Monday, April 30, 2007

New from OUP

A couple of items of interest among new publications from Oxford University Press, announced in their Theology News email alert today and copied from there:
cover image

Jesus of Hollywood
Adele Reinhartz

  • Focuses on the cinematic representation of Jesus
  • Touches on such topics as Jesus' historical and cultural context, his biography, and his messianic identity

15 March 2007 | £17.99 | Hardback | 320 pages
For more details, visit:

cover image

Christ Killers
The Jews and the Passion from the Bible to the Big Screen
Jeremy Cohen

  • Tracks the image of the Jew as the murderer of the Messiah and God from its origins to its most recent expressions
  • The first book to focus on the powerful myth that has driven so much murderous hatred

22 March 2007 | £17.99 | Hardback | 337 pages
For more details, visit:


Friday, April 27, 2007

Richard Bauckham On-line Colloquium

It seems a long time since there's been a nice online colloquium with a top NT scholar. The good news is that Jim West announces a forthcoming colloquium on the Biblical Studies list, scheduled for 20-26 May, and to focus on Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. I notice in visiting the Biblical Studies list online that it now has over 650 subscribers, which is a pretty impressive number. I haven't been able to keep up with this list myself of late because its RSS feed has dropped, for some reason, and it doesn't seem to be possible to tap back into it again.


ITSEE is the Institute for Textual Scholarship and Electronic Editing, directed by David Parker, and located at the University of Birmingham. Its website has been updated today with pictures from the launch of ITSEE in September 2006 and pictures from the Fifth Birmingham Colloquium on the Textual Criticism of the New Testament held earlier this month.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Type Greek

I've added a link to a fine new resource on my Greek Fonts page:

Type Greek
By Randy Hoyt: a very useful tool, describing itself as "a web-based software tool that converts text from a standard keyboard into beautiful, polytonic Greek characters as you type. Using an easy-to-learn and standardized system called beta code, TypeGreek converts your keystrokes into Unicode-compliant Greek in real-time."

If you are not yet typing in unicode, this may be just what you are looking for. It behaves in the same way as the Unicode Classical Greek Inputter by James Naughton, which has often been mentioned on this blog (see all my entries on Unicode).

One minor comment: I find that the iota subscript only works if I am using a standard US keyboard, so to get it to work on my current computers, I have to switch to a US keyboard from my default UK keyboard. My guess is that that is a peculiarity of using a US PC with a UK keyboard, so this issue may be unique to the tiny set of people like me. (And if you want to know why I use a UK keyboard, it's because the @ is in a different place; likewise inverted commas and the £ symbol; years of touch typing on a UK keyboard makes the switch to US difficult).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

PhD: UK or USA?

Correspondent Zerihun Dula asks about the respective advantages and disadvantages of PhD programmes in the UK and the USA. I have some experience now of the USA via Duke University, and more experience of the UK via the University of Birmingham, and other universities where I have studied (Oxford) or examined (Glasgow, St Andrews, Aberdeen, Surrey, London), and this brief sketch is based on that limited experience.

Each country has its own advantages, and I can see why individuals prefer one over the other. The major difference between the two countries is the presence of course work in the American system. Each Duke PhD student has at least two years' course work under their belt before they embark on their dissertation. This contrasts radically with most British Universities, where there is no course work requirement. The typical British PhD student in Religion or Theology will spend most of their time as a PhD student on intensive work for their dissertation. I am convinced that the American system is superior here, especially with respect to preparing students for employment as academics. They have a much better grasp of a greater range of materials, and the necessity for the submission of papers to individual course tutors means that graduate students are often preparing research-quality work that is outside their ultimate dissertation topic. It is now common for the best PhD students in America to get pieces of course work accepted for publication in major journals. This provides a major leg-up in the hunt for jobs. By contrast, I had published nothing by the time I had finished my PhD thesis in 1994. I had still published nothing until I got that thesis published in 1996. And of course that broader range also helps with preparation for teaching -- American PhD students are not getting launched into course preparation in subjects they have never studied.

One of the down sides, though, with the American system is that the two or so years of course work can seriously prolong the business of getting your PhD. Let's say you leave school at 18, take a standard American four year degree, a two year Masters and then at least four years PhD, and you are at least 28 before you can even get started on your career. In the UK, your BA is three years, your Masters sometimes only one year (sometimes two, depending on the programme) and your PhD can be done in three years. If you left school at eighteen, you are now 25 or 26. Those couple of years you have on your American counterparts you could use to travel the world, or to get some experience doing something completely different, and so improve your career prospects that way.

One of the things that has happened in the UK over the last generation is realization of the importance of PhD students getting a bit more grounding in the subject outside of the area of the PhD dissertation, which is why most universities now insist, as far as possible, on students coming in at least with a Masters. This did not used to be the case. And incoming PhD students will rarely jump straight into the PhD programme but will instead begin on "probationary" status and only be upgraded when the department is persuaded that the candidate has the ability and application to complete successfully.

Another major difference between the USA and the UK, as I have experienced the different systems in the two countries, is the presence, in the US, of the "committee". All the way through the American graduate student's life, s/he has the guidance of a three or four person committee. This committee has to approve the dissertation proposal, provides differing degrees of advice throughout the process, and is the ultimate examining body. In the UK, your supervisor is the ultimate authority until you get to the submission of your thesis, at which point you will be examined by an internal examiner and an external examiner. The internal is recruited from within the university and the external will be someone recruited from outside specially to read your thesis.

Both systems have strengths here. The involvement of an external is a strength of the British system, ensuring quality control across the different universities and providing expert comment in a way that can be greatly to the candidate's advantage, especially if s/he is looking to get a version of the dissertation published at some point in the future. It is perhaps worth adding, though, that American universities seem sometimes to recruit academics from outside the university to sit on dissertation committees, e.g. I am sitting on two committees at different universities in the US.

Having spoken in favour of the British external examiner system, I should add that I am very impressed so far with the committee structures here in the US. While it can mean that everything is all rather "in house", it has the advantage of exposing the student's ideas and writing to a greater number of a people at a much earlier stage. More pairs of eyes, more guidance, extra wisdom can greatly help the student to refine his or her project, and problems can get picked up earlier. The system feels rather more community based too; several faculty members in a given area have stakes in a given individual's research, and among other things that can also help in the process of scholars providing strong and informed references for job applications.

The big question, though, is the one about finance. There is a major differences here between the two countries, not widely understood. Many American PhD programmes come with money attached, so if you apply to somewhere like Duke, you are applying not only to be accepted into the programme but also to receive a scholarship. And the scholarships can be generous, paying not only your fees (which are massive) but also a stipend. As far as I understand it, it is not universally the case that being accepted equates to getting a scholarship, but the two things are closely linked. By contrast, this sort of thing is rare in the UK, and one should think about the process of application for a place as quite different from the business of getting financial help with the place.

For British PhD applicants, the process is in fact twofold. You apply to the university course and, if successful, you get your place. At the same time, you apply to the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) for funding. This is highly competitive, something like as competitive as getting a place to do a PhD at an elite American university. It used to be the case that anyone with a First would get funding, but that is no longer the case. (A "First" is a first class degree, received by only a fraction of students. Most students get a second class degree, either a "2:1", second class upper division, or "2:2", second class lower division; a minority get a third class degree). Now you need an exceptional First and exceptional references to get the AHRC funding. AHRC funding is only available to British citizens, so if one is applying from abroad, the big questions about funding remain, questions that are sharply focused given the current exchange rate, which is not at all favourable to American travellers.

I spent two years as Post-Graduate Admissions Tutor in the Theology and Religion Department at the University of Birmingham and during that time the most common question I received from international applicants was "what about money?" It was always pretty depressing because I was rarely able to give any good news about scholarships or financial aid for international students. The only good news is that the fees for a standard PhD programme in the UK are substantially less than their American equivalents, in spite of the fact that international fees will be double the home fees. Let me try to put some actual figures on this. When I was in Birmingham, international students paid roughly £8,500 a year in fees. Even at the current exchange rate, that is $17,000, much less than the $30,000 plus you will pay in top American universities. But if it is $17,000 a year you don't have, that is not exactly good news, is it?

I should underline that this is just a sketch based on personal impressions of what I have seen so far of the two different countries, and no doubt others' experiences and reflections will differ.

Update (7.48): Christopher Spinks comments on Katagrapho, adding some useful reflections from his experience at Fuller, in PhD: UK, USA or hybrid?.

Update (14.07): Kevin Wilson comments in Blue Cord.

Borg and Crossan on Holy Week

The March 20 2007 edition of Christian Century went online yesterday at the FindArticles site and it features an interesting piece by Historical Jesus favourites Borg and Crossan:

Collision Course: Jesus' Final Week
Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan

Of course the impact is not quite the same if one is reading it a month late, as I am, but there are still several features of interest, and I'd like to comment on a couple of features in the piece. It begins by posing the following question:
IF, AS JOHN'S GOSPEL suggests, Jesus went regularly to the annual festivals of his people in Jerusalem, what was so different that last time that it resulted in his execution? If, as Mark's Gospel suggests, he only went there once, why did he do it then? What, in other words, was Jesus' intention in making what proved to be his final, fatal visit to Jerusalem and its Temple that Passover of 30 CE?
A minor comment, but does Mark suggest that Jesus "only went there once"? I would be inclined to say, rather, that Mark only narrates one visit, and gives no indication one way or the other as to whether Jesus had been there in the past, though we might guess that his Jesus would have attended pilgrim feasts given his endorsement of Torah commandments like the leper showing himself to the priest (Mark 1.44). Borg and Crossan continue:
One answer was given in Mel Gibson's 2004 film The Passion of the Christ. Jesus' intention, according to that film, was to sacrifice his life as a substitutionary atonement for the sins of the world and thereby obtain vicarious forgiveness for us all. Since God was offended by human sin, and since human beings were an inadequate subject for divine punishment, only a divine victim, the Son of God, was fully appropriate to suffer in our place.
There is no question that The Passion of the Christ focuses in a major way on a substitutionary theory of the atonement, but as I argued in my article in Jesus and Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ (38-9), which appears next to Crossan's article in the volume, it is not the only perspective on the atonement in the film, which also makes a great deal of Christus Victor and exemplary ("no greater love") atonement theories. But the article goes on to make an interesting point about the celebration of Holy Week in Christian Churches and how that affects people's understanding of the Gospel narrative:
For more than one reason, the story of Holy Week--the whole week from Palm Sunday onward--is not as well known as it could and should be among Christians. One reason is a recent liturgical and lectionary change. In many churches, the story of Jesus' death has replaced Palm Sunday on the Sunday before Easter. The change was made largely because Good Friday has ceased to be a public holiday. Most of us over 50 recall a time when in many places there was no school on Good Friday. Many businesses closed. Good Friday was a day for going to church, and some of us can remember services from noon to 3 o'clock with sermons on "the seven last words."
One does not have to be "over 50" to remember such things; indeed, it is still the case in the UK that no school meets on Good Friday, and most have the whole of Holy Week off too, depending on how late Easter is in the year (the later Easter is, the more certain it is that Holy Week will be taken off). Indeed, the three hour Good Friday service was very much part of my own upbringing. As a child I used to think that the point of the three-hour service was so that we could join our sufferings to Jesus's in the most obvious way, by having to spend three whole hours in church.

Of course when Crossan and Borg say "Now the world doesn't stop on Good Friday", they are using the word "world" to mean "USA" in the same way that the ancients used the word "world" to mean "the Roman Empire". I must admit that I found working on Good Friday for the first time ever last year a real shock to the system, so much so that I blogged on it, Working at Easter. This year I was lucky enough not to have any classes scheduled on Good Friday, but I did teach on Easter Monday, which felt very, very odd, especially with thoughts of the family together back home, celebrating it together.

Crossan and Borg's article is an enjoyable read, though, and ultimately argues for something like the kind of Holy Week that some celebrate in England. The irony there is that the time off work that some (not all) have is not used to go to church, where rates of attendance are far lower than they are in the USA, where there are no such holidays. That's one I'm still trying to figure out.

Birmingham Dead Sea Scrolls Conference

Over on Evangelical Textual Criticism, Peter Williams has the details of a major Dead Sea Scrolls Conference with some really big names. I have searched around the University of Birmingham Theology and Religion (for nostalgia as much as anything) to see if there is anything on it yet, but not so far.


Over on Biblical Studies and Technological Tools, Mark Hoffman (mgvh) has a useful annotated list of free mapping resources on the web, Still more maps . . ., which provides some extras that it would be useful for me to add to my Maps page, so I will add it to my "things to do" file.

Wright's Blair Decade

The Daily Telegraph runs a feature today called My Blair Decade. As you'd expect from the Telegraph, it's all pretty negative, with the exception of a teacher in Nottingham who thinks, rightly in my view, that the Education System is now in better shape, but my reason for mentioning the article here is that it has a contribution from the Bishop of Durham, N. T. Wright, who is well known to all New Testament students these days. Increasingly of late, Wright has been willing to talk about politics, and here he talks only about politics, not a mention of Jesus, the kingdom of God, return from exile, Israel's God, the Scriptures or narrative. Perhaps the Telegraph took those bits out.

High hopes that died in the disaster of Iraq
Jonathan Petre
. . . With the disastrous escapade in Iraq, there was a sense of horror that the two world leaders who were most overtly Christian - Bush and Blair - should be lured into such a disastrous parody or caricature of the Christian imperialist, going around the world beating up Johnny foreigner and the infidel.

That's been a huge tragedy. There was a sense of something good and possible in Blair and his government which has been led to spend billions of pounds and hundreds of British lives on a fool's errand.

In the world of employment, we have seen the pulling apart of the high-earning professional fields, where there are massive rewards for young people in financially related fields, or the law. But not if you choose to do what our oldest son has done, which is follow me into the academic world. I was a theology don and he is a history lecturer at Durham University and he is paid not much more than a vicar . . .
On the last point, which I am better qualified to speak on than some of the others, and which has some relevance to this blog's topic, there is some truth, but things have got better for academics under Labour than they were a decade ago. My starting salary as a Lecturer in Birmingham in 1995 was something like £6,000 less than the starting salary for a lecturer now of the same age and qualifications, and the salary scale for academics overall has become much more competitive in the last decade, so that now many British academics are earning more than their American counterparts of similar age and experience. There is still some way to go, but I think that's one of the areas where progress has been made.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Review of Biblical Literature Latest

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

A. K. M. Adam
Faithful Interpretation: Reading the Bible in a Postmodern World
Reviewed by Joel B. Green

Peter Arzt-Grabner, Ruth Elisabeth Kritzer, Amfilochios Papathomas, and Franz Winter
1. Korinther
Reviewed by Joseph Verheyden

Matthew Brook O'Donnell
Corpus Linguistics and the Greek of the New Testament
Reviewed by Paul Elbert

N. T. Wright
Evil and the Justice of God
Reviewed by D. A. Carson

Arie W. Zwiep
Judas and the Choice of Matthias: A Study on Context and Concern of Acts 1:15-26
Reviewed by Loveday Alexander

I particularly recommend Carson's review of Wright for an entertaining and lively read. It is sympathetic with and appreciate of Wright overall yet profoundly critical on particular points, e.g.
Would Wright want to assert that there is no moral difference between those responsible for Auschwitz and the significant numbers of Dutch citizens who risked (and sometimes lost) their lives to give Jews sanctuary? Yes, we are all lost, and the line between good and evil goes down the middle of all people: there is an important theological truth there, for the alternative is that there are only good people and bad people. But to focus on this one insight and not complementary biblical emphases yields amateurish theology and slightly ridiculous politics.
It is good too to see a thorough and appreciative review of Matthew Brook O'Donnell's book, a book that opens up new avenues in New Testament study and is well worth serious attention. I was one of the external examiners of the PhD thesis that formed the basis for this book, and it is good to see it now published and reviewed.

And of course it is always good to see fellow-bloggers books getting favourable reviews, as Joel Green reviews AKMA, not least because it reminds us all that it is possible to blog and to write good books too. AKMA comments on his blog.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Harrington Reviews Fitzmyer

In America: The National Catholic Weekly, Daniel Harrington has a review of Joseph Fitzmyer's new book:

The One Who Is to Come
By Joseph A. Fitzmyer, S.J.
Eerdmans. 224p $18 (paperback)
The words “messiah” and “messianism” are often used loosely not only in popular culture but also in religious discourse, even in biblical scholarship. This magisterial study of these terms in the Bible and related ancient sources by a premier biblical scholar of our time brings order and clarity into the understanding and use of what are obviously important words for both Christians and Jews . . .

Novum Testamentum latest

The latest Novum Testamentum is online for subscribers, with abstracts free for all:

Novum Testamentum 49/2 (2007)

Jesus as Archelaus in the Parable of the Pounds (Lk. 19:11-27)
pp. 105-127(23)
Author: Schultz, Brian

What Did Jesus Mean by την αρχην in John 8:25?
pp. 129-147(19)
Author: Caragounis, Chrys C.

Corpus suum tradere (Dan 3,28 [95]; 2Makk 7,37; 1Kor 13,3)
pp. 149-151(3)
Author: Bauer, Johannes B.

Diamonds in the Rough: A Reply to Christopher Stanley Concerning the Reader Competency of Paul's Original Audiences
pp. 153-183(31)
Author: Abasciano, Brian J.

The Gospel Commentary of Theophylact, and a Neglected Manuscript in Oxford
pp. 185-196(12)
Author: Brown, Andrew J.

Book Reviews

Rethinking the Synoptic Problem
pp. 197-199(3)
Author: Goodacre, Mark

The Purpose of the Gospel of Mark in Its Historical and Social Context
pp. 200-202(3)
Author: Iverson, Kelly R.

Calendar, Chronology and Worship; Studies in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity
pp. 203-204(2)
Author: Collins, Nina L.

Book Notes

Book Notes
pp. 205-208(4)
Author: Elliott, J.K.

My book review (see above) was actually written about three years ago, but it got lost in transmission. The best that I can reconstruct this situation is that NovT sent me the proofs in the summer of 2005 and I received them the day I was leaving Birmingham to come to begin a new life in North Carolina. I didn't send them back, they got lost, and I forgot about it until fairly recently when it occurred to me that I had not seen the review. I enquired and discovered that they had not published because they had not received the proofs. They looked them out and in no time at all, they have published it. So that's why this is a 2007 review of a 2001 book.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Currents in Biblical Research latest

Over on Gospels, Acts and Hermeneutics, Patrick Spencer has details of the latest Currents in Biblical Research, which is Vol. 5, Number 3 (June 2007) and it includes a piece by Patrick Spencer himself.

Scottish Journal of Theology latest

The new issue of SJT is available online, abstracts free for all, the rest for subscribers and subscribing institutions:

Scottish Journal of Theology
Volume 60 - Issue 02 - May 2007

There is one article of particular interest to NT studies:

Engaging scripture: incarnation and the Gospel of John
Angus Paddison
Scottish Journal of Theology, Volume 60, Issue 02, May 2007, pp 144 - 160
doi: 10.1017/S0036930607003171, Published online by Cambridge University Press 20 Apr 2007
[ abstract ]

Friday, April 20, 2007

Perseus back!

At the risk of speaking too soon, it seems that Perseus is back after the major crash. I've not spent long on it this morning, but what I have tried so far has worked.

Update (Saturday, 11.41): The good news is that Perseus is still working fine and now the Berlin mirror appears to be working fine too.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Books on the Gospel of Judas

April DeConick has recently finished a book on the Gospel of Judas called The Thirteenth Apostle: What the Gospel of Judas Really Says. In a recent post, Bibliography for the Gospel of Judas (in English), DeConick lists the several studies that have already appeared on Judas, or that are currently in print. A commenter adds another, and I can add one more:

Simon Gathercole, The Gospel of Judas: Rewriting Early Christianity (Oxford: OUP, Estimated publication date November 2007)

I have read the book in manuscript and am happy to say that is outstanding.

Liddell-Scott Lexicon Downloads

For those attempting to cope without Perseus, one can at least download Liddell Scott at the Internet Archive. Details:

A Greek-English lexicon (1883)
Author: Liddell, Henry George, 1811-1898
Digitizing Sponsor: MSN
Usage Rights: See Terms
Book Contributor: University of California Libraries
Language: English
Keywords: Greek language -- English
The specific downloads:

Flip Book

Thanks to Anh Michael on b-greek for the link.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Pagels on Colbert

Ever on top of things, Dr Jim West mentions the appearance of Elaine Pagels on The Colbert Report last night. You can watch the segment online from the previous link. Pagels is pretty impressive given the difficulty of coping with Colbert's Biblical inerrantist persona; most of the time she just ploughs on regardless, but remains good humoured. And I must have been in the USA long enough now to be getting the sense of humour here. On the several occasions that I've watched the programme previously, I have found it pretty loud and irritating. When Bart Ehrman was on, I felt really uncomfortable. But on this occasion, I laughed out loud several times. The funniest line:

Pagels: Bishop Irenaeus mentioned it [the Gospel of Judas] nearly 2,000 years ago
Colbert (shaking his head and waving his finger): Bishop Irenaeus mentioned a lot of things. That guy [hand making mouth movements] was a chatty ?Cathy? [Didn't know the last word].

On the question of content, there's been an interesting thread on Xtalk, including raising the question about the lumping together of the Gospel of Judas with other Gospels when no one dates it in the first century. In this interview, Pagels dates it to "2,000 years ago".

Latest Tyndale Tech: Biblical Fonts and Mac Woes

The latest Tyndale Tech email is now available online:

Biblical Fonts and Mac Woes: A Solution
April 2007
The good news for everyone is that Unicode has solved all our font problems.
The bad news for Mac users is that Hebrew doesn't work properly in Word.
The really good news is that NeoOffice now works as well as Word, with Hebrew, for free!

As usual, it's full of useful advice and great links. A couple of comments to come later.

Update (16:10): Danny Zacharias has some excellent comments on Latest Tyndale Tech: Some Clarifications.

Tom Wright on Easter

Here's one I missed over Easter, but it's linked on the N. T. Wright Page, from The Guardian's weekly Face to Faith column:

Face to faith
In these troubled times, Easter's message of resurrection is a powerful one, says Tom Wright

A couple of features of interest for academic NT geeks:
We reflect on, and mourn, the ruin of the world and the folly of humankind. We look in the mirror and see our own shame and sin. And then we contemplate Jesus's suffering and death at the heart of the whole thing: the place where the arrogance of empire, the frenzy of religion and the betrayal of friends all rush together and do their worst.
Notice how central the motif of empire is becoming in Wright's thinking, and not just in discussion of Paul (cf. the fresh perspective on Paul and Empire). Also notice:
That's why the Easter stories tumble out in bits and pieces, with breathless chasings to and fro and garbled reports - and then, stories like nothing else before or since. As the great New Testament scholar EP Sanders put it, the writers were trying to describe an experience that does not fit a known category. They knew all about ghosts and visions, and they knew it wasn't anything like that.
I like the characterization of Sanders, whom I once described in print as "the greatest living New Testament scholar", though I don't think he would be so keen on the sentence that follows here, about ghosts and visions, which is pure Wright.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

British New Testament Conference 2007

Details have recently been sent out concerning the British New Testament Conference 2007 which is to be at the University of Exeter on 6-8 September 2007. The plenary papers appear to line up some top brass:

Professor Morna Hooker, "Paul the Pastor: The Relevance of the Gospel"

Professor John Riches, "Reception History as Literary History"

Professor Larry Hurtado, "Early Christian Manuscripts as Artefacts: An Illustrated Presentation"

Nifong Goes to Sunday School

It's not often that elements in the Duke lacrosse case are discussed in relation to the Bible, but one of our Religion majors here at Duke, Emily Thomey, has written the following today in her regular Et Religio column in the Duke Chronicle:

Nifong Goes to Sunday School
Emily Thomey

Review of Biblical Literature latest

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

Joshua Efron
Formation of the Primary Christian Church [Hebrew]
The Origins of Christianity and Apocalypticism [Hebrew]
Reviewed by Joshua Schwartz

Tikva Frymer-Kensky
Studies in Bible and Feminist Criticism
Reviewed by Jason R. Tatlock

J. L. Houlden
Jesus: A Question of Identity
Reviewed by Kari Syreeni

Bonnie Howe
Because You Bear This Name: Conceptual Metaphor and the Moral Meaning of 1 Peter
Reviewed by John H. Elliott

Morten Hørning Jensen
Herod Antipas in Galilee: The Literary and Archaeological Sources on the Reign of Herod Antipas and Its Socio-economic Impact on Galilee
Reviewed by Mark A. Chancey

Joseph A. Marchal
Hierarchy, Unity, and Imitation: A Feminist Rhetorical Analysis of Power Dynamics in Paul's Letter to the Philippians
Reviewed by Jennifer Bird

Christopher Rowland and Christopher Tuckett, eds.
The Nature of New Testament Theology: Essays in Honor of Robert Morgan
Reviewed by Craig L. Blomberg

Wolfgang Schrage
Kreuzestheologie und Ethik im Neuen Testament: Gesammelte Studien
Reviewed by Wolfgang Kraus

Robert A. Spivey, D. Moody Smith, and C. Clifton Black
Anatomy of the New Testament: A Guide to Its Structure and Meaning
Reviewed by Matthew Collins
Reviewed by David Trobisch

Peter Stuhlmacher
Biblische Theologie des Neuen Testaments: Vol. 1: Grundlegung. Von Jesus zu Paulus
Reviewed by Günter Röhser

Monday, April 16, 2007

Best Blogs about Biblical Studies

Thanks to all those who have voted for the NT Gateway weblog on the Best Blogs about Biblical Studies over at Unspun by Amazon. I understand that the list was created by Airton Jose da Silva from Observatorio Biblico. I am flattered that the blog is currently coming out on top. Thanks for the encouragement.

Update (Sunday, 00:54): Airton José da Silva has a Roundup on this story on Observatório Bíblico.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

SEBTS Conference on Mark 16.9-20

There was a conference down the road in Wake Forest on the "last twelve verses of Mark", at South East Baptist Theological Seminary, on Friday and Saturday. It's been very well blogged, by David Alan Black (with pictures), by Josh McManaway on A New Testament Student, by Lew A on The Pursuit and Alan Knox in The Assembling of the Church. Gosh, four separate reports on the conference, and there are more links on those blogs to more. This blogging lark is going to catch on one of these days!

I was not able to get down the road to the conference (my parents are in town), but we did manage to cash in on Keith Elliot's presence in North Carolina to grab him for one of our New Testament colloquia at Duke on Thursday evening, when he spoke on recent developments in New Testament textual criticism.

In a nice piece of synergy, Rob Bradshaw continues his fine work on
with an upload of F.F. Bruce, "The End of the Second Gospel," The Evangelical Quarterly 17 (1945): 169-81.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Jewish Jesus and the Third Quest

Continuing her series of interesting posts on the Historical Jesus, April DeConick today posts on Why the Jewish Jesus is Essential (and Dangerous). One element in it underlines the problems over the use of the term "the third quest" on which I commented in my post on abandoning the terminology of "the third quest". DeConick writes:
As I look back over the long history of the Jesus quest (and its popularized sidekick, Jesus in cinema), I continued to be struck (and I admit ashamed) that Jesus rarely appears as a Jew. There have been occasional voices over the last century that have demanded we remember that Jesus was Jewish, but these have been occasional and against the communal representations of Jesus that were developing in those eras.

And sadly this includes the Third Quest which largely has been trying to get around the fact that Jesus was Jewish by creating categories for Jesus as a Hellenized person living in Palestine or Galilee, but a person that doesn't look like any other Jew we know of who lived in Palestine or Galilee.
I am puzzled by this characterization of recent research. If there is one thing that the term "the third quest" has been associated with, I would say that that is stress on the fact that Jesus was a Jew. The pioneering works of the third quest, Vermes's Jesus the Jew and E. P. Sanders's Jesus and Judaism make this their major contribution to the extent that "Jew" and "Judaism" appears in the title. As Tom Wright characterizes "the third quest" (his term), he places Jesus as Jew as its defining element. I realize that DeConick is using the term "third quest" somewhat differently, and applying it to those like Crossan and Funk who are actually excluded from "the third quest" by Wright, but I think this further underlines the problem I was trying to bring forward the other day, that the term is becoming useless, or worse, confusing.

Coping without Perseus

As many of you will know, one of the finest sites on the internet, Perseus, has been experiencing serious problems over the last couple of weeks. The latest announcement on the site is as follows:
On April 3, 2007, Perseus hardware was compromised. In order to protect our data and comply with university policy, a number of servers were removed from the network, making Tufts-hosted Perseus sites inoperable. Repairs are in progress to methodically restore services while improving their overall security. We apologize for the inconvenience.
I was chatting to one of my students the other day about her frustration at trying to translate portions of the classics without the aid of Perseus. The upshot was that although it is frustrating, it is a reminder of the importance of really trying to understand the text, and not becoming over-reliant on what can become electronic prompts. In the same spirit, I enjoyed reading Elizabeth Kline's posting on b-greek this morning, Travelling Alone and the Death of Perseus, from which this is an excerpt:
Reading the GNT with all the electronic tools at your fingertips and all the printed resources isn't going to tell you if you know greek. All of these resources are great and I use them regularly but at some point along the way it is healthy to pick up a Greek text you have never read in your native tongue and spend some time traveling alone with LS (intermed.), LSJ and H.W.Smyth. It certainly trims some of the fat from your ego if nothing else.
I agree, and the point is even more focused when it comes to reliance on the multiple electronic resources available as helps for the Greek New Testament. Useful as these are in teaching and research, and grateful as we are to their developers, perhaps we should all sponsor "electronic free April" every year and insist that everyone has a good month each year when they are only allowed access to print resources for Greek. Perhaps we could institute it as a kind of compulsory Lent abstinence for all NT scholars and students?

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Tyndale Tech Latest

Over at Tyndale House in Cambridge, David Instone Brewer sends out occasional Tyndale Tech emails, which feature items of interest and advice concerning computers and the study of the Bible. After a short while, David uploads the emails to the web, and the January 2007 email has recently appeared:

January 2007: Searching for Academic Research on the Web

As always, it is full of useful and interesting items. David recommends his own TynCat, a particularly helpful resource, and points to the new searchbox available for it for IE7. One thought for future development: how about a Firefox search plug-in for those of us who stopped using IE7 some time ago? (Actually, I still use it to watch the cricket on Willow TV but only because they've not made it available for Firefox yet). I took five minutes to try to create a Firefox Search Plug-in for TynCat but had no success with it and don't have the patience to try again. But I, for one, would be happy to have a successful search plug-in to add to my browser.

Update (Sunday, 23.55): In comments, Holger Szesnat notes:
I have written two quick and dirty TynCat search hacks for Firefox (author-search and title-words-search). They work for me, so presumably they'll work for others as well.

Save the following two files (tyncat-author.xml and tyncat-title.xml) to your firefox 'searchplugins' directory:


If you wish, adapt the XML code to a USA location (mine for is UK).
Thanks, Holger. They are working well for me.

NTS latest

The latest issue of New Testament Studies is now available online to subscribers, abstracts available for all:
New Testament Studies
Volume 53 - Issue 02 - April 2007

Galilee as Laboratory: Experiments for New Testament Historians and Theologians
New Testament Studies, Volume 53, Issue 02, April 2007, pp 147 - 164
doi: 10.1017/S0028688507000094, Published online by Cambridge University Press 02 Apr 2007
[ abstract ]

Le (Fils) monogène dans les écrits johanniques: Évolution des traditions et élaboration rédactionnelle
New Testament Studies, Volume 53, Issue 02, April 2007, pp 165 - 183
doi: 10.1017/S0028688507000100, Published online by Cambridge University Press 02 Apr 2007
[ abstract ]

Paulus und der Herodianische Tempel
New Testament Studies, Volume 53, Issue 02, April 2007, pp 184 - 203
doi: 10.1017/S0028688507000112, Published online by Cambridge University Press 02 Apr 2007
[ abstract ]

The Meaning of the Phrase τα στ[omicron]ιχεια τ[omicron]υ κ[omicron]σμ[omicron]υ in Galatians
New Testament Studies, Volume 53, Issue 02, April 2007, pp 204 - 224
doi: 10.1017/S0028688507000124, Published online by Cambridge University Press 02 Apr 2007
[ abstract ]

There is Neither Old Nor Young? Early Christianity and Ancient Ideologies of Age
New Testament Studies, Volume 53, Issue 02, April 2007, pp 225 - 241
doi: 10.1017/S0028688507000136, Published online by Cambridge University Press 02 Apr 2007
[ abstract ]

Diaspora Discourse: The Construction of Ethos in James
New Testament Studies, Volume 53, Issue 02, April 2007, pp 242 - 270
doi: 10.1017/S0028688507000148, Published online by Cambridge University Press 02 Apr 2007
[ abstract ]

To access this issue visit: Tables of contents and article abstracts are free to all on Cambridge Journals Online. Access to the full text is available to users whose institutions subscribe. If your institution does not subscribe why not recommend New Testament Studies to your librarian today and gain access 24-hours a day. Visit:

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Duke Lacrosse Players Cleared

The news that everyone had been expecting for some time arrived this afternoon, that the Duke lacrosse players have been cleared of all charges. No one in the USA will be unfamiliar with this story, and many elsewhere in the world will have heard about it too since it has made an impact also on the world media. Today's Guardian, for example, has a good summary of the case that has cast a shadow over Duke for the last year or so.

I have often thought seriously about blogging on this issue because it has been on my mind a great deal, especially in recent months as it became clear that the case was collapsing. My reasons for not blogging on it were twofold. First, this blog is focused on academic New Testament studies and I generally keep all other unrelated material out of it. Regular readers will know that it is rare for me to stray outside of that mandate. Second, and more importantly, I felt profoundly uncomfortable about commenting in public on an ongoing criminal investigation. Some of the difficulties that have arisen in relation to the case are the result of people making public comment when it would have been wiser to use greater caution and to suspend judgement until more was known. The attorney general today spoke of the "tragic rush to accuse". Perhaps my decision to avoid public comment was wrong, but it was made, I hope, in good conscience. My lack of comment was not because of lack of interest in or concern about the case, which I have followed very carefully from the beginning.

Having heard the news today, my major reaction was one of no surprise. It has seemed clear for some time that the charges were likely to be dropped, and that there was no case against the three men. That reaction is combined with a feeling of profound regret and some degree of anger about the original prosecution of the case, which now appears to have been utterly flawed. I also feel a great deal of sympathy for the three players who have been cleared. I could not condone the behaviour of the lacrosse team at the party which was the catalyst for the false allegations, but it is important not to confuse one's condemnation of some student misbehaviour (which is common all over the world, not just here) with the making of one of the most serious criminal allegations that can be made. Indeed one of the most troubling elements in the early days of the media coverage was the confusion made between general student misdemeanour with very serious criminal allegation.

The most sensitive issue for those of us on the Duke faculty, however, is the question of our attitude to the members of the lacrosse team over the last twelve months, which was focused in particular by the placement of an ad in the The Chronicle by 88 members of the Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, one of the major divisions at Duke, of which the Religion Department, to which I belong, is a member. The ad achieved some notoriety and many saw it, I think rightly, as somewhat misguided. I was not one of the signatories of this ad, nor did I sign the follow-up "clarifying" letter produced last January. I should perhaps add that members of the lacrosse team have always been welcome to join my classes (and several have been in my classes). I regret that sometimes the Duke faculty have been characterized as not supporting their students. I made the decision not to talk in class about the case, though I was happy to talk to and listen to students outside of class when they wished to talk about it, and so to offer my support in that way.

The case has been a very unhappy one for Duke and Durham and I hope that in the long term important lessons are learnt. For me, as a relatively new member of the faculty, it has been an unpleasant welcome to a university that in so many other ways has so much to be proud of.

Abandoning "the third quest" of the Historical Jesus

On her always stimulating Forbidden Gospels Blog, April DeConick asks the question whether there is now a Fourth Quest for the Historical Jesus?. She sees the third quest as "dominated by the work of Crossan, Borg, Patterson, Funk, Mack, Downing and the Jesus Seminar, but also including Horsley, Kaylor, Witherington, Meier, and so forth". She feels that the "fourth quest" reacts to this and "pushes several items to the forefront" including Jesus as a Jew, the apocalyptic dimension to Jesus' teaching, problems with dissimilarity, stress on orality and so on. This fourth quest is populated by Bart Ehrman, Dale Allison, Paula Fredriksen, A.J. Levine, Jimmy Dunn and Gerd Theissen, and also N. T. Wright, though his work is "too apologetic for me". Well, if the terminology of the fourth quest takes off, remember where you heard it first.

I am not convinced, though, about the need for a new term. Indeed, I think the entire business of categorizing periods of the quest has now run into confusion and impasse and it should be abandoned. Briefly, these are what I see as the key points:

(1) The term "the third quest" was coined by N. T. Wright in 1986. He used it to describe the wave of scholarship that he felt had superseded the “new quest”. For Wright, the key players in this third quest were Geza Vermes and Ed Sanders alongside Ben Meyer, Anthony Harvey and Marcus Borg. If one is being a purist about the term "third quest", its originator has a quite different view of it from those who used it after him.

(2) The term came back to haunt Wright because the quest developed in all sorts of unexpected (to him) ways in the late eighties and nineties. Wright therefore attempted a new inventory ten years later in 1996, when he himself makes his major contribution to the quest in Jesus and the Victory of God, and he calls the newly emergent movement typified by the work of Crossan, Funk and the Jesus Seminar as "the renewed new quest". (And now Wright also moves Borg from the third quest to the renewed new quest). Although Crossan saw Wright's categorizing as somewhat condescending, Wright was actually echoing the characterization of the Jesus Seminar's work by Robert Funk, who was not keen on the third quest, and who saw himself in continuity with Bultmann, and who spoke of a renewed quest.

(3) Recently the situation has become more chaotic because many are simply describing all contemporary Jesus research as “the third quest”, whether the research is undertaken by Sanders, Wright, Crossan or Borg, e.g. the recent Biblica article by John P. Meier. As a result, some now mean one thing by "the third quest" and some mean something else. It is has therefore ceased to be a useful descriptor.

(4) The taxonomy of the Jesus research into these three distinct quests was in any case dubious from the start. Key to the notion of "the new quest" begun by Käsemann in the 1950s, and continued by others of Bultmann's students in the 1950s and 60s, was the idea that there has been a period of "no quest" from Schweitzer through to Käsemann. But this idea is highly dubious, as Dale Allison demonstrates in Resurrecting Jesus. There was in fact no such period of "no quest". Indeed several of the most famous works of historical Jesus scholarship emerge in this period, T. W. Manson, C. H. Dodd, Joachim Jeremias among them.

There is now good reason to abandon the unhelpful language of "the third quest". When I began my Historical Jesus course earlier this semester, I had a dilemma about how to characterize the history of research. In the end, I decided to introduce these terms, new quest, third quest, etc., but then to explain why I thought that they were inadequate.

Reginald Fuller again

A further brief comment on my previous post which mentioned again the death of Reginald Fuller: there is a good summary of his life on Wikipedia, including a select bibliography:

Reginald H. Fuller

I think I remember hearing that Fuller's wife, Ilse Barda, is Rudolf Bultmann's daughter. Can anyone confirm that?

SBL Forum latest

The April edition of the SBL Forum is now available. It covers several things that have been mentioned here in the past. In particular, it is good to see a prompt obituary of Reginald Fuller. I must admit that I have been surprised at how little other bibliobloggers have commented on the sad death of such a major New Testament scholar (mentioned here last Friday). Also, Mark Chancey has an article called Bible Courses in Public Schools: SBL's Response to a Growing Trend. I have often mentioned Mark's interesting work in this area here and it is good to see him carrying that work forward now with the SBL in a new consultation.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Blogging and Tenure 2

On Sunday I posted on the topic Should Blogs Count for Tenure? in response to Cathy Davidson's post of that title on Hastac. Kathy Asselin, a graduate student at Wayne State University, gets in touch as a result of that post, and asks if I would respond to four questions. I am answering them here:

1. How would you define the term blogging?

On occasions like this, I tend to have a look on Wikipedia to see if the multiple users there have come up with a good definition that might nicely encapsulate blogs and blogging, and on this occasion I am not disappointed:

A blog is a user-generated website where entries are made in journal style and displayed in a reverse chronological order.

Blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject, such as food, politics, or local news; some function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of most early blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual although some focus on photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), or audio (podcasting), and are part of a wider network of social media.

The term "blog" is a portmanteau, or, in other words, a blend of the words web and log (Web log). "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

I would be foolish to try to improve on that.

2. What blogs-- including academic, institutional, corporate, business, or personal--do you currently participate in?

I am the author of this blog (NT Gateway Weblog), which has been running for three and a half years. It is an academic blog focusing primarily on academic New Testament teaching and research. Although my employer's name appears in the heading, it is not sponsored by my employer and is hosted on my own server. Since it is an academic blog, I try to avoid straying into personal interests, and I try to avoid commenting on issues on which I have no expertise. I do occasionally discuss issues of general interest in higher education since I see those as relevant to the general context of the blog.

I also guest post occasionally (approximately every week or two) on my wife's blog, The Americanization of Emily, which is a more of a personal / family blog in which we reflect on the experience of being a British family living in America. Come to think of it, this provides a useful illustration of the general point. I would never mention this blog in professional academic materials, CV etc., because of its personal, non-academic nature. It is a quite different thing from an academic blog in spite of the fact that it belongs in the same broad genre (blog).

3. How could blogs be utilized in education?

This is a huge question. We are only at the beginnings of seeing how massive blogs will become in education. Imagine someone saying in 1994, "How could the internet be utilized in education?" and that's the kind of stage we are at. Many university teachers are already using blogs successfully in their teaching. An example in our area is Jim Davila at the University of St Andrews who is currently running the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Blog in association with a course he is teaching. I have not experimented with that yet myself, though I do often blog about topics related to my teaching, and write sketches of things I will be teaching, or write notes and reflections on things I have taught, all of which help to improve the quality of my course offerings -- I hope.

A blog can be hugely helpful in one's research, in developing one's ideas, in engaging directly with others, in disseminating research and so on. I suppose one of the ways in which I find it particularly useful is in the live interaction that blogging generates. When I publish an article, I have to wait months (at least) and years before I receive published responses, and frequently those responses do not engage in detail with the case (you know, a footnote here, a citation there). And by the time that the published reactions to one's published works comes in, one is already working on other things, and one's mind is sometimes elsewhere. I am overstating the point, but I hope you see what I am saying. Academic blogging, on the other hand, allows you to get feedback and to interact while you are at the stage of developing and articulating your ideas, while the topic is fresh, interesting and lively and while you have the energy to pursue it with others. I see this as a major step forward in the academic life, and especially in taking forward the extra mural vision of the best universities and the most conscientious scholars. This is a point I could talk and talk and talk about, and no doubt I will return to it on this blog in the future.

4. Is it possible that online publications such as blogs could be used in developing a new metric in determining tenure for assistant professors and promotion -- which include higher ranks as well-- at university?

This is the question that began my interest in this topic, having read Cathy Davidson's answer. My first answer is here in Should Blogs Count for Tenure? but I hope to comment a little more in due course, partly in response to others who have commented on the question and who are less positive than I about the possibilities. At this point, let me just summarise my thoughts by saying the following: Appointments, Promotions and Tenure Committees, if they are doing their job thoroughly, should be looking at all aspects of a candidate's academic career. If a given candidate has a successful, well respected academic blog, to which s/he had drawn attention in the documentation, that candidate has a right to expect the committee to take it seriously and, if the academic quality is indeed strong, for it to be favourably regarded in the application. I suspect that in years to come we will be surprised that we even found ourselves asking the question, in the same way that now no one would seriously entertain doubts about drawing attention to well constructed academic websites in one's applications for appointments, promotions and tenure.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Should Blogs Count for Tenure?

Over on Hastac, my Duke colleague Cathy Davidson provides some answers to the interesting question, "Should Blogs Count for Tenure?". The gist of her response is that they can make an important contribution to academic service, typically one of the three pillars on which tenure stands, the others being teaching and research. She adds that there may be a contribution to teaching too, depending on the nature of the blog and the teaching. Turning to research, she asks:
Is it research? Depends entirely on the nature of what is blogged. And since the whole point of blogging is to avoid refereeing, to be able to get out one’s ideas unmediated, the scholarly definition of research as a peer-reviewed, refereed contribution to knowledge is not fulfilled by blogging. Definitionally these are opposites.
I think there is something in these comments, but I am not sure that I would see "the whole point of blogging" as "to avoid refereeing". In some respects, I think blogging can hold one up to a higher standard of refereeing than published work because there are so many more people who are commenting on one's ideas and thoughts as they are in process. It is an inherently more risky process than the much more sedate and private world of peer review. Of course I agree about the importance of peer review, but I don't think I see blogging as being at the opposite end of the spectrum as this. Rather, it's a different kind of peer review, with its own strengths and weaknesses (Davidson later notes that it is peer reviewed "in a Web 2.0 way" but I think that that short-sells it). Prof. Davidson goes on:
In fact, it makes me suspicious when someone protests that their blog gets so many hits while their scholarly articles receive so many fewer and therefore they don't need to publish in order to get tenure. That fails logically. Tenure is an agreed upon system of accountability and reward, as fallible as any such system and as susceptible to abuse.
If someone is making comments like that, then they need a serious reality check because frankly they are not going to get tenure with an attitude like that. But I know that I would always look favourably on someone who has an intelligent and energetic blog, whether as potential applicants to a graduate programme, or as job applicants, or as applicants for tenure. To me it is likely to suggest several things, a commitment to the dissemination of scholarship outside of the guild, a commitment to collaborative scholarship, and some degree of courage and public risk-taking. So I would be strongly inclined to treat blogging as a plus. I suppose that this is what Davidson means in her reference to blogging as fulfilling the all important "service to the guild" requirement for gaining tenure. But I think that it is potentially much more than that. For one thing, blogs can be continuous with published work, so that the lines between publication and blog are blurred. In those cases, it's not a bolted on extra, but is integral to the research and publication process. One might even be using the blog as a means of developing published materials. There are multiple examples of this kind of thing as when people develop conference papers on-line and then use a blog as a means of doing research, gauging reaction and improving the output.

One of the underlying issues here may be the undue stress placed on peer-review in the American tenure system. I am new to this system, and the word "tenure" is only known in the UK as something American academics talk about, but it may be that it is important for appointments, promotions and tenure committees to think about peer review as only one, albeit important element in reviewing a scholar's output. Why not look more widely to what are called "esteem indicators" in the UK, and think of strong, successful academic blogging as one of those "esteem indicators"?

Stephen Goranson on the Jesus Family Tomb

Stephen Goranson sent an interesting review of The Jesus Family Tomb to ANE and Xtalk yesterday and I reproduce a cleaned up version, with permission, here. I have not yet read the book myself so am not able to comment myself on Stephen's comments:
I have read the book, The Jesus Family Tomb: The Discovery, the Investigation, and the Evidence that Could Change History by Simcha Jacobovici and Charles Pellegrino HarperSanFrancisco, 2007). I think it is a misleading book and a disservice to its readers. One can say that it's pretty lively and glib in passages, perhaps because it was so unconstrained by any careful review by historians or even by good fact-checking and proof-reading editors. The foreword by James Cameron oddly assures us that the Titanic history was a difficult task but that this tomb case is practically beyond reasonable doubt.

Simcha Jacobovici fancies himself a fine reporter, but he plainly misreported, for example, Prof. Bovon's views on later literary developments about Mary Magdalen as if Bovon were making claims about first-century history.

Many have commented on the book's misapplication of statistics. Statistics, I suggest, framed differently than the authors have done, could indicate the improbabilities of the book's set of assertions. What percentage of the pre-70 CE population were Christian (or Nazarene, or Jesus of Nazareth followers)? What percentage--if any--of them used ossuaries? "Let the dead bury their own dead" (Matthew 8:22) can be interpreted as a less than ringing endorsement of ossuary-use. What percentage of those were genuinely anciently inscribed (as opposed to later inscribed, either in fraud or in pious memorial)? What percentage of those survive? Here, the flaw of excluding the other, earlier-known Jesus son of Joseph ossuary also comes in, because, if it is genuine (as I think), who is to say that that one had to have been dug by archaeologists in order to be counted? In other words, if there were a Jesus family tomb in Jerusalem, which I doubt, why couldn't *the* Jesus ossuary, if there were such, which I doubt, possibly have been looted, which we don't know of this ossuary anyway (i.e., we don't know how it got to the museum where Sukenik read it). Jesus' brother James was reportedly buried elsewhere in Jerusalem, and reportedly he was poor. Ossuaries were used by a relative few, the more wealthy.

Not only does the book assert the so-called Jesus family tomb has six New Testament-related names; the book also claims several other NT-related ossuaries. There is a tension between the book's claim that the Jesus family tomb is surprising, yet that the Simon (Peter) ossuary was also found, and also that of the Simon who reportedly carried the cross, and also Mary and Martha of Bethany, and also Lazarus, and also the High Priest Caiaphas. The book tries to have it both ways: are these NT-related finds rare or are they not? The book fails to inform readers of substantial reasons to doubt various of these proposed identifictions. It neglects, for instance, to cite Emile Puech and William Horbury and others who argue against the Caiphas identification. The book falsely claims that Alexander was a rare name; Tal Ilan's Name Lexicon lists 31 Alexanders. That is part of the case for claiming Simon of Cyrene's ossuary was found. But, according to its excavators, Sukenik and Avigad, that inscription does *not* say Simon of Cyrene (e.g., Israel Exploration Journal 1962, 10-11). Some of these identifications could be valid, but the book may have muddied the waters more than clarified matters.

Bellarmino Bagatti and some of his Franciscan students in Jerusalem may have overestimated the remaining signs of those Nazarenes and Ebionites that we anachronistically call Jewish-Christians. (The scribble before Yeshua was less likely a Christian cross symbol than the equivalent of testing the writing implement.) Joan E. Taylor wrote a "corrective" to the Bagatti school and rather underestimated Jewish-Christians and their traditions (Christians and the Holy Places: the Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins, 1993). Later, to her own good scholarly surprise, she wrote (in Palestine Exploration Quarterly [2002] pages 173-176) a very good case for early tradition that the Jesus tomb is, after all, indeed within the area of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

There are other problems with the book; if there's interest, others could be listed and discused--for instance, the wild speculations that Templars found the tomb and derived their teaching from it.

Unfortunately, many readers will probably consider criticisms of the book some kind of cover-up. This book, in my opinion, was poorly composed. It seems that Jacobovici's main sense of achievement was in obtaining exclusive contracts and in obtaining signed promises of silence. But that insularity led to a mess, and disservice to readers.

Stephen Goranson

Friday, April 06, 2007

Death of Reginald Fuller

I was sorry to read, on Biblische Ausbildung, of the death of Reginald Fuller (born 1915) on Wednesday. Yesterday, Stephen Cook went on to post the Virginia Theological Seminary Press Release on Dr Fuller. Fuller was an outstanding scholar. I have a strong "remember where you were" memory of reading his devastating dismantling of C. H. Dodd's case for realized eschatology in Mark 1.15, a case I was just mentioning in class the other day. I also have a happy memory of my one and only meeting with Prof. Fuller, when he came along to a paper I gave in the Synoptic Problem seminar at the SNTS Birmingham 1997.

Greg Carey's new blog

It's great to see my friend Greg Carey entering the blogosphere:

NT Geeks

Greg Carey is Associate Professor of New Testament at Lancaster Theological Seminary, where he has taught since 1999. He is the co-chair, with me, of the Synoptics Section at the SBL Annual Meeting. His first major post is on Sinners and is well worth a read.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Gowler Sums up the Historical Jesus

On The Busybody, Loren Rosson has a helpful summary with comments on David Gowler's new book What are they saying about the Historical Jesus?. I am looking forward to getting hold of this book -- it looks like it could be useful for my Historical Jesus course which I teach each Spring.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Review of Biblical Literature latest

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

Stephen S. Carver
The UnGospel: The Life and Teachings of the Historical Jesus
Reviewed by Pieter J. J. Botha

Margaret M. Mitchell and Frances M. Young, eds.
The Cambridge History of Christianity, Volume 1: Origins to Constantine
Reviewed by Everett Ferguson

Eva Schönemann
Bund und Tora: Kategorien einer im christlich-jüdischen Dialog verantworteten Christologie
Reviewed by Judith Lieu

Manuel Vogel
Commentatio mortis: 2Kor 5,1-10 auf dem Hintergrund antiker ars moriendi
Reviewed by Tobias Nicklas

James Ware
The Mission of the Church in Paul's Letter to the Philippians in the Context of Ancient Judaism
Reviewed by Torrey Seland

Mark W. Waterman
The Empty Tomb Tradition of Mark: Text, History, and Theological Struggles
Reviewed by Michael R. Licona

Ben Witherington III
1 and 2 Thessalonians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary
Reviewed by Mark R. Fairchild
Reviewed by Craig L. Blomberg

I've not actually blogged the previous two email messages because of a build up of correspondence at the time, so I will get to those too in due course.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Blogger of the Month: James Tabor

Brandon Wason has been really busy this week, and has a fine interview with James Tabor who is the blogger of the month:

James Tabor: Blogger of the Month April 2007

Thanks, Brandon and James for an interesting read.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Biblical Studies Carnival XVI

Brandon Wason has done a superb job with the latest Biblical Studies Carnival:

Biblical Studies Carnival XVI

When a carnival is put together as well as this, and as well as it always seems to be, it's a fascinating window onto the variety, quality and interest of the developing biblioblogosphere.