Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Who Was Jesus? (1977) is Now Online

I have blogged my fascination with the 1977 BBC documentary Who Was Jesus? on a couple of occasions (Caird, Flusser and Cupitt on Who Was Jesus? (1977) and Who Was Jesus? (1977)) and I've been really keen to see it for many years. I remember listening to my mum's audio recording of the series as a youngster; I have always been intrigued by Don Cupitt, whose views were something of a cause célèbre when I began theological study; my interest in the history of documentaries on the Bible is always growing; and perhaps more than anything I was very excited about the possibility of seeing one of my beloved teachers, John Fenton, on film. So when Peter Armstrong released a twenty minute clip back in 2013, there was some hope that there might be more on the way. Now that has happened!

Peter Armstrong, the producer of Who Was Jesus?, has now put all two hours of the documentary online for all to view for free. It's in two parts and it's fascinating in all sorts of ways:

Who Was Jesus?







Part 1 is in many senses the documentary proper. It includes the earlier released clip of the conversations with George Caird and David Flusser, but it also features an enjoyable exchange with Anthony Birley about the existence of Jesus, and the conversation with John Fenton I mentioned above.

Part 2 is largely Cupitt's reflections on what he has discovered in part 1, along with exchanges with Michael Green (including a great shot of him putting a board outside St Aldate's Church in Oxford, with Christ Church in the background), Christopher Butler, and Brian Hebblethwaite, all three of whom had recently contributed to The Truth of God Incarnate, the book written to counter The Myth of God Incarnate, to which Cupitt had contributed along with John Hick, Michael Goulder, Dennis Nineham, Frances Young and others.

In some respects the documentary appears rather dated. The scholars are almost all British white males of a certain age, and the interviews with them go on for long segments -- they are nothing like the twenty-second soundbites we get now. But in other respects, the documentary covers a lot of ground, and I can't help thinking that today's fast-paced documentaries lose something of the grace and space that Cupitt is given to develop his thoughts. Cupitt is a charming and compelling guide -- intrigued, troubled and personally engaged in the subject matter he is exploring.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Summer Seminar with Prof. Robert Cargill and me in Minnesota

There is still time to book for the Biblical Archaeology Society's Summer Seminar event with Prof. Robert Cargill and me at St Olaf College in July. Here are the details:

St Olaf College Summer Seminar with Robert Cargill and Mark Goodacre

St. Olaf College
Northfield, Minnesota
July 16 – July 22, 2017

The Biblical Archaeology Society invites you to join us this summer at our ever-popular St. Olaf program on the beautiful campus of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Our featured speakers are BAR’s new associate editor, Dr. Robert Cargill of the University of Iowa as well as Dr. Mark Goodacre of Duke University, one of our most popular and engaging speakers. These two dynamic presenters will be our scholars-in-residence for the week, and their 20-lecture program promises to be an exciting window into the latest research in the field of Biblical archaeology . . .

Read more . . .

I am taking as my topic "Gospel Truth? A Historical Investigation of the Gospels" (lecture titles and abstracts here).  I am very much looking forward to spending time with Prof. Cargill as well as those of you who are planning to join us! 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Paul of Tarsus (1960) clips in The TV That Made Me

Almost ten years ago, I blogged about the forgotten BBC TV Series, Paul of Tarsus (1960), starring Patrick Troughton (Paul of Tarsus (1960); More on Paul of Tarsus (BBC, 1960); Paul of Tarsus (1960): More details). In the intervening years, I have never had any success in viewing this, but at last we can actually now see some brief clips.

In an episode of The TV That Made Me, Brian Conley interviews Anne Widdecombe about her favourite television, and she cites Paul of Tarsus as her earliest TV memory. I've excerpted the relevant section of the episode and uploaded to Youtube here:





The clips are tantalizingly brief, but what we see of Troughton playing Paul suggests that his performance was marvellous. It's also nice that The Passion (BBC / HBO, 2008) gets a mention at the end.

Many thanks to Tony Bellows for alerting me to this episode of The TV That Made Me. It was recently repeated, but the original broadcast was on BBC1 on 20 August 2015.

Monday, May 01, 2017

Speaker's Lectures in Biblical Studies: John's Knowledge of the Synoptic Gospels

I'm giving the Speaker's Lectures in Biblical Studies in Oxford this year, beginning tomorrow (Tuesday). Full details below:


John's Knowledge of the Synoptic Gospels

Mark Goodacre
Professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Duke University
12 noon in the Pusey Room, Keble College
The Graduate Workshop will take place between 2pm and 4pm in the Gibbs Room, Keble College

The Lectures are open to the public

A series of four lectures delivered as follows:

Tuesday, 2nd May
"I believe in Dodd": John, Jesus and Historical Tradition

Wednesday, 3rd May
John's Dramatic Transformation of the Synoptics

Tuesday, 9th May
The Beloved Disciple for Readers of the Synoptics

Wednesday, 10th May
John's Christological Transformation of the Synoptics + Graduate Workshop (2pm-4pm)

--

I look forward to seeing some of you there! Link to this information on the University of Oxford Faculty of Theology and Religion website is here. PDF poster here

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Gospel of Jesus' Wife Updates

It would be easy to think that there would be nothing new to say about the Gospel of Jesus' Wife after the dramatic events of last June (chronicled here under the headings The Owner of the Gospel of Jesus' Wife is Unmasked and Gospel of Jesus' Wife: Last Chapter Round-up), but as I was preparing to teach the topic today in my Non-Canonical Gospels class, I came across several elements that are worth noting.

First, New Testament Studies has just published a follow-up to Andrew Bernhard's earlier article that showed how the Gospel of Jesus' Wife was dependent on Michael Grondin's online Gospel of Thomas Interlinear. Bernhard's latest article develops material first posted here (The End of the Gospel of Jesus' Wife Forgery Debate; The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: “Patchwork Forgery” in Coptic . . . and English (Recap); The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: “Patchwork” Forgery in Coptic . . . and English) and it's great to see this material now developed and published in NTS:

Postscript: A Final Note about the Origin of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife
Andrew Bernhard
NTS 63/2 (April 2017): 305-17
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S0028688516000370  Published online: 06 March 2017
The owner of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife provided Karen King with an interlinear translation of the text. Like the Coptic of the papyrus fragment, the English of this interlinear translation appears dependent on ‘Grondin's Interlinear Coptic/English Translation of the Gospel of Thomas’. It shares a series of distinctive textual features with Grondin's work and even appears to translate two Coptic words found in the Gospel of Thomas but not in the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. Consequently, the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife seems undeniably to be a ‘patchwork’ of brief excerpts from the Gospel of Thomas created after November 2002.
Congratulations to Andrew on the publication.

While I was preparing my class, I wanted to update my powerpoint to incorporate the key developments of the last eighteen months since I last taught it -- Walter Fritz, the Owner's Interlinear, and of course the utterly compelling article by Ariel Sabar. A lot has happened! In checking the official Harvard Divinity School website about the Gospel of Jesus' Wife to grab a copy of the Owner's Interlinear, I was surprised to see that it (the Interlinear) had been removed. But also the site has been significantly stripped down, and the statement conceding forgery has been removed. Here's the link to the revised version of the site:

Gospel of Jesus's Wife

To elaborate: back in June, Harvard Divinity School had updated the site to include a formal statement by its dean, David N. Hempton (reproduced here), in which he noted the article by Ariel Sabar, and the comments on it by Karen King, that the investigation "tips the balance towards forgery." I wonder why the decision was made to remove that statement and the other material?

The site retains an error. The "Imaging" page mentions that digital images of the Gospel of John fragment are available on the site, but they are not; that's why we had to extract the images from the PDFs of the scientific reports in order to see them.

I would also like to draw attention to two further elements of interest. The first is a short introduction to the text for a useful site called E-Clavis, posted as part of NASSCAL (North American Society for the Study of the Christian Apocryphal Literature):

Gospel of Jesus' Wife
Ian Brown

The entry includes a good bibliography, with lots of the major publications and posts on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife included.

The second is a a new summary by Andrew Bernhard of the case for forgery just posted:

The Gospel of Jesus’ Wife: Summary of Coptic and English Evidence of Forgery (March 8, 2017)

Thanks to Andrew for letting me know about this. Note: this is different from the formal NTS post listed above.

For previous posts on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife, please see this link: Gospel of Jesus' Wife. That's fifty-one posts in total!

Update (2.36pm): Although the images of Lycopolitan John are still not found on the official Gospel of Jesus Wife page (see above), they do appear in a really superb HD version now on the Harvard Library website:

MS Coptic 12. Houghton Library, Harvard University. Gospel of John fragment : manuscript, undated

The same site also provides the same kind of HD images for the Gospel of Jesus' Wife Fragment here:

MS Coptic 11. Houghton Library, Harvard University. Gospel of Jesus’s Wife : manuscript, circa 741

Note, however, that the date of "circa 741" is the date of the papyrus it was written on; the date of the text is, of course, twenty-first century.



Sunday, March 05, 2017

Finding Jesus Season Two

Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgery returns tonight for its second season. Tune in to CNN at 9pm ET/PT. Here's the trailer:




The first episode deals with Pontius Pilate and focuses on the Pilate stone. There's a clip here (featuring Candida Moss, Robert Cargill and me):





I've been doing some publicity for the series over the last few days including multiple radio interviews, but it was a special pleasure to talk to our own Duke Today:

The Historical Jesus: Separating Fact from Fiction

It's worth keeping an eye out on CNN this weekend too for interviews with Obery Hendricks and Robert Cargill.

There are several other things I could list, but I'll try to add more in the coming days and weeks as the episodes go out. One thing worth mentioning is a companion website for pastors available here:

CNN Finding Jesus Resources


Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Number of the Beast on Bible Mysteries

I get to the last lecture in my Introduction to the New Testament course tomorrow, and it provides the opportunity to talk about Revelation. I generally find that the subject matter is so interesting that I ask myself why I don't try to teach a whole course on Apocalyptic and the Apocalypse. 

One issue that has to be on the agenda is the number of the beast, something I have occasionally blogged on. On one of those occasions, I linked to a video in which Ian Boxall, sitting on Patmos, explains how it works, using pieces of pottery. Alas, that video long since disappeared. The clip was from a BBC series, Bible Mysteries (2003), which has never been commercially released. I am happy to have found a copy recently from which I have extracted the relevant clip. 

  video

As well as Prof. Ian Boxall (now of Catholic University of America), we see Prof. David Parker, OBE, of the University of Birmingham.