Tuesday, November 30, 2004

On-line Seminar with Gerd Lüdemann

Discovering John The forthcoming On-line Seminar featuring Gerd Lüdemann has just been announced. It will take place in January and will last for three weeks. The book under discussion will be The Resurrection of Christ: A Historical Enquiry (pictured left). I will be moderating the seminar along with that guru of the Biblical e-lists, Jeffrey Gibson. For full details on how to sign up, go to the following web page:

Lüdemann Seminar: The Resurrection of Christ

Let me encourage you to sign up. It should be a very interesting three weeks.

Also at SBL

The SBL Forum has a picture of the book exhibit from this year's meeting. And Michael Homan joins the ranks of those who have blogged on the meeting.

Neotestamentica new website

The journal Neotestamentica has a new, permanent website address at Neotestamentica.net:


Thanks to Holger Szesnat for the note on this. The site has improved too and features abstracts of articles as well as several sample articles. I've made the update on my Journals page.

Blogging Conference Encouragement @ Rogueclassicism

On RogueClassicism, David Meadows commends the bibliobloggers for their blogging of the recent SBL Annual Meeting, adding that this is the kind of thing he has been encouraging his fellow classicists to do for some time. What is remarkable to me about the blogging of the SBL this year is how things have moved on in just twelve months. This time last year, I blogged the conference and so did Jim Davila, Stephen Carlson and AKMA, but now there are double the number. My bet would be that the number will have tripled by next year. Perhaps the time will come when we have to start being selective about which we read?

Monday, November 29, 2004

Neyrey article adjustment

A slight URL adjustment on the Gospel of John: Books and Articles Page, Jerome Neyrey, “The Footwashing in John 13:6-11: Transformation Ritual or Ceremony?”, with thanks to Martin Webber for the note.

Dibelius on Acts

This press release is from Fortress:

Fortress Press Releases Martin Dibelius’s THE BOOK OF ACTS

MINNEAPOLIS (November 23, 2004) — The Book of Acts: Form, Style, and Theology edited by K.C. Hanson brings together some of Martin Dibelius's most important work. While he is especially renowned for his commentaries, Dibelius was on the forefront of literary analysis, the relationship of theology to literary artistry, and the importance of contemporary Greco-Roman history for the analysis of the book of Acts. As an aid to students, each essay has been supplemented with additional notes and bibliography to show where the discussion has continued since Dibelius. This will provide an excellent supplementary textbook for courses on the New Testament or the Bible.


1. Acts in the Setting of the History of Early Christian Literature
2. The First Christian Historian
3. The Book of Acts as an Historical Source
4. Style Criticism of the Book of Acts
5. The Speeches in Acts and Ancient Historiography
6. Paul in the Book of Acts
7. Paul on the Areopagus
8. Paul in Athens
9. The Apostolic Council
10. The Conversion of Cornelius
11. The Text of Acts

Martin Dibelius (1883–1947) was Professor of New Testament at the University of Heidelberg, Germany, and one of the most important biblical scholars of the twentieth century. Among his many publications in English are From Tradition to Gospel (1934), The Sermon on the Mount (1940), Paul (1953), The Pastoral Epistles (Hermeneia; Fortress Press, 1972), and James (Hermeneia; Fortress Press, 1988).

K.C. Hanson has taught biblical studies at Episcopal Theological School and the School of Theology at Claremont, Creighton University, and St. Olaf College. Hanson is the biblical studies editor at Fortress Press. He is author of numerous scholarly articles and two volumes in the Proclamation series. His published works include Palestine in the Time of Jesus: Social Structures and Social Conflicts (Fortress Press, 1998).

Item No: 0800636449
Format: Paperback 256 pages 6 x 9 inches

Price: $18.00

Item No: 0800660900

Format: Hardcover 256 pages 6 x 9 inches
Price: $35.00

To order The Book of Acts please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the web site at www.augsburgfortress.com. To request review copies or exam copies please 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

Unicode and Macs

Following on from my Unicode Lament, Ken Ristau comments (but please use the "Comments" facility and not this, "Old Comments" facility, which is there to keep the older Haloscan comments alive and will be dropped in due course) and Jim Davila emails to point out the problem re. unicode and the Mac. I am afraid that I am ignorant about Macs, but what I do know is that whenever I mention them here I get an avalanche of comments and emails, so I wonder if anyone is able to answer the question about unicode and Macs. If there is a significant problem with using unicode on Macs, I will agree that we should not all be quite so hasty in changing to unicode, and we'll have to stick around with SPIonic for a bit longer, but I'll bet that there is a good answer. Anyone?

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Visual Bible International Update

More on the Visual Bible International. First, they apparently have a new distribution deal with Buena Vista which should give a bit more exposure to The Gospel of John, and there is further mention of The Gospel of Mark, which has to be good news:

Visual Bible International, Inc. Announces Distribution of The Gospel of John and The Gospel of Mark
Eberts said "I am pleased to announce release plans of the DVD/VHS for two of VBI's exciting titles. There couldn't be a better distributor than Buena Vista Home Entertainment for The Gospel of John and The Gospel of Mark. No distributor in the industry comes to the table with a greater reputation for marketing and outreach strategies and that was what I valued the most in aligning these films with BVHE."

As previously announced by VBI, it is the intention of VBI to pursue additional equity financing to fund the production and marketing costs for The Gospel of Mark.
Also, an anonymous commenter on a previous Visual Bible Update pointed out to me that The Gospel of John is now available in the UK and here is the site:

The Visual Bible

The site has details of the various Visual Bible DVDs and Videos including Matthew and Acts and The Gospel of John. There's also a link to a major website of Bruce Marchiano, who played Jesus in Matthew, and it is called Marchiano Ministries.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Unicode Lament

In Sansblogue, Tim Bulkeley rightly laments some technical problems I reported on at the SBL,
When, oh when, will we hear the last of scholars who - through stubborn determination NOT to learn the first few things about the "new" technology (computers replacing the "older" technology of ink on paper) - ensure that their work is only accessible if others assist them!?

People, there is this "new" thing called Unicode, it means that we are no longer font dependent in the same way. If you type Greek in ANY Unicode compliant font, and if I have ANY Unicode Greek compliant font available, I should see your Greek (or Hebrew or ...). Even if you use Rabbit fonts, but I use MasterFonts+, this is a gain worth learning a small new bag of tricks to perform.
I could not agree more. And believe me, these were the very thoughts going through my head as I presided at the session in question, not least when the speaker turned to me somewhat plaintively appealing that the Greek was "not working". But we are still such a long way from scholars getting on top of unicode, something that is surprisingly simple. I'm afraid that our publishers are behind the times too and many major publishers are still working with non-unicode fonts and are planning to continue to work with them for the foreseeable future. Until they take a lead, the problems will remain. And sadly, too, many post-graduate students are not picking up unicode because their supervisors are not taking a lead. In the mean time, the rest of us are just going to have to bang on about this until everyone starts listening, and training up our own students so that the next generation is ahead of this one.

Christian Origins new look

On his Christian Origins blog, Peter Kirby draws attention to a nice new look, currently only available in various trial templates, e.g. Text Information Page with Javascript Menu. The new looks looks great to me. You can see the rest of the links on the blog page.

Friday, November 26, 2004

SBL, the Rest

I got back safely on Wednesday morning, happily free of the problems that seem to have affected almost everyone I've spoken to with respect to the flights out of San Antonio. People were re-routed, delayed, had flights cancelled, struck by lightning (seriously), ended up overnight in hotels and so on. My only mini-crisis was having to run for my life to make my connection in Newark, having flown out from Austin with a delay.

I was in meetings for much of Monday. At 1 I chaired (in SBL speak "presided") at the second Synoptic Gospels section. Presiding is hard work -- I'd rather give a paper any time. You have to control your speakers, get the timing right, watch the audience, worry about the technology working and so on. It was my second time doing it and I made a better job of it than last year. I noticed how many other chairs went for the "5 minutes" card / piece of paper, placing in front of the speaker to give them a warning to wind up. This seemed to work a treat as all the speakers stuck to their 25 minutes. The session was headed "Sight, Sound and Memory: Composition and Reception of the Synoptic Gospels". First problem: I arrived absolutely drenched simply from crossing the road in the pouring rain. I hadn't thought to bring an umbrella with me to Texas. Second problem: there was no USB cable to plug my laptop in to the data projector for the powerpoint presentations to be used by two of the speakers. So we had to go with inserting CD-ROMs into the main computer. Third (related) problem: the Bernard Brandon Scott had not loaded his Greek font onto his CD, and hadn't embedded it in his presentation, so his Greek-rich presentation came out in Roman characters.

Those worries aside, the session went OK. Richard Burridge spoke on his Gospels as biography thesis, with a nice powerpoint presentation. Brandon Scott talked about sound maps of Luke 1-2, again with powerpoint. Edward Klink III speed-read a response to Margaret Mitchell's critique of Richard Bauckham's Gospels for all Christians paper from last year. And Travis Derico gave a presentation on his work on oral tradition in the Jordan, with only a slight connection to his seminar paper on the topic.

By Monday tea-time I had a huge sense of relief. I realised that I could finally begin to enjoy myself properly, paper done, presiding done, all but one meeting done. I treated myself by going first to the book exhibit and then to the first half of the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media section, very poorly attended (I counted fifteen people). Somewhat annoyingly, they had adjusted the order of the papers in the programme so I only caught the end of one of the papers I'd wanted to get to, David Shepherd on the Life of Moses in film, the chap who had chaired the Fulco and Fitzgerald interview the previous night. He had to dash straight off after his paper to catch a flight. Talk about bad planning! Next up was a curious paper on the performance of Amos. And then Richard Walsh on "The Gospel according to Judas" all about Judas in film. I am a sucker for anything on Jesus in film and found this most interesting, nice to listen to someone more obsessed with Jesus films than I am. Earlier, I bought his book about film portrayals of Jesus. It looks interesting, though one chapter looks like it is filled with stuff trying to relate Godspell to Q, which does not look promising.

I then scooted across to catch the end of the Mark Group and to hear Susan Miller talking about Mark as combat myth.

On Tuesday I got to the Programme Unit Chairs' Breakfast, which requires a huge room, and which gave Matthew Collins the chance to provide updates on everything that is going on with the Annual Meeting. It was interesting to hear him talk about scheduling difficulties and how the programme is put together. There was also some discussion of the new move to open up the sections still further and to allow them to increase the number of sessions should they wish to do so.

Bibliobloggers at SBL

It's enjoyable to read other bibliobloggers' reflections on the SBL. Jim Davila's postings include some nice pictures, including one of the seventh annual get-together of the e-listers on the Saturday morning of the conference, including Jim himself, me and Stephen Carlson, who is now blogging the conference on Hyptoposeis (Back from SBL and SBL 2004). I have asked for a digital camera for Christmas so that I can join the ranks of those who illustrate their blogs with photographs -- this blog is far too text rich.

Jim's first picture is of the Tower of the Americas where I had a very enjoyable meal with good friends on the Monday night, the first time I have ever eaten elk. The restaurant is right at the top and revolves while you eat so that you get a fantastic panoramic view of San Antonio, until it eventually got so foggy that we could not see a thing.

Torrey Seland has also blogged on the SBL at Philo of Alexandria Blog. I was sorry not to get a chance to meet Torrey since he was there. Torrey usefully comments on his experiences of listening to papers at the SBL and complains that too often it is a question of a scholar "speed-reading" a paper. That's a term I have not heard before, but it is bang on. Since I have great trouble concentrating myself on most of these papers, I can't imagine what it is like for a non-English speaker.

I ran into AKMA in the book exhibit one day, just before he was to give his response to Stanley Hauerwas, which he has now reproduced on his blog. I had thought that AKMA was not blogging the conference because Bloglines hasn't picked up anything from his blog since November 14, but I just went over to his blog and see that he is still blogging away, including pictures and everything from the SBL. It looks like something has changed on the blog -- there don't seem to be any permalinks or comments and perhaps that is connected to Bloglines' trouble in picking up the RSS feed. I did make the mistake of mentioning to AKMA how I was enjoying the Texas meat, the steaks, the ribs and the like, and recalled half-way through that he was a vegetarian. There's a particular kind of guilt when an ex-vegetarian like me finds himself happily chatting away like that.

On Deinde, Paul Nikkel also has some illustrated comments on the SBL. He has a picture of the Rivercenter, where I stayed, like many others, and Steers and Beers, where I joined friends for two particularly enjoyable and absolutely enormous meals. I was sorry also not to meet Paul Nikkel.

And speaking of bibliobloggers I missed, it seems that Eric Sowell was also at the SBL, and he has some reflections from the perspective of the NET Bible stand in the Book Exhibit. Eric notes that there's another new biblioblog on the scene, A random collection of biblical and other musings by Hall Harris, Professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary and Project Director and Managing Editor for The NET Bible. The blog's name is too long for my blogroll, so I've added it there just as Hall Harris's blog. He also has some reflections on the meeting.

And while we are talking blogs, they came up in two other contexts during the meeting. On the Monday morning, we had the SBL Forum Advisory Board meeting, chaired by Leonard Greenspoon. One of the things on the agenda was an issue of the Forum to deal with the blogs. I am planning to write something for that issue, and others are being / will be approached. And on the Tuesday morning, at the Programme Unit Chairs Meeting, I put the question to Matthew Collins about the SBL Seminar Papers, which have been discussed here and elsewhere. He offered a thorough and cogent answer, explaining that the print edition of the papers was uneconomical and so the transfer had been made to on-line seminar papers, adding that the original intention in any case, in 1971, was to circulate papers to be read before the conference in those pre-internet days. He added that the Seminar Papers would remain permanently on-line and that the addresses would remain the same. With respect to the clause about which there was so much discussion, he mentioned the discussion in the blogs and added that the rider was simply taken over from the most recent edition of the print version of the Seminar Papers.

SBL Passion of the Christ interview -- Fulco and Fitzgerald

Sunday, 7 p.m.: one of the ballrooms hosts an event entitled "An Interview with the Writers of the Passion." The writers in question were Benedict Fitzgerald, co-screenwriter, and William J. Fulco, S.J., the film's theological consultant, who was responsible for the translations to Aramaic and Latin. They sat in armchairs on the stage, and were joined by Clayton Jefford and Alice Bach.

David Shepherd did a pretty good job of conducting the interview and frankly it would probably have been better if it was just him with Fulco and Fitzgerald since the other two did not add much to the mix. Jefford spoke only occasionally and looked like he didn't know why he was there. And I wondered whether Alice Bach was a little starstruck; she did not ask any difficult questions of Fulco or Fitzgerald and the only negative reaction she gave in the session was balking at Fulco's use of the terms "man" and "macho" to describe Jesus. And she was a little touchy-feely with Fitzgerald as if very pleased to be sitting up there with him.

Fitzgerald looked every bit the Hollywood celebrity, sitting back in his armchair with nonchalance, wearing a throw-over green scarf and an open-neck shirt, chewing gum throughout, with perhaps a hint of nerves at the rather unusual audience of a bunch of Biblical scholars. Fulco was relaxed, jovial, clearly enjoying himself, and looked like a Dad on holiday, middle-aged and professional but with Hawaiian style shirt hanging out and unbuttoned to the middle. The latter was a poor sartorial decision, not just because it overestimates the audience's enthusiasm to see so much of this priest's chest, but also because the tie-mike would sit too far away from his mouth and he was consistently asked to put it closer.

David Shepherd did put the difficult questions, though, and in particular pressed Fulco on the issue of Greek. Why Latin and Aramaic? Why not Greek? Fulco explained that they had tried using Greek too, but that it did not work and they thought they would have lots of complaints about pronunciation. He said that the advantage of using Latin and Aramaic was the sound of these two languages -- they could have the actors speaking variously in Aramaic and Italianate Latin and then every viewer would be able to distinguish between who was talking in which language because of the basic sounds. Fulco and Fitzgerald added that Gibson had a real love affair / obsession with the Latin of the pre-Vatican II mass.

Shepherd also asked them about Jesus speaking Latin. Fulco (I think it was) replied that this was for deliberate dramatic effect -- you have Pilate addressing Jesus in Aramaic and then Jesus surprising Pilate by answering in Latin.

On the question of sources, Fitzgerald said that John was the Gospel he was primarily dependent on, though he used details from the others. And, of course, he mentioned Emmerich, though he was inclined to play down the importance of this. His comments on the genesis of the script were interesting. He said that Mel Gibson got in touch with him and asked him to put together a screenplay for him. The first draft was entirely his work. He did not consult anybody and he was making the attempt to remember the Passion story largely as he had encountered it as a child (which Bach balked at a little).

At another point, Fitzgerald said that he did not like The Last Temptation of Christ with the exception of one scene, the raising of Lazarus. He specifically mentioned the camera's presence inside the tomb, looking out, interesting in the light of the Resurrection scene in The Passion of the Christ.

Speaking of the latter, Fulco commented that he would have preferred the film to end either with the pieta, so that there was no resurrection at all, or with a more extended resurrection scene. He related a story I have heard him tell before, about how he attempted to press the point with Gibson, and which ends with him saying "Shucks, I'm just the translator".

Fitzgerald gave an interesting insight on the resurrection scene -- he mentioned a painting in which Jesus is seen inside the tomb, looking at his hands and feet, as if in wonder at his own resurrection. He said that he was moved by that painting (wished I could catch who he said the artist was. Anyone recognise it from the description?) and so tried to write the resurrection scene as a kind of dramatic realisation of it.

Fitzgerald also spoke about the term "aletheia" which he described as connected with the act of "remembering", arguing that this was key in the way he perceived the film, something that also crops up in Mel Gibson's preface to the book of photographs from the film.

Both Fulco and Fitzgerald said that they did not think that the first of the flashbacks worked, the Nazareth table scene. They said it was Gibson's attempt to put some humour into the film, albeit very briefly, but that they felt it did not gel and they wished it was not there. I still love that scene, though, so I am pleased that Gibson prevailed.

On the question of the anti-Judaism, Fulco located the origins of this with a newspaper article long before production was complete, in which a journalist had looked up Mel Gibson's father and reported on his crazy views (their term, if I remember correctly) and making a link to this film. They both rejected the claim utterly that the film was anti-Jewish and Fulco spoke of his great suffering through the whole business, perhaps the one moment in the interview when he became serious. It was an interesting moment, not least because some of those present would have been fresh out of the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media section just beforehand, at which Amy-Jill Levine and Paula Fredriksen had spoken about their suffering at that same time. I couldn't help feeling that there was something utterly peculiar about having these two sessions about The Passion of the Christ, from such different perspectives, without any connection between the two, in each of which the speakers were commenting on their suffering, and in each of which no questions or comments from the floor were allowed. An outside observer at either session might have wondered what kind of academic conference this was, that in these sessions the audiences were not able to contribute.

Also on the question of anti-Judaism, Fulco mentioned an assistant he had -- don't remember the name -- on the language coaching on set. She was Jewish and apparently frequently sat down with Mel Gibson to discuss the question of the representation of Jews and Judaism in the film. She made suggestions for improvements to the film throughout, including something to do with the depiction of the Last Supper.

On the flashbacks, Fitzgerald commented that the primary purpose was sacramental. They were attempting to frame the events of the Passion by reminding the viewer of their sacramental context. I found that a particularly useful thought; many of the flashbacks are, after all, located at the Last Supper. That is definitely something I'll be bearing in mind on my next viewing.

With reference to the Satan character, one of them commented that the actress (Rosalina Centano) was actually anorexic and that they were quite worried about her while she was on set. And in relation to the Satan and the ugly baby, Fitzgerald confirmed that this was indeed intended as a kind of demonic mockery of the Madonna and child.

One of the things Fitzgerald was insistent upon was that one should not view the screenplay as "text". It is not designed to be read as text but to be viewed as film. Seeing it as "text" distorts the way it is viewed. I felt that this was particularly aimed at the audience of Biblical scholars with their tendency to textualize whatever they see, though I wondered whether Alice Bach was shifting around in her armchair a bit as he said it given film theorists' use of the term text.

Fulco cracked a joke with such dry humour that many fell for it. Shepherd asked him about the long term future of the film. Where would people's appreciation of it be in 5 or 10 years? Would it be regular Easter TV fare? He answered that Mel Gibson is currently working on a PG version of the film which would enable it to be shown on TV; he said that the PG version would be about 14 minutes long.

This was a fascinating session, just under 90 minutes worth altogether, and much better organized than the session that was going on next door on The Forgery Crisis, from the sound of it (see Paleojudaica on this). And it was especially welcome after the previous session in the Bible and Ancient Modern Media / Johannine Literature section, which was so frustrating in so many ways. David Shepherd did a fine job and I went to congratulate him afterwards. It turned out that he had organized the session himself, inviting the speakers and so on. Good for him -- an excellent job.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

SBL Passion of the Christ session (1)

So far my narrative has reached Sunday late afternoon. After the Mark session, I went to the first of two sessions I had marked with asterisks on my programme, the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media, combined with the Johannine Literature unit. The theme was The Gospel of John film and The Passion of the Christ. It was a really mixed bag, some of it brilliant, some of it infuriating, all of it engaging. Bernard Brandon Scott gave a so-so general review of The Gospel of John, then Jo-Ann Brant gave a superb paper on the camera as character in The Gospel of John, illustrated with stills from the film. The paper looked at the way in which the camera's perspective often subverts the narrator's perspective to which the film is bound because of its mandate to feature the entire text of John.

Then the transition was made to The Passion of the Christ with an interesting paper about the languages in the film by a character whose name I have forgotten. His essential thesis, if I understood it correctly, was that the Aramaic / Hebrew mix made good sense historically in that first century Jews in Galilee and Judea might well have spoken in Aramaic laced with Hebrew. Unfortunately, the speaker -- who talked rather like Reverend Lovejoy in The Simpsons -- did not speak into the microphone and was difficult to hear. This is one of my pet peeves. If there is a microphone on the podium, then use it. Don't speak 2 feet away from it in a quiet voice. Session chairs too need to be aware of this. Check to see if your audience can actually hear the paper. Look for clues, like people cupping their hands to
their ears, straining to hear or coming forward and standing next to the loud speaker to try to pick it up -- all of these things should have provided clues. Happily, though, Elizabeth Struthers Malbon, in the session in question, asked from the audience that the speakers speak into the microphone -- and the rest of the session was much better.

William Sanger Campbell was next up and he offered a disappointing review of The Passion of the Christ, which largely repeated the now familiar polemic and caricature of the film, including standard misrepresentations (e.g. Satan is seen moving with the Jewish leaders -- he is not) and oversimplifications. The use of Emmerich in this paper was particularly disappointing. Campbell spent 5-10 minutes summarizing the contents of Emmerich's Dolorous Passion, noted how much of the book appears in the film, and made the illegitimate inference that this makes the film anti-Semitic. There was little actual analysis about the way in which elements from the book were adapted in the film and I am left wondering once again whether such an approach would be tolerated in Gospel criticism (A paper on Matthew's use of Isaiah, say, would be thought naive in the extreme if all it did was to explicate the contents of Isaiah, to note that Matthew used Isaiah, and infer that Matthew's views were identical to Isaiah's).

After those four papers, there was then what was called a "panel discussion" but which was in fact several more people giving their reactions to either of the films in turn. Charles Hedrick, Alan Segal and Caroline Osiek were all very interesting on their roles as consultants on The Gospel of John film. I was particularly pleased to hear from Segal that the initial screenplay for The Gospel of Mark is ready and that they are hopeful that it will go into production. Another interesting comment related to the costuming of Mary Magdalene, depicted as a prostitute in spite of the fact that the Woman Taken in Adultery was not identified with her. Apparently the costuming for Mary Magdalene was done after the scholars' work on the screenplay had been done, and they were disappointed to discover that that was how she had been costumed. The scholars also discussed how they had been persuaded to use the Good News translation by having scenes mocked up in both the NIV and the Good News translation, and seeing that the Good News worked better. They expressed disappointment over some elements that that choice constrained, e.g. "miracle" for "sign". And they spoke of their success in getting Jesus' address to Mary in the Wedding at Cana changed.

The last two speakers were Amy-Jill Levine and Paula Fredriksen, each of whom did not so much argue that The Passion of the Christ was appalling, anti-Jewish and so on, as take it for granted and then discuss what could be done about this kind of thing in the future. Paula Fredriksen's contribution was in fact a mini-paper and went through the Contra Judaeos tradition in art.

I thought the session as a whole was too ambitious and should really have been split up into at least two sessions. There were too many speakers and there was no room for the "panel discussion" advertised, i.e. none of the participants got the chance to interact with one another. And there was certainly no time left for contributions from the floor. That was particularly disappointing given the controversial nature of several of the contributions, and the single view (a very disparaging one) expressed by almsot all the participants on The Passion of the Christ.

I felt that one issue of substance was ignored and that was the question of the relative artistic merits of the two films. For all the merits of The Gospel of John (e.g. Cusick's depiction of the Johannine Jesus), there is a gulf between this film and The Passion of Christ if one is asking about artistic quality. One is just not comparing like with like.

I will turn next to the evening session on The Passion of the Christ, billed as an interview with the writers of the film, and a real treat.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

More SBL reporting, Sunday

Wednesday, 1.20 a.m., flying over the Atlantic. I made the connecting flight in Newark with five minutes to spare so will, after all, be back in Birmingham by morning; greatly relieved.

So back to my narrative of events at this year's SBL. I'll go back to Sunday. In the 1 pm slot I was speaking in the Mark Group on "Scripturalization in Mark's Crucifixion Narrative", part of a themed session on the death of Jesus in Mark, the first of three. I like speaking in the Mark Group, the second time I have done so. Papers are circulated in advance and one is given twenty minutes to "summarize" one's paper followed by 25 minutes of discussion. As I have mentioned previously, the general habit seems to be to read papers, both here and elsewhere at the SBL, but I decided this year to have a go at extempore delivery on the grounds that it is much easier to communicate with your audience this way. Having listened to many papers being read out, I reckon that less than 50 per cent of what is being read out gets heard or, rather, listened to. A read-out paper simply washes over its audience, who only pick up bits and bobs as their concentration comes in and out. Well, I was pleased that I gave it a go. I felt that I was able to communicate more directly, was able to see people's faces while I talked and could gauge reaction as I spoke. So it's something I will definitely do again. I received some very helpful comments and questions on the paper. Larry Hurtado asked about the relationship between the "scripturalization" thesis and the liturgical thesis and whether the latter is dependent on the former, or held to strengthen the former, or whether either can stand alone. It helps me to reflect about strategy and how I go about working on these two interrelated theses, one of which (the liturgical theory) will be unpalatable to some. I also had a useful question on the term "liturgy", which suggests that to some the term conjurs up the wrong kinds of image, of set liturgies in contemporary worship. Joel Marcus was sceptical about the liturgical theory and asked how it could be taken from speculation to establishing probability. I replied that I thought that NT scholarship would be more interesting and engaging if we learned to think of speculation as a positive rather than a negative term, adding that informed speculation is a virtue where our alternative is to go ignorant. But I also noted that in Crossan's theory (for example), only one of the time indicators in Mark's narrative, the darkness at midday, is explained, whereas in my theory all the time indicators receive an explanation, so I win over Crossan by eight to one. But that slightly frivolour answer aside, it's another useful reminder of the importance of thinking about how I lay out the case when I write my book on the topic. It really is very useful to get reactions to one's research in progress.

Incidentally, that session was really well attended. The other two speakers also generated some useful and interesting discussion. I am ashamed to say that as I sit on the plane late at night I cannot remember their names, though the first was Jocelyn. I'll check it up later.

On the way home

I am sitting in Austin airport awaiting a delayed flight. I hope I make my connection in Newark. It's been a great meeting, but now I'm ready to get back. I have bought Crossan and Reed's new book on Paul with me to read on the flight(s). I doubt I'll have any time to blog at Newark airport unless I miss the connection. So I may next blog on Wednesday when I am home. By the way, I did deliver my paper extempore ("extemp" as I discover is the abbreviation here) and was pleased I did.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Still in San Antonio

Haven't had a moment to blog since yesterday morning; greatly relieved to have delivered my paper yesterday. I want to sound off about yesterday's two fascinating sessions on The Passion of the Christ but it will have to wait for later since I'm about to rush off to another meeting.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

SBL Sunday

It is Sunday morning now at the SBL Annual Meeting. We had our first ever University of Birmingham reception at breakfast this morning. It was good to old colleagues, new students and friends of the dept.

I am in meetings all morning and then at 1 pm I go to the Mark Group to give a paper on Scripturalization in Mark's Crucifixion Narrative.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

SBL Saturday, rest of

To complete my account of Saturday, Catherine Smith and Matthew Brook O'Donnell gave an excellent paper exploring the possibilities for future electronic Synopses, looking in particular at the possibilities for interactive ways of doing things, and with some useful illustrations. I also hung around to listen to Ken Penner's paper.

Later this evening it was the Continuum reception, with musical accompaniment, which gave it a nicely distinctive local feel. There was some decent food at this reception from the look of it but, alas, I had already had an enormous steak at "Beers and Steers" earlier on in the evening so could not touch any more food. As expected, I'd not needed to eat all day until this enormous and enjoyable indulgent meal in the evening. Met lots of people at the Continuum reception, friends old and new, so well worth while being there. It was something I needed to get to because of my new role as editor or the Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement (soon to become the Library of New Testament Studies) but it was more joy than duty. Another early start in the morning, so I had better get to bed.

SBL Saturday

Saturday, 16.13: Computer Assisted Research Group. I am disappointed to discover that there is no wireless internet access here, or at least nothing for free (rates in the Convention Center are $4.95 an hour or $24.95 a day). In the past the CARG has been a good place to come to do a bit of emailing, blogging or the like while listening in to a paper that in any case one has little hope of understanding. In fact, I can't see the bank of computers in here either that has always been a feature in the past. So the best option seems to be to jot some thoughts down in notepad and blog them later from my hotel room.

I met Jim Davila earlier today and was disappointed to discover that there is no chance this year of his repeating his science fiction feat of last year and blogging through the TV set. Shame.

11.30 there was the traditional meeting of the e-listers and a good chance to catch up with some old friends and meet some new ones. There were several cameras there and a group photograph, so look out for it on Jim Davila's blog and on the biblical e-lists in due course.

The first session I got to was the Synoptic Gospels Section's first meeting at 1 p.m. Greg Carey was presiding and there were four papers. The first was a fascinating presentation from Robert Miller, asking whether Matthew is telling the story of a virginal conception. I was familiar with the thesis already, having read his Born Divine, and also knowing Jane Schaberg's The Illegitimacy of Jesus which first developed this thesis. I still cannot make my mind up on whether Schaberg and Miller are right about this. But one of the things I admire about the way Miller presents the thesis is that he does so with full acknowledgement that it is possible to read Matthew as telling the story of a virginal conception, though he thinks that it is not.

The next speaker was Jeff Peterson from Austin School of Theology and his topic was "Dismissing the Sanhedrin". He picked up on the work of E. P. Sanders, Martin Goodman, Fergus Millar and others who have argued that we should not think in terms of one, concrete Sanhedrin with appointed members in the New Testament period, but should instead translate most occurrences of SUNEDRION in the Gospels as "council". I have long found this thesis essentially persuasive and have been constantly surprised that so few New Testament scholars appear to know of it, or to allow it to impinge on their studies of the Passion Narrative. I was delighted to hear Jeff moving this thesis to the foreground and encouraging Synoptic scholars to take it seriously.

Jeffrey Gibson then spoke on the Sign of Jonah. Jeffrey is always worth hearing, the delivery half the enjoyment. I read his paper on the plane on the way over and it did not make the same impact as hearing it delivered today.

I sneaked out after Jeffrey had spoken, not because I didn't want to hear Pamela Shellberg (one always feels so guilty about leaving just before someone else is about to speak), but because I wanted to catch Stephen Carlson in the Textual Criticism seminar. He was talking about "The Origin(s) of the 'Caesarean' Text"; I wish I was able to summarise his paper effectively here, but it was to do with stemmatics and cladistics and explained how he had used a computer programme to generate a Stemma for Mark 6.45--8.26. I dashed back to the Synoptics straight after that.

The CARG is currently in session. Although it is somewhere I often like to hang out at these events, not least because I have spoken here five times in the past, I am here primarily to hear Matthew Brook O'Donnell and Catherine Smith speak about the future of electronic synopses, which should be up next. This is a subject of great interest to me (what is there not to like about something that deals with both the Synopsis and computers?); also I am supervising Catherine's PhD dissertation in Birmingham, which deals with a related topic.

One of the striking differences about the CARG in comparison to many of the other sections is that speakers rarely actually read out papers. Because they are illustration-rich, they tend to "speak to" their topic. Now I've been wondering recently why it is that so many academics read out their papers so often -- it's the standard. I am toying with the idea of not reading out my own paper to the Mark Group tomorrow. My reason for wondering about this is that there is something absurd about writing out a paper and then reading out one's own voice, sometimes stumbling over the very words that one has written. Why not just talk about it? We all do this when we lecture all the time -- very few scholars these days read out lectures to undergraduates, do they?

I've asked a few people about this business of reading out papers and why it is the norm. One colleage said to me that it is for him a question of timing. Another said that it was fear. It was all about the importance of making sure that one does not say anything erroneous or silly. I think that that may be the best reason I have heard yet, but I wonder whether it's sufficient. I would say that audiences are sympathetic to people who give a paper extempore and understand that one is not going strictly on the record with every tiny nuance of one's speech. Well, I think I am going to have a bash at talking mine tomorrow instead of reading it. I will let you know if it's a disaster and whether I will be trying it again afterwards.

I have not yet had sufficient chance to get around the book exhibition. Anyone who has been to the SBL Annual Meeting will know how absolutely massive the book exhibition is. One of the problems (or delights) with going around it is that one meets someone one knows every few steps. That is a fun thing, but it means that I never actually get around to looking at all the books I want to. I'll have another go tomorrow.

San Antonio

I arrived in San Antonio yesterday evening, too late, unfortunately, for a meeting I was supposed to attend. But I did get a chance to go out with friends and taste some ribs and some Sam Adams nevertheless; if my first tastes of Texas are anything to go by, I am going to have to watch my waistline in a big way -- the portions here are enormous. And I found that I was still not hungry for breakfast this morning. But since I had a breakfast meeting, I managed to load up the calories again, and this should last me through at least some of what looks like an interesting first day. The traditional meeting of the e-listers is at 11.30. This is when those who contribute to the various Biblical-related academic e-lists congregate to put faces to names and to meet old friends. It's organised by Jeffrey Gibson, who is also reading a paper this afternoon in the Synoptics Section on the Sign of Jonah. In that same section we have papers by Jeff Peterson on the Sanhedrin, Robert Miller on the Virginal Conception in Matthew and Pamela Shellberg on Cleansing in Luke-Acts. I intend also to get to the Computer Assisted Research Group after that; and tonight is the Continuum reception. Hope to blog some more later.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Javanilla in Austin, Texas

First stage of my journey and first entry in my travel diary. I am tasting something called a javanilla shake in Seattle's Best Coffee in Austin, Texas. On the way to San Antonio later. I'll adjust the timings on the blog to Texas time since it is saying 10.04 pm on my blogging machine.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Off to Texas

In a few hours I am setting off for this year's SBL Annual Meeting in San Antonio. I'm making a stop in Austin en route. I am taking my blogging machine with me and I hope I'll find some time to keep a travel diary. But my schedule looks pretty packed, so I don't know how often I will get opportunity.

I am reading a paper this year in the Mark Group on Scripturalization in Mark's Crucifixion Narrative (Sunday, 1 p.m.) and I am presiding at the second Synoptics section (Monday, 1 p.m.).

I look forward to seeing some of you there.

More Tom Wright

There's still more new Tom Wright on the N. T. Wright page. There's a link to an interview by Stephen Crittenden in The Religion Report and the site itself adds these new articles:

Paul and Caesar: A New Reading of Romans

The Letter to the Galatians: Exegesis and Theology

Taking the Text with Her Pleasure

SBL Blogger watch

In Paleojudaica, Jim Davila also notes that he is on his way to San Antonio. You can read his paper, Astrology and the Descenders to the Chariot on-line too. I'm looking forward to finding out if Jim can repeat his science-fiction style feat of last year and blog through his hotel TV set.

Visual Bible International Latest

A regular feature here is the Jesus film watch. For a while it looked like the next proposed venture of Visual Bible International, who produced both Matthew and The Gospel of John, was under threat. But the news in this article is much more promising; I've extracted the parts on The Gospel of Mark film, which are what interest me:

Visual Bible International Inc. Press Release
. . . . In addition to his appointment as Chairman, Maurice J. Colson, CEO of VBI, announced that Mr. Eberts will serve as executive producer of the next three motion pictures expected to be produced by VBI beginning with The Gospel of Mark, the screenplay for which has been completed . . .

. . . . VBI is exclusively licensed by the American Bible Society to produce word-for-word film adaptations based on the Books of the Old and New Testaments. VBI released The Gospel of John in 2003 to critical acclaim.

Garth H. Drabinsky, who produced The Gospel of John, will continue his creative role as producer for the forthcoming production of The Gospel of Mark, currently scheduled for commencement of principal photography in the spring of 2005.

Eberts said "'The Gospel of John' and Mel Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' each showed that there is an enormous market for the distribution of movies based on the Bible. I was impressed with the artistic quality and integrity of VBI's production of 'The Gospel of John.'"

Stephen Carlson's SBL Paper

On Hypotyposeis, Stephen Carlson announces the on-line availability of his paper for the Textual Criticism section at the SBL:

The Origin(s) of the 'Caesarean' Text

Another one to print up and read on the plane. (I'm packing at the moment).

Jeffrey Gibson's paper for Synoptic Gospels Section

One more paper for the Synoptic Gospels Section is now available in draft on-line:

Jeffrey B. Gibson, 'Once Again, the "Sign of Jonah"' [PDF]

Note: Jeffrey's paper uses the font WP Greek Helve in what was originally a WordPerfect document. I can't find a way of getting it to embed in Word or on conversion to PDF. So to see the Greek, you'll need that font; I found a copy at this address (scroll down to "NOTE: some of my publications . . .").

SBL Synoptics Section Web Pages

I mentioned the other day the new web page for the SBL Synoptics Section, which I co-chair with Greg Carey:

SBL Synoptic Gospels Section

These pages provide links to the sessions from 2000 and 2001 and some on-line material from last year, specifically the following (all PDFs):

Richard Bauckham, "For Whom Were the Gospels Written?"

Richard Burridge, "Gospels for all Christians: Discussion Notes"

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

Richard Bauckham, Response to Margaret Mitchell's Paper

Some may remember that these papers are all connected with a successful session we had last year on the book Richard Bauckham (ed.), The Gospels for all Christians. Unfortunately, Richard Bauckham was unable to attend because of ill health, but he sent over the first of the articles linked above in order that people could get a feel for his thesis. Richard Burridge kindly stepped in at the last minute, and the second link above is to his notes from that session. The third link is to Mark Matson's paper. Margaret Mitchell gave something of a tour de force at the session, called “Patristic Counter-evidence to the Claim that The Gospels Were Written for All Christians” and I understand that the published version of this article will be forthcoming in the Journal of Theological Studies and so is no longer available on the website. However, Richard Bauckham has allowed me permission to reproduce his answer to Margaret Mitchell on the site, and that is the fourth link above.

As for this year, we have two sessions, details available here:

SBL Synoptic Gospels Section 2004

Note in particular some on-line materials relating to the second of the two sessions:

Richard Burridge, Kings College, London
The Implications of the Biographical Genre for the Composition and Reception of the Gospels [click on link for PDF of handout for paper]

Edward W. Klink, III, University of St. Andrews
Gospel Communities and Patristic Exegesis: A Counter to the “Patristic Counter-evidence to the Claim that ‘The Gospels Were Written for All Christians’" [click on link for PDF of paper]

The latter is, like Bauckham's response linked above, a reaction to Margaret Mitchell's paper of last year. And there is also this paper available on the main SBL Seminar Papers site, but also linked here:

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

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Ancient World Mapping Center Web Watch

I mentioned the Ancient World Mapping Center's Web Watch last week (Web Watch) and Tom Elliott added a comment the next day to the effect that the site now does have newsfeed capabilities. So you can access this useful site now via your aggregator. I have added it to my blogroll.

Professorial Post in Theology or Biblical Studies

This from Kenneth Newport:

Liverpool Hope University College:
Professorial Post in Theology or Biblical Studies

The advertisement is longish so instead of repeating it all here, I have uploaded the advertisement (MS Word) to the above link.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Blogos's Fun with Firefox

Just after blogging about Firefox, I read an enjoyable post on Blogos:

More fun with Firefox and ESV Search
I keep finding new features i like in Firefox. The latest is keyword search in the "location bar" (where you normally type a URL). Type "weather" there and you get weather.com. Type "stock vz" and you get a quote for Verizon stock (please buy some and help get my options above water!).

The behavior is a little hard to predict, though. Entering "time" comes up empty-handed ("The operation timed out when attempting to contact time": pun unintended i'm sure), but "time now" brings up this page with (you guessed it) the current time. It seems to be hit or miss: "bible" brings up Bible Gateway, "new testament" brings up Goodacre's blog, "concordance" brings up this page with interfaces for searching Strong's. "semanticbible" (no spaces) brings up my site, with a space "semantic bible" it brings up Glenn's reference to my site, but "semantic" itself brings up nothing. I'd love to have a real description of what's happening behind the scenes.
You could have hours of fun with this. I tried Historical Jesus and Apostle Paul and got my NT Gateway pages on them. Synoptic Problem quite rightly brings up Stephen Carlson's page, and Hypotyposeis his blog. Greek New Testament fetches Tony Fisher's site. Second Temple Judaism brings up a course outline by Bruce Fisk; and Paleojudaica calls up Jim Davila's blog. AKMA fetches AKMA's blog.

I could not resist also typing in the meaning of life.

What it seems to do is to go to Google with the keywords you type in and fetch its top-listed site. Blogos also provides some useful hints on how to define your own Bible search.

60 Years of Tyndale House

David Instone-Brewer's latest Tyndale Tech newsletter is all about William Tyndale in celebration of sixty years of Tyndale House. The newsletter itself is not yet copied to the web, but it does link to a nice visual tour of the 60th Birthday Celebrations. To see it, you have to go to this page:

Visual Tour of Tyndale House

And then you click on number 11 on the list, 60th Anniversary Celebrations. I found it educational. I was surprised to hear it said that in the immediate post-war period, evangelical Biblical scholars were not to be found in the UK, and that this was the catalyst for the creation of Tyndale House (". . . . the struggles to find even one senior evangelical scholar in Biblical Studies in the post-war period"). Wouldn't one class C. H. Dodd, C. F. D. Moule, F. F. Bruce and others as evangelical scholars? I have never been very good at the labels game.


I'm a recent convert to the Mozilla Firefox browser. I think I first was encouraged to do it by reading about it in Jim Davila's Paleojudaica. I still use Internet Explorer and Netscape from time to time, largely to make sure that my websites look OK in them, but I've changed my default to Firefox -- tabbed browsing, RSS flags, integrated Google (and other) searches, neat download manager, a clean and tidy look. I can find only three minor things I don't like. One is that a triple click won't highlight a paragraph in Firefox like it will in IE, sometimes a pain when I'm blogging; the second is that it does not work as well with my Gmail notifier as IE does. The third is that the Unbound Bible searches don't work properly in it -- the results come up down a very thin left hand panel. That may mean that Biola need to do some work to adjust their coding so that it works properly in Firefox. But I can't think of any other whinges.

The Stoa yesterday noted that Firefox is now out of beta and Firefox 1.0 is available. Ross Scaife also notes that its ability to open RSS feeds as live bookmarks. I've not tried this in Firefox yet, instead using the Bloglines Firefox Extensions which are excellent. What I do find useful is the way that Firefox flags up in the bottom right hand corner whenever a given website has an RSS feed -- very useful.

Anyway, pretty much a thumbs-up for Firefox from me. I recommend it strongly, especially if you are still using IE as your default browser.

Margaret Barker's Temple Theology

The Church Times carries a short review of the following:

Margaret Barker, Temple Theology: An Introduction
Review by John Barton

The book sounds wide ranging and stimulating, like all of Margaret Barker's work; John Barton's review is quite brief and is primarily a sketch of the book's content.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Review of Biblical Literature latest

Latest Review of Biblical Literature under the New Testament heading:

Hearon, Holly E.
The Mary Magdalene Tradition: Witness and Counter-Witness in Early Christian Communities
Reviewed by Judy Yates Siker

Gray, Patrick
Godly Fear: The Epistle to the Hebrews and Greco-Roman Critiques of Superstition
Reviewed by John Bertone

Gray, Patrick
Godly Fear: The Epistle to the Hebrews and Greco-Roman Critiques of Superstition
Reviewed by Ron Fay

Hartin, Patrick J.
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Levine, Amy-Jill and Marianne Blickenstaff, eds.
A Feminist Companion to the Deutero-Pauline Epistles
Reviewed by Timothy Gombis

Maloney, Elliott C.
Jesus' Urgent Message for Today: The Kingdom of God in Mark's Gospel
Reviewed by Robert Lewis

Racine, Jean-François
The Text of Matthew in the Writings of Basil of Caesarea
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Wrightsaid latest

The N. T. Wright page has added a bunch of new responses by Tom Wright to "Wrightsaid" email list questions:

Bishop Tom Wright answers Wrightsaid questions (November 2004)

Though he says words to the effect of "time and space prevents me . . ." too much, there are some interesting responses here, from his views on infant baptism to his views on the result of the American election. I wonder if anyone will ask him next time about his defence of living in that great castle?

The N. T. Wright page also references A Conversation with N. T. Wright on Open Source Theology.

Andrew Lincoln, Truth on Trial

As regular readers will know, one of my favourite features is flagging up free sample chapters from books on publishers' websites, which all to often go unnoticed, not least since so many shop on Amazon and the like for their books. Hendricksons have the following page:

Andrew Lincoln, Truth on Trial: The Lawsuit Motif in the Fourth Gospel

They have made available PDFs of the Introduction and Chapter 1 (The Lawsuit and the Narrative of the Fourth Gospel).

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Dan Wallace on 1 Thess. 3.2

On The Coding Humanist, Eric Sowell announces that he has uploaded the following to the CSNTM website:

Was Timothy God’s ‘fellow-worker’? A Text-Critical and Grammatical Examination of 1 Thessalonians 3.2
Daniel B. Wallace

Durham NT Seminar Audio Archive

I saw reference to this on the N. T. Wright page:

New Testament Seminar Audio Archives

So far it features MP3s of talks by William Telford, John Barclay, Jimmy Dunn and Tom Wright. It is made available by Kevin Bywater.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

SBL Synoptics Section

I'm just setting up a new web page for the SBL Annual Meeting Synoptics Section. There is more to do, but at this stage it has links to previous years' programmes and some papers, and it has this year's programme with two of the papers available:

SBL Synoptics Section

The two papers available so far for this year's sessions are those by Travis Derico (on the main SBL Seminar Papers site) and Edward Klink (hosted here). More detail to be added and some tidying yet, but at least the page is up and running.

Listwatch @ Textualcriticism

A couple of items of interest that have been awaiting a spare moment for a mention in the blog, both from Wieland Willker's Textual Criticism e-list:

Free Fonts by Gary S. Dykes

I have not tried these myself, but there are a variety of new and updated fonts here, Aramaic, Coptic, Syriac, Ugaritic.

And Wieland praises the new Münster website:

New Testament Transcripts Prototype
It features now the text of e.g. P45, P66, P75, 01, 02 and 03 of the Gospels, complete! You can use a "page view", where you can see e.g. the three columns of one page of B. The umlauts in B are given. Especially helpful is the "Compare" function. You can compare two MSS with each other, verse by verse, and the differences are highlighted!

SBL International 2005

Matthew Collins has today sent around a circular to all SBL members with a call for papers for the SBL International Meeting 2005, which will be in Singapore from 26 June to 1 July:

2005 International Meeting


BNTS mailing list

Since standing down as secretary of the British New Testament Society, I have transferred all of the existing mailing list (which was based at bham) to Google Groups. In order to weed out dozens and dozens of bouncing and dud email addresses, we went for an invitation-based list. So far less than half of those invited have responded. So if you are one of those who used to receive BNTS updates but has not received any information about the change of list, let me or Bridget Gilfillan Upton know. Or, of course, if you are someone who would like to received updates about the conference (for scholars and post graduate students of the New Testament) and have never been on the list, please be in touch.

Alan Wood's Unicode Resources

I've added this to my blogroll:

Alan Wood's Unicode Resouruces

A very useful resource for unicode, now with its own RSS feed for updates. I thought that I had spotted this on goranh but I can't see it at the moment.

Web Watch

At the Stoa Consortium, Ross Scaife draws attention to this newish resource:

Web Watch
A quick round-up of interesting blog, list and website content

It's a kind of aggregator, run by Tom Elliott, and watches a selected number of blogs and other sites, including some of the biblioblogs like mine, Hypotyposeis and Paleojudaica. There's no RSS feed as far as I can see so it may be of limited usefulness for some at the moment.

Tom Wright's Castle

Several of the bibliobloggers have commented on this Daily Telegraph article in which Tom Wright defends his right to live in Auckland Castle:

Bishop Defends his Castle Against Invaders
By Jonathan Petre
But Bishop Wright is adamant that neither Auckland Castle, the magnificent home of the Bishops of Durham for 900 years, nor other historical houses should be sold. "It is not nostalgia," he said. "It is actually wrong."

The bishop, a leading theologian and bible scholar, said the Church was under constant assault from sceptics who argued that its days were numbered and it was no longer wanted.

"Every time the Church destroys one if its deep-rooted symbols, it is conniving at that," he said. "That is why it is wrong, not just sad."
In Sansblogue, for example, Tim Bulkeley says:
Frankly Tom, that kind of symbol the Church of the Crucified Carpenter can do without.
But what critics like Tim are missing is that it is quite standard for us English to live in castles. I'm not sure what it's like for Jim Davila up in Scotland, but here in England castles are everywhere. I live in a modest, everyday kind of castle myself. Admittedly, it has nothing like the grandeur of Auckland Castle, but then I don't have quite the same worries that he does about those exceptionally big drafty rooms, the damp, and all that bother of finding and retaining staff. I manage on just a butler and a maid here. And can you imagine the heating bills? No, maintaining an English castle is no walk in the park. Give me a three bed semi any day of the week.

James Ossuary page again

I referred recently to the BAS page on the James Ossuary (More materials on the James Ossuary). They have now organised that page much better and have provided explanations for everything there:

Update -- Finds or Fakes

Sunday, November 07, 2004

E. P. Sanders's Intellectual Autobiography

I was lucky enough to run across this gem today:

Comparing Judaism and Christianity: An Academic Autobiography
A paper read at “New Views of First-Century Jewish and Christian Self-Definition: An International Conference in honor of E. P. Sanders” (April, 2003)
E. P. Sanders
April-May 2004

It's a 40 page intellectual autobiography of one of the greatest New Testament scholars of our generation (the greatest?). It won't just be his former students like me who find this really fascinating. By the way, I've added a link to Ed Sanders's faculty page on Scholars: S.

Colloquium: Covenant to the People, Light to the Nations

This from Annette Yoshiko Reed:

A Covenant to the People, A Light to the Nations:
Universalism, Exceptionalism, and the Problem of Chosenness in Jewish Thought

Sponsored by Canada Research Chair in Modern Jewish Thought, Department of Religious Studies, McMaster University

Convened by Dana Hollander (http://univmail.mcmaster.ca/~danahol)
and Annette Yoshiko Reed (http://www.annettereed.com)

COLLOQUIUM - May 18-20, 2005

The Colloquium will consider the ongoing reflection about the concept of Israel as a "light to the nations" (Isa 42:6; 49:6) in ancient, medieval, and modern Jewish thought, together with its relevance for Christianity and contemporary philosophy and theory. This and other biblical attempts to reconcile the election of Israel with the universality of Israel's God will serve as a starting point for exploring the range of ways in which Jews past and present have negotiated the nature and boundaries of their collective identities (ethnic, religious, cultural, political) in relation to other nations and peoples. Inquiries into the historical development of concepts such as chosenness, Jewish exceptionalism, and Jewishness, and the history of their reinterpretation in different socio-cultural contexts, will be combined with philosophical and theoretical explorations of their continued contemporary relevance.

Speakers include Idit Dobbs-Weinstein (Vanderbilt), Willi Goetschel (U of Toronto), Dana Hollander (McMaster), Andrew Jacobs (UC Riverside), Joel Kaminsky (Smith College), David Novak (U of Toronto), Gesine Palmer (FESt, Heidelberg), Randi Rashkover (York College of Pennsylvania), Annette Yoshiko Reed (McMaster), Kenneth Reinhard (UCLA), Peter Schäfer (Princeton/Berlin), Yossef Schwartz (Tel Aviv University), and Susan Shapiro (U of Massachusetts, Amherst)

In the coming months, further information (e.g., paper titles, abstracts, schedule) will be posted at http://jewishthought.mcmaster.ca


This special daylong Seminar, geared toward graduate students in Jewish Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and related fields, will involve intensive discussion of key texts on the theme of chosenness, including classical works such as the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic literature and works by modern and contemporary authors. Sessions will be led by Dana Hollander, Joel Kaminsky, David Novak, and Annette Yoshiko Reed.

Seminar participants will be selected through application and will be granted stipends to cover the costs of travel, meals, and accommodations during both the Seminar and the Colloquium. Interested students should submit a CV and a letter detailing their relevant academic background and research interests to Dr. Hollander (danahol@mcmaster.ca) by DECEMBER 15, 2004. The Seminar is geared towards graduate students but open to post-docs and other interested scholars.


These events are the first in a series to be sponsored by the recently established Canada Research Chair in Modern Jewish Thought at McMaster University. McMaster's Department of Religious Studies has been distinguished by a long tradition of studying Judaism and Christianity in concert, as equally significant yet intertwined religions, and in conjunction with philosophy and political thought. Building on this
scholarly profile, the conference aims to promote a vision of the study of Jewish thought traditions as engaged in an ongoing conversation with philosophy and theory, political thought, and the study of Christianity, both classical and contemporary.

For more information about the Seminar and Colloquium, please contact Alisha
Pomazon (pomazoaj@mcmaster.ca) or see our website:

SBL Forum New Articles

There are some new articles on the SBL Forum:

Jacques Derrida and Biblical Studies
Yvonne Sherwood

"Things That Matter": Historical Jesus Studies in the New Millennium
by Mark Allan Powell

Was Jesus a Bad Stoic?
by Thomas E. Phillips

Archaeology and the Historical Jesus: Recent Developments
by Craig A. Evans

New version of Cardo

The Stoa announce a new version of the free unicode font Cardo:
A major update to Cardo, a Unicode font designed for scholars, is now available at scholarsfonts.net. Version .98 adds over 1400 new characters, including all the Greek characters proposed for Unicode by the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae, variants of Greek letters for epigraphy and numismatics, and all the characters recommended by the Medieval Unicode Font Initiative. This version also supports glyph variants through OpenType features and provides other typographic refinements such as small capitals. Please pass the word to any colleagues who might be interested. Cardo works under Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

Version .98 will be in beta testing until January 31, 2005, after which it will be replaced by version 1.0. Please send any corrections or suggestions to me by that date.
The Cardo Font page is here:

Cardo Font Page

Friday, November 05, 2004

NT Gateway updates

Haven't been able to post to the blog all day. But I've made some updates on The New Testament Gateway -- Luke-Acts and Q and Synoptic Problem and Q: Books and Articles. I've repaired dozens of broken links and have added a couple of John Kloppenborg's articles, now reproduced on his webpage.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

SBL Forum New Editor

I had the email notification of this sometime ago but am only steadily catching up with things. The SBL Forum, which in the several months since its launch has made an excellent contribution, now has a new editor, Leonard Greenspoon who is taking over from Frank Ames:

Greenspoon to be Editor of Forum
Kent Richards
As Leonard said, "I am not beginning ex nihilo, and I have every intention of building on and expanding the very firm foundations that are already in place. There is an advisory board, to which I hope to add members, especially younger scholars. In the coming months you will, I hope, notice some differences as well as continuities. Of greatest important is my desire to have an ever increasing number of you as authors or guest editors."
This sounds good to me. I am on the advisory board myself and look forward to meeting Leonard Greenspoon in San Antonio in a fortnight. I've shared several ideas concerning the forum in recent months and I hope that some of them will be taken up. I had another thought the other day -- what about an RSS feed for the forum? It would be ideal given its live, frequently updated content. Something else I'll suggest.

Survey on effects of Passion of the Christ

A report on a survey on audience reactions to the film The Passion of the Christ that may be of interest:

Barna survey shows ‘Passion’ had little evangelicalistic effect
Numbers higher for personal behavioral changes

This is by a staff reporter at the Christian Examiner.


Following on from reading reflections on the outcome of the US election in Michael Homan's Blog, I enjoyed visiting a web site to which he refers there:


Michael Homan is responsible for much of the content, along with several others. It's not finished yet, e.g. nothing yet on the NT, but it's a remarkable project, aiming to provide lively, introductory materials to those who know nothing about the Bible using cartoon characters who speak in colloquial contemporary American. This is the kind of site where you really can begin from scratch and build. I doubt that anyone who reads this blog is anywhere near the target audience for this site, but it is an encouragement to those of us who are committed to communicating Biblical scholarship to a wide population to see academics thinking creatively about how to reach people. Good for them.

Just one thought: is this website going to look pretty dated in a few years time when noone says "dude" anymore, and all its other colloquialisms, even in America? Think of Godspell, aiming at the height of trendiness in 1973 and now horrendously and embarrassingly dated, and not in the delightful way that people now celebrate. Here would be a real challenge: create a website like this in which the content is separated from the vehicle conveying it, and use CSS for all the latter, so that you could then find out about the Bible by clicking "1970s style", "1990s style", "classical style", "slasher movie style" and so on.

To see the kind of thing I mean, have a look at the CSS Zen Garden, to which The Coding Humanist recently referred. This is a fantastic advert for the value of using CSS. (Excuse the digression, which has ended up being an excuse to draw attention to another great site).

Update (8 November, 00.03): AKMA comments, Totally.

Top 500 World Universities

I spotted this on the University of Birmingham website today; it may have been around for a bit -- I don't know:

Top 500 World Universities

It's carried out by the Institute of Higher Education, Shanghai Jiao Tong University and correlates all sorts of different factors like awards, citations, articles in prestigious journals. Among UK universities, Oxford and Cambridge both make it into the Top 10. Birmingham just squeezes into the Top 100 at 93. Our marketing people are obviously happy with that and have placed upfront on the website "One of the World's Top 100 Universities".

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

More materials on the James Ossuary

I've been monitoring the Biblical Archaeology Society's page on the James ossuary and note that a substantial number of new materials have been added:

Update -- Finds or Fakes?

There is now a wealth of materials on the ossuary, including PDFs of various key lectures.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Review of Biblical Literature latest

Just in case you thought the blog had fallen asleep, here's the latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the NT and related heading:

Dunn, James D. G. and John Rogerson, eds.
Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible
Reviewed by James Nogalski

Capshaw, Jeffery L.
A Textlinguistic Analysis of Selected Old Testament Texts in Matthew 1-4
Reviewed by Daniel Gurtner

Deming, Will
Paul on Marriage & Celibacy: The Hellenistic Background of 1 Corinthians 7
Reviewed by Brent Smith

Johnson, Luke Timothy
Brother of Jesus, Friend of God: Studies in the Letter of James:
Reviewed by Markus Oehler

Reviewed by Kari Syreeni

Reviewed by William Wilson
Moxnes, Haylor
Putting Jesus in His Place: A Radical Vision of Household and Kingdom
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Pinero, Antonio and Jesús Peláez
The Study of the New Testament: A Comprehensive Introduction
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Draper, Jonathan A. , ed.
Orality, Literacy and Colonialism in Southern Africa
Reviewed by Janet Howe Gaines

Reviewed by Werner Lategan

Reviewed by Robin Gallaher Branch