Sidnie White Crawford, “The History of Qumran and its Library: A New Synthesis”

Professor Sidnie White Crawford (University of Nebraska-Lincoln) summarises the latest scholarship on the Qumran library of 800-900 fragmentary manuscripts from the mid-third century BCE to the late first century CE, and the history of the sect responsible for the collection and its scribal/learned characteristics. Her public lecture was delivered on January 25, 2018, on the occasion of receiving a D.Theol honoris causa from the University of Uppsala.

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James Crossley on Cults, Martyrs and Good Samaritans

Professor James Crossley (St Mary’s University) presents a paper drawn from his book, Cults, Martyrs and Good SamaritansReligion in Contemporary English Political Discourse (Pluto Press, July 2018). The paper was presented at the CSSSB conference, Christian Origins and Social-Scientific Criticism, on May 25, 2018 (Crossley appears at 2:50)  There were two responses to his paper, from Dr Hannah M. Strømmen (University of Chichester) and Professor Yvonne Sherwood (University of Kent), not included in the video. 

John Barclay, Firth Lectures: Gift-Reciprocity and Community Construction in the New Testament

On 17 and 18 April, Professor John Barclay (University of Durham) delivered the two 2018 Firth lectures at the University of Nottingham, entitled “Beyond Charity: Gift-Reciprocity and Community Construction in the New Testament”.

John Barclay also led a postgraduate seminar on 18 April, “Reciprocity and Risk at the Economic Margin: Some Early Christian Examples”.

His most recent major book is a study of Pauline theology from the perspective of his theology of grace, called Paul and the Gift (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015). If we read Paul’s theology of grace in the light of ancient notions of gift, Barclay argues we can understand in a new way his relationship to Judaism, his theology of the Christ-event and his ethic of reciprocal generosity. Paul and the Gift explores the theological and social significance of the incongruity of grace in the formation of innovative communities, going beyond Sanders and the current antithesis between old and new perspectives on Paul. This book, focusing on divine gift/grace, is the first of a two-part series.

Simon Gathercole on Crucifixion and Resurrection in the Gospel of Peter

Dr Simon Gathercole (Cambridge University) delivered the third Lagrange Lecture at the École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem, on May 2, 2018, entitled “The Death and Resurrection of Jesus in the Gospel of Peter”.

Gathercole examines how the Gospel of Peter takes the traditions in the canonical gospels, and rearranges them, in part in order to blame “the Jews”.

 

The Phoenicians never existed: Josephine Quinn

Associate Professor Josephine Quinn (University of Oxford) discusses her book, In Search of the Phoenicians (Princeton University Press, 2017), with responses by Hindy Najman (University of Oxford) and Stephanie Dalley (Oriental Studies, University of Oxford). The panel is chaired by John Watts (University of Oxford). The panel took place on April 25, 2018, as is part of the University of Oxford’s Book at Lunchtime series.

The Phoenicians traveled the Mediterranean long before the Greeks and Romans, trading, establishing settlements, and refining the art of navigation. But who these legendary sailors really were has long remained a mystery. In Search of the Phoenicians makes the startling claim that the “Phoenicians” never actually existed. Taking readers from the ancient world to today, this monumental book argues that the notion of these sailors as a coherent people with a shared identity, history, and culture is a product of modern nationalist ideologies—and a notion very much at odds with the ancient sources.

  • Torch: The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities

Yair Zakovitch on the Song of Songs versus Biblical Narrative

On February 21, 2018, Professor emeritus Yair Zakovitch (Hebrew University) delivered the first 2018 Lagrange lecture at the École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem, entitled “On Love and Beauty: The Complex Relations between the Song of Songs and Biblical Narrative.”

For decades it has been customary—indeed nearly academic dogma—to isolate the literary traditions of the Song from wider biblical traditions, especially prophetic literature and the scriptural narratives recounting Israel’s story. Recently, however, some scholars have begun to press arguments for recognizing inter-biblical allusions in the Song, working to re-integrate this unique specimen of biblical love-poetry within a broader biblical thought-world. The presentation of Prof. Zakovitch belongs within this budding debate and provided a sneak preview of material that will soon appear in his forthcoming study: The Song of Songs: Riddle of Riddles (T&T Clark, September 2018).

Thomas Römer on the Ark of the Covenant

Romer - Ark of the CovenantProfessor Thomas Römer (Collège de France) delivered the second Lagrange Lecture on April 25, 2018, at the École biblique et archéologique française in Jerusalem, entitled “Biblical Traditions about the Ark of the Covenant”.

The lecture begins at 3:15.

With careful attention to various diachronic puzzles posed by the often-confusing and incomplete biblical reports, Römer proposed the tentative outlines of a revisionist history of this fascinating cult object. From its mysterious origins in Shiloh to its temporary sojourn at Kiriath Yearim—for a much longer period than the biblical account would admit—the Ark belongs within a decentralized picture of Israelite worship in Römer’s view. Along these lines, Römer raised the possibility that the chest may have originally contained twinned cult stones, perhaps of YHWH and Asherah. The Ark’s ultimate, ceremonial transfer into Jerusalem should perhaps be dated to the time of Josiah and the politics of centralization, he suggests, while the account of its migrations through the Philistine cities may reflect earlier political tensions from the time of Hezekiah.

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

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.

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