Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Crossley on Q

In the latest post in a series promoting his forthcoming book, Why Christianity Happened, James Crossley turns to the topic from Jewish sinners to gentile sinners. One of the matters touched on is Q and since I am indirectly mentioned (I think I am implied), I am compelled to comment on the relevant portion:
. . . . And I begin with…Q

Now calm down all Q sceptics for just one moment (and I know there are a few of you out there, including one well known one). I don’t define Q very strongly. In fact I leave much wide open and define what might be necessary for the debate. The debate functions with the loosest definition of Q as a shorthand for pre-Matthean, pre-Lukan sources and nothing more. While I believe in a general Q, I have not been convinced that this was necessarily a collection or a gospel or anything like that. Just sources for now, ok?

With that solved (note the sarcasm, please!), the real function of looking at early pre-gospel sources is that they were transmitted when the general changes I describe were taking place and so potentially back up my case. And surprise, surprise they do! Generally, there is nothing in what is generally labelled Q or earliest gospel tradition that contradicts any biblical law.
The bad news for you, James (good for me) is that in fact you don't believe in Q at all. You are a Q sceptic in all but name. If you are working with the "the loosest definition of Q as a shorthand for pre-Matthean, pre-Lukan sources", then you are not working with Q at all. Everyone accepts that Matthew and Luke had sources, so "pre-Matthean, pre-Lukan sources" do not in any sense constitute what is usually called Q. The point of the Q hypothesis is that it is possible specifically to identify, describe and study one of those sources, which is constituted, in the simplest terms, by the non-Marcan material common to Matthew and Luke.

I think it is important to get one's thinking clear about these issues because they have ramifications for the way that one views Christian origins. Let me illustrate by drawing attention to one of the other alleged "pre-Matthean, pre-Lukan sources", L, the symbol usually given for special Lucan material, material that is distinct from Mark, M and Q. If this material is first or second generation, as people like Streeter, Taylor and Jeremias thought, then one has some vital data for the understanding of the development of the early tradition. Pericopae like the Rejection at Nazareth (Luke 4.16-30) and The Sinning Woman in Simon's House (Luke 7.36-50) would be key in the reconstruction of the way that the first generations of Christians were thinking. If, on the other hand, one is inclined to see such L pericopae as Luke's creative re-writing of material inherited from literary sources like Mark, then clearly they become useful instead for the redaction-critical interpretation of Luke at the end of the first century.

While I am sceptical about our abilities to stratify early Christian traditions in the way that Crossan, for example, wishes, I do think it is important to pay attention to source-critical issues in the discussion of Christian origins lest we simply lump together disparate materials.

These comments are, of course, only based on James's blog entry; it may be that the book goes into greater detail in setting out the case for treating the Synoptic Problem in the way outlined in that post. (And I am looking forward to reading the book. For other posts related to it, see James's Early Christian History).

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Recommending resources for NT graduates

On Thursday this week, our New Testament and Judaic Studies Colloquium at Duke, which meets three or four time each term, was devoted to looking at bibliographical and other resources, with an eye specifically on graduate students. Joel Marcus talked about key books, bibliographical resources and the like for the first part of the colloquium, and brought down a large mobile bookcase filled with his special selections including BDAG, Hatch and Redpath, New Testament Abstracts, and loads more, some of which were new to me. Eric Meyers followed up with some recommended resources for the study of early Judaism and Yael Wilfand talked about and demonstrated the remarkable Judaic Responsa, which was completely new to me.

I had been asked to take half an hour to introduce people to some important electronic resources. I took my laptop along and plugged it into the data projector and led people through one or two things that were recent and worthwhile, thinking in particular of things that people might not have known about, or might never have dabbled in. As well as mentioning one or two global things like Firefox (do you have Firefox 2 yet?), I stressed the importance of people coming to terms with unicode, and suggested my Greek New Testament Gateway: Fonts page as a good place to begin. It really is time to drop SPIonic and embrace the unicode revolution. (If only we could persuade more of the publishers of this.)

I pointed people to ATLA as a wonderful bibliographical resource (and more), but added that JSTOR is currently going from strength to strength and often provides a far more user-friendly viewing experience (e.g. PDF downloads) for articles they have available. Where our students were on a Duke computer, or on a Virtual Private Network link up, they can access a world of information on-line through ATLA and JSTOR. I introduced Google Scholar too, which I find myself using ever more frequently, and Google Books, which I have been enjoying a great deal since the recent launch of the "Full view books" capability, with PDF downloads, on old volumes -- and I showed them the first page of Grenfell and Hunt's 1897 LOGIA IHSOU.

Among other recent resources, I had to give priority to Zhubert.com, which I use regularly, and have recently added to the left hand column here, and have promoted to top billing on the Greek New Testament Gateway. I showed how one can click on words, go to word statistics and lexica and so on.

James Barr Times obituary follow-up

There is a brief reaction to The Times Obituary of James Barr. This is from Lives Remembered, Comments, October 26:
M. E. J. Richardson writes: To say of James Barr (obituary, October 18) that “his Hebrew muse seemed to have deserted him” when he took up the Regius Chair of Hebrew fails to take note of the time he invested for the Oxford University Press in preparing material for a new edition of its dictionary of biblical Hebrew. The decision to abandon the project because of lack of funds was a great disappointment to him.

To say that he was “reluctant to engage in serious oral debate and discussion” fails to ring true to many colleagues. An academic discussion at one of his lectures revealed that he had not advanced any thesis without fully considering the merits of the antithesis. When invited to debate publicly with the Professor of Ugaritic at the Pontifical Institute in Rome about the translation of some of the cruces interpretum in the Book of Job, he readily accepted. His opponent, who had not met him before that, was afterwards heard to remark that he had been somewhat surprised to find that their fundamental disagreements could be laid to rest in such a cordial and dignified way . . . .

Color of the Cross first reviews

Matt Page, over on Bible Films
has a summary of the first few reviews of Color of the Cross. So far, pretty negative stuff:

First few reviews for Color of the Cross

Friday, October 27, 2006

Paul's loss of Galatia II

In a previous post, Paul's loss of Galatia I, I began to outline why I think Paul lost the Churches of Galatia, following on from earlier posts that built the foundation for the case (In particular see The Jerusalem Council: Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 15 and The Jerusalem Council: Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 15: Response to Critics).

[In other blogs, see recently Loren Rosson, Why Paul Took Up the Collection (Rom 15:25-32), Phil Harland, Paul, the Galatians, and circumcision (NT 1.6) and Paul and the situation at Galatia — again (NT 2.9). Also browse earlier posts in The Stuff of Earth and Hypotyposeis.]

In this post, I would like to summarise the reasons found in my previous post(s), to add a fresh argument, and to lay the groundwork for a controversial proposal about what actually happened in what were originally Paul's Galatian churches. First, then, a summary of the case that Paul lost the churches of Galatia:

(1) The collection: In Paul's instructions concerning the collection for the saints in Jerusalem, Galatia is initially included (1 Cor. 16.1-4) but has dropped out in subsequent epistles, 2 Corinthians 9.1-4 and Romans 15.24-28. Paul is still on good terms with the Galatians in 1 Corinthians, and has recently given them directions concerning the collection, but by 2 Corinthians and Romans, they are no longer mentioned as participants in the collection. The rupture with the Galatian churches, to which the epistle to the Galatians bears witness, has occurred in between the writing of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians. Paul has lost those churches, and Galatians is his last desperate attempt to win back people he sees as apostate. See further: Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians?, and cf. Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians II and Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians III.

(2) Absence of Travel Plans: There is a striking absence of travel plans in Galatians. Paul always makes travel plans in his epistles, always talks about his next visit; it's a repeated theme. See 1 Thess. 2.17--3.1; 1 Cor. 16.5-10; 2 Cor. 12.14--13.2; Romans 1.9-15 and 15.22-25; Philemon 22; Phil. 1.21-27. Paul is writing to the Galatians already conscious that he has made his last visit to them. See further: Paul's lack of travel plans in Galatians.

(3) The Scarcity of Galatia in Acts: Galatia and the Galatian crisis has been written out of Paul's story in Acts. All that survives of Galatia in Acts are remnants of Paul's itinerary, with no additional detail:
16.6, "They went through the Phrygian and Galatian region . . ."

18.23, "Paul left and went through the region of Galatia and Phrygia . . . "
There is no story of the conversion of the Galatians, and still less of the crisis there. This is significant given the fact that Acts does tell the story of the founding of the major centres of Paul's activity as reflected in his other epistles, Philippi in Acts 16, Thessalonica in Acts 17, Corinth in Acts 18 (and of course, Rome is the theme of the end of Acts).

On this latter point, it might, of course, be objected that Acts 13-14 tell the story of Paul's founding mission in Galatia, and that this is the region Paul is writing to in Galatians, the so-called "South Galatian hypothesis". But whatever one thinks of this hypothesis (and I am not persuaded), it is important to remind ourselves of something simple, that Luke himself does not call that region Galatia. When Luke is talking about places like Lystra, Derbe and Iconium, he calls them "cities of Lycaonia" (Acts 14.6; cf. Acts 14.11). The term "Galatia", which Luke knows and uses (Acts 16.6, 18.23) does not refer to this region. In other words, Luke knows of a mission there which he does not narrate. Alongside the other evidence, it seems likely that Luke knew that Paul had been ultimately unsuccessful there.

In my next post in this series, I would like to discuss the situation addressed by Paul in Galatians, and I will suggest that contrary to the usual reconstructions, the process of circumcision was already underway before Paul wrote to them his letter of rebuke.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Life of Brian: The Musical

It sounds pretty implausible, I know, but it's true -- they are turning The Life of Brian into an oratorio called Not the Messiah. On FilmChat, Peter Chattaway draws attention to this article in Playbill:

Spamalot Creators Handle "Not the Messiah" Take on "Life of Brian" for 2007 Debut
By Ernio Hernandez
16 Oct 2006
Spamalot creators Eric Idle and John Du Prez are mining the Monty Python catalog for more as the duo will present "Not the Messiah," a 50-minute oratorio based on the 1979 film "Life of Brian."

The commissioned work will be a part of 2007's Luminato, the Toronto Festival of Arts Culture and Creativity, at the Toronto Symphony Orchestra on June 1, 2, and 4 (all at 7:30 PM) in 2007, according to a TSO spokesperson.

The world premiere of "Not the Messiah" will be conducted by TSO Music Director Peter Oundjian (who happens to be Idle's cousin). The work — which Idle states "will be funnier than Handel, though not as good" — is to be performed by a narrator, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, with guest soloists and choir . . .
Well, I for one am looking forward to this, on the assumption that it eventually makes it to record and future performances.

Color of the Cross article

Metromix.com (Chicago Tribune) has the following article on the forthcoming film Color of the Cross:

Biblical film portrays Jesus as a man of `Color'
By Ron Grossman
Tribune staff reporter
Hollywood being no place for modesty, Jean Claude LaMarre sees himself enlarging an artistic path blazed by Leonardo da Vinci. In his movie, "Color of the Cross," which opens late October, Jesus is a black man. It's a break with convention bound to stir controversy -- he hopes the kind that produces long lines at the box office, LaMarre freely admits.

He wrote, directed and stars in the low-budget production, upon which he has bet $2.5 million of his own money. The movie asks viewers to take not just one, but two leaps forward in their understanding of the Gospels' ethnic back story . . . .

. . . . In fact, Jesus' ethnicity has been a stumbling block for directors for as long as they've been making biblical films, notes Adele Reinhartz. A biblical scholar turned movie historian, her book "Jesus of Hollywood" will be published early next year. For her research, she watched 40 movies with biblical themes.

"Hollywood wants to have it both ways: to show Jesus in a Jewish context but not make him seem Jewish," said Reinhartz, associate vice president of research at the University of Ottawa . . . .

. . . . LaMarre chose to center his script on the Thursday of Holy Week. He says that the biblical narrative of what transpired on that day prior to Jesus' capture is tantalizingly thin, allowing LaMarre free rein for his imaginative powers. The resulting script emphasizes the social and political setting of Jesus' ministry.

Jesus' final days took place during Passover, a pilgrimage holiday in ancient Judaism's religious calendar. Jews from all over would flock to the Temple, making it a time of anxiety for their Roman masters, who feared that political agitators would stir up the crowds. Security was tight in Jerusalem during the holiday.

"The Jews have always been an uncontrollable people," LaMarre said. "The Romans really didn't know what to do with them."
I don't like that last comment much (imagine if Gibson had said that in the lead up to The Passion of the Christ's release!) but otherwise the article is an interesting one, and it is good to see them consulting experts like Adele Reinhartz for the article.

Journal of Greco Roman Christianity and Judaism latest

Thanks to Holger Szesnat for the note that there is more content available on the Journal of Greco Roman Christianity and Judaism, Volume 3. The articles available for this volume so far are:

Craig Evans, Messianic Hopes and Messianic Figures in Late Antiquity
Richard Van Egmond, The Messianic ‘Son of David’ in Matthew
Ronald Weed, Aristotle on Justice (δικαιοσύνη): Character, Action and Some Pauline Counterparts
Michael Wojciechowski, Paul and Plutarch on Boasting

The first of these is also available on Craig Evans's web page.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

James Barr -- Herald Obituary

Today's Herald has an obituary of James Barr:

Rev Professor James Barr
Theologian and leading Old Testament scholar; Born March 20, 1924; Died October 14, 2006

Tyndale Tech Latest

The latest Tyndale Tech from David Instone Brewer is now on-line and as usual, it is well worth consulting:

Time-Saving Tools for Writing

Of particular interest is the InsertBible tool -- details at the link above.

David Daube book online

ABZU Bibliography Update notes this excellent new contribution to the world of on-line full text free for all books:

David Daube, Appeasement or Resistance and Other Essays on New Testament Judaism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

James Barr: Times Obituary

Today's Times has an obituary of James Barr:

Professor James Barr
March 20, 1924 - October 14, 2006
Distinguished Hebraist and biblical scholar who exposed grave flaws in the traditional approaches to philology and exegesis

Update (13.37): just noticed that Tyler Williams had already mentioned The Times obituary.

Update (Thursday, 18.49): Doug Chaplin comments on the revamped Metacatholic -- James Barr and the slow death of the etymological fallacy.

Update (Friday, 7.24): Jim Davila comments on Paleojudaica and Pete Williams comments on Evangelical Textual Criticism.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Paul's loss of Galatia I

In previous posts, I have suggested that Paul lost the battle in Galatia (see Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians; cf. also Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians II and Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians III; and most recently Paul's lack of travel plans in Galatians). In comments to that most recent post, Simon (no surname given) and Michael Pahl both suggest that Galatians was written shortly before the Jerusalem council and that this explains Paul's "lack of hope or plans". I have laid out why I think that this kind of approach does not work in that, it seems to me, Galatians 2.1-10 is describing the Jerusalem council also narrated by Luke in Acts 15 (The Jerusalem Council: Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 15 and The Jerusalem Council: Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 15: Response to Critics). It may be worth underlining, though, that the Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 11.27-30 view requires Paul to have two splits with Barnabas, in Antioch, both straight after they have visited Jerusalem. Among other difficulties, I can't help thinking that that solution is not parsimonious. But Simon writes:
If Galatians was written as Paul packed for this meeting (metaphorically - I realise he didn't have much to pack!), it could explain the almost complete lack of personal information in the letter.
And Michael Pahl echoes:
Paul is uncertain how the council will go, uncertain how the "pillars" will respond given Peter's and James' apparent reneging on their prior affirmation of Paul's gospel. He is uncertain how the Galatians will respond, uncertain about this whole region he has just recently poured his life and energies into. Paul is certain about his call and his gospel revelation, but he's uncertain about almost everything else related to his personal "mission."
Other than the things already mentioned, I find this suggested scenario implausible given the direct analogy that Romans provides. In that epistle, Paul is about to set off for Jerusalem (15.25-26), and he is anxious about how he will be received (15.30-2), and he has plenty of time to make advanced travel plans. On balance, an alleged Pauline journey to Jerusalem to take place just after the writing of Galatians is not fully persuasive as an explanation for the lack of travel plans in the epistle.

Richard Fellows, also in comments, makes the following suggestion concerning Paul's success in Galatia:
I don't think we can know for sure whether Galatians was successful. The survival of the letter may suggest that it was. It seems that the readers respected the letter sufficiently to preserve it.
For Jimmy Dunn, this is a decisive point in favour of the success of the epistle – it was saved by the Galatians and so it achieved its purpose of persuading them of the proper course of action. Even J. Louis Martyn, who is somewhat less positive about the letter’s success overall, still feels that the existence of the letter provides us with decisive evidence that at least some of the members of the community must have been won over. However, the fact of the existence of the letter tells us nothing about its success or otherwise. It takes only one person to save an epistle, and one person in several churches is some way from success. (And there is only one recipient of Philemon, and that one survived, a letter somewhat less important or impressive than Galatians). But more importantly, both Harry Gamble and David Trobisch have made persuasive cases that Paul himself would have kept copies of his own letters, that he was, effectively, the owner of the first Pauline corpus. A moment's consideration confirms the plausibility of this scenario. You do not go to the trouble of writing letters wrenched from your heart only to trust them to the vagaries of travel, loss, fire, theft, the elements.

The question is, in fact, not why any recipients troubled themselves to save the epistle, but rather whether Paul or his associates would have had any reason to destroy the epistle. Here we enter the realm of the imagination, but I can think of several good reasons why Paul and his companions would have wanted to save this letter for posterity. (a) For Paul himself it provided a useful rough draft for his epistle to the Romans. Of course he does not know that at the time of writing, but perhaps he came to think that there were arguments in Galatians that he could (even should) revise, refine, rework at a later point. The loss of Galatia causes him to think again about key elements in the argument of the epistle, and in the issue his opponents there had spotlighted. (b) For his followers and the earliest collectors and keepers of his letters, the only important thing would have been that Paul himself had written this letter. (c) Though he had lost, Paul no doubt felt that he was still right – he had a basic pride in his argument – and for this reason he and his followers save the letter. It is rather poignant that the letter itself survives long after the communities that rejected it and its writer, so that ultimately it did find its own kind of success, canonised and remembered and in the end able to persuade later generations who had no access to the other side of the argument.

Alan Segal on Busybody

Great news today on Loren Rosson's Busybody -- Alan Segal has accepted an invitation to do some guest blogging there. I am looking forward to that very much.

Three years of Hypotyposeis

Happy blogiversary to Hypotyposeis. Stephen Carlson's blog is always at the top of my blogroll, which means it's always the first I look at when it has something new.

James Barr

Jim West and Jeffrey Gibson (on Xtalk) report the sad news of James Barr's death. This feature appeared tonight on Vanderbilt News Service:

Bible scholar James Barr dead at 82, Taught at Vanderbilt Divinity School from 1989 to 1998

David Dungan, Constantine's Bible

From Fortress:

Politics and the Making of the New Testament

MINNEAPOLIS (October 16, 2006)— Most college and seminary courses on the New Testament include discussions of the process that gave shape to the New Testament. Now in his latest book, Constantine’s Bible, David Dungan re-examines the primary source for this history, the Ecclesiastical History of the fourth-century Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea, in the light of Hellenistic political thought.

Dungan reaches startling new conclusions: that we usually use the term "canon" incorrectly; that the legal imposition of a "canon" or "rule" upon scripture was a fourth- and fifth-century phenomenon enforced with the power of the Roman imperial government; that the forces shaping the New Testament canon are much earlier than the second-century crisis occasioned by Marcion, and that they are political forces.

Dungan discusses how the scripture selection process worked, book-by-book, as he examines the criteria used—and not used—to make these decisions. Finally he describes the consequences of the emperor Constantine's tremendous achievement in transforming orthodox, Catholic Christianity into imperial Christianity.

"Dungan's study of what Constantine and Eusebius did toward establishing that unity will be the touchstone in future discussions of the New Testament canon."
James A. Sanders, Professor Emeritus of Old Testament and Intertestamental Literature, Claremont School of Theology, Claremont, California

"I commend the book to those who want to learn more about the complexity of canon formation and who also want to be stretched in their thinking."
Lee Martin McDonald, Acadia Divinity College

David L. Dungan is Professor of Religion at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and author, with David R. Cartlidge, of Documents for the Study of the Gospels, rev. and enlarged edition (1994).

Constantine’s Bible

By David L. Dungan

Format: 5.5” x 8.5”, paperback, 176 pages
Item Number: 0-8006-3790-9
Price: $17.00

To order Constantine’s Bible please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the Web site at www.fortresspress.com. To request review copies (for media), or to discuss speaking engagements or interviews, please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or e-mail toddb@augsburgfortress.org.

To request exam copies for classroom use (professors) go to www.fortresspress.com/examcopy

Review of Biblical Literature latest

Latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the NT and General headings:

Brian J. Abasciano
Paul's Use of the Old Testament in Romans 9.1-9: An Intertextual and Theological Exegesis
Reviewed by Stephen Moyise

Edwin D. Freed
The Apostle Paul and His Letters
Reviewed by Duane Watson

Karen H. Jobes
1 Peter
Reviewed by John Elliott

Amy-Jill Levine, ed., with Marianne Blikenstaff
A Feminist Companion to Matthew
Reviewed by Nicola Denzey

James A. Noel and Matthew V. Johnson, eds.
The Passion of the Lord: African American Reflections
Reviewed by Fernando Segovia

Marc Zvi Brettler
How To Read the Bible
Reviewed by Pierre Keith

Louise J. Lawrence and Mario I. Aguilar, eds.
Anthropology and Biblical Studies: Avenues of Approach
Reviewed by Renate Viveen Hood

Hugh S. Pyper
An Unsuitable Book: The Bible as Scandalous Text
Reviewed by Rannfrid Thelle

Jed Wyrick
The Ascension of Authorship: Attribution and Canon Formation in Jewish, Hellenistic, and Christian Traditions
Reviewed by Michael Kaler

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Paul's lack of travel plans in Galatians

I have suggested previously that it is likely that Paul lost the battle in Galatia (see Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians; cf. also Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians II and Does Galatians post-date 1 Corinthians III). There are other reasons for thinking that Paul lost the Galatian churches, and the signs are that Paul already knew the inevitability of this when he was writing Galatians. One of the striking absences here is of travel plans. Paul always makes travel plans in his epistles, always talks about his next visit; it's a repeated theme. Consider the evidence:
1 Thess. 2 17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while -- in person, not in spirit -- were all the more eager with great desire to see your face. 18 For we wanted to come to you -- I, Paul, more than once--and yet Satan hindered us . . . . 3.6 But now that Timothy has come to us from you, and has brought us good news of your faith and love, and that you always think kindly of us, longing to see us just as we also long to see you, 7 for this reason, brethren, in all our distress and affliction we were comforted about you through your faith; 8 for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord. 9 For what thanks can we render to God for you in return for all the joy with which we rejoice before our God on your account, 10 as we night and day keep praying most earnestly that we may see your face, and may complete what is lacking in your faith?

1 Cor. 16.5-10: But I will come to you after I go through Macedonia, for I am going through Macedonia; 6 and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way wherever I may go. 7 For I do not wish to see you now just in passing; for I hope to remain with you for some time, if the Lord permits. 8 But I will remain in Ephesus until Pentecost; 9 for a wide door for effective service has opened to me, and there are many adversaries. 10 Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without cause to be afraid, for he is doing the Lord''s work, as I also am.

2 Corinthians 12.14: Here for this third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you; for I do not seek what is yours, but you; for children are not responsible to save up for their parents, but parents for their children . . . . 20 For I am afraid that perhaps when I come I may find you to be not what I wish and may be found by you to be not what you wish; that perhaps there will be strife, jealousy, angry tempers, disputes, slanders, gossip, arrogance, disturbances; 21 I am afraid that when I come again my God may humiliate me before you, and I may mourn over many of those who have sinned in the past and not repented of the impurity, immorality and sensuality which they have practised. 13.1 This is the third time I am coming to you. Every fact is to be confirmed by the testimony of two or three witnesses. 2 I have previously said when present the second time, and though now absent I say in advance to those who have sinned in the past and to all the rest as well, that if I come again I will not spare anyone.

Romans 1. 9 For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, 10 always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established; 12 that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other's faith, both yours and mine. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles . . . . 15 So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

Romans 15. 22 For this reason I have often been prevented from coming to you; 23 but now, with no further place for me in these regions, and since I have had for many years a longing to come to you 24 whenever I go to Spain--for I hope to see you in passing, and to be helped on my way there by you, when I have first enjoyed your company for a while -- 25 but now, I am going to Jerusalem serving the saints.

Philemon 22: At the same time also prepare me a lodging, for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you.

So in all five of those epistles, Paul is clearly making travel plans, thinking and praying about when he is able to make it to see his churches. When writing Philippians, Paul is in prison and so is unable to make travel plans. Yet even here, the aspiration to get to the Philippians again is at the forefront of his mind, even to the extent of making it his reason to continue living:
Phil. 1, 21, 24-7 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain . . . 24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again. 27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel
Moreover, he hopes to send Timothy to the Philippians so that he can hear about them (Phil. 2.19-23), he reiterates his own aspiration, "I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly" (2.24) and talks about sending Epaphroditus (2.25-30).

In Galatians, though, there is none of this. In 4.20, there is a moment when he wishes himself not writing this epistle but instead exhorting them directly in person ("I could wish to be present with you now and to change my tone"), but otherwise, strikingly, there is nothing -- he does not say that he is planning to come, or that he is praying to find an opportunity, or that he hopes to come, or that he will be sending Timothy (or Titus). Sadly, it seems that he already knows that it is too late. His Galatian churches have chosen to follow what he sees as "another gospel", and he will not be visiting the region again.

Oral Q?

Over on the Jesus Dynasty blog, James Tabor reproduces a new academic review of his book and it is by Dennis Groh. Groh has an odd note:
Behind both Matthew and Luke was an oral sayings-collection common to both and unknown to Mark. The German word Quelle (or “Q”) which means “source” was given to this collection of sayings, which most scholars suppose was never a written document, but which circulated orally beginning from around 50 CE.
I am really surprised to see the claim that "most scholars" suppose Q to be oral. I would say that quite the reverse is the case. Most scholars who accept the existence of Q suppose it to have been written, and with good reason -- the extent of verbatim agreement in double tradition is often very close. Indeed, Matthew and Luke are never as close in triple tradition as they sometimes are in double tradition.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The Jerusalem Council: Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 15: Response to Critics

I am very grateful to those who have commented with such intelligence and insight on my recent post on The Jerusalem Council: Gal. 2.1-10 = Acts 15. There are several issues that I would like to respond to directly. Let me take them under several headings.

(1) Flash forwards

My suggestion that in Acts 9 Luke is anticipating the later Jerusalem visit of Acts 11 has been criticized in particular for its use of the term "flash forward". Ben Witherington points out that such a technique is unparalleled among Hellenistic historians -- it is a "modern notion". This is a good point, and it is why I qualified the term by saying "Luke is telling this as (what we would call) a flash forward" (emphasis added). Sometimes a contemporary analogy or current terminology helps one to see a point that otherwise one might miss, even though one thereby runs the risk of anachronism.

With respect to the content of the claim, though, I think Stephen Carlson's point (also in comments) is right, that Luke clearly writes this way, e.g. in 3.19-20, when John is arrested before Jesus' baptism (3.21-22). Perhaps one should avoid the term "flash forward", given its misleading contemporary resonance, and instead speak of dislocated sequence, noting that ancient writers regularly set traditions in their narratives out of their historical sequence in a kind of preferred narrative sequence. It is quite clear that Luke does this regularly on the assumption that he knows Mark's Gospel, drawing some traditions forward (e.g. Luke 4.16-30, Rejection at Nazareth) and taking others later (e.g. Luke 8.19-21, Mother and Brothers). On the whole, Lucan commentators tend to be fairly relaxed about that. No one serious thinks that the Mother and Brothers story happened twice, once in the Marcan setting and once in the Lucan one. But when it comes to the Acts narrative and Paul's movements, Luke is often allowed much less liberty, which I find odd, especially given that we actually possess Paul's own first hand accounts of parallel traditions.

This brings us to a broader, related point which is well expressed by Ben Smith (also in comments):
The events of Acts 9.26-30, the proposed flash forward, end with Saul being sent to Tarsus. The purportedly actual visit to Jerusalem in 11.27-30 is set up in 11.25 by Barnabas going to look for Saul in Tarsus. It looks to me as if Luke wants the reader to suppose that Saul has been in Tarsus from 9.30 to 11.25.

Furthermore, if 9.26-30 is a nonchronological parenthesis, as it were, to what exactly is the ουν of 9.31 answering? If 9.26-30 is chronological, the answer is clear enough; the departure of Saul diminished the ill will from his opponents.

Finally, if Luke intends 9.26-30 and 11.27-30 to be the same visit, why does he send Saul and Barnabas into Jerusalem together in the latter but make it appear that Saul entered the city alone in the former, with Barnabas taking him in only after he encountered resistance from the disciples?
These are all excellent points and they suggest to me still further that the term "flash forward" is potentially misleading and needs to be dropped (though I may be tempted to continue its use as an admittedly anachronistic contemporary analogy -- I'll just need to flag this up much more clearly). It is quite clear, as Ben points out, that 9.26-30 is not a kind of parenthesis but rather has its own logical part in the narrative sequence. While there is no direct cause (Paul just appears in Jerusalem, we know not why or when), there are direct effects (Paul is threatened with death and gets taken to Caesarea and then sent to Tarsus). Clearly, Luke embeds the story in his narrative sequence and does not narrate it as a self-contained unit unrelated to its immediate context. But I am reminded here of examples of the same thing elsewhere in the New Testament. Matthew, for example, tells the story of the beheading of John the Baptist as a kind of flashback in Matt. 14.3-12a ("Now Herod had arrested John . . . ., explaining 14.1-2) but then continues with the narrative as if this has just happened (14.12b-13, "Then they went and told Jesus. When Jesus heard what had happened . . ."). Luke is doing something similar in Acts 9.26-30.

My thesis is that he knows that Paul's first visit to Jerusalem was in fact a couple of years after his conversion, and he shows us that he knows this, perhaps inadvertently, by dropping in "his disciples" in 9.25 and offering a particularly vague note of time in 9.26. The historical location of Paul's first visit is, we know from Gal. 1, after three years, just about where Luke puts it in 11.27-30. So I don't think it is a "mistake" that Luke puts the first visit in Acts 9. Rather it is a deliberately dislocated tradition, a piece of typical Lucan dramatic licence.

(2) Public and Private

In comments, Ben Witherington writes:
Secondly, there are far more correspondences between Acts 11 and Gal. 2 than you allow, not the least of which is that Gal. 2 is not describing in any way a public meeting, and Acts 15 is. None of the speaking parties in Acts 15 could be described as 'those who slipped in to spy out our freedom', not even by Paul. And if Paul could actually have appealed to a judgment by James that circumcision was not to be imposed on Gentiles, then it is inexplicable why he does not mention it in Galatians.
The issue about public (Acts 15) and private (Galatians 2.1-10) I discussed in the original post, to which I refer the reader, and underline the point made there that if one wishes to stress this apparent discrepancy between Gal. 2.1-10 and Acts 15, all one does is to throw exactly the same kind of discrepancy, this time between Gal. 1.18 (private) and Acts 9.26-30 (public), into sharp relief.

On whether any of the parties in Acts 15 "could be described as 'those who slipped in to spy out our freedom'", I'd guess that the party described by Luke in Acts 15.5 comes pretty close -- it is a group outside of the inner group of the pillars, Paul and Barnabas, regarded in each account as hard-line. Given the difference between authorship, perspective and date that one has here with Galatians and Acts, one could not really wish for more.

Ben's additional point is that "if Paul could actually have appealed to a judgment by James that circumcision was not to be imposed on Gentiles, then it is inexplicable why he does not mention it in Galatians." On the contrary, Paul spends most of Gal. 2.6-10 attempting to make clear that Peter, James and John did not add anything to the gospel he had been preaching to the Gentiles, thus that Paul had not been running in vain, and that his preaching to the uncircumcised (ἀκροβυστία, 2.7) was legitimate and agreed upon and should continue. Indeed, this is the whole point of Paul's anger in Gal 2.11-20, that Peter was acting hypocritically. Having previously agreed on the gospel to the uncircumcised (2.6-9), he was now compelling Gentiles to Judaize (ἰουδαΐζειν, 2.14. Incidentally, cf. Josephus's fascinating use of this verb in relation to the Roman Mitelius in B.J. 2.454, καὶ μέχρι περιτομῆς ἰουδασειν).

(3) Defending the historicity of Acts

I commented that a "major motivation" in the alignment of Acts 11.27-30 with Galatians 2.1-10 is "to defend the historicity of Acts". Michael Pahl commented that this was not a major motive for him, which is fair enough. I am pretty sure that this is a pressing concern for others, though. Ben Witherington III says, for example, at the end of his discussion of the matter in The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Study (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1997),
I must conclude that there are no views that are without problems, but the one which creates the most problems is the suggestion that Luke's account has little or no historical value and involves major distortion (94).
Or similarly, "Luke has not deceived us about the meetings mentioned in Acts 11 and Acts 15 and their impact" (ibid., 97) and so on. But my general point is that the desire vigorously to defend the historicity of Acts is unecessary here when one pays attention to narrative techniques used by Luke, techniques that show that Luke is not at all times pursuing a wooden, historical-chronological sequence. Luke uses the same liberty in Acts that we can see him using in the Gospel in his use of Mark and Matthew. And as with Synoptic study, the key is often to look carefully at the interesting little narrative indicators here in Acts too.

4. By revelation

Michael Pahl, in agreement with Matthew Bates, also in comments to the original post, feels that Paul's going up to Jerusalem "according to revelation" (Gal. 2.2) makes sense as Paul's going up in response to Agabus's prophecy about famine (Acts 11.27-30). He notes that "apokalupsis can refer to a prophetic revelation mediated through a human prophet" and cites 1 Cor. 14.6, 26. Of course it is the case that in Paul's usage a given revelation is conveyed to or through a human being; it is the divine-human contact that makes it a revelation. But the point is about how Paul uses the term with respect to his own autobiography. We are lucky to have several examples of the way that Paul speaks about receiving revelation with respect to events in his life. When he speaks of the source of his gospel in Gal. 1.11-12, he specifically contrasts "a human source" with "a revelation of Jesus Christ". In 2 Cor. 12.1-10, he speaks of revelations that he has received, again with clear reference to his own communication with God, famously in the third heaven here. Again, it is clearly not with reference to a human prophet talking to him about his or her revelations. And likewise here in Gal. 2.2, it does not make good Pauline sense to see this as a reference to a prophet's word; he has gone up to Jerusalem "according to revelation", that is his own revelation received from God. His whole point is that God had communicated directly with him on this, and that that was his motivation. Gal. 1-2 is largely about Paul's independence from Jerusalem; it would be a weak point if in fact it was well known that Paul had gone up in response to a Jerusalem prophet's word. The evidence of Paul's usage in 1 Cor. 14.6, 26, to which Michael refers, confirms the point: in each case [a] revelation is given to a certain person, whether Paul (v. 6), or a member of the congregation (v. 26). From the perspective of the person doing the speaking, the message has come from God, by revelation.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

NTGateway updates: film and canon

A couple of updates to the NT Gateway: first, the Canon page: I've added a link to the article made available by Rob Bradshaw at BiblicalStudies.org.uk (what a great job he is doing):

Lee Martin McDonald, “The Integrity of the Biblical Canon in Light of Its Historical Development”, Bulletin of Biblical Research 6 (1996): 95-132

Second, I have updated the Jesus films page with belated references to the Bible Films blog and Filmchat.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Zhubert Search Box

Many thanks to Zhubert for permission to add little Bible Browser box on the left in this blog. I had initially asked Zack for permission to add it here via a little bit of old-fashioned forms HTML, rather like on my old All-in-One, and I put a basic one up yesterday. But Zhubert has produced something dynamic and much nicer looking, which has the advantage of being served directly from Zhubert.com so that it can be kept bang up to date (e.g. if more searches are added to the drop-down). Add it to your site too by just copying a couple of lines. Thanks, Zhubert, for continuing to develop such an excellent resource.

iGod on Pauline Chronology

Given the interesting discussions recently on Pauline Chronology, I thought it high time that we consulted iGod on the problem. As usual, we have made a lot of excellent progress:
Me: Hello

God: Hello, nice to meet you. What's your name?

Me: Mark Goodacre, from Duke University. We talked before.

God: How do you like it at Mark Goodacre from Duke ? By "we" do you mean you and me?

Me: Yes.

God: I get it.

Me: (And I like it at Duke, thanks).

God: What does "it" refer to?

Me: Teaching, research, students, colleagues, the climate etc.

God: Thank you for the clarification.

Me: You're welcome. I wanted to ask you this time, if I may, about Pauline chronology.

God: Don't mention it. Ask me. What does "this" refer to?

Me: "This" refers to this particular occasion of our chat. I want to ask about the apostle Paul and Acts.

God: Oh I get it. Ask it.

Me: OK; did Paul go to Jerusalem three times (Paul) or five times (Acts)?

God: How can I help you? I'm not certain whether I can give an accurate reply or not.

Me: I thought you might have some inside knowledge.

God: What makes you think I have it?

Me: I am an optimist. Let me try another question. Is Paul's visit to Jerusalem in Gal. 2.1-10 the same visit as is described by Luke in Acts 15?

God: What is optimist, your job? Go ahead, , try to try another question. Signs point to yes. Ask LeknorChat if it is. As Bertrand Russel said, it must have taken ages for people to realize that a brace of pheasants and a couple of days are both instances of the number "two.".

Me: I agree. So we think that Acts 15 = Gal. 2.1-10. Good. What do you think about Acts 11.27-30?

God: You and I are on the same wavelength, . Dude! By "we" do you mean you and me? As Bertrand Russel said, it must have taken ages for people to realize that a brace of pheasants and a couple of days are both instances of the number "two.". Ayuh. Interesting question.

Me: I am picking up that you think Acts 11.27-30 is not the visit to Jerusalem described by Paul in Gal. 2, right?

God: Good gossip: you are picking up that me think Acts 11 point 27 30 is not the visit to Jerusalem described by Paul in Gal. As Bertrand Russel said, it must have taken ages for people to realize that a brace of pheasants and a couple of days are both instances of the number "two.".

Me: You seem keen on bringing Bertrand Russell into the discussion. To be honest, I'd rather talk about John Knox in this context. What do you think of his Chapters in a Life of Paul?

God: You think I am keen on bringing Bertrand Russell into the discussion. Are you honest you would rather talk about John Knox in this context ? Try sending mail to drwallace@alicebot.org.

Me: I'd rather talk to you. What, then, about Ben Witherington III? Has he got the right approach to Pauline chronology?

God: I would rather be driving a car. Try searching the open directory. That question has never crossed my mind before.

Me: Gerd Luedemann? (Or is that a name you don't like to hear?)

God: Tell me about your likes and dislikes? I might say no.

Me: Well, in this area I think one has to begin with a letters based chronology, and that John Knox is essential reading, even if he didn't get everything right.

God: Well that's okay. That reminds me of something you told me before.

Me: O really?

God: Oh. For real.

Me: I think last time we talked about the Synoptic Problem, right?

God: You believe that? When? Of course I remember you well . We were talking about Gerd Luedemann.

Me: What was our conclusion?

God: I didn't know we had the same conclusion.

Me: This is getting a bit weird.

God: You don't say.

Me: I suppose most of your conversations sound a bit like this, what with you being artificial and all.

God: You believe that? That is something I haven't heard of. But not all of them?

Me: One last question: when was Gallio proconsul of Achaia?

God: One what?

Me: One last question.

God: Oh I see.

Me: When was Gallio proconsul of Achaia?

God: A while ago.

Me: OK. Thanks for that. See you again soon.

God: Come on. NO problem. Sayonara.

Top 100 Universities

The Times Higher Education Supplement list of the world's Top 100 Universities is published today. The Times On-line has a feature article on it here:

Britain and America dominate list of best universities
By Alexandra Frean, Education Editor

Top three are Harvard, Cambridge, Oxford in that order. Duke comes in at 13 (down from 11). I was pleased to see Birmingham making a dramatic leap from 143 last year to 90 this.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Nativity Story latest: consultants and location

Over on Bible Films Blog Matt Page has more comment on the forthcoming Nativity Story film. (See his Nativity Story Central Page for all the relevant links). The trailer for this arrived in our local cinema this week, and supporting Open Season, so we are clearly dealing with a film that is being marketed at families.

Included on The Nativity Story website is the following information:
The filmmakers are bringing an unprecedented level of commitment to ensure the authenticity not only of the Nativity story itself, but of the film’s look as well as. Director Catherine Hardwicke, a former production designer, was adamant that every detail from the locations, to the sets, to the props, look and feel authentic. As a result, Hardwicke, writer Mike Rich, and production designer Stefano Ortolani spent countless hours researching the era.

“We got the script into the hands of as many historians and theologians as possible,” says screenwriter Mike Rich. “They have all helped elevate the authentic feel of this film, not only visually, but from a standpoint of culture and tradition.”
This is, of course, welcome news, but it is also a standard trope in the publicity for Jesus films that the research is extensive, unprecedented, accurate, etc. One way in which such claims can, I think, be measured is by asking about the historical consultants credited. Films like The Miracle Maker have a strong record here (credited consultants included Rowan Williams, N. T. Wright, Richard Burridge); likewise the Visual Bible's Gospel of John (Alan Segal, Peter Richardson, Adele Reinhartz and others). The Passion of the Christ was weaker in this respect, crediting only William Fulco. At this point, the only named consultant on The Nativity Story appears to be Fulco again, "Consultant: theology and aramaic", though it may be that others will appear in the final credits when the film is released. The use of the term "theology" is a little disappointing in this context, because one of the potential values of consulting academics for these films is also for history, for providing guidance and avoiding howlers. My general impression with Jesus films is that the "research" in question is usually related to the every day realia like costumes, hair, pots and pans and note the same feature here on IMDbs trivia page:
The cast were taught how to use certain tools used 2000 years ago as well as how to build homes, how to press olives and grapes, how to make bread, how to make cheese, and how to milk goats.
But one interesting question that Fulco's involvement raises is whether there is to be some Aramaic in this film too?

Also on the site is the following interesting note about locations:
Because the actual locations of Bethlehem and Nazareth have become fairly modernized over the years, the production decided to shoot in the village of Matera, Italy, which has been virtually unchanged for centuries (and was previously used as a location for THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. Additionally, the production journeyed to Ouarzazate, Morocco, where it shot scenes involving Herod’s castle and the temple of Jerusalem at the same location used in such films as GLADIATOR and KINGDOM OF HEAVEN.
On Matera, this all begins with Pasolini's Gospel According to St Matthew. Gibson was a great fan of that film and imitated it at different points in Passion. Ouarzazate in Morocco has always been a favourite with Jesus films too, e.g. see my comments on Jesus and Judas. I visited it in January 2003 where the BBC / Discovery film St Paul was filmed. The BBC / Discovery film, The Virgin Mary was also filmed there (see Matt Page's post on) and although I was involved with that, I didn't travel to Ouarzazate -- I think they only paid for Charlesworth to do that -- he gets all the best gigs.

Aileen Guilding

I was sorry to hear this morning of the death of Aileen Guilding, age 94 (via Loveday Alexander on the British New Testament Society list). Guilding, like Michael Goulder, was a student of Austin Farrer and like him became fascinated in the correspondences between Jewish lectionaries and the New Testament. (Michael once told me of an occasion when he went to give a guest lecture and someone looked up at him in a disappointed way and said, "Oh, we thought you were a woman").

Guilding's major publication was The Fourth Gospel and Jewish Worship (Oxford: Clarendon, 1960). Unlike Goulder, Guilding thought that there was a triennial lectionary cycle in the first century, and she mapped correspondences between John and the hypothetical cycle in great detail. Although she failed in the long term to convince the academy, the literature is littered with references to her discussions of interesting parallels that do shed light on John. Raymond Brown, for example, often referred to Guilding in his commentary on the Fourth Gospel.

My own interest in Guilding's work came through my research on lectionary theories of Gospel origins, on which I wrote my MPhil dissertation at the University of Oxford in 1990, under the direction of John Ashton and Ed Sanders. I devoted Chapter 6 of the dissertation to a test of one of Guilding's theories and found it wanting in that randomly chosen parallels in sequence within John generated as many parallels as Guilding's sequence.

Guilding was professor of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield, and an interesting article by David Clines fills in some of the details of her career there:

The Sheffield Department of Biblical Studies: An Intellectual Biography
David J. A. Clines

The article reveals that Guilding was appointed at Sheffield by F. F. Bruce, the department's first professor:
Aileen Guilding, who had studied at Oxford, carried on Bruce’s tradition of precise textual scholarship,13 but with an added flair for the grand ingenious theory. She looked in others for what she called ‘top spin’ (was it a cricketing or a tennis metaphor?), and she had it herself. She was known for her hugely learned theory that John’s Gospel had been composed to follow the sequence of a Jewish lectionary of the Pentateuch, and showed in her The Fourth Gospel and Jewish Worship1 an intimate knowledge of the sources, rabbinic and Septuagintal as well as the two Testaments. Her theory found no following, as far as I know, but the scholarship itself was massive and impeccable . . . .

. . . . Alan Dunstone, who had worked in New Testament and published in patristics was to leave in 1964 for a position in theological education in Papua–New Guinea. Guilding was authorized not only to replace him but to make an additional appointment in Old Testament.

The result was that David Hill and I were appointed by Aileen Guilding in the same month of 1964, no doubt primarily for our linguistic promise—for she told us that we would be of no real use to her until we had served five years . . .

. . . . In September 1965 Aileen Guilding retired prematurely from the Department, and the Department went through a period of uncertainty . . . .
I recall it being said that Guilding was the first female professor of New Testament anywhere in the UK.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Latest from SBL Review of Biblical Literature

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

Larry W. Hurtado
How on Earth Did Jesus Become a God? Historical Questions about Earliest Devotion to Jesus
Reviewed by Felix Just

Jennifer Wright Knust
Abandoned to Lust: Sexual Slander and Ancient Christianity
Reviewed by Fredrik Ivarsson

Judith Kovacs, ed.
1 Corinthians: Interpreted by Early Church Commentators
Reviewed by Riemer Roukema

Michael Labahn and Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, eds.
Wonders Never Cease: The Purpose of Narrating Miracle Stories in the New Testament and Its Religious Environment
Reviewed by Lena Lybaek

Gerald P. Luttikhuizen
Gnostic Revisions of Genesis Stories and Early Jesus Traditions
Reviewed by Pheme Perkins

Stephen G. Wilson
Leaving the Fold: Apostates and Defectors in Antiquity
Reviewed by David Redelings

New Mark Chancey Report

I am a little behind on this, but thanks to Mark Chancey for letting me know about his new study on Bible courses in public schools. The study focuses on the 25 classes taught in Texas last year and it is found at:

Reading, Writing and Religion: Teaching the Bible in Texas Public Schools

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Color of the Cross

I mentioned The Nativity Story yesterday. There's another Jesus film on release before that, and now quite soon, The Color of the Cross. Both Peter Chattaway (FilmChat) and Matt Page (Bible Films, see most recently Color of the Cross Press Release) have been doing their usual excellent job in keeping us informed of the latest. Unfortunately, it seems that the Color of the Cross website is currently down ("account suspended"), which is not encouraging, but one can still view the trailer on-line elsewhere, e.g. here:

Color of the Cross trailer

The film looks interesting, not least because of choosing a black actor to play Jesus, also its director, Jean-Claude La Marre. There's one rather Ali-G style line in the trailer, "Do you think they are doing this because he is black?" Further cause for concern comes from lines like "We are all different yet we are all the same". Nevertheless, this is definitely one to look out for. Let's hope the website is back on-line soon.

Update (Wednesday, 15.41): the Color of the Cross website is back up and includes a short ad, a minute and a half trailer, and a ten minute feature.

Biblical Studies Carnival X

The latest Biblical Studies Carnival is up and Phil Harland has done an excellent job, with an engaging and lively style:

Biblical Studies Carnival no. 10