Thursday, September 28, 2006

I'M OFF TO OTTAWA for a conference on Christian Apocryphal Texts, organized by Professor Pierluigi Piovanelli at the University of Ottawa. I leave from Edinburgh very early tomorrow morning. I'll have Internet access in Ottawa, so blogging should continue -- once again, as time permits.

I'm presenting a paper entitled "More Christian Apocrypha," and you can read it by clicking on the link. It's a summary of the texts being published by the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project which can be classed as "Christian Apocrypha" (a term that is defined in the paper). This paper goes with my earlier one, "More Jewish Pseudepigrapha," which was presented in July in Edinburgh at the Internation SBL conference, and which you can read by clicking on the link. The two presentations together will give you an overview of most of the texts in the project, barring a few of pagan origin and one or two transmitted in Muslim circles. I hope to publish the two papers together in updated and expanded form, so I have stripped the footnotes. You get the draft text for free.

With the kind permission of the organizer, I post the conference program below.
Christian Apocryphal Texts for the New Millennium
Achievements, Prospects, and Challenges

International Workshop on Christian Apocryphal Literature
University of Ottawa, Faculty of Arts
Department of Classics and Religious Studies

Ottawa (ON), September 29, 30, and October 1st, 2006

Friday, September 29, 2006

6:00-7:00 PM: Welcome cocktail: Department of Classics and Religious Studies, Arts Building, first floor

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Arts Building, room 509, fifth floor

Pierluigi Piovanelli presiding

9:00-9:30 AM: Opening
9:30-10:00: Lorenzo DiTommaso (Concordia University), “Jewish Pseudepigrapha and Christian Apocrypha: Definitions, Boundaries, and Points of Contact”
10:00-10:30: Timothy Beech (St. Paul University), “Unraveling the Complexity of the Oracula Sibyllina: The Value of a Socio-Rhetorical Approach in the Study of the Sibylline Oracles”

10:30-11:00: Coffee breack

11:00-11:30: Michael Kaler (McMaster University), “Gnostic Irony and the Adaptation of the Apocalyptic Genre”
11:30-12:00: Robert R. Phenix, Jr. (Saint Louis University), “The Problem of the Source of Balai’s Sermons on Joseph and the Nachleben of Pseudepigraphical Joseph Material”
12:00-12:30: James R. Davila (University of St. Andrews), “More Christian Apocryphal Texts”

12:30-2:00: Lunch

Paul-Hubert Poirier presiding

2:00-2:30 PM: Louis Painchaud (Université Laval), “À propos de la redécouverte de l’Évangile de Judas”
2:30-3:00: F. Stanley Jones (California State University), “Jewish Tradition on the Sadducees in the Pseudo-Clementines”
3:00-3:30: Annette Y. Reed (McMaster University), “New Light on ‘Jewish-Christian’ Apocrypha and the History of Jewish/Christian Relations”
3:30-4:00: Dominique Côté (University of Ottawa), “Orphic Theogony and the Context of the Clementines”

4:00-4:30 Coffee break

4:30-5:00: Nicole Kelley (Florida State University), “Pseudo-Clementine Polemics against Sacrifice: A Window onto Religious Life in the Fourth Century?”
5:00-5:30: Timothy Pettipiece (University of Ottawa), “Manichaean ‘Apocrypha’? From Mani to Manichaeism”
5:30-6:00: Theodore De Bruyn (University of Ottawa), “The Power of Apocryphal Narratives in Late Antiquity: The Testimony of Amulets”

Sunday, October 1st, 2006

Arts Building, room 509, fifth floor

Theodore De Bruyn presiding

9:00-9:30 AM: Tony Chartrand-Burke (University of York), “Researching the New Testament Apocrypha in the Twenty-First Century”
9:30-10:00: Peter W. Dunn (Faculté de Théologie Evangélique de Bangui), “The Acts of Paul as an Experimental Control for the Criticism of the Acts of the Apostles”
10:00-10:30: François Bovon (Harvard University), “The Revelation of Stephen or the Invention of Stephen’s Relics (Sinaiticus graecus 493)”

10:30-11:00: Coffee break

11:00-11:30: Dennis R. MacDonald (Claremont Graduate University), “The Gospel of Nicodemus (or, the Acta Pilati) as a Christian Iliad and Odyssey”
11:30-12:00: Cornelia Horn (Saint Louis University), “From Model Virgin to Maternal Intercessor: Mary, Children, and Family Problems in Late Antique Infancy Gospel Traditions”
12:00-12:30: Stephen J. Shoemaker (University of Oregon), “Mary in Early Christian Apocrypha: Virgin Territory”

12:30-2:00: Lunch

Dominique Côté presiding

2:00-2:30 PM: Craig A. Evans (Acadia Divinity College), “The Apocryphal Jesus: Assessing the Possibilities and Problems”
2:30-3:00: Ian Henderson (McGill University), “The Usefulness of Christian Apocryphal Texts in the Research on the Historical Jesus”
3:00-3:30: Adriana Bara (Université de Montréal), “The Convergence between Canonical Gospels, Apocryphal Writings and Liturgical Texts in Nativity and Resurrection Icons in Eastern Churches”

3:30-4:00: Coffee break

4:00-4:30 Paul-Hubert Poirier (Université Laval), “La Prôtennoia trimorphe (NH XIII,1), le Livre des secrets de Jean et le Prologue johannique”
4:30-5:00: Pierluigi Piovanelli (University of Ottawa), “Using Labels and Categories in a Responsible Way: The Making and Evolution of Early Christian Apocryphal Texts with the Gospel of Mary as a Test Case”
5:00-5:30: Final Discussion and Conclusion
THE POPE cites some New Testament Apocrypha. Really.
QUMRAN, ESSENE SKEPTICISM, and a Latin preposition. This is an old argument, but it's interesting to see it turning up in the popular media.
HINTS OF WEALTH in Second Temple Jerusalem:
Silver found in 2,000-year-old Jerusalem pottery hints at city's wealth during late Second Temple period

Unusually high concentrations of silver have been found during excavations in Jerusalem's Old City by Bar-Ilan University researchers in samples of different types of pottery from late Second Temple period some two millennia ago.


The geographical distribution of the samples with high silver cannot be explained by natural causes, said the researchers, who deduced that the origin of the silver is related to human activity. The team also concluded that silver was washed into the pottery by the action of groundwater - but it is possible that in some cases the high silver may have been related to the use of the pottery in antiquity.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006

MORE ON SEAN KINGSLEY'S THEORY that the Temple treasures were hidden in the Monastery of Theodosius in the early seventh century: YnetNews has an interview with him. Excerpt:
'Best left locked away'
Despite the prospect that the Temple artifacts could be so close to home, Kingsley warns of the dangers of attempting to retrieve them. " So many dangerous dreams for messianic redemption hinge on this Jewish birthright that I believe it would remain far safer for humanity locked away in the cleansing soils of the Holy Land, dreamt over but not recovered," Kingsley says.

He adds: "The Temple Mount is the centre of world religion but also a seething volcano of human hatred in the Arab-Israeli conflict. It takes very little provocation for all hell to break loose in Jerusalem. The Temple treasure should today be a global treasure that unites people, not a political tool validating the construction of a Third Temple on the Haram al-Sharif. If the menorah's Diaspora over the centuries tells us anything then it is a wise lesson about the irrationality of religious fanaticism: every power that sought to imprison this icon eventually crumbled into dust."

Where is the Menora?
Kingsley says that the fate of the Temple Menora, the official symbol of the State of Israel, is likely tied to the other artifacts pillaged by Rome: "Most of the splendours of the Temple were eagerly liquidated into cash by the emperor Vespasian who needed 4,000 million sesterces (£2.25 billion) to get the (Roman) empire back on an even keel after civil war, anarchy and the great fire of Rome of AD 64 left the Eternal City looking worn out. The menora, silver trumpets and Table of the Divine Presence were acknowledged as key symbols of power. Control these and you controlled heaven, the seas and all between. Rome knew that the menora was a hotline to God and was keen to 'imprison' this divine power for its own benefit. The same held true for subsequent possessors – Vandals and Byzantines."
He also weighs in on the Waqf's treatment of the Temple Mount. Read it all.

This is an interesting theory, but I hope it doesn't lead to a bunch of treasure-hunting loonies ransacking the grounds of the monastery.
Scrolls of mystery
Posted: Tuesday, September 26, 2006 6:38 PM by Alan Boyle
Categories: Religion, Science

The controversies surrounding the Dead Sea Scrolls are still lively, 2,000 years after they were written, and more than half a century after they were found hidden within the caves of the Judean desert. To get a sense of the mysteries surrounding those ancient fragments, there's nothing like seeing them up close - and that's exactly what I did last week at Seattle's Pacific Science Center during the run-up to its big-ticket exhibit, "Deciphering the Dead Sea Scrolls."

Israel Antiquities Authority via Pacific Science Center
This fragment from a calendrical document measures
about 2.5 inches by 4 inches (6 by 10.6 centimeters).

From a couple of feet away, many of the pieces look rather mundane: tattered bits from a shopping list that's gone through the laundry, perhaps, or yellowed wallpaper that's been scraped off a wall, or even ragged pieces from a jigsaw puzzle.

It's a good, thoughtful review that includes ancillary information, for example, on Peleg and Magen's alternative interpretation of the site of Qumran.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

BLOG WATCH: These are a few blog posts I've been meaning to mention. Shai Heijmans tells us about his doctoral dissertation at the Hebrew and Aramaic Philology blog. Shai also gives an English outline of the latest issue of the Hebrew Journal Lishonenu. At Ricoblog, Rick Brannan notes that Metzger's List of Sahidic Coptic Words is now available online. I got the print version back in the 1970s and have used it a little, although not recently. At the Thoughts on Antiquity blog, Ben C. Smith has been posting on ancient canonical lists. Note this one on the Muratorian Canon.

As for me, this is the first week of class, I'm swamped with meetings, and I have a conference in Canada coming up this weekend. Blogging may be late and light for a while!

Monday, September 25, 2006

Treasures looted by Rome 'are back in the Holy Land
By Dalya Alberge, Arts Correspondent (London Times)

A COLLECTION of sacred artefacts looted by the Romans from the Temple of Jerusalem and long suspected of being hidden in the vaults of the Vatican are actually in the Holy Land, according to a British archaeologist.

Sean Kingsley, a specialist in the Holy Land, claims to have discovered what became of the collection, which is widely regarded as the greatest of biblical treasures and includes silver trumpets that would have heralded the Coming of the Messiah.

The trumpets, gold candelabra and the bejewelled Table of the Divine Presence were among pieces shipped to Rome after the looting in AD70 of the Temple, the most sacred building in the ancient Jewish faith.

After a decade of research into previously untapped ancient texts and archaeological sources, Dr Kingsley has reconstructed the treasure’s route for the first time in 2,000 years to provide evidence that it left Rome in the 5th century.

He has discovered that it was taken to Carthage, Constantinople and Algeria before being hidden in the Judaean wilderness, beneath the Monastery of Theodosius.

I would be delighted if this were true, but I am extremely skeptical. I'll believe it when I see the treasures. At the end of the article we read "Dr Kingsley will reveal his findings in God’s Gold: The Quest for the Lost Temple Treasure of Jerusalem, to be published by John Murray on October 5." Should be interesting to read. Dr. Kingsley is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Reading. Here is information on him from their Graduate Centre for Medieval Studies website:
Sean Kingsley
MA DPhil: Editor of the leading international archaeology and history of ancient art magazine 'Minerva'. A leading expert on maritime archaeology and specialist on the Byzantine Holy Land and trade in Late Antiquity, Dr Kingsley has conducted excavations and surveys of shipwrecks in the Mediterranean and publishes extensively on Byzantine pottery.
The Monastery of Theodosius near Bethlehem doesn't seem to have a website, but here's some information about it.

For more on the lost Temple treasures, see here. I have been working on Massekhet Kelim lately but, no, I still haven't come into sudden wealth.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Jerusalem Tolerance Museum Sparks Fight

Associated Press Writer
The Museum of Tolerance started off with good intentions, over $100 million in donations, an eye-catching design by architect Frank Gehry, a 2004 kickoff ceremony attended by Arnold Schwarzenegger, and a great piece of Jerusalem real estate.

But underneath that real estate, it turned out, there were Muslim graves. As a result, instead of bringing this contentious city's warring tribes together, the museum has sparked a fight with political, religious and historical dimensions between Muslims and Jews - and all this before it has even been built.

Months of arbitration have ended in deadlock, the site is enclosed in aluminum walls, and the dispute is now before Israel's Supreme Court. Even if the court gives the go-ahead, however, the Museum of Tolerance could well remain permanently tainted by allegations of intolerance.

Analyzing Dead Sea Scrolls evolves from carbon to DNA


From the very beginning, science and technology have played a critical role in the authentication, restoration and analysis of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

"There have been a number of remarkable technological achievements that have helped us better understand the scrolls," said Scott Noegel, a University of Washington expert on Near Eastern languages and literature.

"I think the coolest has been the use of DNA analysis," added R. Bryce Seidl, president and chief executive officer of the Pacific Science Center.

LILITH gets a blurb in the Dallas Morning News.
CLERGY ARE INTERVIEWED about the Dead Sea Scrolls in the latest from the Seattle Post Intelligencer:
Scrolls' fragments bring religions together
Christians, Jews join in honoring ancient texts
Aside from their archaeological significance, the biblical portions of the Dead Sea Scrolls -- the Hebrew Bible for Jews, the Old Testament for Christians -- hold deep spiritual value for both faiths.

A half-dozen local synagogues and churches have reserved the exhibit for private showings. Many more have booked group tours, planned scroll sermons or invited scroll experts to give lectures.

Some clergy say the discovery reinforces their faith, underscores the accuracy of Bible translation and, particularly for Christians, provides a reminder of the link between Judaism and Christianity.