Friday, November 30, 2007

New: From Jesus to the Gospels

A recent announcement from Fortress:

Helmut Koester Reveals Traditions Behind the Gospels

In From Jesus to the Gospels: Interpreting the New Testament in Its Context Helmut Koester, one of today's foremost New Testament scholars, offers a lifetime's insights into the message of the historical Jesus and the practices and trajectories that shaped the Jesus tradition.

Koester's vast knowledge of the ancient world and the literature of the early Christian movements informs these historically and theologically astute essays.

Topics include the early "Q" community, extracanonical sayings of Jesus, early liturgical practices, the theologies of the canonical Gospels, and impulses toward Gnosticism and beyond.

Helmut Koester is John H. Morison Research Professor of Divinity and Winn Research Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Chair of the New Testament Board of the Hermeneia commentary series.

Order your copy today!

BAR Highlights: 11/30/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

Nehemiah’s Wall Found?

Israeli archaeologist Eilat Mazar has announced that she has identified parts of the wall said to have been built by Nehemiah and the returnees from the Babylonian Exile.

Cause of the Flood?
An environmental archaeologist suggests that a comet striking the earth caused the great flood preserved in the tales of many cultures.

Inscribed Sarcophagus

German excavators in Egypt have uncovered a Pharaoh’s sarcophagus covered with hieroglyphic writing.

Digging Armageddon

A profile of the dig, and the diggers, at Megiddo. The dig’s Web site now features streaming video; visit

Lupercal Found?
Excavators in Rome have discovered a cave decorated with well-preserved colored mosaics and seashells that may be the cave revered as the place where Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome, were suckled by a she-wolf.

Synagogue Mosaic Floor Found in Galilee

The synagogue dates to the Roman and Byzantine periods and the mosaic includes a depiction of a workman with a woodworking tool.

Totally Tut
The Times of London, to mark the opening of the Tut exhibit in England, has published a special section all about the Boy King.

Island Inscription
An inscribed piece of coral reef, discovered on an island in the Persian Gulf, has added five new words to the Old Persian lexicon.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Eisenbrauns Commentary Sale

The title says it all. Check these out:

"Exodus 19-40: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary"

by William H. Propp
Anchor Bible - AB
Random House, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0385246935
List Price: $49.95 Your Price: $29.97

"1 Chronicles 1-9: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary"

by Gary N. Knoppers
Anchor Bible - AB
Doubleday, 2004. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0385469284
List Price: $49.95 Your Price: $29.97

"An Introduction to the Gospel of John"

by Raymond E. Brown
Edited by Francis J. Maloney
Anchor Bible Reference Library - ABRL
Doubleday, 2003. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0385507224
List Price: $30.00 Your Price: $18.00

"Philippians and Philemon"
by Bonnie B. Thurston and Ryan Judith
Sacra Pagina - SP
Liturgical Press, 2004. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0814658202
List Price: $39.95 Your Price: $26.61

"Pastoral Epistles: First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus"
by Benjamin Fiore
Sacra Pagina - SP
Liturgical Press, 2007. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780814658147
List Price: $39.95 Your Price: $26.61


by Alan C. Mitchell
Sacra Pagina - SP
Liturgical Press, 2007. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780814658154
List Price: $39.95 Your Price: $26.61

"The New Interpreter's Bible Index"

New Interpreter's Bible - NIB
Abingdon, 2004. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 0687039169
List Price: $40.00 Your Price: $24.00

"1 and 2 Kings"

by Peter J. Leithart
Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible - BTCB
Brazos Press, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1587431254
List Price: $29.99 Your Price: $15.00


by Stanley Hauerwas
Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible - BTCB
Brazos Press, 2006. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 1587430959
List Price: $29.99 Your Price: $15.00

"Psalms: Volume 2: Psalms 42-89"

by John Goldingay
Edited by Tremper Longman III
Baker Commentary on the Old Testament Wisdom and Psalms
Baker Academic, 2007. Cloth. English.
ISBN: 9780801027048
List Price: $44.99 Your Price: $26.99

To go directly to the weekly sale, click on this link:

Monday, November 26, 2007

New: Titles from Wipf & Stock/Cascade

A recent announcement from Wipf & Stock/Cascade:

New Releases from Cascade Books

Receive a limited-time 40% discount on or request review or exam copies of these new releases, which made their debut at the recent AAR/SBL conference in San Diego.

Jesus and the Miracle Tradition
Paul J. Achtemeier
ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-364-6 / 274 pp. / $30.00 / paper

Exodus: Let My People Go
Daniel Berrigan
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-105-1 / 182 pp. / $20.00 / paper

Risking Proclamation, Respecting Difference: Christian Faith, Imperialistic Discourse, and Abraham

Chris Boesel
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-523-3 / 306 pp. / $33.00 / paper

Divine Revelation and Human Practice: Responsive and Imaginative Participation
Tony Clark
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-516-5 / 244 pp. / $27.00 / paper

The Life of a Galilean Shaman: Jesus of Nazareth in Anthropological-Historical Perspective
MATRIX: The Bible in Mediterranean Context
Pieter F. Craffert
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-085-6 / 470 pp. / $52.00 / paper

Barrenness and Blessing: Abraham, Sarah, and the Journey of Faith
Hemchand Gossai
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-292-8 / 136 pp. / $17.00 / paper

Wisdom and Spiritual Transcendence at Corinth: Studies in First Corinthians
Richard Horsley
ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-844-3 / 182 pp. / $21.00 / paper

Theology and Culture: A Guide to the Discussion
Cascade Companions
D. Stephen Long
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-052-8 / 124 pp. / $17.00/ paper

Awakening Youth Discipleship: Christian Resistance in a Consumer Culture
Brian J. Mahan, Michael Warren, and David F. White
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-136-5 / 138 pp. / $17.00 / paper

Jesus and the Peasants
MATRIX: The Bible in Mediterranean Context
Douglas E. Oakman
ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-275-5 / 348 pp. / $38.00 / paper

Language, Hermeneutic, and History: Theology after Barth and Bultmann
James M. Robinson
ISBN 13: 978-1-59752-881-8 / 260 pp. / $29.00 / paper

God Gardened East: A Gardener’s Meditation on the Dynamics of Genesis
Louis A. Ruprecht, Jr.
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-434-2 / 184 pp. / $21.00 / paper

Green Witness: Ecology, Ethics, and the Kingdom of God
Laura Ruth Yordy
ISBN 13: 978-1-55635-335-2 / 190 pp. / $22.00 / paper

Request review or exam copies here

BAR Highlights: 11/26/07

More recent archaeological news from Biblical Archaeology Review:

Hold Everything!
Construction of a high-rise apartment building in north Tel Aviv was halted after Byzantine remains were uncovered. The site may contain even earlier remains, possibly dating back to the Philistine era.

Tut Opens with Controversy
The King Tut exhibit has moved to London amid tensions over Egypt’s request to get the Rosetta Stone on loan.

“Noah’s Flood” a Boon to Farmers?
An ancient flood that may have inspired the Noah story sparked a major spread of farming in Europe.

Palmyra Finds
Archaeologists in Syria have uncovered a second century cemetery and statues, including a lovely relief showing two traders and camels led by a child.

Museum Facelift
The Israel Museum, a great repository of archaeology and art and an important architectural complex, is undergoing a major renovation.

Siloam Inscription on Loan?

Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, has requested that Turkey lend his country the inscription to mark Israel’s upcoming 60th anniversary.

Ever in Dispute
A San Francisco Chronicle article summarizes how recent archaeological finds in Jerusalem have an impact on the political disputes in the region.

Road and Bath Found in Jerusalem

The second-century alley is believed to have linked the city’s Cardo, the main street, with the bath house and a bridge to the Temple Mount.

Tut’s Curse

The eighth Earl of Carnarvon, the great-grandson of the man who sponsored the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, talks about his ancestor and debunks the supposed Curse of Tut.

RBL Highlights: 11/26/07

A few highlights from this week's Review of Biblical Literature:

Gary M. Beckman and Theodore J. Lewis, eds.
Text, Artifact, and Image: Revealing Ancient Israelite Religion
Reviewed by Diana Edelman

Barry Beitzel, ed.
Biblica The Bible Atlas: A Social and Historical Journey through the Lands of the Bible
Reviewed by Ralph K. Hawkins

Silvia Cappelletti
The Jewish Community of Rome: From the Second Century B.C. to the Third Century C.E.
Reviewed by Judith Lieu
Reviewed by Allen Kerkeslager

Bruce J. Malina and John J. Pilch
Social-Science Commentary on the Letters of Paul
Reviewed by Eduard Verhoef

Jerome Neyrey
The Gospel of John
Reviewed by Dirk van der Merwe

Sunday, November 25, 2007

SBL Panels III: The Books

As many of you already know, I'm hopelessly addicted to religion books. So don't let my previous posts fool you... I was really in San Diego to pick up some books at deep discounts. (I'm pretty proud of myself, actually... I stayed pretty close to my self-imposed limit of $200.) Here's what I brought home:

Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament (Baylor University Press)
Although Bultmann is certainly not as fashionable as he once was, and his views on the historical Jesus and first-century Judaism are particularly problematic, I'm still a fan. This is a lovely new edition of a classic work; I was particularly glad that it retained the pagination of the original two-volume edition, as so many older New Testament studies cite it.

Elizabeth Castelli, Martyrdom and Memory (Columbia University Press)
I used this book last semester while taking Martyrs and Martyrdom with Adela Collins, and I'm sure that I'll continue to use it as I explore the subject further. Her conclusion "that martyrdom is not simply an action but rather the product of interpretation and retelling" (p. 173) is, in my mind, quite convincing.

Bruce Chilton et al, The Cambridge Companion to the Bible (Cambridge University Press)

Alright, I'll admit it... one of the reasons I bought this one was that it was cheap (only $10!). Nevertheless, I've since come to recognize it for what it is: one of the best one-volume introductions to the Bible that I've seen in quite some time. The contributors are all top-notch scholars, and the book is filled with photos and dozens of detailed, helpful excurses.

Bruce Chilton and Jacob Neusner, The Brother of Jesus (Westminster John Knox)
Not a new title... but Westminster John Knox offered some nice discounts on their backlist collection, and this one provides some nice background for anyone seeking to understand a critically important yet critically underrepresented leader in early Christianity.

Hubertus Drobner, The Fathers of the Church (Hendrickson)
Thanks to Rick Brannan for pointing me in the direction of this fine volume. I don't know of a better English-language introduction to patristic studies; even the bibliographies are excellent. I'm sure it will provide some excellent additions to my current research project on Arian exegesis of Hebrews.

James D. G. Dunn and Scot McKnight, The Historical Jesus in Recent Research (Eisenbrauns)
I bought this one based upon Chris Stroup's recommendation... so if I eventually decide it's no good, I'm blaming him. ;-) Not that there's much chance of that... Eisenbrauns is to be commended for collecting so many valuable excerpts in a single, accessible volume.

J. N. D. Kelly, Early Christian Creeds (Continuum)

Another new edition of a classic, essential study. Kelly's Early Christian Doctrines is required reading in Yale's introductory-level patristics courses, and this is the perfect companion volume.

Amy-Jill Levine et al, The Historical Jesus in Context (Princeton University Press)

Another fine one-volume introduction to historical Jesus studies, this time with a nod to the primary sources. The list of contributors is certainly impressive--Dale Allison, Bruce Chilton, John Dominic Crossan, Mary Rose D'Angelo, Amy-Jill Levine, etc. Also included is a concise essay summarizing the various "quests" for the historical Jesus.

Christopher Rowland, Christian Origins (SPCK)

Another title that was particularly attractive because of its low price... but its insistence on the placement of Christianity within the larger Jewish matrix is welcome.

SBL Panels II: Myers, Kaminsky, and Meeks

One of the nice things about the Annual Meeting (its “softer side,” if you will) is that venerable professors, particularly those on the verge of retirement, often receive well-deserved panels of tribute. This was the case with Eric Myers, Duke University’s Bernice and Morton Lerner Professor of Judaic Studies, who is retiring at the end of the academic year. There’s not too much to say about this one… everyone had nice things to say. ;-) It was nice to see one of my favorite undergraduate professors in action; Tom McCullough, one of Myers’ archaeological brethren in the Galilee, chaired the panel. And Sean Freyne gave a paper highlighting the ways in which Myers’ work has influenced historical Jesus studies, which was particularly interesting to me, as I used some of his research on Galilean synagogues while writing a paper on Luke 4:16-30 last year.

I also attended a panel review of Prof. Joel Kaminsky’s new book (which we are using in his Sibling Rivalries course) Yet I Loved Jacob: Reclaiming the Biblical Concept of Election. A number of excellent scholars--including Ellen Davis, Jacqueline Lapsley, and Patrick Miller--took part, and their reviews were all very positive. Ben Sommer was more critical, arguing that the book’s relative avoidance of rabbinic texts and later Jewish literature on election make it more suitable for Christians than Jews. As he understood it, the book was more about Paul, and his particular understanding of election, than about the concept as a whole. Having recently read the book, I would disagree with this assessment. Christian understandings of election are not addressed in any detailed way until the eleventh chapter, where they appear alongside some rabbinic views. Nevertheless, I find myself in agreement with my classmate Christy Groves, who suggested (somewhat cheekily) to Prof. Kaminsky that he should have omitted this chapter from his final work. In my view, the role of election in early Christianity—and early Judaism, for that matter, is much too complicated to be summarized in a handful of pages. It may be fairly accurate to say that early Christianity encouraged conversion as a means of obtaining chosenness while early Judaism did not, but these deceptively clear waters can get pretty muddy pretty fast. A number of Christian communities (some of the Gnostic groups, for example) apparently eschewed the larger world and did not seek converts, while the well-documented activities of the “God-fearers” suggests that Judaism’s barriers of entry and exit were fairly fluid in the Greco-Roman period. It might have been more fruitful to conclude with a more developed set of “concluding reflections” (to use Prof. Kaminsky’s own term). The book brilliantly demonstrates the centrality of election in the Hebrew Bible, and also offers some reassessments of how this critical concept should be understood. As a result, it seems impossible to simply discard election in the name of universalism, as some theologians have done. So… where do we go from here? This is a big question, and I think that it deserves some kind of answer.

The final major panel on my calendar was convened in honor of the release of the second edition of Wayne Meeks’ The Writings of St. Paul. Initially, I expected a mood similar to that of Prof. Myers’ panel; a lot of congratulatory remarks, but not much else. I could not have been more wrong. John Fitzgerald, the co-editor of the new edition, provided some details of its creation, including the difficulties surrounding the decisions to retain, omit, and add texts. Dale Martin (Prof. Meeks’ successor at Yale) drew upon these difficulties to comment upon the myth of the omniscient scholar; despite what some of us might think, it’s simply not possible to read everything! Margaret Mitchell also provided some welcome words, including the ever-appropriate reminder that there is still much to be learned from Paul. The session was ably--and occasionally hilariously--directed by Troels Engberg-Pedersen, whose one-man act included disappearing beneath the podium to reemerge as a “disguised” Alan Segal (who had already left San Diego and thus was unable to deliver his remarks in person).

SBL Panels I: Parker and Bauckham

Note: This post was written last week, but due to the Thanksgiving revelries it languished, unposted, until today. Enjoy!

Thanks to the miracles of modern technology, I am composing this post at an altitude of 30,000 feet as I return home from the AAR/SBL Annual Meeting in San Diego. (Of course, I won’t be able to actually post it until later today; cyberspace yet doesn’t extend this far above ground!) The past few days have been busy, but productive. I attended a number of insightful and stimulating panels and although I don’t have the time nor the dedication to produce detailed reviews of them all, I wanted to list a few personal highlights.

Julie Faith Parker, one of the PhD students in the Hebrew Bible division (as well as an ordained Methodist minister and an all-around wonderful person), led an interactive presentation entitled “You Are a Bible Child,” which invited listeners to experience the lives of some of the marginalized children who appear in the Elisha cycle. To set the mood, Julie passed around coarse cloth, thin bread, dates, and figs and displayed slides while reading a fictional account of a young girl living in pre-exilic Israel, before turning to the biblical texts themselves. It was a masterful presentation. I’m not really a Hebrew Bible guy, but I know good, instructive work when I see it, and this was it.

Adela Collins, one of my favorite professors at Yale, joined with John Kloppenborg and James Crossley in a panel review of Richard Bauckham’s latest provocative offering, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. I was unable to finish the entire book before the review session, but I believe that I read enough to capture its spirit: the canonical gospels were largely based upon eyewitnesses testimony (and the Gospel of John was itself written by an eyewitness). Both ancient historiographical practices and modern memory theory are cited in support of this argument, which stands contrary to the dominant view that the gospels’ authors utilized anonymously transmitted oral tradition in their work. Bauckham places the gospels within an innovative literary category—that of (eyewitness, or reliable) testimony—which presumably provides sufficient justification for readers’ acceptance of their claims.

Of the reviewers, Prof. Collins provided the most direct critiques of the book’s methods. (What would you expect me to say… I’m her student!) She spoke of the “elephant in the room,” which indeed remains very much in the room: the miracle stories, long a plague upon historical Jesus scholars. What are we to make of these stories? Are we to blithely accept them, simply because the supporting witnesses have been deemed “reliable”? Prof. Crossley delivered a number of interesting comments entitled “What if Richard Bauckham Is Right?”, but my personal pressing question in this category remained essentially unasked. Even if the gospels were based upon eyewitness testimony--that is, people who were active disciples of Jesus of Nazareth during his lifetime--how do we address the blatant discrepancies and obvious redactional material? Bauckham himself is forced to admit that several traditions were altered to various degrees by their final authors/editors; how does this admission affect the gospels’ reliability? Aren’t we right back where we started? But all in all, this is a book which will have the biblical studies world in a tither for quite some time.