But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.  1 Peter 3: 14-16

Larry Hurtado - Apologetic Report
Tuesday, 15 January 2019 18:29

“Professor,” “Dr.,” and Geography

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One of the curious features of modern academia is how academic titles are used so differently in various countries.  This isn’t really a posting on early Christianity, but I thought it might be informative (or even amusing) nevertheless.

In the North American setting, practically anyone...

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It’s always a pleasure to see one’s former PhD students making their own contributions to scholarship, and one of my most productive former students is Paul Middleton, now Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity in the University of Chester.  From his PhD thesis completed...

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In a reading a recent book review, I was introduced to a remarkable resource for all students and scholars interested in the Roman world:  ORBIS:  The Stanford Geospatial Network of the Roman World, an online resource freely available, the home page here.

ORBIS is primarily intended to...

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Monday, 07 January 2019 01:15

“Honoring the Son”: A Recent Review

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Reviewing books well requires care.  When the topic of a book is central to field of study, and when the position advocated in a book is carefully nuanced, it is important to engage it accurately.  A newly-published review of my latest book left me a bit puzzled and disappointed. ...

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Thursday, 03 January 2019 22:06

Circumcision of Jesus

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From about the 6th century or so in the Western churches, 1 January was designated as the Feast of the Circumcision of Jesus (eight days after 25 Dec).  Luke 2:21 mentions Jesus’ circumcision and formal naming.  In the medieval period, however, the date was treated as another feast...

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Monday, 17 December 2018 20:27

The “Willoughby Papyrus” (P134)

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In the latest issue of Journal of Biblical Literature Geoffrey Smith offers an in-depth discussion of an interesting papyrus that has a few verses of John on one side and what appears to be remnants of an otherwise unknown Christian text on the other side of the writing...

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Paula Fredriksen’s latest book is a readable, well-paced narrative of the first decades of what became Christianity, with lots of particular good points made:  When Christians Were Jews:  The First Generation (Yale University Press, 2018).  Intended for a wide readership, the...

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Friday, 30 November 2018 18:17

Orsini on Bodmer Biblical Papyri

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Further to my notice about Pasquale Orsini’s newly published English translation of several of his essays on Greek and Coptic scripts, there is a guest blog by Orsini that appeared earlier this year on the Evangelical Textual Criticism site (here) in which Orsini briefly describes the...

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Thursday, 29 November 2018 19:46

Orsini's New Book on Greek Coptic Scripts

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One of the most productive and important palaeographers today is Pasquale Orsini, but much of his scholarly work has been published in Italian and so has not received the widespread direct attention that it deserves.  It is a great boon, therefore, that a number of his essays have now been...

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Tuesday, 27 November 2018 18:57

Silent Reading in Roman Antiquity

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Since a few comments have referred to the matter, I post some references on the question of whether in the ancient Roman period individuals practiced silent reading.  To cut to the conclusion, it is now accepted among Classicists and ancient historians (for over 20 years now) that silent...

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Friday, 23 November 2018 19:07

Mark and Its Jewish Context

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A recent multi-author book offers illustrations of examining the Gospel of Mark in light of second-temple Jewish texts and traditions:  Reading Mark in Context:  Jesus and Second Temple Judaism, ed. Ben C. Blackwell, John K Goodrich, and Jason Maston (Grand Rapids:  Zondervan,...

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Thursday, 22 November 2018 18:49

“The Great Divide”: Orality and Texts

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Trying to catch up on recent journal articles after my prolonged confinement in hospital, I came across the article by Paul S. Evans, “Creating a New ‘Great Divide’: The Exoticization of Ancient Culture in Some Recent Applications of Orality Studies to the Bible,” Journa...

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Tuesday, 20 November 2018 18:52

More on Carbon-14 Dating of Manuscripts

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In an earlier posting in which I offered a review of Brent Nongbri’s new book, God’s Library (here), I noted that he gives a helpful introduction to what Carbon-14 dating comprises, and its limits.  I also benefited earlier from a presentation by Josephine Dru given at a conference...

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Monday, 19 November 2018 22:53

National Geographic on “Bible Hunters”

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I’ve just received in the post my complimentary copies of the latest issue of National Geographic (December 2018), which features a major article on “Bible hunters” and the (sometimes frantic) search for ancient manuscripts of biblical texts.  There is also an elaborate...

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Friday, 16 November 2018 18:43

An Imperial Reaction to the Empty Tomb?

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Kyle Harper sent me a link to his newly published essay  in the Los Angeles Review of Books on the “Nazareth Inscription,” which is thought to be authentic, and may be an imperial reaction to the early Christian claim about Jesus’ empty tomb:  here.  I...

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Monday, 12 November 2018 23:11

Notable Markan Variants in Codex W

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In earlier postings I’ve noted that major variants continue to appear, and in some cases “succeed” in gaining widespread acceptance in the subsequent manuscript tradition as late as the fifth century and thereafter.  There are also examples of interesting variants that first...

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Monday, 12 November 2018 03:38

“God’s Library” (by Brent Nongbri): A Review

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In an essay published nearly two decades ago, I drew attention to several features of early Christian manuscripts, identifying these features as likely our earliest expressions of an emergent Christian visual and material culture.[1]  A few years later, in a contribution to the Society of...

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Wednesday, 07 November 2018 23:09

Nongbri on John 21 in P66

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Brent Nongbri has recently blogged about his newly-published article in which he explores the possibility that P.Bodmer 2 (P66) may give us a hint of an earlier copy of the Gospel of John without chapter 21.  See here.  The full article appears in the latest issue of the journal Early...

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In earlier postings, I’ve questioned the paradigm/model of an early “wild” period of textual transmission of the Gospels and a subsequent/later period of textual stability (here, here, and here). The model may seem intuitively credible, but the manuscript evidence...

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In a number of blog postings and publications I’ve referred to “copyists” and distinguished their work (copying a text by hand) from “readers/users” of texts (individuals who invested time in studying a text, and who might well make changes to it, believing that...

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Wednesday, 31 October 2018 20:17

Literacies in the Roman World

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A few decades ago, it became fashionable in some scholarly circles, including NT/Christian Origins, to hold the view that in the Roman period there was an extremely low level of literacy, and that only elite levels of society had that skill.  One still sees this view touted today (typically by...

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Wednesday, 31 October 2018 01:52

Carbon-14 Dating: A Reminder

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Some commenters have asked if early papyri of NT writings have been submitted to carbon-14 dating.  I am moved to remind readers of an earlier blog-posting about a set of tests run on papyri here.  Essentially, these tests, run in three different laboratories, all roughly reached similar...

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Sunday, 28 October 2018 22:17

The Early Text of the New Testament

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In some comments on a previous posting, the question of how the writings that came to form the NT were transmitted in the earliest centuries has arisen.   This prompted me to point again to what is probably the best single-volume treatment of the question:  Charles E. Hill and...

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On Monday of this week (22nd) the esteemed scholar of ancient Judaism in the Roman world, Professor Martin Goodman, delivered the 2018 Kennedy-Wright Lecture, sponsored by our Centre for the Study of Christian Origins: “The Jewish Paul and the History of Judaism.”

Goodman first noted...

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Thursday, 25 October 2018 19:37

Personal Update

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I have been reluctant to use this space for personal matters, but because so many readers sent kind words of encouragement during my chemo therapy and hospital confinement, I feel obliged to give some update.  I underwent a two-stage chemo treatment for a type of leukemia (AML) that ran most...

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