"The fact that our cultural assumptions are so different from theirs makes it difficult for us even to imagine how absolutely radical and earth-shattering the Christian gospel sounded in their ears. Take especially Paul’s conclusion to his argument with the Galatians over true ecclesiology, having to do with Jew and Gentile as members together in the one household of God. “In Christ,” he says, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ.”
But such a revolutionary statement was not intended to abolish the structures, which were held in place by Roman law. Rather, it was intended forever to do away with the significance attached to such structural differences, which pitted one group of human beings against another. And the most radical thing of all was that such people—Jew and Gentile, slave and free, men and women—shared a common meal together, itself a cause for cultural shame, and thus celebrated their Lord’s death until he was to come again—which, as 1 Corinthians 11:17–34 makes clear, created onsiderable tension for the traditional householder. No wonder the world had such difficulty with these early Christians, and why they were considered to be “haters of humanity,” because they so willingly broke the rules—not by tearing down the structures, but by making them ultimately irrelevant! Such people are greatly to be feared as the worst of all possible anarchists.
So what in the end is it that makes our present text so radically countercultural? What Paul obviously did not do was to demolish the structures and create new ones. What was radical lay in his urging those who are filled with the Spirit and worship Christ as Lord to have totally transformed relationships within the household." (pp. 7-8).

Update (23 September 2005): Link updated (with thanks to Danny Zacharias for notifying me of the dead link above).

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Form for Comparing Ancient Texts

Here's a great web site I ran across recently:

Form for Comparing Ancient Texts

It's designed by Kenneth Banner , a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania. Basically, it generates up to four frames allowing you to compare the ancient texts of your choice -- just tick the boxes and press "Create Frame". The site uses existing texts hosted elsewhere on the web. In one way that is a disadvantage: it means one has to keep a careful eye on the URLs of the texts linked (e.g. Thomas appears to be down because Banner has linked to a now defunct URL); but in another way it is a great advantage -- a properly "collaborative" effort, drawing on different sites on the net and not waiting to transcribe texts afresh. None of the texts are tagged by pericope (contrast John Marshall's Five Gospels Parallels) and all are English translations, but I can imagine this site being pretty useful; and I can imagine others doing similar things.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

Updated E-Lists

I began a revision of the NTGateway: E-Lists page in July and I've only now got round to completing it. I've updated URLs where necessary (and noticed that Acts-L's old homepage has vanished) and have belatedly added several groups: Biblical Languages, Biblical Studies, E-Matthew and G-Megillot.

Bart Ehrman, Lost Christianities

I've just received an announcement of Bart Ehrman's new book. The publisher's publicity is reproduced below:

LOST CHRISTIANITIES: The Battles for Scripture and Faiths We Never Knew
by Bart D. Ehrman

ISBN: 0-19-514183-0; 336pp.; $30.00; Date of Publication: October 2003

LOST CHRISTIANITIES examines the recently rediscovered lost books, along with others that were marginalized but recognized for centuries. Ehrman considers how the twenty-seven books of the New Testament came to be accepted as canonical Scripture, discussing the battles that raged between "proto-orthodox Christians"—those who eventually compiled the canonical books of the New Testament and standardized Christian belief—and the groups they denounced as heretics and ultimately overcame. Who belonged to this proto-orthodox Christian group, on what grounds did they make their selections, and when? This is a fascinating exploration of the nature of these early conflicts, what was at stake, what the opposing views were, how the parties involved conducted themselves, what strategies they used, and what literature they revered, copied and collected while despising, rejecting, and destroying others. LOST CHRISTIANITIES is broken down into three major parts. The first, “Forgeries and Discoveries,” looks at several literary texts, from a legendary account of Thecla, a female companion of the apostle Paul to a Gospel claiming to be written by Judas Thomas, supposedly Jesus’ twin brother. The second, “Orthodoxies and Heresies,” considers broad social phenomena including groups such as the Jewish-Christian Ebionites to “Gnostics.” And finally, “Winners and Losers,” which considers the conflicts that raged amongst the different groups which eventually led to the twenty-seven books taken to be sacred, inspired, and authoritative.

The implications for modern-day Christianity are astounding. Had the New Testament taken a different form, it is possible the people in the Western world might still be worshipping the ancient gods of Greece and Rome. The effects and impacts on the evolution of civilization are deeply tied to the rise of Christianity. LOST CHRISTIANITIES will provoke rethinking, advocate educating oneself on one’s beliefs, and trigger immense controversy.

Bart D. Ehrman (M.Div., Ph.D., Princeton Theological Seminary) is the Bowman and Gordon Gray Professor of Religious Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to dozens of book reviews and more than 20 scholarly articles, he has written or edited eleven books, including most recently Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium (Oxford University Press, 1999) and The Apostolic Fathers for the Loeb Classical Library (Harvard University Press, coming in 2003).

Jesus Film Reviews

I've just added a link on my Celluloid Jesus pages to Jesus Films - Reviews, a link that was there but I took down when the site disappeared and now it's back again. I intend to add some links to the two forthcoming Jesus films, Mel Gibson's Passion and the Visual Bible's Gospel of John; I'll get round to these asap. If you haven't been following the debate over the Gibson Jesus film, let me recommend you take a look through Jim Davila's Paleojudaica.com for lots of interesting links to media stuff about it.

PhD Weblogs

There's a new(ish) site listing PhD students' weblogs from around the world. It's at PhDweblogs.net; 80+ so far listed; nothing on the Bible as yet.

Disappearing Links

One of the depressing things about running the NT Gateway is the number of links I have to remove, and on a regular basis. I've just removed the links for all of the Featured Links, February 2002, which included a body called the Electric Press and who reproduced entire books on-line including several of interest to NT scholars. I wonder what happened to them? Perhaps they went bust. I always think it's a shame that so much effort all over the internet goes into projects that are disappear within a year or two. Another disappearance is dabar.org which used to feature a wealth of material for Biblical scholars (Featured Links, January 2002); Tom Thatcher also used to host his huge web site there. He mentioned to me some time ago that he was taking it down to revise it, but I don't know that it's ever returned. If any of you hear of the whereabouts of any of these disappearing web sites, I'd be happy to hear about it.

Monday, September 08, 2003

Rogue Classicism Blog

I'll also add links to one or two related blogs on the left. Paleojudaica.com you've heard me enthusing about already -- it's what got me interested in blogging. I've also now added RogueClassicism, which is run by David Meadows. I first got to know his name from the weekly Explorator newsletter, the latest of which was published on Sunday and can be accessed from the previous link. I'll add further ones of interest in due course.

Bible and Interpretation

I've added a link to the Bible and Interpretation web page on the left (under External Links). There's always masses of interesting information there, and it's bang up-to-date. It was a Featured Link back in March 2001; and other than a brief blip last year, the site has kept up with the goods ever since. Fresh updates over the last day or so include links to yet more information and debate about the now notorious James ossuary.

Perrin and Shedinger

There have been one or two other reviews of Perrin's Thomas and Tatian on-line, Robert Shedinger in the Review of Biblical Literature and Paul-Hubert Poirier in Hugoye.

Speaking of Shedinger and Hugoye, have a look at William Peterson's Review of Shedinger, Tatian and the Jewish Scriptures if you haven't done so already. I don't recall ever having seen so damning a review. I haven't read Shedinger myself, so can't judge for myself, but this review is utterly devastating. I wonder if Shedinger is planning a response? I think that if I got a review like that, I'd be ready to pack up the academic life and start again. Wow. For a response to Peterson on another topic, see Kent Clarke's Rebuttal to William L. Petersen . . . also in the recent TC.

Sunday, September 07, 2003

Two new TC reviews

Two new reviews by David Parker in TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism:

Reuben Swanson's Romans and Nicholas Perrin's Thomas and Tatian .

Go to: TC, Volume 8.

What's your vision for the blog?

Bob Shacht writes to me at blog@NTGateway.com to ask:

I'm not much of a blogger myself, but I see that you first outlined clearly how *you* intend to use the NTGateway blog. Then you give us an e-mail address for us to use to participate, but you don't really offer your vision of what kinds of things you'd like to see from others that would be suitable for the NTGateway blog. Do you see it primarily as a venue for posting information about changes in weblinks, new weblinks, meetings, etc, whether posted by you or others, somewhat like a bulletin board? (Wow. Takes me back maybe 10 years to think about electronic bulletin boards!) Or do you see it as a venue for discussion, like an e-mail discussion group such as XTalk, or John_Lit? Or how do you see a blog-- or more particularly, the NTGateway Blog-- doing something different from these older media? I'm a bit behind the curve on exactly what a blog is, but so far from what I've heard it seems like an excuse for a website owner to vent his or her own opinions about anything, without having to footnote it. Anyway, bottom line: please clarify your vision of how you'd like people to use this email blog address.

The short answer to this is that weblogs, as I understand them, evolve identities over the course of time. I'd like this one to evolve naturally in response to its users' comments and as my own idea of what's worth posting develops. The bottom line is, frankly, that if there's something that I find interesting that's relevant to the NT Gateway's theme, I'll post it. The NT Gateway is for material relevant to the acadmic study of the New Testament. This weblog is a part of the NT Gateway and so I'll post stuff that I think is relevant or interesting to the NT Gateway's users.

No, I don't necessarily see it as a venue for discussion, interaction etc. ; the e-lists are the best place for that. Yes, I do see it as for posting web links and the like but not solely for that. Yes, I may well use it as a venue to post my opinions about things; I'm not sure that footnoting makes a lot of sense in this kind of forum, though the hyperlinking of odd details to provide links to external information on a given topic is analogous to the academic footnote. So please use the email address to tell me about matters of news & interest to academic New Testament studies. Thanks for your questions, Bob.

BNTC, last post

Reading Jim Davila's post reminds me that I forgot to add that there were three trips on the Friday afternoon, one to the Mingana Collection, one to the Coin Collection at the Barber Institute and one to the Botanical Gardens at the university. This is a society tradition -- the Friday afternoon is trips afternoon, to places of local interest, especially those that have some relation to Biblical Studies or the ancient world. Unfortunately I had to miss it this year because in a committee meeting.

One remaining thing to report: the third and final Main Paper was Bruce Longenecker on "Seducing the Ear: Lucan Aversion to Humps and Hollows". This was an interesting and well-received paper on "chain constructions" in Acts of the Apostles, a kind of narrative device / convention common in antiquity and used lots -- according to Longenecker -- in Acts. He argued that they occur at key moments and could provide important clues to vexed issues like Pauline chronology. I understand that this a selection from a 100,000 work manuscript Longenecker has recently completed on the topic. Questions afterwards focused a good deal on why the feature doesn't crop up in Luke's Gospel / suggesting perhaps it does occur in Luke. Good end to the conference, anyway.

Let me just my reflections on the conference by thanking the marvellous team that made it possible. Thanks to everyone, but very special thanks to Catherine Smith, Helen Ingram and Richard Goode who consistently went way beyond the call of duty, arriving early, leaving late, sometimes going without food (sorry about that -- I should have realised!), troubleshooting, planning, thinking, taking the initiative and being generally fantastic. And the most special thanks of all to Catherine who headed up the whole operation superbly.

BNTC: other perspectives

Jacob Knee has added his reflections on the BNTC on the Xtalk list. You can read them at:

Xtalk post 6 Sept 2003, Jacob Knee, re. BNTC

Also some thoughts from Jim Davila's blog here.