Christian Origins and the Establishment of the Early Jesus Movement

Christian Origins and the Establishment of the Early Jesus Movement explores the events, people, and writings surrounding the founding of the early Jesus movement in the mid to late first century. The essays are divided into four parts, focused upon the movement’s formation, the production of its early Gospels, description of the Jesus movement itself, and the Jewish mission and its literature. This collection of essays includes chapters by a global cast of scholars from a variety of methodological and critical viewpoints, and continues the important Early Christianity in its Hellenistic Context series.

Christoph Heilig has an essay in it.

The table of contents is available on the publisher’s website.  In what follows, rather than attempting to persuade you to either read this volume or ignore this volume, I will simply provide a few excerpts from this volume.  And then you can decide for yourself, after seeing the table of contents, whether or not it is something that interests you and fits your research needs.

I will say that if you’re a student of the early church, this is a very valuable and helpful work.  But, again, I think you should inevitably decide for yourself.  Here are some of the things suggested herein:

Hezser

  • This study will focus on literary and tradition historical aspects of the Gospels’ presentation of Jesus’s disciples. Which strategies, models, and motifs are recognizable and from which cultural contexts are they derived?   (p. 71)
  • An important aspect of the Gospels’ representation of the disciples is the emphasis on their inferiority to their master. (p. 79)
  • In comparison to the relatively small circles of students associated with rabbis, twelve disciples would have constituted a crowd. In rabbinic narratives usually only two or three students are mentioned by name, despite the fact that some general statements refer to the “many disciples” of R. Aqiva or other prominent rabbis.  (p. 83)
  • Sociologists have pointed to the significance of the “perceived popularity” of an individual: the more popular a person is considered to be, the more friends and adherents that person can gain in the course of time. (p. 84)

Richards

  • New Testament scholars often accept as a given the assertion well stated by the Jesus Seminar: “The concept of plagiarism was unknown in the ancient world. Authors freely copied from predecessors without acknowledgment.”  When looking at our Gospels, this assertion seems prima facie true, perhaps lending to its common acceptance. If however plagiarism was known (and condemned) in antiquity, then we are justified in asking if the Gospel of Matthew, for example, is guilty of plagiarizing the Gospel of Mark, i.e., Was Matthew a plagiarist?  (p. 108)

Keown

  • An Imminent Parousia and Christian Mission: Did the New Testament Writers Really Expect Jesus’s Imminent Return?  (p. 242)
  • This essay will explore this claim from the perspective of Mark and Paul. (p. 242)

Heilig

  • This essay will discuss the question of how recent trends in Pauline studies—the emergence of the so-called “New Perspective on Paul” (in the following: NPP)—have influenced the perception of the two foundational figures of Paul and Peter in relation to the historical question of how it came to be that Gentiles became an important part of the early Christian movement.  (p. 459)
  • In what follows, we will thus have to pay close attention to both how Wright’s and Dunn’s shared assumptions influence their interpretation of Paul and Peter regarding the “Gentile problem” and how they differ in their assessment due to specifics of their individual interpretive frameworks.  (p. 463)
  • On the one hand, there is no indication that Peter had ever changed his view on a Gentile mission since his encounter with Cornelius. There is in particular no reason to assume that a real change of mind occurred after the meeting in Jerusalem.  (p. 483)

Naturally there are a whole array of other essays which could be excerpted but these four scholars have written the, to me, most interesting of the contributions to the volume.  Hezser’s in particular is really a fascinating work, laced with amazing facts and details.  Richards’ is perhaps the most groundbreaking (and potentially the most relevant for modern academia).  Keown’s may be the most well written.  And Heilig’s is, I think, the most learned and erudite.

The other essays in the work all participate in a mixture of fascinating, groundbreaking, well written and erudite.  The whole is worth reading. The four above are worth reading most of all.

I Would Do the Second To Last One, But None of the Rest

You Need a Commentary

Everyone needs a commentary on the Bible that they can understand and that answers their questions about the meaning of the text.  So I wrote one for lay people on the whole Bible.

So if you or someone you know has wanted to get a copy of the collection in PDF format, you can do so from yours truly for $75 by clicking my PayPal Link.  Leave your email in your paypal payment note so I can send it to you right away.

Here’s what one reader has to say:

[I] wanted to thank you for your commentary set I recently acquired. My daughter Chloe (age 11) and I are using the one on Mark as we read through and discuss the gospel every second evening. It helps shed light on the text without being academically burdensome for us to work through. .. [Y]our comments are pitched wonderfully for anyone wanting to begin serious engagement with the text. It also complements the more ‘scholarly’ works. – Blessings, David Booth

A Burdensome Text

Obey your leaders and give way to them; they watch over your souls because they must give an account of them; make this a joy for them to do, and not a grief — you yourselves would be the losers.  — (Heb. 13:17)

Ok I Don’t Have Any Idea What Any of that Is Supposed to Mean…

I wish Travis would stop tweeting at me with his bizzarro twitter account.  It’s weird.

So There Was A Shooting in Downtown Denver Last Night…

Not far at all from the Convention Center

Authorities are searching for a suspect who opened fire Monday in downtown Denver, killing one person and wounding four others.  The shooting happened just after 4 p.m. near Coors Field at Lawrence and 21st streets.  One person died at the scene and four others were taken to the hospital in stable condition, Denver police said.  Eyewitnesses described multiple shots being fired.

You can’t go anywhere without wondering if some gun nut is going to blow your head off these days.

Before We Talk About Banning Capital Punishment…

Let’s get sensible gun control legislation passed and enforced.  In 2017, 23 people were executed by the States.  In that same year, 15,549 people were killed by guns.

Let’s get our priorities in order and fix the greater problem before we fix the lesser problem.

Danger all Around- But Providence Intervenes

NB- If Calvin were alive today he would add ‘being shot by random strangers at hospitals, schools, synagogues, clubs, and out on the street’ to his list of perils…

For what else can you say of it, when neither cold nor heat in any considerable degree can be endured without danger? Now whithersoever you turn, all the objects around you are not only unworthy of your confidence, but almost openly menace you, and seem to threaten immediate death. Embark in a ship; there is but a single step between you and death. Mount a horse; the slipping of one foot endangers your life. Walk through the streets of a city; you are liable to as many dangers as there are tiles on the roofs. If there be a sharp weapon in your hand, or that of your friend, the mischief is manifest. All the ferocious animals you see are armed for your destruction. If you endeavour to shut yourself in a garden surrounded with a good fence, and exhibiting nothing but what is delightful, even there sometimes lurks a serpent.

Your house perpetually liable to fire, menaces you by day with poverty, and by night with falling on your head. Your land, exposed to hail, frost, drought, and various tempests, threatens you with sterility, and with its attendant, famine. I omit poison, treachery, robbery, and open violence, which partly beset us at home, and partly pursue us abroad.

Amidst these difficulties, must not man be most miserable, who is half dead while he lives, and is dispirited and alarmed as though he had a sword perpetually applied to his neck? You will say that these things happen seldom, or certainly not always, nor to every man, but never all at once. I grant it: but as we are admonished by the examples of others, that it is possible for them to happen also to us, and that we have no more claim to exemption from them than others, we must unavoidably dread them as events that we may expect.

What can you imagine more calamitous than such a dread? Besides it is an insult to God to say that he hath exposed man, the noblest of his creatures, to the blindness and temerity of fortune. But here I intend to speak only of the misery which man must feel, if he be subject to the dominion of fortune. —  John Calvin

The Most Depressing Sentence I’ve Read in a Long Time

On the other hand, Wright seems correct when he notes that “the question of eating with Gentiles was not an issue which the meeting left undecided.”  –  Christoph Heilig

‘Wright seems correct…’  Excuse me, I have to go weep now.  Oh how the mighty have fallen….

Lock Her Up!!!

If you aren’t screeching ‘lock her up’ now but you did about Hillary Clinton, you, miss, are a hypocrite.  Period.

But Why? We Have the REB

I just…

Boy finds gun under father’s pillow, shoots himself

The father should be arrested.  He is guilty.

Police in Georgia say a 2-year-old boy who found a handgun under his father’s pillow has died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the boy died Thursday after walking into a bedroom where his father was sleeping.

A Clayton County police statement says the boy didn’t wake the father, found the loaded handgun under his pillow and fired one shot. The boy was taken to a hospital, where he died. Police say the toddler’s mother was asleep in the front room at the time.  The news release says both parents are cooperating with law enforcement. Police say it’s unknown whether charges will be filed.

Charges should be filed.  And the dad should be charged with negligent homicide.    Disgusting.

Quote of the Day

Whenever, therefore, those things present themselves to us which would lead us away from resting in God alone, let us make use of this sentiment as an antidote against them, that we have sufficient cause for being contented, since he who has in himself an absolute fullness of all good has given himself to be enjoyed by us. In this way we will experience our condition to be always pleasant and comfortable; for he who has God as his portion is destitute of nothing which is requisite to constitute a happy life. — John Calvin

My Annual Christmas Message: There’s no Truth to the Claim that ‘Xmas’ is Legit

Xmas does not mean Christmas. And the reason is as simple as can be explained in two sentences. The latter the most important:

The problem with the x = Chi explanation that so many love to spew from their keyboards and mouths during this season is that the general public knows NOTHING of it, or Greek. And, most importantly of all, all they see is an x, and in Greek, x is Xi, not Chi.

If you’re going to foist a ridiculous pseudo-explanation on the public in an attempt to justify laziness in abbreviation, please, at least learn enough Greek to know the difference between χ and ξ . Otherwise, you just look silly.

And, by the by, the early church did abbreviate χριστος- but NEVER with just χ. When they did, it was χρ with a line over it so you knew it was an abbreviation. People who tell you they just used x are stupid, or liars, or stupid liars.

In sum- NO, you have NEVER heard someone say -‘Chi- mas’ but you’ve heard plenty of people say ‘X-mas’ because to them X is X.

Thus endeth the lesson.

Amen, and amen.

Was hat Jesus in den Sand geschrieben?

Um es vorweg zu sagen: Eckhard Nordhofen ist mit seinem Buch «Corpora. Die anarchische Kraft des Monotheismus» eine kleine Sensation gelungen. Er erzählt die Geschichte des Monotheismus als Mediengeschichte. Vom Bild über die Schrift zum Körper. Das sind die Stationen, die gelehrt, klar und in erfrischender Diktion abgeschritten werden. Am Anfang stehen die Bilder. Sie sind die Medien des Polytheismus. Menschliche Bedürfnisse werden auf Götter projiziert. Nordhofen spricht vom Prinzip der Passung. Wer den Göttern gibt, was er hat, darf erwarten, dass sie ihm geben, was er noch nicht hat, aber gerne hätte.

Etc. Enjoy. With thanks to Andreas Dettwiler for the heads up.

Simon Gathercole at the Ecole Biblique on the ‘Gospel of Peter’

Handbook of European History, 1400-1600

The Handbook of European History 1400-1600 brings together the best scholarship into an array of topical chapters that present current knowledge and thinking in ways useful to the specialist and accessible to students and to the educated non-specialist. Forty-one leading scholars in this field of history present the state of knowledge about the grand themes, main controversies and fruitful directions for research of European history in this era.

Volume 1 ( Structures and Assertions) describes the people, lands, religions and political structures which define the setting for this historical period. Volume 2 ( Visions, Programs, Outcomes) covers the early stages of the process by which newly established confessional structures began to work their way among the populace.

Sounds great.

The Tyndale House (Cambridge, so the real one) Reader’s Edition of the Greek New Testament

This is good news:

The highly anticipated Reader’s Edition of the Greek New Testament text combines the Tyndale House Greek New Testament with a running list of glosses of every word in the Greek New Testament that occurs 25 times or less.

Published by Crossway, the THGNT Reader’s Edition is the next stage in the work undertaken by the Editor, Dr Dirk Jongkind, and Associate Editor, Dr Peter J. Williams, to provide a text of the Greek New Testament that reflects as closely as possible its earliest recoverable wording.

Richard Bauckham Lectures in Jerusalem

Hopefully this will appear on the Ecole Biblique’s youtube channel in due course:

I Bet That Advert Ran in BAR in the 80’s…

It sure looks like something that would have-