Friday, May 30, 2008

Expository Times Latest

A new issue of The Expository Times has been made available:

1 June 2008; Vol. 119, No. 9


NT related pieces include:

Talking Points from Books
John Riches
The Expository Times 2008;119 417-421

RELIGION PAST AND PRESENT -- VOLUME 3 H. D. Betz, D. S. Browning, B. Janowski and E. Jungel (eds), Religion Past and Present, Volume 3 (Chu-Deu) (Leiden: Brill, 2007. {euro}249.00/$279.00. pp. ii + 795. ISBN 978--90--04--13979--4)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 421

An Overview of Recent Scholarly Literature on Philippians
Todd D. Still
The Expository Times 2008;119 422-428

BIBLICAL EXEGESIS -- NOT JUST FOR BEGINNERS: J. H. Hayes and C. R. Holladay, Biblical Exegesis: A Beginners' Handbook (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2007. {pound}13.99. pp. 236. ISBN 978--0--664--22775--3)
Christopher Tuckett
The Expository Times 2008;119 428

STORING UP TREASURES IN HEAVEN Stephen R. Johnson (ed.), Q 12:33--34: Storing Up Treasures in Heaven (Documenta Q 8; Leuven: Peeters, 2007. {euro}68.00. pp. xxxiii + 213. ISBN 978--90--429--1949--5)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 436

Living Text or Exquisite Corpse?
John C. Poirier
The Expository Times 2008;119 437-439

SALVATION OF THE GENTILES M. F. Bird, Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission (LNTS 331; London: T&T Clark -- A Continuum imprint, 2006. {pound}70.00. pp. xi + 212. ISBN 978--0--567--04473--0)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 439

BOOK OF THE MONTH -- The Apostolic Fathers: A Landmark Edition: Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations (3rd edn; Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007. $42.99. pp. xxv + 801+ maps. ISBN 978--8010--3468--8)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 440-441

ERRORISTS AT COLLOSAE I. K. Smith, A Study of the Apostle Paul's Response to a Jewish Mystical Movement at Colossae (LNTS 326; London: T&T Clark-- A Continuum imprint, 2006. {pound}65.00. pp. xxi + 254. ISBN 0--567--03107--1)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 449

ISAIAH IN LUKE--ACTS P. Mallen, The Reading and Transformation of Isaiah in Luke-Acts (LNTS 367; London: T&T Clark -- A Continuum imprint, 2007. {pound}65.00. pp. xii + 245. ISBN 978--0--567--04566--9)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 451

BOOK REVIEWS -- MARY MAGDALENE Esther De Boer, The Mary Magdalene Cover-Up:
The Sources Behind the Myth (London and New York: T&T Clark, 2007. {pound}12.99. pp. 213. ISBN 978--0--567--03182--2)
Christopher Tuckett
The Expository Times 2008;119 454

Book Review: THE SOURCES OF THE CHRISTIAN SOURCES Andrew Carriker, The Library of Eusebius of Caesarea (Supplements to Vigiliae Christianae 67; Leiden: Brill, 2003. {euro}97,00. pp. xvi + 358. ISBN 90--04--13132--9)
Ulrich Volp
The Expository Times 2008;119 455-456

Book Review: SAHIDIC COPTIC FOR BEGINNERS Bentley Layton, Coptic in 20 Lessons: Introduction to Sahidic Coptic With Exercises & Vocabularies (Leuven: Peeters, 2007. {euro}27.00. pp. viii + 204. ISBN 978--90--429--1810--8)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 457-458

Book Review: NEW TESTAMENT HISTORY AND THE SYNOPTIC PROBLEM Martin Mosse, The Three Gospels: New Testament History Introduced by the Synoptic Problem (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2007. {pound}24.99. pp. xxxii+ 364. ISBN 978--1--84227--520--7)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 458-459

Book Review: SOCIO-RHETORICAL COMMENTARY -- PASTORAL AND JOHANNINE EPISTLES Ben Witherington III, Letters and Homilies for Hellenized Christians, Volume 1: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary on Titus, 1--2 Timothy and 1--3 John (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic/Nottingham: Apollos, 2006. {pound}21.99. pp. 623. ISBN 0--8308--2931--8)
Will Rutherford
The Expository Times 2008;119 463-464

Linguistics Institute of Ancient and Biblical Greek

Thanks to Catherine Smith for the following notice:

The third LIABG symposium (co-sponsored by will take place on 20-22nd August 2008 at McMaster Divinity College, Hamilton, ON, Canada. Further details and registration form are available here:

2008 Symposium of LIABG

LIABG also has a new on-line journal which has just launched and is currently accepting submissions. The journal and submission guidelines can be viewed here:

Journal of the Linguistics Institute of Ancient and Biblical Greek (JLIABG)

There is also an RSS feed for the journal.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Syneidon Research Digest

Syneidon continues to update its Research Digest, an excellent way to find out about some of the latest contributions in the major Biblical Studies journals:

Syneidon Research Digest

Recent additions include digests of Amin Baum's recent Novum Testamentum article on anonymity in the Gospels and Eric Eve's fascinating New Testament Studies article, "Spit in Your Eye: The Blind Man of Bethsaida and The Blind Man of Alexandria". The page is getting a little long, though, and it would be worth considering breaking it up into bite-size chunks.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Expository Times, May 2008

The Expository Times for May 2008 includes the following articles of relevant to the NT:

The Expository Times
1 May 2008; Vol. 119, No. 8


Beyond the Shade of the Oak Tree: The Recent Growth of Johannine Studies
Paul N. Anderson
The Expository Times 2008;119 365-373

Reassessing a Rhetorical Approach to Paul's Letters
Dr Michael F. Bird
The Expository Times 2008;119 374-379

C. H. Dodd and the Welsh Bible: A Fading Influence
Iwan Rhys Jones
The Expository Times 2008;119 380-384

Critical Edition -- Gospel of Judas: Rodolphe Kasser and Gregor Wurst (eds.), The Gospel of Judas, Critical Edition: Together with the Letter of Peter to Philip, James, and a Book of Allogenes from Codex Tchacos (Introductions, Translations and Notes by R. Kasser, M. Meyer, G. Wurst and F. Gaudard; Washington DC: National Geographic, 2007. $45.00. pp. 378. ISBN 978--4262--0191--2)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 391

The Parables of Jesus: Klyne R. Snodgrass, Stories with Intent: A Comprehensive Guide to the Parables of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2008. $50.00/{pound}27.99. pp. xviii + 846.
ISBN 978--0--8028--4241--1)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 393

The Ancient Synagogue: A. Runesson, D.D. Binder and B. Olsson, The Ancient Synagogue from its Origins to 200 C.E., AJEC 72 (Leiden: Brill, 2008. {euro}139.00/$199.00. pp. xi + 328 + 1 map. ISBN 978--90--04--16116--0)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 403

Book Review: Judaism in the Second Temple Period: George W. E. Nickelsburg, Jewish Literature Between the Bible and the Mishnah (2nd edn; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2007. {pound}16.99. pp. 445+ CD ROM. ISBN 0--800--63779--8)
Timothy H. Lim
The Expository Times 2008;119 408-409

Book Review: Jewish Christians: Oskar Skarsauna and Reidar Hvalvik (eds.), Jewish Believers in Jesus: The Early Centuries (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2007. $49.95/{pound}27.99. pp. xxx +930. ISBN 978--1--56563--763--4)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 409

Book Review: Acts According To Codex Bezae: Josep Rius-Camps and Jenny Read-Heimerdinger, The Message of Acts in Codex Bezae: A Comparison with the Alexandrian Tradition. Volume 2, Acts 6:1--12:25: From Judaea and Samaria to the Church in Antioch (London: T&T Clark, 2006. {pound}70.00. pp. xiii + 400. ISBN 978--0--567--04012--1); Volume 3, Acts 13:1--18:23: The Ends of the Earth First and Second Phases of the Mission to the Gentiles (London: T&T Clark, 2007. {pound}65.00. pp. xiii + 401. ISBN 978--0--567--03248--5)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 409-410

Book Review: Reading the Bible Against the Grain: Bob Ekblad, Reading the Bible with the Damned (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005. $17.95. pp. 203. ISBN 0--664--22917--4)
Claude F. Mariottini
The Expository Times 2008;119 411-412

Book Review: Codex Tchacos -- a Critical Edition: J. Brankaer and H.-G. Bethge (eds.), Codex Tchacos: Texte und Analysen (TU 161; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2007. {euro}128.00. pp. vii + 485. ISBN 978--3--11--019570)
Paul Foster
The Expository Times 2008;119 412-413

Book Review: Interpreting the Biblical Text: John Barton, The Nature ofBiblical Criticism (Louisville. KY: WJK, 2007. $13.99 pp. 206. ISBN 978--0--664--22587--2)
John J. Collins
The Expository Times 2008;119 413

Book Review: An Apologia for Canonical Interpretation: Craig Bartholomew, Scott Hahn, Robin Parry, Christopher Seitz and Al Wolters (eds.), Canon and Biblical Interpretation (Scripture and Hermeneutics Series 7; Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2006. {pound}19.99. pp. 445. ISBN 978--1--84227--071--4)
Jennifer Wright Knust
The Expository Times 2008;119 413-414

Book Review: Faith and Christ: Desta Heliso, Pistis and the Righteous One (WUNT 2.235; Tubingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2007. {euro}59.00. pp. 292. ISBN 978--3--16--149511--3)
Michael F. Bird
The Expository Times 2008;119 415

Gospel of Judas Article in the Chronicle

There's an interesting article in this week's Chronicle of Higher Education:

The Betrayal of Judas
Did a 'dream team' of biblical scholars mislead millions?
. . . . In all of its materials, the view of Judas as good guy was front and center. In an online video clip, Meyer calls the text's Judas the "most insightful and the most loyal of all the disciples." In Ehrman's essay, Judas is "Jesus' closest friend, the one who understood Jesus better than anyone else, who turned Jesus over to the authorities because Jesus wanted him to do so." The teaser on the documentary's DVD case asks, "What if this account turned Jesus' betrayal on its head, and in it the villain became a hero?" The discovery of an ancient document titled "The Gospel of Judas" is exciting enough. But the twist of a good Judas — well, that's a great story. . . . .

. . . . . One of the seven million people who watched the National Geographic documentary was April D. DeConick. Admittedly, DeConick, a professor of biblical studies at Rice University, was not your average viewer. As a Coptologist, she had long been aware of the existence of the Gospel of Judas and was friends with several of those who had worked on the so-called dream team. It's fair to say she watched the documentary with special interest.

As soon as the show ended, she went to her computer and downloaded the English translation from the National Geographic Web site. Almost immediately she began to have concerns. From her reading, even in translation, it seemed obvious that Judas was not turning in Jesus as a friendly gesture, but rather sacrificing him to a demon god named Saklas. This alone would suggest, strongly, that Judas was not acting with Jesus' best interests in mind — which would undercut the thesis of the National Geographic team. She turned to her husband, Wade, and said: "Oh no. Something is really wrong." . . .
It's a lively piece and tells the story apparently having interviewed most of the major characters, April DeConick, Marvin Meyer, Bart Ehrman.

H.T.: Haaris Naqvi on the T & T Clark Blog, who describes it as "rather spicy".

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Oxford Synoptic Problem Conference Photograph

Thanks to John Kloppenborg for this picture of participants at the recent Oxford Conference on the Synoptic Problem (my travel diary here). It was taken by my friend Q who happened to be in Oxford that day (travel diary III). Getting all the names here is not going to be easy but I will try. Let's do the front row first because that is easiest: Paul Buckley, Stephen Patterson, J. Samuel Subramanian, Peter Head, Robert Derrenbacker, Richard Ounsworth, John Kloppenborg. Back two rows: Alex Damm, Eugene Boring, Steph Fisher (below him), ???, William Loader, Eric Eve, me, Paul Foster, ??? (three people behind him), F. Gerald Downing, Dennis Macdonald, Andrew Gregory, Seamus O'Connor, David Dungan, Thomas Brodie (behind him, I think, obscured), David Lincicum, Joseph Verheyden, Christopher Hays, David Peabody, Dieter Roth, ???, Mary Marshall, ???, Duncan Reid, ???, Maurice Casey. Sorry for the ???s, especially those who are in clear view but whose names I have forgotten. Can anyone fill in the gaps for me?

Updated: Wednesday, 8.35, with help from Christopher Hays, Dieter Roth and Steph Fisher.

Peter Jeffery's Response to Scott Brown

In working through the email mountain, I have now reached mid-April, with thanks to Peter Jeffery for alerting me to his response to Scott Brown's review of his book, which has already been mentioned by a good number of bloggers over the last few weeks:

The Secret Gospel of Mark Unveiled: Reply to Scott G. Brown (PDF)

It is a very interesting read, though it does not include one of my favourite parts from the earlier draft which is still available on his website, the example of "extended double entendre" quoted from Alan Dundes and Carl Pagter's Urban Folklore from the Paperwork Empire, the supposed speech by a feminist to a woman's organization that is in fact not that.

The response is to a very lengthy review of Jeffery's book by Scott Brown that was published in the Review of Biblical Literature last September. At the time, I commented:
As someone who has written more extensive RBL reviews myself, I must say that I like the fact that this electronic journal is using its lack of print restrictions to do things like this, a good use of the flexibility electronic publication provides.
Having praised RBL on that occasion, I will offer my criticism on this occasion: I would have thought that the flexibility that electronic publication provides would make it an obvious option for them to have published Jeffery's response, especially as the original review was so lengthy. I can't think of a good reason for them to avoid publishing Jeffery's response, and there are some strongly worded comments to the same effect at the end of his piece.

Jeffery is charting reactions to his book on his website.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Review of Biblical Literature Latest

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

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

Reviewed by Eric Noffke

Beverly Roberts Gaventa
Our Mother Saint Paul
Reviewed by Angela Standhartinger

Daniel M. Gurtner
The Torn Veil: Matthew's Exposition of the Death of Jesus
Reviewed by Tony Costa

Othmar Keel
Die Geschichte Jerusalems und die Entstehung des Monotheismus

Reviewed by Ernst Axel Knauf

Martin O'Kane
Painting the Text: The Artist as Biblical Interpreter

Reviewed by Dan W. Clanton Jr.

John Piper
The Future of Justification: A Response to N. T. Wright
Reviewed by Don Garlington

Lance Byron Richey
Roman Imperial Ideology and the Gospel of John
Reviewed by Warren Carter

Diane M. Sharon and Kathryn F. Kravitz, eds.
Bringing the Hidden to Light: The Process of Interpretation: Studies in Honor of Stephen A. Geller
Reviewed by Adele Berlin

Christopher J. H. Wright
The Mission of God: Unlocking the Bible's Grand Narrative
Reviewed by Christopher N. Chandler

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Review of Biblical Literature: More catch-up

Some more catching up on the SBL Review of Biblical Literature, which now brings us up to date:

John Barton
The Nature of Biblical Criticism
Reviewed by James D. G. Dunn

Roland Boer
Symposia: Dialogues concerning the History of Biblical Interpretation
Reviewed by Henning Graf Reventlow

Andrew Chester
Messiah and Exaltation: Jewish Messianic and Visionary Traditions and New Testament Christology
Reviewed by Martin Karrer

Zeba A. Crook
Reconceptualising Conversion: Patronage, Loyalty, and Conversion in the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean
Reviewed by Dietmar Neufeld

A. Andrew Das
Solving the Romans Debate
Reviewed by Don Garlington

Max Küchler and Karl Matthias Schmidt, eds.
Texte-Fakten-Artefakte: Beiträge zur Bedeutung der Archäologie für die neutestamentliche Forschung
Reviewed by Gabriele Faßbeck

Edward P. Meadors
Idolatry and the Hardening of the Heart: A Study in Biblical Theology
Reviewed by Thomas J. Kraus

James M. Robinson
Jesus: According to the Earliest Witness
Reviewed by Robert A. Derrenbacker Jr.

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza
The Power of the Word: Scripture and the Rhetoric of Empire
Reviewed by Warren Carter

Mary L. Coloe
Dwelling in the Household of God: Johannine Ecclesiology and Spirituality
Reviewed by Cornelis Bennema

Ronald Herms
An Apocalypse for the Church and for the World: The Narrative Function of Universal Language in the Book of Revelation
Reviewed by David L. Barr

Timothy Paul Jones
Misquoting Truth: A Guide to the Fallacies of Bart Ehrman's Misquoting Jesus
Reviewed by Craig L. Blomberg

Jan Joosten and Peter J. Tomson, eds.
Voces Biblicae: Septuagint Greek and Its Significance for the New Testament
Reviewed by Hans Ausloos

J. A. (Bobby) Loubser
Oral and Manuscript Culture in the Bible: Studies on the Media Texture of the New Testament-Explorative Hermeneutics
Reviewed by Alan Kirk

Nicholas Perrin
Thomas, The Other Gospel
Reviewed by Kenneth D. Litwak

Don Sausa
The Jesus Tomb: Is It Fact or Fiction? Scholars Chime In
Reviewed by Mark R. Fairchild

John L. Thompson
Reading the Bible with the Dead: What You Can Learn from the History of Exegesis That You Can't Learn from Exegesis Alone
Reviewed by John Sandys-Wunsch

D. Francois Tolmie
Persuading the Galatians: A Text-Centred Rhetorical Analysis of a Pauline Letter
Reviewed by Steven A. Hunt

Elaine M. Wainwright
Women Healing/Healing Women: The Genderization of Healing in Early Christianity
Reviewed by John J. Pilch

Ulrich Wilckens
Theologie des Neuen Testaments, Vol. 1: Geschichte der urchristlichen Theologie: Part 1: Geschichte des Wirkens Jesu in Galiläa; Part 2: Jesu Tod und Auferstehung und die Entstehung der Kirche aus Juden und Heiden; Part 3: Die Briefe des Urchristetums: Paulus und seine Schüler, Theologen aus dem Bereich judenchristlicher Heidenmission; Part 4: Die Evangelien, die Apostelgeschichte, die Johannesbriefe, die Offenbarung und die Entstehung des Kanons
Reviewed by Christoph Stenschke

Joan Cecelia Campbell
Kinship Relations in the Gospel of John
Reviewed by Ritva H. Williams

Daniel K. Falk
The Parabiblical Texts: Strategies for Extending the Scriptures among the Dead Sea Scrolls
Reviewed by Matthew Goff

Karin Finsterbusch, Armin Lange, and K. F. Diethard Römheld, eds.
Human Sacrifice in Jewish and Christian Tradition
Reviewed by Jason Tatlock

John Fotopoulos, ed.
The New Testament and Early Christian Literature in Greco-Roman Context: Studies in Honor of David E. Aune
Reviewed by Michael Labahn
Reviewed by Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr

Paul M. Fullmer
Resurrection in Mark's Literary-Historical Perspective
Reviewed by John Dart

James K. Mead
Biblical Theology: Issues, Methods, and Themes
Reviewed by James D. G. Dunn

Romano Penna
Lettera ai Romani: II. Rm 6-11
Reviewed by Lee S. Bond

William Varner
The Way of the Didache: The First Christian Handbook
Reviewed by Jonathan A. Draper

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Review of Biblical Literature Catch-up Post

The latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the New Testament and related heading:

Loveday C. A. Alexander
Acts in Its Ancient Literary Context: A Classicist Looks at the Acts of the Apostles
Reviewed by Chrys C. Caragounis

Markus Bockmuehl and James Carleton Paget, eds.
Redemption and Resistance: The Messianic Hopes of Jews and Christians in Antiquity
Reviewed by Joshua Ezra Burns

Frances Taylor Gench
Encounters with Jesus: Studies in the Gospel of John
Reviewed by John Painter

L. Ann. Jervis
At the Heart of the Gospel: Suffering in the Earliest Christian Message
Reviewed by Thomas W. Gillespie

Robert Kysar
John: The Maverick Gospel
Reviewed by Dirk G. van der Merwe

Terence C. Mournet
Oral Tradition and Literary Dependency: Variability and Stability in the Synoptic Tradition and Q
Reviewed by Robert K. McIver

Geert van Oyen and Tom Shepherd, eds.
The Trial and Death of Jesus: Essays on the Passion Narrative in Mark
Reviewed by Adam D. Winn

Gerald O. West, ed.
Reading Other-Wise: Socially Engaged Biblical Scholars Reading with Their Local Communities
Reviewed by Erhard S. Gerstenberger
Reviewed by Gosnell Yorke

Beate Ego and Helmut Merkel, eds.
Religiöses Lernen in der biblischen, frühjüdischen und früjchristlichen Überlieferung
Reviewed by Wilhelm Pratscher

Eldon Jay Epp
Junia: The First Woman Apostle
Reviewed by Nancy Calvert-Koyzis

Ivan Shing Chung Kwong
The Word Order of the Gospel of Luke: Its Foregrounded Messages
Reviewed by Steven Runge

Philip L. Mayo
"Those Who Call Themselves Jews": The Church and Judaism in the Apocalypse of John
Reviewed by Jack T. Sanders

John Howard Schütz
Paul and the Anatomy of Apostolic Authority
Reviewed by Graydon F. Snyder

Tommy Wasserman
The Epistle of Jude: Its Text and Transmission
Reviewed by Stephen D. Patton

Herbert W. Bateman IV, ed.
Four Views on the Warning Passages in Hebrews
Reviewed by Felix H. Cortez

Martin Brändl
Der Agon bei Paulus: Herkunft und Profil paulinischer Agonmetaphoik
Reviewed by Christoph Stenschke

Keith Augustus Burton
The Blessing of Africa: The Bible and African Christianity
Reviewed by J. N. K Mugambi

Joseph A. Fitzmyer
The One Who Is to Come
Reviewed by Jeffrey L. Staley

Kathy L. Gaca and L. L. Welborn, eds.
Early Patristic Readings of Romans
Reviewed by David A. Creech

Ilze Kezbere
Umstrittener Monotheismus: Wahre und falsche Apotheose im lukanischen Doppelwerk
Reviewed by Knut Backhaus

David Milson
Art and Architecture of the Synagogue in Late Antique Palestine: In the Shadow of the Church
Reviewed by Jonathan L. Reed

George T. Montague
Understanding the Bible: A Basic Introduction to Biblical Interpretation
Reviewed by Gosnell Yorke

Valerie M. Warrior
Roman Religion
Reviewed by Edmund P. Cueva

Friday, May 16, 2008

Orality and Literacy IV: Secondary Orality in Christian Origins Scholarship

In my previous post, Orality and Literacy III: Secondary Orality and Ong, I talked a little about the concept of "secondary orality" in its dominant usage in the guild. However, there has recently emerged another, different usage of the same term in scholarship on early Christian literature. April DeConick recently mentioned this in her post What is Secondary Orality? Having discussed "secondary orality" in its dominant usage, coined by Ong, she goes on:
Now what, if anything, does secondary orality have to do with oral-rhetorical cultures like the one we study? Here things get even more confusing. Scholars, including myself, have used this word to refer to possible moments when we think we see preserved in a piece of literature orality that is dependent on another piece of literature. An example? A saying in one of the gospels that is not literarily dependent on another piece of literature (that is, it hasn't been copied from one text into the other). Rather the author may have heard the saying read and is writing that down, or some such scenario.
April goes on to suggest that the new usage of the term is unhelpful -- "I wish we had never started using this term in this new way". But where did it begin? The earliest use of it in this sense that I can find is Werner Kelber, The Oral and the Written Gospel: the Hermeneutics of Speaking and Writing in the Synoptic Tradition, Mark, Paul, and Q (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983), in the following places:
Obviously, orality derived from texts is not the same as primary orality, which operates without the aid of texts. The passion narrative is largely built on texts and texts recycled into the oral medium, that is, secondary orality. (197).

The gospel as parable exemplifies its delicate status in the ancient world of communication. As text, we observed, it absorbed and transformed oral speech into a new linguistic construct. But we also had occasion to suspect that the gospel—like most texts in antiquity—was meant to be read aloud and heard. The text appears to be torn between competing tendencies. How can it be both removed from and committed to orality? The categories of primary and secondary orality [italics original] will help clarify the matter. Those oral units that we previously discussed (chap. 2) constitute primary orality. They owe their very existence to oral verbalization. Insofar as they contributed to the building of the gospel, they underwent decontextualization and recontextualization (chap. 3). The resultant text, as all texts, is fixed and in a sense dead, permanently open [218] to visual inspection and the object of unceasing efforts at interpretation. If this text enters the world of hearers by being read aloud, it functions as secondary orality. But now the story narrated is one that was never heard in primary orality, for it comprises textually filtered and contrived language. (217-8).
Kelber's departure from Ong's use of the term "secondary orality" is self-conscious. In a footnote to the second of those two passages, he writes:
In communications theory secondary orality usually refers to electronically mediated sound. We would suggest a differentiation of three types of orality: primary orality, textually mediated or secondary orality, and electronically mediated or tertiary orality. (226, n.118)
As far as I can tell, the term "secondary orality" is first applied to the Gospel of Thomas's mediation of Synoptic tradition by Klyne Snodgrass, "The Gospel of Thomas: A Secondary Gospel", Second Century 7 (1989-90), 19-38, where he attempts to make clear that he is not talking about a kind of direct literary "copying" by Thomas of the Synoptics; instead, he suggests, Thomas is "witness of a 'secondary orality'" (28), footnoting Kelber for "the expression".

Snodgrass, however, only uses the term in passing. The scholar who develops the term most fully in relation to Thomas is Risto Uro, who also cites Haenchen for the concept, "Literatur zum Thomasevangelium", Theologische Rundschau 27 (1961), 147-78 (178), which of course predates Kelber. Uro's key article on the topic is "'Secondary Orality' in the Gospel of Thomas? Logion 14 as a Test Case", Forum 9:3-4 (305-29), reprinted as "Thomas and the Oral Gospel Tradition" in Risto Uro (ed.), (SNTW, Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1998), 8-32. Like Kelber, Uro uses it in self-conscious differentiation from the standard usage in orality / literacy studies (see 10, n. 11 of the reprint), and it means the indirect dependence on the Synoptic Gospels mediated orally. For a further comment, see also Risto Uro, Thomas: Seeking the Historical Context of the Gospel of Thomas (London & New York: Continuum, 2003), Chapter 5, especially 109.

Most recently, April DeConick has used the term in the same sense. As far as I can tell, it does not appear in the first of her two major new volumes, Recovering the Original Gospel of Thomas (Early Christianity in Context; LNTS 286; London & New York: T & T Clark, 2005), but it occurs fairly frequently in the second, The Original Gospel of Thomas in Translation (Early Christianity in Context; LNTS 287; London & New York: T & T Clark, 2006). It occurs on 18, 21, 22, 24, 53, 89, 94, 111, 134, 140, 167, 169, 188, 194, 200, 201, 208, 215, 235, 261, 269, but on each occasion it is used as a convenient shorthand for oral mediation of Synoptic texts to Thomas. As I read it, there is not a lot invested in this term in the book, and April's recent comment on her blog, in which she expresses some scepticism about the term, may confirm this impression.

Given the more established use of the term in in oral and literacy studies, it may be that it is wise to drop the term in Christian origins (and especially Thomas) scholarship, where it may cause confusion. The question that then arises is whether there are other ways of conceptualizing the kind of indirect, oral mediation of a tradition from one text to another. I would like to make some suggestions on this topic in due course.

Orality and Literacy III: Secondary Orality and Ong

In an interesting post on Forbidden Gospels Blog, April DeConick responds to an element in my post Orality and Literacy II: Clarifying the Critique of Dunn by asking the question What is Secondary Orality?. One of the encouraging things about this discussion is that it continues to anticipate things I was hoping to discuss in my current series on Orality and Literacy. See also Loren Rosson's Busybody post Back to Oral Culture II and Judy Redman's useful contribution Orality and Literacy. April helpfully discusses two quite different meanings of "secondary orality" in the scholarship, the one established by Walter Ong, for whom "The electronic age is also an age of 'secondary orality', the orality of telephones, radio, and television, which depends on writing and print for its existence" (Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (London; New York: Methuen, 1982), 3), and the other one that has become common in Christian origins scholarship in reference to an author's indirect, oral familiarity with a prior text. The latter is particularly associated with Gospel of Thomas scholarship where scholars occasionally appeal to the author's familiarity with the Synoptic Gospels through a process of secondary orality, as opposed to direct literary dependence. In this post, I would like to talk a little about secondary orality in the first of those two senses, the sense established by Ong, and I will go on to discuss the other use of secondary orality in my next post.

Walter Ong was prescient in his realization of the emerging importance of secondary orality, something he was already discussing in 1971 (Rhetoric, Romance and Technology: Studies in the Interaction of Expression and Culture (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1971), Chapter 12, especially 299), but the generation that separates us from Ong's important studies has demonstrated an explosion in secondary orality of the kind that he could hardly have imagined. When Ong conceptualizes secondary orality, his list of electronic devices now naturally looks dated. The following statement is typical:
. . . the 'secondary orality' of present-day high-technology culture, in which a new orality is sustained by telephone, radio, television and other electronic devices that depend for their existence and functioning on writing and print (Orality and Literacy, 11)
"Telephone, radio, television and other electronic devices" -- the computer revolution has hardly dawned. When, twelve years later, Robert Fowler (in the essay mentioned by Loren Rosson) is exploring "How the secondary orality of the electronic age can awaken us to the primary orality of antiquity", his list of what is involved in the discussion of secondary orality includes the following:
However, by means of our computers, telephones, televisions, VCRs, CD players, and tape recorders, hypertext breaks into our cozy study, grabs us by the scruff of the next [sic?], and plunges us full-bore into the advent(ure) of secondary orality.
It is interesting to see in this snapshot of a moment in the development of the culture of secondary orality (and Fowler himself is prescient in this fascinating article) that there are items in this list that were absent from Ong's list. And to us, in 2008, Fowler's 1994 list already looks dated. VCRs and tape recorders are already going the way of vinyl before them. One cannot buy cassettes or videos on the High Street any more. Tape is no more. We would now talk about DVDs, DVRs, downloads, blackberries, podcasts, P2P, streaming, etc. It is easy to see that one is living in a revolution when the items in the list are changing so rapidly.

This brings us back to where we began in this series (Orality and Literacy I: Exaggerated contrasts with our culture?) and my claim about Dunn, that he was inclined to underestimate the extent of orality in our culture; he conceptualizes our culture solely in the terms of academic sub-culture of the library, the scholarly monograph and the article. There is nothing surprising here; we speak of what we know. Indeed Ong himself is a case in point. When he discusses television and radio, he begins to think in terms of political figures and their oratory (Orality and Literacy, 136-7). On the only occasion that he specifies a particular radio programme, it is "a recently published series of radio lectures" by Lévi Strauss (Orality and Literacy, 174). Perhaps it is unsurprising, therefore, that Ong thinks in terms of television, radio and electronic devices "that depend for their existence and functioning on writing and print" (above, but often repeated). While there is obviously a lot of truth in that, it is worth adding that a huge amount of the content of television, radio, the internet, podcasts is spontaneous and not formally dependent on writing or print. One example among many is the coverage of sport.

It is worth asking ourselves whether, as academics, we are inclined to play down orality in our culture and whether this may lead to exaggerated, even romanticized notions of the primary orality of the past. Once again I would like to repeat that I regard it as essential that the ancient historian attempts to understand the utter difference of the ancient world from ours, and to realize just how difficult it is for us to conceptualize the primary orality of antiquity. But it does not need to be a part of that project to mis-conceptualize contemporary world.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Latest Harvard Theological Review

There is one NT related article in the latest Harvard Theological Review:

Fragments from the Cartonnage of P75
James M. Robinson
Harvard Theological Review, Volume 101, Issue 02, April 2008, pp 231-252
doi: 10.1017/S001781600800179X, Published online by Cambridge University Press 12 May 2008
In November 1985, the British Museum turned over to me photographs in their files that they had made while conserving the leather binding of P75 for the Bibliothèque Bodmer, which contained fragments of Luke and John not previously published in the editio princeps or otherwise available to scholarship. This article reports on these fragments and includes three plates of the photographs.

Orality and Literacy II: Clarifying the Critique of Dunn

One of the benefits of writing a blog is that one is able to clarify earlier posts in the light of listening to the way that they have been read. Before beginning my series on Orality and Literacy, I was aware of the dangers of being misread, and in my first post I attempted to lay down a few markers, in particular aiming to make clear that I was not issuing any kind of challenge to the essential contrast between our literate culture and the oral culture of antiquity. It is, of course, in the nature of such posts that readers are tempted to skip over the position markers and infer a perspective more radical than the one the author actually holds. It is also important to bear in mind the sketch-like nature of blog posts, what I called "snapshots" of my thinking at a given moment.

There is actually little I disagree with in April DeConick's post on The Forbidden Gospels Blog, What is Orality? and, as always, I am grateful to April for taking the time to write with her characteristic fervour. As I wrote in comments over on her blog, though, the point of my post was to talk about the way in which we are inclined to caricature our own literate culture, to exaggerate the contrasts for rhetorical effect. I am in part being playful here, looking at how Dunn's conceptualization of our culture is in fact falling short -- I have not in this initial post even begun to deal with the ancient world. (April does not mention Dunn in her response but instead implies that my comments were targeted more broadly as an attempt to challenge contemporary work on orality in the ancient world.) It may take a few more posts in my series before my thinking on this is as clearly articulated as I would like, but let me mention here one element that I hope to return to, that we need to take seriously "secondary orality" in our culture (the term is, of course, Walter Ong's; cf. Loren Rosson's anticipation of the topic on The Busybody).

Where Dunn uses the interesting analogy of the computer's "default setting", he gives examples from word-processing, an important part of that heavily literate academic sub-culture that many of us live and breathe. But the computer could also provide a means of illustrating elements of secondary orality. The computer is now a telephone, a radio, a television and more. One of the most exciting challenges to us as early twenty-first scholars of antiquity is the exploration of comparisons and contrasts with the primary orality of the period we are studying.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Orality and Literacy I: Exaggerated contrasts with our culture?

In a lot of recent New Testament scholarship, there has been a welcome corrective to our natural tendency to make the world of the evangelists into a very textual, a very literary world, to conceptualize it in anachronistic fashion as being similar to our own. There has been a renewed stress on orality and the importance of understanding oral communication and how processes of spreading oral tradition might have impacted on the formation of the Gospels. In a series of posts, I would like to offer some of my own reflections on this scholarly trend. This will be done as an experiment in "thinking out loud" as I think through the literature and reflect on certain elements that have been insufficiently discussed in the past. As always with blog posts, these are at best snapshots of my thinking at a given point, and not the result of detailed, mature reflection ready for print publication.

I would like to comment here on one of the elements in the way that the case is argued in the scholarship. When contemporary scholars are attempting to contrast our culture with that of the ancient world, they sometimes greatly exaggerate the literary nature of our culture. (By "our culture" here I mean early twenty-first century life in the west, particularly the English speaking west). James D. G. Dunn is a case in point. In his important article, “Altering the Default Setting: Re-envisaging the Early Transmission of the Jesus Tradition,” New Testament Studies 49/2 (2003), 139-75, he writes:
We here are all children of Gutenberg and Caxton. We belong to cultures shaped by the book. Our everyday currency is the learned article and monograph. Libraries are our natural habitat. (142).
There is, of course, a lot of truth in this; no one would deny the importance of the book in our culture. But what Dunn is talking about here is not so much our culture, which is full of orality at every turn, but the academic sub-culture of research and writing. Even within that sub-culture, our literary research interacts with oral and aural elements. Our primary means of communicating our scholarship is the classroom, which is all about speaking and hearing and only minimally about text. For many of us, the oral interaction in the classroom is a major contributor to the development of our thoughts. In the preparation of our scholarship, the oral plays a key role. Dunn's own article began life as an SNTS Presidential address in 2002. A lot of my work has begun life as conference papers, presented orally (and yes, I know that a lot of scholars simply read papers out loud, but even there, the primary means by which their scholarship is being appropriated is aurally). The interaction between written draft, oral presentation, revised drafts in the light of live questioning -- these are the staples of the development of academic work. Thus where Dunn conceptualizes the scholar as living in the library, I prefer to think of the enterprise as one of interaction in which solitary library time is only one feature, and not necessarily the most important feature.

Outside of that academic sub-culture, the world we live in is a world still dominated by orality. Many more people receive their news through television and radio, oral media, than through newspapers. And many who do use newspapers are now no longer simply reading them but they are combining the reading experience with watching online videos, listening to podcasts and so on. I describe myself as an avid Guardian "reader" because of the familiarity of that expression, but my "reading" in fact incorporates Guardian podcasts and sometimes also video material.

Dunn is inclined to underestimate the extent of orality in our own culture. Later in the article, he writes:
In an overwhelmingly literary culture our experience of orality is usually restricted to casual gossip and the serendipitous reminiscences of college reunions. (149).
This is a surprising statement in the light of the pervasive orality of our culture. The spoken word is everywhere. For many, the written word is secondary. It is worth reminding ourselves that being literate does not necessarily mean that the written word is primary, or that we always think along literary lines. Consider the specific case of knowledge of the Bible. As any of us who have taught the New Testament know, our students' knowledge of the texts is often received through oral tradition and not through direct familiarity with the text. How many people who think they know the Christmas story get their knowledge directly from reading Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2 (or the Protevangelium of James)? Very few. Their knowledge is conveyed through our culture's oral tradition and its harmonized and legendary version of the story so frequently retold.

My point here is not to attempt to narrow the gap between the ancient world and our world. The key task of the ancient historian is to convey some sense of the utter difference of the worlds we study from our own, and to avoid anachronistic reading in of our own way of looking at things. My point rather is that in our attempts to conceptualize the ancient world, we should be careful not to lapse into caricature of the modern world. Imagine the person who in a millennium is reading Dunn's article, looking for information about how we communicate with one another in the early twenty-first century -- that researcher would have precious little idea of how we actually live our lives. We live in libraries ("our natural habitat"), we trade in monographs and learned articles ("our everyday currency"). Where Dunn is exploring the analogy of a computer's "default setting", he conceives of the computer solely in word-processing terms, not as a communications device that combines the functions of television, radio, telephone and more.

It may be that the attempt to reimagine the orality of antiquity proceeds in part from the contemporary academic's anxiety about the heavily literary nature of his or her experience of the contemporary world. Dunn is one of the most prolific New Testament scholars ever -- his latest book running, apparently, to 1300 pages. Is it a coincidence that the scholars who stress the attempt to regain access to an ancient oral culture are those who are the most prolific writers in the contemporary culture?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Review of Biblical Literature Latest

Latest from the SBL Review of Biblical Literature under the New Testament and related heading (with a catch-up megapost to come):

Paul N. Anderson
The Fourth Gospel and the Quest for Jesus: Modern Foundations Reconsidered
Reviewed by John Painter

April D. DeConick
The Original Gospel of Thomas in Translation: With a Commentary and New English Translation of the Complete Gospel
Reviewed by Stephan Witetschek

Mikael C. Parsons
Body and Character in Luke and Acts: The Subversion of Physiognomy in Early Christianity
Reviewed by Pieter J. J. Botha
Reviewed by Patrick E. Spencer

Todd Penner and Caroline Vander Stichele, eds.
Moving beyond New Testament Theology? Essays in Conversation with Heikki Räisänen
Reviewed by Jan van der Watt

Richard L. Rohrbaugh
The New Testament in Cross-Cultural Perspective
Reviewed by Stephan Joubert

C. Kavin Rowe
Early Narrative Christology: The Lord in the Gospel of Luke
Reviewed by Christopher Tuckett

Brad H. Young
Meet the Rabbis: Rabbinic Thought and the Teachings of Jesus
Reviewed by Verlyn D. Verbrugge

End of the Philo Blog, Birth of the RPBS blog

I have been meaning to comment for some time on the sad news of The End of Torrey Seland's Philo of Alexandria Blog, announced at the end of March. It seemed sad to me because Torrey's blog was one of the earliest of the biblioblogs and he was on the panel with us at the SBL session on blogging in November 2005, when the panel for that session effectively chose itself. But it's good to see that with death comes new birth, and the R B P S Blog (Resource Pages for Biblical Studies Blog) comes onto the scene. I am greatly encouraged by this development because I have continued to think about the future of the New Testament Gateway, and I am encouraged that one of the pioneers of the gateway site (RPBS predates the New Testament Gateway by a good couple of years, and the New Testament Gateway is now over a decade old) is still working on his site and thinking of fresh ways to keep it vibrant.

Ehrman vs. Wright Smackdown

If you haven't already seen it, there is an interesting exchange between Bart Ehrman and N. T. Wright over on Beliefnet. It's the kind of thing they used to call a "smackdown" but they have replaced that term with the more gentlemanly "Blogalogue - Debates with Spirit":

Is Our Pain God's Problem?

You have to read them from the bottom up if you navigate from that page, or you can begin with Ehrman's first and proceed through each contribution (three each) by clicking through at the top of each page. The debate is interesting but ultimately frustrating. As is also characteristic of the old "smackdowns" on Beliefnet, the scholars who are debating with one another are celebrity scholars and their tendency is to use the opportunity to expound their own views afresh, often using the other's views only as prompts. In other words, one never gets the feeling of rigorous intellectual exchange of the kind where the scholars are thinking fresh thoughts. At the end of Ehrman's last post, for example, he asks Wright if he agrees on any one of four of the leading claims in his new book. Wright does not answer the question directly, but implies that it is the wrong question. To be fair to both, I do feel that each one is trying to listen to the other, but perhaps what we need on these occasions is a live debate with a chairperson who can hold each one to account, and direct each one to speak in bite-sized chunks rather than mini-essays.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Summer Writing

I finished grading undergraduate papers at 6.45am yesterday and although I still have several projects on my desk, I begin now to look forward to that happy time in the academic's life, the summer writing season. It is similar in length for the British academic and for the American academic but it begins and ends at different times, May to August in the US, June to September in the UK. Usually speaking, I begin the summer full of optimism about how much I am going to write. I then get about half of that done, with all those other projects on my desk crowding it out, reading and editing manuscripts, writing shorter articles for multi-author works, reviewing books, and continuing to excavate the email mountain, to say nothing of housework, family and, I hope, relaxation and travel. This summer I am determined to get more of the top grade kind of writing done (book and articles), spending less time on the "jobbing" kind of writing. The latter is necessary but the former is where one gets the most satisfaction and intellectual stimulation. For this process, lots of discipline is required and I have decided to make a few rules for myself:

(1) Email correspondence will be limited to early mornings and evenings. The day is for writing. In line with this, I have switched off my automatic alerts so that I cannot be distracted by the arrival of interesting (or threatening) looking emails that drag me in.

(2) Pidgin will be switched off all day. The day is for writing.

(3) My best writing time is the morning; I will therefore focus specially on the nitty gritty of writing in the mornings.

(4) I will resist chasing references and following hunches during the day. The day is for writing.

(5) I will only blog during the day if it is directly related to the topic of the book or articles I am writing. Broader blogging is for early morning or evenings.

(6) The New Testament Gateway requires some serious work, but cannot be a priority at this stage. The day is for writing. If I can get back to the New Testament Gateway in due course, that will be fantastic. If I cannot, I am going to have to be selfish and prioritize writing.

These are a few rules I am setting myself. I am also making myself accountable to my blog. The book I am working on at the moment is provisionally entitled Thomas and the Gospels and is about the relationship of the Gospel of Thomas to the Synoptics. My hope is to break the back of this this summer, ideally also finishing a couple of articles I am working on. I'll check in again in August to see what the progress is like.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Verhoeven Jesus book -- bringing his film project closer?

Here on the NT Gateway Blog, we've been keeping an eye for some years on the proposed Paul Verhoeven Jesus film. There has been nothing to report for a long time, but now it seems that Verhoeven has published his own Jesus book as a step on the road towards his Jesus film. Predictably, the media has mainly latched onto some of the more sensational elements in the book. Matt Page, on Bible Films Blog, is, as usual, up to speed with developments.

Biblical Studies Carnival 29

Jim West has done an excellent job with the latest Biblical Studies Carnival:

Biblical Studies Carnival 29

It's a great way of catching up if you've had an enforced absence from the blogosphere for a bit. First class job, Jim.