Thanks to all those who have been reading this blog for the last couple of years. Counting my last blog, I have been involved in the biblioblogging world for about 5 or so years, which is not as long as some of the veterans but seems crazy to me when I reflect back on it. I am not calling it quits, but I am just going to put it aside for some time while I concentrate on finishing my thesis and trying to sort out my life plans and I don’t need another excuse to procrastinate. I hope to return to blogging in the “near” future…
My copy has not yet arrived, but I think it is now out so I thought I would promote it. Here is the link to my recent article “The Flawed Evangelist (John) Mark: A Neglected Clue to the Reception of Mark’s Gospel in Luke-Acts?” Neotestamentica 46 (2012): 244-259. In this article I argue: 1) the writer of Luke-Acts may have been aware of the association of Mark with Paul/Barnabas from the Pauline letters as well as later tradition about Mark as the interpreter of Peter (“Luke” seems to share otheroral traditions in common with Papias of Hierapolis that could have been circulating around Asia Minor at this time), 2) this may be a clue to the somewhat critical reception of the Gospel of Mark in Luke-Acts and especially Luke’s stated aim to replace his predecessors (e.g., Mark) with a more “orderly” account. If you are interested in reception history, the Synoptic Problem, Papias, and the New Testament references to a figure named Mark, you may be interested. I also noticed fellow blogger Rob Kashow happens to be published in the same journal on an intertextual relationship of John and Ecclesiastes here.
HT to Jim West and Joel Watts for mentioning this, there is free access to SAGE journals during November. My article “The True Covenant People: Ethnic Reasoning in the Epistle of Barnabas” Studies in Religion/Sciences Religieuses 40 (2011): 81-97 is thus available for free if anyone is interested in Jewish/Christian relations and in how the author of Barnabas used “ethnic reasoning” (cf. Denise Buell, Why this New Race?) to distinguish Christians as a people from the Jewish people. I have since written an article for future publication from the Bible, Zionism and Palestine Conference that elaborates on Buell’s views on ethnic reasoning in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho the Jew (in addition to terminology like ethnos/laos/genos/”new Israel” and descent language I look at praxis and land claims) and updates the discussion on ancient ethnicity (e.g., Love L. Seachrest, A Former Jew: Paul and the Dialectics of Race; David Horrell, “‘Race’, ‘Nation’, ‘People’: Ethnic Identity Construction in 1 Peter 2:9“) and on translating Ioudaios (Jew/Judaean) (while I remain convinced that what we call ”ethnicity” and “religion” were intertwined in the ancient world, I have changed my mind on changing our nomenclature to “Judaean” as I have become concerned it may overemphasize the criterion of land and erase the continuity between ancient and modern Jews). My concern in both is to criticize a hidden supersessionism under the guise of liberation theology that contrasts the ”ethnocentrism” of Judaism with the “universalism” of Christianity, overlooking ethnic claims on the ancestors/land/covenantal status of Israel within the Christian tradition, and to ask how the idea of ethnic election in both traditions has been a positive and negative force in the world.
I realized not too long ago when someone wanted to email me in response to one of my blog posts that the link to my contact details was broken. The Sheffield Biblical Studies Website has since updated its page on current staff and research students, so I have updated my About section with the link to my own page (in case anyone is interested in my research, would like to contact me about a post or to write a guest post or wants to inquire about the PhD program in Sheffield, etc). I am about to spend a few months at the University of Leipzig for research purposes so the next post (whenever that will be) will be coming to you live from Germany
Since James Crossley, Jim West and James McGrath have already mentioned the new edition of Relegere, I want to add that my review of The African Memory of Mark is also published in it. Overall I greatly appreciated how it introduces readers to the fascinating developments about the evangelist “Mark” as the first bishop of Alexandria and martyr, though I lay out my case for why I believe the author could be more critical with the later sources and why I am not persuaded about a historical core behind these traditions. I am grateful to Relegere and my friend Deane Galbraith for letting me have the opportunity to review such an interesting book, so let me know what you think of the review.
Every year there is a student conference hosted by the Universities of Sheffield, Manchester or Durham. I have really enjoyed participating the last 2 years as it is a chance to meet a variety of scholars and students and each institution has its own strengths and research interests so it makes for great discussion. At it on Monday I presented on “Papias and the Four Canonical Gospels” where I looked at the question of whether Papias’s traditions on the evangelists Mark and Matthew (as quoted in Eusebius, H.E. 3.39.15-16) were meant in reference to canonical “Mark” or “Matthew” and whether there is evidence that Papias also knew the Gospels of Luke and John even though there is no explicit tradition on the latter in the surviving citations of Papias (unless Charles E. Hill is right on a New Papian Fragment). In my view, I think it is more probable than not that Papias was intending to refer to some version of our “Gospels according to Mark/Matthew,” despite issues with the (mistaken?) tradition that Matthew originally wrote in a Hebrew (Aramaic?) dialect, but that the evidence put forward by some scholars for knowledge of Luke and John is inconclusive at best. I received some great questions afterwards and most rewarding of all got the chance to discuss some of my ideas on Papias with Dr. Francis Watson who has recently worked on the fourfold Gospel canon.
A number of other papers caught my attention. One student looked at how to interpret Johannine language that suggests believers will be incorporated into the “divine identity” (borrowed from Richard Bauckham). Another looked at the parable of the tenants in the Gospel of Matthew and Thomas and, avoiding the archaelogical question of the independence or dependence of Thomas, instead addressed the meaning of the parable in the literary context of each and how this impacts on its meaning whether as a christological allegory or a critique of the desire for wealth. Other papers looked at the feminine imagery of Babylon in the book of Revelation in light of other sapiental texts, the historical Jesus’ threats of eternal judgment on the rich as a very unpalatable figure for scholarship in a modern capitalist context, at the possible authenticity of Lk 22:43-44 where Jesus sweats drops of blood against a text critic such as Bart Ehrman who finds it a later interpolation, at an ecclesiological reading of “all Israel” in Romans 11, on the interaction of Greek and Roman culture in Corinth and so on. Whether I agreed or disagreed with any of the papers, there was much food for thought.
Happy Good Friday and Easter!
“For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”- Mark 10:45
It has been quiet here on the blogging front, but this last week I got the chance to leave the internet and University-related work behind to have fun travelling in Rome with a group from the Department (perhaps I will post pictures on this post as soon as I can tag them on Facebook or at least the one where I got to rub the foot of the statue of St. Peter for good luck ). I will return to the Passion Narrative in the posts leading up to Good Friday & Easter, but there were a couple of things that struck me from this trip that I thought worth posting. First, in light of all the controversy over the so-called latest Jesus Discovery, I found it fascinating to explore some of the catacombs and see the depiction in Christian art of Jonah and the sea monster as it is described by Prof. Robin Jensen. Second, we got to see the magnificent St. Peter’s Basilica where Peter is allegedly buried and hear the evidence put forward for the claim. In discussions about the authorship and provenance of the Gospel I have been a bit more skeptical about the patristic tradition on Mark as the interpreter of Peter for his hearers in Rome (e.g., explicitly Clement of Alexandria, in Eusebius, H.E. 6.14.5-7). However, there is the larger debate about the historical reliability of the tradition of Peter’s ministry and martyrdom in the capital of the Empire. Regardless of which side one falls on the historical question, there is no doubt that the tradition performs a powerful legitimating function for those who claim their descent from a stable line of apostolic succession. Let me know what you think about whether Peter went to Rome? For a short bibliography:
- Bauckham, Richard. “The Martyrdom of Peter in Early Christian Literature.” in ANRW 2.26.1 (1992).
- Bockmuehl, Markus. “Peter’s Death in Rome? Back to Front and Upside Down.” Scottish Journal of Theology 60 (2007): 1-23; The Remembered Peter: In Ancient Reception and Modern Debate. Mohr/Siebeck, 2010.
- Cullman, Oscar. Peter: Disciple, Apostle, Martyr. SCM Press, 1953.
- Goulder, Michael. ’Did Peter Ever Go to Rome?’ Scottish Journal of Theology 57 (2004): 377–96.
- Lapham, Fred. Peter: The Myth, the Man and the Writings. London and New York: T&T Clark, 2004.
- Perkins, Pheme. Peter: Apostle For the Whole Church. Fortress, 2000.
- Zwierlein, Otto. Petrus in Rom: die literarischen Zeugnisse. Mit einer kritischen Edition der Martyrien des Petrus und Paulus auf neuer handschriftlicher Grundlage. Untersuchungen zur antiken Literatur und Geschichte, Bd. 96. Walter de Gruyter, 2009. (RBL review, Bryn Mawr Classical Review)
- Interesting article online here
Added some items to my Student Resources including The GospelofMark.net (another blog recently started on Mark with a few posts, bibliography, a lectionary reading schedule), a useful bibliography at NT Resources, the top 5 commentaries according to Ligonier Ministries and Useful Mark Reviews on RBL. If you know of any other academic resources on Mark online that would be helpful for the beginning student, the minister preaching on Mark or just any interested layperson, I would love to include them on this site.
I am interested in the evolution of the traditions attached to the “Gospel according to Mark.” Hence, my paper for London SBL will look at some of the earliest references to the figure of Mark, focussing particularly on 1 Peter 5:13. I will focus on John Mark in the book of Acts at San Francisco SBL (H.T. Pat McCullough for letting us all know the program book is now online). So here are the details if anyone is interested in coming to London (and since Ehrman put out another best-seller on the issues of authorship and pseudonymity, that should attract people to come to this session, right? :) )
Pastoral and Catholic Epistles
8:30 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: 2.40 – Franklin Wilkins
Felix H. Cortez, Universidad de Montemorelos, Presiding
David M. Parker, Alphacrucis
The Symbolic Universe of 1 Peter (25 min)
Michael Kok, University of Sheffield
From Paul’s Fellow Worker to Peter’s Son: The Function of “Mark” in the Pseudonymous Framework of 1 Peter (25 min)
David Burge, Union Bible Theological College, Mongolia
Peter’s Place in 2 Peter: Some Hermeneutical Implications of the Authorship Debate (25 min)
Break (30 min)
Lilly Nortje-Meyer, University of Johannesburg
Effeminacy as Vilification Technique: A Comparison Between 2 Peter 2 and the Letter of Jude (25 min)
Michel Gourgues, Collège Universitaire Dominicain, Ottawa
The Research on the Pastorals at a Turning Point (25 min)
Clinton Wahlen, Biblical Research Institute
“…the Scripture Speaks against Envy”: Another Look at James 4:5 (25 min)
And here is my abstract:
Although a minority of scholars continue to defend the authenticity of 1 Peter, John Elliott’s thesis that the epistle was the product of a Petrine circle in Rome which included Silvanus and Mark (1 Pet 5:12-13) has garnered widespread support. However, David Horrell has issued a direct challenge to this theory. He observes that the epistle does not appear to be particularly “Petrine” but rather represents an amalgamation of diverse traditions that came together in the late first century Roman Christian community. It is understandable why a pseudonymous Christian writer would seek to legitimate his or her own work by ascribing it to an authoritative apostolic figure from the past, but the role of Mark (and Silvanus) as part of the pseudonymous framework of the epistle needs to be critically explored. Through a critical sifting of the earlier and later sources on “Mark,” this paper argues that Mark was transformed from a minor co-worker of Paul (Phlm 24; Col 4:10; 2 Tim 4:11) into a close associate of Peter in 1 Peter 5:13. The ideological agenda behind the placement of Mark under the aegis of the figurehead of the centrist Christian congregation in Rome, the Apostle Peter, was to construct Mark as a symbol of unity between the Pauline and Petrine factions of the early Jesus movement, a development that coincides with the depiction of John Mark in the Acts of the Apostles and the emerging tradition on the evangelist Mark in Papias (H.E. 3.39.15).