Saturday, March 29, 2008

Farrer on the Matthean context of double tradition

The story of the Centurion is commonly supposed to have been derived by St Matthew from Q. But surely the moral to be drawn from the extraordinary neatness with which the story nestles into its Matthaean context is that it was cast into written form for the first time by the man who placed it in that context, that is, by St Matthew himself. St Luke re-shapes the story somewhat, but even so it has no such vital or manifold connexions with the context in which he places it. The same is true of several other pieces of the so-called Q tradition: they appear to be made for their Matthaean place, and adjusted to their Lucan place. The fact is admitted by the friends of the Q hypothesis and actually twisted into an argument in support of it. St Luke, they say, could never have found his material in St Matthew, or he would not have dreamt tearing it from the perfect setting it there has, to place it less happily in his own Gospel. It is wiser to say: St Luke, wishing to write his own book in his own way, re-arranged his material he found in his authors. He did it skilfully, but no amount of skill could make an adapted context fit as tight as the context for which the material was composed.
Austin Farrer, St Matthew and St Mark (The Edward Cadbury Lectures, 1953-4; Westminster: Dacre Press, 1954), 46-7, n.2

Dale Allison Clark Lecture Recordings

Thanks to Andy Rowell for pointing out that Dale Allison's Clark Lectures, recently given at Duke University, are now available online at Duke's iTunes U site:

2008 Kenneth W. Clark Lectures Online

Unfortunately, the link on that page takes one to some kind of iTunes thing. For those of us who don't use iTunes, I will inquire about an alternative link.

Update (16 June 2009): Now I do use iTunes and have my own podcast on iTunes U and I notice that the old link above on the Divinity School site had disappeared, so I have refreshed this post, and added a new Duke iTunes U tag.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

BBC Passion website new content: Crucifixion and Questions Answered

More material has been added to the BBC's The Passion website. New today is an article on the crucifixion, discussing the topic by using the Telegraph and Daily Mail articles as a springboard:

BBC Portrayal of the Crucifixion

The piece is pretty well done, I think. Also new on the articles page is a section in which Nigel Stafford-Clark (producer) and Frank Deasy (writer) answer viewers' questions. There are lots of interesting comments here, and I strongly recommend it:

Your questions answered

The questions answered include one about the lack of miracles in the story, one about the use of regional accents, one about the use of animals, one about the casting of Jesus, one about the shooting of the drama, one about the research for the drama, and lots more.

The new content seems to have knocked off my article, The Passion and Its Historical Context, I hope by accident!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Passion, episode 3

The third episode of The Passion was broadcast tonight on BBC1. I was on the road so was unable to watch it, but will catch up on Sunday (I've seen it lots of times before, but I like to get the full televisual experience of watching it at the same time as everyone else). I am not doing my own reviews of The Passion, at least not for a year or two, because of my involvement in the production. In fact, I don't know that it's ever appropriate for people who played a role (however small) in a production to review it, though they might offer reflections at some point. That is something I have done a little of already, but I would like to do at much greater length in the future. There are all sorts of interesting little pieces of background information that would be interesting to share, but all at the right time. For now, I am fascinated to be listening to others' reactions. And generally speaking, reactions so far have been very encouraging.

For those who missed the episode but who are in the UK, it's available in the iPlayer for another week; you can access it directly from The Passion website. There are several sets of reviews and reflections already available. Doug Chaplin on Metacatholic is still finding more to like than not to like (The Passion continues, and rather well). It's all worth reading, but I found this observation particularly interesting:
One feature that any Jesus film brings home is the difficulty of narrating the terse stories of the gospels over anything like a sufficiently dramatic time span when portrayed on the screen. This was part of the effectiveness of the imprisoning of Jesus in a kind of well in Caiaphas’ courtyard. It gave a sense of time passing to the events, without seriously elongating the trial scenes with invented dialogue.
Gemma Simmonds, SJ, has a positive review over onThinking Faith
. . . . The richness of this production is in those momentary looks of realisation. Pilate looks at Jesus and knows there is more to this than he can see. Claudia’s frenzy is quelled by Pilate’s pragmatism and her own realisation of the risk Jesus represents to what makes her life bearable. Caiaphas’s whole face quivers with intensity and horror as he hears Jesus utter words that would destroy all that he has tried so desperately to save. . . .
And Matt Page, on Bible Films Blog, continues his very helpful Scene Guides series (Part One Scene Guide; Part Two Scene Guide) with his Part Three Scene Guide and connected reflections, including some thoughts on how it would have come across if had been broadcast in the originally planned six half-hour episodes. He wonders how HBO will treat it. My guess would be (and I have heard nothing on this, so it is only a guess) that they will broadcast it in thee x one hour episodes, which will actually end up producing another interesting but different viewing experience.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Passion Interview with me in Christian Today

Christian Today have been running a big feature on The Passion and they have added a couple of interviews done on the evening of the première, the first with Frank Deasy and the second with me:

Interview: Dr Mark Goodacre, The Passion's Historical Consultant

Interview: Frank Deasy, writer of The Passion

There are lots of other materials on their BBC Passion page, with more being added regularly.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Independent praises "surprisingly gripping" Passion -- and other links

I omitted to refer to The Independent's very positive review of The Passion. As usual, I'll quote a section, but it's all worth reading:

The Weekend's TV: The Passion, BBC1
Gavin & Stacey, BBC3

Don't pass over this Easter treat
By Thomas Sutcliffe
Monday, 17 March 2008
. . . . The Moroccan location and the dusty hugger-mugger of some of the street scenes mean that it is fleetingly haunted by the spirit of The Life of Brian, but only the most zealously dogmatic Christian could complain that it was irreverent.

Naturally, at least one dogmatic Christian has already volunteered his services. Stephen Green, the self-appointed pharisee who speaks for Christian Voice, has expressed disquiet at the fact that Deasy's account of Christ's last days should have been at pains to round out the motivations and character of two other notable players in the drama – Caiaphas, the High Priest, and Pilate, the Roman Governor. Mr Green wouldn't be satisfied, I suspect, unless both men appeared on screen accompanied by sulphurous gusts of smoke and a blast of the Carmina Burana. But for the rest of us, religiously minded or not, the prospect of a series diplomatically poised between revealed truth and historical speculation must be something of a relief. If you believe that Christ is your redeemer I can't so far see anything in The Passion that would have affronted that faith. And if you don't, its account of the politics of a week that was critical in world history proved surprisingly gripping.
If you missed the first two episodes and live in the UK, the Passion website has placed each one online so that you don't even have to go to the iPlayer:

The Passion: Episode Guide

Also on the BBC site, there are lots of comments from viewers, some of which make interesting reading to get a sketch of a range of reactions.

Digital Spy has viewing figures for the first episode, a slightly disappointing 4.1 million, a 15% share of the audience, apparently losing out to Dancing on Ice, almost 12 million (44% of the audience). As for the second episode, Doug Chaplin (Metacatholic) and Michael Bird (Euangelion) are bang up to date, with their episode 2 reviews going online within hours of last night's broadcast.

Also yesterday, Simon Mayo's TV Panel reviewed The Passion; you can listen again; fast forward to about 3.35pm for discussion of The Passion.

More comments and links later.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Guardian Review of "Fabulous" Passion

Saving the best until last, it's nice to wake up this morning to a great review in Media Guardian. It is not possible for me to conceal my delight at this review, all the more so as it occurs in The Guardian:

The weekend's TV
Sam Wollaston
A bunch of blokes with long hair and beards head towards a city. ELO on tour? Nope, too many of them, and the lead guy's on an ass. There's a lot of palm fronds about the place ... ah, I think I know what this is: Palm Sunday. And it's going out on Palm Sunday! So The Passion (BBC1, Sunday), a drama that unfolds in four episodes spread over Easter Week, is TV in real time, a bit like 24, but more retro, and the guy saving the world has more hair. You wouldn't catch Jack Bauer on an ass either . . . .

. . . . . I don't think anyone's going to be getting too upset about it. JC isn't a woman, gay, or a Muslim (though it was all filmed in Morocco - I wonder what the locals made of that). It's actually pretty straight. Gospel, you might say. It is also fabulous, with some great performances: Ben Daniels is excellent as a complex Caiaphas, James Nesbitt plays Pontius Pilate with obvious enjoyment, Joseph Mawle is a believable Jesus (which is, I suppose, what you want from someone who says he's the son of God; it can't be an easy role). The ass is splendid too (it's pathetic, I know, but I just enjoy typing that word). But there's also a vitality and realness about the whole thing that you rarely find with this story. A passion, you could even say, in another sense of the word.

We're getting down and dirty in the narrow streets of Jerusalem, overflowing with life and the blood of sacrificed lambs. It's loud, looks alive, you can almost smell it all. This feels like a place and a time that actually happened. It's not at all preachy, though. There's no "he's good and he's bad" stuff. The characters, too, are treated as real people, not merely as vehicles for messages. In fact you could watch The Passion and totally forget that this story was central to a major world religion. And that's a good thing, I think

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Passion: Reviews and Comments begin to come in

It is Monday morning and the papers are full of reviews and comments on The Passion. I hope to blog some more about this at the week goes on. In the mean time, here are some comments on this morning's selection, beginning with a somewhat annoying contribution in the Daily Mail. Further to my previous post on the Telegraph article on the crucifixion, now updated with a comment from Paula Gooder (which, unlike the Telegraph, I did not edit), the Daily Mail now attempts to weigh in on the same topic:

Row over BBC drama which shows Jesus crucified in a foetal position

The article appears simply to be a rehash of the Telegraph piece. The idea that there is a "row" is, I think, difficult to sustain. Indeed, the article only quotes one person apparently hostile to the BBC on this topic, and his comments appear to have been drawn from the Telegraph article. I am quoted, but I have not talked to them -- the quotation also comes from the Sunday Telegraph. The article continues the pattern of joint Telegraph / Daily Mail reporting of The Passion (BBC exonerates Judas, etc.). Both papers have been looking for controversy for the last three weeks, and they are still struggling to find it.

I should not be too harsh on them, though. The Telegraph's own TV reviewer clearly loved it, and was unable to find grounds for complaint:

Last night on television: The Passion (BBC1), Gavin and Stacey (BBC3)
By James Walton
. . . In particular, The Passion strikes an impressive balance between being faithful to the gospel stories and being unafraid to flesh them out, when required, with recognisable human motives. It also supplies (helpfully, if not always subtly) the theological, historical and political background to what we’re seeing.

One objection from those Christian groups is apparently that Pontius Pilate is portrayed as a good guy. Well, again – and leaving aside the question of whether this would necessarily be an outrage anyway – I can’t see it myself. As played by James Nesbitt, Pilate isn’t a complete psychopath. Nonetheless, in his career politician’s determination to show the Jews who’s boss, he often might as well be . . . .

. . . . The Passion does perhaps suggest that, in its absence of doubt, Jesus’s is essentially a young man’s gospel (which, I suppose, is mildly controversial, but also interesting). Yet, for the same reason, the programme proves deeply stirring too – as his message of love for God and neighbour slices straight through all the realpolitik around him . . .
The Times also reviews The Passion (again, along with Gavin and Stacey):

The Passion; Gavin and Stacey
Weekend TV
Andrew Billen

It's a mixed review, but I liked this line:
The virtue of Nigel Stafford-Clark's Passion is that it looks historically real but not historic: no one knows, aside presumably from Jesus, that this will be the week that changes the West for ever.
The Herald quite liked it; Michael Barnes, SJ in Thinking Faith (British Jesuits journal) is pretty thrilled with it:
This is brilliant story-telling, carefully plotted and visually superb. One shot, in which Jesus is showered with blood-red poppy petals scattered from windows above, makes for a perfect counterpoint to the traditional waving of palms. Jerusalem, with its narrow alleyways and cramped corners, and the Temple stained by blood sacrifices and burnt offerings, looks just like the provincial backwater which the Romans profess to hate. Apart from the clichéd mood music as Jesus walks through a desolate landscape marked by ominous crosses and smoking fires, the production scarcely puts a foot wrong.
And The Scotsman too lines up to find a lot that it liked in the opening episode:

A very British Passion for Judea
By Andrea Mullaney
. . . . But as a drama, this certainly worked, with an unusual amount of tension for such a familiar story.
Over on reJesus, Matt Page's review is up, and it's encouraging reading for the programme makers. Matt, who runs the Bible Films Blog, knows more than anyone about Bible films and his opinion is worth hearing.

Other bloggers, so far, are a bit luke warm in their comments. Michael Bird offers reflections in Euangelion and, like Doug Chaplin on Metacatholic, he objects to "The endless references to the "kingdom of God is within you"", which, he says, "over emphasizes a minor Lucan theme". Well, I rather like Luke, but I would add that the line in fact comes only once in the episode, when Jesus is talking to Mina as she clings to his feet. I am not sure if I would agree with Michael about the "Borgesque" theology, though I think he rightly perceives that sacrifice is a major theme in Deasy's scripts, and it is a theme that will continue to be worked out in the forthcoming episodes. Doug is not keen on the "rewriting of Jesus' teaching", something I regard as one of the strengths of the writing -- it is fresh and interesting and, I find, pretty powerful. I particularly like Jesus' line to Mary Magdalene, "Before the end of the week, Mary Magdalene, I promise you that you will know God like never before". It may take a little getting used to, though, and I have had a couple of years to get used to a lot of this, and I do realize that my own appreciation of the drama proceeds from my familiarity with it, so I am interested to hear these first impressions. Nevertheless, I am pleased that people are finding so many positives in The Passion, not least because the best is definitely still to come. Episode 2 is on BBC1 tonight at 8.30pm.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

How Jesus was crucified: Sunday Telegraph's negative spin on The Passion

On Thursday afternoon, I had a fifteen minute chat with a reporter from the Sunday Telegraph about the way that Jesus' crucifixion is portrayed in The Passion. You can see the way that it is done in a shot in the trailer. It is somewhat different from traditional depictions, but I explained that there is no actual description of the way that Jesus is crucified in the Gospels, and the traditional depiction, with arms outstretched, is not derived from the Gospels. I drew the reporter's attention to a passage in Josephus, War 5.11, which describes victims being crucified in a variety of poses. When he asked me about John 20.24-29, which mentions wounds in Jesus' "hands", I pointed out that the Greek word χείρ, used here, can refer to the arm or the forearm. I also talked a bit about Jehohanan, the one crucified victim we have archaeological evidence of. Little of this conversation actually appears in the article in this morning's Sunday Telegraph, which attempts to put a particular negative spin on the way that Jesus' crucifixion is depicted:

Why the BBC thinks Jesus did not die this way
By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent

There are several problems with the article and I would like to draw attention to some of them here. Wynne-Jones writes:
But now the producers of a BBC drama about Christ's final days have challenged the traditional representation, saying they believe Jesus probably did not die that way.

Instead of portraying Christ with his arms out wide and his legs straight down, The Passion will show him nailed to the cross in a foetal position, with his arms above his head and nails through his arms - the way, the producers claim, he may well have been crucified by the Romans.

Leading theologians accused the BBC of "misleading" the public and said it was ignoring the Biblical account of the crucifixion. But the makers of The Passion insist their ideas are based on new historical evidence.
This is not carefully worded. The makers of The Passion are not saying that they "believe Jesus probably did not die" in the way traditionally depicted; they are presenting a drama in which an alternative possibility is presented. After the quotations from me, Wynne-Jones adds:
He added that he thought the Bible did not actually explain in any detail the form of crucifixion employed.
I don't think that; I know that. Anyone who looks at the Gospel accounts will see it to be the case. The article goes on to quote my friend Paula Gooder, though putting a somewhat negative slant on her remarks too:
"They have clearly decided to go for this option because it's unusual and will jolt viewers and challenge them about their assumptions," she said.

"Their portrayal causes a problem as it seems to ignore what the Bible says."

In the Book of John, Jesus says to Thomas: "Put your finger here; see my hands."
I think that it is easy to over-interpret the reference in John 20 and I don't see it as contradicting the way that Jesus is crucified in The Passion (see above). The article goes on:
The Reverend George Curry, who is the chairman of the Church Society, said: "They are misleading people by distorting the facts.

"That's a serious and dangerous thing to do, but sadly utterly predictable and regrettable. Jesus's nails went through his hands, not his forearms. We should be true to history and the events that occurred."
This too is somewhat overstated. It is incorrect to speak of "distorting the facts", not is there anything "utterly predictable" about this. On the contrary, the BBC have gone to great lengths to think seriously about the history in The Passion and it is a shame that this article does attempt to take that seriously.

Update (16:05): Doug Chaplin has some very helpful comments on Metacatholic. I have also been chatting to Paula Gooder this afternoon and, as I suspected, this is a case of selective and misleading quotation. Paula writes:
It is the best portrayal of the crucifixion and resurrection that I have seen for a long time. The drama as a whole including the crucifixion scene draws on some of the best scholarship available. I simply said to the Telegraph that I supposed that some people who didn't like new ideas might find it challenging, they shouldn't but they might!
Update (24 August 2014): URL for the Telegraph article updated.

The Passion on Newsnight Review

Thanks to James Crossley for pointing out to me that The Passion was reviewed last night on Newsnight Review. I was delighted to hear Anthony Horowitz, who said that he was still traumatized by the Mel Gibson version, beginning the review by saying that it was "wonderful" and "as close to perfect television as you can get". That is praise! If you are in the UK, you can watch it on the BBC iPlayer. If you are elsewhere, there is a low-quality version available. The review features a couple of clips, including the exchange between Caiaphas and Pilate I wrote about in "The Passion" and Its Historical Context.

The Passion trailer

I'm bumping this up to the top to remind those in the UK that The Passion mini-series begins this weekend. My posts on it, which include some discussion of my involvement, are here. More later.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Review of Biblical Literature megapost

Here is the latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature, incorporating the last three or four updates:

Egbert Ballhorn and Georg Steins, eds.
Der Bibelkanon in der Bibelauslegung: Methodenreflexionen und Beispielexegesen
Reviewed by Daniel R. Driver

Richard J. Cassidy
Four Times Peter: Portrayals of Peter in the Four Gospels and at Philippi
Reviewed by Patrick J. Hartin

Ira Brent Driggers
Following God through Mark: Theological Tension in the Second Gospel
Reviewed by Elliott Maloney

Robert J. Karris, ed. and trans.
Works of St. Bonaventure: Commentary on the Gospel of John
Reviewed by Mark Elliott

Dale C. Allison Jr.
Studies in Matthew: Interpretation Past and Present
Reviewed by Bogdan G. Bucur

John J. Collins and Craig A. Evans, eds.
Christian Beginnings and the Dead Sea Scrolls
Reviewed by Matthew Goff

Jeffrey A. Gibbs
Matthew 1:1--11:1
Reviewed by Charles L. Quarles

John H. Hayes and Carl R. Holladay
Biblical Exegesis: A Beginner's Handbook
Reviewed by David Allen

William Loader
The New Testament with Imagination: A Fresh Approach to Its Writings and Themes
Reviewed by Séan P. Kealy

Jerry L. Sumney
Philippians: A Greek Student's Intermediate Reader
Reviewed by Robert Keay

Cilliers Breytenbach, Johan C. Thom, and Jeremy Punt, eds.
The New Testament Interpreted: Essays in Honour of Bernhard C. Lategan
Reviewed by Douglas Estes

David Buttrick
Speaking Conflict: Stories of a Controversial Jesus
Reviewed by John J. Pilch

J. W. Childers and D. C. Parker, eds.
Transmission and Reception: New Testament Text-Critical and Exegetical Studies
Reviewed by Erroll F. Rhodes

Rachel Hallote
Bible, Map, and Spade: The American Palestine Exploration Society, Frederick Jones Bliss, and the Forgotten Story of Early American Biblical Archaeology

Reviewed by Eric M. Meyers

Aquila H. I. Lee
From Messiah to Preexistent Son: Jesus's Self-Consciousness and Early Christian Exegesis of Messianic Psalms
Reviewed by Sam Janse

Richard W. Swanson
Provoking the Gospel of Matthew: A Storyteller's Commentary, Year A
Reviewed by Deborah Thompson Prince

David E. Aune, ed.
Rereading Paul Together: Protestant and Catholic Perspectives on Justification
Reviewed by James D. G. Dunn
Reviewed by Philip F. Esler

Giorgio Jossa
Jews or Christians? The Followers of Jesus in Search of Their Own Identity
Reviewed by Michael F. Bird

John S. Kloppenborg
The Tenants in the Vineyard: Ideology, Economics, and Agrarian Conflict in Jewish Palestine
Reviewed by Richard L. Rohrbaugh

And a bonus also:

The Bible and Critical Theory
Volume 4, Number 1 (February 2008)
Edited by Dr. Julie Kelso with
Associate Editor Dr Roland Boer


Melody D. Knowles, Esther Menn, John Pawlikowski, and Timothy J. Sandoval, eds., Contesting Texts: Jews and Christians in Conversation about the Bible
Reviewed by Michael Carden

R. S. Sugirtharajah, ed., Voices from the Margin: Interpreting the Bible in the Third World
Reviewed by Bridget Culpepper

Tikva Frymer-Kensky, Studies in Bible and Feminist Criticism
Reviewed by Judith E. McKinlay

Wesley J. Bergen and Armin Siedlecki, eds., Voyages in Uncharted Waters: Essays on the Theory and Practice of Biblical Interpretation in Honour of David Jobling
Reviewed by Peter D. Miscall

Marcel Danesi, The Quest for Meaning: A Guide to Semiotic Theory and Practice
Reviewed by Mark Sneed

Andrew P. Wilson, Transfigured: A Derridean Rereading of the Markan Transfiguration
Reviewed by Mark Sneed

Elaine M. Wainwright, Women Healing/Healing Women: The Genderization of Healing in Early Christianity
Reviewed by Kristi Upson-Saia

James G. Crossley, Why Christianity Happened: A Sociohistorical Account of Christian Origins (26-50 CE)
Reviewed by Richard Walsh

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Passion Timeline

Another new feature has been added to The Passion website at the BBC:

The Passion: Timeline

A series of links are arranged in a Holy Week order, and for each element in the story, there are BBC and non-BBC links, some Passion and some non-Passion. Some of the material is archive material and I was happy to see that one of the links under "The Resurrection" heading was a Beyond Belief from 2002 featuring me, Ed Kessler and the late Daryl Schmidt, and an interview with Michael Goulder at the mid-point. There are many other similar links, some news stories, some articles, some audio.

More Passion video

Several more videos have been added to The Passion website at the BBC. These are theme-based interviews mainly with Frank Deasy (writer) and Nigel Stafford-Clark (producer) which feature short clips from The Passion. The topics are the Language of Jesus, Filming in Morocco, Judas and Caiaphas and all make interesting viewing. To see them go to the Videos page and scroll down (I can't link to individual ones, so you need to go to the page):

The Passion: Video

Meanwhile, the short main trailer is now also on Youtube though not yet, as far as I can see, on the official BBC channel:

BBC Passion transmission times again

There is a little more available now on the transmission times for The Passion. Although the site's Episode Guide gives the Good Friday episode as 30 minutes, the Radio Times gives it as 60 minutes, 9.00-10.00pm. Since the Radio Times for next week is already in people's homes, that has to be locked in as the time, which leaves the Easter Day episode as thirty minutes, at 7.30pm--8.30pm in between Antiques Roadshow and Lark Rise to Candleford. This actually makes a lot of sense since now the Good Friday episode will include the crucifixion and Easter Day will be burial and resurrection. They have also announced a two and a half hour omnibus combining the first three episodes on Easter day. The updated transmission dates are therefore:

Episode 1: Sunday 16 March, 8pm--9pm, BBC1
Episode 2: Monday 17 March, 8.30pm--9pm, BBC1
Episode 3: Friday 21 March, 9.00pm--10.00pm, BBC1
Episode 4: Sunday 23 March, 7.30pm--8.00pm, BBC1

Episodes 1-3 omnibus: Sunday 23 March, 2.15pm--4.40pm, BBC1

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Passion and Doctor Who

I have been wondering, ever since watching the first edits of The Passion, how I knew Mary (Penelope Wilton). Today I realized that she is Harriet Jones in Doctor Who (series 1, "World War Three" and "Aliens of London"; and the 2005 Christmas special, "Christmas Invasion"). Regular readers will know that my love of Doctor Who is one of the things that brightens my life, and I am delighted to discover several more links between the cast of the two programmes, one I have worked on and one I am a great fan of. Tom Ellis plays Philip and was Tom Milligan in the last episode of Doctor Who series 3 ("Last of the Time Lords"). Dean Lennox Kelly, who plays James, was Shakespeare in "The Shakespeare Code", the second episode in the third series of Doctor Who. Jamie Sives, John, was Captain Reynolds in "Tooth and Claw", the second episode of series 2 of Doctor Who. Daniel Evans, Matthew, was Danny Llewellyn in "The Christmas Invasion". Vinette Robinson, Mina, was Abi Lerner in third series episode "42".

That's a long list; and I've not even begun on Torchwood. To think that I could have met Doctor Who actors at the première too! (Did I mention that I met Robert Powell?)

Parables Article on the Passion Website

I have another article on The Passion website, this time on parables:

by Mark Goodacre

Monday, March 10, 2008

Frank Deasy on Start the Week

One of my favourite podcasts is Start the Week, Andrew Marr's regular Radio 4 Monday morning programme. It's great to discover this week that Frank Deasy is one of the guests, talking about The Passion. You can listen live on the web, or download the podcast -- go to the Start the Week website. The material specifically about The Passion begins at about 24:30.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

BBC Passion Trailer on-line

The first trailer for The Passion (42 seconds) is now available on the BBC Passion website:

The Passion

Travel Diary, Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale airport, Sunday, 9.56am.: I've spent a couple of days on my first Biblical Archaeology Society study weekend. The location was the Hampton Inn in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It was a pleasant place to stay, though not close to the sea, and a little bit out on its own with only a handful of eating places in walking distance. But the service was excellent, and pretty friendly. The hotel had a pool, but sadly it was not quite warm enough to use it; and when it was warm enough, it was very windy. I did manage to get down to the sea at the end of the study weekend, though, when one of the participants kindly drove us down to the sea front for a walk and dinner at a German pub where I enjoyed a Wurstplatter (but does all American Sauerkraut taste so strongly of vinegar?).

The study side of the weekend was very enjoyable. Anne Killebrew was talking about various archaeological topics, always with interesting pictures, great anecdotes and a sense of what makes archaeology so fascinating. I learnt a great deal from her four lectures and they appeared to be very popular with the audience, who asked many interesting questions.

My own contribution was a series that I entitled "Monarch or Messiah? The King of Jewish Expectation and the Christ of the New Testament". I dealt with the Old Testament evidence in the first lecture, looking at the development of hope for the restoration of the Davidic monarchy in the post-exilic period. In the second I looked at other Second Temple Jewish literature, focusing specially on Psalms of Solomon, but looking also at the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Similitudes of Enoch and 4 Ezra. For Saturday's lectures, I took Paul in the morning and the Gospels in the afternoon, looking at the way in which the New Testament texts develop the concepts of King and Messiah found in the Second Temple Jewish texts. I had interested, intelligent and engaging responses throughout, and found it an enjoyable forum to share ideas in.

At the halfway point, on the Friday evening, there is a dinner followed by a Q&A session for the two lecturers, and again there were many intelligent and interesting questions. Steve Feldman organized and chaired the whole affair and did a fine job. This was a rewarding experience. I particularly enjoyed the opportunity to develop a line of thought across four lectures in a tight time frame, something that one rarely gets the opportunity to do.

Friday, March 07, 2008

BBC Passion airtimes update

The Passion Episode Guide has been updated again, with an adjustment of Episode 3 to Good Friday, and times confirmed for the first three episodes:

Episode 1: Sunday 16 March, 8pm--9pm, BBC1
Episode 2: Monday 17 March, 8.30pm--9pm, BBC1
Episode 3: Friday 21 March, 9.00pm--9.30pm, BBC1
Episode 4: Sunday 23 March, TBA (60 minutes), BBC1

Thursday, March 06, 2008

BBC Passion Screen dates

There are details of the screen dates for The Passion over on its website now -- see Episode Guide:

Episode 1: Sunday 16 March, 8pm-9pm, BBC1
Episode 2: Monday 17 March, 8.30pm-9pm, BBC1
Episode 3: Saturday 22 March, TBA, BBC1
Episode 4: Sunday 23 March, TBA, BBC1

The times of each episode are not yet announced on the site, but a glance at the Radio Times gives the timings for the first two episodes, and I have added those above.

On the road again

I set off for Fort Lauderdale later today where I am giving four lectures on the topic "Monarch or Messiah: the King of Jewish Expectation and the Christ of the New Testament". Anne Kilbrew is the other speaker and is talking about "Insights Into the Bible from Archaeology". (Fort Lauderdale Study Program). Since it's a work related trip, I hope to do a travel diary over the next few days. I had thought that this would prove impossible because my blogging machine conked out yesterday and has gone off to Atlanta to be fixed. But Duke found me a loan machine so I am back to trying to catch up again. If you are waiting for an email, my apologies. I have about ten thousand to get through.