James Crossley's blog Contact: jgcrossley10 - AT - yahoo - DOT - co - DOT - uk

Saturday, July 30, 2005

What is an evangelical?

There have been some comments in blogs about evangelicals or by evangelicals or whatever. Although I at least know I am not an evangelical, I'm a bit ignorant on precise definitions of the term 'evangelical'. It seems to me to mean different things to different people. In the UK my impression is that it is mostly used in terms of 'conservative evangelical' to denote someone who believes that what the gospels tell us 'actually happened' or something like that, have a relatively internal view of salvation (i.e. likeminded believers only), and think Bultmann's approach to the gospels is a bit naughty (every time I teach form criticism I get a very negative reaction from some students). Now I know not all those who think of themselves as evangelicals in the UK would not identify themselves with the position I just outlined. There is also what I supposed could loosely be called a more German approach where it is (again correct me if I'm wrong) associated with the Protestant tradition in general and Bultmann would, of course, be perfectly at home here. Reading a couple of the bloggers I suspect that there are a few out there who would be happy to be called evangelicals but would differ over some very key points of theology.

Now, I know I've not mentioned some massive points of theology above but people can say what means what to them.

So, how would you define an evangelical or, perhaps more relevant, an evangelical biblical scholar?

Champions' League draw (qualifying round)

For those who care (this might just be me alone) here are some of the ties for the Champions' League:

Third qualifying round
Artmedia Bratislava or Celtic v Partizan Belgrade or Sheriff Tiraspol
Shakhtar Donetsk v Internazionale
Shelbourne or Steaua Bucharest v Rosenborg
Manchester United v Debrecen or Hajduk Split
Everton v Villarreal
FBK Kaunas or Liverpool v Dinamo Tirana or CSKA Sofia
Anorthosis Famagusta or Trabzonspor v Rangers
Dinamo Tbilisi or Brondby v Ajax
Real Betis v Monaco
Wisla Krakow v Panathinaikos
(First legs: August 9/10; Second legs: August 23/24)

I would have preferred an easier draw for United (Man United, that is, in fear of patronising) but I reckon United should get through fairly easily.

If Liverpool play CSKA Sofia then that would be tricky. Let's hope Liverpool get either a) hammered or b) deperately lose in injury time of the second leg. I suspect they will bore their way through round after round but here's hoping.

I don't fancy Everton's chances against Villareal.

Jim, short for Ulrich

Jim West's page must be seen as it contains a picture comparison: did you know that Zwingli looks like Jim West?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Philip Harland and group membership

Philip Harland has a great posting on membership of and belonging to different groups in the ancient world with some very useful extra bibliographical information and link to one of his articles. This has been a bit of an issue in my own research this very day and it was particularly pleasant to see those comments.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Things missed

I got a bit too sidetracked on the Isalm and Christianity thing that several issues passed me by.

As others have noted there are the latest reviews from RBL.

There have been some related comments on the Mark 7 debate and things tied up wuth the historical Jesus by Loren Rosson. If anyone cares (and why should they) I think Loren is right to stress the millenarian Jesus and to place some emphasis on embarrasment and dissimilarity with the early church in getting back to the earliest layers, although sometimes we just don't have enough information on a range of issues in the early church. Also I would not underestimate compatibility with a Palestinian setting. By showing something fits in with (say) Galilean society and economy or Palestinian Jewish thought would not prove authenticity but it is crucial in showing plausibility of an early tradition and how it might be legitimately interpreted. I still think there is not enough attention paid to the details of early Jewish thought in much of scholarship, often too eager to assign this or that passage to some alien setting. I am in whole agreement with the uselessness of dissimilarity from Jewish setting. It makes Jesus historically implausible. The idea that Jesus MUST be different says more about a scholar than the historical Jesus. I'm perhaps a little more optamistic on multiple attestation in so far as it at least points to a pre-synoptic idea. But I would try to multiple attestation only alongside others. Of course I would add another source to the earliest material listed by Loren...

As widely mentioned, the prolific Ben Witherington has been blogging without being spotted. Fortunately as a new blogger I can happily blame everyone else for not noticing!

Jim Davila notes that Philip Alexander has been elected as a Fellow of the British Academy. As he points out it is very much deserved.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Christianity and Islam

I was travelling on a train the other day and someone had scrawled ‘Islam is evil’, a view I suspect is more widely held than certain people think. I have had discussions with people back in my home town who think that it will one day be overrun with mosques, a pretty unlikely thing given that there are virtually no Muslims in Barrow-in-Furness. This attitude is reflected to some degree among some Christian scholars here in the UK.

It shouldn’t need saying that these views are of no merit whatsoever. But why do so many people think like this? One reason is (as ever) the role of media. There has been a great deal of media coverage on Islam here in the UK, increasingly so after the recent London attacks. Various things are repeatedly discussed and reported: the difference between ‘extreme’ and ‘moderate’ Islam, Muslims suppressing militants, a hook handed comic book cleric, etc. Some of these concerns have been echoed by Tony Blair. No matter how well meaning some of the journalism might be the overall effect creates a context whereby Muslims are treated as potentially dangerous fanatics, putting ethnic communities here in the UK under serious threat every day.

But were not the London attackers, the Sept. 11 hijackers, the Bali bombers, all Muslim? Well yes of course. So what is the assumption here? Is Islam is somehow differently violent from the religion of ‘our’ supposedly civilised societies? Perhaps ‘they’ haven’t quite evolved in some way? Hopefully few people would say such things because they are so clearly absurd but those constantly questioning Islam in the British media and British public life should come clean about their assumptions. They should also ask why Christian violence doesn’t get such coverage.

After all, George W. Bush claims to be a committed Christian as does Tony Blair. Between them they share a great deal of responsibility for the lives of what is now suggested as 25,000 civilians killed in Iraq, thousands in Afghanistan, and God knows how many more have suffered directly or indirectly due to US and UK foreign policy. It could be argued that these two coincidentally happened to be Christians who were not fighting in the name of God. But Blair explicitly justified the Iraq war apocalyptically in terms of good and evil and Bush has been even more explicit. What about some of the Christian 'fundamentalists' and their continuing connection with the American political right? So should we ask why Christians would produce such people who have presided over profoundly unjust wars and continually support brutal dictators (like Saddam of course)? Many Christians would be offended by this with some justification just as many Muslims are by questions constantly levelled at them. Many, many Christians have opposed such behaviour and would not want to be linked with figures such as Reagan, Bush or even Blair, just as many, many Muslims have openly condemned the recent atrocities in London. Most prominent Christian leaders opposed the Iraq war and many Christians have been vocal opponents of British and US foreign policy over the years. But as some Muslims have supported aggressive actions in the name of Allah so some Christians have supported aggressive actions of their Christian political leaders in the name of Jesus Christ, both sides no doubt deluded in such instances. So is it really fair to frame this in terms of 'religion'?

Thousands and thousands of innocent people have died in New York, Iraq, London, Afghanistan, Bali, and so on and so on. By framing the discussion in terms of Islam, hatred of ‘our values’, and even religion in general misses the point to some extent. It does nothing to prevent more innocent deaths and if anything is only contributes to the sorry state of affairs. Whether a violent Christian or a violent Muslim in this so-called war or terror, religion is only the surface of much deeper issues.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Fact and fiction

There is more discussion related to the Jesus Seminar and Mark7 and we are promised more from Loren Rosson. Some of the further comments made by the ever provocative Michael Turton on literary composition and historicity reminded me of one tendency in scholarship to see careful use of literary structure and motifs as evidence of historical invention. As an aside on all this current favourite blogging topic, this is something that is problematic for me. All non-fictional narrative, ancient and modern, is inevitably cast in some kind of literary form. Hayden White, for all his faults, got this point dead right. Some may be more aesthetically pleasing than others but it is impossible to avoid. Yet this does not mean that when historians write they are failing entirely to represent the past. No matter what narrative style we find in E.P. Thomson, The Making of the English Working Class, and even if it does construct and impose a model on the past, it still remains true to say that there was still (to paraphrase Thompson) a deluded follower of Joanna Southcott, poor stockinger, the Luddite cropper, that this poor law or that poor law was passed, there were no disputes between this person and that person and so on. No one, including Hayden White, is denying that events happen: it’s what you then do with them. The most literary of modern day historians like Simon Schama accept this. Schama’s Landscape and Memory self consciously arranges his narrative into a very definite thematic structure (water, forest, rock etc.) and has been widely praised for its great literary merits but this does not mean that the people he discusses didn’t write, act, say, the things he attributes to them. Schama stands in a long tradition of literary historians of the modern era, stretching back through Churchill, Trevelyan, and some the 19th century English narrative historians, none of whom ever thought that their self conscious literary style was compromising historical facts. So(say) Mark did use bread and food symbolically this does not mean he could not have got this from earlier tradition or a historical event only to mould them into his own distinctive style. After all, disputes such as Mark 2.23-28 and Mark 7.1-5 are the kind of disputes that are both reflected across the synoptic tradition and in Palestinian Jewish thought contemporary with Jesus. This is why I’m sceptical about the strength of the argument that literary composition can decide whether something happened or not. But don’t get me wrong, the gospel writers were perfectly capable of inventing things from scratch as are modern historians (even Schama deliberately invents characters in one book!) and literary devices can help us to some degree understand the ideological motivations of a given author.

London update

It appears that the police have shot someone at Stockwell tube station in London. There are also rumours that the police have surrounded a mosque in East London.

UPDATE: the Metropolitan police shot dead an innocent Brazilian, Jean Charles de Menezes.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


After a long day I saw the new show by Ricky Gervais (of The Office fame) called Extras. There's more than a hint of The Office about it but it was excellent and plenty of dark humour. Ok, that's it for today's TV reviewing but well worth watching (if you're in the UK).

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

More on Mark 7

Firstly, my apologies to Stephen Carlson. I knew he had written on the recent discussion of Mark 7.15 but earlier today I could not connect to his site for some reason. Now that I can I have found out that he has written stuff of some relevance for what I was arguing including some very important points on the dangers of anti-Judaism in scholarship.

Jim West makes the following comments on my referencing to rabbinic material on the previous post:

That's some pretty late evidence isn't it? I'm not suggesting that the Mishnah may not contain very early materials and embody very early ideas- but, documents written centuries after the fact may, or may not, be relevent. The question must be raised, it seems to me.So, what can the Mishnah and the Talmud (even later stuff!) really teach us about Jewish practice in the time of Jesus? It seems to me that we need first century evidence to make claims of precise aspects of practice- and the whole Jewish purity law and its actual influence on daily life in the time of Jesus seems generally unknown.

Jim West is quite right: the evidence I gave was late and it does need defending. That said, it can be supplemented by first century evidence. The Markan evidence itself ought to be regarded as important. The washing of cups, pots, kettles and beds are all paralleled precisely in the Mishnah. Handwashing before ordinary meals is too. It is significant that Matt. heightens the attack on handwashing (Mt. 15.20). Why would he do this if this practice did not exist? And if Mark and Matt. did invent such a tradition (and in Mark's case also the immersion of cups etc.) how would we explain it turning up in the earliest rabbinic collection? It would be a remarkable coincidence.

Some of the Mishnaic discussion is at least attributed to first century contexts. In addition, the famous 'mix the cup' passage (m. Ber. 8.2) discusses the details of hand-washing and simply assumes the practice of hand-washing and the particularly defiling function of liquids. The Talmudic source I mentioned (b. Ber. 28a) has a discussion of Rabban Gamaliel and the phrase 'insides not as their outsides'. John Poirier (JJS 47 [1996]) argues that that the ethical meaning of this saying was a development of the earlier use which concerned impurity. This, along with other reasons, points to a very early use of the saying, i.e. a pre-70 Pharisaic use.

Crucially there are also Jewish sources dating well before the Mishnah which reflect key concerns of the transmission of impurity. Lev 11 already discusses the particulary strong defiling function of liquids in precise contexts. The strong defiling function of liquids was expanded more broadly and is also found in the DSS, including oil as a liquid which is also mentioned in the Mishnah (CD 12.15-17; m. Maksh. 6.4; cf. 4QMMTa 8, 4.5-7). The use of liquids was crucial in transmitting impurity to food. If there were no liquid, impurity could not pass from hands to food.

Back to the similarities with Mark 7. Rabbinic literature talks of bodily immersion in the context of handwashing. A person can start to remove major impurities - such as those which might be contracted at the market place - through bodily immersion. Yet as hands were always liable to touch things AND could become impure apart from the body, hands too had to be washed. This is very precisely reflected in Mark who talks of immersion of body followed by other things which might contribute to impurity like cups etc. in the context of handwashing in addition to handwashing itself. This is the precise logic of handwashing in rabbinic literature and it is accurately reflected in Mark 7.1-23. Is this just pure coincidence?

While everyone should be extra cautious about using rabbinic material, in this case the argument is collective. I find it very difficult to explain Mark's details on purity and hand-washing otherwise. Furthermore it takes someone with serious knowledge of Judaism to know precisely reflect such complex Jewish practices in detail. I would say this points to a Jew or at least a very knowledgeable gentile.

Indcidentally, it is for these reasons (given in proper detail rather than the rambling incoherent form here) I argued in the Date of Mark (2004), ch. 7, that Mark 7.19 was a rejection of kosher foods (i.e. food made impure through not washing hands), a point raised on Stephen Carlson's page.

Michael Turton also makes some interesting remarks:

In my view the writer of Mark does not present Jesus as a Torah-observant Jew so much as creates him as an example of what a Torah-observant Jew looks like seen from the outside: Jesus is the writer's idea of what a Torah-observing Jew is. Mark's Jesus is about as much a Jew as the King of Persia in Chaereas and Callirhoe is a Persian. In Greek novelistic fiction it is a convention to act as a "guide to the exotic" for the reader, and here the writer is building his character of Jesus using items that someone on the outside would pick up. It is interesting that Steve mentions Crossley, because Crossley has written on another aspect of this pericope (Mark 7:1-23). Some early manuscripts have "pitchers, kettles and dining couches" in Mk 7:4.

There may be something in Turton's view that Mark's use of dining couches is to mock a Jewish practice, but it is not a practice of all Jews. It is perfectly possible that Mark could be invloved in an intra-Jewish debate here, rejecting a practice of many other Jews. There is after all a strong stress on tradition vs biblical commandments in Mark 7. Also, Mark's Jesus debates over the details of Sabbath law, agree with a scribe on the centre of the Law (Mk 12.28ff.), and fire at the Jewish leaders (Mk 12.1-12). Compare John's gospel where there are attacks on 'the Jews' and an outright rejection of Sabbath law (John 5). We don't get this degree of distancing of Jesus from Judaism in Mark. I have more to say on this (and have done) but I'm starting to flag right now!

UPDATE: Jim West has added some further comments on James as a near contemporary witness to the kinds of ideas expressed in Mk 7 (including a surprisingly early date for James). At the very least James must surely stand in this tradition. More is also promised by Loren Rossen.

Mark 7.15

Following on from Michael Turton's comments on the Jesus Seminar and Mark 7.15, Mark Goodacre has suggested that Mark 7.15 does not necessarily abrogate standard Jewish traditions pointing to a parallel in Isa. 1.15 and noting that sayings removed from context can be taken to mean very different things. I think there is a very strong case to be made against the Jesus Seminar sort of along these lines. On Mark 7.15 the Jesus Seminar did not provide a genuine discussion of handwashing and the role of impurity in Jewish literature, despite Mark doing so. According to many early rabbinic views if hands were not washed impurity was transmitted from hands to food to eater if a liquid comes between hands and food and probably defiled the insides (cf. m. Ber. 8.2; m. Tebul Yom 4.1-3; m. Sotah 5.2; m. Yad. 3.1; m. Parah 8.7; m. Hullin 2.5; m. Maksh. 6.4; b. Ber. 28a). It is also worth pointing out that hands could become unclean even after bodily immersion (m. Tebul Yom 2.2).

Should it not be at least tested that Jesus was criticising this development of the purity laws rather than any biblical law?Given that Mark has already made mention of handwashing and related traditions, given that he has already set up a contrast between biblical laws and 'tradition', and given that Mark 7.15 concerns the purity of insides and outsides, this background should never have been ignored by the Jesus Seminar. If it could be shown that Jesus said Mark 7.15 (I think there is a good case) then this would be an internal Jewish debate and would make much better sense. As many, many people have now pointed out, if the historical Jesus abrogated the Law in such a significant way, how do we explain the fierce disputes in the early church of the validity of major commandments?

Death of a fascist

John Tyndall, founder of the far right British National Party (BNP), died yesterday aged 71. He was also a leading figure of the National Front (NF) in the 1970s. He was also, unsurprisingly, openly racist, homophobic, and misogynist. He was frequently in and out of courts and prision over issues of racial hatred.

One obituary has rightly pointed out that he should not be thought of as a bit of a joke character because he and his heavies brought fear to many. I remember some of the NF types and those influenced by the NF in my hometown as a youngster (it didn't seem to matter that there was no sizeable ethnic community in Barrow-in-Furness). Having dark hair and a very mild tan I was often cast in the role of 'foreigner' and even a couple of years ago I was grilled by a right meat headed bastard claiming I was Turkish. When I finally convinced him I wasn't Turkish he said that 'they' were taking over Barrow etc. etc. I asked him where about in Barrow. He answered, the Kebab shop for a start. Well, I've lived in Barrow most of my life and I'm pretty sure there was no thriving white Anglo-Saxon kebab trade or good old English crumpet cafes. I was told that when I get to his age (about late 30s!) I'd understand. Note the assumption that I'm the ignorant one.

The BNP are still trying to break through in Barrow but there are a combination of anti-fascists preventing this. The work of trade unionists, the Anti-Nazi League, Searchlight, and a range of other anti-fascist groups and individuals goes unrecognised in preventing the spread of far-right ideology and taming the influence of figures such as Tyndall. They do a lot of the dirty work in preventing far-right gatherings and far-right propaganda, travelling to some unsavoury and at times dangerous venues. Their work would be aided no end if the British media weren't so hysterical about asylum.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Green the new black

I have had a few of complaints about the black background both by Hugh Humphrey in the comments and some friends. So it is with a heavy heart that I leave the black behind (sorry Michael!) and go for the more green look.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Date of Mark's Gospel

One of the reviews I just mentioned is, obviously, a review of my book by Lois Fuller of McMaster Divinity College/Emmanuel Bible College. I’m still not sure about the scholarly etiquette of responding to reviews in print but it seems that not many scholars do (correct me if I’m wrong). Someone once told me that they use general phrases such as ‘it should be obvious…’ to refer indirectly to criticisms made in reviews. But this blog isn’t a refereed journal or book so it’s as good as any place to respond more directly. Rest assured that I will give myself a firm telling off if I think I have transgressed such etiquette.

Some points I have are a bit pedantic but are worth noting to clear a few things up. Fuller claims that I believe Mark 13 only allows a date between 30 CE and 70 CE. To be precise, I actually said between the mid to late 30s and c. 70 partly because I am not convinced that there is much possibility that Mark 13 was delivered by Jesus and it reflects too many events from the early church. Fuller also seems to imply that I date Acts no later than 60 CE. If this is what she is implying then this is inaccurate. I reviewed this kind of argument (associated with Harnack, Robinson and several conservative scholars) but disagreed with it going for a post 70 date for Luke-Acts.

Fuller aims some criticisms at some of my arguments. Against my contention that Mark’s audience included Jews and gentiles who were largely law observant (I’m not too happy about the term ‘proselytes’ in this instance which Fuller attributes to me), Fuller asks why then does Mark have to explain Aramaic terms and Jewish custom. In response I would point out that Mark explaining Aramaic terms tells us nothing more than some people in Mark’s audience not knowing Aramaic. This has no bearing on law observance. There were no doubt plenty of law observant Jews and gentiles attracted to Jewish law throughout the Roman Empire who knew little or no Aramaic. As for explaining Jewish custom, this would have been necessary for people who did not know the specifics of Palestinian halakoth which can be extremely complex for some Jews, not to mention gentiles. If my overall argument is correct this was also necessary because they were the kinds of practices Mark and the Markan Jesus were criticising.

Fuller also suggests that Mark’s Latinisms may suggest a gentile audience in the western Empire, possibly Rome, and notes that I don’t address this. Leaving aside the various alternative explanations for the Latinisms in Mark, let’s assume Fuller's suggestion is correct: would this mean very much so far as the date of Mark is concerned? I don’t think so. I remain agnostic as to where Mark was written but even Rome would be possible for an early date. Compare Romans 15.20 which shows that there was a community founded sometime prior to the mid-50s. It could also be added that some probably secondary patristic traditions are quite happy to say Mark was written in Rome in the time of Claudius. If there was a largely gentile audience (although any real precision about the ethnicities in the Markan audience is no easy task) this does not say anything about their observance of the Law. Incidentally, Paul has serious problems with people (gentiles included) observing the Law in Rome and Galatia.

Fuller also comments on the crucial part of my argument: Mark 7 and the transmission of impurity. Against my argument that Mark is criticising the transmission of impurity from hands to food to eater, she suggests that ‘surely Jesus is following his usual strategy of pursuing the spirit rather than the letter of the law’. I'm not sure how this is supposed to be Jesus’ ‘usual strategy’. This is not much of an argument. There has been a lot of detailed work done on Jesus and the Law in recent years and it would have been hoped that such vague Christian concepts of Jesus pursuing the ‘spirit of the Law’ would no longer be used. I provided three chapters on Jesus and the Law in the synoptic tradition with most detail on Mark 7.1-23 so an alternative argument was there to see.

Fuller also says it is unclear why Matthew and Luke would portray Jesus as a Law observant Jew and have to make this explicit. She points out that here have been arguments that Matthew has such an idea but for Luke ‘it is unlikely’. Firstly it is difficult to respond to criticisms such as ‘it is unlikely’ which are not really backed up by an argument. Besides, this is hardly the most radical implication of my book. There are plenty of arguments (which I noted) that have been put forward for Luke portraying Jesus as law observant and having what may be loosely called a revelation history. Luke makes it very clear that it is with Peter that the origins of non-observance begin justified by a divine vision (Acts 10-11.18) and it is surely no coincidence that Luke omits the potentially dangerous and (for Lukan theology) potentially contradictory Mark 7. This kind of argument has been around for some time. Why Luke would want to do this could be for a number of reasons sometimes mentioned in secondary literature (e.g. to stress the Jewish origins of Christianity for Jewish members of his audience, a strong tradition of Jesus’ law observance in his sources).

Still, it is good to read reviews and I hope the tone doesn't suggest that I'm not grateful for such comments.

Reviews from Journal of Greco-Roman Chrsitianity and Judaism

I'm not sure if any other blog has noticed this or not (so my apologies if they have) but there are online articles and book reviews available from the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism 2 (2001-2005). These are the articles:

Volume 2 (2001-2005)
Zeba Crook
The Divine Benefactions of Paul the Client
Hans Förster
7Q5 = Mark 6.52-53: A Challenge for Textual Criticism?
Malcolm Choat and Alanna Nobbs
Monotheistic Formulae of Belief in Greek Letters on Papyrus from the Second to the Fourth Century
Galen K. Johnson
The Tribulation in Revelation and Its Literary-Theological Milieu
Douglas C. Mohrmann
Boast Not in your Righteousness from the Law: A New Reading of Romans 10.6-8

The book reviews (of particular interest to me and I will return to this in a minute) are as follows:

James G. Crossley, The Date of Mark’s Gospel: Insight from the Law in Earliest Christianity (JSNTSup 266. London/New York: T. & T. Clark [Continuum], 2004).
Lois Fuller, McMaster Divinity College / Emmanuel Bible College

Richard A. Burridge, What Are the Gospels? A Comparison with Graeco-Roman Biography (Biblical Resource Series; Grand Rapids/ Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2nd edn, 2004).
Sean A. Adams, McMaster Divinity College

Ben Witherington, III, New Testament History: A Narrative Account (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001).
David A. Huctwith, McMaster Divinity College

Martin Hengel, The Septuagint as Christian Scripture: Its Prehistory and the Problem of Its Canon (trans. Mark E. Biddle; introduction by Robert Hanhart; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004 [T. & T. Clark, 2002]).
Liang Kazu Wu, McMaster Divinity College

Josep Ruis-Camps and Jenny Read-Heimerdinger, The Message of Acts in Codex Bezae: A Comparison with the Alexandrian Tradition I. Acts 1.1–5.42: Jerusalem x(JSNTSup, 257; New York/London: T. & T. Clark, 2004).
Sean A. Adams, McMaster Divinity College

C. Marvin Pate, Communities of the Last Days: The Dead Sea Scrolls, the New Testament and the Story of Israel (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2000).
Daniel So, McMaster Divinity College

Susan Miller, Women in Mark’s Gospel (JSNT Sup Series, 266; London and New York: T. & T. Clark [Continuum], 2004).
Lois Fuller, McMaster Divinity College / Emmanuel Bible College

George K. Barr, Scalometry and the Pauline Epistles (JSNT Sup Series, 261; New York and London: T. & T. Clark, 2004).
Sean A. Adams, McMaster Divinity College

Alan J.P. Garrow, The Gospel of Matthew’s Dependence on the Didache (JSNTSup 254; New York/London: T & T Clark, 2004).
Sean A. Adams, McMaster Divinity College

David E. Garland, 1 Corinthians Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003).
Jae Hyun Lee, McMaster Divinity College

Bruce W. Longenecker, with excerpts from Ben Witherington III, The Lost Letters of Pergamum: A Story from the New Testament World (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2003).
Matthew Forrest Lowe, McMaster Divinity College

Sunday, July 17, 2005

A Different Spin on the Da Vinci Code

As promised music and, er, Christian origins. Quite unexpectedly (well for me and most people I expect) the lovingly named Rat Scabies - the drummer of the punk band The Damned - has become involved in the search for the holy grail, recorded in a new book. Here's the overview:
Christopher Dawes lives in a quiet street in Brentford, Middlesex, opposite Rat Scabies, former drummer with The Damned and someone who once set his drums on fire while still playing them in concert. Life with Rat as a neighbour isn't run-of-the-mill, but things turn even stranger when Rat announces that the two of them are going on a search to find the Holy Grail. The sacred relic has eluded everyone from King Arthur to Adolf Hitler, but Rat reckons he knows where it's stashed. Once they've written a list of things to do ('Buy metal detectors!') they get to work unravelling the mystery, which involves the Knights Templar, the ancient sorcerer Kings of France, a shadowy secret society called the Priory of Sion, and the remote and spooky village of Rennes-le-Chateau in France, where it looks as though someone - or something - wants to stop them from finding out anything at all ... RAT SCABIES AND THE HOLY GRAIL is a psychedelic road trip, a rich historical yarn and a testimony to the sometimes odd nature of certain friendships.

The book seems to be semi-serious (I haven't read it). Mark Radcliffe interviewed Rat Scabies and Christopher Dawes on BBC Radio 2 here in the UK which also gave the impression that while serious with lots of geographical and historical details it seems that the adventure was the main thing. The interview was funny and Mark Radcliffe was at times not quite believing what he was doing.

On the subject of the search for the holy grail, a remember a couple of years ago there was a massive headline in the local paper of my home town Barrow-in-Furness proclaiming that the holy grail was located locally and was going to be found imminently.

As far as I'm aware there was no follow up story.

But if Joseph of Arimathea (it was him according to the legend wasn't it?) wanted to keep it hidden for centuries I can't think of a better choice than Barrow-in-Furness.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Tom Wright in The Guardian

Tom Wright has an article in The Guardian today on debate, reason and emotion in the context of this Anglican discussion of women bishops. While there is not much on women bishops in the article (Wright is in favour I gather) it does have some generally agreeable points on the nature of debate, although whether "reasoned debate" is ever genuinely practiced is a problem in itself. As an aside, and if anyone cares, I have always looked on in amazement that women in the church is even a problem.

Aramaic background to Mark 2.24

I've been reading with some interest the comments on Maurice Casey's Aramaic Sources of Mark's Gospel by Edward Cook's blog and in particular Mark 2.24. Now I should declare my interests first. Maurice Casey was my PhD supervisor and has remained a close friend so perhaps it's inevitable that I'll defend him from time to time. Unfortunately, I'm in the process of moving and books that I don't immediately need are packed away, including language dictionaries and Casey's book, not to mention the fact that I'm not currently close to a university library so I can't make any points of detail for the time being. But it does seem to me that the options for the precise phrase underlying ho ouk exestin are not dramatically significant for the meaning (in Aramaic) of the passage as a whole as as would (say) knowing what was meant by 'son of man' in 2.28. Casey has often argued that precise words remain unknown in certain passages not least due to there being a variety of possibilities with little to choose between them. 2.24 would be a good example. Anyway, enough of that. Discussions such as Edward Cook's are the kind I always enjoy reading and discussing. Hopefully there will be more discussion and hopefully I can get myself sorted in order to look at them in more detail. This discussion deserves more than I've offered here.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Starting off

Just getting started here and I will get all the links to the various biblical studies blogs in due course. I finally decided to get writing after reading the various blogs over the years. But with my computer skills being what they are things may take a little while before they're sorted out.