Mar 192015
 

whaddayadoWhen it comes to getting a professorship of biblical studies: Quite simply, I have enormous respect for anyone who is brave enough just to dare to try, and I have (naturally) great respect for those who have succeeded in the same.

At the same time, I don’t view it as a standard by which one can judge whether someone is mentally fit to have a competent opinion on the subjects of concern, any more than (to draw an analogy) being an Olympic athlete is a necessary condition of being physically fit and able to play a sport competently. In each case there is the plain truth regarding the large number of people who either do not make the cut (for whatever reason) or who self-select themselves out of the running (quite rationally).

On the rationality of avoiding the race entirely (and the possible ethical ambiguity, then, of encouraging people without much means to pursue it), one could read Peter Enns’ post, are PhD programs in biblical studies ethical?

Consequently, I don’t view it as a terribly important criterion for judging whether someone is worth hearing, let alone whether an opinion is worth consideration. Asking for university credentials (demonstrating an ability to analyze material at a high level of sophistication and/or facility with languages or other specific working knowledge) seems at least germane; asking for place of employment seems tantamount to a sort of social-positional snobbery rather than any attempt to get at the truth of things. Perhaps I’m biased, since I don’t have anything relevant to say to either question. But I am hoping that the people reading this blog find some value to some of it, so perhaps you already agree with me, to some extent.

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Mar 152015
 

nag-hammadi-codices-2-260x194As I noted in my previous post on The Myth of Nag Hammadi’s Carbon Dating, the book from the Nag Hammadi find called Codex VII had dated papyri, the most recent from 348 CE, being used in the bindings of the cover. This lets us know the earliest possible date of the binding of this cover.

Shelton writes, “A terminus a quo for Codex VII can safely be set: it was bound during or after October of A.D. 348″ (Nag Hammadi Codices: Greek and Coptic Papyri from the Cartonnage of the Covers, p. 11).

Can we say anything more than that? After all, we’re interested not only in the terminus a quo (earliest possible date) but also in the terminus ad quem (latest possible date), or the entire range of the likely dating of this codex; or, more specifically, of the binding of this codex. Can we narrow it down further?

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Mar 082015
 

krosneyThe most detailed account of the C-14 carbon dating results for the Gospel of Judas manuscript in Codex Tchacos, of which I am aware, is found in the book by journalist Herbert Krosney, The Lost Gospel: The Quest for the Gospel of Judas Iscariot, published by National Geographic (April 6, 2006).

While I am aware of other discussions (particularly in The Gospel of Judas, 1st edition [April 6, 2006], p. 184, and 2nd edition [2008], p. 209, also published by National Geographic, and by Peter M. Head in the Tyndale Bulletin [2007]), they demonstrate dependence on Krosney (or, in the case of the brief account on Krosney’s page 326, perhaps a statement not from Krosney but rather prepared at National Geographic and used in both books published by National Geographic). The exact same quote (with some of the same surrounding context) is shared between Krosney’s book on page 326, the 1st edition of the Gospel of Judas book on page 184, and the National Geographic webpage.

There is an (apparently independent) account by Lori Stiles on March 30, 2006 for the UA News, which confirms the substance of the quote (but does not explicitly give it) found on the webpage and in the books published by National Geographic.

There is a 2014 paper on “Carbon Dating and the Gospel of Judas” by Christian Askeland delivered before the SBL at San Diego, which I have not read (but would certainly like to). There may be other information available elsewhere, which I would be very interested in. Of course, the full details must exist somewhere, right? If nobody else, Jull and Hodgins should be able to confirm the details of the tests run.

Here is what I’ve been able to determine (or guess) from Krosney, however, who gives the most detailed account that is available to me right now.

[Added March 10, 2015. Christian Askeland has given us a blog post update at Evangelical Textual Criticism, including this exciting quote from that blog post: “The National Geographic Society granted the Arizona AMS laboratory permission to send me the actual results, and I am publishing an update on the dating of the Tchacos Codex based on the findings.” Also, “The lab had six test results.”]

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Mar 082015
 

download

In scholarship, there are some things that are known to be true, some things that are known to be false, some things that are simply unknown (whether true or false), and some matters of opinion and speculation that are keenly debated. But there are also things that are known to be false that are often taken as true, and of such things it is said: “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.”

One of these urban legends is the idea that the texts or the cartonnage of the Nag Hammadi Library codices have been examined with C-14 radiometric dating.

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Mar 062015
 

harnack1851_kHarnack’s book Marcion: The Gospel of the Alien God has been translated into English but with the omission of the valuable appendices containing the notes regarding the text of Marcion. So I’d like to go some way towards addressing this. Harnack’s text is actually in three languages (German, Greek, and Latin), so all of them are translated for easier study. I have relied on the translations of others for many of the quotations (Evans for Tertullian, Williams for Epiphanius, and the ESV for the New Testament).

I have re-arranged Harnack’s text in blocks, one block per footnote. The footnotes exceed the text itself and provide the most interesting information, the various references used to support the readings. For accurate comparison of my translations with the original German, please refer to the scanned originals online at Archive.org, thanks to Roger Pearse and Wieland Willker.

https://archive.org/details/AdolfHarnack.MarcionDasEvangeliumVomFremdenGott
http://www.archive.org/details/AdolfHarnack.MarcionDasEvangeliumVomFremdenGott-Addendum

For further study, Harnack’s reconstruction and notes can be compared with Detering, van ManenWaugh, Mahar, ClabeauxBeDuhn, and Schmid (Amazon/Google) along with comments by Quispel, Lieu, Moll, Roth, BarnikolCarlson, Eysinga, McGuire, Baarda, Waugh, and Huller.

The work of translation is fairly arduous, but it is also very rewarding, and I hope to release other letters of Paul as found in Harnack’s reconstruction of Marcion’s Apostolikon, as I find time.

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Feb 192015
 

google-power-searchI recently mentioned the search tools available here:

http://bcharchive.org/

And they have already improved greatly.

The historical archive of the Biblical Criticism & History forum has been reindexed and checked so that it is indeed complete and unabridged.

The greater Blogosphere search function has been expanded with more websites and upgraded with “refinements,” which let you drill down by category into “biblioblogs,” “forums,” “books,” “articles,” “google-books,” “jstor-articles,” “resources,” or “websites” with just the click of a link.

Last but not least, an Early Writings search function has been created to allow you to use a Google custom search engine over online translations of early Jewish and Christian texts, which themselves are tagged for search refinement as “Early Jewish Writings,” “Pseudepigrapha,” “DSS,” “Talmud,” “Early Christian Writings,” “Apocrypha,” “NHL,” “Church Fathers,” or “Gnostica.”

Please have fun with these new toys! Let me know if you have any suggestions.

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Feb 142015
 

getI found this article to be of interest and wanted to understand it.

The original article by Rudolf Bultmann appeared in Theologische Literaturzeitung 72 (1947), pp. 197-202. It is found here:

http://idb.ub.uni-tuebingen.de/diglit/thlz_072_1947/0107

I have added to it the cleaned-up results of a “Google translate” rendition. I hesitate to call it a translation, as its editor has only a couple semesters of German and not very much practice. Even a hatchet job with a short text like this leaves me with enormous respect for the work done by translators.

In summary, Bultmann finds that Romans 7:25b, Romans 8:1, Romans 10:17, Romans 2:1, and Romans 13:5 are marginal notes that intend to summarize the train of thought developed by Paul in brief “sententious” (doctrinal, pithy, gnomic) form, drawn into the body of the text. They may or may not come from a common “Glossator.” Bultmann further finds that Romans 2:16 and 6:17b seem similarly secondary but are simply interpolations, not marginal notes, with the “Editor” that also added the doxology a likely author.

Romans 7:25b. So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Romans 8:1. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Romans 10:17. So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Romans 2:1. Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.

Romans 13:5. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

Romans 2:16. on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

Romans 6:17b. … you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to.

The German text follows the English rendition below.

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Feb 062015
 

Biblical Criticism & History Archive SearchNow you can search the greater Biblical Criticism Blogosphere, a carefully curated collection of websites, blogs, books, articles, and resources containing about 30 billion web pages indexed and searchable with a Google Custom Search Engine. The search prompt can be found here:

http://bcharchive.org/

This Google-powered custom Internet search engine was created to sit alongside two very specific site search engines, powered by open source software and opening up the full archives of the Biblical Criticism & History forum from 2001 to today. The archives themselves are hosted at bcharchive.org (the historical portion, indexed using Gigablast search technology) and at earlywritings.com (the forum today, powered by phpBB).

I encourage you to play around with these tools! Who knows what pearls you might find? Continue reading »

Jan 222015
 

Buddy christFair’s fair. Let’s try to make the best possible case for the historical existence of Jesus. One never learns about an issue completely unless they are willing to look at it from more than one angle. I intend to write a few more posts on this blog taking up the view of the loyal opposition. Thus I will presently, with respect for the dispassionate approach of Thomas Aquinas, look at the objections first.

The standard disclaimers apply. By the historical existence of Jesus, we are observing the traditional distinction between any possible “Jesus of history” and the Christ of faith. We are interested in knowing if there is a man behind the myth.

Also, we are interested in evidence even if it is barely a whisper, just because that is the sometimes sorry state of our evidence for antiquity.

Continue reading »

Dec 312014
 

top50The year is coming to an end, so here is a Biblioblog Top 50.

As in the last report, the method here uses Alexa rankings 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.

Notice anything different? Hint: look at the new top five.

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Jun 272014
 

top50School is out and summer is in session, so it’s time to find out where the blog rankings stand in mid-2014.

As in the last report (and like the one before it and the one before that), 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.

Check out the full list of biblioblogs, in order by rank, below. And why not keep tabs on some of the interesting blogs about the Bible while you are at it?

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May 162014
 

New RuleIn the past, on this blog, I have defended the right of the public to weigh in on topics related to the history of early Christianity. It’s a topic with wide interest, and it would be a shame to limit input to those who have pursued a credential in history or in theology. Besides the fact that people with different academic specialties have real value to bring to the table, there is something unbalancing about allowing only the voices of those who have gone through a long and expensive credentialing process, usually with the hope of gaining employment either as faculty or in ministry.

That being said, I am proposing a new rule: If you haven’t got a degree in history or religion, make everything that you want other people to respond to you about available for free online. Otherwise, don’t expect anything but obscurity. You have only yourself to blame for the level of interaction with your published work.

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May 162014
 

People who grow up with no religion have a low “retention rate,” but, apparently, it’s getting better.

In what can be described as a turnabout-is-fair-play move, given the general decline in religious belief in America, several have noted recent studies showing that those who report being brought up without a religion in America usually don’t end up with no religion. There’s a graphic from the Pew Forum showing that only 46% of those saying that they were brought up with no particular religious affiliation still claim no religious affiliation.

unaffiliated

It is, for reasons not really clear, even less predictive of atheism for one to say they were “raised atheist.” The 2008 Pew Forum survey had 162 survey responses (weighted at 430 statistically) in the continental U.S. saying that they were “raised atheist.” These survey responses have spawned several articles mentioning the statistics (albeit with little real discussion): most notably from Mark Gray in 2012, most recently from Jesus Creed and Exploring Our Matrix.

Let’s explore that a little.

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May 092014
 

Discussion-GroupIn 1999, not a single biblioblog existed. Even Paleojudaica and NT Blog, two of the first, were yet to emerge. A lot of discussion still happened on Usenet, an ancient internet protocol that most reasonable people have abandoned. Yahoo! would soon acquire a popular service for managing e-mail lists, with lists such as Crosstalk being hot stuff at the time. Web-based forums were also gaining ground at this time.

By 2004, the Bible blogs had started gaining serious steam. These steadily peeled off the most active participants from the mailing lists as they established their own blogs and worked on building them up. Companies such as WordPress and Blogger facilitated this revolution. The bandwidth on e-mail lists was still brisk, but it was soon to be on the decline. Facebook was born.

In 2014, nearly all of the e-mail lists have died off or slowed to a crawl. The “Web 2.0″ revolution is now the old guard, and people are most comfortable with using the web protocol for everything. Yahoo! Groups has gone the way of Pluto: still there but not what it used to be. If Facebook is now the size of Jupiter, the blogosphere is Saturn with its rings, and Reddit is the red planet Mars. Several large web forums exist, but the Bible is only a sideshow for the big ones. A plucky little operation called the Biblical Criticism & History Forum has split off one of them, hoping to survive on its own.

Here are the top 50 discussion groups where you can talk about the Bible online… Continue reading »

May 012014
 

2cents During the month of May, there is a little event going on at the Early Writings forum.

For each and every post to the forum in the month of May, 2 cents will go to charity.

So, if you’d like to make your two cents count, head on over to the forum and get posting! :)

And if you’d like to influence which charities receive the donations, there’s a poll underway for that.

In other news, I turned 33 years old today. Birthday cake and time with family are in my near future. :)

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 »