Forbidden Gospels Blog
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Sahidic New Testament Paperback:
The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Southern Dialect, Volume I
Sahidic New Testament Hardcover:
The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Southern Dialect, Volume I
Boharic New Testament Paperback:
The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern Dialect, Volume I
Boharic New Testament Hardcover:
The Coptic Version of the New Testament in the Northern Dialect, Volume I
Women in the Biblical World: A Survey of Old and New Testament Perspectives (ed. Elizabeth A. McCabe; Lanham: University Press of America, 2009).Phoebe is a good example (as is Junia) of how male translators and interpreters of the bible have altered our knowledge of women's history in the earlier period, erasing leadership roles that were theirs from the beginning of the movement. Historical-literary criticism being done especially by feminist biblical scholars is largely responsible for restoring these women to their historical prominence.
I was honored to write a short memoir as one of the introductions which I called "Gnostic Letters from Bilthoven" (pp. xv-xxi). The piece is rather personal, written out of the years of mail correspondence that took place between Professor Quispel and I (beginning in 1989 and ending shortly before his death).
The book is quite phenomenal, as was Professor Quispel's work generally. He was a person who thought about things from a different angle than most, and he was so well-versed in the classical, patristic and gnostic literature that he was able to make connections between materials and artifacts that many of us would never have considered.
My understanding is that this collection is something that Professor Quispel was putting together just before his death (and Hans finished editing last fall). So there are little updates to his older articles written by Professor Quispel, many of which occur at the end of the original articles.
A number of the articles are well-known pieces that are standards like "The Demiurge in the Apocryphon of John," "The Study of Encratism: A Historical Survey," and "The Gospel of Thomas Revisited." But there are some less well-known pieces that are equally important such as "Marcion and the Text of the New Testament" (1998) where he discusses the scriptural texts known to Marcion and the development of the Western text, and "Valentinus and the Gnostikoi" (1996) where he refutes Markschies' thesis, and "Plotinus and the Jewish Gnostikoi" (2005) which is an amazing synthesis of early Egyptian esotericism. There are also hard-to-get pieces like his important study on Egyptian Christianity "African Christianity before Minucius Felix and Tertullian" (1982). Some pieces have not been published previously like "The Muslim Jesus" or are translated newly from Dutch like "Apocalyptics and Gnosis from Job to Jan van Eyck" (1988) and "The Epistle to the Laodiceans: A Marcionite Forgery" (1950/51) and "Gregory of Nyssa and Mysticism" (1970) or were lectures like "L'Extase de Saint Paul" (1994, 2000, and then his "last word" in Paris).
I could go on and on. There are fifty chapters. I am looking forward to reading this book slowly, with reflection, and listening to Professor Quispel's voice emerge alive from the pages.
It is published by Baylor University Press for $39.95.
J.K. Elliot, "The Non-Canonical Gospels and the New Testament Apocrypha: Currents in Early Christian Thought and Beyond"
April DeConick, "The Gospel of Thomas"
Paul Foster, "The Gospel of Peter"
Christopher Tuckett, "The Gospel of Mary"
Andrew Gregory, "Jewish-Christian Gospels"
Simon Gathercole, "The Gospel of Judas: An Unlikely Hero"
April DeConick, "The Gospel of Judas: A Parody of Apostolic Christianity"
Paul Foster, "The Protevangelium of James"
Tony Chartrand-Burke, "The Infancy Gospel of Thomas"
Tobias Nicklas, "Papyrus Egerton 2"
Thomas Kraus, "The Fayum Gospel"
Michael Kruger, "Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 840"
Paul Foster, "Secret Mark"
Well this morning the mystery is solved. Here is the conference volume, and here is my paper in it. As I read it over I am disappointed with the amount of printing errors including the loss of some indentations at the beginning of a few paragraphs. Apparently the editors weren't able to catch them, and I certainly didn't because I never had any proofs to make corrections and had no idea it was being published! This has never happened to me before, and I find it disconcerting. It is terribly upsetting when an author's work is published without allowances for the author to read and correct the typeset version which always contains mistakes due to the transfer process from the author's files to the press's files. I'm just grateful that this particular piece does not include extensive Coptic or Greek!
The book details: Jörg Frey, Enno Edzard Popkes, and Jens Schröter (eds.), Das Thomasevangelium: Entstehung, Rezeption, Theologie (BZNW 157; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2008).
Anyway, it is an interesting mixture of papers from both authors who gave papers at the conference and authors who didn't. Most are very standard form- and redaction-critical papers mainly written by the German contributors. But then there are some papers that move forward the discussion methodologically.
My paper is called "Mysticism and the Gospel of Thomas."
UPDATE 6-19-08: Well I have received a response from Jens who says that files were e-mailed to the authors last year. When I didn't turn in any corrections, he assumed that I didn't have any. It has always been my experience as a book editor (and I have edited many) that if I don't hear back from an author with corrections, something is wrong. Either the author didn't receive the proof, or has been on vacation, or has been ill. I am extremely upset about this because it makes me look careless, when in fact I never received a proof to correct nor any correspondence from the editors. We should never assume that authors receive things we sent electronically, especially since university systems have tough SPAM filters, and servers go down.
The book is not an outstanding literary work. What makes it "good" is the story that it tells and its relationship with everything that has now been going on in Texas with the Zion Ranch. The word "good" is relative. What the book really is is harrowing. I know no other word to describe it, other than perhaps "unbelievable." Immediately in the first chapter I felt like I had entered a surreal realm. But knowing now what I do about Warren Jeffs and the Zion Ranch because of some research that I have done in the aftermath of the Texas CPS case, this book brought me face to face with the reality of a living horror.
Carolyn Jessop was the fourth wife of Merrill Jessop who eventually moved to the Zion Ranch with a dozen wives and his children with these wives. Carolyn is the first women to escape the FLDS with all of her children and actually get custody. She fled just as Warren Jeffs became the prophet and the Zion Ranch was set up. So she never lived there. But her ex-husband Merrill, according to the press reports I have been able to find, is thought to be the head of the Zion Ranch compound.
Carolyn's book tells her whole story, from the time she was a child, to her marriage to Merrill, her years in the polygamous relationship, the births of each of her eight children, and how she fled in a van almost out of gas. She was only saved because she was able to secure overnight a protective order against Merrill, who went after her and the children to discipline and force them back into his home and obedience to him their "priest head." Women in this tradition are taught to be completely obedient to their husband who is the one who gets to decide whether or not the wife will go onto the afterlife with rewards or be thrown into hell. If a woman does something that is not in obedience to her husband, she is disciplined - beaten, starved, humiliated - in order to punish her (or one of her children is so that she will come into line). She is also taught that all illnesses - her own or her children - are due to her disobedience and are punishments from God. Medical care at hospitals and doctors can only be sought with permission from the husband, who often withholds this in order to force his wife and children to be obedient to him in everything. Children are regularly abused - actually routinely would be more to the point - often by step-siblings and wives in the family who have more favor with the husband than the real mother does. Sex is the only commodity of exchange that allows the wives to control what happens to them and their children. As long as she stays in sexual favor with her husband, she and her children have some sort of protection from abuse by step-siblings and the other wives because the husband might be willing to stand up for her.
Carolyn Jessop also talks about Warren Jeffs and his rise to power since Merrill's family was a power family in the FLDS close to Jeffs and the two prophets prior to him. Jeffs is portrayed as a person as bad as one can get, tearing families apart, arbitrarily taking wives away from husbands and remarrying them to others, committing sodomy and rape, allowing the sacrifice of live animals by cutting off their heads in front of school children in order to teach about blood atonement, beating children and women, and the list goes on. According to Carolyn, Jeffs has been grooming the FLDS community to commit mass suicide. There was a running joke among the women in Carolyn's circles that they shouldn't drink the punch.
Carolyn's testimony before the Attorney General of Utah was what launched a state-wide investigation and response. Jeffs is now behind bars after he was hunted down by the officials. He was put on the top-ten most wanted list, and this is what brought him in at last.
Carolyn published this book in October 2007. I praise her for the courage that it must have taken for her to not only escape, but write this book. Her story is about what is happening now. And it is a nightmare. My hope is that the CPS raid on the Zion compound has broken up the community enough to allow others to escape. The reports we are getting in the paper here in Houston is that most of the families are not returning to the Zion Ranch, that CPS is monitoring the families, and that criminal cases are being investigated at least with the men who have fathered children with the underage girls. I hope and pray that this is enough.
If you think that the message of the book of Revelation has been resolved - you are certain that it is an early Christian apocalypse about the future yet-to-come, a reality-not-yet-lived - then this book is for you. Afzal reassesses Revelation from the viewpoint of a biblical historian ensconced within literary and social memory theories. Thus he shows a concept of parallel times - how the prophecies of John of Patmos recast the past in terms of John's perceptions of the present experiences of the early Christian communities in Asia Minor. The eschatology in Revelation is not about an unfulfilled and virtual future, but is about the intended audience's present experiences.
Reading John's eschatology in this way raises many important issues for me, not the least of which is the significance of the often-overlooked mystical dimension of apocalyptic literature. Apocalyptic literature is not just about the cataclysmic future. It is about the seer's involvement with heavenly mysteries and worship in the present, and his relaying of that to the faithful in the present, as a reminder that although in this world they are suffering, they are not of this world. Along with the seer, they have been transported into the heavenly world, and worship before God's throne. The seer's visions are reminders, reassurances that all is well. God is in control, and their life with him forever is blessed and secure.
This is a condensation of a short preface I wrote for Ron's book (pp. i-iii).
This book is particularly important in my opinion because it critically dismantles Pope Benedict's so-called historical approach in his book Jesus of Nazareth. What is significant, is not the historical Jesus that Professor Luedemann reconstructs, but that he shows how the academic process and the critical portrait of Jesus is different from the doctrinal. These are separate quests, with separate sets of assumptions. Luedemann writes, "The historian is obliged to present objective evidence for his or her assertions. The rules of the game do not permit one to rely on uncorroborated testimony or claims of authority."
Why did Professor Luedemann feel that it is necessary to respond to the Pope's book? He says that there are two reasons. First, "the enthusiastic response it has received even among educated people reflects the fact that the very existence of biblical criticism is widely unknown." Second, he worries that many Catholic biblical scholars might be intimidated by writing an honest evaluation of the Pope's work. So he has undertaken the task of defending historical reason.
Luedemann hopes that his historical-critical approach to each passage that the Pope also discusses will help readers learn "how reasonable twenty-first century people" can read the Bible outside its normal doctrinal interpretation.
I think this book would be a valuable book to use in adult education church groups, read slowly alongside the Pope's book. When finished, I bet that the adult education classes would have a good idea how the historical method works in comparison with the theological.
The book is set up in a way that allows for a case-by-case examination of each piece of evidence. This is a wonderful procedure because it allows for each passage, document or inscription to be evidence for its own time and place, leaving open sociological and geographical variations. All the texts are recorded in full in the first half of the book. Each is introduced by a handy guide, telling where the original is published, what translation is used, date, provenance, original language, and short bibliography. What follows each text is Donaldson's commentary. The texts are grouped in these categories: Scripture/LXX/Apocrypha; Pseudepigrapha; Qumran; Philo; Josephus; Greco-Roman Literature; Early Christian Literature; Inscriptions.
Part 2 is a dedicated discussion of the evidence culled from Part 1. So Donaldson has a chapter each on Sympathization; Conversion; Ethical Monotheism; Participation in Eschatological Salvation.
In the end, Donaldson argues that Christianity's globalization of its religion is not a unique development of Christianity. It is firmly based in a universalism already at work in Judaism.
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You may or may not have guessed it, but this is a book on Johannine studies. It's full title is What We Have Heard from the Beginning: The Past, Present, and Future of Johannine Studies (Waco: Baylor Press, 2007).
Tom Thatcher has edited a very fascinating volume here. As he tells in the preface, he set out to write a sort of time capsule about Johannine studies, to introduce the major scholars of Johannine studies to the next generation of students who will carry on the discussion of the fourth gospel. He asked seasoned senior scholars to write conversational vignettes about his or her "journey with John." So the senior discussions include evaluations of the state of the field, programmatic remarks on meritorious questions, personal histories of research in the field, and summaries of current work - as Thatcher says, "anything that one might share with an interested student over coffee after class" (p. xvii). So these essays provide the reader with an overview of where Johannine studies has been and where it stands today.
Then Thatcher asked a younger scholar who will be carrying on Johannine studies into the next several decades to offer brief responses to each of the senior essays, to reflect on their senior colleague's comments, to identify unanswered questions. So this is the future forecast of Johannine studies, where it is going, from the perspective of those who work in "the ongoing stream of Johannine tradition" (p. xviii).
The senior-junior teams include: Ashton-North; Beutler-Claussen; Borgen-Labahn; Brodie-Williams; Carson-Köstenberger; Culpepper-Harstine; de Jonge-Kirchschlaeger; Fortna-Thatcher; Kysar-Rensberger; Martyn-Reinhartz; Moloney-Coloe; O'Grady-Lee; Painter-Anderson; Schneiders-Conway; Segovia-Lozada; Smith-Keener; Van Belle-Judge; van Wahlde-Just.
I found the senior scholars' pieces to be engaging, and think that Thatcher achieved his time capsule. A very unique project.
This volume, the first in a major new series which will provide authoritative texts of key non-canonical gospel writings, comprises a critical edition, with full translations, of all the extant manuscripts of the Gospel of Mary. In addition, an extended Introduction discusses the key issues involved in the interpretation of the text, as well as locating it in its proper historical context, while a Commentary explicates points of detail. The gospel has been important in many recent discussions of non-canonical gospels, of early Christian Gnosticism, and of discussions of the figure of Mary Magdalene. The present volume will provide a valuable resource for all future discussions of this important early Christian text.
I couldn't mention this book before because it was a surprise reveal at SBL. But I helped edit a book honoring the scholarship and friendship of Alan Segal and Larry Hurtado. We have called it Israel's God and Rebecca's Children: Christology and Community in Early Judaism and Christianity (published by Baylor Press). The book is very integrated, very much like a conference volume with cutting edge papers.
I don't have the book here at home, so if I miss an author is is due to my memory failure and nothing else. Contributors include Fredrikson, Adela Collins, Bauckham, Dunn, Epp, Thompson, Bond, Foster, Casey, Miller, Newman, Gieschen, Levison, Klawans, Elior, Fitzgerald, Perkins, Capes, DeConick. And we had Alan and Larry contribute pieces for each other, telling them that the book was for the other person!
So this is the book I was working on all summer with David Capes. Since we are both in Houston, we worked in my office on the book, bringing it together just in time to be printed for the final joint AAR/SBL meeting. We had a surprise reception at Lou and Mickey's across the street from the convention center. Alan and Larry were completely surprised and delighted with the book. Carey Newman brought the project to reality, and we are all very thankful to him. The book is gorgeous.
Mr. Greenberg reassesses the Gospels and their sources and generously references ancient literature beyond the NT in order to recover what he has identified as the genuine story of Jesus' arrest and death from gospels that have rewritten that history. He argues from these sources (and his own re-envisioning of events) that the Jewish authorities did not want Jesus put to death, but acted to save him from the Romans, particularly from Herod Antipas and the Herodians whom Greenberg identifies as the ones who wanted Jesus' movement stopped just as they had wanted the Baptist movement stopped.
Within this larger purpose, Greenberg addresses the question, "What do we really know about Judas?" He argues that the gospel writers created the evil Judas, by rewriting his story because of his involvement in the negotiations of Jesus' voluntary transfer to a Jewish delegation which was to protect him from Rome. As Jesus' most trusted disciple, Judas negotiated his "handing over" to the Jewish authorities, a detail that later became understood in the tradition as Jesus' betrayal.
In the end, Rome had its way, and Jesus was arrested and killed by Pilate and Herod.
The book is very accessible in terms of the manner in which it reads and is well-argued, reflecting a revisionary examination of the ancient literature. It deals head-on with many of the problems that have troubled scholars for years, including the difficult and inconsistent stories of Judas Iscariot, the involvement of Jewish authorities in Jesus' death, and the increasing tendency of the gospel authors to find ways to exonerate Pilate.
The book also shows just how difficult it is to recover historical information from the gospels, since the historical memory has been so affected by the contemporary theological needs of the authors of the gospels. The bits and pieces that we can recover often don't make sense on their own, and so require that we speculate about what might have happened to make sense of the pieces. Greenberg offers in The Judas Brief one way to reassemble the pieces.
David H. Warren, Ann Grahman Brock, and David W. Pao, Early Christian Voices in Texts, Traditions, and Symbols: Essays in Honor of François Bovon, Biblical Interpretation Series 66 (Leiden: Brill, 2003).
Contains 32 studies from well-known scholars on subjects ranging from Q, Thomas, Luke, second-century movements, exegesis and hermeneutics in apocryphal texts, and unpublished ancient manuscripts. Particularly interesting to me is Morard's contribution which is a critical edition of a Coptic Apostolic Homily. But there are many more fantastic articles, so be sure to at least check it out of the library (it is a pricey Brill volume).Anthony Hilhorst and George H. van Kooten, The Wisdom of Egypt: Jewish, Early Christian, and Gnostic Essays in Honour of Gerard Pl Luttikhuizen, Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity 59 (Leiden: Brill, 2005).
This volume has a entire section devoted to Gnosticism including Mani, magical practices, and NH text studies. The other two sections cover early Christianity in Egypt and Judaism in Egypt. So this is another very good volume to check out (and another pricey Brill book!).