Saturday, March 20, 2010

Biblical Scholars are NOT comedians

Reading through the content list of Jesus and the Restoration of Israel: A Critical Assessment of N.T. Wright's Jesus and the Victory of God ed. Carey C. Newman does make this abundantly clear. The puns on Wright and right; or trying to work something into "Jesus and the Victory of God" are just unbearable. Here are the best:
  • The Wright Stuff: A Critical Overview of Jesus and the Victory of God - Craig Blomberg
  • The (W)Right Jesus: Eschatological Prophet, Israel's Messiah, Yahweh Embodied - Paul R. Eddy
  • Jesus & the Victory of Apocalyptic - Dale C. Allison (what does that even mean?)

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


I received a letter giving me notice that I will be receiving two awards from the
  • Society for the Study of Early Christianity, and
  • Australian Centre for Egyptology
There will be an award ceremony early in April. Needless to say that I am excited!

Historicity of Jesus Debate - In Summary!

Update: Audio recording now  available here.

I just got back from the debate between Dr Chris Forbes and Dan Barker on the historicity of Jesus. My oh my, it was funny!

In summary:

1. Copied from Pagan Gods.
  • Barker: Jesus was "cut from the same cloth" as every other Greaco-Roman God-Man. Like all these over deities/heroes  *insert name here of any character you have heard of*, Jesus was born of a virgin, had followers, died at the hands of the political elite,  physically rose again and ascended into heaven.
  • Forbes: Do you have any examples of this?
  • Barker: Many.
  • Forbes: Who?
  • Barker: Others.
 2. Evidence.

  • Barker: There is no evidence for Jesus' life outside of the NT in the first century.
  • Forbes: Firstly, the NT sources should count as evidence - but there are sources like Josephus. Although the larger passage shows evidence of later Christian changes.
  • Barker: So Christians were manufacturing evidence for Jesus as you yourself admit!
3. Philo

  • Barker: (In revisiting the evidence outside the NT). Philo doesn't mention anything about Jesus.
  • Forbes: Philo was not a historian nor was he writing a history, and I can't see why him not mentioning an obscure figure works against his historicity...
  • Barker: He was Philo the Judaean.
  • Forbes: Yes, but he was from Alexandria. Have you read Philo?
  • Barker: Very little...I rely on secondary scholarship.
When the video is available you will have something a bit clearer than this caricature.

    Thursday, March 11, 2010

    Finally! Since hearing from Matt Evans' interview with Richard Bauckham that he was going to start his own website, I have been eagerly waiting. However, as it was falling into the back of my mind my reader came up with good news! As some of you may have guessed, Richard Bauckham is one of those scholars who has greatly influenced my thinking and is probably responsible for my mildly eccentric understanding of the Gospel of John.

    Anyway, leave my junk behind and click over!

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    More on Dan Barker?

    lUpdate: Audio recording of the debate is available here.

    Could it be? Dan Barker is going to be debating the historicity of Jesus with ancient historian and NT scholar Dr Chris Forbes at Macquarie University? Why the question marks? Because the topic is yet to be announced, but I have quite the suspicion that this is the topic. Barker has promoted the pseudo-historical theory in his book and debates, and Chris Forbes has had a go at the theory as promoted in the infamous Zeitgeist.

    Chris Forbes:
    Dr Chris Forbes is a Senior Lecturer in Ancient History, and Deputy Chairman of the Society for the Study of Early Christianity. His fields of research and teaching focus on New Testament history, Alexander the Great and Hellenistic history, Graeco-Roman History of Ideas and the intersection of early Christianity and Graeco-Roman culture. His current research is in the field of the relationship between religion and philosophy in Graeco-Roman thought. He gained his BA (Hons I) Dip.Ed. in Ancient History at Macquarie in 1978, and his PhD in Ancient History in 1987. He has taught at Macquarie in various positions since 1985, full time since 1987, and was appointed Senior Lecturer in 2001. He is a member of the Society for Biblical Literature and the Tyndale Fellowship.[source]
    Dan Barker is a former Christian evangelist now turned atheist. For his profile see here.

    Ugly Car of the...moment?

    Now, I don't have a personal grudge against ugly cars but when they are multimillion dollar cars it does pain me. The car that comes to mind is the Koenigsegg CCX. I hadn't heard of it before until I saw it while car shopping with my dad, but here is the ulgy thing:

    The front view isn't the worst, but the back is so very tacky (especially in ugly orange).

    For a fraction of the price (yet still outrageous) I would prefer a Ferrari, which brings us to the highlight of that day:

    Test driving a Ferrari 360 Modena.

    Tuesday, March 2, 2010

    The Lost Gospel - Prologue

    I just really like the prologue. I disagree with it up and down, but that doesn't change the amazement I have at the surreal eccentricity of it:

    Once upon a time, before there were gospels of the kind familiar to readers of the New Testament, the first followers of Jesus wrote another kind of book. Instead of telling a dramatic story about Jesus' life, their book contained only his teachings. They lived with these teachings ringing in their ears and thought of Jesus as the founder of their movement. But their focus was not on the person of Jesus or his life and destiny. They were engrossed with the social program that was called for by his teachings. Thus their book was not a gospel of the Christian kind, namely a narrative of the life of Jesus as the Christ. Rather it was a gospel of Jesus' sayings, a "sayings gospel." His first followers arranged these sayings in a way that offered instruction for living creatively in the midst of a most confusing time, and their book served them well as a handbook and guide for most of the first Christian century.

    Then the book was lost. Perhaps the circumstances changed, or the people changed, or their memories and imagination of Jesus changed. In any case, the book was lost to history somewhere in the course of the late first century when stories of Jesus' life began to be written and became the more popular form of charter document for early Christian circles.  (Burton L. Mack, The Lost Gospel: The Book of Q and Christian Origins.)
    It's just so a matter of fact. The once upon a time, this is what really happened line. Always makes for a good book!

    In related news, on the Cynic thesis I have finally started with F. Gerald Downing (see books such as Cynics and Christian Origins). I must say, he is far more convincing a proponent than Crossan and Mack!