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

Friday, September 30, 2005

Labour Party Conference with a Whiff of Soviet Russia

Another year and the last bits of life are just about squeezed out of the Labour Party Conference. Once home to some vigorous debates in the hall, it has now dwindled into a piece of slick TV propaganda. Well almost...

Firslty the main speeches. Here's an extract from Gordon Brown's:
And the history of our movement tells us how we succeed in transforming our country: putting British values - fairness to all, responsibility from all - at the core of all we do, and reaching out to the country to build a progressive consensus around them...Our mission: new Labour renewed. Our values: fairness for all, responsibility from all.Our country: united as one moral community. A great British society. This we stand for. And this together we can and will achieve.

The new Labour bit aside, that is so vague and so obvious that no-one would disagree. same with Tony Blair's speech:

The age we live in is democratic not deferential. We believe in solidarity. We believe in social justice, in opportunity not for a privileged few but for all, whatever their start in life. We believe in tolerance and respect, in strong communities standing by and standing up for the weak, the sick, the helpless.

Oh and the rounds of applause followed, naturally.

Chris Pattern, former Tory chair, said he thought the Tories under him managed their conference with media professionalism. Diane Abbot, left-ish Labour MP, said she and other no longer attend because of lack of debate and claimed that if it wasn't filmed it wouldn't even be going anymore.

But the controlling nature of New Labour got worse than this. No debate on Iraq, a fairly big issue you might think. when Jack Straw tried to play up the wonders of Labour's foreign policy of intervention (how it would have saved many others if followed through around the world: like they didn't just jump because Bush said so) one of the few 'hecklers' left at the conference, Walter Wolfgang, an 82 Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany and lifelong peace campaigner, shouted 'nonsense' and 'it's a lie'. Not the greatest crime you might think but then infamously a couple of big heavies came and dragged him out from behind (see above). Another man was thrown out for telling the bouncers to stop. Wolfgang was escorted out, searched, had his pass confiscated, and refused re-entry by the police. And the reason this could all be done: the Prevention of Terrorism Act. A sadly typical abuse of power not only by New Labour but the police (again, no surprise there). For Walter Wolfgang's account read this. This is very disturbing.

Naturally there were the obligatory apologies from Blair, Straw and that other professional liar , the ultra-Blairite John Reid. So, just a mistake then? Not control freakery?

Long time Labour MP Austin Mitchell has complained that his digital camera was removed from him and all photos of the conference queues deleted.

Channel 4 has now complained to the Labour party claiming a team from its main current affairs show was banned from the conference.

And of course not debate on Iraq. And an ignored defeat on health.

It just won't stop. The opponents people are hardly al-Qaeda. It's a hyper- authoritative streak that has long been at the heart of New Labour.

On a more annoying note I was a bit pissed off to see Tony Blair walking down the aisle to the punk classic, Sham 69: 'If the Kids Are United'. Is there no limit to what these people will steal?

To top off a sorry week arguably the greatest libertarian and radical the Labour Party has ever had, Tony Benn collapsed and hit his head and is said to be comfortable in hospital.

On a stupid note, Barrow got a mention by one vetran of Labour party conferences:
Motions are discussed in higgledy-piggledy bunches of three and four; no sooner has a bloke from the T&G angrily railed against what happened to the staff of Gate Gourmet and demanded the right to secondary picket, than the next speaker has snuffed out any drama by thanking the government for all the great things they've done for Barrow-in-Furness.
Ignore the opinion of 'the next speaker' by the way. The shipbuilding industry has hardly been rescued.

No proper discussion of climate change. The only very small consolation, if that, is that a government (and especially a leader) obsessed with legacy this government should be remebered for a horrific crime by their utter failure to act on what is doubtlessly the biggest threat to the world.

Conclusion: it's great to be at a Labour Party Conference so long as you agree with everything you are told. If you want to discuss the biggest issues facing the country and the world: shut up, be happy, or go elsewhere. Got that?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

United 2-1 Benfica

Forgot to mention this: nice work again Ruud. Like the look of Richardson. This could have been a lot worse.

Didn't forget to mention weekend result. That was on purpose.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

More on 'authenticity' and Rafael is soft

Ok, so Rafael dared to respond! There's not much disagreement I have with what he's said so I'll restrct myself to where Rafael is wrong, aside from the cruel and demeaning comments on Michael Bird's blog which has pierced my heart and left me a broken man (well not quite as much as the gun).

But the question, I think, is whether we can positively (or even probably, or even usefully, for that matter) distinguish between newly interpreted and newly created traditions. (The interesting discussion in the Jesus seminar [not Seminar] at the BNTC re: the Son of Man/son of man between Maurice Casey and Andy Angel is an example of the difficulty we have in this regard.)

Just questions here: can a line be drawn here? If Jesus used a standard Aramaic idiom and it meant just man and was sort of tranlated in a similar way into Greek and had no reference to Daniel is that as useful for understanding the historical Jesus as a saying which (say) the early church found when reading Dan 7 and linked it to the second coming. Let's just assume that's right for the sake of these question: would both be of equal usefulness in reconstructing the life of Jesus? Or would one be of greater use?

And this:
There is no philosophical discussion about whether or not Jesus could have proclaimed a present kingdom, an imminent one, a future one, or any combination of the three. But this is precisely the first step in addressing the authenticity/historicity of the resurrection: Could the historical Jesus have experienced bodily resurrection? I think the difference is obvious; I apologise if it isn't.

Yes they are different but the authenticity question remains exactly the same, even if there has been a slight modification by Rafael here to experience: Did the bodily resurrection happen or not? Did Jesus preach a present, future, or future/present kingdom? I wouldn't argue that the resurrection is a question of could it happen but rather did it happen or not. The whole of the gospel tradition is a level playing field as far as I'm concerned. It just so happens that the resurrection didn't happen but that's another story...

(NB: James asks, 'Why is that so different from the analysis of any other miraculous event?' First, Jesus' teaching about the kingdom or a future coming Son of Man isn't miraculous. Second, I've yet to hear anyone seriously suggest that death was a psychosomatic condition that Jesus could 'heal' or 'be healed of' [unlike healing the blind or the lame], though some of the old resuscitation theories tend toward this.)
Actually, for what it is worth there are cross cultural parallels to people coming back from 'death' a bit like the girl who was only 'sleeping' in Mark 5.39 but that I know is not quite the point. More to the point, I think Rafael is again working with the question of could it happen... I say: did it?

Oh yeah . . . one last point. It seems to me that questions such as, 'Would the same degree of openness towards authenticity be extened to non-Christian traditions?', aren't very helpful. On the one hand, Evangelical scholars are said to be credulous because they suppose the gospels (or at least the synoptics) are reliable sources for the historical Jesus, but on the other they are criticised for not being credulous enough (for refusing to accept all the sources as reliable). I understand James' point (and, as he is fond of pointing out, our disagreement here is rather minor) and agree that why some of us prefer the canonical or synoptic gospels as historical sources should be a subject for analysis. But a preference for certain sources can be the result of critical reflection (granted that, nevertheless, it frequently isn't).

That's not quite what I was getting at. I'll put it this way: would an early miraculous story about Alexander the Great, some pagan magician or a great rabbinic authority be treated with the same degree of critical respect? Let's say they are very early, perhaps even by eyewitnesses, would they not be put down to a general world view where people saw no problem with making such stories up?

To broaden things out beyong the debate between me and Rafael, there has been a lot of debate on the blogs about authenticity and I think one good way to put things to the test is to steal a tactic from Jim West here (there are certain parallels with theHebrew Bible/OT debate on the blogs) and ask the open questions: did Jesus really on water or not? Did he multiply the loaves or not? Did he turn water into wine or not?

NOTE: in case of misunderstanding 'soft' was a schoolyard taunt for not being tough or hard. Not that I'm implying he's academically soft mind (if there is such a thing!!). Oh, it's just a silly joke, ok?

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Pricey books

Jim West complains (rightly) that a certain book by a certain author in a certain series is too expensive. I would have responded on Jim's blog but its gone too high tech for me at the moment and to my shame I can't find the 'comments' section. So here's my advice: just wait a year and it will be at the bottom of the discount bin in some bookshop for about $5!

UPDATE: I've just read further down on Jim's page on comments. That'll teach me to read properly next time.

RBL and Aus

The latest RBL includes this:
Aus, Roger David
My Name Is "Legion": Palestinian Judaic Traditions in Mark 5:1-20 and Other
Gospel Texts
Reviewed by Craig Evans
Roger Aus has produced loads of books on the haggadic background to the gospels and provides all sorts of evidence that would (and sadly still does) otherwise go undetected. He does think a lot of the gospel material is creative haggadah and given that there are some strong tendenncies to see a lot of the gospel material as secondary (or whatever you want to call it) it is amazing that his work does not get widely publicised and discussed as it should.

Monday, September 26, 2005

First Blog Blood on Authenticity and Another Missing Post

I just wrote out a big response to Rafael and it happened again: the entry vanished. so if something appears that is similar you know why.

So here goes again.

Rafael said:

...the rhetoric of critical historiography in Jesus research. It seems, in some circles at least, that being a critical (= good) historian of Jesus requires us to judge some traditions about Jesus 'inauthentic'. Not that there is one tradition that must be considered inauthentic, but that a good scholar will think at least one tradition to give false information about Jesus. Anyone who doesn't is 'credulous' or 'uncritical' (= bad). But this seems, to me, as weak a position as the fundamentalist one that requires that we automatically, and beforehand, adjudge every tradition authentic.

Rather, it must surely be better (and more scholarly) to reserve judgement until after analysis. Relatedly, that analysis must not be solely focussed on the Jesus tradition, but also upon our own status as historians.

I found myself in broad agreement with Rafael and our disagreements were very minor ones. Now my 'but' here is with the bit above. If the so-called 'uncritical' scholar has carefully evaluated the entire gospel tradition and finds most of it authentic would this no be a little unlikely? Would the same degree of openness towards authenticity be extened to non-Christian traditions? Statistically, surely, at least some degree of the gospel material must tell us things that are nothing like what happened in the historic ministry, esp. given that Jewish and pagan traditions have lots of creative storytelling elements?

On another point Rafael repsonds to me and to be honest I don't actually think there is really much point of dispute. But I do on the following:

Here James would say that, for example, either Jesus was raised from the dead or he wasn't, so authenticity remains an analytically useful category. Yes, of course. And my point is not that authenticity is completely useless. But it seems to me that the example of the resurrection, especially, must be decided on other (e.g., philosophical) grounds. Unlike, for example, the question of whether Jesus thought of the kingdom as present or imminent, the question of the historicity of the resurrection is unlikely to be answered by textual analysis and determination of 'authenticity'.

Why must the example of the resurrection be decided on different grounds to the teaching on the kingdom? Either Jesus preached on the future kingdom or he did not. Either Jesus' dead body went the way of normal human beings or it did not. In theory (and I would say in practice) it must be the case that either Jesus' bones were there somewhere in some tomb on the fourth, fifth, six etc. days or Jesus was bodily raised. Why is that so different from the analysis of any other miraculous event? Again, the question arises: would spectacular events from non-Christian traditions be treated with that degree of respect or do we dismiss them as legends or fiction or whatever?

Now, Rafael is not going to let me get away wit all that so I await his response...

As I said on the existent/non-existent (I'm sure there's a lesson in there somewhere) post, history is all the rage among bloggers these days.

Rafael Rodriquez' blog

Rafael Rodriguez has a new blog. Rafael is at Sheffield and he likes to think he's right and I'm wrong (but we all know differently, right?). Actually that's not really true, at least I think it isn't. This should be fun for me at least as I've been having an ongoing debate with him for some time on the most intricate of details and it is possible that we may even be agreeing with each other. Anyway, look...it will have all things NT and his own special interests.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Jesus the Jew

Michael Bird raises the issue of Jesus the Jew and the work of Klausner. In recent times of course the Jesus the Jew thing has become widespread of course. I'm not sure just how widespread though. Here a couple of open questions. How Jewish a Jesus are people prepared to envisage? NT Wright, for all the talk on Jesus' Jewishness still has the Law redundant, the Temple replaced, Jesus having a very high Christological opinion of himself and so on. Is this so very different from the pre-Sanders/Vermes era? Wright isn't alone of course and it seems to me that it is often just lip service to the Jewishness of Jesus in some quarters. Even Sanders provides a get out clause with let the dead bury their own dead. So how far is scholarship really prepared to go on this? Does Jesus necessarily have to stand outside contemporary Jewish trends on issues of who he was and identity, Law, Temple, and so on and so on?

NT Greek

Around 40 students for first year Greek!!!!!!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

OTin the NT Seminar

The annual OT in the NT seminar held in Gladstone's old home (Hawarden, N. Wales) now has the addition of Jim West! This is one of my favourite conferences. It is usually quite small but with some very sharp people present (and now another one, naturally). If you ever give a paper there you'l most probably have some expert in some field waiting to help. I remember giving a paper there once and learing about medieval MSS on some verse in Mk 7 which I would never have learned elsewhere (and the precise details have obviously slipped out of my head). It is also the friendliest conference I go to. Very pretty setting too.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

More date of Mark stuff

Well it seems that there is a mild concern for the date of Mark's gospel. XTalk has had loads of posts on the matter. Even the very late date (early C2) has been raised. This always puzzled me. there are serious problems dating agospel that late which predicts the kingdom of God within the life time of Jesus' audience (Mk 9.1) and that the second coming would come within a generation (Mk 13.30). There are none of the problems found with such imminent eschatology in what are clearly later texts like 2 Peter 3 and John's gospel (esp. ch.21). It seems extremely unlikely that a second century gospel writer would leave Mk 9.1 and Mk 13.30 unedited.

Monday, September 19, 2005

0-0, back to blogging and date of Mark

After years, or so it seems, of constant travel, finally I've stopped for a while. And what happens? Well typically, X Talk has a massive discussion on the date of Mark, a subject once close to my heart. I'm going to try and read all the posts but they seem never ending. I noticed the stuff on the fig tree implying the destruction of the Temple. I don't think it can be pushed that far. People did predict the fall of the Temple. There is also a big emphasis on the temple authorities being to blame for Jesus' death in this section of Mark so it is also possible to read the fig tree sections in this light.

Oh, and Liverpool 0-0 United. Could have been worse I suppose, although Roy Keane's injury is bad news.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Where I am and Man Utd-Villareal

I perhaps should have mentioned that I would be on my travels and away from blogging for a few days so readers could avoid, ahem, disappointment. I'm in some internet cafe at the moment but will return to blogging at the weekend.

And why was Rooney (yes, the best at the moment Jason) sent off???? And I'm not buying and of the usual Rooney outcry. That referee has a history with United players and I'll never forget his semi final when United played Leverkusen a few years back (where there were that many bad decisions they probably balanced out for both sides) . I've always thought he was the worst in Europe. But overall it could have been worse than 0-0 away from home.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

"Minimalism", "Copenhagen School", or what?

I've been following the debate on the blogs (esp. Jim West's) and the Biblical Studies discussion group on the whole minimalism thing as an outsider. One problem that repeatedly comes up is how to define certain people, esp. Thompson, Lemche, Whitelam, and Davies who seemed to get lumped together. Just one comment on this really and this may have been said before and rejcted or accepted for all I know. It seems to me, an outsider, that the gang of four are being defined through what they are NOT, as is so often the case in imposed definition. Their books, at least from what I've seen, are each recognisibly different. But perhaps the thing that defines them is the difference from the ways in which traditional 'history of Israel' was done. Is that fair? If so, does that make the already problematic definitions of 'minimalism', 'Copenhagen school' or even 'Sheffield school' effectively redundant if they are largely connected by what they are not?

Before people fire at me remember those were the comments of a poor little non-specialist just trying to make sense of a dangerous world. Be gentle.

United 1-1 Man City

Not a great result but could have been worse if it wasn't for Van Der Sar (looking like a VERY good signing) at the end. City are treating this as if they have won the Champions' League which in their terms a draw with United is just that. Good to see Ruud score yet again.

Even better to see Arsenal lose.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Melanie Phillips' Blog

Melanie Phillips, one of the top comedy acts of the British right wing press (she's not serious, right? What? NO, she can't be!), has a blog which is full of anti-Muslim and anti-Palestinian polemic. She fires at the 'British Bias Corporation' (unlike you, eh Melanie?) for its supposedly anti-Israel stance. she thinks global warming issues are just an anti-western left wing conspiracy. For those not familiar Melanie Phillips: she is the Daily Mail's and middle England's Voice of Reason and Truth. She has made significant historical inaccuracies but naturally allowed to pass by unscathed. For all their slagging off of the BBC these people get interviewed and put on Question Time (and yes by the BBC) in the interests of 'balance'. For some reason she is treated seriously. Asking her opinion on just about any of the burning issues of the day is sort of like asking a semi-literate anti-evolutionist, non-scientific biblical creationist to review the latest results of evolutionary biology in the interests of balance.

I do the reporting, you decide!

Anyway, enough of my opinions on right wing hacks (that could last a long time). The real reason for this entry is that some readers will be interested in this piece of information on her blog: the organisation of 'Anglicans for Israel' by Simon McIlwaine. Phillips includes a letter where McIlwaine defends settlements and the 'fence' and pushes for Anglican support for Israel. Here are Phillips' comments:
Heartening and uplifting news about a group of brave and decent Christians who have decided to challenge the Anglican animosity towards Israel...one can only hope that Mr McIlwaine now finds many other similarly well-informed, courageous and principled Christians who will join his group and turn it into a force that can defeat the moral and spiritual evil that has so consumed the Anglican church.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Northern Ireland 1-0 England

That was a terrible performance by england. Fortunately I don't care as it's Man United alone for me. That was a pretty spectacular victory for NI. But I still love watching Rooney in any game and Sven's formation utterly stifled him. Why on earth put the best forward in the world right out on the left wing and leave a lightweight Owen up on his own?

John Humphrys and 'Unbiased' Reporting

John Humphrys, the fierce presenter of Radio 4's Today programme, has recently come under a bit of fire for apparently criticising various Labour figures. The details can be found here and the speech here. Naturally he has come in for a bit of stick from various people, some of whom have been after his blood for some time. One attack is from a journalist for various rags in the UK, Stephen Pollard, who also as it happens has a blog. Like so many British journalists he is the world's leading expert on everything. Anyway he made the following comments:

In his now infamous speech, Humphrys argued that: “If we were not prepared to take on a very, very powerful government indeed there would be no point in the BBC existing — that is ultimately what the BBC is for.”
No, Mr Humphrys, it is not
[classic British moralising rhetoric]. The purpose of public service broadcasting is precisely the opposite: to provide an analytical, unbiased and serious alternative to the supposed free-for-all of commercial broadcasting.
That it is now ITV and Sky to whom one turns for unbiased coverage is thanks to John Humphrys and his BBC ilk.

I would love to know how Pollard would define the unbiased coverage provided by ITV and Sky (Murdoch owned!), or indeed the BBC of yesteryear. And unbiased coverage in general.

Without making a judgement one way or another on Humphrys, I can't help but think (and I can't prove this) there are still certain people inside New Labour who want a bit of revenge for his views on the damning of the BBC in the light of that whole shambolic Andrew Gilligan affair and the govt's disorting document on Iraq's so-called WMD capabilities.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Against Geldofisation

I know some people who look at this from time to time have asked me why I was so sceptical about the whole G8 thing and hostile to Bob Geldof. This article by George Monbiot might explain things as it brings together some of the important arguments.

John's Gospel and the Historical Jesus

For many (me included) John's gospel is of little use for studying the historical Jesus. But it is particularly interesting that NT Wright makes little use of John in his big Jesus book. I think this issue, if I remember rightly was also raised by Crossan in debate with Wright. Michael Bird noted that at the Edinburgh Dogmatics conference NT Wright was pushed on the use of John's gospel and added that it was a bit of a problem for Wright. So just a couple of related questions. One for Michael: what did Wright have to say about this in Edinburgh? The other more open: as there are a few Wright fans out there what do you think of using John's gospel as a source for the historical Jesus?

Sunday, September 04, 2005

BNTC Liverpool 2005

I noticed that other bloggers got to computers. Obviously, I didn’t. Anyway, as others have mentioned, Richard Burridge gave the first main paper on ethics and ancient biography. I thought Burridge’s work on genre was very convincing and so the ‘biographical approach’ to ethics could have some mileage. The paper covered a massive range of Pauline and gospel material. The issue of Jesus and the Law (one of my pet topics) came up in the discussion and I was discussing it with people long after the paper. I think there is potential for a fully law observant Jesus to catch on but how you measure such agreement I don’t know.

Then whilst having a drink later on me and Sean Winter were asked if we knew one another to which a reply was mumbled, ‘We met on the internet.’

The Jesus seminar (not the naughty one of course) went well I thought. The first two papers were by Andy Angel and Maurice Casey on the son of man problem with my co-chair David Bryan (a Liverpool fan and he kept reminding me of their fluke last May) responding to Andy Angel. The debate was heated but always friendly. A fair bit was on Aramaic and linguistics. Put crudely there was a divide between the titular THE Son of Man like Andy and David and those (myself included) who think more along the lines of the lower case and more generalising son of man associated with the late Barnabas Lindars and of course Maurice. I think it is fair to say that some on the titular side were prepared to concede that Mk 2.28 is strong evidence for a generalising statement with some reference to the individual because of the existence of the generalising Mk 2.27 which is dropped independently by both Matt. and Lk. to produce a titular the Son of Man.

I chose to go to David Horrell’s short paper which questioned the validity of the term ‘Pauline churches’ as a distinct ideological group of pro-Pauline people. I thought it was very convincing and my impression was that it was broadly accepted by those who attended, although I claim no skill as a mind reader. More conversation with others really.

I stayed for the debate on the future of biblical studies. While undoubtedly important it strayed a bit too much into church based things for my secular tastes. There was also a question from someone which I’m not sure if I heard correctly so I could be completely misrepresenting here. I think, repeat think, that someone said that there should be more respect for scholars who have studied these texts for years and that postmodern influences have led to the idea that all opinions are valid when they are not or something like that. IF, repeat if, this was said then this is something with which I’d disagree strongly. I think it is healthy to disrespect scholars and for students to challenge everything that academics tell them. Scholars are not gods and they make mistakes. Many mistakes. I suspect all academic disciplines have had their fair share of scholars who have produced stuff which is ethically unsound to say the least. There should be no problem with students putting opinions forward no matter how stupid. They can be debated after all. I’m not sure if it’s right to blame ‘postmodernism’ for everything deemed wrong in academia (if this was what was said and even if not I have heard it said by others). My guess is that the social change of the 1960s has more to do with people being more and more prepared to challenge authority figures and that’s a good thing. But as this is all from memory I could easily be misrepresenting whoever said it. Feel free to tell me off if I did misrepresent.

I missed the Friday evening paper because a) I’m pretty sure I had heard it at another conference and b) David Bryan and Maurice Casey persuaded me to have a drink instead. That session lasted some time.

The final session of the Jesus seminar was Rafael Rodriguez’s paper on memory, reputation and so on. I gave a response that focused on the methodology because I largely thought everyone else would have concentrated on exegetical questions. As it turned out I was quite wrong and most of the session was taken up by some useful methodological discussion. I was in general agreement with Rafael, particularly on how authenticity is too focused on whether this or that verse accurately reflects an early tradition and so on whereas memories of Jesus have some importance too in historical reconstruction. I thus have some sympathy with the recent debate on remembering Jesus and all that. I added some qualifications on memory creating false ‘facts’ and how a memory and reputation can tell us something completely inaccurate about a person. My worry is that this approach can go too far and let everything count as ‘authentic’ (not that Rafael said that). But I think there was broad agreement in the seminar on this in the end.

The Saturday main paper was by Darrell Hannah on evidence for ‘The Four Gospel “Canon” in the Epistula Apostolorum’. The overall case seemed pretty strong to me but when doing other things at the moment it’s not the sort of thing I’m able to check properly. It surely has to be one of the few BNTC papers in its history which has discussed Coptic and Ethiopic texts, at least in my time going to the conference.

One particularly entertaining moment was seeing a rare-ish Hebrew Bible book on the book stalls and it was by William Dever. I can’t remember the title but there was a full 3 page onslaught on things connected with the Dept of Biblical Studies at the University of Sheffield. There were all sorts of allegations of being trendy, postmodern, that kind of thing and an incredibly selective and one sided list of what represented Sheffield. It was so misleading it was unintentionally hilarious. I have never read anything quite like that before and it was largely empty and meaningless polemic. It was in the context of the whole minimalist debate so Sheffield NT was not really attacked.

Oh, and I had a greetings conveyed to me from one Michael Bird who said I would know him as a right wing bigot and a ‘fundamentalist’. You said it Michael! Only kidding. It made me laugh. I have never and, barring some outrageous statement in the future, will never describe the esteemed blogger and friend of gentiles in such terms. It would have been very interesting to have Michael at the Jesus seminar and next year I may have to get a hook and drag him in whether he likes it or not.