Monday, January 28, 2013

Myths of Mary and the Married Jesus

I am back in England for a couple of days and I'm here to give the second of this year's Cadbury Lectures at the University of Birmingham, which was once my happy home (1995-2005).  Details of this year's Cadbury Lectures are here:

22 January -- 19 March

My title and abstract:

Myths of Mary and the married Jesus: how popular culture is affecting scholarship
From Jesus Christ Superstar to the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, from the Last Temptation of Christ to the Da Vinci Code, this generation has seen a radical alteration in our perspectives on key characters in early Christianity. Mary Magdalene has been transformed from a repentant prostitute to the first apostle. Now she is even Jesus’ wife. But is Mary’s rehabilitation rooted in reassessments of the primary texts or is it a product of our own immersion in popular culture? What do we know about her Gospel, her tomb, her family? The real story of Mary’s rejuvenation is so mysterious that it leads us to question the identity of the woman we thought we knew.
It will be a fully illustrated talk (as long as we can get the powerpoint working) and it's tomorrow (Tuesday) at 6.

I am also looking forward to speaking today in the Biblical Studies Colloquium on the topic "How reliable is the story of the Nag Hammadi discoveries".  But I am of course most looking forward to catching up with old friends and colleagues in Birmingham!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Frans Neirynck (1927-2012)

I have only just found out that one of the great New Testament scholars, Frans Neirynck, has died (Death notice here).  Any scholar who had a three-thick-volume Festschrift is someone to be reckoned with.  I suppose the thing that he will be remembered for more than anything else is the detail and accuracy of his scholarship -- his articles were meticulously researched and presented with great clarity.

I have not been able to find much on the net in the way of obituaries, but Biblical Studies at Leuven has this fine tribute:

A tribute to Prof. Frans Neirynck

I never met Prof. Neirynck myself; he retired from the conference circuit at about the time that I was beginning to go to events.  From what I hear, though, he was a formidable character and a mighty warrior for his favourite positions, especially the Two Source Theory and John's use of the Synoptics.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Christopher Evans Memorial Service & Tributes

There was a memorial service for Christopher Evans last week at King's College, London and there are some details on the King's College website including two tributes that make delightful reading (both Word documents):

Right Revd Dr Peter Selby

Professor Morna Hooker

More on Christopher Evans, including obituaries, here.

Jesus and Jesus' Wife Walking on Water

In The Jewish Press, Yori Yanover adds this excellent picture of "that man" and "that woman" walking on water.  I must admit that I am rather taken by this picture.

Since the author of the article copies most of the content from John Finnegan's article in the Harvard Crimson without acknowledgement, I am sure he won't mind my reproducing his picture here.

Harvard Crimson on the Jesus' Wife Fragment

Harvard Crimson, the student paper of Harvard University, has an article today on the Jesus' Wife Fragment:

'Jesus's Wife' Parchment Continues to Ignite Controversy
According to Kathryn Dodgson, director of communications at HDS, the publication is waiting to print King’s article while the papyrus undergoes scientific analysis.
Once she receives the results of that analysis, King will incorporate them into the article for the Harvard Theological Review, Dodgson wrote in an email.
Currently analysts are testing the ink on the fragment to confirm that it dates from the fourth century like the papyrus itself, which has already been tested.
King could not be reached for comment on this article.
There are also comments in the article from Greg Sterling, Janet Timbie and me.

I'm sure many of my readers will have spotted the mistake in the title of the piece -- it's not "parchment".

The return of my blogroll

I had to get rid of my blogroll recently because a couple of blogs were getting flagged up by Google (incorrectly) as featuring malware, but then my automated links were being interpreted by Google as linking to the malware.  Happily, these issues seem now to have resolved themselves and I've added by blogroll again on the right hand side of the page.  

As it happens, it is fortuitous because blogger has ironed out some problems with its automated blogroll delivery, and it seems that now all the biblioblogs (and related blogs) that I subscribe to are showing up, in order of the most recent to post at the top.

The Bible Series Website and new video

More scenes from The Bible Series are now available in this new Youtube video set to a certain Pastor Charles Jenkins singing "Awesome":

The series now has its own website with lots of photographs and video clips here:

The Bible

I should perhaps mention again that there were several academic consultants involved in this project and I was one of them.

More on The Bible Series here.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Appearance on 700 Club Interactive, on the Jesus Wife Fragment

There's been a rumour circulating that I appeared on CBN's 700 Club Interactive just before Christmas, and I can confirm that the rumours are true.  It was something of a new experience for me.  I have to confess that I had not heard of the programme before they got in touch with me, but when I mentioned it to others, they were able to fill me in.  The topic was the Jesus' Wife Fragment, which they spent ten minutes or so discussing from about half-way through the programme (begin at 14:48).  There is a short report, featuring Karen King and Claire Pfann (University of the Holy Land) and then Gordon Robertson interviews me via Skype.  Here's the Youtube version:

Or you can view it on CBN here:

I enjoyed taking part in the programme, but working with Skype was a little stressful as the connection went pretty blurry from about half-way through.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Was Jesus Married to Mary Magdalene? at Baylor

I'm lecturing at Baylor University tomorrow on the topic, "Was Jesus Married to Mary Magdalene?"  They have put this nice poster together, which features details of time and location.  I look forward to seeing some of you there.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Life of St Paul (1938) on Youtube

You can now watch The Life of St Paul (dir. Norman Walker, 1938) in its entirety on Youtube.  It's not a film that I had ever seen;  in fact, I was only dimly aware of its existence.  Since it is not easy to get hold of on DVD, this is good news for Bible Film enthusiasts:

It is two hours long and stars Neal Arden as Paul.  IMDb's page on the film is here: Life of St Paul (1938).

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Bible Series Official Trailer

There's a new "official trailer" out now for The Bible series coming in March from History Channel:

More on The Bible Series here.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Holy Land Archaeology at Duke

My colleagues Eric Meyers and Carol Meyers are once again leading a group of a students in an intensive study of Holy Land Archaeology.

They flew out at the end of December and are currently busy touring Israel, seeing sites, listening to one another's insights on the key archaeological, historical and political issues:

Holy Land Archaeology at Duke

The photograph here is nicked from Ben Gordon, who is TAing on the tour, and it depicts the group gathered for the discussion by Iron Age storehouses at Hazor.

As you'd expect from Duke students (I know, I would say this, but it's true), the writing on the blog is clear and full of great insights.  The whole blog is superbly illustrated with lots of great pics, including this one of "verifiable archaeological rock stars" Eric Meyers and Carol Meyers:

Friday, January 04, 2013

Standing with Christian Brady

Our friend and fellow-blogger Christian Brady has suffered the unimaginable grief this week of the death of his son Mack.

Beyond Belief does Apocalyptic

The most recent episode of Radio 4's Beyond Belief discusses Apocalyptic. One of the guests is Philip Alexander, professor of Post-Biblical Jewish Literature at the University of Manchester, whose work will be well-known to many readers:

Beyond Belief: Apocalyptic
If you get to listen to this programme, it's because the Domesday scenario - according to which the world would end on December 21st - did not happen. The interpretation of the Mayan calendar that arrived at this date was derided by most Mayan scholars, but this hasn't stopped the media camping out in the French village of Bugarach, identified as the only village on earth which was to be spared destruction.
Apocalyptic ideas about the end of the world, as we in the West understand them, have their roots in the Jewish and Christian traditions. The popular imagery - the Mark of the Beast, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Whore of Babylon - feed the imagination of film makers and writers, who draw upon Biblical imagery.
Joining Ernie Rea to discuss the nature and role of apocalyptic ideas on western religion and culture are Dr Philip Alexander, Professor of Post Biblical Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester; Dr Stefan Skrimshire, lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Leeds; and Rev Dr Steve Jeffrey minister of Emmanuel Evangelical Church in North London. 
It's a good listen.  You can listen again at the link above, or you can download the podcast.  The programme is thirty minutes long.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Still no news on the Jesus' Wife Fragment

CNN's Belief Blog has today published an update on the testing of the Jesus' Wife Fragment:

"Jesus Wife" fragment gets more testing, delays article
 Eric Marrapodi

The news is that there is no news:
"We're moving ahead with the testing, but it is not yet complete, and so the article will await until we have the results," King said in an email to CNN.
"The owner of the fragment has been making arrangements for further testing and analysis of the fragment, including testing by independent laboratories with the resources and specific expertise necessary to produce and interpret reliable results. This testing is still underway," Kathyrn Dodgson, director of communications for the Harvard Divinity School, said in a email to CNN.
"Harvard Theological Review is planning to publish Professor King’s paper after conclusion of all the testing so that the results may be incorporated," Dodgson said. "Until testing is complete, there is nothing more to say at this point."
However, one useful point is here clarified, that the tests are being arranged not by Harvard but by the still anonymous "owner of the fragment".

For more on the fragment, including my own reflections on what I think is a forgery, see The Gospel of Jesus' Wife.