Monthly Archives: August 2009

My University’s Library Actually Listened to Me

Months ago I submitted a request on the library’s website to purchase a copy of James Crossley‘s  Why Christianity Happened: A Sociohistorical Account of Christian Origins (26-50CE) and they did! I feel so empowered.

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Moises Silva and the Πιστις Χριστου debate

Please go read what Esteban has posted by Moises Silva on the πιστις χριστου debate.

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Maurice Robinson and the Case for Byzantine Priority

I have posted this link on my old blog, but I wanted to post it again in case I’ve actually gained a few new readers who are unfamiliar with Dr. Robinson’s work. Before I say anything, let me go ahead and post the text from his second point in the introduction and its corresponding footnote:

Certainly the Textus Receptus had its problems, not the least of which was its failure to reflect the Byzantine Textform in an accurate manner. But the Byzantine Textform is not the TR, nor need it be associated with the TR or those defending such in any manner. (2)

(2)This includes all the various factions which hope to find authority and certainty in a single “providentially preserved” Greek text or English translation (usually the KJV). It need hardly be mentioned that such an approach has nothing to do with actual text-critical theory or praxis. (Emphasis his)

Robinson’s argumentation is convincing to me, though I’d like to hear what his opponents say concerning this particular essay.

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Review: Adrian Fortescue’s “The Early Papacy”

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The Early Papacy to the Synod of Chalcedon in 451

  • Paperback: 121 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press; 4 edition (March 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586171763
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586171766
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    Adrian Fortescue was a scholar of Theology and Patristics in the late 19th/early 20th Century. His other works include The Greek Fathers: Their Lives and Writings and The Ceremonies of the Roman Rite Explained. The Early Papacy seems to be a response to Anglicans who had voiced objections that the Papacy was a 5th Century invention. To answer these claims, Fortescue marshalls evidence for the Papacy from the first to the 5th Centuries, with the Council of Chalcedon as his cut-off date. He has four points that he hopes to prove from the Patristic evidence: 1) The Pope as Chief (ch 4), 2) The Pope’s universal jurisdiction (ch 5), 3) Communion with Rome is necessary (ch 6), and finally 4) Papal infallibility (ch 7).

    His opening chapters deal with defining how and why Catholics believe these claims today. He writes:

    We believe in a Church that exists and lives all days, even to the end of the world, guided by Christ, infallible in faith and morals as long as she exists. We have exactly the same confidence in the divine guidance of the Church in 1870 as in 451. To be obliged to hark back some fifteen hundred years, to judge for yourself, according to the measure of your scholarship, what the documents of that period imply, would be the end of any confidence in a living authority. (21-22)

    That is, to Fortescue, this is almost an unnecessary endeavor because the Church today has declared these things to be true. However, he believes that this is such an easy belief to prove from antiquity that it’s a worthwhile venture.

    I won’t go through all of his examples and ruin the fun of reading the book. The more fascinating things he addresses, if briefly, are Denis of Alexandria coming to Denis of Rome after being suspected of false doctrine (70), Athanasius’ appeal to Rome, the canons of the synod at Sardicia (c. 344, p 73), and so forth. Because the book is less than 150 pages, this is a very easy read and I’d certainly recommend it as an intro to Patristic thought on the papacy.

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    Received in the mail: Mike Aquilina’s “Signs and Mysteries”

    I’m very very happy to have gotten this book. I’ve been meaning to read it since it came out, having read several of other Mr. Aquilina’s books (The Fathers of the Church and The Mass of the Early Christians) I know that I’m in for a treat. He also has a great bibliography for anyone interested in the Fathers.

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    The Locative in Homer and The Life of Brian

    We are translating Homer’s Odyssey in my Greek class. We’ve begun book 1 and we came across something that I’ve not encountered in Sophocles’ Antigone (which I translated last semester) nor the New Testament or the few Fathers I’ve read in Greek : the locative. I realize that Latin utilizes the locative, but I had not realized that Greek had this as well. I thought everyone just used the dative of place, but Homer likes to have things his way. Because Classicists are nerds (as most, if not all, Biblical scholars are), we watched this short clip from Life of Brian today to see the locative in action in Latin:

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    Mark Goodacre vs. the Greatest Preacher Who has Ever Lived

    Mark Goodacre recently did a podcast on the number of the beast mentioned in Revelation 13:18. But, I don’t think he has anything on this guy:

    See? You’ve got Scripture, you’ve got Math – what else are you looking for? Repent, NIV users!

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    April DeConick on Paradidomi

    April DeConick writes a brief post on the New Testament’s usage of παραδιδωμι and how scholars should translate it according to context. This is a great little reminder. However, what most interests me is an aside in her post –

    I want to say up front that my reading of Judas and this verb has nothing whatsoever to do with the angst between so-called liberal and conservative scholars. In fact, I resent this sort of labeling because it is nothing more than theology rearing its head in the academy. Scholars aren’t “liberal” or “conservative”. In our field, whether a scholar is “liberal” or “conservative” is not an academic designation, but a theological designation (is the person in favor of progressive, evangelical, fundamentalist, etc. Christianity).

    When I read internet perspectives on my work, particularly my views on the Gospel of Judas, I am stunned how often I am labeled a conservative, when all I am is a historian doing her job recovering the best history possible given the sources with no apology for Christianity. My views on the Gospel of Judas are actually “liberal” by strict definition, since they go completely against the status quo and the established tradition that scholars have held for hundreds of years – that Judas in the Gospel of Judas should be a Gnostic and a hero. He is not.

    I’ve written before on the use of “labels” and how they can hinder academic discourse. When people call DeConick “conservative”, I have to scratch my head. How is going against the mainline arguments provided by scholars in any way “conservative”? My guess: people use labels to avoid dealing with real arguments. If you can’t address someone’s argument, just call them a name. I’ve seen too many arguments dismissed by the wave of a hand and a label. It’s nonsense.

    Of course I’m not advocating some kind of weird philosophy where no descriptive terms are to be used. If a label somehow helps to summarize a particular belief accurately, I’m all for it. But, if the label is used to be the means by which one dismisses an argument, I’m totally against it.

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    Richard Bauckham Video: Jesus and the Eyewitnesses

    Thanks to Michael Barber over at The Sacred Page for letting us know about this video:

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    Book Review: The Expanded Bible (New Testament)

    ExpandedThe Expanded Bible

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (August 11, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0718019164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0718019167
  • Many thanks to the fine folks at Thomas Nelson for sending me a copy of their “The Expanded Bible (New Testament)”. The Expanded Bible is the product of three scholars: Tremper Longman III of Westmont College and Mark Strauss and Daniel Taylor of Bethel College. With so many Bible translations out there, why would anyone create another? Their explanation can be found in the Introduction. Essentially, the authors argue that because most people do not read the original languages, they are not privy to the many words available to translators while translating. Thus, to aid the reader in studying the Bible, they have created a translation that gives a multiplicity of readings in any given verse. The translators have chosen a formal equivalence translation theory for the text itself, but show traditional, literal, and alternative readings within the text by placing them within brackets. The volume also utilizes the brackets for short commentaries on particular passages. To show how this works, I’ll copy Matthew 1:1  here:

    This is the -family history [record of the ancestors; genealogy; (L) book of the offspring/family; (C) perhaps a title for the entire book] of Jesus -Christ [the Messiah]. -He came from the family of David, and David came from the family of Abraham [(L)…the son of David, the son of Abraham; (C) “son” can mean descendant].

    As you can see, a literal translation is marked by an suprascript “L” (which I’ve put into parentheses) and commentary by a “C”. Alternative readings are marked similarly by an “A”, traditional readings by a “T”, and so forth.

    Aesthetically, the Bible is very pleasing to the eye. I like the simple design on the front, the binding, the page color, font, etc. Headings such as “Who will enter God’s Kingdom?” (Lk 18:15) appear in the margins as well as cross-references. This makes it easy to track down a particular section of verses. As far as actually sitting down and reading the text goes – I originally thought that I wouldn’t like it. I thought the pages looked too cluttered with alternative readings or bits of commentary. However, I sat down and read the Gospel of Mark and the Acts of the Apostles. I found that I read with  more intent because I had to slow down and read over all the information. I can see how this would be extremely beneficial for the reader of the Scriptures who does not read the original languages. If anything, the brackets almost serve as little visual speed bumps, encouraging the reader to slow down and really take in what they’re reading. What I thought would be my least favorite thing about this translation is actually my favorite. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is looking to have a greater appreciation for the numerous word choices that translators can and do utilize when translating the Scriptures.

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