Monday, December 20, 2010

Dr. Seuss does Gnosticism

Colby Whittaker, a first year Duke Divinity student, composed this Dr. Seuss-inspired version of a Gnostic creation story:

One day the first principle was feeling a bit down,

his glumdiferous magnificence turned in a frown.

he pondered and thunk and he thunk and he thought

and oh what a surprise when he saw what he'd wrought

there in the light of his emanated glow,

sat the second principle, the barbelo!

The barbelo in its barbelo suit, with its barbelo spirit munching
spiritual barbelo fruit.

And that barbelo

in its barbelo suit,

with its barbelo thoughts and its barbelo fruit,

why it looked on ole dad with his emanated glow his splendiferous
magnifence and before you know

there came a loud pop, a gnarf and kabangs

And out of the ole Barbelo came 4 more things

And not any ole things

no not any would do

but the best and the brightest, the shiny and new.

First Logos and Life, for who doesn't need a buddy

Then Man and then Church that fuddy old duddy

and they came and they spread

oh they spread and they spread

but they looked around and you know what they said?

Our world is too small oh far far too small

For our father is so so great, so grand and so tall

his world must be sad, such a tiny little world

and so they thought and they thought and thought unfurled

they expanded and grew and then they knurled.

What is knurl I hear you ask?

Why a wonderful thing in which we all should bask.

For out of their knurling

their thinking and thought

their swirling and whirling

they found what they sought

10 little aeons all in a lot.

Well not all at once you must understand

They came out in pairs!

Like a 10 man band.

10 aeons sprung forth, all shiny and new,

and fresh out in the world, they knew and they grew,

and they knew and they grew as good aeons ought

and then, as you'd guess, they too had a thought!

With their 12 aeon friends 22 strong,

they thought and they thought all the day long.

They thought of great things, such marvelous things

spirit-God kings and androgynous rings,

and they thought and they sang

their beautiful song

they sang and it rang

till something went wrong.

Poor little Sophie

said its much too crowded

with all your spirit singing I've been quite out-louded!

And then as you see poor Sophie was outed.

For Sophie had passions what a terrible lot

For silence and thinking is what a good aeon thought.

But Sophie wanted more, oh so much, more

she looked at her Aeon-friends and said “What a bore!”

So she sought out First-Principle,

grand ole Abyss,

and strung up in her passions

she gave him a kiss.

But oh what a kiss and such a kiss to miss

For Abyss would be having with none of this

he sent rough old limit,

that crabbity sort

to sort all this out

all this huffing and snort.

So limit did his limit-y best

and Sophie was purified

and returned to the nest

she returned to the rest

of her Aeon-y friends

but as we know things

take turns and bends

Cause Sophie's desire was not easily undone

It said “I'm still here! I'll still have my fun!”

That desire, misshapen and lumpy and cross,

It looked at that world and gave it the toss.

It said “Forget you Spirits” I've had my fill

of your Aeon-y sounds,

of your Aeon-y rules

of limits and bounds

and with a great whabumph,

and a sickening slumph

why gross ole desire

made some crumph,

and that crumph

it had mass and growth

so Desire became Ii-al-da-both.

And Ialdaboth was a bit of a fool

a bit of a munchkin, a bit of a tool

He forgot all that spiritual, gnosticky junk

and out came some matter with a resounding plunk

And out of that plunk came the moon and the earth

the clouds and the sky and so matter gave birth!

It gave birth to it all

All you can see

The rocks and dolphins

the birds in the trees

But all was not right

Oh certainly not right

Because all that world

was sad without light

Not normal light that pale thin drink

but the light of the Spirits!

Their old thoughty-think!

But Ialdaboth when he messed it all up,

he accidentally brought some spiritual stuff!

He dragged some gnosticy thoughty-thinking souls

And those souls fell into meat-mattery holes.

Those souls became psychics and gnosticky sorts

forming all new secret spiritual cohorts.

Poor Abel who died right off the bat,

And Cain who might have had a hand in that.

But then came Seth, marvelous Seth,

cause inside his chest was the spiritual breath

And inside his heart was the spiritual stuff,

the wonderful mystical spiritual stuff,

the stuff of which theres never enough,

So the children of Seth learned to think a humdinger thought

and this secret they took and they went and they taught

they taught about Sophie and they taught about her weird child

And they told the stories of how he went wild.

They taught about how all this matter is bunk

and all about Ialdy the maker of junk.

But with their humdinger secrets safe in your head

you too could go back, or so they said.

Go back to the start, to the place they still miss,

back home with the Spirits and good ole Abyss.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Resurrection of what?

I have been reading a lot of secondary literature on resurrection lately, and I have noticed a confusing ambiguity in the language employed in these discussions: In the common phrase "resurrection of the X," X can refer either to the thing that undergoes the process of resurrection or to the thing that has undergone the process of resurrection (that is, either to the raw materials or to the end product).

Thus, for example, the phrase "resurrection of the flesh" can be taken to denote either a view affirming that dead corpses will exit their graves (even if they are transformed radically in the process) or the view that the end product of resurrection will have all the "fleshly" qualities associated with our current form of existence.

This ambiguity is frustrating, but I am not sure what to do about it. Any suggestions?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Video interview of Douglas Campbell

Campbell is here talking about participation in Christ.

HT: Michael Gorman.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


My colleague Stephen Carlson has made a few insightful comments on the SBLGNT apparatus.

Here is another take on the Holmes edited volume:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

SBL 2010

I went to the SBL 2010 online program book and searched for "duke". This is what came up, in the order that it came up.

If I missed something let me know.

See you in Atlanta!

Donyelle McCray, Duke Divinity School
When Illness Calls: Insights from Julian of Norwich’s Call to Frailty (20 min)

Carol Meyers, Duke University
Sustenance and Sacrality: Household Foodways in Ancient Israel (20 min)

Tom McGlothlin, Duke University
Patristic Rhetorical Analyses of Romans 3:1-8/9 (30 min)

Andrew D. Rowell, Duke University
John Howard Yoder’s Missional Exiles and Jeremiah 29: A Case Study for Missional Hermeneutics (20 min)

Richard B. Hays, Duke University
Intimations of Divine Identity Christology in Luke's Reading of Scripture (30 min)

Kavin Rowe, Duke University
The Return of Allegory: Scholarly Exegesis and the Literal Sense of Luke-Acts (30 min)

Nathan Eubank, Duke University
To Fulfill All Righteousness: Kenotic Glory in Matthew (20 min)

T.J. Lang, Duke University
Luke’s ‘Little Apocalypse’ is not about the Parousia: Reconsidering the Subject and Setting of Luke 17.22-37 (30 min)

Erin Darby, Duke University
Icons in Context: Judean Pillar Figurines from the Top Down or the Bottom Up? (30 min)

Jill Hicks-Keeton, Duke University
Rewritten Gentiles: Joseph and Aseneth and the Greek Bible (30 min)

Lori Baron, Duke University
Did Matthew Misunderstand Mark? The Shema in the First Gospel (25 min)

Matthew Thiessen, Duke University
Proselutos in Light of the Translation Techniques of the LXX Translators (30 min)

Laura Lieber, Duke University
The Poetry of Creation: Amittai’s Yotzer le-Hatan (25 min)

Dave Nielsen, Duke University
Singular Readings in the Text of the 'Unknown Gospel' (30 min)

C. Kavin Rowe, Duke University
The Grammar of Life: the Areopagus Speech and Pagan Tradition (30 min)

Stephen C. Carlson, Duke University
Eschatological Viticulture in 1 Enoch, 2 Baruch, and Papias (30 min)

David M. Moffitt, Duke University
Blood, Life, and Purification: Reassessing Hebrews’ Christological Appropriation of Yom Kippur (20 min)

Rebekah Eklund, Duke University
The Identity of the Crowds in the Passion Narrative (30 min)

Matthew Thiessen, Duke University
Circumcision in the Early Church according to Acts (28 min)

T.J. Lang, Duke University
Critical Interaction with Paul’s Exodus Exegesis (1 Cor 10): Origen and Augustine (30 min)

Dave Nielsen, Duke University
Singular Readings and the Community Behind the 'Unknown Gospel' (20 min)

Bradley R. Trick, Duke University
The Singular Abrahamic Seed and the Law’s Supplementing of the Promise in Gal 3:15-20 (30 min)

Ken Olson, Duke University
Eusebius, Porphyry, and the Testimonium Flavianum (35 min)

Susan Eastman, Duke University
"The evil I do not want is what I do": Sin and Evil in Romans (30 min)

Stephen M. Wilson, Duke University
David’s Initiation into Manhood: Reading 1 Samuel 17 as a Rite of Passage Narrative (30 min)

Presian Burroughs, Duke University
Ethical Readings of Romans 8: Compassionate Attention or Liberative Action in a Groaning World (30 min)

Timothy Wardle, Duke University
Mark as a Sectarian Document? An Investigation into Mark’s Views on the Law (35 min)

Christian Theology and the Bible
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: International South - Hyatt Regency
Theme: Book Review: C. Kavin Rowe, World Upside Down: Reading Acts in the Graeco-Roman Age (Oxford, 2009)
Stephen Fowl, Loyola College in Maryland, Presiding (10 min)
Beverly Gaventa, Princeton Theological Seminary, Panelist (25 min)
Robert Wall, Seattle Pacific University, Panelist (25 min)
Douglas Harink, King's University College (Edmonton), Panelist (25 min)
Stephen Fowl, Loyola College in Maryland, Panelist (25 min)
C. Kavin Rowe, Duke University, Respondent (25 min)

Ideological Criticism
Theme: Book Review: James Crossley, Jesus in an Age of Terror (Equinox, 2008)
Randall Reed, Appalachian State University, Presiding
Mark Goodacre, Duke University, Panelist (25 min)
Zeba Crook, Carleton University, Panelist (25 min)
William Arnal, University of Regina, Panelist (25 min)
Roland Boer, University of Newcastle, Australia, Panelist (25 min)
James Crossley, University of Sheffield, Respondent (30 min)

Finding Your “Niche” in Biblical Scholarship
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Hanover Hall AB - Hyatt Regency
Theme: Hosted by the Student Advisory Board
Patrick George McCullough, University of California-Los Angeles, Presiding
Christopher B. Hays, Fuller Theological Seminary, Panelist (10 min)
Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, Princeton Theological Seminary, Panelist (10 min)
Dale B. Martin, Yale University, Panelist (10 min)
Mark Goodacre, Duke University, Panelist (10 min)
Paula Fredriksen, Boston University, Panelist (10 min)
Discussion (90 min)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mounce on Deponent Verbs

The third edition of Mounce's Greek textbook has a little note in the margin on p. 152 where he discusses deponent verbs:

There is some interesting research currently happening that questions whether there is such a thing as deponency. For example, many deponent verbs are intransitive (36.10) and therefore cannot be passive. See the class website for an ongoing discussion.

I join those who feel that the notion of deponency in Greek is problematic, and I will be instructing my class that the so-called deponent verbs should really be thought of as (inherently) middle verbs.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Again, Reno on places to study theology

Rusty Reno has once again offered his thoughts on where to study theology and once again has Duke at the top, this time alongside Notre Dame.

p.s. Reno again says that Duke's PhD is offered through the Religion department, which is false. This common misconception was debunked by Mark Goodacre the last time Reno wrote about this.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Duke's Graduate Program in Religion is at the top of the NRC rankings. In other news, Duke fails to mention their reception in the SBL program book

Good news and bad news.

The good news: while there are different ways of reading the data, the recent study of U.S. doctoral programs by the National Research Council ranks Duke's Graduate Program in Religion either at #1 or something close to it. The significance of all this will be debated, no doubt.

The bad news: according to the SBL program book there is no Duke reception. There is a rumor, however, that the reception is at this place and time:

11/21/2010 (Sunday)
9:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Hyatt Regency
Room: International North

Can anyone confirm this?

Update: as you can see in the comments, this is the correct place and time.
Thanks to Lisa and Mark!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Matthew Thiessen's new Canadian BS blog

Matthew Thiessen, a recent Duke NT PhD grad and current Senior Lecturer in New Testament College of Emmanuel and St. Chad and Lutheran Theological Seminary at the University of Saskatchewan, has a new blog.

Here's his description of the blog's purpose:

Greetings. Having just moved to Saskatoon, I thought it would be a good idea to begin blogging about teaching New Testament at the College of Emmanuel and St. Chad and the Lutheran Theological Seminary, member colleges of the Saskatoon Theological Union at the University of Saskatchewan. I hope to post notices of exciting events that are happening around here, as well as musings on the study of religion.

I hope you come by often!

Check it out.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Debugging Mounce: "Contraction" (?!) in the Neuter Plural

We are all using the very popular Mounce textbook for the introductory Greek course in the Duke Divinity School. On the Duke Newt blog, we are planning on blogging some of our experiences with this textbook.

Occasionally, Mounce's explanations don't seem quite right. One example occurs on p. 32 of the 3d edition, in section 6.12 on case endings. As a bit of background, Mounce takes the unusual approach of giving the first and second endings apart from the stem-vowel (alpha/eta or omicron, respectively), rather than, as more common, expect students to learn the endings with the stem vowel.

Mounce's approach, however, runs into a wrinkle for the second declension, nom./acc. neuter plural ending, as in ἔργα (from singular ἔργον), because the omicron stem vowel is no longer there. Here's how Mounce attempts to explain it:

6.12 ... The underline (α means that the case ending joins with the final stem vowel.5 ...

5 This is called "contraction," and I will discuss it in detail later. For example, the stem of the noun ἔργον is ἔργο. When it is in the neuter plural its form is ἔργα. The omicron and alpha have "contracted" to alpha. ἔργο + α > ἔργα.

This explanation is simply wrong. In particular, omicron and alpha do not "contract" to a (short!) alpha. Rather, omicron + alpha contracts to a (long) omega (as Mounce later recognizes in the chart on p. 343).

The explanation is also wrong as a historical matter. The alpha of the neuter plural is not the result of an o-vowel plus an alpha ending; rather, it is the ordinary reflex of the Proto-Indo-European ending of *-eH2, which the vowel *e plus the a-coloring laryngeal H2. In this case, the stem vowel *o changes to *e by ablaut, which then is colored to α by the following H2.

Now, I don't expect introductory grammars of Biblical Greek to be giving the details of Proto-Indo-European morphology, but I do expect that their explanations of the Greek be correct. In this case, a more accurate explanation is that the neuter plural nom./acc. ending -α simply replaces the second declension stem vowel. There is no need to appeal to "contraction," which never occurred historically here and which apparently behaves differently from how omicron and alpha normally contract.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Nathan Eubank in JBL

Duke Newt's very own Nathan Eubank has a new article out in the latest JBL 129/3 (2010): 521–536.

A Disconcerting Prayer: On the Originality of Luke 23:34a

Besides making a persuasive case for the long reading of Luke 23:34 (Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing), Eubank also demonstrates the important (and so often ignored!) methodological point that "if the goal of transcriptional probability is to determine what a scribe is most likely to have written, it would seem prudent to examine what the scribe’s near contemporaries wrote about the passage in question" (536).

Eubank's article is an excellent example of the importance of the history of exegesis for textual criticism.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

2010 Opening Convocation at Duke Divinity School

Prof. Richard B. Hays was installed as the Dean of the Duke Divinity School at the 2010 Opening Convocation. Here is his sermon (preceded by the readings):

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Our Father in Greek

My Greek class is memorizing the Our Father. One resourceful student found this video and wanted to share it with the class. I included the Greek text (as found in the NA27) below:

Πάτερ ἡμῶν ὁ ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς•
ἁγιασθήτω τὸ ὄνομά σου•
ἐλθέτω ἡ βασιλεία σου•
γενηθήτω τὸ θέλημά σου,
ὡς ἐν οὐρανῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς•
τὸν ἄρτον ἡμῶν τὸν ἐπιούσιον δὸς ἡμῖν σήμερον•
καὶ ἄφες ἡμῖν τὰ ὀφειλήματα ἡμῶν,
ὡς καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀφήκαμεν τοῖς ὀφειλέταις ἡμῶν•
καὶ μὴ εἰσενέγκῃς ἡμᾶς εἰς πειρασμόν,
ἀλλὰ ῥῦσαι ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τοῦ πονηροῦ.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Learning the Greek Alphabet

Introductory Greek courses are kicking off this week at Duke, and Mark Goodacre has posted a few songs to help those who are learning the alphabet.

Here's a nice clear one:

Here's a hilarious one.

Finally, here's a link to a free 26 minute video of Bill Mounce teaching the alphabet.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Student Journal for New Testament Studies

It has come to my attention (via ETC), that there is a new on-line (and traditional) publication called the Student Journal for New Testament Studies, featuring articles written by grad (or advanced undergrad) students.

The journal currently has three articles to read: one on the Didache, one on Luke 23:32-43, and one on the Historical Jesus.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Marquette Scripture Project blog

Graduate students and professors at Marquette are discussing theological interpretation of Scripture on this new blog.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Gal 2.1-10 = Acts 15: How firm a foundation?

The identification of Gal 2.1-10 with the events of Acts 15 often serves as a foundation for interpreting both texts based on the tendencies evident in their differences. I have seen assignments for undergraduate surveys, discussion prompts for graduate seminars, and doctoral exam questions that ask the student to compare the two passages, identify their differences, and discuss what those differences suggest.

But how confident can we be in this identification? At first glance, it might seem that we can be very confident: Both texts describe trips to Jerusalem to discuss the circumcision-free gospel, and dating Galatians after Acts 15 might allow Paul to have been in north Galatia (Acts 18.23). Addressees in north Galatia are said to be preferable to south Galatia because of Paul's use of the “ethnic” term “Galatians” (3.1) and the double silence about ethnic Jews: Unlike 1 Corinthians and Romans, Paul does not address Christians with Jewish backgrounds separately, and we have no evidence of a Jewish population in north Galatia. Based on these factors, influential commentators like Betz and Martyn assume the identification of the passages with almost no argument.

I want to suggest that this confidence is misplaced. The argument from north Galatian addressees, based as it is on an ambiguous use of an ambiguous term (Paul could be using it sarcastically—imagine a European calling a Dutch Boer a “foolish African” fifty years ago) and a double argument from silence, is too weak to settle the argument. All we really have, then, is the prima facie similarity between the two accounts.

The problem is that there is a third account, Acts 11.27-30, that also deserves consideration. When the three accounts are compared, the identification of Gal 2.1-10 with Acts 15, although still possible, becomes less of a foregone conclusion.

Gal 2.1-20

Acts 11.27-30

Acts 15

Trip occasioned by “revelation.”

Trip occasioned by Agabus's prophecy.

No revelation or prophecy.

Second trip to Jerusalem (critical for Paul's argument).

Second trip to Jerusalem.

Third trip to Jerusalem.

Private meeting with “pillars” to discuss circumcision-free gospel.

No meeting mentioned.

Public discussion of circumcision-free gospel.

Spying “false brothers.”

No mention of “false brothers.”

Mentions of Christians teaching the necessity of circumcision.

“Pillars” require care for the poor, Paul was already eager for this.

Trip undertaken for material relief of Christians in Jerusalem.

No mention of poverty or material needs.

Acts 11.27-30 thus has three seemingly unrelated correspondences (prophecy, trip sequence, and material needs), no contradictions, and two silences, the most important of which is plausibly explained by Gal 2's description of a private meeting. Acts 15, on the other hand, has two correspondences (subject of discussion and presence of opponents), at least two contradictions (trip sequence and the nature of the discussion), and two silences.

Naturally, conservative commentators such as Longenecker and Bruce, who seek to avoid contradictions whenever possible, have gravitated towards Acts 11. Even if one is not committed to avoiding contradictions, however, I think this comparison shows that Acts 11.27-30 is a viable candidate. Whether or not to correlate Galatians with Acts is not at issue; the question is which is the best correlation, and with what degree of confidence we can make that correlation.

In the end, both are possible, but the degree of confidence often accorded to the correlation with Acts 15 seems unjustified. It can be a tentative conclusion, but interpretive edifices built upon it must, by definition, be at least as tentative. Studies that do so, while not invalid, should acknowledge the shakiness of their foundation.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Software for SBL style??

Does anyone know of bibliography/footnote software that includes SBL style?

I've tried to use Endnote but it's never worked out.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!

The latest NTS has an article from our own Stephen Carlson, "The Accommodations of Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem: kataluma in Luke 2:7."

Amongst Stephen's weaponry is his knack for beginning papers with a hook. Here's a preview:

Thursday, May 27, 2010

RBL Review of Mounce, 3d ed.

The Review of Biblical Literature has a detailed book review by Laurence M. Vance of William D. Mounce, Basics of Biblical Greek: Grammar (3d ed., 2010).

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Bauer apud Martyn on Ascertaining Intention

There has been much discussion over the role of authorial intention in exegesis. I will not rehearse it here, but I've found a quotation from Walter Bauer and conveyed by Lou Martyn in his Galatians commentary (AB 33A, p. 42) that gets it right (IMHO):
On the way toward ascertaining the intention of an early Christian author, the interpreter is to ask how the author's document was understood by those who first read or heard it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Richard Bauckham will come to Duke

... to give next year's Clark lectures, according to his website.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Why people don't like the Synoptic Problem

Yesterday Mark Goodacre suggested three reasons why people don't like the Synoptic Problem:

(1) People find it dull because it is taught badly. In fact, the Synoptic Problem is often not taught at all. In so far as New Testament introductions and introductory courses teach it, they focus on one particular solution (the Two-Source theory) and then they refract all the data through that theory. Simply setting out a solution deprives students of all the interest in the process of history, all the enjoyment in puzzling out the literary enigma.

(2) People find it dull because they do not actually study it. The only way to engage in serious study of the Synoptic Problem is to get down and dirty with the Synopsis, and to spend enjoyable time working with the texts, ideally doing some colouring. It's one of the guilty secrets of the guild that too many scholars simply do not do the work with the texts that they should, preferring instead to keep wading through the pile of largely mediocre pieces of secondary literature.

(3) People find it dull because they think that there is an obvious solution (the Two-Source Theory). Alternatives are thought to be unpersuasive and not worth attention. To an extent,
Mike's post bears this out -- he engages only the Two-Source Theory and the Griesbach Theory. I think that this is a shame given the strong case that can be made for the Farrer Theory, engagement with which can make the Synoptic Problem interesting again.

This all rings true for me. I first became interested in the Synoptic Problem when I had the chance to spend time coloring an old synopsis and saw for myself - though I had already been told by teachers and friends - that the data did not fit as neatly into the schema of the Two-Source theory as I had supposed.

Has anyone else had this experience?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Quote of the day

On the question of whether Judaism was legalistic or not:

"the correct answer is: Of course, and what of it?"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Paul and the Imperial Cult

One of the wonderful things about Duke's Graduate Program in Religion is the support and encouragement we receive from faculty to publish while we are still students. Colin Miller, who recently defended his dissertation, has just published a piece entitled "The Imperial Cult in the Pauline Cities of Asia Minor and Greece," in CBQ 72 (2010): 314-32.

Here is a snippet: "[M]y aim has been to survey the evidence for the imperial cult in important Pauline places in Pauline times. I have shown that the evidence for the imperial cult in those cities is not nearly as vast as it has been assumed in recent studies, nor was it nearly as vast at this early point as it was to become later. Moreover, the evidence reveals that, even where the cult did exist, it was marginal. It is thus anachronistic to say that Paul's message was directed at a culture permeated by Roman dominance as evidenced in the imperial cult" (331).

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reconfigured Torah

Richard Hays's article, "The Gospel of Matthew: Reconfigured Torah", is finally available online. This is an excellent piece, but it used to be rather hard to find.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The 'Canonicity' of Romans 1:18-32

I was recently at UVa presenting a paper on Douglas Campbell's re-reading of Romans 1-4. It was an interdisciplinary conference (so, not all biblical scholars/theologians) and therefore the focus of the discussion was perhaps not the same as it might usually be (focusing on textual markers and the like).

One of my respondents, however, made a very interesting comment to me after the questions had ended. She asked whether adopting Campbell's reading of Romans 1-4 meant that 1:18-32 (along with the other segments of the text assigned to the Teacher) meant that we, as theologians, no longer were obliged to wrestle with the theology represented by this passage, as it is no longer 'canonical'.

This strikes me as a good question. I don't know whether the following responses might be adequate. First, some of the theological themes 'removed' by this passage (e.g. natural theology, issues concerning human sexuality) are also found elsewhere in the canon - and therefore we would still have an obligation to wrestle with them (although they would not perhaps carry the same weight).

Second (and this is a question rather than a response), how far are we obliged to consider seriously rival theologies that are presented in the Bible? For instance, should we consider whether Job's friends provide an adequate response to his predicament? Should we consider whether the Pharisees might be right that Jesus does not show proper respect for the Law? Perhaps an implication of Campbell's reading of Romans 1-4 is that Paul does want us to consider rival theologies - even if he ultimately wants us to accept his.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Does anyone actually prefer endnotes?

Why do academic publishers use endnotes? Does anyone actually like them?

Monday, February 15, 2010

Teresa Okure to give 2010 Clark lectures

From the Divinity School's website:

Teresa Okure, professor of New Testament and gender hermeneutics at the Catholic Institute of West Africa, will present the 2010 Duke Divinity School Clark Lectures on Feb. 17.

She will present “Reading the Gospel Miracles as Parables: Mark 5:1-20 as an Example” at 8:30 a.m. in Room 0016 Westbrook. She will present “Rediscovering ‘the New’ in the New Testament,” at 12:20 p.m. in Room 0016 Westbrook.

Both lectures are open to the public.

Okure, who lives in Nigeria, is a Sister of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. She also has served in various leadership roles at the Catholic Institute of West Africa, including academic dean, dean of student affairs, and head of the Department of Biblical Studies.

A member of various national and international theological and biblical associations, Okure is a well-known biblical scholar who has lectured widely both nationally and internationally. She is the founding president of the Catholic Biblical Association of Nigeria (CABAN) and a co-editor of the new Biblical Commentary Series, Texts@Contexts, the first volumes of which are due to appear in November, published by Fortress Press.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Neusner and the Pope

This is actually quite amusing.

"If you think our walk to the heart of Catholic Christianity precipitated long, long thoughts of history and family — what would the first Jacob Neusner, my grandfather from Koretz in Volhynia Gubernya and Beverly, Massachusetts, who died seventy-seven years ago, a few months before I was born, have thought today, how many Jewish scholars had had occasion to walk through those palatial rooms and what brought them to call on the Pope, and as guard after guard saluted my wife and me how often kippah-wearing visitors received the Swiss guards’ salute — if you thought it was these thoughts of who and where I was, you’re mistaken. Midway through the walk from room to room, I had the awful thought that my fly was open. I checked. It was — but not for long."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wrede helped invent "the community"

As Stephen mentioned in these comments, Richard Bauckham has suggested that Streeter (The Four Gospels: A Story of Origins, 1924) was one of the first scholars to read the Gospels as if they were written for insular communities, a shift which led to the contemporary notion that the Gospels are, in part at least, about these communities.

It appears that William Wrede was an earlier, more important precursor to the "community" approach.

In The Messianic Secret (1901), Wrede criticizes his contemporaries for forgetting that the Gospels are "just a later narrator's conception of Jesus' life." Coming to grips with this fact, Wrede argues, entails paying more attention to the way the Gospels served the needs of their communities:

I should never for an instant lose sight of my awareness that I have before me descriptions, the authors of which are later - albeit relatively early - Christians. These Christians could only look at the life of Jesus with the eyes of their own time and describe it on the basis of the belief of the community, with all the viewpoints of the community, and with the needs of the community in mind. (Introduction, emphasis added)

Of course, this assumption is essential for Wrede's explanation of the messianic secret as an attempt by Mark and his precursors to make non-messianic Jesus traditions conform to a growing belief that Jesus was the messiah, not just after his resurrection, but during his earthly ministry as well.

Given the influence that The Messianic Secret had on form criticism, I think we should look here when assigning blame or credit for the looming presence of "the community" in our exegetical imaginations.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Subjective genitive of πίστις in Ignatius's letter to the Romans?

I was recently reading Ignatius's letter to the Romans and found an instance of the famous "πίστις Χριστοῦ" construction. Here's the passage (Ehrman's text, minus punctuation):

Ἰγνάτιος ... τῇ ἠλεημένῃ ἐν μεγαλειότητι πατρὸς ὑψίστου καὶ Ἰησοῦ τοῦ μόνου υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ ἐκκλησίᾳ ἠγαπημένῃ καὶ πεφωτισμένῃ ἐν θελήματι τοῦ θελήσαντος τὰ πάντα ἅ ἔστιν κατὰ πίστιν καὶ ἀγάπην Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν ... (Ignatius, Rom. salutation)

As far as I can tell, the only way to construe the highlighted phrase as an objective genitive is to read it as as a second prepositional phrase modifying πεφωτισμένῃ (after ἐν θελήματι ...) instead of as a phrase modifying θελήσαντος.

I hear that JTS has just accepted an article arguing that "πίστις Χριστοῦ" appears throughout the Apostolic Fathers as a subjective genitive. I'm looking forward to seeing what it has to say.

In the meantime, does anyone see any considerations that would swing the construal one way or the other?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mistaken Hebrew tattoos

Check out this funny post at Codex on mistaken Hebrew tattoos.

Also see Josh McManaway's comments.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Graduate School? Just Don't Go

...says Thomas H. Benton in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Here's a memorable excerpt:

Nearly every humanities field was already desperately competitive, with hundreds of applications from qualified candidates for every tenure-track position. Now the situation is becoming even worse. For example, the American Historical Association's job listings are down 15 percent and the Modern Language's listings are down 21 percent, the steepest annual decline ever recorded. Apparently, many already-launched candidate searches are being called off; some responsible observers expect that hiring may be down 40 percent this year.

What is 40 percent worse than desperate?

The majority of job seekers who emerge empty-handed this year will return next year, and for several years after that, and so the competition will snowball, with more and more people chasing fewer and fewer full-time positions.

Meanwhile, more and more students are flattered to find themselves admitted to graduate programs; many are taking on considerable debt to do so. According to the Humanities Indicators Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, about 23 percent of humanities students end up owing more than $30,000, and more than 14 percent owe more than $50,000.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sin: A History

I just read a brief but very interesting review of Gary Anderson's new book, Sin: A History, here:

Then I found Bruce Marshall's take (this is really worth reading):

Then I learned about this upcoming conference on Anderson's book at the Augustine Institute in Denver:

I have not read the book; but I plan to, as soon as possible. It looks like it will be a helpful work for people with New Testament questions and a challenge to many assumptions that have become so familiar they are no longer even seen as such. Even if, in the end, you strongly disagree with Anderson, I suspect that being forced to grapple with his arguments should in the long run sharpen your own.

Is there anyone out there who has worked through it or is aware of other reviews?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Stephen Chapman on Canon

Karyn Traphagen has some remarks about an article by Stephen Chapman on Canon.

Friday, January 8, 2010

John Anderson's Interview w/ Richard B. Hays of Duke University

John Anderson, formerly of Duke but now a doctoral student at Baylor, has an interesting Interview w/ Richard B. Hays of Duke University. Dr. Hays does most of the talking, er, writing.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Matthew Thiessen's new JBL article on Gen 17:14

Fellow Duke PhD student and Duke Newt contributor Matthew Thiessen has a fascinating article on Genesis 17:14 in the new issue of JBL. Thiessen argues that critical texts of this verse ought to read as follows (By the way, can anyone tell me how to use Hebrew and Greek characters in blogger? I don't know how so here's the translation):

And the uncircumcised male, who has not been circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin on the eighth day, that soul shall be cut off from his people, he has broken my covenant. (p.642 emphasis added)

The crucial part is "on the eighth day", which the MT and every modern translation I am aware of lack.

There are lots of reasons why this variant is important, but the thing that interests me the most is the fact that the longer reading is found in all extant LXX manuscripts, the Samaritan Pentateuch, Jubilees, (and possibly 8QGen frag. 4), and yet it is almost universally dismissed in favor of the reading found in the MT.

I don't think it's unfair to say previous discussions of this verse have relied on an uncritical confidence in Codex Leningradensis, and a corresponding excessive suspicion of anything that contradicts this codex. Check out Thiessen's entire argument to see why.