The Database of Military Inscriptions and Papyri of Early Roman Palestine

Dr Christopher Zeichmann (University of Toronto) has made available a very useful database for the study of early Christianity:  The Database of Military Inscriptions and Papyri of Early Roman Palestine (DMIPERP).

This site is designed to aid the study of the military in the early Roman period for those interested in Judaism and Christianity of the first few centuries CE….

DMIPERP entries are divided roughly as follows: entries 1-132 were all found in Palestine and listed in roughly chronological order; entries 133-201 were texts not found in Palestine but discuss either the military in Palestine or those of a Palestinian background (esp. Jews and Gentiles born in Palestine); entries 202-224 are all surviving military diplomas for Judaea and Syria Palaestina; entries 225-296 are military diplomas of units or people originating in Palestine; entries 297-340 are Palestinian milestones erected by the military; entries 341-362 are all known pre-Constantinian military inscriptions involving Christians. There are 372 entries in total, with new entries being added following that number.

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Taylor Weaver on Paul, Gifting, and Class Struggle

Taylor Weaver (University of Kent) presents his talk on Class Struggle and Early Christianity, delivered to the Religious Studies department at the University of Kent, February 2018. The talk is available on YouTube, in two parts:

Introduction to the Quran: The Scripture of Islam

A Notre Dame edX course begins today (February 20, 2018) with the foremost scholar on the sources of the Qur’an, Gabriel Reynolds: “Introduction to the Quran: The Scripture of Islam”.

Enrol here for free.

About this course

According to Islamic tradition, the Quran is not simply an inspired scripture. It is a divine book brought down from heaven by the angel Gabriel to the Prophet Muhammad, and its message is the key to heaven. Join us for an exploration of the scripture that is the word of God to over a billion people.

This course will introduce you to various aspects of the Quran, including its basic message, the historical context in which it originated, the diverse ways in which Muslims have interpreted it, and its surprisingly intimate relationship with the Bible. By the end of the course, you will gain an appreciation for the perspectives of Muslim believers and academic scholars alike on the origins and the meaning of the Islamic scripture. No background in Islam or Arabic is necessary for this course.

What you’ll learn

  • Basic organization, structure, and literary style of the Quran

  • The Quran’s role within Islam and its meaning to Muslims

  • Traditional Islamic and critical academic perspectives on the origin of the Quran

  • Strategies utilized within the Quran to construct persuasive arguments

  • Place of Biblical characters and traditions within the Quran

  • Analysis of the Quran from an academic perspective

#MeToo Jesus: Jesus as Victim of Sexual Abuse

On 16 January 2018, Dr Jayme Reaves (Public theologian, Dorset) and Professor David Tombs (University of Otago) delivered the joint paper “#MeToo Jesus: Why Naming Jesus as a Victim of Sexual Abuse Matters”, a Shiloh Project lecture at the University of Sheffield.

 

The #MeToo hashtag and campaign created by Tarana Burke in 2007 and popularized by Alyssa Milano in October 2017 has confirmed what feminists have long argued on the prevalence of sexual assault, sexual harassment and sexually abusive behaviour. It has also prompted a more public debate on dynamics of victim blaming and victim shaming which contribute to the silences which typically benefit perpetrators and add a further burden to survivors. As such, the #MeToo movement raises important questions for Christian faith and theology. A church in New York offered a creative response in a sign which adapted Jesus’ words ‘You did this to me’ in Mt 25:40 to read ‘You did this to #MeToo’. This presentation will explore the biblical and theological reasons for naming Jesus as a victim of sexual abuse drawing on earlier work presenting crucifixion as a form of state terror and sexual abuse (Tombs 1999). It will then discuss some of the obstacles to this recognition and suggest why the acknowledgement nonetheless matters. It will argue that recognition of Jesus as victim of sexual abuse can help strengthen church responses to sexual abuses and challenge tendencies within the churches, as well as in wider society, to collude with victim blaming or shaming.

For further reading, see David Tombs, ‘Crucifixion, State Terror, and Sexual Abuse’ in Union Seminary Quarterly Review (1999).

Jörg Frey YDS Shaffer Lecture: Gospel of John

Jörg Frey, Professor of New Testament at the University of Zurich, gives his three-part Shaffer Lectures at Yale Divinity School on January 23, 25, and 30, 2018, on “Theology and History in the Fourth Gospel.”

The three lectures are as follows:

Lecture I: “Christology as Theology: The Johannine Approach as a Challenge Then and Now”
https://livestream.com/yaledivinityschool/events/8008919/videos/169152262
Lecture II: “The Quest for the Jesus of History and Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel”
https://livestream.com/yaledivinityschool/events/8008919/videos/169280011
Lecture III: “The Spiritual Gospel: John’s Reworking of the Jesus Story for Deeper Understanding”
https://livestream.com/yaledivinityschool/events/8008919/videos/169534880

https://livestream.com/yaledivinityschool/events/8008919

Gert-Jan van der Heiden on the Revival of Paul in Contemporary Philosophy

Professor Gert-Jan van der Heiden (Radboud University) discusses the revival of Paul in contemporary philosophy, including Martin Heidegger, Jacob Taubes, Alain Badiou, and Giorgio Agamben. The lecture (February 2, 2017) is in Dutch, and begins at 2:10:

David Jeffrey – Interpreting the Bible in Art: Rembrandt’s Bathsheba

Professor David Jeffrey (Baylor University) discusses Rembrandt’s Bathsheba, in a lecture delivered at the Lanier Theological Library on October 7, 2017.

The tradition of biblical commentary in the West is venerable and rich. From the outset, theology was essentially commentary on the biblical text exclusively. What is less well recognized today is the extensive role both literary and visual artists played in shaping the way people understood and applied biblical texts. In this lecture, David Jeffrey looks at some of the ways both late medieval and Reformation commentary dealt with one of the most awkward passages in biblical history, the relationship between King David and Bathsheba. Because of David’s key role in the lineage and typology of the Messiah, the story in 2 Samuel 11 produced a range of fascinating responses from both verbal and visual commentators, but perhaps none more profound than that of Rembrandt in his 1654 Bathsheba.

Jonathan Z. Smith on his Lifetime of Learning

Professor Jonathan Z. Smith (d. December 30, 2017) delivered the plenary address at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion, “Reading Religion: A Life in Scholarship” (October 31, 2010). The lecture is available on YouTube.

I am far from insensible to the honor, interest and – yes – forbearance you have extended me by your invitation to speak with you on this occasion, under the general rubric of a lifetime of learning address. I take some comfort from the implication of the first element in that assignment, that the chief criterion for your selection is a measure of longevity.

The lecture begins at 7:00.

In addition, J.Z. Smith’s  presidential address at the 2008 Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, “Religion and Bible” is available on the SBL website:

John Barclay: Paul, Grace and Liberation from Human Judgments of Worth

Professor John Barclay (Durham University) delivered the lecture, “Paul, Grace and Liberation from Human Judgments of Worth,” on April 4, 2017, at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

“His argument re-calibrates the entire discussion of Paul that has taken place over the last 30 years or so: while there certainly were various understandings of “grace” in the early Judaism Paul knew, his encounter with Christ brought him a new understanding of God’s “grace” as incongruous grace, grace given to the undeserving in Jesus Christ.”

Mark Seifrid

 

Naomi Seidman on a more “Jewish” Yiddish and Jesus’ Jewishness

Professor Naomi Seidman (Graduate Theological Union) delivered the 2017 GTU Distinguished Faculty Lecture: “When Jesus Spoke Yiddish: Translating the New Testament for Jews” on November 17, 2017.

Dr. Seidman’s lecture explores the linguistic strategies used by missionary translators between 1540 and 1940. During this period, translators abandoned Luther in search of a more “Jewish” Yiddish that could express their conceptions of Jesus’ Jewishness.

The lecture begins at 12:20. There is a response by Margaret Miles at 1:03:20.

Mark Smith on God’s Body in the Hebrew Bible

Professor Mark S. Smith (Princeton Theological Seminary) delivered a talk entitled, “The Embodied God of the Hebrew Bible” at the John Hope Franklin Institute, Duke University, on February 9, 2017.

The talk examines “the different embodiments of God throughout the Hebrew Bible as a way to explore the entanglement of the corporeal and the divine”, and begins at 6:05:

Biblical Scholars on the Christmas Story

There are a few podcasts and radio segments about on the biblical accounts of the birth of Jesus. Here are three:

  • Dr Robert Myles (Murdoch University) speaks about the birth of Jesus on the Rev Bill Crews podcast.

“What Does History Say About the Birth of Jesus” (December 24, 2017)

 

 

  • Over the years, Mark Goodacre (Duke University) has provided a number of discussions of the biblical accounts of the birth of Jesus:

Was Jesus born in a stable?” (December 15, 2010; 11 min)

Conflicting Christmas Stories” (December 6, 2012; 14 min)

Is the Virgin Birth based on a Mistranslation?” (December 20, 2012; 12 min)

The Magi in Matthew’s Gospel” (December 18, 2015; 14 min)

Christmas in John’s Gospel”  (December 14, 2016; 13 min)

Alan Garrow’s solution to Synoptic Problem: Matthew used Mark and Luke

Dr Alan Garrow presents a studio version of the paper presented at the NT Research Seminar of the University of Durham on Monday 12 January, 2015 (h/t: Chris Tilling):

“Streeter’s ‘Other’ Synoptic Solution: The Matthew Conflator Hypothesis”

matthew conflator

A published version of this paper is available here: Alan Garrow, “Streeter’s ‘Other’ Synoptic Solution: The Matthew Conflator Hypothesis“, New Testament Studies 62, no. 2  (April 2016): 207-226.

However, Mark Goodacre (NT Blog) points out a serious flaw in Garrow’s argument. Garrow argues that that when Matthew uses Luke alone, there is a high level of verbatim agreement; but when Matthew uses Luke and the Didache (which Garrow identifies with Q), there is a low level of verbatim agreement. According to Garrow, Matthew gets distracted when he uses two sources, and is less verbatim. However, Goodacre points out that we would then expect a similar pattern when Matthew uses Luke and Mark. But that is not the case. When Matthew uses Luke and Mark, there is still a high level of verbatim agreement – which is not what we would expect if Garrow’s theory were correct.