Monday, October 29, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Review of Biblical Literature Latest

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

Karl Donfried
Who Owns the Bible?: Toward the Recovery of a Christian Hermeneutic
Reviewed by J. R. Daniel Kirk

Richard Horsley, editor
Oral Performance, Popular Tradition, and Hidden Transcript in Q
Reviewed by Joseph Verheyden

Gerald Klingbeil
Bridging the Gap: Ritual and Ritual Texts in the Bible
Reviewed by Wes Bergen

Max Küchler
Jerusalem: Ein Handbuch und Studienreiseführer zur Heiligen Stadt
Reviewed by Gabriele Fassbeck

Lucretia Yaghjian
Writing Theology Well: A Rhetoric for Theological and Biblical Writers
Reviewed by Mark Reasoner

Daniel N. Schowalter and Steven J. Friesen, editors
Urban Religion in Roman Corinth: Interdisciplinary Approaches
Reviewed by Jonathan Reed

Giuseppe Veltri
Libraries, Translations, and 'Canonic' Texts: The Septuagint, Aquilla and Ben Sira in the Jewish and Christian Traditions
Reviewed by Pancratius Beentjes

Conference Announcement: Second Comings and Strange Goings (On)

This is posted on behalf of Jay Twomey:

Second Comings and Strange Goings (On): Versions of the Messianic

* Seminar Organizer: Jay Twomey, U of Cincinnati, W. David Hall, Centre College

In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells his disciples, on the eve of his crucifixion, “if I do not go away, the Paraclete will not come to you” (16:7). This nexus of arrival and departure, of a future coming at the expense of the departing present and its specific pasts, is characteristic of the messianic in a variety of its manifestations — in religious texts, in writers like Nicanor Parra, Gore Vidal, Pier Paolo Pasolini, in theorists like Walter Benjamin and his interlocutors, in theologians like Catherine Keller, in films or television shows like the new Battlestar Galactica, and so on. Taking up the theme of the 2008 American Comparative Literature Association meeting in Long Beach, CA, “Arrivals and Departures,” this panel seeks to engage scholars from across the humanities in a series of discussions on the messianic. What is it? What is it not? How does it work? Where can we find it? And most importantly: is it good for us? Prospective panelists whose work draws upon relevant scholarship in religious studies and/or recent work by theorists such as Giorgio Agamben will be given highest priority. Most ACLA panels function as two- and three-day seminars. We are proposing a three-day panel, for which we will only consider participants who can commit to staying for the duration of the conference (April 24-27, 2008).

Please go to the ACLA conference Web site for information on submitting paper proposals.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

C. F. D. Moule Obituary: The Guardian

Yesterday's Guardian has a beautifully written obituary of Charlie Moule by Bob Morgan:

The Rev CFD Moule
Gentle theologian with unique insights into New Testament ethics
Robert Morgan
. . . . It is, however, the person, as much as the work, that will be remembered. The transfer of the label "Holy Mouley" (from his great-uncle, the first principal of Ridley and conservative scholar bishop of Durham) to the modest, approachable and pastoral professor, had substance as well as affection in it. Those who heard him preach or lecture sensed deep seriousness, humanity and devotion, but in conversation it was the light touch and puckish sense of humour that stood out . . .

. . . In the faculty, his wisdom usually prevailed, showing gentleness and humility are not to be confused with weakness.
This obituary gives more detail than the others of the career of Charlie Moule as a New Testament scholar. For the Times, Telegraph and Independent obituaries, see the C. F. D. Moule label. Thanks to Bridget Gilfillan Upton for letting me know about it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Future of the New Testament Gateway I: Who is it for?

As I have mentioned previously, I have been invited to present a paper on the future of The New Testament Gateway at the SBL Computer Assisted Research Section next month, in San Diego. In a series of blog posts before then, I will be mapping out the future as I see it, and throwing out some ideas that I will be discussing in the presentation.

1. What I am not talking about

Before beginning to do that, I want to make clear what I am talking about here. I am talking about The New Testament Gateway proper, the gateway site that is a series of annotated links to academic material about the New Testament. I am not talking about sister sites like the All-in-One Biblical Resources Search, which, like all of my websites, is located at Nor am I talking about this blog, which I think of as the "NT Gateway Weblog", a sister to The New Testament Gateway, but not the gateway itself. I make those things clear lest there is confusion about what I am discussing. And while discussing these sites, let me add that it is now necessary for me to retire the All-in-One Biblical Resources Search which has outlived its usefulness and has been overtaken by the technology. Meanwhile, it is my plan to resume updating The Case Against Q Website (my oldest website, now over ten years old!), the Aseneth Home Page and others.

2. Who is it for?

With those preliminary questions out of the way, I would like to begin looking to the future for The New Testament Gateway by asking a key question: Who is it for? When the site began in 1998, this question was easy to answer. It was aimed at students. Specifically, it was aimed at my students. Back in 1996 and 1997, I was giving out class hand-outs to students with typed-out links and they were failing to find the sites I was recommending. So I appended a list of "Useful links" to my homepage, which quickly morphed into its own site, Recommended New Testament Web Resources, an early version of what eventually became The New Testament Gateway. But the site evolved to become something bigger, a gateway site for scholars as well as students.

For most of its life, then, I have conceived of it as a site for both scholars and students. Now, there is no question that it is still broadly used by students. It is still useful to students. It is recommended in standard student introductions like Bart Ehrman's. If they are set a research paper on the Historical Jesus, googling is not going to be especially helpful -- far too many resources, far too undifferentiated for academic quality. But going to the section here on the Historical Jesus gives them a selection of pre-selected links by an academic working in the field. There are many, many examples of scholars using it this way in their teaching, recommending the site as a whole, or specific pages, as gateways to reliable academic material on the topic.

The explosion of internet resources has in fact increased the need for good gateway sites for students, to guide them through the maze, and using the site in my own teaching has persuaded me that its relevance here has, if anything, increased. But at the same time, the explosion of internet resources has impacted quite differently on the usefulness of the site for scholars. I think The New Testament Gateway has become far less relevant and far less useful for scholars now than it used to be. Think back to the early days of the internet, when searching with Yahoo! and Excite was pretty hopeless. If you found a decent resource, you needed to bookmark it because you might not find it again. And this was where something like the New Testament Gateway came in. A gateway site used to provide an elaborate public bookmarking system. These were the days when people used to submit their sites to search engines in the hope that they might get them picked up. Googleization has changed all that. Now, if you want to find it, you google it. And even the more techno-tentative academics are learning how to tackle Google Scholar and Google Books (as well as databases like ATLA). The scholar doing research now knows, or ought to know, how to use the internet. If they need an article on a given subject, they know how to find it. The New Testament scholar finds less of value in The New Testament Gateway than s/he once did.

To be continued . . .

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Greek Bible Study

I'm grateful to Sarah Madden for alerting me to a fine new site for working with the Greek New Testament and Septuagint:

Greek Bible Study
Anonymous site. Excellent, colour-coded Greek New Testament (Tischendorf) and Septuagint, with mouse-over Thayer word definitions (long and short), word studies, notes facilities and more. Unicode fonts, good search facilities, and a graduated reader based on William Mounce's Basics of Biblical Greek.

I've added a link high up on my Greek New Testament Texts (test) page since those pages will soon be integrated into the site. (More soon).

Monday, October 22, 2007

Was Paul a monotheist?

Is the pope catholic? Do bears poo in the woods? I would have treated the above question like that until recently. I mentioned Paula Fredriksen's on-line articles surge last week and in spare moments I have been enjoying working through ones that are new to me. One theme of interest in her research over the last few years has been the question of how appropriate the term "monotheism" is for ancient Jews and Christians. Note first her Bible Review article (February 2003), Gods and the One God with the tag-line, "In antiquity, all monotheists were polytheists", and on Paul the following:
The world was filled with other gods, and ancient Jews knew this. Paul complains about their negative effect on his mission. Astral forces (stoicheia) previously enslaved his formerly pagan converts in Galatia (Galatians 4.8). "The god of this cosmos" blinded believers so that they cannot see "the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God" (2 Corinthians 4.4). Paul writes, "For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth -- as indeed there are many 'gods' and many 'lords' -- yet for us there is one God, the Father . . . and one Lord, Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 8.5-6). Paul and his Gentile readers do not doubt the existence of many gods. They just do not worship them.
In her more recent (2006) article, "Mandatory Retirement: Ideas in the Study of Christian Origins whose Time Has Come to Go”, Fredriksen goes a step further and proposes to "retire" the term "monotheism". With respect to Paul, she mentions the same texts as above, but adds (242):
These lower cosmic powers whom the nations worship through cultic acts performed before idols will themselves acknowledge the superior authority of the god of Israel once Christ returns to defeat them and establish his father's kingdom (1 Cor. 15.24-27). They too will bend their knees to Jesus (Phil. 2.10).
Fredriksen goes on briefly to deal with 1 Thess. 1.9-10.

In the same vein, Fredriksen's review of Larry Hurtado's Lord Jesus Christ criticizes the latter's dependence on a concept of "scrupulous Jewish monotheism", which, she says, "did not exist in antiquity" (539).

I am intrigued by Fredriksen's developing views here, and will be watching eagerly to see if they are to be expounded in greater detail in forthcoming works. Of course to focus on Paul, as I am doing in this post, obscures Fredriksen's broader point about the inappropriateness of the term "monotheism" in antiquity, but the general point is ideally tested in the specifics of a character like Paul, a very well travelled diaspora Jew. One of the things I like about articles like these is that they make you rethink your assumptions and re-read the texts accordingly. The sticking points for me, at the moment, are the following:

(1) 2 Cor. 4.4, "the god of this world" (ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος, could be referring to Israel's god, as Frances Young and David Ford argue in their Meaning and Truth in 2 Corinthians. If this text is absented from the list of those where Paul may be referring to other theoi, we have a much narrower basis for contesting Paul's monotheism.

(2) A related point: the other texts Fredriksen mentions certainly witness to a rich cosmology, with angels, demons and powers, but it seems that Paul resists calling these theoi. It's worth bearing in mind that many contemporary Christians, who regard themselves as monotheists, have a similarly rich cosmology, with Satan, demons, principalities and powers.

(3) Fredriksen refers to 1 Thess. 1.9-10 but does not mention that here Paul uses the Deutero-Isaianic style language about a "true and living" god who is contrasted with those idols who are, by implication, false and dead. Is not Paul therefore modifying the language of polytheism to make the point that there is only one, true, living god?

On the other hand, though, I don't know what to make of 1 Cor. 8.5-6. Paul speaks of those who are called gods (λεγόμενοι θεοί). Does this qualify the connected ". . . many gods and many lords"? Or is the latter clear evidence of what Fredriksen is claiming?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

New book from Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza

This in this morning from Fortress:
Reading Scripture Responsibly in an Imperial Age

Minneapolis (October 18, 2007)—What kind of power does the scripture exercise? In The Power of the Word: Scripture and the Rhetoric of Empire Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, the premier scholar of feminist biblical interpretation and early Christian history, explores the difficult hermeneutical question.

Because Christian scriptures were formulated in the context of Roman imperial power, they have functioned—and still do so—in the service of empire, legitimating colonialist expansion, racist exploitation, and heterosexist discrimination.

Schüssler Fiorenza calls for a critical feminist decolonizing reading, capable of identifying both the destructive powers of empire and the radical democratic visions of justice and well-being that are inscribed in the scriptural text.

The author tackles the tough questions of the Bible’s role in the world today and how its vision can further a more just world. She shows particularly the radical power of the Word to challenge imperial ways, the humiliation of persons, and the use of religion itself to keep people down, today as then. Finally she offers an understanding of the implications of such a program for the field and practice of biblical studies, as indispensable partner in challenging the status quo.

The Power of the Word makes a timely contribution not only to traditional fields such as Pauline and Apocalypse studies, but also to the developing intersection of feminist and postcolonial biblical studies and the study of empire.

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza is Krister Stendahl Professor at Harvard University Divinity School and Founding Co-Editor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. Among her many and influential works are In Memory of Her: A Feminist Theological Reconstruction of Christian Origins (1984); Bread Not Stone: The Challenge of Feminist Biblical Interpretation (1985); But She Said: Feminist Practices of Biblical Interpretation (1993); Jesus: Miriam’s Feminist Christology (1995); and as editor, Searching the Scriptures: A Feminist Introduction, 2 vols., (1993, 1994). Her books from Fortress Press include The Book of Revelation: Justice and Judgment, 2nd ed. (1998) and Rhetoric and Ethic: The Politics of Biblical Studies (1999).

The Power of the Word: Scripture and the Rhetoric of Empire

By Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza

Item No: 978-0-8006-3834-4, paperback
Spec: 176 pages, 6 x 9 inches
Price: $19.00

Item No: 978-0-8006-3833-7, hardcover with jacket
Spec: 176 pages, 6 x 9 inches

Price: $29.00

To order The Power of the Word: Scripture and the Rhetoric of Empire, please call Fortress Press at 1-800-328-4648 or visit the Web site at

To request review copies (for media), or to discuss speaking engagements or interviews, please call 1-800-426-0115 ext. 234 or e-mail

To request exam copies for classroom use (professors) go to

More C. F. D. Moule relections

The Times has another Lives Remembered piece on C. F. D. Moule:

Lives Remembered
The Rev Professor C. F. D. Moule

The Rev Bernard Wrightson writes: Professor Charlie Moule (obituary, Oct 5 , and Lives Remembered, Oct 11), presented me with a copy of his Phenomenon of the New Testament in 1969 and asked me to keep it unopened until I was clear of the college. He said that he was very proud of this book because it was the only one with his illustrations. In fact he had simply drawn round a coin to illustrate the dividing line between the Jesus of history and the Lord of faith. I note on the page with his best wishes and his signature a distinct marmalade stain. During our meeting we had been sitting inelegantly on the floor eating toast while sharing problems about chapel attendence and other matters. He more than anyone was responsible for my later career change.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Paula Fredriksen On-line Articles Surge

Regular readers will know of my enthusiasm for the scholarship of Paula Fredriksen, one of the most engaging scholars of Christian origins, who is always worth reading. Regular readers will also know of my enthusiasm for scholars making available reproductions of their articles on their own websites. Fredriksen has been setting the standard on this front for some time, but now there has been a remarkable surge, with over seventy articles now available online on her site:

Paula Fredriksen

And there is more good news. I have previously commented (e.g. Paula Fredriksen full-text articles online and Paula Fredriksen PDFs) on the frankly appalling quality of the scans of many of these articles. Well, it seems that a lot of those older scans have been redone in greatly improved versions. Note, though, that sometimes both the new version and the old are still online, so make sure that you are accessing the articles from the homepage link above, and not the old page, which links to the old versions.

Review of Biblical Literature Latest

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

William Arnal
The Symbolic Jesus: Historical Scholarship, Judaism and the Construction of Contemporary Identity
Reviewed by Milton Moreland

Richard Cassidy
Four Times Peter: Portrayals of Peter in the Four Gospels and at Philippi
Reviewed by Timothy Wiarda

James H. Charlesworth, editor
Jesus and Archaeology
Reviewed by Jonathan Reed

Jürgen Zangenberg and Michael Labahn, editors
Christians as a Religious Minority in a Multicultural City: Modes of Interaction and Identity Formation in Early Imperial Rome
Reviewed by Jonathan Reed

Friday, October 12, 2007

Richard Hays on Pope Benedict XVI's Jesus of Nazareth

Richard Hays's article review of Ratzinger on Jesus of Nazareth is now available online free for all (it has been available to subscribers for a while). It is in First Things August / September 2007.

Benedict and the Biblical Jesus
by Richard B. Hays

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lives Remembered: The Rev Professor Charles Moule

Today's Times has several delightful reminiscences about Charlie Moule:

Lives Remembered: The Rev Professor Charles Moule

The first is from the well known journalist (and star of Grumpy Old Men) Matthew Parris, but the second is so good it's worth quoting in full:
The Rev Christopher Leffler writes: As a very new undergraduate in 1954 I went to a lunchtime meeting of the Church Missionary Society Association in Professor Moule's rooms. Nervously I knocked and undergraduate voices welcomed me in. It was not until the end when they thanked the great man for use of his rooms that I discovered that he had spent the meeting eating his sandwiches on the floor behind the sofa while the undergraduate officers and speaker had his best chairs. No wonder he was so loved as well as respected.
I can think of few academics who achieve this kind of humility. I met Charlie Moule once, when he came to preach at Exeter College chapel, when I was an undergraduate in Oxford, and it does not surprise me to hear such nice things being said about such a lovely man.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Times Obituary of C. F. D. Moule

This morning's Times has its obituary of C. F. D. Moule:

The Rev Professor C. F. D. Moule
Influential New Testament scholar whose deep learning and powers of sympathy won him many admirers at Cambridge

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Hapax Legomenon: Definition and Synonyms

Hapax legomenon is an expression that every student of the Greek New Testament needs to know, and to know how to use. The OUP Blog today has an excellent entry on the topic:

One-Hit Wonders: From Hapax to Googlewhacks
Ben Zimmer
. . . . Hapax legomenon (plural: hapax legomena; sometimes shortened to hapax) literally means “(a thing) said only once” in Greek, and it was originally used in Biblical studies to refer to a word that appears uniquely in one place in the Old or New Testament. Biblical hapax legomena present a challenge to translators from the classical source languages of Hebrew and Greek, since they don’t have other examples of a word to use as a point of comparison. It’s especially a problem for the Hebrew Bible, since there are few other Classical Hebrew texts to work from, besides the Dead Sea Scrolls and some other fragments. We’re a bit better off when a hapax is in our own language, but they can sometimes be just as baffling . . .
The whole article is worth reading. The word "originally used" above is well chosen since the term "hapax" is used pretty broadly in contemporary Biblical studies, from a word that occurs just once in a given text (e.g. "this word is a hapax in Luke"), to a word that occurs just once in the NT, to a word that occurs just once in Greek literature to that point.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Death of C. F. D. Moule

I was sorry to hear this morning of the death of C. F. D. Moule:

The Reverend Professor CFD Moule

The Rev Professor C. F. D. Moule

The first of these obituaries is from the Daily Telegraph and the second is from The Independent. Thanks to Jim West for the note.

Monday, October 01, 2007

T & T Clark Blog

Thanks to Jim West for pointing to the new T & T Clark Blog:

The T&T Clark Blog
This is the official blog of T&T Clark, an imprint of Continuum Books.

Nice to see links to both April DeConick's blog and mine under the "Some of our authors" header on the side bar.

Biblical Studies Carnival XXII

Many thanks to Tim Bulkeley on Sansblogue for an excellent blog carnival this month. I dread to think how long it must take for our carnival authors to put one of these blog carnivals together, but it is greatly appreciated:

Biblical Studies Carnival XXII