Thursday, September 30, 2004

Possible blogging break

I am flying to Rome later today to take part in a documentary being filmed for Channel 4 with the working title, "Who wrote the Bible?" Since this is a business trip, I am going to take my blogging machine with me, but don't know yet whether I will have time or opportunity to use it, so it's a possible blog break.

Francis Watson articles on-line

Thanks to Andy Goodliff for drawing to my attention the fact that Francis Watson's homepage now features a good number of full-text articles and excerpts from work, both that published elsewhere and that not. It's yet a further sign of that steady revolution that is taking place on the Open Access front of scholars providing copies of their research freely available to all on their homepages. And it's very welcome. The main link is here:

Professor Francis Watson

Included are excerpts from his new book (Word document):

Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith

And a recent journal article (PDF):

'The Authority of the Voice: A Theological Reading of 1 Cor. 11.2-16', New Testament Studies 46 (2000): 520-36

And the materials not currently published elsewere (Word documents):

The Theology Generation

There's an encouraging article, for those of us teaching Theology in the UK at least, in this week's Tablet:

The theology generation
Christopher Lamb
What lies behind the increasing popularity of theology among university students? We asked one of them to investigate
. . . . It is hardly a "dossers' degree". Research by Manchester University of 18 theology and religious studies departments shows that six have raised their grades in the past year, with record numbers of students being interviewed for places. To get a place at St Andrews University in Scotland requires A-level grades of ABB (up from BBC), while at Durham, students need grades - or predicted grades - of ABC to even be called for an interview.

Even for someone who knows nothing about the subject, theology sounds interesting and looks good on a CV - provided the degree is from a good university. In that sense it is much like any other arts or humanities degree.

"Almost all of our students read theology for general interest, as they would English or history," says Rosalind Paul, admissions tutor for divinity at Cambridge. "A degree is about training the mind."

To learn about history, the Bible, Christianity and the influence of the Churches are good places to start. Theology is extremely flexible: not only does it bring together the disciplines of philosophy, literature, linguistics and history, but the choice of what to study within a theology degree is extraordinarily wide. "I've looked at everything from Buddhism to the Catholic Church's reaction to the Holocaust," says Patrick Scott, who is studying theology at Bristol University . . .

You may need to register (free) first. The article finishes with a quotation from a graduate of Exeter College, Oxford -- nice to see my college represented in the article (and I recognise the name of the student too, Richard Price). It's good to hear of the rising popularity of Theology. Much of the article chimes in with my own experience. I've spoken at two sixth form days this year, which we run in Birmingham for prospective students of Theology and Religion, and both have been well attended and full of really enthusiastic people. On each occasion I have encouraged them not to lose their enthusiasm before they come to university.

Oral Performance and Its Context

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.09.44 has added a detailed review of what looks like a fascinating and helpful book, especially given the current interest in this topic in NT studies. It is a Brill book so probably one for the library rather than personal possession:

C.J. Mackie (ed.), Oral Performance and Its Context (Mnemosyne Suppl. 248. Leiden: Brill, 2004)
Review by Jose M. Gonzalez

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Relaunch of The Expository Times

Alison Jack, the executive editor of the Expository Times, has sent me this information about the relaunch of the journal. I asked if I might also make it available on the blog and she was happy to agree:

Relaunch of The Expository Times

For over a century The Expository Times has enjoyed a reputation for its thought-provoking articles, helpful sermons and stimulating book reviews.

The Journal has large and dedicated following all over the world and many of our readers subscribe to The Expository Times throughout their working life.

With its roots in biblical scholarship, The Expository Times provides a valuable service in the continuing education of the ministry and over the years has evolved to reflect this.

In the Spring of 2005 The Expository Times will be re-launched to meet the demands of a 21st century readership. The re-launch will be accompanied by an extensive marketing campaign to thousands of ministers, colleges and seminaries worldwide.

We are therefore now inviting friends and colleagues to contribute articles to the new look Expository Times.

The ingredients which have made The Expository Times popular and successful over the years will still be very much in evidence in the new journal and The Expository Times’ principal focus will remain biblical. However, we are looking to expand the remit of the journal to cover other areas of interest to our readership. Our readers have indicated to us that they are interested in a wide range of scholarly issues covering aspects of current debate in academic circles but written in a clear and accessible way.

Expository Times’ readers are highly educated and informed and we want at all costs to maintain the academic credibility of the journal but we also need to adapt to appeal to the demands of a minister working in a busy environment. Therefore we are looking for stimulating and informative articles of 3-4000 words in length, on the bible and theology, in particular, relating to the ministry and avoiding any unnecessary academic jargon.

The format of the journal, which will be familiar to many of you, will remain relatively unchanged. Roughly divided into three sections the journal will feature articles, a worship resources section (including commentaries and sermons) and book reviews.

The journal appeals to an international, interdenominational audience, with a wide range of theological viewpoints, and articles should reflect this. The following offers a rough guide to the themes we are looking for but is by no means exhaustive:

· The bible and contemporary society
· Apocryphal writings
· New and Old Testament history and background
· Social issues including gender and race
· Ethical dilemmas
· Liturgy and worship including history and liturgical change
· Pastoral matters
· Practical Theology
· Contemporary issues affecting the Church
· Surveys of literature in the field
· Hymns and hymn writers
· Using multimedia in sermons
· Practical preaching tips
· Preaching on themes
· Preparing sermons for various audiences, eg children, teenagers, racially mixed audience etc
· Using the internet
· Interfaith issues
· Biography
· Autobiographical articles, charting the evolution of the thinking of a theologian or biblical scholar

We very much hope that you will want to contribute an article and would like to invite you to contact us to let us know what you would be willing to offer.

In particular, we are looking for contributions to be published in April, May and June 2005 for which copy will be needed by the beginning of November, December 2004 and January 2005.
You can contact the editor on

Questioning Q

My copy of Questioning Q arrived in today's post. This book is a collection of essays edited by Nick Perrin and me and featuring a Foreword by N. T. Wright. It is published by SPCK in the UK and InterVarsity Press in the USA (who are giving a publication date of February 2005 for their version). The essays are contributed by Nick Perrin, me, Mark Matson, Jeff Peterson, John Poirier, Eric Eve, Richard Vinson and Ken Olson. It was a pleasant surprise to see the volume this early; the date given in SPCK's publicity is October 22. However, there is next to nothing on the internet available to advertise the volume and it's not really available to buy yet. I'll post some more news when I have it. But it was a great pleasure to see the book more than three weeks earlier than I had expected. In the mean time, here are the bibliographical details:

Mark Goodacre and Nick Perrin (eds.), Questioning Q (London: SPCK, 2004); Foreword by N. T. Wright. Paper. ISBN: 0281056137.

The only thing that I was a little disappointed about was that SPCK have dropped the individual contributors' names from the cover of the book. I'll perhaps dig out a picture of the earlier draft of the book cover and post it here when I have a moment.

The Miners' Bishop: Brooke Foss Westcott

Last week's Church Times (I was away at the weekend) features a review of an interesting looking biography of the New Testament scholar and Bishop of Durham Brooke Foss Westcott:

THE MINERS’ BISHOP: Brooke Foss Westcott
By Graham A. Patrick

Reviewed by John Whale

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Problems with Semeia on Ebind

Monica Vila Echague points out to me that the Semeia volumes on Ebind now ask for a username and password so it seemed that these were no longer free to all users (See the list on my Journals page; this is the second list; the first one is hosted by SBL). However, it seems that if one types in Username: "any" and Password: "any", then one can still obtain access to these files. If I were you, though, I'd save any you want on your hard drive now lest they really have gone before long. It has happened before.

Short Review on Perspectives on the Passion of the Christ

I have commented before on the Miramax book called Perspectives on the Passion of the Christ and I am still planning to post my comments on this essay collection here in due course. (Note: this is not the same book as Jesus and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ). Here's a short review on

Perspectives on "The Passion of the Christ" (scroll down a bit)
. . . . The book suffers from weak editing. By the third time a writer explained that "synoptic" means "seen together" (as in the synoptic Gospels), I was wishing they'd just put a glossary in the front.

The writers' attitudes toward Mel Gibson's movie range from discomfort to contempt. Surely, they could have found someone thoughtful who flat-out liked the film? Having said that, the essays are generally well-written and cover in detail the reasoning of those who did not love the movie . . . .
I quite agree with these comments -- the weak editing, or lack of editing, is something that I'd like to come back to in my review; it is an element that contrasts with the more recent Webb and Corley edited volume. I also thought that it was pretty depressing reading a book that on the whole was so thoroughly negative about the film, and which was sometimes misinformed and often descended to caricature and polemic.

Mahlon Smith revisits The Passion

In Mahlon Smith's Virtual Religion Weblog, he revisits The Passion of the Christ with some comments on some comments by Catherine Baril:

Gisbon's Passion Revisited

Catherine Baril's comments, extensively quoted by Mahlon, are essentially an explanation of why she has no intention of watching the film. I have a genuine and sympathetic understanding of this position since I experienced this myself earlier this year. I often used to write in this blog of my dread of going to see this film, not least because of my extreme aversion to violence and violent films. Indeed it was only my fascination with Jesus movies that effectively made it compulsory that I should see it. I was ready to hate it. And I would say that while I still very much understand those who feel that they cannot face viewing it (including my Mum and my wife!), in my own experience the viewing of the film has proved an emotional, a spiritual, a profoundly uplifting and moving experience, an experience I am pleased that I have been able to share with many others who feel the same way.

A side comment -- Mahlon comments "at the risk of appearing obsessed". Well, if anyone can share with him on that one, it's me! But I am not concerned about the amount of the attention this film has generated from Biblical scholars. If we are not able to comment in an informed way in the public arena on such an important cultural event directly related to our primary interests, then the more fool us.

Tom Wright answers emailers

Over on the N. T. Wright Page, Tom Wright provides answers to questions asked by various emailers on the "WrightSaid" email list. This is an occasional feature organised by the group's maintainer Kevin Bush:

Bishop Tom Wright answers Wrightsaid Questions (September 2004)

Unfortunately, most of the answers are short and some simply refer the reader to already published work. The answers do feel a little rushed, but of course it's better than nothing. I would like to see the authors of the questions identified on this page too; at present we have simply anonymous questions and I like a bit more personal information, at least a name. At the conclusion, Wright offers some information on forthcoming publications:
Paul for Everyone: Romans is coming out next month (SPCK in UK, WJKP in USA); that a small book provisionally entitled Scripture and the Authority of God is due out in a few months; and that I am working on the book-version of the Hulsean Lectures I gave on Paul in Cambridge last spring -- provisional title, Fresh Perspectives on Paul...

Monday, September 27, 2004

More Gems on Katapi

And it's not just Streeter's Four Gospels (see previous post) but several other full on-line books made available on Katapi including:

Introduction to the New Testament by A H McNeile.
First published Oxford University Press 1927.

A Historical Introduction to the New Testament by Robert M Grant.
First published by Collin's 1963.

The Riddle of the New Testament by Sir Edwyn Hoskyns & Noel Davey.
First published Faber & Faber 1931.

On-line Streeter, The Four Gospels

On Hypotyposeis, Stephen Carlson notes this remarkable development:

B. H. Streeter, The Four Gospels: A Study of the Origins (London: Macmillan, 1924)

It's not just a straight transcription but a very nicely produced on-line edition by someone called Paul Ingram. The internet continually has the ability to surprise one on a daily basis. Just one comment at this stage: though the edition is beautifully hyperlinked, what would help enormously would be the original page numbers too for referencing purposes.

Update (30 September): I've now added to the New Testament Gateway: Synoptic Problem: Books and Articles page.

AKMA on the SBLSP clause

It's good to see AKMA coming on board with the concerns expressed in various blogs over the "hands off" clause ("Because these papers represent works in progress, they should not be quoted or otherwise cited without permission from the author") in the new on-line version of the SBL Seminar Papers:

Matter of Principle
But more important, the whole issue points to the extent to which this constituency of academia has yet to come to terms with the changes — and especially the opportunities — that online publication entails. Trevor and I have been knocking ourselves out, trying to find people who were willing to publish their work online at all. We’ve encountered all varieties of resistance, to what will be a matter of uninteresting fact in a few years. Rather than seeing the positive implications for disseminating scholarly debate over biblical topics, the guild responded with fear and with futile clutching after an illusory control.

Caviezel mistaken for Jesus has this remarkable story about James Caviezel (who played Jesus in The Passion of the Christ):

Jesus actor mistaken for the real deal
James Caviezel . . . was on a one-week tour of the east Mexican state of Veracruz.

According to Mexican newspaper Reforma, dozens of residents from villages throughout the state, one of the poorest in the country, asked Caviezel to heal the sick and perform other miracles as he passed through.

The actor, who is himself a strict Catholic, said: "The belief of these people really moved me.

"It was a shock for me to see how they came up to me to ask for my help. I had to explain to them that I was only an actor, and wasn't really the son of God."
This reminds me of the famous story about Robert Powell finding a great tapestry of his face in a church once when he was on holiday; it's a slightly scary reminder of just how powerful a medium film can be.

Herodian Palace excavation

RogueClassicism references this interesting article on Haaretz:

The Jewish millionaire who surrendered to the Romans
By Ran Shapira

David Meadows describes this as "a nice report on the excavation of a Herodian-era palace at Ramat Hanadiv, which appears to have been abandoned during the Jewish Revolt that began in the 60s A.D.". Well worth a read.

Review of Biblical Literature Latest

Latest reviews from the Review of Biblical Literature

Dart, John
Decoding Mark
Reviewed by Lincoln Blumell

Dart, John
Decoding Mark
Reviewed by Mark Schuler

Herranz Marco, Mariano
La Virginidad Perpetua de María
Reviewed by Bernie Cueto

Milavec, Aaron
The Didache: Text, Translation, Analysis, and Commentary
Reviewed by Thomas J. Kraus

Milavec, Aaron
The Didache: Text, Translation, Analysis, and Commentary
Reviewed by Eric Noffke

Milavec, Aaron
The Didache: Text, Translation, Analysis, and Commentary
Reviewed by Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte

Murray, Michele
Playing a Jewish Game: Gentile Christian Judaizing in the First and Second Century CE
Reviewed by Joshua Burns

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Paul Books and Articles page update

I am teaching Paul this term, so have been updating some links on the NT Gateway page on Paul, specifically Books and Articles. There are new URLs for the articles by John Gager and Francis Watson, and two new Tom Wright links from the N. T. Wright page, all marked with the red "New" and "New URL".

January 2005 Conference on the Rhetorics of Identity

This was posted yesterday on Rhetoric-L by L. G. Bloomquist on behalf of J. David Hester:

Dear Friends and Colleagues -

Due to interest concerning the conference, we have extended the deadline for submissions.

Please post this information anywhere you wish - the wider the variety of fields represented at the conference, the more exciting it will be.

Previous conference participants are encouraged to return; those who have not yet participated are most heartily welcome to join us.

-J. David Hester


The Centre for Rhetorics & Hermeneutics is [excited] pleased to announce Rhetorical Constructions of Identities: Place, Race, Sex and the Person, the next in series of successful international conferences exploring rhetorical theory in the context of pressing public issues. The conference will take place Thursday through Saturday, January 20-23, 2005 at the University of Redlands in Redlands, California.

All proposals pertinent to the topic will be considered. Explorations can include: biblical constructs of sacred identity and persona, issues of race and ethnic constructions, religious reconstitutions of the subject, sexed identities and desire, political and legal definitions of the subject and their implications, philosophies of individualism, honor-shame cultures and dyadic personalities, the conflict of allegiances, the role of the person in rhetoric and ad hominem argumentation, medical discourse and research and their impact upon ideas of the self, among other subjects. Participants from the fields of anthropology, philosophy, literature, rhetoric, religion, social and political sciences, medicine and ethics, to name a few areas of possible interest, are welcome.

Our conferences are unique in their conception and dialogic approach. They have remained interdisicplinary and transdisciplinary in inspiration and practice. Our commitment is to provide a context of safety where respect and dialog can take place, where experts come together to share from a variety of fields offer insights not usually available in larger and more disciplinary settings, and where international connections are fostered.

Proposals must be submitted by October 31, 2004 with notification of acceptance made by November 8, 2004. As we have done in the past, all proposals must be sent in by mid-January for distribution to all conference participants prior to arrival. Presentations are limited to 10 minutes, with 30-45 minutes roundtable dialogue to follow.

Participants who have joined us in the past will be given priority, but we welcome any and all to come join in the exchange. Registration is free, but transportation, lodging and food must be covered by the participants themselves.

The presentations will be published electronically in the journal Queen, but possibility of pulp publication will be discussed at the conference.

Please send proposals by October 31, 2004 to and /or

New N. T. Wright articles

The N. T. Wright Page has published three more articles by N. T. Wright. These are clearly lectures of some kind and appear to be three lectures in a series (see the opening lines of the third) on "Christian Origins and the Resurrection of Jesus":

The Resurrection as a Historical Problem

Early Traditions and the Origin of Christianity

The Resurrection and the Postmodern Dilemma

One request to Kevin Bush, alongside thanks for his fine site, would be that he gives date / place / origin of these papers.

Warren Carter on Pilate

Bible and Interpretation have published a short essay on Pontius Pilate, by Warren Carter:

Pontius Pilate: Roman Governor
Warren Carter

Thursday, September 23, 2004

N. T. Wright, Future of the People of God

The N. T. Wright page provides a link to Open Source Theology's materials from a conference featuring Tom Wright:

The Future of the People of God

There are preparatory reading materials, including summaries of Wright's books, and there are MP3s of each of four sessions.

Horizon on King Solomon's Tablet of Stone

I forgot to mention this earlier, so apologies to anyone in the UK who might have caught this if I'd have mentioned it in time, but tonight there was a good documentary on King Solomon's Tablet of Stone which touched also on the James Ossuary. It was on Horizon on BBC2 and the programme's web site carries a useful summary:

King Solomon's Tablet of Stone

It also promises a full programme transcript in due course. There were several interesting pieces of footage, one showing how to make a fake patina, another showing Oded Golan's arrest (or at least Golan in handcuffs being led away) and another showing the pieces retrieved from Golan's residence, including what were claimed to be several half-completed fakes, and loads of bullae.

Added Note: I've had a hunt around and see that if anyone is desperate, there is a repeat showing on Wednesday 6 October, BBC1, at 4.05 a.m.

Print Google Search

Open Access note this useful resource from Research Buzz:

Isolating Google's Printed Material in a Google Search Form

This is a nice little form that isolates the material that is part of so that you can run searches on that material alone. (See here for a comment on this). Having used this form on some NT topics (cf. earlier entry, New Testament on Google Print), it seems that there is still not a great deal of information there, and on the whole still provides a far better service when it comes to searchable full-text. Here some tidbits that I found using the form, all relatively short excerpts:

Jesus and the Politics of Interpretation (excerpt on the Quest for the Historical Jesus)
by Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza

Jesus & the Rise of Early Christianity: A History of New Testament Times
by Paul Barnett

Unearthing the Lost Words of Jesus: The Discovery and Text of the Gospel of Thomas
by John Dart, Ray Riegert

Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence
by Robert E. Van Voorst

Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews: A Jewish Life and the Emergence of Christianity
by Paula Fredriksen

Jesus, Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium
Bart Ehrman

Death of Jesus and the Birth of the Gospels

I have been invited to speak to clergy from the Worcester diocese today at a Patronage Day at Worcester Cathedral. My topic is "The Death of Jesus and the Birth of the Gospels", which is also the planned subtitle of the book I am planning on the Passion narratives. While preparing for this last night, it occurred to me that it might be useful to make available on my home page a lecture I gave last year at Wellesley College in which I set out my stall for that research, as it were. What I would like to do, therefore, is to add a little section on my home page on "work in progress" in which that and other pieces of current research are made available. It shouldn't take long to do and I hope to sort this out soon.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Synoptic Problem Web Site makeover

Stephen Carlson's Synoptic Problem Home Page has begun a makeover, announced on Hypotyposeis and with comments already by Rubén Gómez and Tim Bulkeley. Here's the new site, with a slightly changed name:

Synoptic Problem Web Site

The major change is the CMS, now using Blogger. I like this idea and the site is looking great. There are precedents in the area, e.g. The Stoa Consortium or Ancient / Classical History. I have toyed with the idea myself for the New Testament Gateway proper, especially as this blog increases and, perhaps, in time the main gateway site decreases. If I were to do that, I'd keep the main page as a separate means of entry (as site map), but I would merge the blog and the gateway. But I'm not yet sure if that's desirable or appropriate, so for the time being it is the status quo but with an eye on those who are going down that route.

"Hands off half-baked papers" @ Deinde

It is good to see Deinde back and blogging again. For some reason, my Bloglines stopped picking up the RSS feed for it so I missed it for a while. One post from last week picks up on the discussion between the various biblioblogs on the SBL Seminar Papers (see SBL Seminar Papers Discussion continues for all the links) with this title:

The SBL Sez "Hands Off Half-Baked Papers"

Paul Nikkel comments usefully on the Open Access implications and possibilities of the move to web publication of the Seminar Papers.

Blogging mechanics 2: Comments old and new

A couple of weeks ago, I introduced blogger's own comments feature (New Blogger Features), explaining that while this was preferable to the old Haloscan comments, I did not want to lose a year's worth of old comments and so decided to put the two side by side. Unfortunately, no one seems to have realized that the "New comments" link was supposed to be the one to click and use, and commenters still used the old Haloscan "Comments" link. So I am trying something different -- I've relabelled the old Haloscan comments with "Old Comments" and the Blogger feature with just "Comments". So please use the "Comments" link and not the "Old comments" link. I hope that that makes sense; if not, I'll just scrap the older comments link anyway, but I'd prefer to keep it so that the older comments stick around.

Blogging mechanics 1: links in new windows

Should blogging links open in new windows? One correspondent and one commenter say yes; two commenters say no, one suggesting that one can always do this anyway oneself with a right click of the mouse. So I'll stick with the status quo -- links will not open in new windows unless the user chooses to make them do that. Frankly, I would probably forget to keep doing it anyway; blogger enables one to add links quickly and easily and adding a little extra code each time is not ideal. One other relevant note -- if, like me, you read blogs in Bloglines, links open in new windows anyway, always keeping Bloglines in the background.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Review of Biblical Literature latest

There is always time, of course, for the latest reviews on NT themes from the Review of Biblical Literature

Edwards, Mark
Reviewed by William M. Wright

Gorman, Michael J.
Apostle of the Crucified Lord: A Theological Introduction to Paul & His Letters
Reviewed by Timothy Gombis

Gorman, Michael J.
Apostle of the Crucified Lord: A Theological Introduction to Paul & His Letters
Reviewed by Renate Viveen Hood

Kazen, Thomas
Jesus and Purity Halakhah: Was Jesus Indifferent to Impurity?
Reviewed by Darian Lockett

Moxnes, Halyor
Putting Jesus in His Place: A Radical Vision of Household and Kingdom
Reviewed by Zeba Crook

Wakefield, Andrew Hollis
Where to Live: The Hermeneutical Significance of Paul's Citations from Scripture in Galatians 3:1-14
Reviewed by Kenneth Pomykala

Bits and bobs, blog blips and breaks

When late on Thursday night I happily wrote that I would be blogging again on Monday, I'd not realized just how overworked I'd be on my return from travelling. I am so behind at the moment with absolutely piles and piles of work and more that I do not foresee being able to blog much at all this week.

Friday's travel was work related -- filming for a forthcoming BBC / Discovery programme called Jesus' Family Tree. My interview was filmed in the lower library at Worcester College, Oxford, a lovely old-fashioned library with old tomes that were obviously rarely consulted. My interview focused particularly on things like Thomas (in legend and history), the story of the Virgin Birth, questions about Joseph's former marriage, Jesus' relationship to his brothers and sisters during his ministry and especially at the crucifixion and beyond; and the genealogies. The last time I talked about the Virgin Birth on TV I got into trouble and I couldn't help being a little conscious of that. The general experience was slightly different from others I've had. The director was conscious of exactly what she was looking for in the interview and some of the questions I was asked multiple times (e.g. in the piece on Thomas, I was asked to do it again without saying 'Judas' because that was to be introduced by the narrator before this clip). I've done a bit of work for TV and radio, and every one is different, almost always enjoyable in different ways. This programme, by the way, does not go out until next Spring in the USA (Discovery Channel) and not until 2006 on the BBC. This is not a programme that I have a consultant's role on; I'm just a participant, so have no idea at this stage how it will turn out. But it looks pretty interesting -- two episodes totalling 100 minutes are planned, and much of the location filming, in Israel and elsewhere, is already done.

I have been doing some more reading and thinking about crucifixion while travelling and can now, I think, answer my own question of a week and more ago (Ancient Narratives of Crucifixion) and would like to do explain here when I get a chance.

I have also almost finished Jesus and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ and have jotted down pages of notes, especially on John Dominic Crossan's article, "Hymn to a Savage God". I'll be adding these here when chance allows. Overall, I am impressed with the book. It reads much better than the under-edited rival, Perspectives on the Passion of the Christ, much of which I really disliked. I'll be explaining my reactions to both of these as soon as chance allows. At the moment, that is not looking like being imminent, alas.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Blogging rest

I am away in Oxford, London and Paris this weekend and will not be taken my blogging machine with me, so the weblog is taken a break until Monday. See you then.

Theologians urge caution over Passion DVD

Beliefnet today carries this story:

Christian Leaders Urge Caution on 'Passion' DVD Release
By Kevin Eckstrom
A statement signed by 97 theologians, pastors and other church officials said the "visually powerful portrayal" of the death of Jesus in Gibson's film includes "numerous explicitly anti-Jewish elements that we consider an affront to the gospel."

"It encourages misunderstanding of the role of Jews and their leaders in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus' death; it includes gratuitous anti-Jewish portrayals; and its promotion by Christians has largely ignored the pain and concern of the Jewish community about the film," the statement said.

The statement was coordinated by John Merkle, a professor of theology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John's University in Minnesota, and Peter Pettit, director of the Institute for Christian-Jewish Understanding at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. . . .

. . . . They also had strong words for their Christian colleagues. "We ... find it lamentable that Christian leaders so easily pass over its anti-Jewish character in favor of what they perceive to be its positive aspects," the signers said.

Notable signers included Harvey Cox and Karen King of Harvard Divinity School, Mary Boys of Union Theological Seminary, former Swedish Lutheran Bishop Krister Stendahl and the Rev. John Pawlikowski, director of the Bernardin Center for Catholic-Jewish Studies at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.
Without wanting to sound facetious, I am surprised that only 97 signatories could be found. When I surveyed scholarly reaction to the film, I was amazed by the number of those who reacted negatively to the film, certainly the vast majority of those Biblical scholars who commented in public. I'd be interested to see the full text of this statement, but my concern would be that sweeping generalizations of the kind quoted above actually discourage a critical engagement with the strengths and weaknesses of the film, instead encouraging a descent into caricature that can only limit what the signatories are presumably hoping to achieve.

Mahlon Smith's Blog

Many thanks to Gail Dawson for this one:

Virtual Religion Weblog

This is "the Online Journal of Mahlon H. Smith", recently launched, and a very welcome addition to the blogosphere. Most of my readers, I am sure, will know of Mahlon Smith's work, and especially his pioneering web sites on religion and Christian origins which include Virtual Religion Index, A Synoptic Gospels Primer, Into His Own: Perspective on the World of Jesus and Jesus Seminar Forum. Mahlon and I have never met, but we have been internet friends for years and I am looking forward to reading this new, occasional journal. Recent entries include one on adding a Google Search (and follow-up). I have recently come over to Google's Site Search myself (see blog entry on) because I reached my page limit with PicoSearch's free search, which I have used now for about six years. At present my own Google site search only appears here on the blog, but I have been impressed enough with it to add it to the NTGateway as a whole when I next get the chance. (It searches as a whole, but what I mean is that at present the search box only appears here on the blog and not elsewhere on the NTGateway).

Well worth reading is Mahlon's entry on Gibson Agonistes, all about the article he wrote on The Passion of the Christ, how that article came about and its afterlife, with PDF and booklet versions and the like. It's nice to hear that I am not the only one who on occasion ends up putting in an all-nighter to get work finished. Indeed the last time I did that was over my own article on The Passion of the Christ for the new book. Perhaps there's something about writing about the Passion during the night that brings out the best in us?

I'll end this enthusiastic post by adding a request to Mahlon for an RSS feed for the blog. As a consumer of multiple blogs, the only effective way to keep up with them these days is to read them via an aggregator like Bloglines.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Passion of the Christ book arrives

Jesus and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ Jesus and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ

I was happy to find in today's post my copy of this book, Robert Webb and Kathleen Corley (eds.), Jesus and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ: The Film, the Gospels and the Claims of History. I am looking forward to reading those parts that I have not had a chance to read yet (the majority of it). If you haven't ordered your copy yet, you can read more about it here, or you can order it from Amazon here.

SBL Seminar Papers Discussion continues

Further to my post on this topic yesterday, More on the SBL Seminar Papers, see now also:

Copyright and Blogging (Rubén Gómez at Bible Software Review)

Copyright and SBL Papers (Stephen Carlson at Hypotyposeis)

The SBL, Copyright and Scholarly Courtesy (including updates, Jim Davila, Paleojudaica)

Jim gets to the nub of my own concerns with this comment:
This is an unannounced and, as far as I know, undiscussed departure from the previous policy regarding SBL Seminar Papers. Some of the volumes have pointed out that the papers are preliminary work, which is fair enough, but there's never been a hint that they shouldn't be cited and, indeed, they have frequently been cited in the secondary literature. I've published two papers in the SBLSP myself, at least one of which has been cited elsewhere, indeed in the last few months. It never would have occurred to me to expect the citers to ask my permission first.
I've had just the one article published in the Seminar Papers and my understanding was like Jim's -- I would certainly not have expected people to ask my permission before quoting from the article, much less citing it, nor have they. In fact I've been delighted when it has been cited. Jim also comments:
The new policy doesn't make any sense for the printed and bound volumes, let alone for Internet publications. It seems to be aimed at small seminars of, say, a dozen or fewer people in which they circulate the papers among themselves for discussion and feedback before revising and publishing them.
This, I think, compliments my point that the new rider essentially devalues the role played by the Seminar Papers -- what is now the incentive to publish this way? An example. This year I am giving a paper in the Mark Group. Our papers will be circulated in advance to the members of the group but we were also offered the chance to publish in the Seminar Papers, for which we had to get our papers in long in advance. (Mine is still not written yet). I regarded the Seminar Papers as a higher status publication than the informal sharing of papers among members of the specific group.

I agree with many of Jim's comments on the practical difficulties that the new rider introduces.

One comment on Stephen's remarks:
Much of my previous comments in my "'Copyright Confusion'" were colored by what is now an apparently false assumption that the on-line papers are preprints of articles for a forthcoming printed edition of the Seminar Papers 2004. As a result, I was under the impression that the restrictions were only temporary until the "official" publication and would therefore be analogous to a media embargo that is often imposed by journals such as Nature, which grant pre-publication access with pre-publication restrictions. But Mark Goodacre states that "The on-line version replaces the older paper version," a critical fact I overlooked. Is this true? Are they really replacing the printed version with the on-line? If so, whatever policy considerations I was assuming based on temporary restrictions are less appropriate here. (Also, since the Seminar Papers used to be available at the meeting, whatever assumption I had about revising them in response to comments at the meeting was off too.)
Yes, the relevant section on the SBL Site is the following:
The new version, which replaces the paperback edition, will provide convenient, timely access to papers intended to be read prior to the Annual Meeting. The decision, made early in April by the Research and Publications Committee, recognizes a new opportunity for scholarly exchange before and during the Annual Meeting. (SBL Seminar Papers on-line)
The invitation to publish in the Seminar Papers was pretty broad -- it went out at least to the leaders of the seminars, groups and consultations so that they, in turn, would invite all those who were to speak to contribute to the Seminar Papers should they wish to do so.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

JSNT latest

The latest edition of JSNT is now available:

Journal for the Study of the New Testament Vol. 27 No. 1 (September 2004)

Contents are as follows:

Domestic Space and Families in Early Christianity: Editors’ Introduction
Margaret MacDonald and Halvor Moxnes

Domestic Architecture and Household Relations: Pompeii and Roman Ephesos
Michele George

Rich Pompeiian Houses, Shops for Rent, and the Huge Apartment Building in Herculaneum as Typical Spaces for Pauline House Churches
David L. Balch

Towards a Typology of Levantine/Palestinian Houses
Peter Richardson

Domestic Space, Family Relationships and the Social Location of the Q People
Santiago Guijarro

Lord Jesus Christ: A Response to Professor Hurtado
Maurice Casey

Devotion to Jesus and Historical Investigation: A Grateful, Clarifying and Critical Response to Professor Casey
Larry W. Hurtado

The Text-Critical Function of the Umlauts in Vaticanus, with Special Attention to 1 Corinthians 14.34-35: A Response to J. Edward Miller
Philip B. Payne

Book Reviews

The links above go to the abstracts. Full text is available to subscribers and institutional subscribers. (My institutional subscription is not working at the moment -- Ingenta are refusing to read the Birmingham authentication and Swets do not yet have the latest edition on-line -- annoying because there are a few articles here I'd like to read).

Trobisch URLs

Religion-Online have been reorganizing their site again, with all new URLs, which is going to cause quite a bit of updating for me. Here's one for starters: David Trobisch, The Oldest Extant Editions of the Letters of Paul updated on both my Paul the Apostle and Textual Criticism. Note that Religion-Online have the incorrect URL for Trobisch's homepage; it should be this: Dr David J. Trobisch. There is actually a good deal to explore there, including several full-text articles, for which you need to click first on the tiny link at the top of the page to Curriculum Vitae.

More on the SBL Seminar Papers

Following on from my posting on the SBL Seminar Papers On-line, Jim Davila comments on Copyright Confusion on Paleojudaica. In addition to Jim's remarks, a couple of things strike me here: the major departure from the tradition of the SBL Seminar Papers, which have often been cited and quoted in other publications, and the lack of necessity for the rider. If scholars simply want to put work in progress on-line, then the SBL Seminar Papers does not strike me as the obvious or best place to do it. They can self-publish on their own web site, they can circulate to colleagues and friends and members of the seminar group in question, and they can publish temporarily on the individual section's web site (many SBL groups now have their own web site). In other words, the presence of the fresh, especially emphasised rider downgrades the importance of the SBL Seminar Papers, making them no more than temporarily published works in progress. Is there an implied distinction working here between proper publication = print and temporary, work in progress = web? Is this the end of an era?

Update (23.32): Matthew Collins sends a helpful clarificatory email:
First, thanks for the mention - hopefully more folks will visit the site.
Second, my original intent in putting the rider on the papers, however, was not one of claiming copyright or any such thing (you'll notice I don't say they are copyrighted, only that one should ask permission). Rather it was to reinforce the idea of scholarly courtesy in recognizing the provisional nature (both in print and online) of the Seminar Papers as a publication. We have had this approach to the Seminar Papers since its inception. I have seen (and heard) quotations of papers printed in the Seminar Papers used to argue that scholar X holds a particular point of view - when in fact in the final version of the paper published elsewhere, scholar X either takes a very different view or doesn't address the perspective quoted. The Seminar Papers has always been a provisional publication designed to stimulate scholarly interchange at the meeting through the circulation of papers in advance of the meeting. The fact that these papers were bound in a nice volume and sold made many assume they were finished and copyrighted products. If you look at the print versions of the past, you will note the only copyright claimed is for the printed collected volume. Authors still retained all copyrights and publication rights.
And Stephen Carlson anticipates some of these comments in a useful posting on Hypotyposeis.

JTS latest

The Journal of Theological Studies has a new issue:

The Journal of Theological Studies, Volume 55, Issue 2, October 2004

I'm afraid that it is still subscriber / institutional subscription only. There are bags of interesting reviews, as usual, and one article that touches directly on the New Testament:

Purity of Heart in Jesus' Teaching: Mark 7:14-23 Par. as an Expression of Jesus' Basileia Ethics
Christian Stettler
pp. 467-502

Accordance: Links to Oaksoft

This circular has gone round from Helen Brown at Accordance:
We have a problem with Google: sites are rated partly by the number of sites that link to them. Since we changed our domain from to, we are at a disadvantage in that virtually no webpages link to the new domain. Although the old links still work seamlessly, we need to work to improve the number of sites that do link to the new domain.

Please correct the links on your site, and keep in mind that all the subsidiary pages and links have changed completely.
The only link I have is to an old blog entry on Biblical Studies Bulletin 31, so I hereby add above a link to the new URL. I should add that the New Testament Gateway as a policy links only to free software, so the lack of inclusion of Accordance, of course, is no comment on the programme and its well-known qualities.

I imagine that the concern is if one were to type something like "Bible software" into Google, when Accordance would come number 12 in the list, and not in the all important top few. If, however, one had already heard of Accordance by word of mouth, and typed in "Accordance", it does come up top, and with both URLs.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Review of Biblical Literature latest

Latest from the Review of Biblical Literature:

Malherbe, A. J.
The Letters to the Thessalonians: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary
This page links to several review of the book, with an Introduction by John Fitzgerald and Reviews by:

Jan Lambrecht
Edgar Krentz
Charles Wanamaker
Johan Thom
Margaret Mitchell
Silva, Moisés
Interpreting Galatians: Explorations in Exegetical Method
Reviewed by Ron Fay

Zahl, Paul F. M.
The First Christian: Universal Truth in the Teachings of Jesus
Reviewed by D Seiple

Hays, Richard and Ellen Davis, eds.
The Art of Reading Scripture
Reviewed by Roy Melugin

Pokorný, Petr and Jan Roskovec, eds.
Philosophical Hermeneutics and Biblical Exegesis
Reviewed by Peter Frick

SBL Seminar Papers On-line

The SBL Seminar Papers are now available on-line:

SBL Seminar Papers 2004

The on-line version replaces the older paper version. It looks like the on-line version has created fewer rather than more submissions, unless it is just that the number looks fewer when one sees them on-line. Unlike the older paper version (again, if I remember correctly), there is a statement limiting their usage and flagging these up as works in progress:
Because these papers represent works in progress, they should not be quoted or otherwise cited without permission from the author.
Here are the papers that touch on New Testament themes. All are PDFs:

S21-60 Formation of Luke-Acts Consultation
Claire Clivaz, University of Lausanne
"A Sweat like Drops of Blood" (Luke 22:44): at the Crossing of Intertextual Reading and Textual Criticism

S23-10 John's Apocalypse and Cultural Contexts Ancient and Modern Section
Olutola K. Peters, Emmanuel Bible College
Politics of Violence in the Apocalypse of John: Moral Dilemma and Justification

S22-115 Mark Group
Lawrence Wills, Episcopal Divinity School
The Sacrifice of the Hero and The Death of Jesus in Mark

S22-17 Matthew Section
Mary Kay Dobrovolny, Vanderbilt University
Who Controls the Resources? Economics and Justice in Matt 20:1-15

S22-18 Midrash Consultation
Herbert Basser, Queen's University
The Value of the Gospels for Reading the Rabbis

S22-77 Synoptic Gospels Section
T. M. Derico, Trinity College, Oxford
Upgrade and Reboot: A Re-appraisal of the Default Setting

Sunday, September 12, 2004

New look for the N. T. Wright Page

Kevin Bush's "Unofficial web site dedicated to the Bishop of Durham" has a nice new look; visit it at:

N. T. Wright Page

Carlson on Kloppenborg on Goodacre Part 2

On Hypotyposeis, Stephen Carlson has the second part of his critical review of John Kloppenborg's "On Dispensing with Q?: Goodacre on the Relation of Luke to Matthew":

Kloppenborg Review on Matthew's Additions in the Triple Tradition

I don't have any comments to add here, but it's well worth reading; I look forward to the next section.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

What's in a blog @ Bible Software Review Weblog

There's an enjoyable post on Bible Software Review Weblog, enjoyable not least because I found myself in agreement with most of what Rubén Gómez says:

What's in a blog

He is picking up from an article from October 2003 in NetGuideWeb giving hints on what makes a good blog. Some comments on comments:
"Don't worry about who's reading, and just write about what's interesting to you. Don't try to please some external person, just focus on writing about stuff you think is interesting." — Easy to say, and easily done... at the beginning. Later on I've noticed that you tend to take into account the profile of your audience and the feedback you receive. So you end up writing about what you consider interesting and think your readers will appreciate.
Agreed; looking back on a year of blogging, I am pleased by how often feedback has helped me to craft this blog. Sometimes I've even asked a question like "Is it worth my while adding this kind of announcement?" and have had positive feedback saying "yes, please continue" and so on. But otherwise, I avoid being neurotic about content. As long as it touches on the topic of the blog, i.e. the academic study of the New Testament, and I think it worth posting, it goes in.

But these are the comments (on comments) that particularly struck a chord with me:
"The blog should do what you say it's going to do. You want people to come back, to become regular readers, so you need to live up to whatever you promise. If you've set up a tech blog, your readers might be surprised if you start writing long accounts of why your marriage/team/country is going down the drain. Of course, in the process you might pick up some new readers and decide to relaunch the blog." — Now, this I find very relevant! One of the things that turn me off is the fact that otherwise good and useful Biblical Studies weblogs begin to talk about things that have nothing to do, whatsoever, with the stated purpose of the blog. Don't get me wrong. I think it is a perfectly legitimate thing to hold certain political views, sports interests, and what have you. However, I do believe they belong elsewhere, and since it is so easy to set up a personal weblog and vent our opinions there, I think it would be in everybody's interest if we could somehow keep focused. This is not to say, of course, that I don't like personal touches here and there. I, for one, love to know some details about any Tom, Dick and Harry "Blogger", see pictures of them, and so on. We're dealing with people here. And you'll agree with me that Stephen is more important than Hypotyposeis, Mark than NT Gateway, or Jim than Paleojudaica, to name just three of them (forgive me the rest of you!). But the fact remains that I feel I cannot add certain blogs to my blogroll simply because they mix "apples with oranges," and that is kind of frustrating.
I entirely agree with these comments. There is a balance here. For the "professional blog", to use Rubén's term, has a specific, stated academic focus. In the case of this blog, it is the academic study of the New testament. I work on the assumption that the reason that people read this blog is that they are in some way interested in the academic study of the New Testament. I do not assume that readers will be interested in my marriage, my family, my hobbies, my leisure time, my political affiliations and so on. And if they are interested in these things, tough -- they're not going to learn about them, not from here at least! And yet at the same time, it is the case that a blog, even one with a stated professional focus, is a personal product, and, to speak for myself, I don't want this blog to be pompous or dry or over-intense, or any of the other things that academics can lend themselves to. There needs to be a sense of fun, some personal investment, something distinctive and interesting; but my aim, at least, is to avoid letting that descend into self-indulgence. (If you read this blog regularly, you might sometimes spot a post or an element in a post that gets deleted later the same day after I have thought better of it). Anyway, thanks, Rubén, for some interesting thoughts.

BMCR Review of Witherington on Revelation

Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2004.09.14 features the following enthusiastic review:

Ben Witherington III, Revelation (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)
Reviewed by Susan F. Mathews

Links opening in new windows

A correspondent suggested to me that it would be useful to have links in this blog opening in new windows (illustration). So I'll give that a go for a bit and see what users think. Please leave a comment if you have a strong view on this either way.


KALÓS, the free classical Greek computer programme, has announced Version 2.9:

In this version we finally took our \"Tutti i verbi greci\" and did a dramatic overhaul of the morphological analysis.

There\'s still work to do but we think the results of our work will show. Notice how the full numbers of exploded forms that are generated when entering a word are presented to the user for filtering.

Other improvements and bug fixes in this version:

-the selection of verbs by category now works

-accents type and position on the vocalic contracted verbs were corrected

-several problems in the presentation of the verb listing were corrected

-more spacing has been given to the listings\' rows

-problems with the listings\' grouping were corrected

-the listings of the infinitive now show more than one form if available

-conjugations of very common verbs (TRE/YW, QNH|SKW, FHMI/, LAMBA/NW), presented problems that were corrected

-the participle listings of several -MI verbs failed, this has been corrected

-several liquid verbs presented problems in the infective (present and imperfect). This was corrected.

Besides ... yes, we have a normal WINDOWS SETUP! (applause).

We hope you enjoy our latest version. Please keep your comments and suggestions coming, your feedback helps us enormously improve the program.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Google Search

I've added a Google search now to this blog; my PicoSearch finally reached its 1,500 page limit this week and this necessitated the change. At present it's just available here on the NT Gateway weblog. If I decide that it's OK and that all is well, I'll replace all the PicoSearches on the New Testament Gateway proper too.

Greek Study Day

This message posted on behalf of Geoffrey Williams:

This is to give you advance notice of a proposed STUDY DAY for teachers of NT Greek in theological colleges and University departments of theology and religious studies.

It is to be held on WEDNESDAY 2 MARCH 2005 at the UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM, between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm.

It will be a practical day, and enable teachers to exchange ideas and develop the existing network which has been encouraged by the LTSN.

At least three themes will be considered during the day: how we enable students to develop strategies for translation when they are approaching NT texts; how we t4each participles to students at introductory and intermediate levels; and ho we organise and construct beginners' courses in Greek (the latter to be led by Glenn Balfour, who had just completed a new text-book)

The cost is likely to be of the order of £30.

Further details, including a registration form, will be sent out as soon as they are available, and will also appear on the New Testament Gateway website.

Jane McLarty (Cambridge University)

Steve Walton (London School of Theology)

Geoffrey Williams (Spurgeons College)

New blogger features

I've updated my blogger template to feature two of the new blogger facilities. First, I've added Blogger's own comments facility. This was not available when I began the blog and so I used Haloscan instead. The disadvantage with Haloscan are that the comments are hosted elsewhere; moreover, blogger's own comments provision allows one to see the comments on each individual post's page. But I did not want to lose all the Haloscan comments from the last year or so, at least not for the time being, so I have gone for the slightly unwieldly solution of keeping both. So please, from now on, use the "New Comments" link you see below rather than the "Comments" link. I've even added "Use this" for the time being to encourage everyone to click on the right link.

I've also enabled the "Email this" link -- post a link to a blog entry to a friend by clicking on the icon.

Of course if you are reading this in an aggregator, you will have to leave the aggregator to access those features.

The next thing I need to change is the search facility on the NT Gateway as a whole. I reached my Picosearch limit of 1,500 pages this week so will need to transfer over to Google's search. But that will take a little while to implement.

Elsewhere in the blogosphere

I was sorry to see the announcment this morning about the end of Νεφελοκοκκυγία.

More happily, it's good to see Deinde back on-line after an absence of a couple of weeks.

Ancient Narratives of Crucifixion

It is encouraging that the E-Lists still have the ability to generate lively and intelligent discussion and so to help out with one's research. I've been working on the crucifixion narrative in Mark for the short term goal of an SBL Mark Group paper in November and the longer term goal of my book on the Passion Narrative. I began wondering when re-reading Mark's Passion Narrative recently whether this might be not only the first extant ancient narrative of the crucifixion of Jesus but also the first extant ancient narrative of any crucified hero. Members of the Xtalk list have provided many useful thoughts, references and further avenues to chase down, and the thread was generating responses last night at an enjoyably rapid rate.

The gist of my query is that we do not think enough about the challenge that Mark was facing in his attempt to construct the first narrative a crucified hero. How does one turn the instinctive shame and revulsion that the ancients felt concerning the very idea to a proclamation of good news? We have some idea of what might have been considered an honourable death, e.g. that which Florus (Epitome 2.8) reports for Spartacus, "Spartacus himself fell, as became a general, fighting most bravely in the front rank". Likewise, Spartacus gets depicted as dying fighting with his army. Jesus, on the other hand, dies abandoned and alone, his followers having fled. Now there are only some women watching from afar off. It is this utterly abject, lonely, shameful death, characterised by an eery silence, which provides the invitation to Mark to scripturalize the tradition, and thus to construct the first narrative of crucifixion by subverting the readers' expectations, to say that here, where you would least expect it, honour, glory and vindication are found.

The thread has thrown up several interesting thoughts and suggestions, Peter Kirby notes that though not exactly "crucifixion", the binding of Prometheus comes to mind.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Passion of the Christ DVD sales rocket

Thanks to Helenann Hartley for this one from BBC News:

Passion 'beats Rings DVD record'
Biblical epic The Passion of the Christ has broken the record for sales of a live action movie on DVD and VHS in one week in the US, according to a report.

It sold almost nine million copies in its first week on release, beating The Lord of the Rings titles, according to the Hollywood Reporter trade paper . . .

. . . . Of the nine million DVD and VHS sales, more than four million were bought on its first day on release.

Philip Esler, Conflict and Identity in Romans

Here is another one I'm adding to my Reading List:

Philip Esler, Conflict and Identity in Romans: The Social Setting of Paul's Letter

I've been aware of this for a little, but my attention was drawn to it by Torrey Seland's Philo of Alexandria blog.

Esler's book on Galatians is one of the best things I've ever read on Galatians, which is recommendation enough for the new Romans volume, but Loren Rosson offers an enthusiastic review on Amazon. Unfortunately, there are no on-line excerpts, though Fortress have the table of contents.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Gospel of Mark: Articles

I've made some additions and have updated some URLs on the Gospel of Mark: Articles page, new URLs for J. D. H. Amador, “Dramatic Inconclusion: Irony and the Narrative rhetoric of the Ending of Mark” and Susan Garrett, “Disciples on Trial”, a return for:

Craig A. Evans, “Mark's Incipit and the Priene Calendar Inscription: From Jewish Gospel to Greco-Roman Gospel”

and three new articles:

John S. Kloppenborg, “Egyptian Viticultural Practices and the Citation of Isa 5:1-7 in Mark 12:1-9”

John S. Kloppenborg, “Isa 5:1-7 LXX and Mark 12:1, 9, Again”

John J. Pilch, “Death with Honor: The Mediterranean Style Death of Jesus in Mark”

Full citations on the Gospel of Mark: Articles page.

Update (Wednesday, 10.01 a.m.): thanks to Wieland Willker for pointing out that I had the same URL for the two Kloppenborg articles above. I have now adjusted this both above and on the Gospel of Mark: Articles page.

Lionel Casson, Libraries in the Ancient World

On About Ancient / Classical History, N. S. Gill writes one of her short, helpful reviews of Lionel Casson, Libraries in the Ancient World:

Review: Libraries in the Ancient World

I've not read the book myself but it looks most interesting and I've added it to my reading list.

Carlson on Kloppenborg on Goodacre

Over on Hypotyposeis, Stephen Carlson offers some opening reflections on an article that John Kloppenborg wrote in response to my Case Against Q. It reminds me that I have still to write my own response to Kloppenborg's article and the delay in doing this says nothing about my opinion of Kloppenborg's piece -- I was hugely grateful to have the book taken so seriously by one of the experts in the field. The delay is rather to do with the fact that after a major project, one wants to move on to other pieces of research, at least for a short while, lest one gets bogged down in just one rarefied area of research. Stephen's post is here:

Kloppenborg, "On Dispensing with Q?" @ NTS

What Stephen does not mention is that Kloppenborg's article is publicly available, as part of the open access revolution, on Kloppenborg's home page:

John S. Kloppenborg, "On Dispensing with Q? Goodacre on the Relation of Luke to Matthew", New Testament Studies 49/2 (2003) 210-236 [PDF]

Stephen comments on nomenclature and puts his finger on the thing that concerns me with the term Kloppenborg now prefers for the Farrer Theory, "Mark Without Q": it defines someone else's theory by contrasting it with your own, i.e. by what is present (Marcan Priority) and what is absent (Q). Admittedly, I used this title for a while for my web site, as Kloppenborg points out. But my reason for dropping it was that it kept getting misunderstood by cursory users who would ask questions like "But I didn't think Mark had any Q in it anyway; isn't it Matthew and Luke who have Q". It was a strategic decision to try that term, to draw attention to the role played by Marcan Priority so as to contrast it with the Griesbach Theory, which also dispenses with Q but on very different grounds. I was also influenced by E. P. Sanders and M. Davies who used this term in their Studying the Synoptic Gospels. I am pleased, though, that Kloppenborg has dropped the term "Farrer-Goulder", which I think unduly draws attention to Goulder's particular take on the theory, which is convenient for some because it gives them grounds for attacking the theory that are not intrinsic to the theory. I like Stephen's suggested terms like "Mark-Matthew theory" but wonder if now adding yet a fresh designation will only end up with more confusion.

But on to the question of substance raised in Stephen's post, I think he centres in effectively on what to me is the most troubling (or encouraging) element in Kloppenborg's article:
Although Goodacre has presented an interesting case defending the possibility of Luke's direct dependence on Matthew, none of his arguments can be considered sufficiently weighty to displace the alternative scenario, which is at least as plausible, that Luke and Matthew independently drew on Q. (236)
What I found interesting about this statement was the assumption here that the two theories, Farrer and Two-Source, were effectively competing on a par. For given that one theory involves an additional, hypothetical document and one does not, I would have thought that the one that does not ought to be accorded priority. This is where I think that Occam's Razor genuinely has a role to play in Synoptic studies. Given that a good case can be made for Luke's use of Matthew, and given that entities should not be multiplied beyond what is necessary, then the Farrer theory should be preferred to the Two-Source Theory.

BNTC Papers

I have received several emails asking me if the main papers from this year's British New Testament Conference are available or will become available on-line. The answer is: no, I am afraid not; or not, at least, on the BNTC web site. Each of the three papers will no doubt make it to print eventually, and if and when I see them I'll make a note here. In Tom Wright's case, it is worth keeping an eye on the N. T. Wright page which has a whole host of on-line lectures, papers and the like.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Visual Bible International Struggles

I am sorry to see that the Visual Bible International company, who made Matthew and the recent Gospel of John, are still in difficulties. This is from the Globe and Mail:

Drabinsky, Gottlieb roles in firm probed by RCMP
The RCMP are looking into the roles of Garth Drabinsky and Myron Gottlieb in a Toronto-based film company to determine whether they have violated the conditions of their bail.

Mr. Drabinsky and Mr. Gottlieb have been involved since 2002 in Visual Bible International Inc., whose shares trade in Canada and the United States. Both men were hired as consultants to produce the film The Gospel of John, which made its debut last year.

Mr. Drabinsky and Mr. Gottlieb were released on bail in 2002 after each was charged with 19 counts of fraud related to their involvement in defunct theatre company Livent Inc. Both have denied any wrongdoing.

One of the conditions of their bail was that they could not serve as a director or officer in any public company.

In a lawsuit filed last month, Visual Bible's former chief financial officer, Harold Kramer, alleges that Mr. Drabinsky and Mr. Gottlieb are in "de facto control over the business and affairs of [Visual Bible]" and exercise "power and authority as if they were directors or officers." Mr. Kramer also alleges their role has not been fully disclosed to securities regulators . . .
The news is not good for the projected Gospel of Mark film, something I'd have very much liked to see:
Visual Bible has struggled recently with poor sales, mass resignations and a flurry of lawsuits, including one from a former company chairman.

The company once boasted a high-profile board that included former Ontario premier Mike Harris, former broadcaster Pamela Wallin, architect Moshe Safdie and media mogul Moses Znaimer. All have since left the board, along with several others.

The company planned to sell videos and DVDs of The Gospel of John and produce another film based on the Gospel of Mark. But sales have been sluggish and the second film is on hold. Last week, the company reported it lost $5.8-million in the second quarter of 2004, compared with a loss of $2.2-million a year earlier. Total sales were $2.5-million.
It needs to be added that videos and DVDs of The Gospel of John are available (official web site; Amazon marketplace), though at the moment only in North America. I've not seen any sign of a British release, either theatrical or on DVD / Video.

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

This information in from Steve Moyise:

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

Location of Seminar

St Deiniol’s Library, Hawarden, Flintshire, NorthWales CH5 3DF ( Tel: 01244 532350)


Thurs March 17 (for dinner) to Saturday March 19 (after lunch), 2005

Call for Papers

Please send proposal and short abstract (100 words) to, for either a full paper (45 mins) or short paper (30 mins) by 2nd Dec 2004.


The cost of the conference (including meals and accommodation) is £88, with reductions for clergy (£66) and students (£55). To book a place, please complete the form below and send a non-refundable deposit of £15, payable to “St Deiniol’s Library” by 2nd Dec 2004, and indicate if you have any special dietary requirements. Participants from overseas can pay the full amount in cash at the Conference. The full programme will be sent out in January. Travel directions can be accessed from St Deiniol’s website:

SBL Forum latest

The SBL Forum has new content for September and "this month SBL Forum features essays related to biblical scholarship and theological reflection":

The Bible, Theology, and Theological Interpretation
by Joel B. Green

From Biblical Exegesis to Theological Construction: Reflections on Methodology
by W. Dennis Tucker, Jr.

"Open Systems": Constructive Philosophical and Theological Issues in Biblical Theology
by Christine Helmer

Why I Still Write Book Reviews
by Mark McEntire

Review of Biblical Literature latest

The latest additions to the SBL's Review of Biblical Literature under the NT and related heading:

Das, A. Andrew
Paul and the Jews
Reviewed by Timothy Gombis

Keener, Craig S.
The Gospel of John: A Commentary
Reviewed by Edward Klink

Koester, Craig R.
Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel: Meaning, Mystery, Community
Reviewed by Mark A. Matson

Lapham, Fred
An Introduction to the New Testament Apocrypha
Reviewed by Daniel Gurtner

Lapham, Fred
An Introduction to the New Testament Apocrypha
Reviewed by Thierry Legrand

Mason, Steven and Tom Robinson, eds.
Early Christian Reader: Christian Texts from the First and Second Centuries in Contemporary English Translations including the New Revised Standard Version of the New Testament
Reviewed by Judith Anne Jones

Walsh, Richard
Reading the Gospels in the Dark: Portrayals of Jesus in Film
Reviewed by Jan Willem Van Henten

Westerholm, Stephen
Perspectives Old and New on Paul: The "Lutheran" Paul and His Critics
Reviewed by Michael Kaler

Markschies, Christoph
Gnosis: An Introduction
Reviewed by Michael A. Williams

Schüssler, Karlheinz, ed.
Biblia Coptica: Die koptischen Bibeltexte: Band 3: Das sahidische Alte und Neue Testament. Vollständiges Verzeichnis mit Standorten Lieferung 2: sa 521-540
Reviewed by Robert Seesengood

Via, Dan O. and Robert A. J. Gagnon
Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views
Reviewed by Jack L. Berezov

Via, Dan O. and Robert A. J. Gagnon
Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views
Reviewed by Martti Nissinen

Monday, September 06, 2004

Birthday wishes

Thanks very much to Jim Davila for his birthday greetings for this blog, one year old last Thursday. I should mention a small typo -- it is, of course, the blog that is a year old and not the New Testament Gateway, which is roughly seven years old.

BNTC 2004: others' comments

Jim Davila has comments on Paleojudaica, including a good summary of Jimmy Dunn's fine and funny exposition of how the society developed from its charismatic, free origins without officers or organisation, to its now heavily institutionalised format, with officers and a constitution. I must admit that I've always found the conference / society distinction a bit over done. As a matter of fact, it is a society, registered as such under Scottish charity law.

Jacob Knee has his own interesting and lively reflections on Crosstalk, British New Testament Conference, BNTC Part 2 and BNTC Part 3. Like Jacob, I find it interesting to see how students live. I imagine that the tea and coffee making facilities in the rooms are put there specially for conference delegates, but I may be wrong. I was impressed by the ethernet sockets in each room, and there was even a faint wifi signal, but alas, no way that ordinary conference punters like us could access the net -- or no way that I could find. Like Jacob too, I couldn't help reflecting on the different skills shown by the various speakers in delivering papers. I heard every word of Bart Ehrman's paper, and most of Tom Wright's. I would add that I was delighted this year to see the seminars all trying different formats like panel discussions, short papers with two or more respondents, book review sessions, half-sessions with a different paper in each and so on. I had the feeling that the seminars were coming of age and that their leaders were showing their imagination. This year we did not just get 90 minutes featuring a 50 minute paper plus questions. And the seminars were all the more enjoyable for that.

BNTC 2004 comments concluded

The setting for the conference was ideal. With the exception of the Friday evening excursion to New College, everything was on the one site at Pollock Halls, overlooking a mountain which one could see from most of the locations and watch people climbing steadily to the top. The accommodation, the food, the main papers, the short simultaneous papers and the seminars, all on the same site (I wonder what my running frantically around the site would have been like if everything was more spread out -- I dread to think). The book display was well positioned too, right in the area where we had coffee and tea breaks. This is always a good idea and the publishers definitely appreciate being in a central location where delegates can browse books as they congregate, chat and drink. And the weather was lovely -- sunny throughout.

I can't comment on the Simultaneous Short Papers because society administration and organisation took me away at this point. One real oddity, though, was that one of the speakers, John Dennis, simply did not turn up to the conference at all. So those sitting in that session had an extra 30 minutes to do what they wanted with (we waited 15 to see if he would arrive). This was a new one on me -- had never had a speaker simply not turn up. Incidentally, there was some anxiety on the Thursday evening when Tom Wright arrived much later than expected, and only just before he was due to give the first plenary session.

That leaves just one thing, I think, a session on the Saturday morning on The Passion of the Christ. This was a joint session of two seminars, Hermeneutics: Theory and Practice and New Testament: Use and Influence. It was a well attended and lively seminar, a panel discussion featuring Richard Burridge, Helenann Hartley and me. Typically, and when will I learn?, I took it upon myself to try to find an electrical extension lead so that the data projector's very short wire could be extended and we could have something on screen that was bigger than the postage stamp sized image that was being projected. I ran around the site asking dozens of people and one finally arrived half way through the session, after the first clip had been shown. So all my dashing around achieved was to make me sweaty and rushed rather than calm and collected.

The three panelists took ten minutes each to give their reactions to the film, Richard Burridge first, a typically lively presentation focusing largely on his own experiences at a preview screening in Leicester Square and his arguments afterwards with The Sun newspaper who wanted to turn all their coverage, including Burridge, into comments solely on the anti-Semitism. Helenann developed her thoughts from her review reproduced here. I summarised my article found in Jesus and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, taking each of six headings for my reflections on the way in which the community of Biblical scholars has reacted and over-reacted to the film.

I found it an enjoyable session on the whole, well attended, and with some who had seen the film and some who had not. I had just one point of criticism of Richard Burridge's presentation; I disputed that the depiction of Herod Antipas in the film was "straight out of Jesus Christ Superstar", arguing that like so much of The Passion of the Christ it came straight out of Anne Catherine Emmerich's The Dolorous Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ (see blog entry Herod Antipas in The Passion of the Christ).

Tom Wright's wife Maggie was in attendance and commented on her own experience of watching the film, aimed mainly at my comments on the film's violence. She and the bishop apparently had an advanced screening in Auckland Castle (the Bishop of Durham's residence) and she said that the very term that came to mind during the scourging scene was pornography. She made clear that she did watch a lot of films, though Tom did not, but that she did not like the violence at all.

One of the main discussion points in the session was over who the implied audience of the film was. Martin Kitchen and Bridget Gilfillan Upton pressed me in particular on this point, annoyed in part that I attempted to answer it in relation to an anecdote of an experience I had on one of my viewings of the film. The story goes like this. As I was buying my nachos, the lady selling them to me asked if I knew anything about the Bible. "A bit", I replied. She said that that was a good thing because when she had watched the film the previous evening, she did not have much idea of who was who, what was going on and why. What this made me realize was the extent to which the film takes for granted the viewer's knowledge of the identity of characters like John, Mary Magdalene, Peter, Judas and so on. It requires the viewer to provide some context. Or, in other words, the implied viewer already knows who these characters are and why these things are happening. Anyway, the panelists all agreed that the implied audience was best conceived as the devout Christian with knowledge of the Bible and Catholic tradition. It's a question I do want to think a little more about, though. My article does deal with genre, and with those who attempt to read the film against the grain, but it would be profitable to talk about the implied audience.

I could continue on about this panel discussion, but I'll leave it there, at least for now. A profitable session, anyway, and I was grateful for the opportunity to take part. I am still not quite finished with this film yet. I will be blogging a review of the recent book Perspectives on the Passion of the Christ later this week, I hope. (I thought it was pretty grim).

One thing I meant to blog earlier: on Friday we took our usual collection just after the business meeting; the purpose of this is to provide money for financial assistance for post graduates travelling to the conference. This year we had the smallest collection I can remember from the largest number of delegates I can remember (under £300). And we had the most applications to the travel fund since I've been secretary (over £1000). Of course I was only able to help a little, therefore, with post graduates' travel expenses, which I thought a shame. Of course a large part of the reason for this is that the increased numbers at the conference are largely made up of more post graduates. The situation is something the society needs to continue thinking about in the future.

Finally, another word of huge appreciation to the organisers of the conference at the University of Edinburgh, with thanks to Larry Hurtado, Helen Bond and Paul Foster, with a special mention for Paul Middleton, for an excellent and memorable conference.