e-Clavis Entry on the Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea (CANT 76; ECCA 274)

The entry is completed and now posted on the e-Clavis site. Thank you: to Stephen Hopkins (the section editor) for persistently and patiently nudging me to finish this entry; to Bradley Rice for insightful correspondence about the relationship of the Greek Narrative of Joseph of Arimathea to the distinctive Georgian Story of Joseph of Arimathea (the seminal story in Holy Grail lore); to Tony Burke for editorial skill and rigor that always makes my writing far better than what I submitted; and to Slavomír Čéplö for your expertise and assistance with the Slavic manuscripts and related literature on this text. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Now back to work on the Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity article on this fascinating text, where I get to dig into the historical and literary contexts! In my analysis, its portrayal of Demas (aka Dismas or Dysmas) is highly significant in the history of the cult of the so-called Good Thief.

Incidentally, NASSCAL already tweeted about this new entry…

Read More »

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.

LiveScience features my chapter from More New Testament Apocrypha

The indefatigable Religion meets Science reporter Owen Jarus gave a very generous summary of a chapter I contributed to volume 2 of the MNTA series published by Eerdmans, edited by Tony Burke.

It’s a little known crusader-era tale about San Dimas (Saint Dysmas) being a border guard between Israel and Egypt and his decision to practice civil disobedience to allow a very special group of impoverished refugees (Joseph, Mary, and Jesus) find asylum. While it’s an 800 year old Latin story, for some reason it feels strangely contemporary.

Read More »

CANT 78.3, Hospitality and Perfume of the Bandit: Critical Edition in Progress

Always enjoyable to come back to paleography. Today’s task is to finish my critical edition of CANT 78.3, The Hospitality and Perfume of the Bandit, based on a collation of texts found in two manuscripts, Vatican Library Lat. 6300 and British Library Harley 3199. The story is likely 13th or 14th century, one among several medieval variations of the Good Thief’s hospitality to the Holy Family during their sojourn to Egypt.

This story is unique in that it ties the miraculous perfume the Good Thief receives from Jesus’ mother Mary to the alabaster-carried perfume that Mary Magdalene used to anoint the feet of Jesus.

Read More »

Self-Archived Open Access Publications Uploaded and ORCID Updated

After obtaining or checking for permission with my publishers, I’ve uploaded open access versions of many of my recent publications. All of these self-archived publications now have DOIs and are linked in my ORCID record. This was also a good reminder to update my ORCID record more generally, so I added all of my missing presentations and service work. I’m almost up to 100 academic works!

Read More »

International SBL Papers

Thanks to the generosity of CST, I am getting the chance to travel to Seoul, Korea, this July to attend the International Society of Biblical Literature meeting. Dennis MacDonald was kind enough to invite me to be on a panel reviewing his new book on the Gospel of John and Euripides. I also submitted a couple of paper proposals which were accepted.

For the Digital Humanities section, I am presenting a paper entitled, “A Digital Rebirth in Christian Apocrypha Studies: NASSCAL and the eClavis.” Abstract:

Read More »

Reflections on the 2nd York Apocrypha Symposium

Last week was a frenzy of activity and excitement for me, especially because I had the chance to attend and speak at the 2nd York Apocrypha Symposium at York University in Toronto (http://tonyburke.ca/conference/). Tony Burke and Brent Landau organized the event. Speakers included Nicola Denzey Lewis, Lorenzo DiTommaso, Mary Dzon, David Eastman, Mark Goodacre, Kristian Heal, Charles Hedrick, F. Stanley Jones, John Kloppenborg, Lee Martin McDonald, Stephen Patterson, Pierluigi Piovanelli, Annette Yoshiko Reed (giving the keynote), Jean-Michel Roessli, Stephen Shoemaker, Glenn Snyder, Lily Vuong, and yours truly. Needless to say, I felt completely out of my league.

Read More »

Upcoming York Apocrypha Symposium

I was happy today to receive advance copies of several papers for the upcoming York Apocrypha Symposium at York University in Toronto (Sept 26-28), including papers by Charles Hedrick, Lee McDonald, F. Stanley Jones, Nicola Denzey, and Stephen Shoemaker. The event is being organized by Tony Burke and Brent Landau, two of the leading scholars on Christian apocrypha in North America. The conference builds on the one Tony organized in 2011 on the Secret Gospel of Mark, where, as he narrates, the case was decisively settled against the thesis that Morton Smith had forged the Mar Saba text.

Read More »