Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Dear Jordan

There is a sobering column in today's Duke Chronicle headed Dear Professors, in which Jordan Everson challenges his teachers to take their job seriously, to do a bit of actual "professing", to enthuse students, to engage them, to throw themselves into teaching. The piece has something of a negative tone, and it is clear that Jordan's experience at Duke has been less satisfactory than that of many other students, from whom I have heard more positive things. I can't help thinking that Jordan has been unlucky in his choice of courses if he has only found one professor who has really engaged him in three years; I thought that students all talked to one another about the best, most engaging courses to go to, though of course it is never easy to judge these things from the other side of the fence. Nevertheless, Jordan's piece is a helpful call to us all to take our students seriously and to take our teaching seriously, and his plea is well taken, at least from this corner. Jordan writes:
So then profess! Enlighten your students with the marvelous task you have undertaken, the ideas that inspired you, that you have dedicated your life to studying.

I know, I know, you spent years researching for that Ph.D., and before arriving here your main concern has probably been research.

There is little for you to gain from professing; Research, not teaching, determines your career advancement. Only disastrously bad student evaluations will hinder your upward mobility, an easily avoidable fate so long you reserve low grades only for the truly indolent and hand out evaluations during the last day of classes.

Still, as professors you have an obligation to teach us, your students.
In my perhaps naïve optimism, I am inclined to be a bit less cynical than this, not least because for me, and for colleagues I know, there is a genuine interaction between research and teaching. Some of my best research ideas emerge in teaching, and my teaching often provides the occasion for testing new ideas, or developing new ways of communicating older ideas, to talk to students about work in progress. One of the things I love about teaching at Duke is that the students are so bright, so engaged. I often come back from class thinking about some interesting question or observation that a student put to me. I might even dare to suggest that the best kind of research, especially if we are talking about the humanities, comes directly out of teaching, and the best kind of teaching emerges from the professor's research.

Perhaps I might throw in too that this week, after the summer hiatus, I found myself really looking forward to returning to teaching. Yes, it gives me less time to write, but it gives me no less time to think, to communicate, to engage, all of which are elements in research in the humanities. And somewhere like Duke gives one the luxury of being able to teach right in one's major areas of interest. It is not as if one has to teach courses in subjects that one has no primary competence or expertise in. Furthermore, Jordan underestimates just how important teaching is in hiring practices at Duke. Bear in mind that one of the major tests for incoming candidates is to present a lecture in which you need to be able to communicate effectively to undergraduate students, and the search committees, in which I have participated, spend a lot of time thinking about the candidates' teaching record (or potential). It is by no means the case that people are hired on research alone. Jordan later writes:
Professors, I implore you: Engage your students. Change the world not only through erudite publications but through the spread of wisdom to the men and women you have the luck to influence.

Do not return papers with a short comment and a letter grade, leaving your TAs to fill in the gaps. Write a paragraph about our work, about our thoughts against yours. If our only feedback on a paper is the letter grade, how can the goal of our learning be anything other than achieving a high letter grade? Before muscle can grow it must be torn. Provide resistance, be engaging, be demanding, and do not accept complacency.
The first paragraph I endorse, and the challenge is accepted, and encouraged. The second paragraph quoted is, I think, one of the most useful things Jordan says. I well remember receiving papers back, as a student, with only minimal guidance about what was good, bad or ugly in them, and I think it is vital that we try to give the fullest feedback possible. I will certainly be bearing this in mind in grading later this semester. The only thing I would want to add is that I am always happy, and I know that I am not alone in this, to provide detailed feedback in appointments with students. Many students, usually in my experience the ones with As and A-s, do not come for that feedback, but the door is always open.

Thanks, Jordan, for a provocative piece. One of the things that makes Duke a great place to teach is that it is full of students, like you, who take the academic experience so seriously, and who want to get the best out of their education.

Review of Biblical Literature Latest

Latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the NT and related heading. Is it just me or is it a particularly interesting crop this time? (Further comments at the bottom of this post).

John A. Dennis
Jesus' Death and the Gathering of True Israel: The Johannine Appropriation of Restoration Theology in the Light of John 11.47-52
Reviewed by Mary L. Coloe

Jörg Frey, Jan G. van der Watt, and Ruben Zimmerman, eds.
Imagery in the Gospel of John: Terms, Forms, Themes, and Theology of Johannine Figurative Language
Reviewed by Dorothy Lee

Zev Garber, ed.
Mel Gibson's Passion: The Film, the Controversy, and Its Implications
Reviewed by Timothy D. Finlay

Annalisa Guida and Marco Vitelli, eds.
Gesù i messia di Israele: Il messianismo giudaico e gli inizi della cristologia
Reviewed by Ilaria Ramelli

Michael W. Holmes
The Apostolic Fathers in English
Reviewed by Hennie Stander

Antti Mustakallio, ed., in collaboration with Heikki Leppä and Heikki Räisänen
Lux Humana, Lux Aeterna: Essays on Biblical and Related Themes in Honour of Lars Aejmelaeus
Reviewed by Korinna Zamfir

Anson F. Rainey and R. Steven Notley
The Sacred Bridge: Carta's Atlas of the Biblical World
Reviewed by Oded Borowski

Ben-Zion Rosenfeld and Joseph Menirav
Markets and Marketing in Roman Palestine
Reviewed by Michael Trainor

C. Kavin Rowe
Early Narrative Christology: The Lord in the Gospel of Luke
Reviewed by Joel B. Green

Gregory Tatum
New Chapters in the Life of Paul: The Relative Chronology of His Career
Reviewed by Eve-Marie Becker

Gerd Theissen
The Bible and Contemporary Culture
Reviewed by Christian Danz

The Gregory Tatum book is of particular interest to me for a couple of reasons. I have long been fascinated in Pauline chronology, and I like the sound of this book, which I had not previously heard of, which echoes the title of John Knox's Chapters in the Life of Paul. From the review, it seems clear that Tatum dates Galatians after 1 Corinthians, which is, I think, right and I blogged on this a good deal last year. I hunted around for Tatum's book and found it incredibly hard to locate, a great shame for so recent and so interesting a book. I have ordered it for the library here, and noticed that Tatum is a Duke PhD (1997) and his dissertation was also on Pauline chronology.

The review of Mel Gibson's Passion sits alongside my much more negative review of the same book. I received an email from the editor of the collection not long after my review was published suggesting that I did not give the reader a sense of the essayists' articles. My response is that I attempted to characterize the collection as a whole, drawing attention to the common themes and general thrust of the book, at the same time as pointing to the book's difficulties. Finlay's review therefore compliments mine to the extent that he provides a brief summary of each of the essays individually.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Teaching Notes: Reading the New Testament Historically

Term began at Duke yesterday and I had my first class, New Testament, at lunchtime. This is the fourth time I have taught this course at Duke. Initially I was slated to do it every semester, which seemed a bad idea to me, not least because it would be rather monotonous for me. We adjusted it to once a year, each Fall, giving me a chance to teach Jesus and Paul each year too, rather than rotating them on a year by year basis, as EPS used to do. So I increased the cap on the class this time to 70, one of the benefits of which is that you get given one of the nice new rooms in Westbrook, which belongs to the Divinity School. (Smaller classes go in Gray Building, where we in the Department of Religion are based). At Duke, undergraduate classes get 150 minutes a week, and one can take them either all at once, in 2 x 75 minute sessions, or in 3 x 50 minute sessions. For my New Testament class, I have gone for 3 x 50 minutes this time, which is ideal for a class like this. And I greatly prefer these bite-sized chunks.

In the first session yesterday, I talked about reading the New Testament historically, and adopting a critical approach. I think it's really important to spend some time at the outset talking about this, and asking students what they expect to get from the course, and what their hopes and concerns are. One of the key issues here is that for many of the students, this is their first Religion course, and they may be coming into it expecting a confessional or a devotional approach; they may be surprised by what they find so it is good to clear the ground at the outset. I explain that we will be adopting an historical approach, and that this involves analysing the text in the same way that an historian would analyse any ancient text: in this context, it is the object of study and not the subject of inspiration. I like to explain too that critical study of the text is also about being self critical, i.e. to be willing to have one’s own presuppositions and biases questioned.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

New Pauline Theology Blog

April DeConick links to a new blog called Pauline Theology -- Fuller Texas, authored by David Capes. It includes a peak at an article Jesus Tradition in Paul which Capes has written for the forthcoming Encyclopaedia of the Historical Jesus edited by Craig Evans, which I (and many others) have contributed to too. It's a promising looking blog, and I am encouraged to see someone else blogging while they teach -- it's something we can all learn from. I am hoping to do a bit of the same this semester with the return of my series of Teaching notes.

Review of Goodman, Rome and Jerusalem

Friday's Church Times carried a glowing review of Martin Goodman's recent Rome and Jerusalem:

Both cock-up and conspiracy
Cally Hammond on the ruin of Jewish religious practice by the Romans
. . . The excellences of this book are many — clarity, readability, scholarship, balance; the skilful working of original source material into a continuous narrative. As well as the overall approach, there is also polish in the detail. Goodman observes that in many cultures the primary pleasures include eating, drinking, sex, and shopping, before looking at how the Jews differed from the Romans regarding the acceptance of ostentatious consumerism. Material for the preacher here, I think . . . .

Thursday, August 23, 2007

SBL Annual Meeting: My Papers

Several have noted that the SBL Annual Meeting 2007 Program Book is now online. I have two papers this year, and it's a case of out with the new and in with the old for me, with some internet stuff and some Synoptic problem stuff, but I was delighted to receive an invitation to speak in the Q section, not something that happens every year. First, in Computer Assisted Research (18 November 2007, 1pm, "Pedagogical Resources for Teaching the Bible"):
The Future of the New Testament Gateway

When academic subject gateway sites began to emerge in the mid 1990s, it was possible for every major internet resource on the site’s subject area to be covered. It was also possible for one enthusiastic and energetic individual to do all the work, designing the site, researching content, adding links, writing annotations and correcting ever-changing URLs. The massive growth of the internet has now made it impossible for one individual to do all the necessary work and gateway sites are beginning to suffer. While newer technologies like blogging have opened up new possibilities, and dealt with some of the difficulties of maintaining a gateway site, the larger questions of effort and workload remain. It is now essential for gateway sites to embrace new technologies and different models that aid collaboration if they are to avoid becoming moribund. This presentation explores the future for subject gateways by focusing on The New Testament Gateway (, which is now ten years old, and demonstrates a new collaborative model which will enable it to build on existing strengths and to adapt to the future.

The Q section I am speaking in is dealing with "The Mark Q overlaps" (19 November, 4-6.30pm):
Taking Leave of Mark-Q Overlaps: Major Agreements in Matthew 3.7-12 // Mark 1.7-8 // Luke 3.7-9, 15-17

Matt. 3.7-12 // Mark 1.7-8 // Luke 3.7-9, 15-17 (John's Preaching) features substantial agreement between Matthew and Luke against Mark. The Two-Source Theory explains this by appeal to the overlapping of Mark and Q while the Farrer Theory suggests that Luke was dependent on Matthew as well as Mark. This paper argues that Luke's use of Matthew is the preferable option because (1) the degree of verbatim agreement between Matthew and Luke against Mark is too high for it to have been mediated by a shared source; (2) the agreement here represents a mid point in a continuum of influence of Matthew on Luke, which spans triple tradition to Mark-Q overlap passages to double tradition; and (3) the theory of Mark-Q overlap necessitates major contacts between the structure and thought of Mark and Q, which causes problems for the architecture of the Two-Source Theory.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Review of Biblical Literature latest

A particularly interesting selection of new book reviews this time from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature. These are the ones under the NT and related heading:

Jouette M. Bassler
Navigating Paul: An Introduction to Key Theological Concepts
Reviewed by William S. Campbell
Reviewed by Robert A. Bryant
Reviewed by David J. Downs

Charles B. Cousar
An Introduction to the New Testament: Witnesses to God's New Work
Reviewed by Greg Carey

James R. Davila
The Provenance of the Pseudepigrapha: Jewish, Christian, or Other?
Reviewed by Johann Cook

Sigurd Grindheim
The Crux of Election: Paul's Critique of the Jewish Confidence in the Election of Israel
Reviewed by Justin K. Hardin

David Instone-Brewer
Traditions of the Rabbis from the Era of the New Testament: Volume 1: Prayer and Agriculture
Reviewed by Carol Bakhos

Yonatan Kolatch
Masters of the Word: Traditional Jewish Bible Commentary from the First through the Tenth Centuries
Reviewed by Alex P. Jassen

Paul Lawrence
The IVP Atlas of Bible History
Reviewed by Christoph Stenschke

Edmondo Lupieri
A Commentary on the Apocalypse of John
Reviewed by Craig R. Koester

Lee Martin MacDonald
The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority
Reviewed by David Chapman

Melvin K. H. Peters, ed.
XII Congress of the International Organization for Septuagint and Cognate Studies, Leiden, 2004
Reviewed by Michael Tilly

Chantal Reynier
Paul de Tarse en Méditerranée: Recherches autour de la navigation dans l'Antiquité (Ac 27-28, 16)
Reviewed by Odette Mainville

Dieter Sänger and Ulrich Mell, eds.
Paulus und Johannes: Exegetische Studien zur paulinischen und johanneischen Theologie und Literatur
Reviewed by John Paul Heil

Peter Schäfer
Jesus in the Talmud
Reviewed by Catherine Hezser

Farrer fails to get a look in

Today's post on Jesus Creed, Knowing the Currents 2 was one of those useful reality checks for Q sceptics like me. In summarising the "basic streams that flowed into this current", i.e. "Gospel Criticism", Scot McKnight summarizes source criticism and writes that "The basic theories are what I call the Oxford hypothesis [= the Two-Source Theory] and then also the Griesbach hypothesis." So the Farrer Theory fails to get a look in. Perhaps Scot is right that the Two-Source Theory and Griesbach deserve to be listed side by side as the basics, but I would want to add several brief comments: (1) Griesbach has had no real currency in the UK since Farmer revived it in the US; (2) An adherent of the Griesbach theory recently told me that he thought Farrer had now edged ahead of Griesbach in the US, and it clearly gave him no pleasure to say this; (3) Curiously, the Farrer Theory is itself an "Oxford hypothesis" since it originated there and was dominant for a long time (though not since Christopher Tuckett arrived in Oxford in the 90s); (4) One of the three books Scot recommends for exploring the currents, Sanders and Davies's Studying the Synoptic Gospels, in fact advocates the Farrer Theory.

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Testament Scholars on Wikipedia

One way of testing claims about the intrinsic and insurmountable problems with Wikipedia is to ask how good it tends to be in its entries on individual scholars. Ben Witherington recently commented on the problems he saw with Wikipedia, with a strong "keep away" message. It made me wonder what the Wikipedia article on Ben Witherington looked like and in fact, it is not bad. The only problem with it is that it is a little on the terse side; it needs someone with some knowledge and expertise to add some more detail. Indeed, it is one of those articles that has been tagged: "This article does not cite any references or sources. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources."

That reminds me that I have only ever created one new Wikipedia page myself, and that is on Michael Goulder. I wanted to do this in part to test the claims about the unreliability of Wikipedia. Would people come in and deface what I outlined on Michael Goulder? On the contrary. There is simply a welcome invitation, to me or someone else, to improve the article:
This article or section needs sources or references that appear in reliable, third-party publications. Alone, primary sources and sources affiliated with the subject of this article are not sufficient for an accurate encyclopedia article. Please include more appropriate citations from reliable sources.
This is something that seldom gets mentioned by those who prefer not to engage critically with Wikipedia, that it actually encourages authors and editors to provide proper citations for the claims that are being made, a very useful encouragement to students who are learning about academic writing.

The only other one I've contributed to has been the entry on E. P. Sanders, where I made one or two minor edits to improve accuracy, and added a couple of references. That was over a year ago, and they have not been changed or edited away in the interim.

In this category, my feeling tends to be more sympathetic to those who wish to engage critically with Wikipedia than with those who wish to turn their backs on it, but perhaps that will change in time as the site continues to grow.

The Return of Deinde

The Deinde Blog is back, and it has a new RSS feed, so make sure you make your updates. The new blog interface is looking much better than the old one, so all strength to their elbow. The searches don't yet seem to be working for me, though.

Update (19:32): searches now working.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

More on the future of sites like the New Testament Gateway

On Philo of Alexandria blog, Torrey Seland talks about RPBS - Resource Pages - going into sleep?, looking at the difficulty of continuing to maintain what I have always regarded as the pioneering Biblical Studies megasite on the net. I still remember the happy day when I discovered the site in 1996, two or three days after my first experience of the internet, and at about the same time that I was delighted to discover Stephen Carlson's Synoptic Problem homepage. In those early days, one was so grateful for any decent academic materials on the internet. Now Torrey is feeling the strain a little, rather as I have been doing with the New Testament Gateway. While I am trying to reinvent the New Testament Gateway a bit, Torrey is more inclined to retire his Resource Pages. I have some sympathy. I am planning to retire one of my own sites, the All-in-One Biblical Resources Search, because technology has overtaken the forms-based work I did with that, and I ran out of time to work on that site a good couple of years ago. It is with some regret that I do retire it, because I spent huge amounts of time developing it and updating it. But I take comfort in the thought that it provided a good service for lots of people for a long time (and once even got a mention in People magazine!). I could have written several more articles, or half a book, in the time I spent on it, but I don't regret it, I don't think.

But it's not goodbye to Torrey's pages. He is keeping them going at least for now, and will continue to update the Philo pages for the foreseeable future, which is great news.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

More on how to engage with Wikipedia

An interesting article entitled Student's program sends PR chaos in Wiki scandal has been doing the rounds on the internet; it is on the
One American student sent major corporations, governments and even the Vatican on the defensive after coming up with Wikipedia Scanner, a software program that reveals who changed Wikipedia entries . . . .

. . . . What Virgil Griffith did was come up with a program that reveals who edits these articles, via a system where it scans the I.P address and cross-references it with the I.P. directory.
One of the things that I find interesting about the report of this new "Wikiscanner" is that some see at as an invitation to discredit Wikipedia in toto rather than as a positive development with the potential to sniff out the some of the worst aspects of Wikipedia. Since we all knew that this kind of thing was going on (didn't we?), I would have thought that the invention of a tool that shines a spotlight on the worst offenders is something to be celebrated. I am grateful to Michael Pahl for sending me over an article from CBC News that reports on the "Wikiscanner" in a way that hits the right notes:

New 'WikiScanner' exposes underhanded editors
Wikipedia touts itself as the "free encyclopedia that anyone can edit," but a new online tool now makes it harder for those with an agenda to edit it in a sneaky fashion.

Ordinarily Wikipedia allows anyone to edit its articles, and the encyclopedia has become a target for vandals, revisionists and spin doctors. In an effort to keep Wikipedia more honest, U.S. graduate student Virgil Griffiths created WikiScanner, a site that can trace the IP addresses of computers that have made edits to Wikipedia entries in the last five years . . . .

. . . . Griffiths said his project is not intended to eliminate anonymity, but rather to preserve Wikipedia's credibility.

"I do not believe something like WikiScanner, which identifies people, is necessary. Overall — especially for non-controversial topics — Wikipedia already works," he writes. "For controversial topics, Wikipedia can be made more reliable through techniques like this one. For any sort of 'open' project, I strongly prefer allowing people to remain anonymous while also doing various back-end analyses to counteract vandalism and disinformation."

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales obviously appreciates the effort.

"It is fabulous and I strongly support it," Wales told the Associated Press.
Notice the parts that the first article quoted above does not tell you.

Now a couple of bibliobloggers have commented on the first of the articles above, the more negative take on "Wikiscanner", most recently Jim West and before him Ben Witherington III. The latter uses it as an opportunity for expressing concern about internet resources in general:
Lots of my students, unfortunately, use the Internet as a substitute for good careful research. It's seductive and easy and quick. It forestalls long hours in the library. It often leads to shoddy research and worse papers.
I have several problems with this kind of broadside. I think "the Internet" is already so vast that it is not possible to talk about it in these general terms. "The Internet" includes vast numbers of reproductions of peer-reviewed journal articles, for example, including some of Ben Witherington's. I don't think we are any longer in a place where we can talk meaningfully about "the internet" in these terms. Of course I'm all for hours in the library. I practically lived there for a decade in Oxford, and I'm the kind of person who still feels a warm glow, a sense of eager anticipation when I go through the doors of the library here at Duke. Yet, even when through the doors of the library here, the first thing I see is a bank of computers, all down the left hand side as one walks in. And there are faculty and students there accessing academic resources.

Of course some students use resources that are not ideal, and some do the kind of "shoddy research" that Ben rightly frowns upon. This is the kind of reason that I have spent huge portions of my life working on internet resources, so I appreciate the reminder of the fact that some students will continue to be below par in their work. But the best students will embrace the best that the internet has to offer, just as they will enjoy browsing books and journals that are not available on the net. In other words, the problem here is not with "the internet"; the problem is with laziness, with those who are not prepared to invest time doing decent research.

Ben also writes:
I can tell you right now that some of the most popular sites which they use are not at all reliable sources of information. One of those is Wikipedia.
But here I would simply want to reiterate what I have often said before, that Wikipedia is not a "source", it is a "resource". As such, it requires critical engagement in the same way that other resources require critical engagement. The model I work with is one in which students themselves analyse and test resources in the light of their reading of the primary sources (e.g. In defence of Wikipedia, with further discussion under the label Wikipedia). The moment when students are themselves editing and contributing to Wikipedia in the light of their careful research and reading of the literature is the moment when they have begun to understand something very important about the educational process..

Ben's view of internet resources tends towards what I would regard as a "top down" one:
When doing work in theology or Biblical studies or the cognate fields don't trust websites not recommended to you by your instructors or the experts in the field. Period.
I have some sympathy with this view; I like to recommend good internet resources to my students when they are working on a topic, so I am disinclined to criticise this perspective. Nevertheless, I must say that I feel particularly happy when a first class student recommends a really good internet resource to me. On occasions like that, the student has realized that the educational process is one of engagement and mutual learning.

Wikipedia is here to stay. It is going to grow and grow. There is no question about that. The question is how we, as academics, deal with it. Is it going to be a process of critical engagement, of mutual learning and interaction with our students, or is it going to be one of turning our back and walking away? I continue to think that critical engagement is the way ahead.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Jesus Creed Historical Jesus Series: Third Quest and Summing Up

Over on Jesus Creed, Scot McKnight's fine Historical Jesus series continues with the Third Quest and Summing Up (see my previous comments on Jesus Creed Historical Jesus Series: Jesus Seminar and Jesus Creed Historical Jesus Series: Bultmann). As usual, there are a several comments I would like to add. On the Third Quest, I think Scot is quite right that "its driving force seems to be showing the Jewishness of Jesus and how Jesus fit into the socio-political currents of his day"; I am less sure, though, whether "it is concerned with a more positive appropriation of the Gospels and a less skeptical approach to them". Certainly that is the case with Tom Wright, who coined the term "third quest", but I am less sure whether it fits other so-called third questers like Geza Vermes and Ed Sanders. I suppose the question here is less sceptical than what? Ed Sanders is in fact far more sceptical of our ability to reconstruct Jesus' sayings than were new questers like Käsemann but at the same time he does think that there is a lot that can be said with confidence about Jesus, and he begins Jesus and Judaism with a list of those almost indisputable facts.

In the Summing Up post, I want to quibble with a couple of things. First, Scot says:
Above all and over everything in historical Jesus studies is an echo of something Schweitzer said long ago: When historical Jesus scholars look down into the deep well of the evidence for Jesus they tend to see a Jesus that looks alot like themselves.
Although this image is often attributed to Schweitzer, it in fact comes from George Tyrrell, who wrote:
The Christ that Harnack sees, looking back through nineteen centuries of Catholic darkness, is only the reflection of a Liberal Protestant face, seen at the bottom of a deep well.
(George Tyrrell, Christianity at the Crossroads (London and New York: Longmans, Green and Co, 1909), 44 [world cat link]). I am grateful to Ken Olson for digging this out during an interesting thread on the topic on the Xtalk mailing list several years ago. Before then, I had myself often attributed the "well" image to Schweitzer.

Scot continues:
Liberals find a liberal Jesus; conservatives find a conservative Jesus. No one doesn’t care — don’t let them fool you. Which means what? We need serious deconstruction every time we read a book about Jesus. Every time; every book; mine too. Everyone wants Jesus on their side.
There is unquestionably a lot of truth in this, but I think we need to be careful. There are some historians who appear to have a better claim than others of not reconstructing Jesus sympathetic to their own views. I think E. P. Sanders is, again, the outstanding example here. But I would add that Dale Allison often confesses himself troubled by the historical Jesus, especially with respect to his imminent eschatology. I share that anxiety. I've noticed a danger in teaching related to this too. If one stresses too strongly the extent to which people construct Jesus in their own image, students can take it as an subtle invitation to do the same. It's one of the reasons I like to spend a good deal of time on Schweitzer in my opening class when I teach the Historical Jesus, to introduce students to the notion of struggling with what historical investigation can reveal.

One or two other queries:
Second, the driving force of the historical Jesus quest is the desire to wedge apart the Church’s beliefs about Jesus (the Gospels, the Creeds) and what “disinterested” scholarship can recover about Jesus on the basis of historical methods.
Wouldn't Tom Wright go in this category? He resists the "wedge".
Fourth, I don’t think historical Jesus has any place in theological studies for the Church. To bracket off one’s theological views in order to study the historical Jesus and then to do theological studies on top of that bracketed-off-study-of-Jesus is a vicious circular argument. You won’t find the Church’s Jesus this way because you’ve decided the Church’s Jesus isn’t allowed at the table! Historical Jesus studies is for historians.
Although I understand the point being made here, I would want to add that the doctrine of the incarnation itself gives sufficient reason for Christians to be interested in historical Jesus studies.
Fifth, still, nearly every historical Jesus scholar I know — and I know most of them — believes in the portrait of Jesus they construct on the basis of the historical methods. John Dominic Crossan and Marc Borg and Tom Wright and Dick Horsley et al believe, so it seems to me, in the Jesus they have constructed. (We all do this, don’t we?)
I don't think so; cf. the example of Ed Sanders, for example. (Am I beginning to sound like a Johnny-one-note?). And if this is true, then it should be resisted and criticized, or we have not learnt Schweitzer's lesson, right?

One last point of interest (to me):
Sixth, historical Jesus studies have waned significantly in the last ten years. The hey day was the 80s and 90s but the creative work has been done, climaxing perhaps in Tom Wright’s big book, and mostly the conversation has grown stale. What used to attract hundreds to academic sessions now attracts 30 or 40.
I hadn't thought of things like this, but it's a very interesting point. I wonder if there is a danger that we have rather domesticated and normalized historical Jesus studies too far. There is so much of it; it is so much in the mainstream that it has become somewhat less exciting. I am tempted to add that I have not seen anything in twenty years that begins to approach Sanders's Jesus and Judaism for stimulation and interest, but then I really would sound like a Johnny-one-note.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jesus Creed Historical Jesus Series: Jesus Seminar

Scot McKnight's Jesus Creed series on Historical Jesus studies continues with the Jesus Seminar (see my previous comments in Jesus Creed Historical Jesus Series: Bultmann). Under his summary of the criteria used by the Jesus Seminar, Scot writes:
2. If a saying or event is found in more than one of the Gospel sources then it is from Jesus. This like the “more than one witness” element in law. If it is found in Mark and in Q and in “M” (stuff only in Matthew) and “L” (stuff only in Luke) and in John and in Gospel of Thomas etc it is more likely to have been said or done by Jesus. The less sources, the less provable. (Jesus practiced table fellowship with sinners.)
I want to question this. My reading of the Jesus Seminar publications is that they in fact privilege only two alleged sources, Q and the Gospel of Thomas. A given feature can occur in Mark, Q, M and L and still not be red; indeed it will often not be pink. A good example of this is all apocalyptic Son of Man material, which is witnessed in all of those strands, Mark, Q, M and L, but which is never given a red/pink colouring by the Jesus Seminar. For material to get through their filter, it needs ideally to witnessed by Q1 (the earliest layer of Q) and the Gospel of Thomas. A good example is Q 6.20 // Thomas 54, "Blessed are the poor".

In practice, the criterion of multiple attestation is not especially important for the Jesus Seminar. The Parable of the Good Samaritan, for example, is red, in spite of the fact that it is only attested in one, late Gospel source (L).

Review of Biblical Literature Latest

Latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the NT heading (and related):

François Bovon
Luke the Theologian: Fifty-Five Years of Research (1950-2005)
Reviewed by Christoph Stenschke

Trevor J. Burke
Adopted into God's Family: Exploring a Pauline Metaphor
Reviewed by Mary L. Coloe

Monika Christoph
Pneuma und das neue Sein der Glaubenden: Studien zur Semantik und Pragmatik der Rede von Pneuma in Röm 8
Reviewed by Volker Rabens

John B. Cobb Jr. and David J. Lull
Reviewed by John Dunnill

C. D. Elledge
Life after Death in Early Judaism: The Evidence of Josephus
Reviewed by Daniel Maoz

Timothy J. M. Ling
The Judaean Poor and the Fourth Gospel
Reviewed by Bruce J. Malina

Ulrich Luz and Axel Michaels
Encountering Jesus and Buddha: Their Lives and Teachings
Reviewed by Migaku Sato

Ehud Netzer
The Architecture of Herod, the Great Builder
Reviewed by Peter Richardson

Markus Vinzent
Der Ursprung des Apostolikums im Urteil der kritischen Forschung
Reviewed by Jens Schroeter

Abraham Wasserstein and David Wasserstein
The Legend of the Septuagint: From Classical Antiquity to Today
Reviewed by John Mason

Ben Witherington III
Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians: Volume 1: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Titus, 1-2 Timothy and 1-3 John
Reviewed by Raymond F. Collins

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Encouragement for Zhubert

Zhubert comments on the leak of Facebook Secrets and develops reflections about his own site, now called The Resurgence Greek Project, concluding with the following:
In fact, I think this project is on the edge of failing. After more than two years, it is still only the work of one person, the code has become a beast, and there are few resources to address any of these needs. Of course the statistics aren't showing failure...we average over six thousands users a day, with a crazy amount of page views etc, but how long can a project stay the _closed source_ work of one man?
I just wanted to add a word of encouragement for Zhubert because I think this is such an excellent resource, which still far surpasses anything else that is freely available on the web. And 6,000 users a day really is something to be proud of. I understand that "one man" element to this -- compare some of my recent comments about the future of the New Testament Gateway. Perhaps the answer is to look towards some more collaboration? My main purpose in this post, though, is to offer a bit of encouragement to Zhubert on his fine site.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

New New Testament Gateway Prototype

Over the last few months, I have been doing some serious thinking about the future of the New Testament Gateway. I have outlined what I see as shortcomings in the past, so I won't repeat them here. I am now ready to float a solution. This solution involves using Blogger as my CMS (Content Management System), which has several advantages over the static HTML pages that have made up the New Testament Gateway for the last (almost) decade. In particular, it allows me to add other contributors to the site who can straightforwardly edit and update pages. But it also makes it much easier for me to maintain the site, and adds additional functionality like RSS feeds throughout, commenting facility and so on.

In an earlier post, I said that I was looking to add some wiki functionality to the site. Several people balked at this because it might potentially take away from the strength and identity of the site. I have listened to those comments and think that my current solution enables me to have the best of both worlds, to remain as director of the site and yet to add several experts in particular places.

I spent a lot of time exploring different ways that I might rework the New Testament Gateway, and I am grateful for the help of a group of people that I consulted about it (Zeth Green, Jonathan Robie, Danny Zacharias, Brandon Wason and Rick Brannan; also, separately, Stephen Carlson). Although, in the end, the decision to experiment with blogger has been my own decision, discussing the site with others was very helpful in clarifying what it was that I wanted to do.

Although I am using Blogger as my CMS for the prototype, most users will not realize. The look will be familiar; I have adapted the template I use for this blog but have integrated some elements from the current New Testament Gateway. Those familiar with the New Testament Gateway should find it easy to navigate. So far, I am just testing the site with the Greek New Testament Gateway, and that is the only part of the old site that I have ported over to the new format:

Greek New Testament Gateway (test)

Therefore the new version is contained within the links at the top of each page; the links in the side bar still take one to the old versions of the site.

Some brief notes:

(1) I have not yet edited any of the content. As soon as I am happy with the prototype, I will begin editing content, and inviting others to help. At this stage, we are just looking at design and function.

(2) Ultimately, the main URLs of the site will remain in tact, so will still take one to the main page of the site (which will be redesigned, but more on that anon), will take one to the Greek New Testament Gateway and so on. The third layer of links, e.g., will, however, change because of the way that I am using blogger.

(3) As part of the redesign, I will be retiring certain parts of the old site. This will include the Bookshelves, and one or two other parts of the site that have fallen into disrepair. I will keep the related site, All-in-One Biblical Resources search, on-line but will not be integrating links to it in the new version, since it's now long in the tooth and technology has overtaken what it was doing well back in 2000 or so.

(4) One useful thing to come out of the consultations was that it became clear that while I have a clear idea of what "The New Testament Gateway" proper is, I have not always communicated that very well. Let me clarify that I think of The New Testament Gateway as the annotated directory of internet resources that are listed on the main page at The All-in-One Biblical Resources Search was a sister site, and the NTGateway Weblog is a companion blog. There are other materials hosted at that are just that, materials hosted in that domain, but not part of the gateway.

I would be very grateful for your feedback. If this test version works OK, I will begin to re-jig the entire site.

Stendahl, Introspective Conscience Article Online

Over on the Paul Page, they have made available online one of the most important articles on Paul written in the twentieth century. Perhaps the most important. With all the recent discussion on the biblioblogs about the new perspective on Paul, the reproduction of this essay, which predates yet anticipates the new perspective, is timely:

Krister Stendahl, "Paul and the Introspective Conscience of the West"

First, a big thank you to Mark Mattison for producing this. Second, a bibliographical note. Mark gives the bibliographical detail as Krister Stendahl, Paul from among Jews and Gentiles, published by Fortress in 1976. The original location for the article was Harvard Theological Review 56 (1963): 199-215. Third, a quick question about copyright. Mark thanks Luis Jovel for coordinating permissions, but it might be worth adding a note to that effect on the page where the article is located, all the more so if this includes permission from the author. Fourth, a couple of requests. Could full bibliographical details be added? I find this encourages students to reference internet materials properly. And is there any chance pagination could be added for ease of reference?

Jesus Creed Historical Jesus Series: Bultmann

Scot McKnight is running an excellent series on the Historical Jesus over on the Jesus Creed blog. Part 2 is headed Bultmann to the Jesus Seminar but focuses on Rudolf Bultmann. There is one comment I'd like to question:
If the days of Reimarus to Schweitzer were the old quest, the period of Bultmann is the “no” quest.
Dale Allison argues in "The Secularizing of the Historical Jesus" (which used to be available online, and which you can still grab from the if you don't have access to his recent book in which it appears) that the period of "no quest" or "non quest" is a phantom, and I think he makes his case effectively. As Allison points out, many books about the historical Jesus were produced during that period, e.g. most famously by Joachim Jeremias. The idea of a "no quest" really only comes from a particular reading of Bultmann's students' supposed relaunching of the quest in the 1950s and 1960s.

While on the topic, it is worth pointing out that one can read some Bultmann online; I've lifted the following from the relevant lists on the New Testament Gateway:
Rudolf Bultmann & Five Critics, Kerygma and Myth
Full version from Religion On-Line of the English edition of a famous book featuring Bultmann's essay "New Testament and Mythology", answers by five critics (Julius Schniewind, Ernst Lohmeyer, Helmut Thielicke, Friedrich K. Schumann & Austin Farrer) and Bultmann's responses.

Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus and the Word
Full reproduction of the English translation of Bultmann's classic book of 1926, prepared for Religion On-Line by Ted & Winnie Brock.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Comments on Hoffmann's Statement

I have some comments on the Statement by R. Joseph Hoffmann: Jesus Project v. Jesus Squad, the substance of which I shared with Joseph Hoffmann over the weekend.

What seems clear, having the statement, is that there was no malicious intent on Hoffmann's or anyone else's part in publishing the list of "fellows" on the site. It seems to have been a mistake, and one that has now been put right both by taking down the old list and issuing the statement. That's a great relief to hear. It is disappointing, though, that there is no apology for the mistake. Although the explanation is the fundamental thing, it would have been straightforward to have said something like, "We are sorry for any confusion . . . ."

My major concern about the statement was the way that it talked about bloggers and blogging. It may be that the blogs Hoffmann had in mind were genuinely unhelpful and problematic, but since the only one he mentions by name is Jim West's, it is difficult to know which ones he was concerned about. As a blogger myself, I was not keen on the use of catch-all terms like "blog assault" and "blogmasters". The following sentences, in particular, concerned me:
False report, of course, is the culture in which blogging thrives. But even bloggers have a minimal responsibility to fact and to discovering facts.
These statements are, I think, unfair since most of the bloggers that I know, and who blog in the areas of ancient world / Biblical Studies / Christian origins, are firmly committed to honest reporting and setting the record straight. Indeed, if anything, one of the engines that drives blogging is the desire to keep scholars and scholarship honest, and to hold the media and others to account where they engaging in false reporting.

Similarly, Hoffmann speaks about "the uncontrolled methods of Bible-blog", but I would want to add that one of the strengths of the blogs is that they are uncontrolled. There is no central authority, nor should there ever be one; their glory is in that they are a democratic medium in which scholars and students put their views out into the public where they themselves can be discussed, engaged, confirmed, refuted.

However, it may be that Hoffmann is talking about quite different blogs than the ones I read. And that perspective may be confirmed by the use of the term "Jesus Squad" in the title and body of the piece. I am guessing that that is Hoffmann's own description of those who have, he feels, been unfair to the Jesus Project. But if so, I think it might have been worth clarifying that all bloggers should not be tarred with the same brush. Where there have been concerns raised in the blogs I read, they appeared to me to be honest, legitimate concerns about what appeared to be misleading claims.

I shared the substance of the above with Joseph Hoffmann, who said in response "Your inference is correct; I mean to make a distinction between those who simply want to torpedo the Project and those who are simply seeking clarification." I am still not clear which blogs are being talked about here, except that I can't imagine they are among those that I regularly read.

In comments to my previous post, Chris notes the statement, "I recognize no names, among the bloggers, of anyone who has been invited at any stage to participate in the JP" and wonders about April DeConick and James Tabor, both of whom were listed among the fellows, and both of who have commented on the project.

Update (11.40): Chris Zeichman has some helpful comments on Thoughts on Antiquity headed Hoffmann responds to blogdom on The Jesus Project.

Update (14.10): Doug Chaplin has some interesting comments on Metacatholic, The Jesus Project: On not being responsible.

Update (Tuesday, 12.20): Chris Heard has some helpful comments, also picking up on the "even bloggers . . ." comment, on Higgaion: Jesus Project Update.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

R. Joseph Hoffmann responds to Jesus Project Concerns

I am grateful to R. Joseph Hoffmann for sending me a copy of his detailed response to concerns about the Jesus Project. It is now published online on Robert Price's Website:

Statement by R. Joseph Hoffmann: Jesus Project v. Jesus Squad

I would like to make a couple of my own brief comments on the statement, but I think it fair to wait until people have had chance to read the statement first.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Simon Gathercole on the New Perspective on Paul

There has been some discussion in the blogosphere about this article already from those who are ahead of the game and have access to the paper version, but for the rest of us, this article from Christianity Today is now available online:

What Did Paul Really Mean?
'New perspective' scholars argue that we need, well, a new perspective on justification by faith.
Simon Gathercole

There is an appended bibliography:

Further Reading on the New Perspective

In my opinion, this reading list is slanted much too heavily towards N. T. Wright and there is nowhere near enough E. P. Sanders. As well as Sanders's Paul and Palestinian Judaism, one must read Paul, the Law and the Jewish People. As far as I am concerned, those two books go at the top and everything else, including Wright and Dunn, is in dialogue with them. Under the "Short Introductions", I would place E. P. Sanders's Paul: A Very Short Introduction at the top, but it is not mentioned.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Strangeness of Biblical and Apocryphal Texts

Over on Apocryphicity, Tony Chartrand-Burke continues his enjoyable series on the Top Ten Faulty Arguments in Anti-Apocrypha Apologetics. One of his top ten is as follows:
9. Characterization of CA texts as containing “bizarre” embroidering (see Komoszewski et al, Reinventing Jesus, p. 163-166; Jenkins, Hidden Gospels, p. 105). Certainly some parts of the CA are bizarre to modern readers. But the NT texts too are pretty bizarre. The canonical gospels feature a man who is born from a virgin, speaks to voices from heaven, walks on water, multiplies food, heals afflictions, and rises from the grave. How are these things any less “bizarre” than a talking cross (Gospel of Peter) or a cursing Jesus (Infancy Thomas; see the canonical Acts for plenty of examples of cursing holy men)? We all (scholars and non-scholars) know the canonical texts so well that often we give little thought to how strange these texts are. I like to begin my courses on the Bible by encouraging the students to see the biblical texts in all their “bizarre” glory.
The post reminds me of an exercise I have often done with undergraduates when we begin to explore non-canonical Christian texts. I gather together a series of quotations, some taken from the New Testament, some taken from Christian apocryphal texts, and I put them on a hand-out but do not give the source of the texts. I try to make sure that each quotation is a good paragraph or so. I then ask the students, in class, to study the sheets and to ask themselves whether they think the texts in question come from (a) the New Testament or (b) a non-canonical text. I then ask them to state their reasons. The results vary from group to group, but one of the most memorable experiences I had was of a student who guessed that the coin in the fish's mouth (Matt. 17.24-27) must be a non-canonical text because it was so weird. She was horrified to discover that it was in the Bible. The exercise helps students to think through some of their own presuppositions as they approach texts, and provides an entertaining way of getting them thinking about issues of canonical and non-canonical texts.

Historians Contributing to Wikipedia

I have maintained for a while that one of the best ways for academics to deal with the massive growth, in size and popularity, of Wikipedia, is to get stuck in and contribute themselves. It seems that this is happening to an ever increasing degree and yesterday's Chronicle points to an entry in Cliopatria: A Group Blog which lists dozens of historians who are dedicated to improving Wikipedia with their contributions. All strength to their arms, I say.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Jeff's Bible

This recent article from The Onion (via Bible Dudes Blog) is irreverent and very funny, and a little off the usually serious tone around here, but it is the silly season, so I hope that the sober will forgive me and the rest will find it funny:

This Week, Let's Try A Reading From The Bible I Wrote
By Jeff Glisson
. . . . I've brought something with me tonight I thought we could read, you know, just for a change of pace. It's a new Bible I've written, and I think it's just the thing to break us out of this rut we've been in.

Don't get me wrong—I love the old Bible. Big fan. But, without naming any names, I think some people in this group might be a little tired of reading the same parables every week. After a while, they all just kind of blend together. "Good Samaritan" this, "purse of gold" that. And not one of the parables ever ends in a sword fight . . .

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Jesus Project: Robert Price's Response

Robert Price has published a helpful Response to Concerns about the Jesus Project on his official homepage. Price was invited to be a fellow, but notes that there has been a slow trickle of information since the launch; he is inclined to blame the overcommitment of those involved, especially Hoffmann, who has "many other duties". On the fellows list, he writes:
And as for that list of Fellows of the Project, featuring the names of some who have never in fact been officially asked, I don’t know. But, again, my guess is that someone simply mistook the list of participants in the “Scripture and Skepticism” event for a list of agreed Fellows of the Project. I don’t know what else it could be. It would be absurd to intentionally add names without their owners consent so I assume they did not.
I think there is little doubt that this is in part behind the list of fellows because of the inclusion of people like James Tabor who were at that conference. But I doubt that it explains the whole list since people like Richard Bauckham were not at the conference, as far as I can tell. (I am happy to be corrected if I am wrong).

There is one element of Price's response that requires a quick comment:
Some seem to be gloating, and pretty overtly, since they had already written off the whole endeavor as one more Satanic scheme to subvert Christian faith and Western civilization.
I think it needs to be made clear that any such comments are not associated with those in the biblioblogosphere, at least not among those I read and reference, and those sorts of reactions, which I have not seen, can only detract from the serious questions that are being asked.

Price urges people "to reserve judgment while the nuts and bolts are worked out" and that may be good advice. I suppose the concern of many in the blogosphere has been the allegedly fraudulent nature of the claims, which does not inspire long term confidence about the project. As I mentioned previously, it may be that a good explanation and / or an apology will be forthcoming.

Update (11.54): in comments, Robert Price notes that Richard Bauckham was invited to the conference but could not attend, in which case the list of fellows may have been drawn from a list of people invited to the Scripture and Skepticism conference.

Update (14.54): April DeConick comments on the Forbidden Gospels Blog.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Jesus Project's Problems

One of the strengths of the blogging community, all the more so when it is backed up by e-listers, is that it can hold public bodies to account; it can test misleading claims. The Jesus Project was recently announced as a kind of successor to the Jesus Seminar, but with the intention to be "the first methodologically agnostic approach to the question of Jesus’ historical existence". The project's website had an impressive roster of fellows including names like John Dominic Crossan, Richard Bauckham, Philip Esler, Adela Yarbro Collins, Kathleen Corley and Marcus Borg. Alongside these there were some independent scholars like Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy. It has been interesting to watch as it has become clear that several of the listed fellows in fact have no association with the project at all. I asked Richard Bauckham, for example, and he confirmed that he had nothing to do with the project and could not imagine how he was added. I would like to add that I also asked Justin Meggitt about his involvement and he confirmed that he had been asked to be a fellow.

Key blogs that have been reporting on this developing story are Christopher Heard's Higgaion, James McGrath's Exploring Our Matrix and Thoughts on Antiquity (team blog, but I think this post is Chris Zeichman). Jim West has been posting developments as they happen on his blog. Doug Chaplin comments on Metacatholic. Two of the listed fellows themselves blog about it, April DeConick on Forbidden Gospels Blog and James Tabor back in January. Sorry if I have missed any.

Clearly the bloggers' and e-listers' efforts have made an impact because today all the materials on The Jesus Project website have been taken down, including the list of fellows, and leaving only the front page with an "update in progress" sign. Let us hope that when it returns there will be some explanation of the recent debacle. In the mean time, one of the encouraging things to come out of this is the extent to which the biblioblogging community is able successfully to test claims made in public by people working in our area and on this occasion to find them wanting. In this respect, it is a continuation of one of the fundamental benefits of academic scholarship -- it keeps people honest.

Novum Testamentum latest

The latest Novum Testamentum is now available online to subscribers, with abstracts available free for all:

Novum Testamentum 49/3, July 2007

Matt. 18:10 In Early Christology and Pneumatology: A Contribution to the Study of Matthean Wirkungsgeschichte
pp. 209-231(23)
Author: Bucur, Bogdan G.

Death, Covenants, and the Proof of Resurrection in Mark 12:18-27
pp. 232-256(25)
Author: Trick, Bradley R.

The Christian Life in a Dialectical Tension? Romans 7:7-25 Reconsidered
pp. 257-280(24)
Author: Chang, Hae-Kyung

'Eαv μη in Galatians 2:16: A Look at Greek Literature
pp. 281-290(10)
Author: Hunn, Debbie

Some Bibliographic Notes on Greek New Testament Manuscripts
pp. 291-295(5)
Author: Wasserman, Tommy

Book Reviews

The Crux of Election: Paul's Critique of the Jewish Confidence in the Election of Israel
pp. 296-300(5)
Author: Stenschke, Christoph

The Conversion of the Imagination: Paul as Interpreter of Israel's Scripture
pp. 301-303(3)
Author: Rodgers, Peter R.

Gregory of Nazianzus
pp. 304-306(3)
Author: Guthrie, Sally

Evangelium Iohannis Aethiopicum
pp. 307-310(4)
Author: Baarda, Tjitze

On the Occasion of C.K. Barrett's 90th Birthday
pp. 311-311(1)
Authors: Borgen, Peder; Breytenbach, Cilliers; Elliott, Keith; Mitchell, Margaret; Moessner, David; Thom, Johan C.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

John H. Elliott on 1 Peter

This is from Wipf and Stock:

Conflict, Community, and Honor
1 Peter in Social-Scientific Perspective
by John H. Elliott

Cascade Books presents the second volume in our Cascade Companions series. In Conflict, Community, and Honor: 1 Peter in Social-Scientific Perspective, John H. Elliott provides an accessible but rich overview of key issues in 1 Peter.

Click Here to Read Excerpts
(table of contents, introduction, and first chapter)

“The book is an excellent introduction to Prof. Elliott’s seminal work in applying social-scientific analysis of this New Testament writing, and will richly reward its careful reader.”
—Paul J. Achtemeier, author of 1 Peter (Hermeneia)

“This . . . reading reveals the letter in its own context, in such a way that we can appropriate its message and values into our own.”
—Carolyn Osiek, coauthor of A Woman’s Place: House Churches in Earliest Christianity

“Here, as elsewhere, Elliott expertly joins the findings of social-scientific research with the insights of literary and theological analysis to clarify the ‘good news’ that is proclaimed in this often-overlooked New Testament writing.”
—Victor Paul Furnish, author of The Moral Teaching of Paul

ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-234-8 / 106 pp / $14 / paper

John H. Elliott is Professor of New Testament Emeritus at the University of San Francisco. Among his numerous publications are The Elect and Holy, A Home for the Homeless, What Is Social-Scientific Criticism?, and 1 Peter (Anchor Bible).

Friday, August 03, 2007

Tyndale Tech Latest

David Instone-Brewer's latest Tyndale Tech, sent out as an email in June, has now gone online:

Tyndale Tech: June 2007: Backup, backup and again I say backup

I would quote a sentence or two because there are some nice turns of phrase and good suggestions which I would like to comment on directly, but David has disabled copy and paste and I am not going to type the stuff out fresh. But I would like to second David's loud and strong message here. It is so important to back up. I often say that every student and every scholar will have to have one major upset before they learn to back-up properly and regularly, whether it is a stolen laptop or a major crash. If you can get by without that major upset, that is wonderful, but few do. So do it now before it is too late; get into good habits.

I like David's suggestions of relying more on the internet as a means of more permanent back-up, and I learnt one new thing from this post -- GSpace, which is a great Firefox add-on that converts your GMail spare space into a kind of FTP back up. I've already started using that one.

The one thing I would add to David's advice would be to suggest migrating to an email service like GMail because of its amazing online storage capacity. I've known people who have lost laptops or had big crashes who say, "I've lost all my emails". Never again will that happen if you get into GMail. Another thing I would add, as something of a Googleholic, is that the new Google Documents and Spreadsheets allows you to create and edit documents online, which are stored in your Google account, and once again you have ready made back ups, accessible from everywhere.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Harvard Theological Review Latest

The latest Harvard Theological Review is now available to subscribers and it features several articles of interest on the NT and Christian Origins and related issues:
Harvard Theological Review
Volume 100 - Issue 03 - July 2007

The Song of Songs and the Testament of Solomon: Solomon's Love Poetry and Christian Magic
Jesse Rainbow
Harvard Theological Review, Volume 100, Issue 03, July 2007, pp 249 - 274
doi: 10.1017/S0017816007001587 Published online by Cambridge University Press 31 Jul 2007
[ abstract ]

It's All about Variants: A Variant-Conscious Approach to New Testament Textual Criticism
Eldon Jay Epp
Harvard Theological Review, Volume 100, Issue 03, July 2007, pp 275 - 308
doi: 10.1017/S0017816007001599 Published online by Cambridge University Press 31 Jul 2007
[ abstract ]

Barabbas, the Scapegoat Ritual, and the Development of the Passion Narrative
Jennifer K. Berenson Maclean
Harvard Theological Review, Volume 100, Issue 03, July 2007, pp 309 - 334
doi: 10.1017/S0017816007001605 Published online by Cambridge University Press 31 Jul 2007
[ abstract ]

"Above the Bath of Myrtinus": Justin Martyr's "School" in the City of Rome
Harlow Gregory Snyder
Harvard Theological Review, Volume 100, Issue 03, July 2007, pp 335 - 362
doi: 10.1017/S0017816007001617 Published online by Cambridge University Press 31 Jul 2007
[ abstract ]

Nemo iudex in causa sua as the Basis of Law, Justice, and Justification in Luther's Thought
Piotr J. Malysz
Harvard Theological Review, Volume 100, Issue 03, July 2007, pp 363 - 386
doi: 10.1017/S0017816007001629 Published online by Cambridge University Press 31 Jul 2007
[ abstract ]

Books Received
Harvard Theological Review, Volume 100, Issue 03, July 2007, pp 387 - 390
doi: 10.1017/S0017816007001630 Published online by Cambridge University Press 31 Jul 2007
[ abstract ]