Archive for February 26th, 2009


Yay for Adela Collins!

No sooner did I mention her name on this blog than I discovered an upcoming conference in her honor! And one of my current professors, the remarkable Judy Kovacs, will be giving a paper on Clement of Alexandria. Maybe I’ll play hooky for a couple days and head to Columbus. 😉

Relevant Details:

The conference begins on Sunday night March 15th at 7:00pm with the keynote address by Loveday Alexander followed by a reception. This will take place at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio in the Centrum; the address for MTSO is 3081 Columbus Pike, Delaware, OH, 43015. As you pull in to the main entrance of MTSO, the Centrum is just to the right of the library (the first building you will see as you pull in); proceed up the stairs to the right of the library to the Centrum. (Please visit for directions to the school.)

Parking is free and ample.

On Monday the 16th, the program starts at 8:45am, and all sessions will take place on the campus of The Ohio State University at the Blackwell Inn, the conference hotel on campus. There is parking nearby at the Tuttle Parking Garage (G-8, building number 088 on the downloadable map found at The Blackwell is one block north of the garage (H-8, building 254 on the map). Directions to the Blackwell can be found at There are some construction issues that will force you to turn south from Lane Avenue onto Neil Avenue instead of onto Tuttle Park Place, where the Blackwell is located. But Neil Avenue intersects Tuttle Park Place right where the Blackwell is. See for a description of the detour. The easiest place to eat lunch that day will be at the Blackwell’s restaurant, the menu for which will can be found at There are other restaurants on Lane Avenue and even more on High Street, but you may need to drive to those.

On Tuesday the 17th, the conference moves back to MTSO, and begins 8:45am again. You will be welcome to join us for lunch at MTSO’s dining hall if you wish to do so. There will be no charge for lunch that day. Otherwise, there are some restaurants in downtown Delaware, which is about 3 miles north of the campus. The conference will end at 5pm.


Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: Actually Groundbreaking?

Nick Norelli notes that Chris Tilling has posted an extremely erudite and thorough review of Richard Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006). While I’m often skeptical of Bauckham’s scholarly conclusions, I’m always impressed by the intellectual depth and rigor of his arguments, and I regret that I haven’t had a chance to read the entire book (although I did read some rather extensive portions prior to the review session at the SBL Annual Meeting in 2007). Chris opines that it “is a major contribution to New Testament scholarship, a bomb thrown into the playground of ‘historical Jesus’ scholarship”; furthermore, it is “[p]erhaps the single most important book to have been written on the historical Jesus in decades… [and] will rightly be at the centre of the developing debate over the coming years.” Although I must preface my comments with the reiteration that I have not read the book in its entirety, I’m deeply skeptical of these claims, particularly the last. The competition for this honor is simply too fierce; E.P. Sanders’ Jesus and Judaism (the inaugural winner of the Grawemeyer Award in Religion) and the volumes of John Meier’s A Marginal Jew series (the last of which will be released this spring) immediately come to mind. While it may be years before the matter can be definitively settled, Sanders’ dramatic revival of Jesus’ apocalypticism, together with Meier’s meticulous journey throughout every aspect of his life and ministry, seem more likely to have a lasting influence.

The most significant source of my skepticism surrounding the overall impact of Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, however, concerns its ability to transcend–or at least forcibly engage–disparate poles of New Testament scholarship. This was apparent to me at the review session which responded to the book at the SBL Annual Meeting. The reviewers (one of whom was Adela Collins, a professor of mine at YDS) were largely, if not completely, unconvinced by Bauckham’s claims. Prof. Collins, in particular, pointed out that the establishment of a new literary category for the gospels does not remove the problem which the miracles pose for any post-Enlightenment exegete; they remain beyond the bounds of critical history, and must be accepted or denied as a matter of faith. In short, it appears that those who would have agreed with Bauckham’s conclusions before the publication of the book embraced it enthusiastically, while those who would not, did not. The validity of its claims aside, this does not strike me as the mark of a groundbreaking work–which, by definition, should radically redefine the course of the discipline in which it appears. Albert Schweitzer’s The Quest of the Historical Jesus, with its inescapable indictment of the “liberal lives of Jesus,” is an obvious example of such a work; similarly, while many of conclusions given in Sanders’ Paul and Palestinian Judaism have been strongly challenged or even dismissed, virtually every treatment of Pauline thought or the nature of Second Temple Judaism in the past three decades has been forced to respond to it in some way. Thus far, I do not see this sort of transformative power or monolithic shadow in store for Jesus and the Eyewitnesses.


New Testament Notes: Week 7 (Wednesday)

Notes on historical considerations surrounding Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem, arrest, and excecution, from the last lecture before spring break… where has the semester gone???

RELC 122 Notes: 2/25

February 2009
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