Thursday, January 22, 2009

NT and Early Christianity Online: Can I Do It?

At various points throughout the life of this blog, I've attempted to compose regular posts describing and responding to various courses in which I've been enrolled... and if these attempts were graded, each would necessarily receive an "Incomplete." The semester gets busier and busier... projects, proposals, and reading assignments pile up... and blogging of any kind seems to fall by the wayside. Nevertheless, memories of these past failures have not deterred me from a new project: to post my notes from my current teaching assignment (assisting Prof. Harry Gamble in his lecture course, Introduction to the New Testament and Early Christianity). To those of you back at dear old Christ Church United Methodist in Louisville who were asking about how to better grasp the historical context of Jesus and the earliest Christian movements: see if these resources whet your appetite! My first set of lecture notes may be viewed below:

RELC 122 Notes: 1/21

Enjoy... and wish me luck! ;-)

More RBL Highlights... Plus, New RBL Blog!

Although I'll continue to post selections from the Review of Biblical Literature as I receive them via e-mail, I've also added the newly created blog ( to the blogroll. One interesting feature of the latter resource is that the comments feature is currently enabled, allowing viewers to add their own musings regarding the included books and reviews. I have a feeling, however, that this arrangement for long... I can see some nasty exchanges erupting there.

James W. Aageson
Paul, the Pastoral Epistles, and the Early Church
Reviewed by David J. Downs

Bruce Chilton, ed.
The Cambridge Companion to the Bible
Reviewed by Douglas Estes

Naomi G. Cohen
Philo's Scriptures: Citations from the Prophets and Writings: Evidence for a Haftarah Cycle in Second Temple Judaism
Reviewed by Torrey Seland

James D. G. Dunn
The New Perspective on Paul
Reviewed by J. R. Daniel Kirk

Paul Rhodes Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd
The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition
Reviewed by Ken Olson

Robert C. Hill, translation with introduction and commentary; Greek text revised by John F. Petruccione
Theodoret of Cyrus: The Questions of the Octateuch, Volume 1: On Genesis and Exodus
Reviewed by Randall L. McKinion

Robert C. Hill, translation with introduction and commentary; Greek text revised by John F. Petruccione
Theodoret of Cyrus: The Questions on the Octateuch, Volume 2: On Levitcus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, and Ruth
Reviewed by Randall L. McKinion

Jerome Murphy-O'Connor
St. Paul's Ephesus: Texts and Archaeology
Reviewed by Jonathan L. Reed

Kuo-Wei Peng
Hate the Evil, Hold Fast to the Good: Structuring Romans 12.1-15.1
Reviewed by Carl N. Toney

Leonard J. Swidler
Jesus Was a Feminist: What the Gospels Reveal about His Revolutionary Perspective
Reviewed by Eve-Marie Becker
Reviewed by Kathleen E. Corley

RBL Highlights: 1/22/09

Selections from the most recent edition of the Review of Biblical Literature:

Dwayne H. Adams
The Sinner in Luke
Reviewed by Bruce Chilton
Reviewed by I. Howard Marshall

Diane Banks
Writing the History of Israel
Reviewed by Susanne Scholz

Wesley J. Bergen and Armin Siedlecki, eds.
Voyages in Uncharted Waters: Essays on the Theory and Practice of Biblical Interpretation in Honor of David Jobling
Reviewed by James West

William Sanger Campbell
The "We" Passages in the Acts of the Apostles: The Narrator as Narrative Character
Reviewed by Deborah Prince

Philip R. Davies
The Origins of Biblical Israel
Reviewed by K. L. Noll
Reviewed by Thomas L. Thompson

Clemens Leonhard
The Jewish Pesach and the Origins of the Christian Easter: Open Questions in Current Research
Reviewed by Jeffrey L. Morrow

Victor H. Matthews
Studying the Ancient Israelites: A Guide to Sources and Methods
Reviewed by Trent Butler

Wayne A. Meeks and John T. Fitzgerald, eds.
The Writings of St. Paul: Annotated Texts, Reception and Criticism
Reviewed by V. George Shillington

Hyung Dae Park
Finding Herem? A Study of Luke-Acts in the Light of Herem
Reviewed by Darin H. Land

John Riches
Galatians through the Centuries
Reviewed by John Dunnill
Reviewed by Martin Meiser

Todd D. Still, ed.
Jesus and Paul Reconnected: Fresh Pathways into an Old Debate
Reviewed by Otis Coutsoumpos

Paul Trebilco
The Early Christians in Ephesus from Paul to Ignatius
Reviewed by Markus Oehler


Thanks to April DeConick and Nick Norelli for pointing me in the direction of this new program, available via radio or podcast, which brings believers and non-believers together to explore contentious questions related to Christian history and theology. (I'm listening to a discussion of Christian origins between Michael Bird and James Crossley as I write this post.)

Learn more about the program, and access the archive of previous broadcasts, here.

Kent Richards to Retire

Although he will remain on the job for another eighteen months, Kent Richards has announced his impending retirement as the Executive Director of the Society of Biblical Literature. I'm sure that I speak for many SBL members when I wish him the best.

Dear SBL Members,

I am writing on behalf of the SBL Council to announce to the Society membership the decision of Kent Richards to retire as Executive Director of the Society of Biblical Literature effective June 30, 2010. It is with regret that we contemplate the end of his time in leadership of the Society, but we wish to face the necessary transitions ahead in a spirit of celebration for the many contributions Kent has made to leave a strengthened and vigorous Society as his legacy.

Under his leadership the program of the Annual Meeting has expanded and diversified; the International Meeting has become a major forum of global biblical scholarship; the membership has grown; the Society has strengthened its reputation as a major and respected publisher; the Society has played a leading role in the American Council of Learned Societies; a major initiative on teaching Bible in the public schools has been developed; an outstanding staff team has been recruited and organized; and the Society has enjoyed financial stability, strong fiscal management, and excellent administrative leadership. Especially noteworthy has been Kent’s steady hand, discerning judgment and wise council in the difficult circumstances of the unanticipated withdrawal of the AAR from joint sponsorship of the Annual Meeting. The unqualified success of the first SBL Annual Meeting held recently in Boston independent from the AAR is in no small measure a testimony to Kent’s leadership in this period. If, as seems likely, some new relationship with the AAR in future Annual Meetings becomes a reality, this too will reflect Kent’s careful guidance through difficult issues and circumstances. It is hard to imagine how the Society could have been served any better by its Executive Director during this unusual period.

I have no doubt that the next year and a half will see many opportunities to recognize and celebrate Kent Richards’ contributions to the Society of Biblical Literature, but I have chosen to begin that celebration now by soliciting several comments from colleagues who have worked closely with Kent during his tenure as Executive Director.

"Kent Richards has provided extraordinary leadership for the Society of Biblical Literature. An energetic visionary, he has also provided a steady hand in the administration of the Society in challenging circumstances. We wish him well in retirement." Harold Attridge, Yale University.

"Kent Richards has successfully envisioned and shaped a future for the society that makes possible the richest forms of interdisciplinary conversation. The number and variety of programs at the annual and international meetings are a testament to his understanding of the diverse scholarly, professional, and religious communities of our contemporary world. He has led the society in connecting the world of information technology with the work of biblical research. Having brought to his work the background and perspective of a biblical scholar and teacher, he knows the value of collegiality and has operated as a trusted and valued colleague even as he has performed the many intricate and difficult tasks of managerial leadership. Kent has been a visionary, innovative, and steady leader who has richly prepared the Society for its work in the 21st century." Brian Blount, Union Theological Seminary in Richmond.

"Kent Richards has provided visionary leadership during a formative period of the Society. SBL is now the envy of many ACLS organizations, what with its vigorous meetings and publication program." David Petersen, Emory University.

"Kent’s vision for the future of biblical studies, his willingness to do the work necessary to move us toward that vision, his attention to detail, and his gracious and hospitable leadership style have been marvelous gifts to the Society. We owe him a particular debt of thanks for working to increase the visibility of scholarship by underrepresented constituencies across the globe." Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, Princeton Theological Seminary.

A search committee for Kent’s successor has been named and will be announced in the near future. A position announcement and statement on the search process will be posted soon on the SBL website and circulated widely. Please watch for these important announcements. We are grateful that Kent Richards has given us a strong, healthy and productive professional society through his leadership. That in itself will help make the transition to a new leadership a smooth one.


Bruce C. Birch
Chair, SBL Council

From Dove: Limited Markdowns On Sale Through Saturday

Check out nearly 600 titles offered at significant discounts (sometimes as large as 80%). For every four books purchased, buyers receive a fifth (of equal or lesser value) at no charge. I haven't examined the entire list, but I did see a number of worthwhile bargains on the first few pages, including Jodi Magness' The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls and volumes from the Anchor Yale Bible, Hermeneia, and Word Biblical Commentary series.

The available titles may be viewed here.