Joining NASSCAL’s Board of Directors and Westar’s Fellows

Heard yesterday from Tony Burke at York University (Canada) that I’ve been voted onto the Board of Directors as a Member-at-Large for the North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature starting this Fall. NASSCAL has been an intellectual home for a significant amount of my scholarship. It’s been especially delightful to see the eClavis Digital Humanities project (co-developed by me, Tony, and Brad Rice) take root and flourish as a leading, trusted source of academic knowledge for Christian fictions/legends. Tony’s tireless work and the formation of an editorial board of experts have made all the difference. I’m looking forward to participating in the governance of this academic association and seeing what the future holds!

Heard today that my application to become a Fellow of the Westar Institute was accepted. While the organization is new to me, many of its members are friends, including Dennis MacDonald at Claremont and Ben Hubbard here at Fullerton. David Galston graciously allowed me to organize a Westar session at SBL in Denver in 2018, and it looks like David and I might be able to bring together a Westar session on the Gospel of Marcion and Q at SBL 2021. I’m honored to be part of this group of scholars committed to honesty, rigor, public transparency, humanistic inclusivity and inter-religious peer-review in scholarship about sacred texts and traditions.

The First Gospel (LODLIB v1.42 release notes)

This week’s edition releases a major update to the internal Data Dictionary to include a Discourse Analysis and Rhetorical Techniques section (DD 1.3) that builds on the work of Stephen H. Levinsohn for the BART (Biblical Analysis and Research Tool) project. Initial findings from my comparison of Discourse Analysis features in GMarc and canonical Luke, along with cumulative findings from the other sections, have now brought our list of distinctive vocal features demonstrating Statistically Significant Variance between Lk1 and Lk2 to over a hundred. I have thus strengthened our proofs for the Schwegler hypothesis that GMarc is an earlier version of Luke with over a thousand different data points. Essentially, I’ve now scientifically clarified the distinct voice of the editor of canonical Luke in contrast to its sources for the first time in history.

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SBL Proposal Accepted for Digital Humanities section: Introducing LODLIBs

Got confirmation of acceptance of a second paper this morning. Thank you to the session chairs (Garrick Allen and Paul Dilley) and the review committee for the opportunity to present this research.

Title: Introducing Linked Open Data Living Informational Books

Abstract: In a recent article, Claire Clivaz surveys the rise of VREs (Virtual Research Environments) that allow for scientific hypothesis-driven, iterative, and collaborative research in the Humanities. In this presentation, we propose a new kind of VRE, the Linked Open Data Living Informational Book or LODLIB, essentially a scientific hypothesis-driven iterative digital codex. LODLIBs follow the structure of scientific articles (introduction, materials and methods, results, discussion), leverage international Linked Open Data standards (unique and interconnected DOIs), rely on non-commercial Open Science repositories, include internal data dictionaries and lexicographical resources, embed datasets and code within the digital book, invite global open peer-review and collaboration, and allow for cycles of continuous improvement characteristic of agile software and systems development. Essentially, the LODLIB reimagines the codex as human- and machine-readable software, bringing together research and publishing, the Sciences and the Humanities. The LODLIB format inverts the power- and economic relationships between academic authors and publishers, opens academic discourse to the global public, allows for rich analytics about readership and citations, and has the potential to make monographs and compilations go viral in online environments. The conclusion will relate the story of the presenter’s prototyping of the LODLIB format to propose and realize a new, scientific solution to Q and the Synoptic Problem.

Subjects: Computer-Assisted Research | Historical Criticism | Lexicography

SBL Proposal Accepted on Orestes Myth in the Canonical Acts of the Apostles

Got confirmation of acceptance this morning. Thank you to the session chairs (Eric Vanden Eykel and Christy Cobb) and the review committee for the opportunity to present this research.

Title: Murder, Madness, Mending, Mission, Mates, Mars Hill, and Mob Justice: The Characterization of Paul as a New Orestes in the Canonical Acts of the Apostles

Abstract: While myth critics have thoroughly explored the influence of Euripides’ Bacchae on the canonical Acts, the potential influence of his Orestes (in tandem with his twin Iphigenia plays), as well as Aeschylus’ Oresteia has gone overlooked. Here we outline the sagas of Orestes and the Paul of Acts in parallel: guilty of murder, subjected to religious madness, mended to health by a friend, sent on a divine mission, accompanied by faithful travel-mates, making a speech of self-defense on the Areopagus, and narrowly escaping mob execution at a major center of Artemis worship. Besides these parallel plot-lines, we detail numerous ways in which the Pauline narrative exhibits hallmark literary and thematic features of Greek drama and novels, such as the transformation of the hero’s character, the contrast of folly and wisdom, the negotiation of Greek and non-Greek identity, the inevitability of the divine will as mused by the narrator, and deus ex machina pivot points and resolutions. Finally, we seek to divine the purpose of such mythical characterization: providing meaningful cultural analogues to scaffold readerly understanding; referencing commonplace cultural iconography; engaging in entertainment characteristic of novelistic fiction; engendering Roman sympathy for Jews committed to pacifism; repositioning Jewish aniconism as a form of Greek philosophy; embracing the philhellenic policies of Hadrian; invoking the foundational Greek etiology of trial law to apply to Jesus-followers; and forming a literary-mythological foundation for Pauline hero cult. NB for evaluators: Anna Lefteratou is not an SBL member but she will co-author this presentation and may co-present, depending on future commitments.

Donation Pledge for Dasani Bottles Being Given out to Georgia Voters

Activists are right to call out major Atlanta-based companies like Coca-Cola to oppose the sick and disgusting efforts of the illegitimate GA gubernatorial occupant Brian Kemp (god damn him) and his white supremacist, plantation-nostalgic ilk (god damn them) to disenfranchise minority and white working-class voters.

I’m pledging $1000 to any voting rights organization in Georgia that:

  1. promises to hand out only Dasani water bottles (the top-selling water bottle brand, owned by Coca-Cola) to voters waiting in line in future elections
  2. demands that Coca-Cola upgrades its goals to move to 100% of their plastic bottles to recycled materials within 5 years

#strategicpressureforthecommongood

The First Gospel (LODLIB v1.41 release notes)

This week’s edition has incremental improvements over the last addition, some new additions to the Comparative Restoration and Data Dictionary, and spelling and grammatical corrections throughout. Finalizing my forthcoming co-authored Harvard Theological Review article on Iphigenia, Librarian duties and home responsibilities have all made work on the First Gospel book slower going than usual, but I’m hoping to get back in the groove of uploading an updated edition each week.

On a related, very positive note, I recently received complementary review copies of Matthias Klinghardt’s freshly published two volume work: The Oldest Gospel (Leuven: Peeters, 2021), which I’m reviewing for the Brill journal Vigiliae Christianae. Thank you to Peeters and to the editor(s) at Brill for this opportunity.

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Contemporizing the Classics: A Guessing Game

If I told you a story with the following plot-lines:

  1. once upon a time, there was a royal brother and sister who were long separated from each other
  2. with the help of a male friend, the brother escaped from death and went on a distant journey
  3. the sister became the guardian of an object of special importance
  4. the sister was trapped in an ominous center of death
  5. the brother and male friend were captured and brought to that place of death
  6. the siblings were thus finally reunited, but they still did not recognize each other
  7. the siblings and their friend were joined together in a common mission under supernatural guidance
  8. the siblings and their friend narrowly escaped death after being pursued by an evil ruler

…would you say that you know the story? The author? Are you sure?

And if I told you another story with these plot-lines:

  1. once upon a time, there was a man and his faithful male companion who fled from danger and embarked on an adventure
  2. their quest took them on a distant journey to find and steal a sacred artifact
  3. that sacred artifact was kept in an ominous temple devoted to the god of death where gruesome human sacrifices were done
  4. the two male travelers were unexpectedly joined by a female on their adventure
  5. the adventurers were captured and were on the verge of being sacrificed
  6. the group of three together escaped the temple with the sacred artifact
  7. the evil ruler pursued them, but they miraculously got away and survived
  8. they returned the sacred artifact to its rightful home and returned home themselves

…would you say that you know the story? The author? Are you sure?

If you seek answers, you’ll find them below the fold

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Erastus as Timothy’s Lover? A Possibly Positive Homoerotic Allusion in Acts 19.22 in Light of the Orestes-Pylades Mythological Paradigm of Friendship

A quick follow-up to the previous post. As part of our forthcoming article in Harvard Theological Review, there is a footnote (p26n68 in the Green Open Access archived version) that should be surfaced and not buried.

The Greek word ἐραστής means “lover,” “admirer,” or “adherent.” See LSJ s.v. ἐραστής. In antiquity, the love between Orestes and Pylades was commonly seen as more than platonic friendship. See, e.g., Lucian, Erotes 47 and Augustine, Confessions 4.6, both quoted in Hall, Adventures with Iphigenia, 107–108. Given the etymology of the name and its intertextual indebtedness, Erastus and his pairing with Timothy may suggest an homoerotic interpretation. Regarding the paradigmatic status of the friendship of Orestes and Pylades, see esp. Lucian, Toxaris.

Good Friday sermon translations forthcoming with Saint Vladimir’s Seminary Press

Happy today to share that SVS Press has entered into a contract with me to translate and introduce a wide variety of late antique Good Friday sermons focused on the so-called good thief or penitent bandit. Most of the introductions and translations are already completed, since I made this close analysis and careful translation work part of the research for my UVA dissertation on the reception history of Luke 23.39-43. If I understand correctly, the book will be released as part of the Popular Patristics series, which has a really strong brand and print distribution. I’m hopeful it will be a quick publication process, an excellent addition to the series, a helpful resource for patristics scholars, and a source of inspiration for many Good Friday homilies yet to be preached. Thank you to Sarah Werner and Fr Ignatius Green for facilitating the process. Thank you also to Matt Jenson for encouraging me to submit a proposal to SVS Press.