Saturday, April 30, 2011

Fullness is Fantastic

We're here in Arlington, Texas, lecturing through Matthew with 500+ of the best folks in the Lone Star State.  It's a great time, but I don't think Michael or I are going to have a chance to post on the Readings for this Sunday's Mass this week.  Unless Michael does it at 3AM this morning, which he just might.

I am always grateful to participate in these kind of conferences, because of the fruitful cross-fertilization that results from discussing familiar texts with several different scholars.  Michael was sharing today about Temple imagery in the Sermon on the Mount--a new perspective to me, but convincingly argued.  Dr. Hahn was pointing out the parallels of the blessings of Matt 5 and the woes of Matt 23.  Too many to be coincidental!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Help Students Win the i-Confess Video Scholarship

These two videos are produced by undergraduate students at JP Catholic. They were made as part of the i-Confess campaign sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York. The winner gets a huge scholarship. Please help them--they could really use the money and they're both really good kids. All you need to do is watch the video and then "like" it on YouTube. Consider it your good deed for the day.

Contemporary Christian Worship vs. the Worship of the Early Church (With Video!)

Following up on my previous post on the Eucharistic theology of the early Church, I just couldn't resist highlighting the difference between what many Christians today call Sunday worship and the Sunday worship of the early Church. I did this once before, but, in light of the previous post, I just couldn't resist mentioning it once more. And, sorry, but I only have video for contemporary Christian worship.

Let me make this real simple. . .

1. Sunday worship in the early Church:

"And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things. Then we all rise together and pray, and, as we before said, when our prayer is ended, bread and wine and water are brought, and the president in like manner offers prayers and thanksgivings, according to his ability, and the people assent, saying Amen; and there is a distribution to each, and a participation of that over which thanks have been given, and to those who are absent a portion is sent by the deacons."
--Justin Martyr, I Apol. 67 (A.D. 150-155)

2. What many Christians today call Sunday worship:

By the way, there's a little joke in here that you need to know Hebrew to catch. The Hebrew tattoo deliberately incorrectly spells God's name. Instead of God's name (יהוה ), it says, ויהי , translated, "And it came to pass" or "And it was so." Beginning Hebrew students often mistake these words for one another because they look similar. Of course the joke here is that people who get Hebrew tattoos really do not know how to read Hebrew at all.


Join Me For An Event Celebrating John Paul II Tonight in San Diego

If you're in Southern California, please consider coming out tonight to an event celebrating John Paul II, who of course is going to be beatified this weekend in Rome. The event is free. I will be speaking on John Paul's teaching on the Trinity and the Family. For more information on the other speakers, go here.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Fullness of Truth: Arlington, Texas

Michael and I are speaking with Dr. Hahn at the Fullness of Truth conference this Saturday and Sunday in Arlington, Texas.

We will be tag-team lecturing through Matthew. 

For the first time, Fullness of Truth has arranged a live webcast of the event.  You can participate, 8AM-6PM daily, via live webcast for about $15 by registering at this link. If you want to attend, you can find more information here.

The Eucharistic Theology of Early Church Fathers

Joel, who speaks of how he is more Eucharistic-centric than many of his Protestant friends, has a great post up on John Paul II and the Eucharist. Of course, I'm pretty Eucharistic-centric too. : )

In fact, at JP Catholic we participate in the Eucharistic celebration every day.

Anyways. . . since Joel brought up the Eucharist, I thought I'd share a bit from the early church fathers.

Irenaeus on the Eucharist

This quarter I'm teaching a course on the fathers and this morning we looked at Irenaeus. Here's what he wrote on the Eucharist in his famous Against Heresies, c. A.D. 180:
Directing His disciples to offer God the first-fruits of His own creation--not because He stood in need of them, but that they themselves might be neither unfruitful nor ungrateful--He took that created thing, bread, and gave thanks, and said, 'This is my body' [Matt 26:26]. And the cup likewise, which is part of that creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His blood, and taught the new oblation of the new covenant. This the Church has received from the Apostles, and offers now to God throughout all the world. . . 

Understanding the Book of Acts--Part 3: More Similarities Between Luke and Acts

Be sure to read Part 1 and Part 2.

Continuing our walk through the book of Acts, we can note the following similarities between what happened to Jesus in the Gospel of Luke and what happens in the life of the Church in Acts.

A centurion. . .
  • A centurion, well-spoken of by the Jews, sends servants to Jesus to ask him to come to his house (Luke 7:1–10).
  • A centurion, well-spoken of by the Jewish people, sends men to Peter, asking him to come to his house (Acts 10).

Stories featuring Widows and Resurrection
  • In Luke 7 we have a narrative which involves a widow and a resurrection (cf. Luke 7:11–17). Jesus raises the dead, saying, “Arise.” Upon doing this we read that the dead man "sat up".
  • The narrative in Acts 9 involves widows and, again, a resurrection (Acts 9:36-43). The details of the story are also similar. Peter says, “Rise.” The dead woman then “sat up” 

Criticism from Jewish Leaders
  • Jesus is criticized by a Pharisee for being touched by a sinful woman (Luke 7:36-50).
  • In Acts, the circumcision party criticizes Jesus for his association with Gentiles (Acts 11:10–13).

Journey to Jerusalem
  • In Luke, Jesus journeys to Jerusalem, which is ultimately to end with his passion (9:31; 9:51; 12:50; 13:33; 18:31-33), doing so under divine necessity (13:33). Throughout the journey the disciples’ lack of understanding is underscored (14:45; 18:34). This "way" motif--i.e., the way to Jerusalem--is mentioned seven times (Luke 9:51; 13:22; 13:33; 17:11; 18:31; 19:11; 19:28).
  • In Acts, Paul journeys to Jerusalem, which is also a kind of “passion-journey” (20:3; 20:22-24; 20:37-38; 21:4; 21:10-11; 21:13) that he undertakes under divine necessity (20:22; 21:14). The trip is marked by his friends’ lack of understanding (21:4, 21:12-13). Acts mentions Paul's trip to Jerusalem seven times (Acts 19:21; 20:22; 21:4; 21:11-12; 21:13; 21:15; 21:17).
As Talbert observes, not only is Paul's journey to Jerusalem similar to Jesus', there are also striking parallels in the descriptions of what happened to them when they arrived there. These similarities are too uncanny to be written off as coincidence or insignificant. We shall touch on these below.

Welcomed at Jerusalem
  • Jesus is welcomed by the people at Jerusalem, who praise God for his works (Luke 19:3).
  • Paul is welcomed and they glorify God for the things being done through him (Acts 21:17–20a).

A Temple Visit
  • Jesus goes into the temple (Luke 19:45–48).
  • Paul goes into the temple (Acts 21:26).

Opposed by Sadducees, Acknowledged by Scribes
  • The Sadducees, who do not believe in the resurrection, oppose Jesus. Some scribes take a friendly attitude to Jesus (Luke 20:27–39).
  • The Sadducees do not believe in the resurrection oppose Paul. Some scribes say they find nothing wrong with Paul’s teaching (Acts 23:6–9).

Breaking Bread
  • “[Jesus] he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them. . .” (Luke 22:19).
  • “[Paul] took bread, and giving thanks to God. . . broke it and began to eat” (Acts 27:35).

Seized by a Crowd
  • A crowd seizes Jesus (Luke 22:54).
  • The people ran together; they seized Paul (Acts 21:30).

Slapped by the High Priest's Assistants
  • Jesus is slapped by the priest’s assistants (Luke 22:63–64).
  • Paul is slapped at the high priest’s command (Acts 23:2).

The Four Trials of Jesus and Paul
  • Jesus stands on "trial" four times (i.e., before the high priest and the council; Pilate; Herod; Pilate)(Luke 22:54; 23:1; 23:9; Luke 23:11).
  • In Acts, Paul stands on "trial" four times (Sanhedrin; Felix; Festus; Agrippa)(Acts 23; 24; 25; 26).

Thrice Declared Innocent by Gentile Authority
  • Pilate declares Jesus innocent three times (Luke 23:4, 14, 22).
  • Three times the pagan rulers (the king, the governor and Bernice; Festus; and Agrippa) declare Paul innocent (Acts 23:9; 25:25; 26:31).

Before Herod
  • Pilate sends Jesus to Herod for questioning (Luke 23:6-12).
  • Herod hears Paul with permission of Festus (Acts 25:13-26:32).

Rulers set to Release
  • Pilate says he will release Jesus (Luke 23:16, 22).
  • Agrippa says: "This man could have been set free" (Acts 26:32).
To be continued. . .

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Breaking: "More Ancient Manuscripts Recovered!" Let's Just Wait and See. . .

The AP is reporting that seven ancient manuscripts have been recovered by smugglers by Jordanian officials. The press report seems a bit sensationalistic, but here it is with my comments in red:
AMMAN, Jordan – Jordan's archaeology chief says security police have recovered seven ancient manuscripts from local smugglers. [Seven--an appropriately biblical number!]

The writings are part of 70 manuscripts that Jordanian archaeologists discovered five years ago in a cave in the north. [So, 7 out of 70--this is sounding a bit contrived, but, again, we shall see. As Jim Davila points out: here the story claims the manuscripts were found by Jordanian archaeologists. . . but two sentences later this is contradicted!]

Later, they were stolen and most were believed to have been smuggled into Israel. Jordan has demanded Israel return the manuscripts but has gotten no response.

Ziad al-Saad says the manuscripts were reportedly found by a Bedouin. [So which is it? Did the Jordanian archaeologists find these documents or did a Bedouin? This story is not exactly screaming "reliability".] He says the relics could be among the earliest Christian writings in existence but tests are under way to date them and check their authenticity. [Let's wait and see what the tests say. This smacks of sensationalism if I ever heard it.]

Al-Saad said on Tuesday that if verified, the relics could be the most significant find in Christian archaeology since the 1947 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. [Um. . . yeah, see the above comment.]
Okay, everyone. . . breathe.

Understanding the Book of Acts: Part 2--Acts of Jesus & Acts of the Apostles

In the first post of this series I highlighted the unity of Luke-Acts. I emphasized that the two books seem to show us that the ministry of Jesus is continued through his Church. Now I want to begin to move closely through the narrative, highlighting the way this theological truth is underscored.

Indeed, for the reader who knows the Gospel of Luke, Acts is a sort of déjà vu experience. The narrative in Acts virtually replicates what is found in Luke. In sum, as Talbert demonstrates, the life of the Church in Acts mirrors―in often striking ways!―the public life of Christ in Luke. In this post I'll look at the first half of the Book of Acts, highlighting 6 major ways Luke and Acts parallel each other.

1. Baptism and the coming of the Spirit
  • In Luke, Jesus is baptized in the Jordan and, after he prayed, the Holy Spirit comes down upon him in visible form, the form of a dove (Luke 3:22). 
  • In Acts, Jesus’ promise that the disciples will be “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (cf. Acts 1:5) is fulfilled as, after having been gathered in prayer (Acts 1:14), the Spirit comes upon them at Pentecost, appearing over them in visible form, i.e., tongues of fire (Acts 2:1–4).

Monday, April 25, 2011

Understanding the Book of Acts: Part 1--"Why Do You Persecute Me?"

As we begin the Easter season, we turn our attention to the Book of Acts. Here then I thought I'd return to some material I've touched upon here in the past, namely, the link between the ministry of the apostles in the Acts of the Apostles and the life of Christ in the Gospel of Luke.

Indeed, once you see how the ministry of the Church in Acts is linked to that of Christ's in the Gospels--and the parallels are striking--you never look at either book the same way again.

One of my favorite academic monographs on Luke-Acts is written by Charles Talbert's, Literary Patterns, Theological Themes (1974).[1] Here I want to especially highlight the insights offered in this work.

One more thing. . . This is going to be a multi-part series. If you like what you read here, please consider spreading it around - I'd appreciate it.


As most are aware, both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts are attributed to Luke.[2] This is important. The two books are interrelated. Acts is a kind of sequel to the Gospel of Luke. The book relates the history[3] of the early Church beginning with Jesus’ ascension and ending with Paul’s preaching in Rome.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Jesus Didn't Just "Die for Our Salvation": Why He Rose from the Dead

Christ is risen, Alleluia!

But why did he rise from the dead?

Here I want to ask the question and touch on an aspect of the resurrection that is often overlooked, namely, how it relates to our salvation.

Most people know that Jesus died for their sins. But, as we shall see, according to the New Testament Jesus also rose for our salvation. This aspect of the biblical message is often neglected. The emphasis on usually on the cross. In fact, the resurrection for many people doesn't figure into their understanding of salvation very much. For most the resurrection is little more than "confirmation".

Yet a close look at Scripture reveals that the Resurrection is more than that! As Paul makes it clear, if Jesus didn't rise from the dead "your faith would be in vain" (1 Cor 15:14).

The work of salvation did not end at the cross. The Resurrection is part of Christ's work of salvation. Let me explain why.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Look at John's Passion Narrative (John 18-19)

Since in today’s Good Friday liturgy the lectionary turns our attention to the Johannine Passion narrative, I thought I’d revisit a previous post and lay out some thoughts on John 18-19. Upfront I should say that this is by no means an exhaustive commentary. Nonetheless, as a kind of spiritual exercise I thought it would be a good idea to take a closer exegetical look at the text we read today.

The Passion of David & the Passion of Jesus
John 18 begins by telling us “When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples across the Kidron valley, where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered” (18:1). Here there may be an allusion to what we might call the “passion” of David. Most people associate David with conquest and royal triumph. What is often forgotten is that the second half of David’s life involved a great deal of suffering.[1] As Jesus was betrayed by Judas, David was likewise betrayed by someone close to him―Ahithophel. Ahithophel is called “David’s counselor” in 2 Samuel 15:12. We read about David’s flight in 2 Samuel 15:
And all the country wept aloud as all the people passed by, and the king crossed the brook Kidron, and all the people passed on toward the wilderness. But David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered; and all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went… And it was told David, "Ahith'ophel is among the conspirators with Ab'salom." (2 Sam 15:23, 31).
Here we see many parallels with the passion narratives found in John as well as the other Gospels: both cross the Kidron (2 Sam 15:23; John 18:1); both go to the Mount of Olives (2 Sam 15:23; Matt 26:30); both are followed on their way out of Jerusalem by people who weep for them (2 Sam 15:23; Luke 23:27). Later in John’s narrative Jesus will quote from a psalm attributed to David, in which the king described his suffering: “they divide my garments among them, and for my raiment they cast lots” (Ps 22:18). This is the same psalm evoked in the statement of Jesus from the cross quoted by Matthew and Mark: “My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me” (Ps 22:1; Matt 27:46; Mark 15:44). Jesus is a king like David, not in his triumphant military conquests, but through his suffering.

The Arrest of Jesus
John 18:2-12: "Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place; for Jesus often met there with his disciples. 3 So Judas, procuring a band of soldiers and some officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, went there with lanterns and torches and weapons. 4 Then Jesus, knowing all that was to befall him, came forward and said to them, “Whom do you seek?” 5 They answered him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am he.” Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them. 6 When he said to them, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground. 7 Again he asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus of Nazareth.” 8 Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he; so, if you seek me, let these men go.” 9 This was to fulfil the word which he had spoken, “Of those whom thou gavest me I lost not one.” 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The King & the Cross: Jesus' Passion, the Psalms & David

Most people who read the narratives of Christ’s passion and death in the Gospels—especially those who read them today as part of Good Friday services—will note that they are simply saturated with allusions to the Old Testament. Catholics who listen carefully to the Responsorial Psalm read right before the Gospel reading, will especially hear allusions to the psalms when it comes time to hear the account of the passion.

What’s going on here? Why the references to the psalms? Why are they so important to the Gospel writers as they record Jesus’ final hours?

The importance of the allusions to the psalms in the passion narrative should not be overlooked. Time and time again, the Gospel writers describe Jesus’ suffering by alluding first and foremost—not to Isaiah, Daniel, or any of the other prophets—but to the psalms. 

The Hallel Psalms and the Last Supper

The Psalm reading for tonight's Liturgy of the Lord's Supper is one of my favorites, Psalm 116, which is a Todah psalm and part of the "Hallel" (Praise) Psalms (Psalms 113-118) that were and are traditionally sung during the Passover meal.

I've reading slightly different opinions among scholars about how exactly the Hallel psalms were incorporated into the ancient Seder celebration.  According to one view, Psalms 113-114 were sung early in the rite, and Psalms 115-118 after the drinking of the third cup, the "Cup of Blessing."

Was There a Passover Lamb at the Last Supper?

Today, Catholics everywhere will celebrate Holy Thursday by attending the Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper. At this Mass, we will read the institution of the Passover (Exod 12, OT reading), sing one of the most famous of the Hallel Psalms (Psalm 118, Responsorial Psalm), and then read the institution of the Eucharist (1 Cor 11, Epistle) and  Jesus' act of washing the disciples' feet at the Last Supper (John 13, Gospel).  This particular Eucharist is a momentous liturgical moment, where we both recall the institution of the very first Eucharist and enter into the beginning of the calendrical Holy of Holies--the sacred Triduum, climaxing in the feast of Easter (in Latin, Pascha).

Was the Last Supper a Passover Meal?

But how did Jesus and his disciples celebrate the first Holy Thursday? Specifically, was the Last Supper a Jewish Passover meal?

As anyone who has read Pope Benedict's new book, Jesus of Nazareth: Holy Week will know, the Pope devotes a substantial portion of his chapter on the Last Supper to the question of the date of the meal--specifically, whether or not the Last Supper coincided with the ordinary Jewish Passover meal (see pp. 106-115). And as anyone familiar with this extremely complex and age-old question knows, there is simply no way I can address it here adequately.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Petrine Primacy in the New Testament (Part 1)

For some time now, Joel has engaged in some very balanced and thoughtful interaction with Catholic authors and issues over at his blog. In particular, I've enjoyed reading his posts on Pope Benedict's books and Scott Hahn's work. Recently he has taken up Matthew 16. I'd like to respond to a few elements in his post, specifically, the issue of Petrine primacy.

Joel writes: 
"Further, even in the early Church, we do not see the primacy of Peter suggested, not at least for a few centuries. Even then, both Cyprian and Irenaeus made their own apologies against the primacy of Peter, with one under the rule of Rome!"
Here I want to loo at these claims more carefully. 

Why Must the Messiah Die?

Why must the Messiah die?

Despite a few mysterious prophetic texts that seemed to intimate this possibility (e.g. Daniel 9:26), the idea that the Messiah could arrive and subsequently be killed was radically counter-intuitive to most first-century Jews. 

Yet the conviction of the early Christians, based on Jesus of Nazareth’s own teachings about himself, was that the radically counter-intuitive impossibility was actually prophesied, if one had the eyes to see and the ears to hear it in Israel’s Scriptures.

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Virgin No Longer: The NABRE continued

I'm trying to follow up, as promised, on the newly released NABRE.

Of course, the change that has garnered the most attention has been the alteration of the translation of Isaiah 7:14, to which my post title alludes.  I want to cover that issue in depth, probably in my next post on this subject.

For now, though, I would like to concentrate on what I see as good features and improvements of this edition.

After ripping open the packaging and checking the translation of Genesis 1:1-2, the next passage I checked was Psalm 8.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

You Gotta Love Rising from the Dead

Michael beat me to commenting on the Sunday readings this week, but I had written up some thoughts already, so I thought I’d post them anyway.

Unlike the other Gospels, John recounts only a limited number of miracles of Jesus, which he designates as “signs.”  Although John tells us of only a few miracles, he describes them in much greater depth than the other gospels.  This is quite evident in this weekend’s Gospel reading, in which we get a very lengthy description of all the events surrounding the resurrection of Lazarus.

The the Raising of Lazarus is the sixth of the seven “signs” of the Gospel of John.  The signs seem to escalate as the Gospel progresses.  The healing of the man born blind was pretty impressive, but raising Lazarus tops it.  The Gospel is building toward the seventh and final sign.

The First Reading is an excellent choice: Ezekiel 37.  This is the famous vision of the dry bones, in which an entire army of skeletons is resurrected before Ezekiel’s eyes.  I only wish the Lectionary included the entire story.  However, it does preserve the most important verse:

Friday, April 08, 2011

Lazarus, Resurrection & Restoration: Thoughts on John 11 (Sunday's Gospel)

Sunday's Gospel reading is taken from John 11, the story of the raising of Lazarus. Much could be said about it. A while back I ran some thoughts on the story. I thought I'd revisit them here.

Jesus Waited Until Lazarus Died

Right at the beginning of the story we read: "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go into Judea again” (John 11:5-7).

The logic doesn't really seem to follow here. Jesus loves Lazarus and so when he hears he is ill . . . he remains where he is. He did not immediately rush to his side! It seems that Jesus, knowing what he is about to do, deliberately lags behind so that he will arrive after Lazarus has died.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Presenting a Paper for the Matthew Section at SBL

I got word this week that the paper I proposed for the Matthew section at this year's annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature was accepted. Here's the abstract:
Jesus’ Teaching on the Law, Deuteronomic Concessions and Eschatological Righteousness: A Re-examination of the Teaching on Divorce and Remarriage in Matthew 5:31–32
In the Sermon on the Mount we find Matthew’s most explicit account of Jesus’ teaching about his relationship to the Law. However, as is well known, Matthew’s report of Jesus’ teaching is particularly difficult to follow. In 5:17, Jesus insists that he has not come to “abolish” the Torah. Yet the teachings that immediately follow this, the so-called “antitheses” (5:21–48), appear to do just that, i.e., they appear to nullify the Law. While some of the antitheses may be understood in terms of an intensification of the demands of the Torah (e.g., lust as adultery in 5:27–30), others are harder to explain along those lines. One particularly notable example is Jesus’ equation of divorce and remarriage with adultery (5:31–32). The Law in fact allows for divorce and remarriage (cf. Deut 24:1–4). It is difficult then to see Jesus’ teaching on this matter as merely an intensification of the Law’s requirements; Jesus is here explicitly prohibiting something the Torah clearly permits! Is there any way to explain this apparent problem? This paper proposes a solution. As many Old Testament scholars now recognize (e.g., Goldingay), Deuteronomy appears to have been understood as a kind of “lower law”, making concessions that are absent in the previous covenant legislation (e.g., profane slaughter, cf. Deut 12:15–25 with Lev 17:1–4). In fact, recently some have demonstrated that it is likely Ezekiel had precisely these types of concessions in view when he declared that God gave Israel “laws that were not good” (Ezek 20:25; Hahn, Bergsma). Is Matthew’s Jesus aware that certain laws were seen as concessions to sinfulness? Did he therefore expect to reinstitute the stricter standards of holiness they abrogated? Here we may find an important key that helps to better explicate Jesus’ view of Torah-righteousness in Matthew 5.
The paper builds upon work I did in a section of my dissertation, which analyzed Jesus' view of the cult in the Sermon on the Mount.

I am grateful for the opportunity to present this paper and I looking forward to the conference. I have not yet heard who else is on the panel or what other papers will be read.

Anointed with Light: Jesus Re-creates a Man

The drama increases as we progress toward Easter.  This Sunday’s readings are united by the themes of anointing and light.

The First Reading (1 Sam 16:1-13) recounts Samuel’s anointing of David as King over Israel.  Samuel journeys to Jesse of Bethlehem, and scrutinizes each of his sons in search of God’s chosen king, but to no avail.  Finally, the youngest of the eight, David, is called in from shepherding the sheep.  This at last is the future king.

(Visit Bethlehem with me in May!  Click here.)

Two points are essential for connecting this reading with the rest of the lectionary.

First is the LORD’s statement to Samuel: “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart.”  The irony of today’s Gospel Reading will likewise hinge on the fact that appearances are deceiving: from God’s perspective, the sighted are blind, but the blind can see.

Friday, April 01, 2011

The "Discovery" is a Fake: Another Triumph for Biblioblogging

I'm only just getting back in the saddle after having been in Rome for the past two weeks teaching a class, but I had to comment on the supposed "discovery" John posted on earlier this week. His call for caution was wise.

Long story short, after further investigation it is now clear that these "newly" found "documents" are fakes--and the world has the biblioblogosphere for revealing that.

While media reports have sensationalized the story, academic bloggers have been slowly picking this apart. Mark Goodacre has an excellent round up. See also James McGrath's post.

How do we know the discovery is a fraud? Well, for one thing, as Peter Thonemann at Oxford has pointed out, the Greek text was written by someone who apparently doesn't know the Greek alphabet! Most amusingly, the writing mixes up the Lambda (the Greek "L") and the Alpha (the Greek "A"). Not a very promising sign of authenticity!

So. . . we can all move on now. Of course, don't hold your breath for the retractions.