Christian Origins List
The new Christian Origins list run by Bill Arnal and Zeba Crook has already provoked a bit of debate and reaction (more specifically its description) but it is worth noting again:
This list focuses on the social and historical location and the earliest Jesus communities, the development of their thought concerning Jesus, the development of their writings, the spread of their movement, and related topics: in other words, the stuff of Christian Origins. This is a moderated and scholarly list: lurking is welcome, but contributors to the list will either have knowledge of the languages, methodologies, and history of scholarship pertinent to the academic study of Christian Origins, or a willingness to become conversant in these. Contributors to this list attempt to understand the the various phenomena of Christians Origins exclusively from an humanist perspective: to explain the rise of Christianity and the development of Christian beliefs without invoking or relying upon such assumptions such as the existence of God, the reality of miracles, foreknowledge of the future, resuscitations of the dead, or any unique status accorded to Jesus, his earliest followers, or Christianity as a religion. This list takes the following quote of Jacques Berlinerblau with the utmost seriousness: “[T]he academic study of the Bible . . . desperately needs an infusion of learned critics who are willing to draw blood . . . Such an endeavor would not necessarily be exclusionary. All researchers would be welcome to participate as long as they pronounce something approximating a secular shahada, or profession of faith: to love critique more than God” (The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers must Take Religion Seriously [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005], p. 139).
Obviously I have interests here and I have wondered what a more explicitly 'secular' discourse might look like so this should prove to be of some interest. Significantly (for me) is that there are a fair few people of this mindset now around which may suggest that these are interesting times for the historical study of Christian origins.