Friday, July 23, 2010

Weird writings

Every now and then, I come across some very bizarre statements from ancient documents, and today I ran into one.

This is a fragment from Clement of Alexandria:

But those who set themselves against God's creation because of continence, which has a fair-sounding name, quote also those words which were spoken to Salome, of which I made mention before. They are contained, I think (or I take it) in the Gospel according to the Egyptians. For they say that `the Saviour himself said: I came to destroy the works of the female'.
--Strom. iii.9.63

What's up with the Egyptians?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Eyewitness Testimony

I'm reading through Bauckham's book, and in a subsection titled Eyewitness Testimony, he says some things which I found helpful. I'm somewhat puzzled that critical scholars tend to pit the Synoptic Gospels against the Gospel of John in terms of history and theology and regarding this issue, Bauckham briefly comments:

"The vital importance that was attached, in Greco-Roman historiography, to the firsthand testimony of eyewitness participants in the events, and the way in which the Gospels reflect this concern, has been highlighted recently in Samuel Byrskog's Story as History—History as Story, and I have discussed the Gospels in this light at length in my book, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. So a brief treatment will suffice here. The historiographical ideal, which meant that strictly speaking one could write only contemporary history, history that was still within living memory, was that the historian himself should have been a participant in many of the events and that he should have interviewed eyewitnesses of those events he could not himself have witnessed. Dionysius of Halicarnassus, for example, praises the historical work of Theopompus of Chios because "he was an eyewitness (αὐτόπτης) of many events, and conversed with many of the eminent men and generals of his day" (Pomp. 6). In a literary context of this kind John's Gospel would seem readily to meet the contemporary requirements of reliable historiography, probably better than the Synoptic Gospels. Its claim, whether authentic or not, is to authorship by a disciple of Jesus who notes his own presence (in the third person as was the normal historiographical convention) at key events in the story he tells, and makes it plain that he belonged to a circle of other disciples from whom he could be reliably informed of other events. Widespread failure to recognize that this Gospel's claim to eyewitness testimony is at least a straightforward historiographical one (doubtless it has also a theological dimension) has resulted from the influence of the dictum that this Gospel is theology, not history, and consequent isolation of it from its literary context in ancient historiography."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blogging and the 'biblioblog' dilemma

There's been some recent discussions here, here, and here about what biblioblogs should and should not be doing, and with the proliferation of blogs, one might be inclined to quickly remove a blog that has not posted anything recently regarding biblical studies. Unfortunately, I think I fall under that category, and I hope my readers have not removed me from their feeds! With graduating two months ago, to wedding planning, to moving, etc., there's been absolutely no time for me to really think about anything interesting in biblical studies, so apologies to my readers if they've been seeing a huge drop-off in anything interesting lately. I hope as I enter back to school in the Fall at Duke, I'll have some more interesting thoughts, but until then, bear with the random musings!

Friday, July 9, 2010


What would Jesus have looked like? (WWJHLL)

Here are some popular and past depictions:

Many popular depictions show Jesus with light-brown hair, sharp blue eyes, and a well trimmed beard with very European features. One of the pictures above even shows an Asian depiction of Jesus. In Popular Mechanics 2002, they think he looked more like this:

I suppose that does more justice to his Palestinian roots, it was just very different than any other depictions of Jesus I've seen.


HT: Justin Taylor

Thursday, July 8, 2010

The age of digital readers

It seems that the past few years has brought on a whole new age of reading: the age of digital readers. Some of the devices vying for your reading pleasure:

1. Sony PRS-900

2. Barnes & Noble Nook

3. Apple iPad

4. Amazon Kindle 2 and Kindle DX

I'm not really that serious in buying one, but I suppose it would be nice to have one instead of carrying all my books, not to mention the ability to access the hundreds of journal articles I have on my computer on one portable device. However, I have not really had a chance to actually mess around with any of these devices and from what I can tell there are some shortcomings of these devices. First, if they are quick, full-color with multi-touch capabilities (e.g., iPad), the battery life is very low, the price is very very steep, and for reading, they would be terrible for your eyes. Anyway, I think iPad is not really meant to act as an e-reader. Second, if they are basic and focused on reading (e.g., the other devices), the response times are slow and most of them lack any ability to mark up the books (though I might be wrong here). The only exception I think is the Sony PRS-900 with its stylus; unfortunately, this device only has a 7-inch display, the response times seem slow, and the book store is Sony's instead of an already well-established source like Amazon. Who reads books without marking them up?

I guess if I could have it my way, it would be something like the Kindle DX that is less than $200, with a stylus, with SD-memory support, and strong PDF support. Does anyone own one of these devices that want to weigh in?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Find that quote

I'm currently reading through this book on the historical Jesus, and in Luke Timothy Johnson's critique of Darrell Bock he says this:

"My complaint here is not nitpicking concerning Bock's prose. It cuts to the heart of his enterprise. He is not expressing himself clumsily; he is committing historiographical fallacy. The fact that other Jesus questers (including Crossan, Meier and Wright) regularly commit the same fallacy does not make it any more acceptable. As Chesterton once remarked, "a fallacy does not become less of a fallacy merely because it has become a fashion."

I tried to Google that quote from Chesterton (he didn't provide any references on it) and got nothing. I'm just curious, does anyone know where that quote is from?

Saturday, July 3, 2010


When I think of the word "carnival," I just think of something like the picture above, with some fun games and ferris wheels, but in literary terms, I learned that it has been used in a different way to understand a given text. I'm trying to read books that introduce different "criticisms" of the New Testament, and the book that I'm currently reading is James L. Resseguie's Narrative Criticism of the New Testament. I'm not sure if I can agree with all the tenets of narative-criticism that I've read so far, but it's still interesting. In a subsection titled, "Carnivalesque," Resseguie says something about carnival that I want to quote in full:

"Carnivalesque is a concept, popularized by Mikhail Bakhtin, that highlights the upside down, inside out, top to bottom, inverted world of carnival. Carnival predates Christianity and expresses "life drawn out of its usual rut" and "the reverse side of the world ('monde à l'envers') in which everyday social hierarchies are turned upside down and mocked by normally suppressed voices of the culture. Carnivaleque is prominent in the passion scenes of the Gospels, where symbols and actions mock a staid, authoritarian society and provide the transforming regenerative power for an alternative society. Opposites that underscore the relativity of all structure and order are paired in carnival: king with slave, crowning with de-crowning, exaltation with debasement, and sacred with profane. Similar opposites are paired at the crucifixion: an innocent man dies while an outlaw goes free (Barabbas); the sun fails at noon; the temple veil is torn from top to bottom; a carnival procession mocks the king, which, in turn, mocks the triumphal processions of conquering heroes; a cross serves as a throne; jeers (carnivalistic laughter) deride while ironically affirming truth. The images of carnival are linked to the paradox of death and rebirth. Carnivaleque is never simple negation but has a second, positive level of meaning. The downward, negative movement that characterizes the crucifixion world of abuse, curse, debasing, profanation, mockery, and death contains within it the regenerative power of an upward, positive movement of rejuvenation, renewal of life, and transformed symbols of power. In this sense, carnivalesque is like a U-shaped plot with a downward turn that moves upward to a new stable condition."

Friday, July 2, 2010

How things have changed...

During my last semester at Talbot, my professors were mentioning that much of the journal databases at the Biola Library were being changed to digital format, with no hard copies being available on site. It's amazing how much things have changed over the years, and I'm grateful that through my student ID, I get access to a bunch of library databases through Biola as an alumni. Unfortunately, the access they provide of theological journals only go to say, 2004, 2005, 2007, etc., at the very least a couple years old (which is huge I think in terms of recent scholarship). Great news! I just checked my Duke ID, and it seems that their database is much more vast as well current (this is not a knock on Biola, but just shows the level of research/endowment available and accomplished at Duke). Not only that, I already have access to their library database and e-journals, even while still living 2500 miles away from campus. How things have changed! For the better that is (at least in my opinion). I must admit, sometimes I just download a bunch of articles and completely forget about them... I suppose I will get to them sometime. Are any of you avid downloaders of journal articles?