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.

Harvard Theological Review article forthcoming: Iphigenia-Orestes Myths Retold in the Canonical Acts of the Apostles [updated 2021-04-16]

A forthcoming article by me and Anna Lefteratou in Harvard Theological Review explores how the Ephesian Riots in Acts 19 are thoroughly modeled after Euripides’ Iphigenia in Tauris in matters of vocabulary, plot, themes, characterization, dramatic sequencing, and speech acts.

Update 2021-04-16. Got confirmation of final acceptance today! Screenshot below. Additionally, Anna and I recently heard that the article will be cited in a major forthcoming commentary on Iphigenia in Tauris as part of the section on the reception of the play. Green OA archiving makes a difference! As per usual, in the publishing negotiation process I’m trying my best to advocate for the version of record being made fully open access without the payment of an APC. Since HTR is a hybrid OA journal and the authors’ institutions already pay Cambridge University Press a lot in subscriptions, this is an eminently reasonable ask. I’ll report back on their decision once I hear.

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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.

Statistical Proofs of GMarc as Early Luke from the Single, Double, and Triple Traditions

Today we release v1.30, containing new statistical proofs related to my discovery of the First Gospel (Qn) as an actual, historical text whose vocal stratum data can be proven and restored using modern data science methods. This goes together with my scientific reconstruction of Marcion’s Gospel as the third gospel stratum. We are now at 530 pages and almost 225,000 words, up from 500 pages and 210,000 words in our last version.

The main set of new proofs is the “Statistical Analysis of GMarc and Single, Double, and Triple Traditions.” By carefully comparing attestations and word counts of these different tradition types in GMarc and Lk2, we show clearly that GMarc has a consistent, systematic lack of single traditions compared to double and especially triple traditions. These patterns are too consistently evident across an inconsistently attested text to be explained logically as the product of Marcion’s editorial work or of random or even deliberate patterns of early orthodox attestation or suppression. The only scientifically sound explanation of the consistent favoring of double and triple traditions to single traditions in GMarc that Lk2 was a revised and expanded version of GMarc. The payoff of this detailed analysis comes in the following tables:

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First and Third Gospel v1.22 uploaded

Finished reconstructions and tagging of Early Luke / Gospel of Marcion through most of chapter 9. I’ve also improved numerous prior passages by breaking out more of Late Mark (Mk2, 140s CE) and Late Matthew (Mt2, 140s CE), as well as splitting up the Johannine strata (e.g., Jn1, 100-110; Jn2, 110-117). This scientific signals synthesis and triangulation method actually works! My fresh analysis is confirming much of what Vinzent, Klinghardt, Knox, Tyson and others have found about the Gospel of Marcion and its relationship to the synoptic Gospels.

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First Gospel LODLIB v1.18 now uploaded

Available at the usual spot: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3927056

Lots of fresh signals analysis and textual reconstructions of content of the First Gospel and the Third Gospel (Early Luke or the Gospel of Marcion) from chapters 6-8, 11, and 13 now available in the latest version (1.18). Readers/scholars/fans: always be encouraged to download and read the latest edition, since substantive additions are now being made and self-archived on a weekly basis.

Also of note: I’ve removed the access restriction on version 1 of the book on Zenodo, so everyone can now see what this book proposal and five hypotheses looked like when it was first uploaded on July 1, 2020. From 50 pages to 350 pages in six weeks is pretty good progress!

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Encore une fois, les deux éditions du Luc

A couple close scholarly friends have recently provided private critical feedback about my reconstruction of the Gospel of Marcion and the First Gospel (Qn). Generally, their response simply repeated the common, traditional position: there was only one version of Luke, and the Gospel of Marcion is a later abridgement of that. I’d rather not have to tell friends that they are wrong, but friends, you are wrong. Please allow me to explain why, even without drawing at all on my scientific method and approach to signals synthesis and triangulation.

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Summary Highlights of the Newly Reconstructed Third Gospel (GMarc, 80s CE)

Again, as a courtesy to readers, I distill down the highlights from my findings about the Gospel of Marcion (GMarc), the third major Gospel compilation created and popularized in the Jesus tradition. Building on the initial 135 page elaboration of my ten Socratic assumptions and five theses about the Gospel of Marcion, followed by 225 pages of proofs of my five scientifically testable hypotheses, I am continuing to reconstruct the text of GMarc and Qn (the First Gospel) carefully each day.

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