Monday, April 26, 2010

Corpus Coranicum in the Boston Globe

I have fallen behind with the developments in Qur'anic scholarship, but there is some good news out there. The Boston Globe has a piece on developments within Qur'anic studies regarding a critical edition of the Qur'an and the Corpus Coranicum project:
But, drawing on some of the earliest Korans in existence — codices found in Istanbul, Cairo, Paris, and Morocco — the Corpus Coranicum will allow users to study for themselves images of thousands of pages of early Korans, texts that differ in small but potentially telling ways from the modern standard version. The project will also link passages in the text to analogous ones in the New Testament and Hebrew Bible, and offer an exhaustive critical commentary on the Koran’s language, structure, themes, and roots. The project’s creators are calling it the world’s first “critical edition” of the Koran, a resource that gathers historical evidence and scholarly literature into one searchable, cross-referenced whole.

I have to say, it is about time. Relying on poor quality facsimilies, undocumented or private manuscript fragments, and few critical commentaries by mid 20th century orientalists such as Arthur Jeffery has, in my opinion, left critical Qur'anic studies waiting.
In 2008 I wrote a piece on texutal criticism of the Koran, documenting variants within two ayat across two major textual tradition streams and various Tafsir (commentaries). That did not go down well with Muslim apologists and I received a number of threats leading to me removing the page. I can only imagine the reaction by Muslim apologists to such a large scale project, no matter how neutral the project's aims.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

History and Biblical studies - a short rant

What has fascinated me is how little it is argued we can know about the authors of the gospels. Many scholars are content to argue that the gospels were formally anonymous and as Sanders suggests, the titles began to "suddenly appear about the year 180". On the other side of the debate there are a number of Evangelical scholars (Craig L. Blomberg is an example, or pickup an Evangelical commentary) that argue on the basis of various traditions that traditional authorship is historically plausible. Similarly, Martin Hengel in his The Four Gospels and the One Gospel of Jesus Christ makes a sound case in this regard. However, I am sure I have been conditioned to regard such views with scepticism as they would, God forbid, confirm orthodoxy. I know this view would lose favour with many scholars by its very nature, as one can never be too sceptical of the orthodox tradition.

However, my question is where this scepticism goes when approaching the extracanonical literature. The way Crossan talks of how Thomas was originally collected under the authority of James the brother of Jesus, and then in Edessa a second layer was added under the authority of Thomas does bedazzle me. Maybe I am simple minded but the evidence brought together for a conservative approach to gospel authorship seems so much more historically sound than the cryptic readings of sayings 12 and 13 of Thomas or the secret source behind the Gospel of Peter and how they produce a primary layer that can circumvent the canonical sources (well, except Q which we can easily circumvent by applying our circular criteria that proves that the early layer we expected to find was in fact the early layer!)

Although probably not the best example provided above, it appears that at many times 'conservatives' seem to care more about the historical evidence than their 'liberal' counterparts. I do not expect anyone to agree with me, but my approach to early Christianity and Jesus studies from within the context of an ancient history department (and law school but we don't talk about that) has me seeing evangelical NT scholarship as something that shouldn't be pushed to the periphery for ideological presumptions but seriously considered. Then again, it may just be that I have read some of the better scholars from the conservative side and am just so frustrated at hypothetical redactions of everything to support Jesus as cynic sage. Or it is that the more I read Davies, Koester, Crossan, Mack, Robinson, et al the more delusional I get about where scholarship stands and I artificially believe that conservative, and even mainstream, scholarship is ignored.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Jesus: Man or Myth aka Dan Barker v Chris Forbes Debate Audio

Here (and here) is the audio recording of the debate between Dan Barker and Dr Chris Forbes on the historicity of Jesus which took place on March 16th. I am still waiting for word on the video recording, however, they sound lively enough to keep your attention for 2 hours.

NB: The audio clears up after the first few minutes

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Implications of the "Jewishness" of Jesus within the Third Quest

Sorry to those of you who were expecting something serious. Click here if you cannot be bothered to wait for the show to start again.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Christos Anesti!!!

...and happy Easter!
When the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint him. 2 And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. 3 And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?” 4 And looking up, they saw that the stone had been rolled back— it was very large. 5 And entering the tomb, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. 6 And he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. 7 But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” 8 And they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid.
Mark 16:1-8 (ESV)