Saturday, March 26, 2005

Tony Burroughs on The Real Family of Jesus

The Real Family of Jesus airs on Discovery Channel today; here is a piece interviewing the presenter of the programme, Tony Burroughs, and featuring a couple of pictures too:

TV Genealogist Tony Burroughs Search for the Real Family of Jesus

Easter break

I'll be away from the blogging machine now for a good week or so, with Easter greetings to all. I look forward to seeing you next week.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Open Access Repositories

I have enjoyed the discussion in the various biblioblogs on Open Access and the need for a stable repository for articles. If you've not been following it, the best place to go is Hypotyposeis:

Open-Access Needs a Stable Repository

This keeps up to date with the links on the different biblioblogs so that you can thread the discussion. It's interesting in particular to hear that Deinde have some plans. I don't have any strong thoughts myself about the topic except to agree with Tim Bulkeley's tentative suggestion that SBL would be a good place for this, if we could persuade them to take this seriously.

My other comment would relate to the issue of hosting articles (repository proper) vs. linking to articles (Gateway). The word "repository" often goes with "open access" and not surprisingly so. But whose articles are going into the repository? Is it not effectively those least committed to open access? What I mean is that those scholars already committed to open access are those whose articles are already on the web, made available via their homepages. How are we going to persuade the others, who have not so far found it in them to publish to the web, to publish to the on-line repository? Is there a mismatch here? I hope not. I am strongly in favour of open access. I just wonder whether the ultimate model is the one already in procgress, the evolutionary one, in which scholars are steadily becoming convinced of the ideal and uploading to their own web space.

Passion Synopsis?

On Ricoblog, Rick Brannan asks:
As such, I'm curious to know if Marc [sic] Goodacre (NT Gateway Weblog) or Stephen Carlson (Hypotyposes [sic]) have recommendations for a presentation that aligns the accounts and provides readings for each day of the week through the resurrection. I don't have a modern synopsis in print at home. I do have an older copy of Huck (ninth edition) I picked up in a used bookstore awhile back that will suffice in a pinch.

If Dr. Goodacre, Dr. Carlson or anyone else can point to a reputable online source to use this week, it would be much appreciated.
Well, I am a bit late on this one, but on June 9 2004 I posted a note on this English Passion Synopsis:

The Passion and Resurrection Narratives from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

It's limited but might be useful. Meanwhile, my Texts and Synopses page looks like it's in need of an overhaul. I have a couple of excellent links I want to add there. Watch this space.


On The Macintosh Biblioblog, Joe Weaks has an interesting post called CiteULike for web-based bibliography citation. Here's the link:


I've played with it a bit and it works fine for me when added Amazon books to a bibliography, but I can't get it to work properly with Ingenta articles, though it is supposed to. Might need to play with it some more. It looks like it is fun and helpful if one could get on top of it.

Perspectives on the Passion Picture

I took my digital camera to the Sunday of the Perspectives on the Passion conference in Oxford last week (I forgot on the Saturday). This is the best of the pictures:

This is Timothy Gorringe reading his illustrated paper '“Moral machinery”: The Transformative Power of the Cross as Instantiated in Western Art'. My other pictures are not really good enough to publish; I need some more practice, especially in darkened rooms, or with academics standing in front of bright windows.

Vermes on Good Friday (with comments)

Geza Vermes has developed an uncanny ability to pop up at all the major moments of the Christian calendar, and at other times too, to comment on the Gospels and the Historical Jesus. He is in this week's Church Times commenting on the date of the first Good Friday and related matters:

Professor Vermes finds a date for Good Friday
By Bill Bowder
Arguing from his knowledge of Jewish laws and customs, he said last week that the Synoptic Gospel writers, Matthew, Mark and Luke, were wrong about many details of the Last Supper, Jesus's arrest, and his trial. The trial before the Sanhedrin never took place, he said. The religious authorities would not have tried Jesus for blasphemy, because he never used the sacred name of God.

"No Jewish law of any age suggests that the messianic claim amounted to the crime of blasphemy," he said. Furthermore, the Jewish authorities could not have tried Jesus on the Passover . . . .

. . . . . Professor Vermes said he knew exactly when Jesus died. "Of course Easter should be on a fixed day. There are not many things in the Gospels that you can be half as certain about." He has based his calculations of Jesus's death on the known dates of John the Baptist's ministry and of the spring equinox, and on the assumption that Jesus's ministry lasted only one year.

Jesus could not have died in the years 31 or 32 because the Passover did not fall on Saturday, although it could have fallen on a Saturday in 33. John's Gospel suggests a three-year ministry, but Jesus could not have survived that long, Professor Vermes argued. "I don't think that anybody of the type of John the Baptist or Jesus could have lasted three years in the Roman Empire. They would have been finished off," he said. The Romans were "completely ruthless if you crossed them".
I haven't had a chance to look at Vermes's new book yet, so these comments are, of course, provisional and may be addressed in the book itself. First, the blasphemy question. Vermes claims here, and has often claimed in the past, that claiming to be Messiah would not amount to blasphemy. That seems to be clearly correct. But some of the most persuasive current readings of the Marcan trial see the blasphemy charge not in Jesus' affirmative answer to the High Priest's question "Are you the Messiah, the Son of Blessed?" but in his elaboration, "You will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven" (Mark 14.62).

Second, the question of the length of Jesus' ministry. I don't know why one would assume that it lasted for only a year and in so far as one can judge from general impressions, mine would be that it was much longer, with time to travel, to build a reputation, to gather followers, perhaps to visit Jerusalem more than once. On the notion that John's Gospel gives us a three year ministry, I am not convinced. It seems to me to be two years, from Passover in Chapter 2 to Passover in Chapters 13 and following, with one Passover in between in Chapter 6. That is two years and a couple of days, not three years. On whether someone like that could have "survived that long", does that not lend plausibility to Jesus' having spent the majority of his career in Galilee away from Rome?

On pinpointing the date of the first Good Friday, I am not as confident as Vermes. That vital contradiction between the Synoptics and John demonstrates that our earliest sources are just not sure whether Jesus was crucified exactly on a Passover or not. What they appear to know is that Jesus was crucified somewhere around that time. That fits the historically probable notion that Jesus' death is likely to have been caught up with the Passover crowds that year, the presence of Pilate and so on, without our necessarily having to try to be as precise as are the Synoptic writers. It is my view, to be defended at great length in due course, that the dating of Jesus' crucifixion on 15 Nisan (Synoptics) and 14 Nisan (John) are bound up with the differing dates on which the respective communities celebrated Jesus' passion. The celebration of Jesus' Passion on 14 Nisan carried on well into the Second Century among the Quartodecimans ("14th-ers"), whose tradition, according the Eusebius (H. E. V, 23), spanned "the whole of Asia".

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Bibliotheca Sacra and Lesson in Stature

Just over a week ago, AKMA had an interesting post headed Lesson in Stature all about the troubling phenomenon of his students citing articles from Bibliotheca Sacra disproportionately often when their more natural hunting grounds ought to be NTS, JSNT, JBL and the like. He put this down to Bibliotheca Sacra having a more marked on-line presence from early on, with free-for-all archived articles available:
Why do they turn so frequently to BibSac for exegetical guidance, when they dissent so firmly from the authors’ presuppositions? Because BibSac got to the digital party early.
Stephen Carlson, On the Importance of On-line and Open Access to Articles, has a thorough discussion with bags of useful links. Stephen comments:
However, it appears that BicSac [sic] has gone to a more restricted access model since the last time I visited, so I predict that they should slowly lose their head-start over the coming years.
If Stephen's and AKMA's diagnosis is correct, there is a really important lesson here for any journals wanting to make a real impact on the students of today -- get yourselves on-line for free as quickly as possible! I'd have guessed that this lesson would be particularly valuable for the smaller scale journals.

But is the diagnosis correct?

In an update to Stephen's original post, he writes the following:
AKMA himself graced Hypotyposeis with this comment (Mar. 15, 2005):
I thought that BibSac was freely available, and was flummoxed when I couldn’t turn up the repository — I ended up rewriting the post considerably.
The same thing happened to me! When did BibSac begin restricting access?
I can help out a little with this question by looking back through the NT Gateway archives. On 5 June 2001, the NT Gateway Journals page still featured the following entry:
Bibliotheca Sacra 1985-94
Full text reproductions of all articles from 1985-1994. [NB: to read the Hebrew and Greek characters, you will need to download Biblescript from Galaxie Software.]
But by 26 November 2001 that entry had dropped out because the link was dead, and only the main Bibliotheca Sacra link (itself now dead) remained.

But here's my question. If BibSac's 1985-94 repository went off line in 2001, that's surely too long for it to have any impact on current student preferences, is it not? There's a way of testing it. Are AKMA's students accessing BibSac articles in that 1985-94 time span?

I'm interested in this discussion because it's not a pattern I am seeing with my own undergraduate students, who do prefer electronic resources over print ones, but tend to be accessing articles listed on the NT Gateway, or which are linked on my reading lists and course materials. This includes things like scholars' homepage reproductions (e.g. Fredriksen, Kloppenborg), but also repositories of on-line articles on given topics like The Paul Page -- I see increasing numbers of students finding sites like the latter their hunting grounds of choice. In other words, their thinking is less journal-based than it is author- and site- based.

Here's another way of testing whether students are more likely to access free-for-all electronic journal articles than other, more restricted journal articles. Are students accessing Biblica more than other journals? This has had a free-for-all policy now since 1998 and a prominent web presence. For my own students, I would say that this has made relatively little impact and so a free-for-all journal policy is not greatly affecting student consultation rates.

Update (Good Friday, 10.28): Tim Bulkeley comments on Sansblogue and Rubén Gómez comments below to the effect that BibSac is available cheaply as part of a commercial package. My problem is that I am so internet focused.

Happy birthday Paleojudaica

I'd like to join the others who are wishing Jim Davila a welcome Happy Birthday to Paleojudaica, now two years old. I look forward to the forthcoming article in the SBL Forum that he mentions.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Review of Biblical Literature latest

Latest from the Review of Biblical Literature under the NT heading, including an enthusiastic review by E. P. Sanders of a new book on Colossians. And you don't get a book review by E. P. Sanders every day of the week, so it's worth paying attention! It's the kind of review that makes you order the book for the library with no further ado. Also of note to me, a review of my former supervisor John Muddiman's book on Ephesians, though not as enthusiastic as I'd have liked to have seen. And lot's more of interest:

Bridge, Steven L.
Getting the Gospels: Understanding the New Testament Accounts of Jesus' Life
Reviewed by Dwight Peterson

Leppä, Outi
The Making of Colossians: A Study in the Formation and Purpose of a Deutero-Pauline Letter
Reviewed by E. P. Sanders

Muddiman, John
The Epistle to the Ephesians
Reviewed by Timothy Gombis

Pilch, John J.
Visions and Healing in the Acts of the Apostles: How the Early Believers Experienced God
Reviewed by Ronald Clark

Pilch, John J.
Visions and Healing in the Acts of the Apostles: How the Early Believers Experienced God
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Pilch, John J.
Visions and Healing in the Acts of the Apostles: How the Early Believers Experienced God
Reviewed by Steve Walton

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

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

Reid, Daniel G., ed.
The IVP Dictionary of the New Testament: A One-Volume Compendium of Contemporary Biblical Scholarship
Reviewed by James Sweeney

David Wenham lectures in Texas

BP News has a report on a lecture series given in Fort Worth, Texas, by David Wenham of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford (which the report calls "a college of Oxford University", which I don't think is strictly accurate):

Oxford prof defends authority of "most famous sermon of all time"
Mar 18, 2005
By Marc Rogers

It's nice to see a some Q scepticism in here:
Wenham said he doubts the existence of "Q", the supposed mystery source of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, much speculated upon by biblical scholars. However, he said, there was a large amount of reliable "oral tradition" in the early church about the sayings of Jesus. He said that the Gospel writers, as well as the writers of the epistles like Peter and Paul, would have drawn on this shared tradition when they wrote.

Perspectives on the Passion Conference

Thanks to Helenann Hartley for this picture from the Perspectives on the Passion conference last weekend. Helenann has blogged her initial reflections and I hope to add mine in due course too, and some of my own photographs. The photograph above is from the question session after my short presentation entitled "Celluloid Crucifixion: How the Passion Plays in Film".

The conference was superb, educational, great fun, varied. It was brilliantly organised by Christine Joynes.

Robert Fowler to advise on Gospel of Mark film

In connection with my previous post on the Gospel of Mark film, I've looked around to see what else I can find, and here is one item of interest:

B-W Professor Selected for Advisory Committee for Upcoming Film

The B-W in question is Baldwin Wallace College and the person in question is Robert Fowler (whose CV also mentions this, right at the bottom). The remarks quoted in the article look spot on to me:
"Regarding the upcoming Mark film, I will have a lot of input on that. I don't know whether to be nervous about them not listening to me enough or about them listening to me too much! It's an awesome thing to consider that my ideas on certain aspects of Mark might end up on a movie screen for the whole world to see! And again, even though I am supposed to be the Mark 'expert' on the committee, I am only one voice, and it is a joint effort of the whole organization, from start to finish.

"Probably the biggest concern I have with the Mark film is that we absolutely must get across to our audiences that Mark's gospel is different from John's gospel. If we do our work right, people who have seen the John film should be mildly (or greatly!) shocked by the differences between John and Mark. They are utterly, utterly different stories with utterly, utterly different portrayals of Jesus. This has been missed by the casual reader of the gospels through the centuries, so we will be doing the world a great favor if we can carefully and persuasively communicate these radically different portrayals of Jesus of Nazareth."
I'd say that that extends to the choice of actor, narrator and probably director too, in relation to my previous comments.

The same article appears on Christianity Today dated over a year ago, on 2 March 2004, so it's clear that this is not fresh news. I'll keep on the look out for anything new. Can any of the advisory committee out there help us out?

Gospel of Mark teaser trailer

Many thanks to Mark Cannon for this -- there is a teaser trailer available for the Visual Bible International's next venture, the Gospel of Mark. Essentially it is Christopher Plummer (who narrated Gospel of John) reading Mark 13.24-26, with a lion's face emerging and morphing into Jesus (Henry Ian Cusick). Here is where to go to find it:

The Gospel of John - the Official Web Site

And then click on "Video Clips" (top) and choose Gospel of Mark preview. Does this mean that Henry Ian Cusick will be playing Jesus again? That Christopher Plummer will be narrating? Though I loved Cusick in Gospel of John, I'd like to see another actor play Jesus in this to maintain the idea of different actors taking on each Gospel, with Bruce Marciano having taken on Jesus in Matthew. And likewise, I'd like to see another narrator, again to give the film an utterly different feel from the others. I'll keep on the look out and add things here as soon as I see them.

By the way, the reason that there's been no NTGateway blogging for several days now is the usual one, that I've been very, very busy; until today, which has been a lovely day off for my birthday, walking in the Malverns.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Latest Tyndale Tech

The latest Tyndale Tech arrived this morning from David Instone-Brewer at Tyndale House in Cambridge. It's an excellent list of journals relevant to Theology and Religion divided up into free internet with no print, free internet plus print and paid internet plus print. It's a very useful and comprehensive list but, as usual, you'll have to wait for it to appear on-line, something that David does eventually at his discretion. The only thing I'd add to the list would be that there are a bunch of other freebies available for some of the journals listed here, e.g. note my own links on my Journals page to many of the available free-for-all issues of otherwise subscription-only journals (Semeia, Journal of Biblical Literature and all the new Sage journals, to mention a few).

A public thought for David Instone-Brewer: you do a fantastic job with the Tyndale Techs and other contributions to Biblical scholarship and the internet, but are emailed alerts getting a little passé? Has the time now come for you to be assimilated to the biblioblogosphere? You'd do a great job and would enrich the community enormously.

Update (Saturday, 22.37): link above fixed.

Update (Thursday, 00.31): Jim Davila comments, helpfully as ever, to this effect, "Now far be it from me to discourage anyone from starting a blog, but I think that the infrastructure for Tyndale Tech is pretty good as it is. I like to be able to click on one link to get a themed collection of websites and I think that a blog that just posted random websites as David found them would be less useful. Of course, maybe there's a middle way that would combine the benefits of blogging with the benefits of the current system to make something better. But David's system isn't broken, so I hope he'll be cautious about fixing it." I agree with Jim; my suggestion was of course a ruddy cheek in some ways. My slightly frivolous comment was certainly not intended to imply that there's anything broken about Tyndale Tech, just that I can't help thinking that someone with David's expertise and enthusiasm could make such a useful contribution to the blogosphere, and my guess is that he would enjoy the interaction that's possible here. But I may be wrong, and I've been presumptuous enough already.

Update (Good Friday, 11.03): Tim Bulkeley comments.

Perspectives on the Passion Conference

Today in Oxford a conference on the reception of the Passion Narrative in art, music, literature and theology begins. I have announced this previously and Helenann Hartley has posted the programme and hopes to provide reports. I will be attending most of the conference but unfortunately have to miss today's sessions because of family and work commitments. You can read more about it here:

Perspectives on the Passion
18th-20th March 2005 - Trinity College, Oxford
An interdisciplinary conference exploring the use and influence of the passion narratives in art, music, literature and theology.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Last Temptation and the Passion of the Christ

Tonight on Channel 4 they are showing The Last Temptation of Christ for the first time in ten years, and they are showing it as part of their "banned" season, and it had a good introduction by Tim Roth. It's a good excuse to watch the film again. High points remain: the Mary Magdalene in adultery / Sermon on the Mount scene and the first of the Temple cleansing scenes. I use both of those scenes in teaching. The latter is such a contrast to King of Kings. There is Jesus, confronting Caiaphas, saying "I have come to bring not peace but a sword". In King of Kings the very same line in the very same context is in the narrator's mouth (Orson Wells), and Jesus does not cleanse the temple, but in line with the pacifist tone of the film, goes in non-violent.

Anyway, what I wanted to comment on was the contrast between the Scorsese film and the recent Mel Gibson film. I made a little of this in my article on The Passion of the Christ but noticed two things tonight that I had not spotted for that article. First, Tim Roth's comment in the introduction, that the film deliberately used New York / Bronx accents to provide an approachable, understandable Jesus and disciples, pointed up to me an obvious contrasts with The Passion of the Christ since the latter famously avoids English altogether, let alone contemporary accents. Second, there is a moment when Jesus is discussing crucifixion with his disciples and Peter is pointing out that a crucified victim suffers extremely, and that a crow might suck out the victim's eyes. It reminded me of that horrid scene in The Passion of the Christ where that very thing happens to one of the robbers crucified with Jesus. I can't think of an ancient source for this, but may be forgetting.

New book from Steve Davies

On the Gospel of Thomas list, Michael Grondin notes that Stevan Davies has a new book out and it is on the Apocryphon of John:

The Secret Book Of John: The Gnostic Gospel / Annotated & Explained (Skylight Illuminations)
by Stevan Davies

The link above is to the Amazon page on this and here is some stuff from there:
"The ultimate goal of humanity is to come to understand this myth, the gospel of the Secret Book of John, in such a way that the pattern of devolution from the fullness of God to humanity’s imprisonment in matter is reversed. To understand the events of our fall reveals to us a map for our journey of ascent. We will emerge free from matter … return to an established position in the mind of God, and never leave again." —from the Introduction

"Gnosis is the yeast that lifts the dough of revelation above the arid flatland of religious convention. Stevan Davies’ The Secret Book of John is very yeasty. Taste and see!" —Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of The Hebrew Prophets: Annotated and Explained

"Breathes new life into the Gnostic gospel message—their ‘good news.’ Davies’ translation and clarifying commentary help to unlock their secrets of salvation for the contemporary seeker." —Charles W. Hedrick, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, religious studies, Southwest Missouri State University
Nothing yet on Steve Davies's Gospel of Thomas homepage about this.

DVD Review: Gospel of John

Monsters and Critics DVD carry a review of the Gospel of John DVD:

DVD Review: The Gospel of John
By Patrick Luce

It's not a particularly subtle or detailed review, but it's enthusiastic:
t is this simple story telling approach, passion and accuracy, that makes The Gospel of John on of me most powerful stories of Jesus produced for the screen and probably on of the best religious pictures I have seen.
Now, this review is of a newly released version of the DVD and the review has some useful information:
The DVD comes as a two-disc set with both the three-hour theatrical version of the film and a shorter two-hour version. It also comes with several special features including a historical background, production design and the making of the film, a feature on the cast and filmmakers, an interactive map of the Holy Land and the miracles of Jesus, and a glossary of historical terms.
I had not even realised that there were two different versions of the film. My 3 DVD set, the original release from the end of 2003, has only the 3 hour version.

Jim West noted the other day that it is available pretty cheap at Wal-Mart, $19.88. It is the new 2-disc version and the description includes the note that it features "the Never-Before-Seen 2-Hour Version". Looks like I might have to make another purchase.

Peter Chattaway's FilmChat blog

Peter Chattaway, who often makes useful comments on the Jesus films (as well as on films in general, especially those with religious themes), has set up a new blog:


He already has a useful post on The Passion of the Christ:

The Hype is Officially Over

In particular, he focuses on the flop of The Passion Recut. He links to the on-line reproduction of his recent article for Re-viewing the Passion called Come and See, well worth a read if you have not yet read it. I think he gets The Passion about right and is one of the few commentators who, like me, notes some of the film's more interesting elements, especially the Jesus-eye perspective of both the flashbacks and the camera shots.

Review of Biblical Literature latest

The latest from the Review of Biblical Literature under the NT heading:

Levine, Amy-Jill, ed.
A Feminist Companion to Mark
Reviewed by Heike Omerzu

Merz, Annette
Die fiktive Selbstauslegung des Paulus: Intertextuelle Studien zur Intention und Rezeption der Patoralbriefe
Reviewed by Henry Sturcke

Stanton, Graham N.
Jesus and Gospel
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Swanson, Richard W.
Provoking the Gospel: Methods to Embody Biblical Storytelling Through Drama
Reviewed by Robert Fowler

Taylor, Bernard A., John A. L. Lee, Peter R. Burton, Richard E. Whitaker, eds.
Biblical Greek Language and Lexicography: Essays in Honor of Frederick W. Danker
Reviewed by Kenneth Litwak

Toews, John E.
Reviewed by Timothy Gombis

Webster, Jane S.
Ingesting Jesus: Eating and Drinking in the Gospel of John
Reviewed by Robert Baker

Webster, Jane S.
Ingesting Jesus: Eating and Drinking in the Gospel of John
Reviewed by Peter-Ben Smit

The Real Family of Jesus

If you are in the USA and have access to Discovery Channel, it is broadcasting a new two hour BBC / Dicovery co-production on Easter Day:

The Real Family of Jesus
Part One - Premiere, Sunday, March 27, 9-10pm e/p
Part Two - Premiere, Sunday, March 27, 10-11pm e/p
Most people know very little about Jesus Christ's family - who they were and what role they played in his life. This two-part special reveals that Jesus was part of a large extended family - a network that played a critical part in his upbringing and the rise and success of Christianity. Using historical, archeological and biblical evidence, Family of Jesus examines Jesus' relationships with not only his parents Joseph and Mary, but grandfather Joachim, cousin John The Baptist, brothers Simon, Jude, Joseph and James, his uncle Clophas and aunt Mary and others, and pulls together a picture of a dynastic family who believed it was descended from King David, and did everything in its power to promote and perpetuate its lineage. What they would never know is how well they succeeded.
The documentary should feature a little of me talking about Judas Thomas, filmed in Worcester College, Oxford. Among others, the documentary also features Joe Zias and Eric Meyers. I have not seen it yet myself but I am going to ask for a preview tape. I heard a couple of weeks ago that there are no plans for the documentary to go out in the UK.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

SBL Forum latest

The March 2005 SBL Forum is now available, and focuses on Forgeries, including an article by Ed Cook. I am looking forward to reading.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Review of Questioning Q

It's nice to see Church Times carrying a review of a book I co-edited:

Questioning Q
By Mark Goodacre and Nicholas Perrin (editors)
Review by Anthony Harvey
. . . . This collection of essays by eight American and British scholars is a serious attempt to have the question reopened. They recognise that abandoning Q would be nothing less than a paradigm shift for New Testament studies. But at the very least their arguments demonstrate the fragility of the hypothetical structure that is taken as established by the great majority of scholars. Their project is a wholesome reminder that, despite two centuries of labour and ingenuity, the origins of our four Gospels still remain beyond the reach of any certain knowledge.
A note for American readers: you don't have to fork out the £19.99 price here advertised for the British edition. The American edition is selling for $19.00, and Amazon have it for $12.92.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

E P Sanders Powerpoint Presentation

The Paul Page notes the following new resource. It is a powerpoint presentation on the work of E. P. Sanders and it is by Reggie Kidd:

E P Sanders

It's a nicely done summary and on the whole it's aesthetically good, though I'd guess that you would struggle to see some of the smaller fonted materials if they were projected onto a screen. To view this, you'll either need Microsoft Powerpoint on your system, or Open Office should be able to read it; failing that, I think you can download a Powerpoint viewer from Microsoft.

Pretzel watch takes interesting turn

The Jesus and Mary Pretzel is closing in on its deadline in a couple of hours time at $10,600.00, having dropped a bit recently after some bids were withdrawn because of "insufficient feedback"! But if you are looking for something a little cheaper and of a more sinister bent, the Satan pretzel is a snip at the moment at only $0.01 with only hours to go:

Pretzel similar to Jesus/Mary, but Satan Instead

Thanks to Helen Ingram for the notice.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

TNIV Search now available

The TNIV Bible (Today's New International Version) website have now added their long-promised Search, Browse and Read on-line facilities on their main website:

Today's New International Version Online Bible

The Passion Recut Website

The new cut of The Passion of the Christ now has an official website here:

The Passion Recut

It features a minute or so of video introduction by Mel Gibson who explains that many loved the film but felt that they could not take their Aunt Martha because of its intensity, that he has listened to that and recut it to remove some of the intensity and brutality. There's a trailer, and the website also mirrors the information on the main Passion of the Christ website.

I picked up the notice of this from an article in today's Christianity Today:

A Kinder, Gentler Passion?
Mel Gibson heard the complaints about the graphic violence in The Passion of The Christ. So he edited out some of the harshest parts, and is re-releasing the film this week as The Passion Recut.
By Mark Moring

I don't know about Gibson's Aunt Martha, but the new cut is far more likely to induce my wife and my mother to go and see the film; my guess is that this is a brilliant marketing move.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Scholars: H

A couple of URL corrections on Scholars: H, with thanks to Eric Rowe for pointing these out: Richard Hays at Duke Divinity School and Larry Hurtado at the University of Edinburgh. It looks like Duke Divinity School and Edinburgh have both been reorganising their pages, so I'll need to correct some other URLs too.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Beyond Belief: Gnosticism

I am on Beyond Belief today, BBC Radio 4, 4.30--5.00 pm GMT, with Timothy Freke and Michael Green, talking about Gnosticism. Elaine Pagels also has a short piece half-way through the programme. If you're not a regular Radio 4 listener, it's at 92-95 FM and 198 LW in the UK, or you can listen on-line or, after the programme, visit the archive. Here's the main link:

Beyond Belief

Jesus sighting on crucifix

AKMA has a most enjoyable post headed Another sighting. I and others probably ought to let it be the final comment on these, but I'm afraid there is still the pretzel watch, now standing at a remarkable $14,999.99, and who knows what else may lie around the corner?

Disney makes The Passion for kids

I loved that headline -- it's from today's Telegraph. It's actually about how the forthcoming film of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is going to be marketed, i.e. in the same style as The Passion of the Christ. Here's the story:

Disney sets out to make 'The Passion for kids'
By Chris Hastings and Charles Laurence in New York
Walt Disney is to promote its $100 million adaptation of C S Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a "Passion of the Christ for kids" in an attempt to secure worldwide Christian support for the film . . .

. . . In an effort to ensure that the Narnia film reaches a similar audience, Disney has hired Motive Marketing, a public relations company that specialises in reaching out to faith groups and was widely credited with the success of The Passion of the Christ. It has shown clips from the film to representatives from church groups and religious media. The strategy has already met with enormous success.

Jesus Pretzel watch

The Jesus pretzel watch has gone through the roof, now at $13,100. There is not, seriously, anyone willing to pay over £6,000 for a crisp, is there? Presumably people are just logging in and mucking about?

I'm feeling lucky

Jim West mentions an experiment with google I tried -- I'm always interested to see what gets turned up, and I was wondering if there are any interesting biblioblogs out there that have somehow managed to fly under the radar, something I wanted to check since I've been asked to put together a panel on biblioblogging for the forthcoming SBL Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, CARG section. Well, Biblical Studies blog + I'm feeling lucky (i.e. the top link) gets you Biblical Theology, New Testament blog brings you here, ancient Judaism blog gets you Paleojudaica and that is as far as I have got so far.

On not reading but wishing to

I have lots of sympathy with a recent post on AKMA's Random Thoughts headed Biting Back at Reality all about the problems of never being able to find time to read, including the following:
As I wandered haplessly toward the library check-out desk, I realized that this constituted a pathetic charade: since I no longer have time to read, I go through the motions by taking books out, and then returning them a week or so later, as though I’d read them. Not only is that embarrassingly irrational behavior, it deprives other Evanstonians of the use of good books while I sit beside the stack of books on my desk, wishing they would read themselves to me while I struggle with my round of tasks.
My problem, in addition to the endless scripts to mark, manuscripts to evaluate and university admin. to do, is that I am constantly so tired that whenever I do sit down to read, I am asleep within 10 minutes, however much I am enjoying the book. But if I go to bed earlier, I'll have less time to catch up on my tasks, which gives me still less time to read. The best solution to the problem, I find, is public transport. I always take the train now on long (work related) journeys; I take the bus to work when I can and occasionally get to fly abroad. It's remarkable how much one can get read on public transport.

The sad alternatives, for me, are to go for a variety of strategies akin to AKMA's getting the book out of the library. Like video-ing a television programme so that you feel less bad about missing it, but still never watching it, I occasionally print off a journal article, as if the fact of its going through my printer makes any difference to my not reading it. Or I photocopy the journal article from an older pre-electronic journal, then return the journal to the library, as if the all important work is done. Or now, one can even save a journal article onto one's hard drive, the environmentally friendly way not to read an article.

Another image

Thanks to David Meadows for this latest:

Miracle or myth in sleepy town church

This is from The Advertiser in Australia and is the first "growing" image in the recent flood. But no picture -- boo!

Meanwhile, the Pretzel watch continues, now going for $1050.00 with three days to go.

Update (22.51): thanks to Evy Nelson for this link to the church's own website with images, Yankalilla Shrine Home Page.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Postmodern bible blog returns

It is good to see the brief return of Pete Phillips's postmodernbible blog and it is good to hear his mention in his post Oops of his forthcoming book:
I am publishing my thesis with T&T Clark in the summer and the contracts are signed and agreed - John's Prologue: A Sequential Reading. I have to have the manuscript to them by May 1st. Should be Ok as not too many changes are needed. It's going to be in a really good academic series but will cost the earth (£65 a copy!!!!!!!).
I am happy to hear the Library of New Testament Studies (formerly JSNTS) described as "a really good academic series" -- quite right. I'd add that books in this series that are only available in hardback can still be purchased by individual scholars and students for half the published price, in the old Sheffield Academic Press tradition established for that and related series.

Review of Biblical Literature latest

Missed the chance to blog these last week and this, but Michael Pahl has done so in the Stuff of Earth: this week's and 22 February post for the previous one.

Virgin Mary and Jesus Pretzel

Jim West reports on this classic of the recent Jesus sightings in every-day places, this time in a pretzel; it's from

Does Pretzel Look Like Mary And Jesus?
Snack On Sale At EBay

Well, I have checked out ebay and it seems that as of tonight, the pretzel has received 72 bids and is at $1000.00. (See Virgin Mary Holding Baby Jesus Pretzel Spiritual Unique). The item description even features a "pretzel prayer" and answers to worried questions about how it can be transported without breaking. There are four days to go, so you still have time to get your bid in.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Review of Francis Watson

Today's Church Times also has a very favourable review of the following:

By Francis Watson

The review is by the Revd Dr Wickham, a retired priest in the diocese of Wakefield.

Review of Dunn Festschrift

Today's Church Times carries a short review (its books reviews are always too short) of the Festschrift for Jimmy Dunn:

THE HOLY SPIRIT AND CHRISTIAN ORIGINS: Essays in honour of James D. G. Dunn
By Graham N. Stanton, Bruce Longenecker, Stephen C. Barton (editors)

Review by Leslie Houlden

There is no list of contributors, though I suppose that one could get that from the publisher's website. The introduction to the review is good enough to quote:
IF any general readers find their way to this book, they will not find much in the way of lightheartedness. Only one example, in fact. In 1958, we learn, the late Ulrich Simon, then teaching at King’s College, London, was asked by a student, “Dr Simon, what is a Festschrift?” He was answered: “When you are old, and have lost all interest in your subject, they give you a book of essays about those things concerning which you no longer wish to know.”

Anyone acquainted with James Dunn, to whom this book of essays is given by friends, colleagues and admirers, to mark his recent retirement from his Durham chair, will not for a moment suspect that his interest in the study of the New Testament risks imminent decay.
One thought occurs to me about the book itself, which I have not yet seen. It is a book edited by three British (-based) scholars about another British scholar. Could they not get a British publisher for it?

Image of Virgin Mary and Jesus on Bathroom Mirror

These sightings just get better and better. Thanks to David Meadows for this link from

Cleveland Area Woman claims image of Virgin Mary appears on bathroom mirror
. . . . There are, of course, skeptics who say this is just a matter of humidity, steam on the glass forming what appears to be an image.

“You have your right to believe in what you want to believe in,” Terra says.

And Terra believes this is a miracle.

“I'm her messenger,” Terra said. “This is my job for her and I told her I'd do it and I promised her I wouldn't sell her on eBay.”

Terra says she will share her water with those who ask for it . . .
This is the best reporting I've seen on any of these appearances yet. It's pure Onion.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Matthew and the Didache

Another press release from Fortress:
Fortress Presses Releases Matthew and the Didache

MINNEAPOLIS (March 3, 2005)— In Matthew and the Didache, scholars from the United States, Canada, France, the Netherlands, and South Africa analyze the complex relationship between the Gospel of Matthew and the Didache. They discuss the implications not only for scholars' understanding of these two ancient documents but for the development of Christianity, Jewish-Christian relations, and the history of liturgy.

The contributors are:

* Bas ter Haar Romeny
* Clayton N. Jefford
* Wim Weren
* Aaron Milavec
* Kari Syreeni
* John S. Kloppenborg
* Peter J. Tomson
* Gerard Rouwhorst
* André Tuilier
* Huub van de Sandt
* Joseph Verheyden
* Jonathan A. Draper

“This stimulating collection of essays from an international group of scholars provides extensive and insightful exploration of the possible relationships between the Gospel of Matthew and the Didache, and of the location of both texts in Jewish/Christian contexts.”

—Warren Carter, Professor of New Testament, Saint Paul School of Theology, Kansas City


Huub van de Sandt is Lecture in New Testament Studies in the Faculty of Theology, Tilburg, the Netherlands. He is co-author of The Didache (Fortress Press, 2002.)

Format: Paper over board 304 pages 6 x 9 inches

Item No: 0800637224

Publisher: Fortress Press
Price: $49.00

Rights: CUSA, English

To order Matthew and the Didache please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the web site at To request review copies or exam copies please visit the website at or call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234. For interviews, speaking engagements, and writing assignments please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or email

Charles Hedrick article on the formation of the Bible (Springfield, MO, USA) carries this opinion piece:

Bible shaped by competing forces
Charles Hedrick
. . . .The story "about" the Bible raises significant issues. From the historical records, the collection does not appear to be a deliberate product. A plausible case can be made that the church stumbled into the collection, a process lasting more than 300 years, and the Christian Bible was perhaps not finalized until the 16th century. The collection was shaped by competing religious factions, economics, personal ideologies, politics, the influence of larger churches and more. Many texts were eventually excluded.

Nevertheless, the fourth-century collection is still religiously quite diverse with four competing gospels, and Paul's undisputed letters vying with later texts in matters of faith and practice. Surprisingly, second-century Christians included texts in the collection based on their pre-Scripture faith; yet today's Christians judge the validity of modern religious experience by Scripture and creedal confessions . . . .

Paul in Recent Research

The Paul Page lists in its latest updates makes notice of this article on Bible and Interpretation. I must have missed this before, but it's a very helpful survey of recent scholarship on Paul:

Paul in Recent Research
John McRay

Greek Study Day

Yesterday was the fourth NT Greek Teachers' Study Day here in Birmingham, a most enjoyable day, with talks led by Glen Balfour, Peter Head, Geoffrey Williams, Steve Walton and me, with an excellent lunch, a pleasant and productive atmosphere, and twenty or so in attendance and everyone making a contribution. Report to follow later.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Greek Study Day materials

With the fourth Greek Study Day taking place later today, I have been updating the website with some materials sent to me by Steve Walton:

The John Workbook Project

The files you can download from this page have been developed as part of a project in British universities and theological colleges funded by the Learning and Teaching Support Network Classics section, aiming to help beginners 'bridge the gap' between learning Greek from an introductory grammar and starting to read the New Testament in Greek for themselves. There are lots of interesting materials here to give you a taste and more of the project, with more still to come.

As for this year's Greek Study Day, I will provide a report later on, I hope tonight. I have always very much enjoyed and benefited from these occasions, and this year's programme is looking good.

Passion Recut in the UK

Jim West mentions this article in today's Guardian:

Gibson re-edits Passion for Easter audience

I've mentioned the new cut here before, but this is the first time that I have seen news of a UK release date -- it will be Good Friday and it will be Certificate 15. I look forward to it.