Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mystery Now Revealed: The Fourth Sunday in Advent

In this fourth Sunday of Advent, the Church calls us to contemplate the mystery kept secret from ages past that is now revealed. In fact, while this mystery was kept secret, it is also paradoxically found within the pages of the Old Testament, including in our first reading from 2 Samuel 7.

FIRST READING: 2 Sam 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
When King David was settled in his palace,
and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
he said to Nathan the prophet,
“Here I am living in a house of cedar,
while the ark of God dwells in a tent!”
Nathan answered the king,
“Go, do whatever you have in mind,
for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
“Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?’ 
“It was I who took you from the pasture
and from the care of the flock
to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.
The LORD also reveals to you
that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
and I will make his kingdom firm.
I will be a father to him,
and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;
your throne shall stand firm forever.”
In 2 Samuel 7, the Church puts before us one of the most significant passages in the Old Testament, for in it God enters into an everlasting covenant with the house of David. While the term “covenant” is not found in the passage, the content of a covenant is, and in this case, a certain kind of covenant.

In the Ancient Near East, covenants established kinship bonds between previously unrelated people by means of solemn oath taking and ritual enactment. While covenant making could take different shapes, Scott Hahn has helpfully suggested that covenant making falls into three basic categories: kinship (between equals), treaty, and grant.[1]

Christmas as a retelling of Egyptian Mythology? Maybe not (VIDEO)

H/T JP Catholic student Anna Rossi on Facebook

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Congratulations to Michael Bird!

Michael's book, The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus (Eerdmans) has just won Christianity Today's 2015 book award in the category of biblical studies.

This is great news. And it couldn't happen to a better scholar.

Michael's has done some excellent work on the historical Jesus and I hope the attention this book is getting will also inspire others to pick up his other books as well.

His monograph, Jesus and the Origins of the Gentile Mission (Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2007), is a learned study and a model of academic erudition. In addition, his book, Are You the One Who Is to Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question (Eerdmans, 2009), is a wonderfully balanced study.

So I must confess that I am praising these works because I have not yet read his latest. It has been sitting on the top of my guilt pile but because my recent work has focused more on Pauline studies I haven't been able to get to it.

Brant Pitre, in particular, has been urging me to read it.

And so I look forward to reading it though over the Christmas break. It'll be my reward for finishing grading.

Get your copy, here and let me know what you think.

Monday, December 15, 2014

All I Want For Christmas. . .

Thanks to two anonymous readers I've been able to cross two books off my list. Thanks so very much! 

This time of year a number of internet sites and blogs run lists of gift ideas for "men".

For the record, I definitely don't want a flask or a knife or a pipe.

In years past, some very kind readers have amazingly sent gifts on Christmas. Those gifts have all been  helpful and, of course, very much appreciated.

To be honest, I've got a number of academic projects I'd really like to finish this coming year and I require a number of resources to realize those goals. And what I need isn't going to be cheap.

I don't mean to be presumptuous but if anyone is planning on helping out a young Catholic scholar with four little children this Christmas, this is what I would put on my wish list.

I've put in some links below but a quick check on is always the recommended way to find books at the lowest possible price. You can also check out my Amazon Wish list - see the panel on the right.

Martha Himmelfarb, Between Torah and Temple. Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 2013. 

Markus Bockhmuehl. The Remembered Peter. Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, 2010. Price: ~$112

Ben Cooper. Incorporated Servanthood: Commitment and Discipleship in the Gospel of Matthew. London: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2013. Price: ~$30

Holly Beers. The Followers of Jesus as the 'Servant': Luke’s Model from Isaiah for the Disciples in Luke-Acts. London: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2015. Price: ~$112

Jonathan Knight, The Open Mind: Essays in Honour of Christopher RowlandLondon: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2015. Price: ~$112

Stefanos Mihalios. The Danielic Eschatological Hour in the Johannine LiteratureLondon: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2012. Price: ~$30

Karen Wenell. Jesus and Land: Sacred and Social Space in Second Temple Judaism. London: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2012. Price: ~$125

R. Timothy McLay. The Temple in Text and Tradition: A Festschrift in Honour of Robert Hayward. London: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2012. Price: ~$115

Jens Schröter. Jesus of Nazareth: Jew from Galilee, Savior of the World. Waco: Baylor University Press, 2014. Price: ~$50

L. M. Morales, Cult and Cosmos. Leuven: Peeters, 2014. Price: $140

If there is any kind soul out there interested in sending me something, books can be sent to the following address:
Dr. Michael Barber
c/o JP Catholic University
220 W. Grand Ave.Escondido, CA 92025

If anyone does plan on sending something my way, thanks so very much. And please leave a comment and tell me what I can cross of the list.


Friday, December 12, 2014

"I Am the Very Model of a Biblical Philologist"

H/T Nathan Eubank and Michael Thomson

Rejoice! The Readings for Gaudete Sunday!


Rejoice, everybody!  This Sunday we light the rose-colored (not pink!) candle of the Advent wreath, as a sign of our joy that we have passed the mid-point of Advent.  During this penitential season (are you practicing a small penance?) in anticipation of the coming of Our Lord, we take a break from our practices of self-denial this Sunday in order to celebrate that Christmas is drawing near!

The Readings for this Sunday are unified by the theme of rejoicing, and they provide a good meditation on the role of joy in the Christian life.  Perhaps a line from the first Reading best sums up the message of the Scriptures this Sunday: “God is the joy of my soul.”  How true this is!  How often we are tempted to put something else into the “God” slot in that statement: “________ is the joy of my soul.”  How do we fill in the blank?  Money?  Success?  Caffeine/Alcohol/some other drug?  Sex?  Football?  Some other sport? A hobby?  This Sunday is time to rejoice for all those who put “God” in the blank.

1. Our First Reading is Isaiah 61:1-2a, 10-11:

Sunday, December 07, 2014

The Readings for the Immaculate Conception

This Monday is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics in the United States, since it is the patronal feast day of our nation.  (Have you ever pondered that the irony in the fact that our capital is a little square of territory nestled in the heart of “Mary-land”?)

The Readings for this Solemnity are extremely rich, and include two famous passages (the account of the curses of after the fall in Genesis 3; and the Annunciation in Luke 1) that are pivotal in salvation history and touch on mega-themes in biblical theology.  Mary is at the heart of the story of salvation; understanding her and her role properly entails understanding the divine economy (salvation history) properly as well.

The First Reading is from Genesis 3:

Thursday, December 04, 2014

"Prepare the Way of the Lord": Readings for the Second Sunday of Advent

During the time of Advent the Church both looks backwards and forwards. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains:
When the Church celebrates the liturgy of Advent each year, she makes present this ancient expectancy of the Messiah, for by sharing in the long preparation for the Savior’s first coming, the faithful renew their ardent desire for his second coming. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 524)
In other words, during Advent the Church both reflects on (1) the coming of Christ in the Incarnation and (2) the future coming of Christ at the end of time.

Only by keeping this two-fold perspective in mind can we fully understand the lectionary readings chosen for us this Sunday.

As we shall see, by meditating on the former we learn lessons about how to prepare best for the latter. John the Baptist, for example, becomes not only the one to prepare the way for the Incarnation but also a model for what it means to prepare for the Second Coming.

FIRST READING: Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11
Comfort, give comfort to my people,
says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her
that her service is at an end,
her guilt is expiated;
indeed, she has received from the hand of the LORD
double for all her sins. 
A voice cries out:
In the desert prepare the way of the LORD!
Make straight in the wasteland a highway for our God!
Every valley shall be fil we led in,
every mountain and hill shall be made low;
the rugged land shall be made a plain,
the rough country, a broad valley.
Then the glory of the LORD shall be revealed,
and all people shall see it together;
for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. 
Go up on to a high mountain,
Zion, herald of glad tidings;
cry out at the top of your voice,
Jerusalem, herald of good news!
Fear not to cry out
and say to the cities of Judah:
Here is your God!
Here comes with power
the Lord GOD,
who rules by his strong arm;
here is his reward with him,
his recompense before him.
Like a shepherd he feeds his flock;
in his arms he gathers the lambs,
carrying them in his bosom,
and leading the ewes with care.
Isaiah is here announcing the hope for the future deliverance of Israel from exile. The language, however, draws from Israel's past. Specifically, Isaiah describes the future restoration of Israel in terms reminiscent of the Exodus. 
  • The people of God are told that their time of "service" (i.e., slavery) has come to an end
  • A way [Greek: hodos] is prepared in the wilderness 
  • The Lord's glory will be revealed (recall the cloud of glory that led Israel in the wilderness)
  • The language of getting up to a "high mountain", while pointing to Zion, also recalls Mt. Sinai

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Advent 

Well, the season of Advent is here once again! Of all the liturgical seasons of the year, for me, Advent is certainly the most stressful, and it may be the most confusing.  We often seem to have a good grasp of Christmas, Lent, and Easter. But what is the deeper meaning of Advent? And how can understanding this season help us better prepare for Christmas?

In the Bible study Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Advent, I tried to show how a deeper understanding of the biblical prophecies of the Messiah can help unlock the hidden meanings of the season. It covers topics like:

The Sunday Lectionary Readings for Advent (Years A-C): The entire Bible study revolves around the Sunday lectionary readings for this season, which are (in my humble opinion) some of the richest and most fascinating passages in the Bible.

(NOTE TO PREACHERS: if you're preaching homilies for the Lectionary, the Bible study goes into readings from all three years, so that it can be useful for Advent preaching any year.)

The Second Advent of Christ: What will happen at the end of time? Why does Advent begin with end-time prophecies about the Tribulation, the Final Judgment, and the second coming of Christ?

Biblical Prophecies of the Messiah: How do we know that Jesus is really the Messiah and not just one more religious leader? What are the most important Old Testament prophecies about the first “coming” of the Messiah?

The Mystery of John the Baptist: Who was John the Baptist? Why did Jesus call him the greatest of all the prophets, and why does the Church spend so much time on him during the Advent season?

The Jesse Tree: What are the biblical roots of the Advent custom of the Jesse tree? Where does this tree come from in the Jewish Bible?

The Virgin Birth: Why was Jesus born of a Virgin? What should we say to those who are skeptical about this great miracle? And what does it mean for our lives as Christians?

And lots of other stuff. If you're preparing for Christmas and would like to dig deeper into the biblical roots of Advent, consider checking it out.

Have a blessed Advent.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

SBL 2014 highlights

What a tremendous time I had this year at the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature! 

Above all, I had the honor of reading a paper co-written with John Kincaid. N.T. Wright, Pamela Eisenbaum, and Ward Blanton responded to it. It was incredibly gratifying to have these scholars carefully read our arguments and engage with us in conversation. I think it is safe to say that all three gave positive assessments to the paper's thesis, asking helpful clarifying questions.

After we were done, David Burnett presented a fascinating paper in the same section. Brant Pitre had an interesting exchange with N.T. Wright about it during the question and answer period that was fun to witness. I'd like to thank our student Luke Heintschel for the pictures as well as all those who came out to support us (including my wife!). 

Reading the paper - and having a lot of fun doing it! 
N.T. Wright (St. Andrews University) and Chan Sok Park (Harvard University) reading along as I present the paper.
N.T. Wright giving his response. 
Left to right: John Kincaid, me, David Burnett, Hans Svebakken (Loyola University of Chicago), Matthew E. Gordley (Regent University School of Divinity), Ward Blanton (University of Kent at Canterbury) Pamela Eisenbaum (Iliff School of Theology), Chan Sok Park, N. T. Wright (University of St. Andrews)
Of course, the very best part of every SBL is reconnecting with friends from around the country. With SBL in San Diego, I had the added benefit of hosting some friends at our house. It was really great to have friends get to know my children.

My son Matthew had a great time lightsaber dueling with Scott Hahn and Brant Pitre.

"If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine"--Scott Hahn
"Wow, you're like a real Jedi"--Brant Pitre, surprised at how seriously Matthew was swinging at him
I can never get too much time in with Scott Hahn.

It was also great to get some face time in with some of my favorite bloggers.

Here are three-fourths of The Sacred Page with Michael Bird and Joel Willitts from Euangelion
Left to right: John Kincaid, me, Joel Willitts, Michael Bird, Brant Pitre 

By the way, I saw Michael Bird again on Sunday looking absolutely fabulous in this stylish jacket his wife picked out for him.

We also enjoyed spending time with Chris Tilling, who photo bombed us in this picture taken by Jim West. Jim is pictured presenting below.

Chris Tilling photobombing in the background
Jim West presenting a paper
Other major highlights involved catching up with friends Leroy Huizenga, Craig Keener, Andrew Swafford, Brian Pedrazza, Fr. Carl, Jeff Morrow, Andre Villeneuve, Jim Papandrea, Rob Corzine, and Tim Gray.

I also had a nice time chatting with Michael Thompson as well as a short but sweet run-in with Brian Leport.

In addition, it was great to hear John Bergsma deliver a fine paper in the Ezekiel study unit.

John Bergsma on H, P, Z - he really knows the alphabet well

Although I don't have pictures, the first session of the Matthew section went very well.

The second section involved a book review of Nathan Eubank's new book, featuring John Meier, Donald Senior, and A.J. Levine. The session was very well attended and it went very well. Anders Runesson, who moderated the panel, ended the session by noting that Eubank has accomplished the highest goal any scholar could hope to attain--he has published a study that cannot be ignored.

John Meier presenting his review of Eubank's book. Left to right at the panel: Anders Runesson, Nathan Eubank, Donald Senior, A.J. Levine
Nathan Eubank responding to his reviewers
Seats were hard to find! 

By the way, the Dominican pictured in the photo above is Fr. Gregory Tatum, a priest who teaches at the École Biblique in Jerusalem. Fr. Tatum wrote his doctoral dissertation under E.P. Sanders at Duke University. Although I have had the pleasure of talking with Fr. Tatum in the past, I was blessed to have some extended conversation with him this year. He is a sheer delight.

There were also numerous other fascinating sessions. The most well attended was probably the section devoted to Paul and Apocalypticism.

Session 1 (from left to right): N. T. Wright, Loren Stuckenbruck, James Maston, Philip Ziegler, and Martinus de Boer
Session 2 (left to right): Douglas Campbell, Edith Humphrey, Michael Gorman, Ben Blackwell, John Barclay, Beverly Gaventa
Another major highlight, of course, was the book exhibit. Below is a picture of the people waiting for the doors to open. It was like Black Friday for scholars. 

In fact, there were some very important books that came out this year! 

I have to say, I'm quite pleased with my haul. Among other things, I finally picked up my own copy of Leroy Huizenga's important monograph, The New Isaac--a book I have only used as a library copy--at a great price. I also picked up a book on Jesus Research that looks to be an important read. I've read the first 120 pages tonight and it was quite stimulating.  

Till next year in Atlanta! 

"Already and Still More": The First Sunday in Advent

In this first Sunday of Advent, the Church invites us to prepare in a rather urgent manner for God’s coming in the person of Jesus Christ. If you are anything like me, it is tempting to view the Advent Season as celebrating something that is “in the rear view mirror”, that is, a definitive event of the past that defines the salvation we can now rejoice in as believers in Christ.

While this is true, it is nonetheless incomplete at best and dangerous at worst, for the coming of God in Christ requires an ever-present vigilance, one that is always ready for the coming of God.

FIRST READING: Isaiah 63:16b-17, 19b; 64:2-7 
You, LORD, are our father,
our redeemer you are named forever.
Why do you let us wander, O LORD, from your ways,
and harden our hearts so that we fear you not?
Return for the sake of your servants,
the tribes of your heritage.
Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
with the mountains quaking before you,
while you wrought awesome deeds we could not hope for,
such as they had not heard of from of old.
No ear has ever heard, no eye ever seen, any God but you
doing such deeds for those who wait for him.
Would that you might meet us doing right,
that we were mindful of you in our ways!
Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful;
all of us have become like unclean people,
all our good deeds are like polluted rags;
we have all withered like leaves,
and our guilt carries us away like the wind.
There is none who calls upon your name,
who rouses himself to cling to you;
for you have hidden your face from us
and have delivered us up to our guilt.
Yet, O LORD, you are our father;
we are the clay and you the potter:
we are all the work of your hands.
In this first reading, the prophet Isaiah speaks of the coming of God in rather apocalyptic terms, that is, that Yahweh would “rend the heavens and come down” and bring salvation. In context, Yahweh does indeed come down and bring salvation, for he comes and liberates Judah from Babylon and brings them back to Canaan.

However, as Loren Stuckenbruck rightly notes, apocalyptic salvation in the faith of Israel entails an “already and still more,”[1] and this dynamic can be seen within Isaiah itself, for reading the book as a whole helps to reveal that not all aspects of Isaiah’s promised salvation is completely fulfilled with Judah’s return from exile.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

SBL/AAR 2014 sessions I am looking forward to attending (Part 2: Sunday - Monday)

I still have more sessions to read about and I'm on the fence on what to do during a couple of time slots, but here are some thoughts on Sunday-Monday.

Of course, somewhere in all of this I have to set aside time for the most important part of SBL: the glorious exhibit hall where all the major publishers will be selling their wares (at discounted prices!).

Nonetheless, here are my thoughts on the sessions so far.

If you are going to SBL, I'd love to get your feedback. What are you planning on doing?

SUNDAY - 11/23/14

9am - 11:30am

Once again, another painful decision. On one hand, there is a session on Pauline soteriology on "righteousness/justice" in Paul involving Gorman, Gaventa, and de Boer, with Eubank responding. On the other, there's a section on the Fourth Gospel and liturgical issues, with Keener responding. They both look too good to pass up.  

Pauline Soteriology 
Room: Indigo Ballroom H (Level 2 (Indigo)) - Hilton Bayfront (HB) 
Theme: Righteousness/Justice in Paul 
Michael Gorman, Saint Mary's Seminary and University, Presiding
Beverly Roberts Gaventa, Baylor University
Righteousness/Justice in Paul: The View from Romans (35 min)
Martin de Boer, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam - VU University Amsterdam
Righteousness/Justice in Paul: A Comparison of Galatians with Romans (35 min)
Break (10 min)
Nathan Eubank, Notre Dame Seminary, Graduate School of Theology, Respondent (15 min)
Willie Jennings, Duke University, Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (20 min)
Discussion (20 min)
1pm - 3:30pm

Obviously, there's no question about what the most important session is in this time slot. The first paper is going to be dynamite. The paper by David Burnett, like the first paper, was presented earlier this year at the Paul and Judaism Conference at Houston Baptist University. It was fantastic. I'm looking forward to hearing that one again.

Anyone know who this N.T. Wright guy is who is responding to it?

Pauline Epistles 
Joint Session With: Pauline Epistles, Paul and Judaism/Paul Within Judaism, Disputed Paulines, Pauline Soteriology, Second Corinthians: Pauline Theology in the Making, Systematic Transformation and Interweaving of Scripture in 1 Corinthians

1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Sapphire Ballroom M (Level 4 (Sapphire)) - Hilton Bayfront (HB) 
Chan Sok Park, Harvard University, Presiding
Michael Patrick Barber, John Paul the Great Catholic University and John Kincaid, John Paul the Great Catholic University
Cultic Theosis in Paul and Second Temple Judaism: A Fresh Reading of the Corinthian Correspondence (18 min)
David A. Burnett, Criswell College
"So Shall Your Seed Be": Paul’s Use of Gen 15:5 in Rom 4:18 in light of Early Jewish Deification Traditions (18 min)
Pamela Eisenbaum, Iliff School of Theology, Respondent (8 min)
Ward Blanton, University of Kent at Canterbury, Respondent (8 min)
N. T. Wright, University of St. Andrews, Respondent (8 min)
Break (5 min)
Matthew E. Gordley, Regent University School of Divinity
Psalms of Solomon and Pauline Studies (18 min)
Hans Svebakken, Loyola University of Chicago
Romans 7:7-25 and a Pauline Allegory of the Soul (18 min)
Pamela Eisenbaum, Iliff School of Theology, Respondent (8 min)
Ward Blanton, University of Kent at Canterbury, Respondent (8 min)
N. T. Wright, University of St. Andrews, Respondent (8 min)
Discussion (25 min)
Luckily, there are no other interesting papers at this time. None. Don't even look at the Program Book. There isn't anything else you need to be doing during this slot. *cough 

4pm - 6:30pm 

There are a number of sessions that interest me. I'm very interested in the section on Mark. It's hard to turn down an opportunity to go and hear Joel Watts. The paper on intertextuality in Mark 11-12 sounds interesting too.

Yet Goodacre interacting with Kloppenborg on Q? How do I pass that one up!

Finally, there's a paper that seems to suggest animal sacrifices were in fact offered at Qumran. If true--and that seems to be a big if--that's huge. I'm interested to see what evidence can be cited--and equally keen on seeing what kind of reaction the paper gets. Finally, Stuckenbruck's paper looks intriguing.

Not sure what to do about this one.

Markan Literary Sources  
Room: F (Level 3 (Aqua)) - Hilton Bayfront (HB) 
Theme: Literary Sources for Mark 11 
Adam Winn, Azusa Pacific University, Presiding
Joel L. Watts, University of the Free State - Universiteit van die Vrystaat
There and Back Again, A Jesus Tale: The Poetics of Apologetic Reversal (10 min)
Discussion (35 min)
Matthew R. Hauge, Azusa Pacific University
The Creation of Person in Ancient Narrative and the Gospel of Mark (10 min)
Discussion (35 min)
Dennis R. MacDonald, Claremont School of Theology
Intertextuality in Mark 11–12 (10 min)
Discussion (35 min) 

Joint Session With: Q, Extent of Theological Diversity in Earliest Christianity 
Room: 303 (Level 3 (Aqua)) - Hilton Bayfront (HB) 
Theme: Q’s Difference: Contents, Silences, and PerspectivesThis session, sponsored jointly by the Extent of Theological Diversity in Earliest Christianity Section and the Q Section, revisits the question of how “different” Q seems to be given its contents, silences, and perspectives, especially where issues evidently crucial to other groups (such as the death and resurrection of Jesus) are concerned. Does Q make a difference to constructions of Christian origins? 
William Arnal, University of Regina, Presiding
Daniel A. Smith, Huron University College
What Difference Does Difference Make? Q’s Place within Christian Origins in Recent Research (30 min)
John Kloppenborg, University of Toronto, Respondent (10 min)
Mark Goodacre, Duke University, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (20 min)
Break (10 min)
Joseph Verheyden, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
Is There a Place in the Inn? Some Reflections on How to Take Care of Q (30 min)
John Kloppenborg, University of Toronto, Respondent (10 min)
Mark Goodacre, Duke University, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (20 min) 

Room: 501 C (Level 5 (Cobalt)) - Hilton Bayfront (HB) 
Theme: New Perspectives on Archaeology, Material Science, and Texts 
Eibert Tigchelaar, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Presiding
Ira Rabin, BAM Federal Institute of Materials Research and Testing
Did 1QIsaa and IQS Come from the Same Parchment Workshop? (30 min)
Jodi Magness, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Were Sacrifices Offered at Qumran? The Animal Bone Deposits Reconsidered (30 min)
Helen R. Jacobus, University College London
Two Aramaic Zodiac Calendars: Why 4Q318 Is Related to the Synchronistic Calendar of 4Q208-4Q209 (30 min)
Bernard M. Levinson, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
Correcting the Restorations of Temple Scroll (11Q19) 2:8-9 (30 min)
Shani Tzoref, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
The Temple Scroll as Prequel and Interquel (30 min) 

Meals in the Greco-Roman World  
Joint Session With: Meals in the Greco-Roman World, Meals in the HB/OT and Its World 
Room: Room 5 B (Upper level) - San Diego Convention Center (CC) 
Theme: Meals and Justice 
The joint session between the "Meals in the Greco-Roman World" section and "Meals in the HB/OT and Its World" will focus on meals and justice, discussing how individual and divine justice are brought into connection with the table. The session will seek to bring together perspectives from the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, and rabbinical texts, seeking the commonalities and divergences present between the various bodies of texts. 
Carol Meyers, Duke University, Presiding (5 min)
Walter J. Houston, University of Manchester
'To Share Your Bread with the Hungry': Justice or Charity? (30 min)
Michael Satlow, Brown University
Beggar at the Banquet (30 min)
Peter-Ben Smit, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Convivial Justice - Meals with Meaning in Early Christianity (30 min)
Loren Stuckenbruck, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Respondent (20 min)
Discussion (35 min)
MONDAY - 11/24/14

I have a number of commitments on Monday morning and so I can't make it to anything at that time.

In the early afternoon there are a number of sessions that look fascinating. I'm going to have to make some hard decisions here.

First, there's a review of N.T. Wright's new book on Paul that features, among others, Douglas Campbell. After watching the recent dialogue with Wright at Duke, taking a pass on this one is going to be difficult.

In addition, in the Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds section there are two papers that have caught my attention. First, there is one on wine consumption in antiquity and the story of the wedding feast in John 2. Second, one on Mark 10:1-12.

There is also a section on Social History of Formative Christianity and Judaism which focuses on priesthood and sacrifice. The papers here look very appealing.

Not sure what I'm going to do about these yet.
Pauline Soteriology 
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM 
Room: San Diego Ballroom Salon B (Lobby level) - Marriott Marquis (MM) 
Theme: Panel Review: N. T. (Tom) Wright's Paul and the Faithfulness of God 
Ann Jervis, Wycliffe College, Presiding
Steve Mason, University of Aberdeen, Panelist (25 min)
Douglas Campbell, Duke University, Panelist (25 min)
Alan J. Torrance, University of St. Andrews, Panelist (15 min)
Break (10 min)
N. T. (Tom) Wright, University of St. Andrews, Respondent (30 min)
Discussion (25 min)
Discussion (20 min)
Papyrology and Early Christian Backgrounds
1:00 PM to 3:45 PM
Room: Room 30 B (Upper level) - San Diego Convention Center (CC) 
Theme: Papyrology, the New Testament, and Early Christian Egypt 
Lincoln H. Blumell, Brigham Young University, Presiding
Hans Foerster, Universität Wien
Wine at the Wedding at Cana and in the Papyri: Some Observations on Wine-Consumption in Antiquity (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Annelies Moeser, Brite Divinity School (TCU)
Reading Mark 10:1-12 in Egypt: Marriage and Divorce (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Jennifer Strawbridge, University of Oxford
A School of Paul? The Use of Pauline Texts in Early Christian Schooltext Papyri (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Break (5 min)
James R. Royse, Independent Scholar
The Neglected Texts in the Oxyrhynchus Papyrus of Philo (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Iain Gardner, University of Sydney
The Kellis Coptic Papyri and Christianity in Fourth Century Egypt (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)

Social History of Formative Christianity and Judaism
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: 202 B (Level 2 (Indigo)) - Hilton Bayfront (HB) 
Theme: Priests, Meats, and Sacrifice: Representation and Praxis 
Gil Klein, Loyola Marymount University, Presiding (5 min)
Philippa Townsend, Ursinus College
“Priest of the Uncircumcised”: Melchizedek and the Gentiles in Hebrews and Beyond (25 min)
Mika Ahuvia, University of Washington, Seattle
Priestly Depiction of Sacrifice in the Mishnah: The Case of Tractate Tamid (25 min)
Anthony R. Meyer, McMaster University
From Praxis to Text: The Scripturalization of Priestly Ritual in the Mishnah and Invoking the Divine Name YHWH (25 min)
Jonathan P. Wilcoxson, University of Notre Dame
What Is Strangled? The Cultural Resonances of “Strangled” Meat in Acts, the Mishnah, and the Ancient Mediterranean (25 min)
Daniel Ullucci, Rhodes College
Who Sacrifices? Christian Experts and the Redefinition of Religion (25 min)
Discussion (20 min)
In the late afternoon, I am planning on attending the Blogger section. However, there is a section that is going to be hard to miss--and it features a prominent blogger, Mark Goodacre.  
Blogger and Online Publication
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: Room 1 B (Upper level) - San Diego Convention Center (CC)The session will conclude with a panel of scholars who blog (including Chris Keith and Anthony Le Donne, among others), talking about key moments in the intersection of academic blogging and Biblical studies from recent months. One of the great things about blogging is that it allows discussion of Biblical studies and other academic news over the course of the year. This panel thus makes room for discussion of topics that could not be foreseen when the program was finalized in April. Expect mention of specific topics and panelists on the scholarly blogs prior to November! 
James F. McGrath, Butler University, Presiding
Kimberly Majeski, Anderson University (IN)
Biblioblogging: A Bridge for Church and Academy (30 min)

Maria, Mariamne, Miriam: Rediscovering the Marys  
Room: 202 A (Level 2 (Indigo)) - Hilton Bayfront (HB) 
Theme: Does Which Mary Matter?The papers in this session investigate the multifaceted early Christian traditions of the Marys—Mary of Nazareth, Mary Magdalene, Mary of Bethany—in biblical and post-biblical contexts. 
Ann Graham Brock, Iliff School of Theology, Presiding
Deirdre Good, General Theological Seminary
Mary and Jesus in the Garden: Ban and Blessing (25 min)
Mark Goodacre, Duke University
The Magdalene Effect: Misreading the Composite Mary in Early Christian Works (25 min)
Deborah Saxon, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs
The Care of the Self in the Gospel of Mary (25 min)
Judith M. Davis, Goshen College
Virgin Mary Co-Priest or Not: The Continuing Trend of Redaction and Revision (25 min)
Ally Kateusz, University of Missouri - Kansas City
Collyridian Déjà vu Part Two: Male and Female Altar Priests (25 min)
Discussion (25 min)

Solemnity of Christ the King: The Readings

Congratulations, everyone!  God has seen fit to let us live to complete another liturgical year!  We have journeyed with Our Lord from his birth through his ministry, passion, death, resurrection, and into the growth of the Church and the spread of the Gospel to all the nations.  Now, at the end of the year, we reflect on the Final Judgment, when Jesus Christ, King of the Universe, will pass sentence on each and every human being, establishing justice, punishing evil and rewarding love and self-sacrifice.  The Feast of Christ the King is a profession of our faith that ultimately there is a moral standard to the universe, that all is not in flux or random, that the Good, the True, and the Beautiful triumph in the end over darkness, ugliness, and selfishness. 

Our First Reading comes from Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15-17:

Monday, November 17, 2014

SBL/AAR 2014 sessions I am looking forward to attending (Part 1: Friday - Saturday)

The annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature / American Academy of Religion kicks off this week. I have downloaded the handy-dandy app for the conference, updated my profile, combed through the online program book, and begun to set my "agenda" on the app. 

Here are the sessions that I have assigned to my schedule (so far) for Friday and Saturday. I'm sure that I'm far from done--I keep finding sessions I've missed.

This is going to be extremely stimulating. There are a number of painful decisions to be made though.

FRIDAY - 11/21/14


Two words: Paul and Apocalyptic. Is anyone not going to this?

Paul and the Apocalyptic Imagination 
Room: 300 A (Level 3 (Aqua)) - Hilton Bayfront (HB)
Session 1 
Jason Maston, Highland Theological College, Presiding
Jason Maston, Highland Theological College, Welcome (5 min)
M. C. de Boer, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam - VU University Amsterdam
Apocalyptic as Eschatological Activity (25 min)
N.T. Wright, University of St. Andrews
Apocalyptic as Sudden Fulfilment of Divine Promise (25 min)
Loren Stuckenbruck, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Apocalypticism in Second Temple Judaism (25 min)
Philip Ziegler, University of Aberdeen
Apocalypticism in Modern Theology (25 min)
Discussion (15 min)
Break (15 min) 
Session 2 
Ben Blackwell, Houston Baptist University, Presiding
Michael Gorman, Saint Mary's Seminary and University
The Apocalyptic New Covenant and the Shape of Life in the Spirit (25 min)
Edith Humphrey, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
Apocalypse as Theoria in Paul: A New Perspective on Apocalyptic as Mother of Theology (25 min)
Douglas Campbell, Duke University
Paul's Apocalyptic Epistemology (25 min)
Beverly Gaventa, Baylor University
Romans 9–11: An Apocalyptic Reading (25 min)
John Barclay, University of Durham
Apocalyptic Investments: First Corinthians 7 and Pauline Ethics (25 min)
Discussion (20 min)
Word of Thanks, Book Promotion, and Adjournment: John Goodrich, Moody Bible Institute
7pm - 9pm

Craig Keener will be speaking on the historical plausibility of miracles. I only wish there were some skeptical scholars responding so that there could be a dialogue after the lecture.

Friday, November 14, 2014

RBL review of Hahn's "Consuming the Word"

In the latest RBL, there is a very positive review of Scott Hahn's book, Consuming the Word: The New Testament and the Eucharist in the Early Church (Doubleday, 2013), written by Sonya S. Cronin (Florida State University). 

Cronin offers a masterful survey of the book's contents: 

A few quotes:
"While not specifically geared to the academic, it is rich enough in its logical progression to appeal to the intellectual, yet simple enough in its explanations to be accessible the lay reader."  
"This book is valuable for Catholics, non- Catholics, academics, and laypeople—anyone who wishes to understand the role of Scripture in Catholic confessional lives and liturgical worship." 
I couldn't agree more! 

As Cronin writes, "Although this is a very theological project, Hahn has used textual evidence to make his historical claims."

Indeed, this book is very well researched and convincing. Among other things, it discusses the way scripture emerged out of the liturgical life of the early church and shows how the question of "canon" was essentially a liturgical issue ("canon" = which books are to be read in the "churches")

One key point: Hahn shows that "testament" was really just a Latinization of the term "covenant". That translation issue has obscured the link between the books of the "New Testament" and the eucharistic celebration of the "cup of the New Covenant" in early Christianity. 
"The documents weren't complete till the end of the first century, and even then they were not called 'New Testament' till the end of the second century. The documents only gradually took that name, again because of their liturgical proximity to the covenant sacrifice, the Eucharist. They were the only books approved to be read in the Eucharistic liturgy, and they were 'canonized' for that very reason. Thus, precisely as liturgical books, they were called the New Testament." (CTW, 40-41)
Indeed, on the back cover there's a great quote from patristic scholar, John Cavadini (Notre Dame): 
After reading Consuming the Word, I will never hear the the phrase 'New Testament' in the same way again. This book offers a soul-satisfying account of the organic connection between the liturgical life of the Church and Scripture, between the Incarnation in flesh and the Incarnation in words. . ."
The historical argument regarding the meaning of "New Testament" is just one of the many insightful elements of this book though. There's a lot more to it, obviously. 
If you subscribe, I'd recommend reading the whole review at RBL. . . and then buying the book.