Another review of my Dynamics of Identity in Church History

Catherine M. Chin (University of California, Davis) has now published a review of my Dynamics of Identity book in the latest volume of Church History 80 (2011), 371-73. She has some interesting observations on the book, as well as insightful critique.  You can access the article through Cambridge journals online here if your university has a subscription.  I also notice that findarticles.com has the full text of the review available for free at this point.  I’ll be adding some excerpts from reviews to the companion site here.

For now, here is an excerpt:

“The primary contribution of the work to early Christian studies, and to the study of ancient religion more generally, lies in how few pages are actually spent on “early Christians,” and how many are spent on their world. Harland’s work is a social-historical analysis of ethnic, familial, and association identity markers in the Eastern Roman Empire, and his limited discussion of early Christian sources is firmly embedded in this context. Harland uses contemporary social-scientific models of identity theory, ethnic studies, and migration studies, and applies these models primarily to understudied inscriptional evidence, in order to explore the social and ideological contexts in which early Christian groups first came into being. This is important and enlightening work, and the focus on contemporaneous non-Christian identity markers and identity groupings is a welcome addition both to the literature on religion in the Roman world and, more indirectly, on the growth of the new Christian movement.”

 

Podcast 6.3: Judean and Christian Groups as Associations

Using Josephus and Philo as a starting point, here I discuss how Judeans (Jews), Christians, and others in the ancient world could express the identities of Judean synagogues and Christian congregations in terms of association-life. Although peculiar cultural minorities in some respects, Judean and Christian groups can be studied alongside other associations in the Greco-Roman world. This is part of series 6 (Associations in the Greco-Roman World) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 6.3: Judean and Christian Groups as Associations (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher.

Podcast 6.2: Social, Religious, and Burial Activities of Associations

Here I explore the internal activities of associations, pointing to intertwined social, religious, and burial purposes that these groups served for their members.  We take a close look at one particular association devoted to the god Zeus and the goddess Agdistis at Philadelphia in Asia Minor (LSAM 20). This is part of series 6 (Associations in the Greco-Roman World) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 6.2: Social, Religious, and Burial Activities of Associations (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher.

Podcast 6.1: Introduction to Associations in the Greco-Roman World

In this first episode of the series, I discuss our evidence for associations and guilds in the Greco-Roman world and outline the various types of these groups, including family-based, occupation-based, cultic-based, and ethnic-based groups.  This is part of series 6 (Associations in the Greco-Roman World) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 6.1: Introduction to Associations in the Greco-Roman World (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher.

Podcast 5.15: Jesus as a Messianic King?

Here I discuss first-century Judean concepts relating to an anointed one, or messiah, particularly a kingly messiah, and discuss contemporary figures who were viewed as kings. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.14: Jesus as a Messianic King? (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 5.14: Jesus as Prophet

Here I discuss first-century Judean concepts of the prophet and place Jesus within the context of other contemporary figures who were viewed as prophets. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.14: Jesus as Prophet (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 5.13: Jesus as Healer and Exorcist

Here I investigate the historical Jesus within the context of contemporaries who were viewed as healers and exorcists in Galilee and Judea. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.13: Jesus as Healer and Exorcist (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 5.12: Jesus as Teacher, part 2: Present or Future Kingdom?

This is the second of two episodes that consider the historical Jesus in the role of teacher. Here I discuss evidence regarding Jesus’ conception of the “kingdom of God” and the scholarly debates regarding Jesus’ present or (imminent) future focus. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.12: Jesus as Teacher, part 2: Present or Future Kingdom? (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 5.11: Jesus as Teacher, part 1 – Method and Content

This and the following episode consider the historical Jesus in the role of teacher. Here I discuss the form or method of his instruction, and begin to introduce the centrality of the “Kingdom of God” to his teachings.  This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.11: Jesus as Teacher, part 1: Method and Content (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 7.9: Daniel’s Visions as Veiled History

Here I further explore the first-person visionary account in Daniel chapters 7-12, our earliest example of an historical apocalypse as veiled history.

Podcast 7.9: Daniel’s Visions as Veiled History (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher.

Podcast 5.10: Jesus and his Mentor, John the Baptizer

Here I consider evidence from Josephus and the Gospels regarding John the Baptist and his importance for studying the historical Jesus. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.10: Jesus and his Mentor, John the Baptizer (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 5.9: Jesus in the Context of Educated Groups and Leaders

In order to provide a context for Jesus in the role of a teacher, here I discuss contemporary educated Judean groups and leaders, including Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, and the Dead Sea sect. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.9: Jesus in the Context of Educated Groups and Leaders (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

I won the Norman E. Wagner Award!

I was recently attending the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies (my favourite academic society) in Montreal. I was very happy to win the CSBS’s Norman E. Wagner award for the innovative use of technology relating to biblical scholarship (you can read more about the award here).  This was awarded for my work here on my websites, including my podcast.

P.S. The award money disappeared quite quickly (that’s what happens when you say “Beer’s on me!” as your official acceptance speech).

Podcast 5.8: Jesus, the Galilean and Judean

Here I discuss Jesus as a Galilean and a Judean.  I do so by looking at cultural life associated with the Jerusalem temple in the first century and the relations between cultures in Judea and Galilee. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.8: Jesus, the Galilean and Judean (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 5.7: Jesus, Galilee, and Israelite History, part 2 – To the Time of Jesus

Here I continue to place Jesus and Galilee within the broader context of Israelite history. This episode works through the Hellenistic and Roman periods, including the time of Jesus, and finishes with a discussion of social and economic life in first century Galilee and Judea. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.7: Jesus, Galilee, and Israelite History, part 2 – To the Time of Jesus (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

BAR’s second handwriting expert goes the other way

Timo S. Paananen’s blog now points us to the results for BAR‘s second handwriting expert.  Apparently the expert failed to meet several deadlines and has not yet submitted a written report.  Instead, through phone conversations he has communicated that he believes the Secret Gospel of Mark was forged by Morton Smith.  One wonders whether we will ever have a sufficiently definitive answer regarding the Secret Gospel of Mark.  This lack of clarity is very disappointing.  I will need to wait and read the full written report from that handwriting expert (if he does indeed submit it).  However, the reasoning of the expert as spelled out by Shanks in relation to phone conversations seems less than compelling as a definitive answer.

More on handwriting and the Secret Gospel of Mark: Probably not forged

When it rains it pours.  Biblical Archeology Review has hired an expert in Greek handwriting (Venetia Anastasopoulou) to offer her analysis of The Secret Gospel of Mark in relation to Morton Smith’s own handwriting.  You can access the BAR article here and you can directly access the very substantial 39-page report here.  Her main conclusion (p. 38) is as follows:

“OPINION

The following opinion is based upon an examination of the documents submitted to me for this purpose using the application of appropriate handwriting principles, and my experience and training as a forensic document and handwriting examiner. It is my professional opinion that the writers of the questioned document of “Secret Mark” on the document listed as Q1, Q2 an Q3 and Morton Smith’s handwriting on the documents listed as K1 – K27, are most probably not the same. Therefore it is highly probable that Morton Smith could not have simulated the document of “Secret Mark” .

QUALIFYING STATEMENT:

This opinion is based solely on the documents listed as having been examined. Due to the limitations imposed in examining document photographs, this opinion is highly probable. This opinion is subject to amendment if additional examinations are performed using additional exemplars which may exhibit evidence not observable in the documents upon which this opinion was based.”

As my review of Carlson’s book back in 2005 noted, the handwriting portion of his argument was among his strongest (the others seemed somewhat arbitrary to me).  However, I felt there were some key shortcomings regarding Carlson’s handwriting analysis and I did not find his hoax theory convincing.  Scott Brown and Pantuck’s recent post spelled out some other potential problems with Carlson’s approach, and now there is a properly trained expert in Greek handwriting who concludes that “it is highly probable that Morton Smith could not have simulated the document of ‘Secret Mark’” (p. 38).

Hopefully Stephen Carlson will offer his response to these developments, actively engaging the issues.  Hopefully others who have invested interests in seeing this as a forgery will fully consider  the evidence to the contrary.

I may post more once I’ve read through the whole report and through the recent article by Watson.

More on Stephen Carlson’s hand-writing analysis of the Secret Gospel of Mark

Further to some of my comments back in 2005 (see my post: The Secret Gospel of Mark and Carlson’s The Gospel Hoax: Smoking gun?), Scott Brown and Allan Pantuck have now written a rather damaging critique of Stephen Carlson’s work on the handwriting analysis of the Secret Gospel of Mark.

Thanks to Tony Burke for pointing me to the post on Timo Paananen’s Salainan evankelista blog and to Allan Pantuck for sending me a copy of the article.

Podcast 5.6: Jesus, Galilee, and Israelite History, part 1 – Until the Second Temple

This and the following episode place Jesus and Galilee within the broader context of Israelite history. This episode begins with the Assyrian period (700s BCE) and concludes with the Persian period, with the construction of the second temple (ca. 500 BCE). This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.6: Jesus, Galilee, and Israelite History, part 1 – Until the Second Temple (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 5.5: Scholarly Portraits of the Historical Jesus, part 2 (Sanders)

This is the second of two episodes that explore two contrasting scholarly portraits of the historical Jesus, those of John Dominic Crossan (Jesus as egalitarian peasant) and E.P. Sanders (Jesus as apocalyptic prophet). This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.5: Scholarly Portraits of the Historical Jesus, part 2 (Sanders) (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 5.4: Scholarly Portraits of the Historical Jesus, part 1 (Crossan)

This and the following episode explore two contrasting scholarly portraits of the historical Jesus, those of John Dominic Crossan (Jesus as egalitarian peasant) and E.P. Sanders (Jesus as apocalyptic prophet). This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.4: Scholarly Portraits of the Historical Jesus, part 1 (Crossan) (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 5.3: Studying the Historical Jesus – Sources and Problems, part 3

This episode is the final of three that introduce key historical sources and problems in reconstructing the life of a peasant from Galilee, the historical Jesus. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.3: Studying the Historical Jesus – Sources and Problems, part 3 (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 5.2: Studying the Historical Jesus – Sources and Problems, part 2

This episode is the second of three that introduce key historical sources and problems in reconstructing the life of a peasant from Galilee, the historical Jesus. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.2: Studying the Historical Jesus – Sources and Problems, part 2 (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 5.1: Studying the Historical Jesus – Sources and Problems, part 1

This episode is the first of three that introduce key historical sources and problems in reconstructing the life of a peasant from Galilee, the historical Jesus. This is part of series 5 (The Historical Jesus in Context) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 5.1: Studying the Historical Jesus – Sources and Problems, part 1 (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 4.6: Honouring the Emperors as Gods

Here I explain emperor worship and the various types of honours for the emperors as gods, including imperial cults at the provincial, civic, and local levels in Asia Minor.  This is the final episode in series 4 (Honouring the Gods in the Roman Empire) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 4.6: Honouring the Emperors as Gods (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Podcast 4.5: Justice from the Gods in Lydia

Here I discuss the active role of the gods in punishing transgressors by focusing on indigenous practices in the region of Lydia, particularly the propitiation or confession inscriptions.  This is part of series 4 (Honouring the Gods in the Roman Empire) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 4.5: Justice from the Gods in Lydia (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.

Greco-Roman deities: Artemis of Ephesus 3

Two of the statues I recently viewed in Italy really convinced me (as they have others such as Fleischer and LiDonnici) that the protuberances were usually understood not as breasts but as part of the costume which decorated the statue of Artemis Ephesia.

This is a statue you can now see in the Capitoline museum in Rome.  This statue has many of the same characteristics that we found in the other statues in my series here (arrangement of arms and legs, decoration of Artemis’ outfit with animals) with one very important exception: the use of two different colours of stone in the carving of the statue.  The artist that carved this statue, those who commissioned it, and likely many who viewed it considered the protrusions on Artemis’ front not as breasts (which would need to be black here to match the skin of her feet and arms) but as part of the clothing decoration.  Clearly these are not breasts.  As Fleischer and others note, it is likely that the artist was representing an earlier statue of Artemis Ephesia (perhaps a statue of dark wood) which was literally dressed in special garments on particular occasions (dressing and feeding statues was somewhat common in certain cultural circles in antiquity).  The artist chose to distinguish the earlier statue itself from the clothing and paraphernalia that decorated that statue by using two different colours of stone, and the bumps on her front are part of the costume here.

That this understanding of the protrusions was not just an anomaly is confirmed by another artist’s rendition found in Neapolis, which is now preserved in the national museum in Naples (inventory no. 6278):

So although church fathers such as Jerome and Minucius Felix later tended to generalize about the “multi-breasted” Artemis (Minucius Felix, Octavius 22.5; Jerome, Commentary on the Epistle to Ephesus proem), this characterization in late antiquity arose less from common perceptions among worshippers of this goddess and more from Christian propaganda aimed at presenting “paganism” as ridiculous or bizarre.  What exactly these objects are is at this point generally unanswerable, but what is clear is that they are part of Artemis Ephesia’s outfit, not her body.

Podcast 4.4: Messages from the Gods – Apollo at Claros and Didyma

Here I discuss messages from the gods, or divination.  One way in which the gods were thought to communicate with individuals, groups, and communities was through oracles such as those of Apollo at Claros and Didyma.  This is part of series 4 (Honouring the Gods in the Roman Empire) of the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean podcast.

Podcast 4.4: Messages from the Gods – Apollo at Claros and Didyma (mp3; archive.org page with various downloading options here).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

You may also subscribe to this and subsequent episodes through iTunes or another podcatcher. View credits for my introductory music.