Apr 102014
 

Papyrus Fragment Gospel of  Jesus' WifeKaren King has finally gotten research on the fragment known as the “Gospel of Jesus’ Wife” published in the Harvard Theological Review (thank goodness too, as there were some concerns over whether the research would get space in a proper venue like this). As indicated, they’d just been waiting for the results to come back from the physical tests of the papyrus fragment. These physical tests include a comparison of the ink with other inks from antiquity and a carbon dating test performed on the papyrus itself.

These tests don’t vindicate those who had been beating the drums for “forgery” from the beginning. On the other hand, they don’t take all the ambiguity out of the matter either, and there will continue to be those who support a hypothesis of modern forgery. The good news is that a healthy debate can occur, taking into consideration all of the most salient data, now that the physical evidence has been examined.

You can check out the links below or join the discussion on the Early Writings forum. And now, the reaction from the blogosphere… Continue reading »

Mar 292014
 

top50It’s that time again! April is just around the corner, so let’s see where biblioblog rankings stand.

As in the last report (and like the one before it), the method here uses Alexa rankings very strictly whenever they are available. For some sites (i.e., Patheos and Livejournal), where Alexa doesn’t have separate data on each blog, the position has been reckoned by hand.

As expected, Jim West continues to maintain a solid lead, but there’s plenty of action in the top 50 and beyond. Check out the full list, in order by rank, below.

And why not keep tabs on some of the interesting ones while you are at it?

Continue reading »

Jan 092014
 

updateOver the last week, I’ve been able to update the Early Christian Writings site with the rest of the Nag Hammadi Library, which consists primarily of Gnostic texts. There are now 226 entries on the site.

Just recently the More Early Christian Writings update added some four dozen entries to the site, primarily church fathers and apocrypha, in an effort to bring the timeline down to 325 AD. I have a few other fragments (and archaeological data) to post. And I still need to fix the “At a Glance” boxes with good data.

Have any suggestions for improvements you’d like to see?

The list of new additions to the website follows below. Continue reading »

Dec 312013
 

top50Previously I had posted the Top 50 Biblioblogs by Traffic, which used Alexa rankings and which could not rank sites hosted on some platforms (such as Patheos or LiveJournal). Soon after I followed up with the Top 225 Biblioblogs by Linkage, which sought to be more inclusive (both in the number of blogs listed and by using a method that could rank them all), but this post used a metric (number of domains linking in) that does not correlate well with the amount of traffic received recently.

So I’ve blended the methods: Alexa is used for rankings, and sites that can’t be ranked that way are interpolated into the list using discretion and a peek at various other stats. Below is the Winter 2013 quarterly report on the top biblioblogs. Think about adding any that interest you to your regular reading. Continue reading »

Dec 302013
 

ImprovedI’ve been busy extending the timeline of the Early Christian Writings website down to the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. It’s now at a milestone, as the site has gone from having 153 entries to having 200 entries, including several noteworthy writers such as Cyprian and Eusebius.

I still have 26 Nag Hammadi Library texts to add to the site (the rest of the NHL codices) and a few odds and ends (some fragments and quotations that had been overlooked or which have been discovered since 2001). I expect to put some of the archaeological data from the Physical Evidence of Early Christianity post on the website. I also need to improve the existing pages and fill in the “At a Glance” information boxes with good data. After that, who knows what the future might bring?

Here’s the 47 new additions to the website. Continue reading »

Dec 262013
 

Immanuel: the incarnationRecently Neil Godfrey has been commenting on Brodie’s position that Christian theology does not require the historical Jesus. The whole series blogging through his book Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus is excellent (almost, the book’s publisher might think, too good!).

I am not a Christian theologian, and, simply on a criterion of earnestness, I am ill-equipped to comment on what is or is not capable of being considered sound Christian theology. So that is not the point here. While it is easy to show that Brodie is not alone among Christian thinkers, it is also easy to see that there are some theological concerns in Christianity for which the historicity of Jesus (some might call it the incarnation) is at the center. Continue reading »

Dec 162013
 
190x190-The-church-of-the-celestial-teapot

Bertrand Russell’s “Celestial Teapot”

Okay, I’m sure some wonder why I would write a summary of Dharmakirti’s Logic of Debate in my last post. It’s primarily because I want to preserve this information for those interested in Dharmakirti and the history of logic. But it’s got a secondary interest here: Dharmakirti was one of the first philosophers, of whom I am aware, who takes on the question of whether one can make an argument for the non-existence of something, sometimes called proving a negative, even if such a thing isn’t inherently improbable or implausible. His answer is a highly-qualified “yes.”

The qualifications made by the Indian logician are that the object under consideration must be assumed to be nearby in space and time and, further, apprehensible by its self-nature to the one who wishes to know that it does not exist. This is a philosopher’s way of telling his reader to be humble enough to admit lack of knowledge about a specific claim of non-existence unless this reader is speaking of something that should be visible (or otherwise apprehensible) right then and there. If we agree with Dharmakirti, the relevance to the contemporary debate sometimes conducted over the historical existence of Jesus is twofold. Continue reading »

Dec 152013
 

choedrakDharmakirti was a seventh century Buddhist scholar and a founder of Indian philosophical logic. Dharmakirti taught at Nalanda, an ancient university in India that boasted thousands of students. Part of the curriculum consisted of oral discussion and debate. I found reading his Vadanyaya to be interesting in terms of observing the development of logic outside of the well-known European tradition. Studying logic in general is always profitable whether we are interested in philosophy or in history.

Dharmakirti says at the beginning of his work: ”The wicked persons defeat even the one who argues rationally in debates by employing improper methods. We start this (work on the logic of debate) for repudiating them.” Dharmakirti thus believes that the disputant and opponent should not be desirous for victory but should rather want to correct misconceptions, to state the argument rationally, and to refute any irrational argument.

What follows is a description of Dharmakirti’s Vadanyaya, the “Logic of Debate.” Continue reading »

Dec 132013
 

mission-impossible

We can distinguish between nine different and irreconcilable approaches to the subject of Christian origins, characterized by the amount of intrinsic weight given to the two main sources of ideas that could guide and limit the multiplication of hypotheses: (1) statements of tradition and (2) critical reasoning.

Minimal Regard for Tradition Moderate Regard for Tradition Maximal Regard for Tradition
Minimal Regard for Critical Reasoning Conspiracy Theory Novelizations Pious Imagination
Moderate Regard for Critical Reasoning Theories about no-HJ Theories about the HJ Pulp Apologetics
Maximal Regard for Critical Reasoning Minimalist History Bare Historicity of Jesus Academic Apologetics

 

To be clear, hypotheses derived from critical reasoning could include information derived from reading Christian sources and the tradition therein. It is privileging these sources that characterizes the regard for tradition. However, someone could also argue that “minimal regard” actually means antipathy, and I have left some room for that interpretation in the table above and in the discussion below. Continue reading »

Dec 102013
 

Josephus (1)Yep, back-to-back posts on Josephus, but I think it’s important to get it right. I did not spend enough time on my effort the other day, but I was rewarded copiously anyway with some fantastic feedback (thank you!). With that help and with still some more time spent on it, I would like to think the essay is getting better. Here are some differences from my former self:

(1) I no longer entertain the idea that Josephus may have written a “lost reference” in the Jewish Wars to the death of James the Just that was the source of Origen’s reference to Josephus pinning the destruction of Jerusalem on James.

(2) I have expanded on the argument that the 20.9.1 reference requires an earlier passage (argument 6 below).

(3) I have decided against the idea that only the words “who is called Christ” were interpolated (argument 1 below) as it appears to be weaker than the idea that the longer phrase “the brother of Jesus who is called Christ” was interpolated.

(4) I have added some examples of references similar to the proposed “one whose name was James” in Ant. 20.9.1 (argument 2 below).

(5) I had previously discounted the argument that the reference to “Christ” without explanation would be unusual for Josephus (argument 4 below) but with somewhat superficial objections. (I had objected that Christ would only have been a “nickname” emptied of significance in the passage when used by Josephus.) I’m not sure if this objection (or a different one) can be restated to be more cogent.

(6) I have taken a different tactic than pretty much everyone I’ve read (as a possible alternative response to arguments 4 and 5 below for authenticity) by saying that the possibility must be considered that a second century scribe who glossed the phrase “the brother of Jesus who is called Christ” may not have been Christian but rather may have been Jewish.

Please let me know what you think. Continue reading »