Christopher Hays on the Divine Suckling


Professor Christopher B. Hays (Fuller Theological Seminary) delivered a lecture at the College de France, on April 15, 2016, entitled, “Imagery of Divine Suckling in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East“.

The video may be downloaded or watched online in mp4 format.

BSO7a-b Interview with Kaya Mar

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The latest BSO podcast is James Crossley interviewing the artist and political satirist Kaya Mar which took place on 3 May, 2016. Due to some minor technical hitches, the interview is in two parts. The first short part (BSO7a) is effectively the intro while the second part (BSO7b) is the bulk of the interview. The interview covers the biblical topics such as Jesus-Corbyn comparisons, a number of political paintings with biblical themes listed below, and José Saramago’s novels on Christian origins, as well as other issues such as the political functions of the artist. The interviews can be streamed or downloaded here and should be available on iTunes shortly:

BSO7a Interview with Kaya Mar (Intro; 2:47)

BSO7b Interview with Kaya Mar (Main; 35:05)

Kaya Mar’s work features on the front of a recently updated version of a book on the Bible in English political discourse since 1968:


Mar’s work ranges from landscapes through portraits to political satire. The Bible and religion feature regularly as plenty of examples from Mar’s website show (including those mentioned in the podcast). Readers might want to look at ‘The Birth of Gideon’, ‘Jeremy Corbyn: Labour’s Unwanted Child’, ‘Crucifying the NHS’, ‘Saint Kate’, ‘Madman Martyred to Imperialism’, ‘Attending King David on His Throne’, ‘The Occupy Tent City at St Paul’s Cathedral’, and ‘The Massacre of the Kurds’ (and many, many more).

Here is some more information on Kaya Mar:

Phyllis Trible on Jacob, Hagar and Sarah


Professor Phyllis Trible delivered the 2014 Kellogg Lectures at Episcopal Divinity School, on May 9, 2014. The two lectures are available in audio format, on SoundCloud:

1. Justice for Jacob

2. Justice for Foremothers: Hagar and Sarah


Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza – Liberating Scripture (2015 Sprunt Lecture Series)

Professor Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza delivered the 2015 Sprunt Lecture Series, titled “Liberating Scripture: Reading against the Grain,” on May 4-6, 2015, at Union Presbyterian Seminary.

Lecture 1: “Love the Brotherhood”

Lecture 2: “What is in a Name: Rediscovering our Jewish Ancestors

Lecture 3: “Reading Otherwise – Reading for Liberation”

Discussion session:

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza on the Revelation of John

Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, the Krister Stendahl Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School, gives a lecture titled, “The Apocalypse of John: Its World of Vision and Our Own?” at the College of the Holy Cross on April 10, 2014.

Symposium on Martyrdom in Comparative Perspective – Judaism and Christianity

At the Berkley Center, November 13, 2007:

This one-day symposium looked at the phenomenon of martyrdom across the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. How has legitimate martyrdom been defined by the leaders of these three faith traditions and how have believers responded to it? What purpose does martyrdom serve? Are there particular circumstances that encourage people to sacrifice their lives for the sake of God? Panelists aimed to bring clarity to these issues by offering insights from the latest thinking on martyrdom. The first panel featured Elizabeth Castelli from Barnard College and University of Oklahoma’s Shmuel Skepkaru, who discussed martyrdom in Judaism and Christianity.

C.K. Barrett: “The Bible in Theology and Preaching”

Professor C.K. Barrett (1917-2011) delivers a lecture at Asbury Theological Seminary on April 23, 1998, on the topic, “The Bible in Theology and Preaching”. After an introduction by his student Professor Ben Witherington III (12:08), Charles Kingsley Barrett’s lecture begins at 15:12.


Mark Chancey: The Constitutional Conundrum of Teaching “Bible History” in American Public Schools

Professor Mark Chancey delivered a lecture at Trinity University on April 13, 2016 entitled “The Constitutional Conundrum of Teaching ‘Bible History’ in American Public Schools.” The lecture was delivered in the 2016 Lennox Series and Seminar at Trinity University (San Antonio, Texas).

When public schools teach about the Bible, they often frame the subject matter as “Bible History.” In doing so, they are definitely favoring conceptualizations rooted in very particular theological commitments. This approach has a long history, going back to the early 20th century.  Courts prohibit it, but many courses do it.  The courts’ prohibition to not favor or disfavor particular religious viewpoints puts teachers in a pedagogical and constitutional Catch 22.  How does one talk academically about material that makes historical claims without slighting one religious viewpoint or another?

Valarie Ziegler – Submission, Sex, and Sinraptors: The Evangelical Adam as Alpha Male in American Popular Culture

Professor Valarie Ziegler delivered a lecture at Trinity University on March 24, 2016 entitled “Submission, Sex, and Sinraptors: The Evangelical Adam as Alpha Male in American Popular Culture.” The lecture was delivered in the 2016 Lennox Series and Seminar at Trinity University (San Antonio, Texas).

From Kentucky’s famed Creation Museum to People Magazine’s obsession with the ever-expanding Duggar clan of 19 Kids and Counting, Christian conservative evangelical institutions are ubiquitous in American popular culture. Eager to recreate American society in the image of Eden, conservative evangelicals have given us eHarmony, princess purity balls, erotic wife spanking, militant fecundity, and a steady stream of illustrated Bibles depicting dinosaurs romping with Adam and Eve – not to mention a succession of spectacular sex scandals. Most people would be hard put to connect these colorful images to Christian devotion. But conservative evangelicals regard the subordination of women to men as central to God’s purpose in creation, and submissive wives and daughters, as well as dinosaurs in Eden, are useful signifiers of men’s primacy over women. This exaltation of male power and privilege not only gives license in the evangelical world to abusive behaviors (think Josh Duggar) but also impacts important levels of social discourse in the larger American culture, from romance to science, from procreation to presidential politics.


David Noel Freedman: The Role of Human Beings in the Bible

Professor David Noel Freedman (1922 – 2008) delivers a lecture entitled “The Role of Human Beings in the Bible”, at the Brigham Young University campus on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem on April 20, 1993.

The picture is sometimes shaky and the audio is of average quality.

Introduction to the Talmud


Associate Professor Barry Scott Wimpfheimer (Northwestern University) is the instructor for an online course (MOOC) on the Talmud, commencing April 18, 2016. The course is called “The Talmud: A Methodological Introduction“, and may be taken either at certificate level (for US$50) or audited for free.

The Talmud is one of the richest and most complicated works of literature the world has ever known. Since being composed around 1500 years ago it has inspired not only religious reverence but significant intellectual engagement. In this course learners will be introduced to the unique characteristics of this text and the challenges that inhere in studying it while studying a chapter of the Talmud. Students of the course can expect to develop an appreciation for how the Talmud works and why it continues to inspire religious and intellectual devotion. They will be challenged to employ critical reading skills and to analyze legal and historical concepts.

Enroll online here.


Are the Gospels based on eyewitness testimony? Bart Ehrman vs Richard Bauckham


On April 9 and 16, 2016, Professors Bart Ehrman and Richard Bauckham engaged in a debate on the radio show Unbelievable about the topic of Bauckham’s most well-known book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony.

Bart Ehrman’s new book “Jesus Before the Gospels” makes the case that the stories about Jesus would have changed and evolved before they were written down as the Gospels.

Richard Bauckham, author of “Jesus and the Eyewitnesses”, defends the view that the Gospels were written by those with access to eyewitness testimony of Jesus’ first followers. They debate who wrote Mark, whether the the Gospels came from anonymous traditions and how they received their titles.

The shows are available on iTunes:

Saturday 9th April 2016 

Saturday 16th April 2016

Here is a transcript of the end of the discussion from the first episode:

Ehrman: What they’re doing [in the time of Irenaeus, ca. 180 CE] is that they’re naming these gospels in order to provide them with apostolic credentials […]

Bauckham: To maintain this, you have to say that Papias’s discussion of gospels he ascribes to Mark and Matthew are to other gospels, gospels we know nothing about, rather than to the gospels we know as Mark and Matthew’s gospels. I find that a very…

Ehrman: Well one thing we can say about Papias is: he tells us two things about Matthew’s gospel. He says that the Gospel of Matthew is written in Hebrew, and he says that it is a collection of the sayings of Jesus, the logia, the sayings of Jesus. Matthew’s gospel that we have was not written in Hebrew; it was written in Greek. And it is not the sayings of Jesus; it is an account of his words and his deeds and his passion. So what Papias is describing isn’t anything like our Matthew.

Bauckham: Well, I think Papias made a mistake when he thought it was written in Hebrew, certainly. It is a very brief account. Papias calls his own book, “An account of the sayings, logia, of Jesus.” And actually Papias clearly told stories about Jesus, because we have two or three of them. But I think what really interested Papias were the words of Jesus, so he tended to use logia to cover the context of the Gospel, because the sayings of Jesus were what mattered to Papias.

Ehrman: Well that’s right, but he doesn’t call his book “The logia of Jesus”.

Bauckham: Yes he does…

Ehrman: His book is the “Exposition of the logia of Jesus”. He’s giving explanatory comments on the sayings of Jesus. And he says that Matthew wrote logia. Well, Matthew’s Gospel is not a collection of logia. Matthew’s Gospel is a narrative gospel. And so both of the things that Papias said about “Matthew” aren’t true of our Matthew. And so, no, I don’t think he’s talking about our Matthew.

Bauckham: The translation of Papias’s title is debatable, and I think it means “Account of the Sayings of Jesus”. In other words, Papias wrote something like a Gospel book, a collection of sayings and stories about Jesus. And we have some of the stories; it wasn’t just sayings.

Ehrman: I don’t think Papias’s book could be just an account of the logia of Jesus, because it’s five volumes long. He’s actually giving an exposition of the teachings of Jesus.

Giovanni Bazzana on The Political Theology of Village Scribes in the Sayings Gospel Q

Associate Professor of New Testament Giovanni Bazzana discusses his recent publication [Kingdom of Bureaucracy: The Political Theology of Village Scribes in the Sayings Gospel Q (Peeters, 2015)] with two respondents. The respondents will be Shaye J.D. Cohen, Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University; and Lawrence Wills, Ethelbert Talbot Professor of Biblical Studies at the Episcopal Divinity School.

The talk and responses were delivered on February 16, 2016 at Harvard Divinity School. The talk begins at 6:50.

Book summary:

The Sayings Gospel Q was composed in the central decades of the first century CE by Galilean villagers who had acquired knowledge of Greek mostly through their involvement with the public administration. The present book analyzes the text of Q in order to rediscover the terminological and ideological traces of the activity of these sub-elite scribes in the Sayings Gospel. Given the bureaucratic positions occupied by the members of this group, the peculiar use of the phrase Basileia tou theou carries a specific significance for its theological political implications. On the basis of Giorgio Agamben’s recent revision of the category of political theology, the attitude of Q on divine kingship is understood as an instance of sub-elite negotiation of social and political positions vis-à-vis the expansion of Roman imperial hegemony in the eastern Mediterranean. In this context the author(s) of Q envisage apocalyptic scenarios in which divine kingship replaces human rulers and native sub-elite bureaucrats can share in the exercise of cosmic government.