#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”
Lecture II: “The Quest for the Jesus of History and Historical Tradition in the Fourth Gospel”
Lecture III: “The Spiritual Gospel: John’s Reworking of the Jesus Story for Deeper Understanding”


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.

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)

Francesca Stavrakopoulou tells the Truth about Easter


On April 16, 2017, Professor Francesca Stavrakopoulou (University of Exeter) was interviewed by Dan Snow (BBC) on the History Hit podcast. The topic is “The Truth About Easter“, and Professor Stavrakopoulou discusses the origins of the Easter holiday.

The interview is available in mp3 audio format (26:09).

Sandra Huebenthal – Another Jesus Remembered: How The Third Gospel Narrates Jesus

On March 9, 2017, Professor Sandra Huebenthal delivered the lecture, “Another Jesus Remembered: How The Third Gospel Narrates Jesus,” at New College, Edinburgh University.

Bart Ehrman debates Robert Price and the Milwaukee Mythicists: Did Jesus Exist?

On October 21, 2016, Professor Bart Ehrman (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) debated Dr Robert Price (Centre for Inquiry Institute) on the topic, Did Jesus Exist?

The debate was hosted by the freethought group Mythicist Milwaukee, at their 2016 Mythinformation Conference.

Debate Format:
Opening Presentations:

Speaker for the affirmative: Bart Ehrman
30 minute presentation
Speaker for the negative: Robert Price
30 minute presentation
10 minute break
Bart Ehrman
10 minutes of questions for Robert Price
Robert Price
10 minutes of questions for Bart Ehrman
This repeats 2 times for each speaker for a total of 60 minutes
10 minute break
Audience question and answer period
40 minutes

Immediately following the debate, James Crossley, Daniel Gullotta, David Fitzgerald and James McGrath discussed it with Arick Mittler and Matt Kovacs. The discussion is available in two mp3 files:

Memory and the Reception of Jesus in Early Christianity

The Memory and the Reception of Jesus in Early Christianity Conference was held on Friday 10th to Saturday 11th June 2016, at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. Some of the lectures from this conference are now available on YouTube:

Day 1

Chris Keith (read by Steve Walton), “The Memory Approach and the Reception of Jesus”

Christine Jacobi, “The Reception of Jesus in Paul”

Discussion after Keith and Jacobi

Richard Bauckham, “The Psychology of Eyewitness Memory”

Helen Bond, “The Reception of Jesus in the Gospel of John”

Discussion after Bauckham and Bond

Jens Schroeter, “Memory and Theories of History” [lecture is incomplete: cuts off early]

Day 2

Samuel Byrskog, “Memory and Narrative”

Sandra Hübenthal, “The Reception of Jesus in Mark’s Gospel”

Discussion after Byrskog and Hübenthal

Alan Kirk, “Memory and Media”

Joan Taylor, “The Reception of Images of Jesus Prior to Constantine”

Discussion after Kirk and Taylor

Ruben Zimmermann, “Memory, Identity, and Mimetic Ethics”

James Crossley, “The Reception of Jesus in Talmudic Literature”

Discussion after Zimmermann and Crossley

Rafael Rodríguez, “Memory and Liturgy”

Anthony Le Donne, “Reflections on the Past, Present, and Future of the Memory Approach”

Panel Discussion

Bart Ehrman speaks in Church on How Jesus Became God

Professor Bart Ehrman (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) delivered a series of three lectures on January 29-31, 2016, on the subject of his book, How Jesus Became God (2014). The lectures were held at Coral Gables Congregational Church, Coral Gables, Florida.

Lecture 1

Lecture 2

Lecture 3

Daniel Boyarin: Enoch or Jesus? The Quest of the Historical Metatron

Professor Daniel Boyarin (University of California, Berkeley) presents the 2016 Shaffer Lecture in Theology, at Yale Divinity School, in three parts, on March 8, 9, and 10. The topic of his series is “Enoch or Jesus? The Quest of the Historical Metatron”.

In the series, Professor Boyarin furthers his defence of the ancient roots of a greater and subordinate second god within Judaism, the “two powers in heaven”. In the lectures, he lays out the development of a complex binitarian theology in both early Judaism and early Christianity. He also disagrees with Peter Schäfer.

While there is nearly incontrovertible evidence for the interchange between Christian and Jewish circles in late antiquity, there is also good evidence for the circulation of apocalyptic traditions among Jews through the rabbinic period, independent of specific Christian contexts.

  • Daniel Boyarin, 2016 Shaffer Lecture 1, 23:55ff

Lecture 1 (March 8, 2016)


Lecture 2 (March 9, 2016)


Lecture 3 (March 10, 2016)


How Did Jesus Become God? The NOB Theological Seminary Debate between Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird

bart-bird-debateOn February 12-13, 2016 at New Orleans Baptist (NOB) Theological Seminary, Professor Bart Ehrman and Dr Michael Bird debated the content of and issues surrounding Ehrman’s recent book, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Preacher from Galilee (HarperOne, 2014). Michael Bird is the co-editor of a response volume, How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins Of Belief In Jesus’ Divine Nature—A Response To Bart D. Ehrman (Zondervan, 2014). The debate took place as part of the annual Greer-Heard Point-Counterpoint Forum in Faith and Culture.

On the second day, further papers were delivered by Simon Gathercole, Dale Martin, Larry Hurtado, and Jennifer Wright Knust, with responses from Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird.

Friday, February 12, 2016

“HOW DID JESUS BECOME GOD?” Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird in Dialogue + Q&A”

Dr. Robert B. Stewart, Dr. Charles Kelley, Introductions (21:10)

Bart Ehrman (33:40)

Michael Bird – response (1:09:55)

Michael Bird (1:25:50)

Bart Ehrman – response (1:57:34)

Q&A (2:07:25)

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Simon Gathercole, “Monotheism among Jews and Christians” with responses from Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird (from 19:10)

Dale Martin, “The Theological Inadequacy of Historiography: the Empty Tomb in History and Theology” with responses from Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird (from 1:38)

Larry Hurtado, “The Significance of Earliest Devotional Practices” with responses from Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird (from 5:10)

Jennifer Wright Knust, “Modernity’s Vanishing Point: Histories of Jesus and the Retreat of Authenticity” with responses from Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird (from 15:35)

Concluding Comments from Bart Ehrman and Michael Bird (from 1:55)


On James Crossley’s Redirection of the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Syndicate symposium


There is a symposium at Syndicate on James Crossley’s book, Jesus and the Chaos of History: Redirecting the Life of the Historical Jesus (2015).

The following critical responses to the book are available on the Syndicate website:

Symposium Introduction, by Chris Tilling.

“Historical Jesus, Epistemic Modesty”, by Helen Bond, November 23, 2015

Response by James Crossley, “Rethinking Upheaval: A Response to Helen Bond”, November 23, 2015

“How Chaotic is the Kingdom Tradition?” by Brent Driggers, November 25, 2015

Response by James Crossley, “The Dictatorship of God Is among You? A Response to Ira Brent Driggers”, November 25, 2015

Reply by Brent Driggers, “Clarifications and Further Questions”, November 25, 2015

Reply by James Crossley, “Imperialism or Liberation?”, December 12, 2015

“A Man in His Time”, by Rafael Rodríguez, November 30, 2015

Response by James Crossley, “Jesus and the Permanent Revolution? A Response to Rafael Rodriguez”, November 30, 2015

Sin, the Law, and Purity“, by Paula Fredricksen, December 2, 2015

Response by James Crossley, “Living Legally in End Times: A Response to Paula Fredriksen”, December 2, 2015

The Historical Jesus, His Illiteracy, and a Memory Approach: A Syndicate Symposium on Chris Keith’s Jesus against the Scribal Elite


There is a symposium at Syndicate on Chris Keith’s book, Jesus against the Scribal Elite: The Origins of the Conflict (2014).

The following critical responses to the volume are available on the Syndicate website:

Symposium Introduction, by Chris Tilling.

“Put into Perspective By an Illiterate Jesus”, by Dagmar Winter, October 10, 2015.

Response to Chris Tilling and Dagmar Winter by Chris Keith, “Jesus, Scribal Illiteracy, and Conflict: In Grateful Dialogue with My Respondents”, October 12, 2015.

“Text-Brokering and Social Upheaval”, by Tobias Hägerland, October 14, 2015.

Response by Chris Keith, “Understating the Significance of Jesus’ Success: A Response to Tobias Hägerland”, October 14, 2015.

“Literacy, Iconoclasm, and a Maddening Portrait of Jesus”, by Christopher Skinner, October 19, 2015.

Response by Chris Keith, “Embarrassment and the Unpalatably Illiterate Jesus: A Response to Christopher Skinner”, October 19, 2015.

“Will the “Real” Jesus Stand Up?”, by Jason Lamoreaux, October 21, 2015.

Response by Chris Keith, “‘Perspective’ and the Debateable Legitimacy of Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again: A Response to Jason Lamoreaux“, October 21, 2015.

Steve Moyise on ‘Reimagining the Jewish Jesus’

From the Dead Letters and Living Words conference at Newman University:

Prof. Steve Moyise encouraged us to re-examine the Jewish Jesus in the paper ‘Reimagining the Jewish Jesus‘ which he presented at the Dead Letters & Living Words conference at Newman on 6th June 2015…

It is difficult to overstate the impact of Geza Vermes’ Jesus the Jew (1973) and E.P. Sanders’ Jesus and Judaism (1985) on New Testament and Historical Jesus studies. Although an awareness of Jesus’ Jewish background had long been a part of our consciousness, it was their work that drove it to our attention. Jesus could no longer be seen as being distinct from his Jewish background. In order to be fully understood, his life, work and teaching needed to be studied within the context of late Second Temple period Judaism.

In a typically entertaining and accessible paper, Moyise took three elements of Jesus’ teaching that are traditionally seen as being distinctively Christian in character and a discontinuity from the Judaism of his time:

  • The Son of Man is the Lord of the Sabbath
  • Jesus and the Food Laws
  • Jesus and the Second Coming

Moyise explored each in the light of their Jewish rather than Christian context, throwing light on how they would probably have been understood by the contemporaries of Jesus and, in doing so, challenging our assumptions and traditional understanding of them.

PowerPoint slides are available here.

Larry Hurtado on Early High Christology and the New Testament God

Larry-HurtadoProfessor Larry Hurtado (University of Edinburgh) discusses his views on the development of Christology and the concept of God in the New Testament, in two podcasts on Trinities.org.

1. (Podcast 99) “Dr. Larry Hurtado on early high christology” (begins at 10:50)

mp3 Stitcher iTunes

Dr. Hurtado explains the term “early high christology” and what it means when applied to his own work. He discusses various angels and men who in various ancient Jewish writings are in some way exalted and honored in God-like ways, and how these cases differ from that of Jesus. Dr. Hurtado has argued that in the early years of Christianity we suddenly see a distinctive pattern of Jesus-worship, as evidenced by the earliest books in the New Testament. Such practices don’t derive from a second or third century, Gentile Christian context, but rather from the earliest, largely Jewish Christian context.

Hurtado discusses this in light of various passages in the gospel according to John, and also the statements of 1 Timothy that God is immortal. (1:17,6:16) The New Testament, he observes, emphasizes that Jesus was a genuine human being, a man, although in his view it also presents Jesus as existing even when the world was made, in a pre-human phase of his existence. God and Jesus, in his view, are closely linked, but also distinguished in the New Testament. God exalts Jesus to divine glory, which is why we must worship Jesus, according to early Christians. Worship of Jesus, he argues, has a theocentric (God-centered) justification or basis.

He also comments briefly on James Dunn’s Did the First Christians Worship Jesus?, the idea that “worship” by definition can be given only to God, and whether we should start our christological thinking with fourth century or with first century sources.

2. (Podcast 100) “Dr. Larry Hurtado on God in New Testament Theology

mp3 Stitcher iTunes

I talk with Dr. Hurtado about his book God in New Testament Theology. He talks about

  • the theocentric basis of New Testament christology
  • what the New Testament adds to the theology of the Old Testament
  • God as “Father”
  • the way Christians view God in relation to Jesus
  • whether we need to interact with God through a mediator
  • the New Testament picture of God as love and yet as dangerous, and of Jesus as both savior and judge – and both as sources of agape love
  • how the NT picture of God differs from the theologies of pagan deities
  • how recently, and even in ancient times, in popular thinking Jesus can eclipse God in Christians’ minds, becoming a friendlier, less threatening god than the Father
  • ho theos vs. theos in early Christianity, and how the NT and early texts distinguish between Jesus and the one God (aka the Father)
  • whether or not the NT authors rethink how Judaic monotheism should be understood
  • the “dyadic devotional pattern” we see in NT-era worship practice, and whether this violated the first commandment
  • the sense in which Yahweh is unique, according to the Bible
  • whether Dr. Hurtado would agree with the suggestion that Jesus is “a part of” God
  • how the NT as it were “redefines” God with reference to Jesus
  • whether or not in his view Dr. Hurtado’s work supports “social” (three-self) Trinity theories
  • that contemporary theology has tended to neglect the literature of the first three Christian centuries in favor of the “classics” of the 4th and 5th centuries
  • Dr. Richard Bauckham’s “christology of divine identity” as an attempt to make sense of the NT apart from later “ontological” ways of approaching the matter