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


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, thanks to Roger Pearse and Wieland Willker.

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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