Archive for August, 2009


JCA Colloquia (Fall 2009)

The Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity program of the University of Virginia has scheduled an outstanding series of colloquia for this semester:

  • Harry Gamble, “Codex Sinaiticus: The Production and Purpose of a Fourth Century Bible,” Tuesday, September 22, 2:00-3:15, Newcomb Hall 289.
  • Robin Darling Young, “The Eagle Vision in IV Ezra,” Tuesday, October 20, 2:00-3:15, Newcomb Hall 481.
  • Wendy Mayer, “The Cult of the Maccabees: A Window on Jewish-Christian Relations in Late Antique Antioch,” Tuesday, December 1, 2:00-3:15, Newcomb Hall 481.

If you’re in the Charlottesville area, please join us.


Textbooks (For Classes I’m Not Actually Taking)

As an unrepentant book addict, one of the most dangerous times of the year is textbook season—when a bunch of books other than those required for my courses somehow find their way into my shopping bag.  But I’ve been good this year, indulging in just one extra purchase.  And here it is:


The Bible and the People

Lori Anne Ferrell

In the eleventh century, the Bible was available only in expensive and rare hand-copied manuscripts. Today, millions of people from all walks of life seek guidance, inspiration, entertainment, and answers from their own editions of the Bible. This illustrated book tells the story of what happened to the ancient set of writings we call the Bible during those thousand years. Anchoring the story in material evidence—hundreds of different translations and versions of the Bible—Lori Anne Ferrell discusses how the Bible has been endlessly retailored to meet the changing needs of religion, politics, and the reading public while retaining its special status as a sacred text.

Focusing on the English-speaking world, The Bible and the People charts the extraordinary voyage of the Bible from manuscript Bibles to the Gutenberg volumes, Bibles commissioned by kings and queens, the Eliot Indian Bible, salesmen’s door-to-door Bibles, children’s Bibles, Gideon Bibles, teen magazine Bibles, and more. Ferrell discusses the Bible’s profound impact on readers over the centuries, and, in turn, the mark those readers made upon it. Enjoyable and informative, this book takes a fresh look at the fascinating and little-recognized connections among Christian, political, and book history.

Lori Anne Ferrell is professor of early modern history and literature at Claremont Graduate University. She lives in Claremont, CA.

    And if you’d like to check out the course that actually goes with this book:

    RELC 3559 New Course in Christianity: History of the Bible

    Harry Gamble

    Although the Bible comprises the authoritative scripture of Christianity and stands as a monument of Western culture generally, most are ignorant about how this came to be.  This seminar will focus on the history of the Bible (as distinct from “biblical history” or history in the Bible) – that is, on the formation and transmission and use of the Bible as a book.  By examining ancient manuscripts, we will consider how the biblical literature was first written, how various parts of it were initially collected and how, when and to what effects the Bible as a whole came to be formed.  We will also consider the various translations of the Bible in antiquity, and the means of its dissemination and use from antiquity through the middle ages.  Then we will move on to discuss the emergence of printed Bibles in the 15th century and late medieval/early modern translations of the Bible into European vernaculars.  Finally, we will compare and discuss various modern English editions and translations of the Bible.  In short, the seminar will trace the history of the Bible as a book, including its forms, its uses and attitudes toward it, from antiquity to the present.


    A Newly Discovered NT Papyrus!

    Claire Clivaz, a professor at the University of Lausanne and a member of the Textual Criticism Group, has announced the discovery of a previously unknown papyrus fragment of the New Testament consisting of a few verses from the Letter to the Hebrews (13:12-13, 19-20).  Dated to the fourth century, it will be added to the Gregory-Aland catalog under the designation P126.

    Information is limited as of yet, but additional details may be available after an upcoming conference at Lausanne scheduled for October 22-24, during which Claire plans to discuss the find.  I look forward to hearing more details!


    Fall Semester 2009

    Classes are in session in lovely Charlottesville!  I’m still working out my schedule, but I’m definitely taking both of these:

    RELC 5559: Reading Practices in Early and Medieval Christianity

    Robin Darling Young

    This course traces the origins and development of Christian ways of reading sacred texts, from the second century through the twelfth. It considers the early tradition of rewritten scripture and prophetic inspiration, and moves next to the paidetic philosophy common in the schools of the Graeco-Roman empire and adopted by Christian writers of the third and fourth centuries. It traces, also, Christian interpreters’ cultivation of the “spiritual senses” and their preparation for reading by observing various ascetic and liturgical practices. In addition it will consider the preservation of midrashic interpretation among two fourth-century Syriac authors, to demonstrate an ongoing connection, in the late ancient near east, with rabbinic interpretation. Thus the course will examine the works of interpreters from Hermas in second-century Rome, through the Alexandrians and their monastic heirs, and then, in the Latin West, authors from Augustine through Bernard of Clairvaux and Hugh of St. Victor.


    RELC 5310 – Early Christianity and Greco-Roman Culture

    Wendy Mayer

    This course immerses the student in early Christianity and its cultural setting in the East via a focus on Syrian Antioch. The period covered will be the 4th to 6th centuries CE. Through a combination of the close study of texts, archeology, and art the student will explore competition between Christianity, Judaism, and Hellenic religions in the city, the cult of the saints, liturgy, Syrian asceticism, the city’s churches, the role of religion within the civic calendar, religious welfare programs, the Antiochene approach to exegesis, and how the Christian doctrinal disputes of these centuries impacted the city. Attention will also be paid to the influence of the city and its Christian clergy and ascetics in the broader context of the late-antique East. The aim is for the student to develop the capacity to view Christianity through the eyes of a resident of late-antique Antioch, as well as to deepen their understanding of the methodological problems involved in achieving this perspective. An ability to read classical or koine Greek is an advantage, but not required.


    • TBA

    RBL Highlights: 8/26/09

    Highlights from the most recent edition of the Review of Biblical Literature:

    Richard Bauckham, Daniel Driver, Trevor Hart, and Nathan MacDonald, eds.
    A Cloud of Witnesses: The Theology of Hebrews in Its Ancient Contexts
    Reviewed by Scott Mackie

    Richard H. Bell
    Deliver Us from Evil: Interpreting the Redemption from the Power of Satan in New Testament Theology
    Reviewed by Francis Dalrymple-Hamilton

    J. Bradley Chance
    Reviewed by Kenneth D. Litwak

    Mordechai Cogan
    The Raging Torrent: Historical Inscriptions from Assyria and Babylonia Relating to Ancient Israel
    Reviewed by Aren Maeir

    R. Alan Culpepper
    Reviewed by John Painter

    Andrew Harker
    Loyalty and Dissidence in Roman Egypt: The Case of the Acta Alexandrinorum
    Reviewed by Birger A. Pearson

    Thomas R. Hatina, ed.
    Biblical Interpretation in Early Christian Gospels: Volume 2: The Gospel of Matthew
    Reviewed by Daniel Gurtner

    Mark A. House, ed.
    Compact Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
    Reviewed by Pierre Johan Jordaan

    Barry C. Joslin
    Hebrews, Christ and the Law: The Theology of the Mosaic Law in Hebrews 7:1-10:18
    Reviewed by David Allen

    Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, Ellen Bradshaw Aitken, and Jonathan A. Draper, eds.
    The Bible in the Public Square: Reading the Signs of the Times
    Reviewed by Holly E. Hearon

    Michael Labahn and Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte, eds.
    A Kind of Magic: Understanding Magic in the New Testament and Its Religious Environment
    Reviewed by Hans-Josef Klauck

    Karoline M.Lewis
    Rereading the “Shepherd Discourse”: Restoring the Integrity of John 9:39-10:21
    Reviewed by Beate Kowalski


    New from SBL: Paul, Animosity, and the KJV…

    … but not in the same book, mind you:

    069014Becoming Human Together: The Pastoral Anthropology of St. Paul, Third Edition
    Jerome Murphy-O’Connor

    This classic work, now expanded and updated with a fifty-two-page Afterword, presents Paul’s pastoral anthropology in terms of his own thought, not alien categories imposed upon him. After examining in part 1 the New Testament witness about Jesus the Christ to discover what humans can be and should be (anthropology), Murphy-O’Connor turns his attention in part 2 to the human condition within society: under sin; alienated from God and the world; and egocentric. Part 3 then discusses life in the body of Christ—the Christian community—as the authentic existence that overcomes egocentric alienation in the true freedom of the mind of Christ.

    Paper $29.95 — ISBN 9781589833616  — 280 pages

    060812Animosity, the Bible, and Us: Some European, North American, and South African Perspectives
    John T. Fitzgerald, Fika J. van Rensburg, and Herrie F. van Rooy, editors

    Animosity in its various forms, including enmity, war, homicide, domestic violence, religious hostility, and retaliation, is a perennial problem that has plagued every form of interpersonal and international relationship since the dawn of human existence. The essays in this volume, offering perspectives from three continents, examine how animosity is understood and presented in the biblical text and its historical and literary contexts. The authors recognize at the same time that the Bible itself and how it has been used have sometimes contributed to the problem of animosity and thus seek to glean any insights that might address this problem in the contemporary world, which today is a pressing global concern. The contributors are Henk Bakker, Paul B. Decock, John T. Fitzgerald, J. J. Fritz Krüger, Outi Leppä, Dirk G. van der Merwe, Marius Nel, Eric Peels, Jeremy Punt, Fika J. van Rensburg, Rainer G. H. Reuter, Herrie F. van Rooy, Eben Scheffler, and Eveline van Staalduine-Sulman..

    Paper $45.95 — ISBN 9781589834019  — 380 pages — Global Perspectives on Biblical Scholarship — Hardback edition

    061123pTranslation That Openeth the Window: Reflections on the History and Legacy of the King James Bible
    David G. Burke, editor

    In their elegant but often overlooked preface to the King James Bible, the translators asserted, “Translation it is that openeth the window, to let in the light; that breaketh the shell, that we may eat the kernel; that putteth aside the curtain, that we may look into the most holy place; that removeth the cover of the well, that we may come by the water.” In celebration of the work of these translators and the fruit of their labors, the authors of this volume, representing a wide range of disciplines and perspectives, examine the cultural and religious monument that is the King James Bible. By looking at the historical context in which the translation was born, exploring its beauty and complexity, and evaluating its lasting impact on church and society throughout the English-speaking world, this volume provides a comprehensive introduction to the King James Bible and its influence throughout the centuries.

    Paper $34.95 – ISBN 9781589833562  – 296 pages — Biblical Scholarship in North America 23 – Hardback edition


    Book Giveaway!

    In honor of the new year (academic year, that is), I’ve decided to offer my first book giveaway!  Next week someone will receive a lovely copy of Bart Ehrman’s The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings (4th ed; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008).  This is a very fine volume, with balanced discussion and plenty of supplementary images, tables, and diagrams.  To enter, merely place a link to this post on your blog before Saturday afternoon (and be sure to trackback so that I can make sure your name is in the drawing).  Good luck to everyone!


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