Thursday, April 28, 2005

Learning New Testament Greek page

I've added three new items to my Learning New Testament Greek page, all related -- companion sites for Jeremy Duff's The Elements of New Testament Greek and for Peter Kevern and Paula Gooder's Exploring New Testament Greek and Learn Biblical Greek over at Teknia.

Greek NT Annotated Bibliography

Thanks to Jon Weatherly of Cincinnati Bible College & Seminary for letting me know the new URL for his Annotated Bibliography Of Reference Works and Commentaries on the Greek New Testament (MS Word document). I've made the update on my Greek NT Gateway: Bibliography page.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Google Print Revolution

From time to time, I have blogged on the growth of Google Print (e.g. Print Google Search on 23 September 2004). Today, prompted by an entry on Google Weblog, I took another visit, and in the several months since my last visit, there has been a dramatic change. I really mean dramatic -- I was quite taken aback by the riches that was turning up. But don't use the link in the blog entry I've just mentioned -- that no longer works. This is what to do:

Google Print Search

And of course then add your own search term. Since my last visit, Google seems to have got hold of piles of useful books in our area. Generous publishers seem to include Cambridge University Press, Paulist, Eerdmans and Routledge. I did not spot any T & T Clark International material, so perhaps that's something for them to work on.

The way that it works is that punters are encouraged to buy the books that are being made available to them so the left of the screen features lots of relevant buying details on the books in question. If you have ever tried searching inside the books in, you will be familiar with the limitations, e.g. on Google Print too you can rarely go more than three pages in either direction from the page your search has landed you on, though of course you can then simply conduct a fresh search. From time to time, publishers appear to have left key pages blank too to keep you wanting the original version.

I am writing a paper on the moment called "The Rock on Rocky Ground: How Matthew Read Mark's Characterization of Peter" and I was quite taken aback by the number of useful resources I dug out in a two-hour session on Google Print. For example, one of the key things for my paper is Matthew's use of the terms σκάνδαλον, σκανδαλίζω in his portrait of Peter and a search on these turned up all sorts of useful things that I might not have gone straight to in a library, as well as things I would have looked at but would have had to wait until I got to the library, e.g. Stälin's article in TDNT. The research life is going to get a lot easier with this resource, and given the rate of progress at Google in digitizing volumes since I last blogged on this, the future looks bright.

Update (11.24): On RogueClassicism, David Meadows suggests that we curb our enthusiasm a little. I accept David's points that we should not go too far and make over-the-top claims about it, but what impressed me is how much has happened in just the last few months since I had previously blogged on it, and how much useful research I was able to do. I suppose that I am familiar with manipulating the "search inside" facility and Google Print is easier to work with than that. As long as you don't expect Google Print to be comprehensive, you will find a lot of material of interest for your research.

Update (Friday, 10.16): Torrey Seland comments.

Zero tolerance on plagiarism

Michael Homan comments on the excalating problems he has faced with plagiarism among students and recommends a zero tolerance policy. We have had the same struggles here and I would like to think that we are steadily winning the battle, though I sometimes wonder if it is simply the case that the offenders are just getting better at getting away with it. Michael comments:
What will I do when the tears start flowing and I have to hear sob stories about growing up in poverty, and how due to poor public education they had no idea what constituted plagiarism, and that they can't let poor grandma, who is weeks away from death, fail to see them graduate? I had better stock up on kleenex.
I've been there!

The Number of the Beast: 616 and Oxyrhynchus

On Ralph the Sacred River, Ed Cook draws attention to the National Geographic article on the Oxyrhynchus Papyri also discussed in Paleojudaica (and I really share their annoyance at Revelations). The National Geographic article writes:
The latest volume includes details of fragments showing third- and fourth-century versions of the Book of Revelations. Intriguingly, the number assigned to "the Beast" of Revelations isn't the usual 666, but 616.
and Ed comments:
My copy of Nestle-Aland (27th ed.) at Revelation 13:18 lists for the variant reading "616" only "C; Ir mss" (the 5th century uncial manuscript C and some manuscripts cited by Irenaeus). A 3rd or 4th century papyrus containing this reading would be extremely significant, although probably not enough to outweigh the many witnesses for "666."
The relevant article here is the following:

David C. Parker, "A New Oxyrhynchus Papyrus of Revelation: P115 (P.Oxy 4499)", NTS 46 (2000): 159-74

There is a very brief discussion of the variant in question on 169.

Jesus Film Articles

My previous post sent me to check my Celluloid Jesus: Articles and Lectures page and I saw that I had not updated that page since 2001! Several of the links were dead so I have fixed all of those. The next stage will be to add the significant number of useful new articles available, especially post-Passion but that will have to wait. At least the links on that page can now be accessed again.

Pasolini in Palestine

Peter Chattaway has a fascinating post on FilmChat (an absolute must-read blog for those of us interested in films with religious interest) as follows:

Pasolini's Matthew coming to Vancouver

It's about a retrospective entitled The Passion of Pier Paolo Passolini which features the following item:
Seeking Locations in Palestine for "The Gospel According to St. Matthew"
(Sopralluoghi in Palestina per "Il Vangelo secondo Matteo")
Italy 1964.
Director: Pier Paolo Pasolini
With: Pier Paolo Pasolini, Don Andrea Carraro

Pasolini ended up filming The Gospel According to St. Matthew in southern Italy (Mel Gibson would use some of the same locations forty years later for The Passion of the Christ), but he originally planned to shoot in the Holy Lands. This diary-on-film has Pasolini and his team visiting Galilee, Jordan, Damascus, Bethlehem and Jerusalem – and coming to the conclusion, with disappointment, that Matthew would have to be made elsewhere. B&W, VHS video, in Italian with English subtitles. 52 mins.
Peter comments, "Has this behind-the-scenes short ever been included on any of the various DVD versions of Matthew? If so, then that's the copy I want!" Me too. I've never even heard of this behind-the-scenes film before.

Update (Thursday, 10.33): Tyler Williams comments on I am actually less of a fan of this film than everybody else is, though I do see things to admire in it. Tyler comments:
Even the way Pasolini presented the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) is fascinating. Jesus doesn't say the sermon in one setting, but gives parts of the sermon in various contexts -- the scenes shift between day and night, between inside and outside shots, Jesus with and without a scarf, etc. In my mind (and perhaps only in my mind!) this suggests that Pasolini wanted to present the sermon as more of a compendium of Jesus' teachings, not a long sermon that took place at one time. And the "blessed are the cheese makers" line is brilliant! Oh, so sorry, that's Monty Python.
In my article, "The Synoptic Jesus and the Celluloid Christ: Solving the Synoptic Problem Through Film", Journal for the Study of the New Testament 80 (2000): 31-44, I discuss the way in which the Sermon on the Mount is depicted in the different Jesus films, including Pasolini, arguing that in different ways each of the Jesus films finds it necessary to rework, re-locate, omit, redistribute pieces of the Sermon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Deirdre Good pages and book

I've updated the Scholars: G page to update the details for Deirdre Good, with CV and Speaking and Preaching Events and Publications. There's also a new book out edited by Deirdre Good called Mariam, the Magdalen and the Mother.

Good News and Bad News

Well worth a repeat here, from Gypsy Scholar by Horace Jeffery Hodges:

Some Good News, Some Bad News . . .
Paul the Apostle goes into a synagogue in the diaspora. He's asked to speak to the congregation. He steps up onto the bimah and says:

"I have some good news, and I have some bad news. Which would you like to hear first?"

The head rabbi replies, "Good news and bad news? Tell us the bad news first. The good news will console us."

Paul says, "Okay, here's the bad news. The messiah has come, but he's been killed."

"What!" exclaims the rabbi. "That's terrible news! What could possibly be good news?"

Replies Paul, "The good news is -- that's good news!"

Moo Article and Paul's Perspective Website

Mark Mattison has several updates on his fantastic resource, The Paul Page including a link to the following article:

Excursus: Paul, "Works of the Law" and First-Century Judaism
Douglas J. Moo

From The Epistle to the Romans, NICNT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996): 211-217

There's also a link to the following site, which I had not come across before:

Paul's Perspective

It is an extensive site from the "Reformed" perspective, explicitly attempting to challenge the New Perspective on Paul, alongside something called The Federal Vision, which they also oppose. Material on the New Perspective on Paul has its own page which begins with a kind of caricature summary of the New Perspective but goes on with some useful bibliography and some links, promising more on-line reproductions of key articles in due course. One that I had not spotted before is the following:

A. Andrew Das, "Beyond Covenantal Nomism: Paul, Judaism and Perfect Obedience," Concordia Journal (July 2001): 234-252

Fishers of Men

Don't miss Michael Gilleland's post on Laudator Temporis Acti on the place where "Plutarch, in his Life of Brutus (30, tr. Ian Scott-Kilvert), tells a curious story about an incident in which some men were literally caught like fish":

Fishers of Men

IQP Q Text English Translation on-line

Some years ago, Sterling Bjorndahl used to host a web page featuring the English translation of the International Q Project's Q text. When Bjorndahl left academia, that page left the web and there has been no English (or Greek) IQP Q text on-line. But now that's changed and a new, better on-line version is available, with a short introduction and select bibliography and located in the most natural place for it, John Kloppenborg's homepage:

IQP Q Text (English)

Naturally, I have added it at the top of my page on Q Web Materials, which I have also taken the opportunity to update, renewing links and deleting a couple of dead ones, including Charlotte Allen's Atlantic Monthly article, "The Search for a No Frills Jesus", which has gone subscription-only.

Review of Biblical Literature latest

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

Biguzzi, Giancarlo
L'Apocalisse e i suoi enigmi
Reviewed by James West

Clark, Elizabeth A.
History, Theory, Text: Historians and the Linguistic Turn
Reviewed by Willemien Otten

Kellum, L. Scott
The Unity of the Farewell Discourse: The Literary Integrity of John 13.31-16.33
Reviewed by Joseph Matos

Leinhäupl-Wilke, Andreas
Rettendes Wissen im Johannesevangelium: Ein Zugang über die narrativen Rahmenteile (1, 19-2, 12--20, 1-21, 25)
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Levine, Amy-Jill, ed.
A Feminist Companion to Paul
Reviewed by Erik Heen

Popkes, Wiard
Der Brief des Jakobus
Reviewed by Matthias Konradt

Porter, Stanely E., ed.
The Pauline Canon
Reviewed by Ron Fay

Smith, D. Moody
John among the Gospels
Reviewed by M. Boring

Tellbe, Mikael
Paul between Synagogue and State: Christians, Jews, and Civic Authorities in 1 Thessalonians, Romans, and Philippians
Reviewed by Richard Ascough

Yeung, Maureen W.
Faith in Jesus and Paul: A Comparison with Special Reference to "Faith that Can Remove Mountains" and "Your Faith Has Healed/Saved You"
Reviewed by Erik Heen

Review of David Norton, Textual History and more

The Church Times carries a review of two books by David Norton:



Review by J. R. Porter
. . . . In recounting the history of the textual transmission of the English Bible, Dr Norton has produced an impressive piece of work. Not only does he provide a mass of information on a much fuller scale than has ever been attempted before, but he presents it with admirable clarity, using such manuscript evidence as is available, and full lists and tables of variant readings as well as the resources of computer technology. In short, it is a milestone in its particular field, and other scholars and students will find it indispensable . . . .

On-line Biblical Studies Glossaries

On Biblical Theology Jim West mentions A Basic Vocabulary of Biblical Studies for Beginning Students, once upon a time a Featured Link on the NT Gateway. I think the on-line glossary is an excellent way of utilizing the web intelligently in teaching. You can constantly add, update, correct, hyperlink -- it's an old fashioned genre that is a gift to web technology.

This reminds me of a post here last year on putting this and other glossaries to the test:

Deinde's Biblical Studies Glossary

As you can see from the title, the post was occasioned by the new glossary over at Deinde. On that occasion, I put the three glossaries, the Wake Forest one, Felix Just's one and Deinde's to the test on the topic "Synoptic Problem". Wake Forest came out on top, with an honourable mention to Felix Just. Deinde's was incomplete -- a broken sentence but also a limited definition, focussing more on one prominent solution to the problem than on than the problem itself. So how does it shape up several months later? Here's the revised entry:
Synoptic Problem: The question of the relationship between Matthew, Mark, and Luke; both their similarities and differences, The most common belief is the 2 (or 4) source hypothesis that sees Mark as the earliest gospel, with Matthew and Luke each using Mark as a source. Matthew and Luke also used a hypothetical document called 'Q', which explains the verbatim agreements between the two. Matthew and Luke had their own unique material as well [called 'M' and 'L' respectively] so the 4 sources are Mark, Q, M, and L. Another possible understanding of the synoptic problem is the belief that Matthew was written first, with Mark and Luke using Matthew as a source.
Well, it's better, but not much better. It's not been proof-read ("differences, The"), the definition needs tightening up somewhat and the statement about the Two-Source Theory needs more precision. Q does not explain "the verbatim agreements between the two" but the verbatim agreement in non-Marcan material. The last sentence is perhaps the most problematic, though. It gives what is essentially the Augustinian theory, Matthew first, then Mark, then Luke; this is not a "possible understanding" of the Synoptic Problem but a solution to it, and not a popular solution at that. One might have expected other prominent solutions to the Synoptic Problem to have found their way into the entry ahead of Augustine. So on this very limited test run, at least, Wake Forest and Just are still out in front.

Update (10.25): actually, it's worse than I'd realised. There's nothing on the Farrer Theory, but I've just noticed that the Deinde Glossary has an entry on Griesbach as follows
Griesbach hypothesis: The gospel origins theory that believes Matthew was the earliest, Mark created a short version of Matthew, and Luke used both. This eliminates the need for Q, but is not widely held.
No; this is incorrect. The Griesbach theory is that Matthew was first, that Luke used Matthew and that Mark used them both. What is described here is the (so-called) Augustinian theory.

Update (17.56): in some speedy work on Deinde , Danny Zacharias has done a major update on the above entries, and has even added one on the Farrer theory. I apologise if my entry above came across as "a good lesson in being pointed and laughed at in front of a bunch of people". Rather, my hope was along the following lines, as Danny rightly puts it:
The great thing about the web is that these glossary entries haven't been fixed for all eternity by the printing press, they can be quickly changed, so aim for productivity and fire us off an email.
And on the same note, one last small comment on the Synoptic Problem entry: "Contestant 1- The two-(or four) source hypothesis (marcan priority) . . . .": the Two Source Theory does not hold a monopoly on Marcan Priority, an incorrect perception that, I argue, has been a contributing factor to the dominance of the Q hypothesis.

Update (21.58): Joe Weaks comments on The Macintosh Biblioblog: A Biblical Studies Wiki? -- an interesting idea. In passing Joe notes that the entry on the Synoptic Problem is pretty good -- agreed.

Update (Wednesday, 16.10): no wonder the the entry on the Synoptic Problem is good -- Stephen Carlson wrote it! (See commments).

Update (Wednesday 16.12): Deinde comment further. I am inclined to agree that it would be better for us to improve Wiki than to go the TheoWiki route.

Monday, April 25, 2005

J. B. Phillips Translation of the New Testament

Thanks to Whit Stodghill for the following:

J. B. Phillips Translation of the New Testament

It's at the CCEL site and adds the note that this is:
"The New Testament in Modern English", 1962 edition, presented here with the kind permission of Mrs Vera Phillips and the J.B.Phillips estate.
I've added to my Bible Translations and Editions page.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Jeremy Duff's The Elements of New Testament Greek

Jeremy Duff, The Elements of New Testament Greek

When I was a student in Oxford in the 1980s, everyone was familiar with "Wenham". "Wenham" was the textbook you used to learn Greek. And everyone studying Theology had to learn Greek -- it was compulsory. Many others for many years have also begun their journey into the Greek New Testament hand in hand with Wenham.

Well, before there was Wenham there was Nunn. Nunn's Elements of New Testament Greek was also published by Cambridge University Press and was the basis for John Wenham's revision which appeared in 1965. Forty years later and Jeremy Duff follows in the same tradition and now replaces Wenham. To ensure continuity, the cover is based on Wenham, and there is a preface by David Wenham, John's son.

Jeremy has been working on this revision for some years. He has tested it extensively in the classroom, has been circulating proofs to interested parties for their own testing and comment and now, finally, it is ready. Unlike its predecessor, the new Wenham is a product of the twenty-first century and features all manner of interesting extras, New Testament Greek Listening Materials CD and a companion website with links, powerpoint slides and more.

Here is more information about the publication with an order form and with an Inspection Copy order form for lecturers:

Jeremy Duff, The Elements of New Testament Greek (PDF)

Here is the Cambridge University Press catalogue page on the book:

The Elements of New Testament Greek

And here is the book's own website:

The Elements of New Testament Greek

Thanks to Tracey McCluskey at Cambridge University Press for the information.

Michael White on Homosexuality and the Bible

The Galveston County Daily News (not, I must admit, a paper I was familiar with) from Texas has a story featuring L. Michael White from the University of Texas at Austin:

Scholar says debate can't ignore Bible
By Kelly Hawes
. . . . “The movement to recognize gay and lesbian people in churches has stopped talking about the Bible,” he said, “whereas the other side says it’s all about the Bible. The two sides are like ships passing in the night.” . . . .

. . . . “The words that we often assume are found in the Bible are not even really there,” he said.

The word “homosexual” was not coined until 1869 as an effort by the medical profession to arrive at a more neutral term than “sodomy” or “sodomite,” White said, and even those words did not come into being until the 11th century, almost 2,000 years after the first portions of the Torah were written. Nonetheless, all appear in some translations of the Bible . . . .

. . . .White was even more emphatic in his analysis of a verse in the New Testament book of Romans that has been interpreted as a condemnation of homosexuality. White says he and many other scholars believe the verse actually refers to a practice called “pederasty,” an ancient Greek tradition in which older men had sex with young boys.

“It is to pervert the New Testament to try to make those passages apply to homosexuality in general,” White said.

Still, he said, it would be wrong to deny that the Bible frowns on homosexual relationships. Of course, it also frowns upon the presence of menstruating women in church, and it celebrates the murder and mutilation of a woman whose only sin was to have been raped . . . .
As a whole the article doesn't do badly to summarise White's lecture (I am guessing), but this paragraph is less careful. There is nothing about "menstruating women in church" that I can think of and what on earth is the other reference to? I'm probably being thick after a hard-working week, but I can't think what it might be referring to.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Better Bibles blog

While checking links on my Bible Translations and Editions page, I noticed that Wayne Leman's Bible Translation page had added a link to a new blog:

Better Bibles Blog

Its purpose is to discuss English Bible translations and to get comments on the good, the bad and the ugly among them -- see his Welcome message. I've added to my blogroll.

Gospel of Mark Articles

With help from Michael Turton, who sent in a bunch of links to on-line articles, I have updated the following page on the NT Gateway:

Gospel of Mark: Articles and Reviews

The fresh additions are all those featuring (New) just next to them, thirteen in all.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Jeffrey Downs's Resource Blog

Back on January 20, I posted a note on Jeffrey Downs's Resource Index and Resources Blog. Jeffrey has now created a new mirror site with an RSS feed:

Resource Blog

Essentially it is an annoucements blog concerning the latest publications in "theology, apologetics and philosophy". It looks like it is going to be a useful resource, e.g. he flags up the most recent Expository Times. I've added it to my blogroll.

Debney writes Passion Symphony

Music from the Movies reports that John Debney, who was nominated for an Oscar for the score of The Passion of the Christ, is turning it into a symphony:

Debney writes 'Passion of the Christ' Symphony

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Scot McKnight's Blog

On the Stuff of Earth, Michael Pahl notes that another NT scholar has his own blog. It is Scot McKnight and the blog is:

The Jesus Creed

There's not much NT stuff there yet, but perhaps it's just a matter of time. It's the latest addition to the blogroll. Scot McKnight also has a professional looking new web page (though no article reproductions yet).

Textual Criticism Colloquium II

Two more pictures from the Fourth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament:

The first picture is of three of the speakers in intense discussion afterwards. From left to right: Prof. Pier Franco Beatrice, Prof. Josep Rius-Camps and Dr. Eberhard Güting. The second picture is Peter Head, the first speaker of the day yesterday, discussing with someone afterwards (sorry, I don't know the name of the figure on the right).

Textual Criticism Colloquium

Yesterday I attended day 3 of the Fourth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament (see yesterday's post) and learnt a lot. Some more comments later, but first some pictures:


The picture on the left is of a particularly memorable moment in the day. Prof. Josep Rius-Camps read his paper ‘The issue of so-called harmonisation between Luke and Matthew/Mark in Codex Bezae: some light on the Synoptic Problem’ in Spanish. He was introduced in English and Spanish by Bill Warren, who also subsequently chaired the questions and answers, translating each question into Spanish and each answer into English, on the hoof (with the exception of one question in Spanish from Birmingham PhD student Cherish). A fine performance!

The picture on the right is of Neville Birdsall (far right of the picture), a kind of guest of honour, who gave the opening paper of the colloquium on the Monday evening, but here entertaining several of the delegates with his anecdotes.

Millennial Texts: Creation and Reception

This call for papers comes from Kenneth Newport at Liverpool Hope University College:
Call for papers

Millennial Texts: Creation and Reception
Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford, 12-15 September 2005

Dr John Walliss (Liverpool Hope University College) and the Revd Professor Kenneth Newport (Liverpool Hope University College) are organising an international colloquium on the theme of 'Millennial Texts: Creation and Reception'. The colloquium will be held in Ripon College Cuddesdon, Oxford, between 12-15 September 2005.

The organisers would welcome papers on the creation and reception of millennial texts, broadly understood to be anything that can be 'read'. Texts could therefore be film, music, as well as literary in nature.

The papers from the 2004 colloquium, which was held at Trinity College, Dublin, are to be published under the title Contemporary Millennialism: Visions of the End in Historical Context (Baylor University Press, forthcoming) and the organisers are confident that a volume from this colloquium will also be forthcoming. To expedite this process, participants should be prepared to submit the full text of an 8,000-10,000-word article during the colloquium itself.

Participants will be provided with two nights of accommodation in Ripon College, and will receive an invitation to the conference dinner. The organisers are unable, however, to cover travel expenses.

If you are interested in participating, please send a 200-word abstract to John Walliss ( in an email with the title 'Millennial conference' by 30 April 2005.

Dr John Walliss,
Lecturer in Sociology,
Liverpool Hope University College,
L16 9JD

0151 291 3884

tel: 0151 291 3884

Revelation in Intercultural Perspective

This press release is from Fortress Press:
Scholars Present Book of Revelation in Intercultural Perspective

MINNEAPOLIS (April 21, 2005)— Of all the writings of the New Testament, the Book of Revelation has the most comprehensive critique of the Roman Empire and the most global vision of a new world in the worship and service of God. In From Every People and Nation: The Book of Revelation in Intercultural Perspective a diverse group of biblical scholars and theologians gathers in one volume perspectives from many cultural and social locations in a quest to illuminate this powerful book and to promote a vision of justice and peace.

Together, the contributors model the dynamics of cultural interpretation and offer resources for readers themselves to engage in the intercultural study of Bible. They discuss topics such as Hispanic / Cuban American and African American perspectives, ecological issues, postcolonial themes, and liberation theology. The book also provides a set of guidelines for intercultural Bible study.

The volume's contributors include:

* Brian K. Blount
* Justo González
* Harry O. Maier
* Clarice J. Martin
* James Okoye
* Tina Pippin
* Pablo Richard
* Barbara R. Rossing
* Vítor Westhelle
* Khiok-Khng Yeo


David Rhoads, Professor of New Testament at Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago is the co-author of Mark as Story: An Introduction to the Narrative of a Gospel (2nd ed.; Fortress Press, 1999) and author of The Challenge of Diversity: The Witness of Paul and the Gospels (Fortress Press, 1996). He received the 2004 Fortress Press Award for Graduate and Seminary Teaching in recognition of his innovative teaching, his approaches to subject areas, and his communication with today's students. For a couple of decades he has given oral performances of the gospel of Mark in a dramatic setting before church groups and classes. His inventive teaching methods include diverse methodologies for studying the Bible and other pedagogical strategies, and creative writing assignments.

ISBN 0-8006-3721-6
6” x 9”, 282 pp, paperback

To order From Every People and Nation please visit your local bookstore or call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the web site at To request review copies or exam copies, or for interviews with the author please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or email

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Textual Criticism Colloquium

There has been a Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament in Birmingham over the last few days. I have not been able to get to the colloquium so far but plan today to be at the entire day's events and it looks pretty interesting. Here are the details:

The Birmingham Colloquia on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament
The Fourth Colloquium
18--21 April 2005

The Colloquium Programme is available, and today's programme looks like this:
Wednesday (Textual Criticism and the Gospels)

7:45 – 8:30 Breakfast

9:00 – 10:00 Paper 1 – Dr. Peter Head ‘Textual Criticism and the Synoptic Problem: A Historical Perspective from 1500 to 1900’

10:00 – 11:00 Paper 2 – Dr. Eberhard Güting ‘Our text critical analysis of ‘minor agreements’ and their role in contemporary solutions of the Synoptic Problem'

11:00 – 11:30 Coffee

11:30 – 12:30 Paper 3 – Prof. Josep Rius-Camps ‘The issue of so-called harmonisation between Luke and Matthew/Mark in Codex Bezae: some light on the Synoptic Problem’

12:30 – 1:45 Lunch

2.00 – 2:45 Paper 4 – Prof. Pier Franco Beatrice ‘The Gospel according to the Hebrews in the Apostolic Fathers’

2:45 – 3:30 Paper 5 – Dr. Wim Hendriks ‘Textual Criticism (Gospels) and Patristic Evidence (concerning Mt 6, 33, Mc 6, 3, Lc 12, 31, Jn 14, 2 in the Church Fathers)’

3:30 – 4:00 Afternoon Tea

4:00 – 5:00 Response from Dr. Mark Goodacre

6:15 – 7:15 Supper
I hope to report back later.

Update (Thursday, 09.04): Michael Theophilos asks if the papers are currently available or if they will be published somewhere. As far as I know, there are currently no plans to publish. And I am afraid that they are not currently available either. In fact none of the speakers sent me their papers in advance so I had to do my response "on the hoof". More on the colloquium, with pictures, later.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Review of Biblical Literature latest

Latest from the Review of Biblical Literature under the NT heading, including one from fellow biblioblogger, Torrey Seland:

Aasgaard, Reider
'My Beloved Brothers and Sisters!': Christian Siblingship in Paul
Reviewed by Timothy Seid

Aasgaard, Reider
'My Beloved Brothers and Sisters!': Christian Siblingship in Paul
Reviewed by H H Drake Williams III

Aasgaard, Reider
'My Beloved Brothers and Sisters!': Christian Siblingship in Paul
Reviewed by Matthew Mitchell

Evans, Craig
Jesus and the Ossuaries: What Jewish Burial Practices Reveal about the Beginning of Christianity
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Kim, Seyoon
Paul and the New Perspective: Second Thoughts on the Origin of Paul's Gospel
Reviewed by Robert Keay

Kuula, Kari
The Law, the Covenant and God's Plan: Volume 2: Paul's Treatment of the Law and Israel in Romans
Reviewed by Mariko Yakiyama

Levine, Amy-Jill
A Feminist Companion to Luke
Reviewed by Davina C Lopez

Marshall, John W.
Parables of War: Reading John's Jewish Apocalypse
Reviewed by Robert Royalty

Repschinski, Boris
The Controversy Stories in the Gospel of Matthew: Their Redaction, Form and Relevance for the Relationship between the Matthean Community and Formative Judaism

Reviewed by J. R. C. Cousland

Skaggs, Rebecca
The Pentecostal Commentary on 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude
Reviewed by Torrey Seland

SBL Forum latest

The April edition of the SBL Forum is now on-line:

SBL Forum

and has gone for a kind of Smorgasboard approach with articles on a variety of topics. Of special interest is the following:

Assimilated to the Blogosphere: Blogging Ancient Judaism
James R. Davila

Great title. I look forward to reading. But as Jim notes on Paleojudaica, the links in his article have been stripped, which is clearly unacceptable. In fact Paleojudaica itself is not even linked. Let's hope that this can be corrected very quickly by the SBL folk.

There's an error on the main page too -- it still says "March 2005" even though it is clearly the April issue.

Update (16.56): Yes, I see what Jim means. Goodness, there's even one sentence that reads, "PaleoJudaica too sometimes posts essays that discuss research ideas in preliminary form, such as this post on the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha" which explicitly makes no sense without the link. I am afraid that whoever uploaded this to the web has not even read the article, never mind proof read it. As a member of the SBL Forum advisory board, I'll be writing straight away to express my concern about this.

Update (22.28): the link to the essay has been removed from the front page of the forum. Perhaps this swift action indicates that it is to be fixed?

Update (Thursday, 09.15): Jim Davila has an update, "It develops that the XSL now being used to publish Forum articles cannot handle hidden links. I've been discussing this with Sharon Johnson and she agrees that this is a problem that will keep coming up and that needs to be fixed. Their technical people are working on it, but apparently this problem is connected to some others and is fairly complex, so it may take several weeks to solve . . . ." It's good to hear that action is being taken and it's useful that this situation is working as a catalyst to fix the problem in the long term. You really can't have an effective on-line forum that is unable to display links. I have not yet heard back from Sharon myself since I emailed on Tuesday, but I had an acknowledgement from Leonard Greenspoon. Some quick additional comments:

(1) I don't know about XSL, but it seems a serious weakness if it cannot handle hidden links. But I note that it can handle email address links (at the bottom of every SBL Forum article), so could the links not simply be added in in the same way, or the system adjusted so that a hrefs work in the same way as mailto:s? Likewise, I note that the Forum main page works with links; is that XSL generated too? Elsewhere, the SBL site handles external links OK (e.g. Career Services), so perhaps a similar system could be used for the Forum?

(2) The article has not in fact been taken down; it's the link to it on the main page that has been removed.

(3) The volume title and date has been fixed and is now showing April 2005.

Update (28 April): The article is back on-line with the links all in place. adds Blog / RSS feed now has an RSS feed from their site for the latest updates. If you go to their main page (previous link), the RSS feed URL is hidden, but I sniffed it out at:

Welcome to

Or go straight to

Guardian's University Rankings

Today's Guardian has its latest UK University rankings:

Guardian University Rankings 2005

Oxford comes out top, replacing Cambridge (Ha! Sorry). Birmingham comes in at 28, which is pretty disappointing. The Theology rankings are here:


Again it is Oxford top, but Cambridge is beaten to second place by Glasgow, which is perhaps something of a surprise, but well done to them. I fly to Glasgow for an examination in a few weeks time, so I look forward to seeing the department there. Indeed it is a good showing for most of the Scottish universities, with St Andrews and Edinburgh at 5 and 6 respectively. Meanwhile, Birmingham just squeezes into the Top 10, just behind Manchester, though I'd have expected both to come higher. Perhaps the biggest surprise, though, is neigbouring Birmingham institution Newman College, in eighth place.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Gypsy Scholar

The latest addition to my blogroll is the following:

Gypsy Scholar

This is Horace Jeffery Hodges's blog from Seoul, South Korea. There's not a scrap of Bible related stuff on there yet, but I am hoping that it is only a matter of time. Jeffery holds a PhD on the Gospel of John from U.C. Berkeley and is a regular on e-lists like Xtalk. In fact, I just happened to spot the blog URL in an Xtalk post of his today. In the mean time, I suppose I can read Jeffery's blog to get educated about other things I would like to know more about.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Tony Fisher's Greek New Testament Appeal

Many of us have been fans of and have benefited from Tony Fisher's Greek New Testament for some time. I have had it at the top of the list on the Greek New Testament Gateway because it has been the most straightforward site for all to use, especially in a world where platforms, browsers and fonts differ widely. These days, the one I use myself by default is Zhubert because it has more functionality and features and has someone at the helm regularly adding fresh things. Nevertheless, it would be a great shame if Tony Fisher's popular Greek New Testament were not to continue into the future. Perhaps it could be taken on and developed by someone else. Here's the message that has recently appeared on the site, with thanks to David Mackinder for drawing my attention to it:
Advance Warning

The Support Staff here have kept the software associated with these web pages running for the past five years, through various hardware and software upgrades, in honour of Tony's memory, but the time is approaching when we will no longer be able to allocate further resources to maintaining it.

Our current intention is to try to keep it running through to the end of 2005 and possibly into 2006.

If anyone at another site is keen to take on the hosting and maintenance of this facility from 2006 then please get in touch by sending an e-mail to the "support" address at "".

We are also making available a zipped tarfile for download by anyone who wishes to install the software for their own use. This version has been tested under Slackware 10 Linux using the 2.6 kernel, but if you wish to install it under anything else then you might need to undertake some porting work. We are very sorry, but we cannot provide any assistance with such work.
Anyone out there interested? (Write to them, not to me).

Saturday, April 16, 2005

ATLA vs. Google Scholar

There has been an interesting thread on Xtalk recently on the relative advantages of the ATLA Religion database and Google Scholar. Well, to be honest, I started the explicit thread, piggy-backing on a question about Todd Penner's Contextualizing Acts, because I was interested in seeing what others' perceptions might be. Bob Schacht expressed a strong preference for Google Scholar:
1. Google Scholar is free
2. Google Scholar is not limited to Religion

I used Google Scholar the other day to look up references on the work of a colleague in whom I had an interest but no information. It not only found many references that I was interested in, but didn't know about, but it also found some of them available online, and guided me to those websites. Groovy!

Google Scholar will also tell you who's citing who. I found out that an article I co-authored more than 10 years ago has been cited by 5 people I've never heard of before. Thus, Google scholar can be used to do research on quoting circles (For example, who is this Mark Goodacre, what has he published, and who quotes his publications? Do they quote each other, too?) Embarrassment is a likely result, however, if you find out that
(a) no one has ever cited your article, or
(b) the only one who has ever cited your article is yourself! . . . .

. . . . .I am also startled by the number of people with my last name who have been busily expounding on everything from anthrax and bosons to leptons.
It's difficult to argue with Bob's (1) -- that Google scholar is free. I am one of those lucky to be able to access ATLA's Religion database through an institutional subscription, but Google Scholar is free for all. The second point, about its comprehensive reach, is also useful if you publish widely outside of the religion area. But within the religion area, it is still a very long way from comprehensive. And its citations are often interesting but are not yet working really well. I took Bob's advice and looked for myself on Google scholar and found that Case Against Q, for example, has just the one citation, from friend of the NT Gateway Weblog Holger Szesnat. The citation comes in his New Testament Study Booklet (incidentally: what a useful, well-written module booklet!). But Google Scholar does not yet pick up in its Citations context the other citations of Case Against Q that it does in fact subsequently list. I suppose here one does see how far it is a beta.

Let me add that one of the big advantages I see with Google Scholar is the fact that you can click "web search" next to a given entry and have a realistic chance of finding good information on the item in question; and sometimes, Google will dig out the actual article in question if it happens to be available on a scholar's homepage, or similar.

Now, Zeba Crook continued the thread on Xtalk, asking whether he might be a better "test" than me because of the "modest and testable amount" of his publications:
YET, Scholar Google came up with only 1 item for me: a reference in Kloppenborg's review article on your The Case Against Q. It didn't even pick up my book. Now, one might argue it's too early for that, but when I do a regular Google (ego-surfing) I get several pages of results, many of which are scholarly, including my book. Mind you, ATLA comes up with 6 items only: the limitations of ATLA is that it's not super up-to-date, and it journals have to be registered with it in order to appear.
I think that that sums up the situation pretty well. The shortcomings of ATLA are clear -- not bang up to date, not free etc. -- but it does win over Google Scholar, at least for the time being, even though the latter has certain quirky pluses. I wonder for how long? It's something we'll definitely be returning to.

Update (Monday, 15.49): Danny Zacharias comments on Deinde.

Blogroll disappears and reappears

My blogroll vanished for a while this morning and then reappeared again. It turns out that Bloglines, which generates it, had an outage.

Blogshares and Blog Heaven

In Paleojudaica, Jim Davila points out Blogshares and in particular their Ancient History listing:

Blogshares: Ancient History

in which Paleojudaica comes a deserved 4th, with shares worth $1,992.96, apparently! Rogueclassicism is (also a deserved) first. It is good to see Hypotyposeis also making it into the Top 10. But, as Jim notes, no placing for the NT Gateway weblog (thanks for mentioning) or, for that matter, several of the other biblioblogs.

Meanwhile, Beliefnet announce their top blogs:

Blog Heaven

with not a biblioblog in sight.

Update (21.28): Jim West on Biblical Theology has done some work and has sniffed out the biblioblogs on BlogsShares. On the category Bible Study, you'll find lots of familiar names and AKMAcomes in at number 3!

Friday, April 15, 2005

Early Christian Papyri Day Conference

A notice has just gone out on the BNTC e-list concerning the following:

Day Conference on Early Christian Papyri (MS Word document)

New College, School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh
15 June 2005

Paul articles update

I've updated the Paul: Books, Articles and Reviews page by adding several articles from John Paul Heil's homepage (look for the entries with (New) next to them). I've deleted all the Harvard Theological Review links on that page too, which you may remember all disappeared when they were removed from the Find Articles site. In fact this is consonant with a general trend on the New Testament Gateway, whereby more stress is going on article reproductions on scholars' homepages and less on the big repositories.

While updating the page, I noticed that J. D. H. Amador's links are now dead. His homepage is still there but its links need some major servicing.

Salome Danced Here

A week ago on Paleojudaica, Jim Davila noted this interesting piece from Ha'aretz (though I think Jim's link needs correcting):

Tiberias unearths very rare marble floor

The article explains that "the floor is apparently a remnant of a pavement in the palace of Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, who ruled the Galilee from 4 BCE to 38 CE". Two quick comments, first on this:
". . . .Who knows, perhaps Salome danced for the king on this very floor," Hirschfeld said, referring to the New Testament story of the daughter of Herodias, Antipas' wife, who demanded the head of John the Baptist on a platter in exchange for the dance.
What cheered me up here was the accuracy of the brief report. We often (rightly) moan in the biblioblogs when the media is sloppy, but here I rather like the way that Hirschfeld's enjoyable and playful, "Who knows, perhaps . . ." is not sensationalized by Ha'aretz but, if anything, is sobered down in the succeeding comment, even to the extent of saying (with Mark and Matthew) "the daughter of Herodias" rather than "Salome", the latter identification being one made on the basis of Josephus. Incidentally, I recall on the latter a thread on one of the e-lists some time ago to the effect that the identification of Herodias's daughter in Mark 6.14-29 with Salome was made surprisingly late on in the history of the reception of the text, surprising given the fact that now everybody thinks of the dancer as Salome.

My second comment is to ask a question about this:
The dig was cosponsored by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Israel Antiquities Authority, and was funded by the Tiberias municipality and Brown University, Rhode Island. It revealed that in the fourth century a basilica was constructed on top of the palace. It also uncovered a street from the Roman-Byzantine period, mosaics, and coins bearing the image of Jesus.
"Coins bearing the image of Jesus"? This rather intrigued me, especially as no date is given (does it imply "Roman-Byzantine period" for this detail too?), so I Googled for more and found the following story, which I must have missed at the time:

Coin of Jesus found in Ancient Tiberias Excavation
. . . . To their great surprise, a group of young people who were participating in the dig discovered a rare coin. On the front of the coin can be seen a somewhat blurred image of Jesus, while on the back, the words in Greek "Jesus the Messiah King of Kings" are engraved very clearly. This coin is one of a series of coins that were issued in Constantinople (present day Istanbul) in celebration of the First Millennium of Jesus' birth.

It is not uncommon to find this coin in neighboring countries of Israel, such as Turkey, but this is the first time that it has ever been discovered at an Israeli archaeological site.

Prof. Yizhar Hirschfeld . . . . explains that this coin was brought to Tiberias by Christian pilgrims. Tiberias and the other sites around the Sea of Galilee were the desired destination of Christian pilgrims during the time of Muslim rule in Israel from the 7th to 11th centuries CE . . . .

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Chattaway on Gospel of Mark teaser

I've been enjoying Peter Chattaway's Film Chat blog since it began almost a month ago (announced here). Peter has been posting regularly since its inception and if, like me, you enjoy Bible-related films, it's one to add to your aggregator.

Yesterday, he comments on the Gospel of Mark teaser trailer, which Mark Cannon pointed out to me, as follows:

The Gospels are now complete
. . . . Interestingly, as Matt notes, the filmmakers appear to be going back to actor Henry Cusick and narrator Christopher Plummer, who both worked on The Gospel of John, and if so, this would appear to mark the first time since the 1950s that an actor has played Jesus twice (assuming we don't count Bruce Marchiano's cameo in the Visual Bible's Acts, following his starring role in their Gospel according to Matthew) (my reviews). It's a shame, in a way, because each gospel has its own character, and it might be good to heighten the differences in emphasis between the gospels by casting different actors and using different voices.
The Matt referred to here is Matt Page who makes similar useful comments here yesterday. We need to ask someone in the know like Alan Segal on this, but my guess is that the use of Plummer and Cusick in the teaser trailer is something gleaned simply from the filming of the Gospel of John. What I mean is that it would not have been difficult to ask Plummer to record a little of Mark ready for such a trailer at that point. They were already planning to move to Mark next at that stage. And the shot of Cusick is just the one shot of the eyes. So I doubt that the teaser trailer means a lot on that front. But I may be wrong.

Chattaway also makes the following interesting remark:
Another interesting question is how this film will deal with the multiple endings of Mark -- which manuscript will it run with? Of course, word-for-word adaptations of any biblical text have to deal with these issues, when there are variations in words here or there; it's just rare that you find variations in entire passages.
Wouldn't it be great if they dare to go for an ending at 16.8? It'd have that Jesus Christ Superstar, Passion of the Christ feel. I argued in my article on the latter that Gibson's resurrection scene resembled the abrupt ending of Mark, though it was played out differently. With the big band of scholarly advisors, there is a serious chance that they might go with the scholar-friendly ending too. (Note that Gospel of John does include the Woman Taken in Adultery, but the film is no worse for that).

Chattaway's "complete" of the title relates to the notion that a film of The Gospel of Mark would complement Visual Bible International's Matthew and Gospel of John alongside Jesus for Luke. Nice point.

And to add one thing to Matt Page's comments about the possibility of Cusick playing Jesus for a second time, it's worth noting that Richard Kiley is the narrator of two of the above films, appearing too as older Matthew in Matthew, and narrating as Luke in Jesus.

Review of Biblical Literature latest

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

Frilingos, Christopher A.
Spectacles of Empire: Monsters, Martyrs, and the Book of Revelation
Reviewed by Jan Van Henten

McCane, Byron R.
Roll Back the Stone: Death and Burial in the World of Jesus
Reviewed by Jan G Van Der Watt

Skinner, Matthew L.
Locating Paul: Places of Custody as Narrative Settings in Acts 21-28
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Skinner, Matthew L.
Locating Paul: Places of Custody as Narrative Settings in Acts 21-28
Reviewed by Heike Omerzu

Williams, P. J., Andrew D. Clarke, Peter M. Head, and David Instone-Brewer, eds.
The New Testament in Its First Century Setting: Essays on Context and Background in Honour of B. W. Winter on His 65th Birthday
Reviewed by Kate Donahoe

Williams, P. J., Andrew D. Clarke, Peter M. Head, and David Instone-Brewer, eds.
The New Testament in Its First Century Setting: Essays on Context and Background in Honour of B. W. Winter on His 65th Birthday
Reviewed by Pieter Van Der Horst

Yieh, John Yueh-Han
One Teacher: Jesus' Teaching Role in Matthew's Gospel Report
Reviewed by Grant Macaskill

Boyarin, Daniel
Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity
Reviewed by Jed Wyrick

More Visual Bible International problems

Visual Bible International is the group that produced Matthew, Acts and, most recently, The Gospel of John. I recently reported on the Gospel of Mark teaser trailer now available. But the group has consistently run into financial problems (Gospel of Mark runs into problems, Visual Bible International Struggles; Visual Bible International Update; Visual Bible Intertnational Latest) and now comes the following article today on CBC News:

Visual Bible International placed in receivership, put up for sale
TORONTO (CP) - Visual Bible International Inc., a "faith-based" media company that released a film version of the Gospel of John produced by Garth Drabinsky, was placed in receivership Wednesday and put up for sale.

"It is the intention that VBI will continue to operate throughout the receivership process, during which time the interim receiver intends to actively search for a buyer for the company," the privately held company stated.

It said its principal secured lender supports the process . . . .

. . . . The company says it recently concluded an agreement with Disney's Buena Vista Home Entertainment Inc., which will distribute the film of the New Testament Gospel of John and an upcoming film based on the Gospel of Mark's account of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ . . . .
The Buena Vista deal is the one that has produced the following website, to which I have referred before: The Gospel of John: The Official Website, and which also includes the Gospel of Mark teaser trailer I mentioned above.

Update (Friday, 02.05): The Globe and Mail has more and it is not looking good:

Court appoints Visual Bible receiver
by Paul Waldie
. . . .Despite those setbacks, Visual Bible planned to make a film this year, based on the Book of Mark, with Mr. Drabinsky as producer. It even signed a new contract with him in April, 2004, for $25,000 (U.S.) a month.

However, losses continued to pile up. The company's last financial statements show a loss of $10.3-million for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2004. That compares with a loss of $4.4-million in the same period a year earlier. Sales were $7.2-million.

Documents filed in court yesterday allege Visual Bible had defaulted on several debentures, could not meet payroll on April 1, 2005, and had a negative cash flow of $170,000 a month.

"The marketing of the [Book of John] film has been a commercial failure," Ed Rosenblat, an adviser to a group of debt holders, alleged in an affidavit. Visual Bible "has been unable to generate sufficient revenue from the film to meet its operating costs and debt obligations," he said. The company "has no reasonable prospect for improving its financial performance." . . . .

. . . .Peter Farkas, managing partner at RSM Richter Inc., which was appointed receiver, said the company will continue operating, but the Book of Mark film is on hold "until they get refinanced."

He added that he has been told by company employees that Mr. Drabinsky and Mr. Gottlieb have not been active in the company for several months.
So it looks like we are not going to see Gospel of Mark any time soon.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

University of Wales, Lampeter post

University of Wales, Lampeter is advertising a New Testament post, with Gospels specialism, details here:

Department of Theology and Religious Studies

Lectureship in New Testament Studies
(Gospels’ specialism)

Dissertations on-line

On Kaimoi, Ken Olson draws attention to his University of Maryland MA dissertation, now available on-line:

How Luke Was Written
Ken Olson

The dissertation will be of particular interest to those studying the Synoptic Problem, especially if you have not yet bought your copy of Questioning Q where a revised version of the above appears under the title "Unpicking on the Farrer Theory".

The dissertation is made available as part of DRUM (Digital Repository of the University of Maryland) and this kind of thing seems to be coming increasingly common, and it is to be welcomed. I am reminded that some while back Jacob Knee alerted me to a similar site for Canadian Theses:

Theses Canada

Included here for free is one I spent a bit of money on myself:

Robert Derrenbacker, "Ancient Compositional Practices and the Synoptic Problem" (Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of St. Michael's College, 2001)

This is well worth downloading and reading. In fact, I think I heard that it is on its way to becoming a book for ?Brill.

How much easier life is becoming, though, with dissertations available on-line now in university (and similar) repositories. Everyone gains -- the scholar and student wanting to consult it, the author who gets it more broadly known, the university which has its work on show.

Beth Lewis's Top Websites

Christian Century for February 22 2005 has a short article on the top websites for Bible and Theology research:

Web sites for Bible and theology research
Beth Lewis

She divides them into "Site", "Best for . . ." and "Description" and it's nice to see the New Testament Gateway finding its way onto this relatively short list.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Image Criticism

With respect to the image of myself recently added, Wieland Willker emails:
Some feedback on a negligibility:

As someone with an interest in photography I am sorry to say that the image on your blog is bad in almost every respect:

1. Everything is tone in tone (brown).

2. Your face is difficult to make out. Next to your face on the left is a hectic pattern, on the right is a bright window. Overall your face comes out bad due to bad light and is not well enough separated from the background. Also it is too much on the top.

3. What is the problem with your hand? Show it either in full or not at all.

Well, JMHO ... To say something positive also: I think it is a good idea to present a photo! :-) Make a new photo, choose a light, non distracting background and use diffuse light. I know that portraits are not easy, but your site looks overall quite professional. It deserves a good photo. Or: Why not use this one?
perhaps changing the background a bit. It is already a 1000 times better.
Come on, Wieland, don't hold back! Tell us what you really think about it! :)

In spite of everything Wieland says, I like the picture I've used here, perhaps because of its original context. It's actually not a portrait at all (unlike the one Wieland links to) but a shot from a BBC / Discovery documentary I took part in called Mary, Mother of Jesus. I suppose I like that picture over other ones because it's a picture of me attempting to articulate my thoughts about the New Testament as clearly, honestly and responsibly as possible, something that I would like to think is something I always aim for, including here in the NT Gateway blog. Although I was only a participant and not a consultant on Mary, Mother of Jesus, it is the programme that has had most impact on my life outside of the academic sphere, as I mentioned once in an article the SBL Forum published called The Pleasures and Perils of Talking to the Media. And the fact that you can see my hand in shot is because I am earnestly trying to explain some point, and I prefer that to a grinning head.

So for now, the image stays, I'm afraid. Sorry, Wieland.

Mirror Reading

I'm a regular consumer of Michael Gilleland's pearls of wisdom on Laudator Temporis Acti and I particularly enjoyed today's post on Reading:
Georg Christoph Lichtenberg (1742-1799), Sudelbuch E 215:
A book is a mirror. If a monkey peers into it, surely an apostle can't look back out.

Ein Buch ist ein Spiegel, wenn ein Affe hineinguckt, so kann freilich kein Apostel heraus sehen.
C.S. Lewis, Reflections on the Psalms (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, n.d.), p. 121:
What we see when we think we are looking into the depths of Scripture may sometimes be only the reflection of our own silly faces.
This reminds me of a misunderstanding I had as an undergraduate student. I remember people talking about "mirror reading" and I assumed for ages, before doing any reading on it, that "mirror reading" meant people seeing their own reflections in the text. I was actually a little disappointed when I found out that it meant the reconstruction of Paul's opponents' (etc.)'s views, which seemed to me to be less appropriate than my misunderstood meaning.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Biblical Theology 2005

Also new on the book (i.e. in addition to KAIMOI and Codex: Blogspot) is another new blog from Seabury (where AKMA is):

Biblical Theology 2005

Not to be confused with Jim West's Biblical Theology, which incidentally has a fine looking new template.

As far as I can tell, Biblical Theology 2005 is a kind of class blog, with contributions from those at Seabury who are involved in the course. I am always interested to look in on experiments like this. I spotted mention of it on Helenann Hartley's blog.

Welcome to Tyler, RSS and Turton on KAIMOI

You will have seen this by now, but I'd like to add my own welcome to Tyler Williams who has a new blog for the study of Bible, Theology and more:

Codex: Blogspot

Tyler is Chair of the Religion & Theology Department and Assistant Professor of Old Testament/Hebrew Bible at Taylor University College in Edmonton, Alberta.

Just one thing to add: Tyler mentions an RSS feed but no RSS feed is showing up for me; Firefox isn't seeing it and Bloglines can't find it.

And on KAIMOI, don't miss Michael Turton's welcome, which has an uncanny photograph of Ken Olson getting assimilated.

Update (14.33): thanks to Ken Penner for letting me know that you can pick up Tyler William's blog's feed with this link:

Saturday, April 09, 2005

John Paul II on Biblical scholarship

Bible and Interpretation also notices an interesting article in The Cincinnati Post about the late Pope's views on Biblical scholarship, "leaning left on the Old Testament and leaning right on the New Testament", as the correspondent articulates it:

Pope's last book includes biblical scholarship views
By Richard N. Ostling
Associated Press
Along the way the newly issued "Memory and Identity: Conversations at the Dawn of a Millennium" (Rizzoli) offers glimpses of the late pope's attitudes toward modern biblical scholarship, leaning left on the Old Testament and leaning right on the New Testament.

In the Old Testament, Chapter 2 of Genesis is "the work of the Jahwist redactor," the pope wrote. ("Redactor" is a fancy word for editor.)

He thus approved biblical critics' central theory that the Bible's first five books were compiled long after Moses' time from four strands of material, one of which was known as "Jahwist."

That view rejected the 1906 declaration from the Vatican's Pontifical Biblical Commission . . . .

. . . . Since 1906, the Pontifical Biblical Commission has moved markedly leftward.

The 1993 decree on Bible interpretation it presented to John Paul was less worried about liberal theories than the "fundamentalist approach" to the Bible.

It warned that the latter is "dangerous," that it can "deceive" people, offers "illusory" interpretations, expresses "false certitude" and that it confuses the "divine substance of the biblical message with what are in fact its human limitations."

Fundamentalism "invites people to a kind of intellectual suicide," the papal advisers charged . . . .

. . . . He treated everything in Luke and Matthew as historical: the angel's announcement of pregnancy, the Bethlehem visit, the inn without any room, the stable, the visiting shepherds and Magi, and the flight into Egypt.

He wrote: "All this was faithfully recorded in Mary's memory and we may reasonably conclude that she passed it on to St. Luke, who was particularly close to her."

Regarding not only Jesus' birth but his life and death, "we may presume that Mary preserved all these events carved indelibly in her memory," the pope asserted . . . .

Helen Bond on Caiaphas

Already mentioned on The Stuff of Earth and Paleojudaica, but worth another mention is the following new article on Bible and Interpretation:

Joseph Caiaphas: In Search of a Shadow
Helen Bond

Since the article lists Helen as Senior Lecturer, I'd like to add my congratulations to Helen on her promotion -- richly deserved.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

BNTS 2005 Acts Seminar Call for Papers

In addition to my previous post about the British New Testament Conference 2005, I post the following on behalf of Dr Steve Walton:

The Book of Acts seminar at the British New Testament Conference
Liverpool Hope University, 1-3 September 2005

I am writing to you as someone with an interest in Acts, or as someone who may know others with such an interest (e.g. research students), to invite papers for the Book of Acts seminar group at next year's British New Testament Conference. The conference takes place at Liverpool Hope University, 1-3 September 2005. The brochure for the conference will be circulated by email. If you don't regularly hear about the conference, please let me know, and I will ensure you receive the brochure - or you can find details on the Web at:

This seminar aims to be a forum for considering Acts from various angles:
historical, literary, textual-critical, theological, archaeological, the social world, possible links/parallels with other ancient writings, and so on. We are very happy to include discussion of topics which relate Acts to the wider contexts of Luke-Acts and the Pauline corpus, where they are relevant and helpful to the study of Acts, although the focus of the seminar is studying Acts. Papers are welcome from both research students and more established scholars.

If you (or someone you know) is interested in offering a paper, please make contact with me as soon as possible (ideally by the end of April), so that I can make plans. It would be helpful to have a working title and brief sketch of the topic(s) which the paper would cover. Papers could be longer, requiring a whole seminar session for discussion (90 minutes) or shorter, filling half a session (45 minutes). Responses by post, fax or email are all fine.

Our usual practice in the Acts seminar is that papers are available on the British New Testament Society web site a few weeks before the conference, so that seminar members can read them in advance. We then ask the paper's author to give a 10-15 minute summary before we discuss the paper. This approach maximises discussion time, which is a major reason we meet together.

Please pass the word around about the Acts seminar, and encourage others who may wish to offer a paper to contact me soon. A copy of this notice as a PDF file is available for you to place on your departmental notice boards.

If you have any questions about the seminar, please do get in touch with me.

With warm regards

Dr Steve Walton
Senior Lecturer in Greek and NT Studies, and Academic Secretary
London School of Theology, Green Lane, Northwood, Middlesex, HA6 2UW
tel: 01923 456326; fax: 01923 456327;

This call for papers is also available as a Notice in PDF here:

Acts Seminar 2005 Call for Papers

British New Testament Conference 2005

The details for the British New Testament Conference 2005 are now available, including invitation, booking form and call for papers:

British New Testament Conference 2005

The venue is Liverpool Hope University and the date is 1-3 September. The main speakers this year are Richard Burridge, Christopher Rowland and Darrell Hannah.

(It might be worth adding that I have continued as webmaster of the BNTS site, but I no longer have any role on the committee. Most society correspondence goes to the new secretary, Bridget Gilfillan-Upton, details on the site).

Nicola Denzey on The Passion book

I referred earlier to the Review of Biblical Literature latest. One of the new reviews is a fine review of Jesus and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ by Nicola Denzey:

Kathleen E. Corley and Robert L. Webb (eds.), Jesus and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ
Review by Nicola Denzey

I think Denzey pitches this just right. She appreciates that the book would make a helpful contribution in classroom discussions, "It will find its greatest utility in the classroom, where students will find it well-geared toward walking them through thoughtful exegeses of the film" and she speaks of the "provocative contraposition" of Crossan's piece with mine, though her use of the term "dampening" might itself seem to contrast somewhat with the apparent appreciation of the contrast:
Goodacre’'s analysis is all sense and sensibility, although I detect beneath his measured approach a rather stern rebuke of those scholars pulled into the film’s media-hyped fray. Placed after Crossan'’s impassioned but beautifully written invective against the film and its theology, reading the two essays together is rather a dampening experience. Crossan’'s fiery, feisty prose provokes— very intentionally— from its title (“"Hymn to a Savage God”") to its closing words: “"If I accepted, as I do not, this film’svision of a savage God, I hope I would have the courage to follow Mrs. Job’s advice, ‘Curse God, and die’"” (27). A few pages later Goodacre’'s “"The Power of the Passion: Reacting and Over-reacting to Gibson'’s Artistic Vision”" thoroughly trounces Crossan’'s “polemical” approach.
Though overall appreciative, Denzey makes some fine points by way of criticism of this book, in particular the following:
Gibson'’s film is, at its most honest, a meditation on and expression of faith, a devotional piece. But our contemporary Western obsession with historical accuracy somehow threatens to delegitimize devotional studies of the gospel, to the point where both Gibson and the academy are placed on the defensive. Accordingly, what this book lacks— and lacks glaringly —is any engagement with the conditions and circumstances that produced The Passion of the Christ not as a piece of pseudo-history but as one man’'s interpretation of what is, in his life, at base most meaningful.
That's an astute point. I think that in the end one of my problems with the book was the focus on the alleged "claims of history" of its subtitle. It is actually surprisingly difficult to find claims of history in publicity for The Passion of the Christ, and there is certainly no more in relation tot his film than there has been in relation to other Jesus films. After a while, the undue concern with "claims of history" becomes an obsession of the book's contributors rather than of the filmmakers.

I wanted to draw attention to this review not just (to be honest) because I was involved with it, but because it is tough to write a review of a collection of essays, but Denzey has done a fine job -- she has read the book carefully, appreciates its strengths and has some useful critique.

Update (Tuesday, 23.47): Bob Webb, co-author of the book discussed here, emails:
I also think that Nicola Denzey's review was well done. I think she "got" the book. Allow me to address the issue of historical accuracy. We were careful in the Introduction to the book to point out that Gibson never made claims of historical accuracy. And I agree you and the Denzey that the film was a devotional/theological piece. We also stated several times that Mel Gibson is free as an artist to portray as he sees fit to accomplish his artistic vision.

Our problems with the issue of history is what other people were claiming for it. In the Introduction we provided two quotations (and we had others we could have used), one from a leading evangelical, and the other from a leading Catholic. They were making claims of historical accuracy. Given the significant impact these prominent leaders could have with their constituencies, the issue needed to be addressed. That is why we wanted to address the issue of history as well. Again, I see no need for Gibson to be historically accurate; he is entirely free as a film-maker in this regard.

Review of Biblical Literature latest

Here is the latest from the Review of Biblical Literature under the NT heading:

Becker, Michael
Wunder und Wundertäter im frührabbinischen Judentum: Studien zum Phänomen und seiner Überlieferung im Horizont von Magie und Dämonismus
Reviewed by Graham Twelftree

Boring, M. Eugene and Fred B. Craddock
The People's New Testament Commentary
Reviewed by Sean Kealy

Boring, M. Eugene and Fred B. Craddock
The People's New Testament Commentary
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

Carter, Warren
Matthew: Storyteller, Interpreter, Evangelist
Reviewed by Daniel Gurtner

Corley, Kathleen E. and Robert L. Webb, eds.
Jesus and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ: The Film, The Gospels, and the Claims of History
Reviewed by Nicola Denzey

Lemarquand, Grant
An Issue of Relevance: A Comparative Study of the Story of the Bleeding Woman (Mk 5:25-34; Mt 9:20-22; Lk 8:43-48) in North Atlantic and African Contexts
Reviewed by Wes Bergen

Lemarquand, Grant
An Issue of Relevance: A Comparative Study of the Story of the Bleeding Woman (Mk 5:25-34; Mt 9:20-22; Lk 8:43-48) in North Atlantic and African Contexts
Reviewed by Mignon Jacobs

Ringe, Sharon H. and H. C. Paul Kim, eds.
Literary Encounters with the Reign of God
Reviewed by Ron Fay


It is a pleasure to welcome another new biblioblog on the block:


It's by Ken Olson, who is currently reading for a PhD in New Testament at the Dept of Theology and Religion here in Birmingham and who has published several items of interest, including most recently "Unpicking on the Farrer Theory" in Mark Goodacre and Nicholas Perrin (eds.), Questioning Q (London: SPCK, 2004; Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2005): 127-50. Ken will be known well already to those who hang around in places like Xtalk and Synoptic-L, where his posts are always of interest. (I think in particular of his posts on Kenneth Bailey's oral tradition theories a short while ago).

So far KAIMOI includes a most enjoyable April 1 posting on Top 10 Reasons to Accept the Infancy Gospel of Thomas as Historically Reliable, but don't let the date lead you to dismiss the posting -- it's actually a pretty sophisticated critique of some typical arguments used by conservative apologists of the complete historicity of the canonical Gospels.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Ken.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Robert Orlando on Paul documentary

On The Paul Page, Mark Mattison has added an interview with filmmaker Robert Orlando, who is apparently working on a new documentary on Paul, entitled Paul: The Greatest Story Never Told. It's an interesting read:

An Interview with Filmmaker Robert Orlando

Discouraging signs include some standard clichés:
Now with Paul: The Greatest Story Never Told, the genie is out of the bottle. Jesus is not who we've been told he is. His disciples did not have a consensus. There was never a true Christianity and the rest heresies. This is all simplistic thinking, which might comfort us short term, but long term it is destined to pass away. Jesus was profoundly pro-law and pro-Jewish. So were most if not all of his followers with the exception of Paul, which is why he was in so much trouble. Also it is why Paul's Hellenized version of Christianity survived.
Or is the "simplistic thinking" this popular pseudo-scholarly myth of Paul as the Hellenizing corrupter of a Jewish Jesus?

But on the encouraging side, Alan Segal is in consultation with Orlando and provides an endorsement on this page.

I was interested to find out a little more about Robert Orlando, not having come across him before. He has a useful review of Gager also on The Paul Page, and IMDb lists him as the director of a film called Moment in Time from 2001. The Paul Page features a link to something called The Nexus Project, presumably connected with Orlando, but the link is dead.