Saturday, May 06, 2006

QUMRAN SCHOLAR GEZA VERMES offers expert commentary on The Da Vinci Code, The Jesus Papers, and the Gospel of Judas in today's Times:
The great Da Vinci Code distraction
Jesus married Mary Magdalene and admitted he wasn’t God, Judas was only obeying orders — after Dan Brown the litany of biblical “revelations” seems unending. Geza Vermes asks why
He concludes:
It is no surprise then that, since the 19th century each new archaeological discovery — real, or more recently, thanks to the media, fictional — has been greeted by the public as a long-awaited key to the mystery. The Mesopotamian clay tablets about the dying and rising god, the mystery of the redeeming Persian god Mithra, the Oriental and Hellenistic salvation mysticism of the Roman Empire in New Testament times, and in the mid-20th century, the Dead Sea Scrolls, were acclaimed as the longed-for clue to the truth.

The archaeological finds have all taught us something new, but the best source for reconstructing the portrait of the historical Jesus has been available all the time. It lies in the New Testament — provided it is interpreted with a view to discovering what the original writers meant to convey to the original readers.

This genuine message about a Galilean faith-healer and preacher of the coming Kingdom of God was progressively concealed under the successive garbs of the mystical vision of St Paul and the Fourth Gospel, and the Greek philosophical imagery of the early church fathers and centuries of accretion inspired by the doctrinal and practical — often political — needs of later Christianity.

Today, theologians and secular historians of religion, working hand in hand and using the latest linguistic, archaeological and cultural tools, should be able to retrieve the authentic Gospel of Jesus, his first-hand message to his original followers. The high dignitaries of the churches would do better to encourage and applaud them than to focus their ire on trivia.
That's a good point, although I'm less optimistic about our being able to recover Jesus' original message from even our best sources. But as Vermes explains clearly, the Gospel of Judas is entirely irrelevant for that aim, even though it's of great interest for other historical questions.

The main good that has come from Brown's fiction and Baigent's highly dubious claims is that the real story of responsible historical study of first-century Christianity has gotten a much wider airing than it would have otherwise.
CAESAREA'S NEW UNDERWATER MUSEUM is reviewed in the Middle East Times:
World's first underwater museum opens in Israel
Amelia Thomas
Middle East Times
May 5, 2006

CAESAREA, Israel -- When most people think of Israel's underwater attractions, their thoughts immediately turn to Eilat: there, you can swim with dolphins, observe the myriad of sea life at the underwater observatory, or dive down to Red Sea coral reefs.

Last week, however, a new attraction welcomed its first visitors, this time on the Mediterranean coast: at the ancient port of Caesarea, roughly 60 kilometers north of Tel Aviv, the world's first underwater museum opened for business.

Although it lacks the crystal-clear waters and stunning marine life of Red Sea destinations, the museum hopes to draw visitors interested in the history and archaeology of the region. Here, Caesarea's history is on display for those equipped with a snorkel or wetsuit, as four underwater trails lead museum visitors around the remains of Jewish King Herod the Great's once spectacular ancient harbor.


Friday, May 05, 2006

THE JOURNAL OF THEOLOGICAL STUDIES has a new issue out (57.1, April 2006) with lots of articles of interest. Here's the table of contents:
James Barr
Is God a Liar? (Genesis 2–3)—and Related Matters
The Journal of Theological Studies Advance Access published on November 8, 2005
J Theol Studies 2006 57: 1-22

Jane Heath
Ezekiel Tragicus and Hellenistic Visuality: The Phoenix at Elim
The Journal of Theological Studies Advance Access published on November 24, 2005
J Theol Studies 2006 57: 23-41

Guy Williams
An Apocalyptic and Magical Interpretation of Paul's ‘Beast Fight’ in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 15:32)
J Theol Studies 2006 57: 42-56

John C. Poirier
Symbols of Wisdom in James 1:17
The Journal of Theological Studies Advance Access published on February 17, 2006
J Theol Studies 2006 57: 57-75

Joseph G. Mueller
Post-Baptismal Chrismation in Second-Century Syria: A Reconsideration of the Evidence
J Theol Studies 2006 57: 76-93

Theodore de Bruyn
P. RYL. III.471: A Baptismal Anointing Formula Used as an Amulet
J Theol Studies 2006 57: 94-109

Paul L. Gavrilyuk
Universal Salvation in the Eschatology of Sergius Bulgakov
The Journal of Theological Studies Advance Access published on October 25, 2005
J Theol Studies 2006 57: 110-132

Michael C. Rea
Polytheism and Christian Belief
J Theol Studies 2006 57: 133-148

Notes and Studies

Bruce A. Lowe
Oh {delta}{iota}{alpha with oxia}! How is Romans 4:25 to be Understood?
J Theol Studies 2006 57: 149-157

Johan Leemans
‘At that Time the Group Around Maximian was Enjoying Imperial Power’: an Interpolation in Gregory of Nyssa's Homily in Praise of Theodore
J Theol Studies 2006 57: 158-163
As I said earlier in the week, I'm way behind of noting journal issues, so let me catch up here with JTS. It looks like I'm three additional issues behind, so here the table of contents for each:

56.2, October 2005)
M. D. H
The Revd Professor Maurice F. Wiles
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 337-338


Paul McKechnie
Judaean Embassies and Cases before Roman Emperors, AD 44–66
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 339-361

Todd A. Wilson
‘Under Law’ in Galatians: A Pauline Theological Abbreviation
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 362-392

A. J. M. Wedderburn
Sawing off the Branches: Theologizing Dangerously Ad Hebraeos
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 393-414

Dirk Krausmüller
Conflicting Anthropologies in the Christological Discourse at the End of Late Antiquity: The Case of Leontius of Jerusalem's Nestorian Adversary
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 415-449

Nancy Hudson
Divine Immanence: Nicholas of Cusa's Understanding of Theophany and the Retrieval of a ‘New’ Model of God
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 450-470

Notes and Studies

Simon Gathercole
The Heavenly {alpha with psili}{nu}{alpha}{tau}o{lambda}eeacgr (Luke 1:78–9)
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 471-488

John M. Rist
Luke 2:2: Making Sense of the Date of Jesus' Birth
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 489-491
56.1, April 2005

Douglas A. Campbell
Possible Inscriptional Attestation to Sergius Paul[L]US (Acts 13:6–12), and the Implications for Pauline Chronology
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 1-29

Carl Mosser
The Earliest Patristic Interpretations of PSALM 82, Jewish Antecedents, and the Origin of Christian Deification
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 30-74

Johannes Zachhuber
Once Again: Gregory of Nyssa on Universals
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 75-98

Notes and Studies

Sean M. McDonough
Competent to Judge: The Old Testament Connection Between 1 Corinthians 5 and 6
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 99-102

Peter Van Nuffelen
Two Fragments from the Apology for Origen in the Church History of Socrates Scholasticus
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 103-114

M. J. Edwards
Constantine's Donation to the ‘Bishop and Pope of the City of Rome’
J Theol Studies 2005 56: 115-121
55.2, October 2004

Christian Stettler
Purity of Heart in Jesus' Teaching: Mark 7:14–23 Par. as an Expression of Jesus' Basileia Ethics
J Theol Studies 2004 55: 467-502

Harry O. Maier
The Politics of the Silent Bishop: Silence and Persuasion in Ignatius of Antioch
J Theol Studies 2004 55: 503-519

William Adler
Sextus Julius Africanus and the Roman near East in the Third Century
J Theol Studies 2004 55: 520-550

Geoffrey D. Dunn
Heresy and Schism according to Cyprian of Carthage
J Theol Studies 2004 55: 551-574

Josef Lössl
When is a Locust Just a Locust? Patristic Exegesis of Joel 1:4 in the Light of Ancient Literary Theory
J Theol Studies 2004 55: 575-599
Links to the specific articles can be found on the relevant pages linked to above. Requires a paid personal or insitutional subscription to access the full texts. And it goes without saying that all issues of JTS have many interesting book reviews as well.
VIN DIESEL'S HANNIBAL MOVIE gets a brief mention in an Electric New Paper (Singapore) article on his current work:
He will be directing and starring in Hannibal, a movie about the Carthaginian general who led an army riding elepants across the Alps to invade Italy during the Second Punic War (218-202 BC).

That's not all - the brawny director-wannabe intends to shoot the film in ancient languages such as Aramaic, Iberian and Carthaginian (think The Passion Of The Christ).

He said: 'The whole point of directing an epic film (is that) you want to go all the way.'
As you may remember, the Carthaginians spoke Punic, a North African dialect of Phoenician. I'm not sure why the film would need Aramaic, but this is not the first time it's been listed, as I've noted before.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

John C. Trever, 90; His Photos of Dead Sea Scrolls Preserved the Documents for Biblical Research
By Valerie J. Nelson, Times Staff Writer
May 4, 2006

John C. Trever, one of the first Americans to examine the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948 and whose photographs of the ancient texts also became important historical documents, has died. He was 90.

Trever, who was the last surviving member of the original group of Western scholars to study the scrolls, died Saturday at his home in Lake Forest, his family said. No cause of death was given.

I'm not sure what the writer means by the "original group," but Frank Moore Cross and John Strugnell were members of the original team in charge of editing the Scrolls and they are still alive.

UPDATE (5 May): Geza Vermes e-mails:
What the Trever obituary of the LA Times means by "original group" of Western Scrolls scholars is not the first de Vaux editorial team, but the Jerusalem American School staff of Burrows, Brownlee, Trever, plus perhaps the Dutch Dominican J. van der Ploeg. Of these John Trever was the last to pass away, preceded by van der Ploeg in 2004, and the other two much earlier.
Why Jews Should Worry About "The Da Vinci Code"
David Klinghoffer (The Jewish Week)

With the release of the Sony Pictures version of Dan Brown�s mega-selling �The Da Vinci Code� in two weeks, worries continue to mount among traditional Christians about both the book�s and the movie�s impact. Should non-Christians be concerned?

Yes, we should. Jews in particular need to be aware of the gift Brown has given, in all innocence, to anti-Semites.


Besides highlighting the word "Zion" or "Sion," the two conspiracy theories [The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and Brown's book] share an understanding of how to deal with ideas you disagree with. Rather than taking traditional Christian beliefs at face value and arguing against them (as I do in my current book, by the way), Brown portrays the religion itself as resting upon a conscious deception. That excuses him from having to make arguments at all.

Anti-Semites do the same thing. Rather than coming out honestly against Darwinism or Marxism or modernity in general, they concoct a story about Judaism as a lie and a conspiracy. "Protocols" remains a global phenomenon of staggering popularity, especially in the Arab world.

TWO BOOKS ON GODDESS TRADITIONS in ancient Israel and Judaism are reviewed in The Forward:
The Jewish Goddess, Past and Present
By Jay Michaelson
May 5, 2006

Did God Have a Wife? Archeology And Folk Religion in Ancient Israel
By William G. Dever
Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 360 pages, $25.

The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature
By Rami Shapiro
Skylight Paths Publishing, 240 pages, $16.99.
Recently, however, archaeologists and biblical critics have revealed a far more complicated picture of how biblical Israelites lived their religious lives. As exhaustively summarized in William Dever's "Did God Have a Wife? Archeology and Folk Religion in Ancient Israel," most scholars now believe that the ancient Israelite world was far less monolithic, and monotheistic, than the Bible suggests. Household shrines, statuettes of male and female figures, and inscriptions and carvings describing "YHVH and His Asherah" all point to a decentralized biblical religion that was practiced largely within family structures, and well beyond the strictures of Jerusalem's orthodox elite. Some scholars believe that this evidence points to an indigenous "goddess worship" that regarded the biblical God as one half of a divine couple. Others say it suggests the influence of non-Israelite religions. And still others, such as Raphael Patai, whose enormously influential 1978 book, "The Hebrew Goddess," arguably inaugurated the popular appropriation of this scholarship, believe that the tradition of the Divine Feminine — a female half of God, or bride of God, or earth-centered, body-centered counterpart to the sky god Yah — endured long after the biblical period ended.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

THE TOP TEN MOST CONTROVERSIAL FILMS as listed by the Guardian include two Jesus movies, at places number 4 and 9:
1 Salò (1975) Pier Paolo Pasolini

2 Natural Born Killers (1994) Oliver Stone

3 Crash (1996) David Cronenberg

4 The Last Temptation of Christ (1988) Martin Scorsese

5 The Devils (1971) Ken Russell

6 Pretty Baby (1977) Louis Malle

7 Birth of a Nation (1915) DW Griffith

8 Straw Dogs (1971) Sam Peckinpah

9 Monty Python's Life of Brian (1979) Terry Jones

10 Bandit Queen (1994) Shekhar Kapur
THE GOSPEL OF JUDAS is placed in its Sethian Gnostic context by Professor John Turner in the Lincoln Journal Star. Excerpt:
“It (the Judas Gospel) may shock some people, but to me it just adds to the Sethian corpus,” Turner said.

He summarized some of the basic beliefs of the Sethians in this way: According the book of Genesis, the first man, Adam, had two sons, Cain and Abel. Cain killed Abel, and he and his descendants were marked for that crime. But two passages (Genesis 4:25 and 5:3) state that Adam had a third son “in his own likeness,” who was named Seth. The Sethians believed that while the material world was created by an ignorant, angry and jealous god, Adam himself had a spark of divinity that came from the true God, the Father who exists in the realm of pure spirit.

“Adam is actually smarter and more perceptive than the creator being,” Turner said. The god of this world attempts to deprive Adam and Eve of their immortality, driving them from the Garden of Eden after they eat from the tree of knowledge. But Seth inherits the spark of divinity and a soul that returns to the spiritual realm after death.

Seth is also called the Allogenes, meaning “of a different seed or race,” a term that also was applied to Jesus. “Revealers from the divine world appear from time to time, culminating with the heavenly Seth appearing in the guise of Jesus,” Turner explained.

In the Gospel of Judas, Jesus imparts esoteric teachings to Judas that he does not reveal to the other disciples. In fact, Jesus laughs at the other disciples because they pray to the false god of this world rather than worshipping the true eternal Father, whom Jesus identifies as a “great invisible spirit.”

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

LARRY STAGER'S STATEMENT OF CONCERN is covered today in a New York Times article: "Archaeologists Debate Whether to Ignore the Pasts of Relics." Excerpt:
Many scholars stress that no single policy fits all unprovenanced objects. There is a huge difference between, say, looted sculptures, which may be impossible to identify with a specific historical setting, and objects bearing inscriptions or texts, which can yield much information even when their origins are unknown. And some unprovenanced works can easily be faked while others cannot.

There is also a broad divide between archaeologists, who generally study material from documented sites and rely on the good graces of host countries with strict prohibitions against the antiquities trade, and scholars of ancient texts, who often do not work in the field and may have no qualms about drawing on unprovenanced objects in their research.

Adding complexity to the debate, Mr. Stager is a field archaeologist who directs a site in Israel that has been supported by two well-known antiquities collectors, Shelby White and her husband, Leon Levy, who died in 2003. The Shelby White-Leon Levy Program for Archaeological Publications at Harvard, of which Mr. Stager is a board member, finances articles and books about legitimate, scientific digs. Yet Ms. White's own collecting is the focus of an Italian investigation into the illicit antiquities trade.

Even supporters of the two associations' current rules acknowledge that new approaches are needed to address the recent plunder in Iraq and other regions. ...
Read it all.

Via the Iraq Crisis list. Chuck Jones adds:
I also take the liberty or reminding readers of a related statement, read by Michael Müller-Karpe at the Workshop "The Threat to Iraqâ's Cultural Heritage - Current Status and Future Prospects" (July 23, 2005), based on an earlier draft prepared for and read at the Rencontre's General Meeting on July 20, 2005. with editorial input from Clemens Reichel and Francis Deblauwe as well as others:
Dead Sea Scrolls photographer John Trever dies
Associated Press

LAKE FOREST, Calif. - John C. Trever, the American scholar who photographed the Dead Sea Scrolls in Jerusalem in 1948, has died, his family reported. He was 90.

Trever died Saturday at his home in Lake Forest in Orange County, said his son, Albuquerque Journal political cartoonist John Trever.

UNL prof an expert on Sethian gospels, wants more access

By BOB REEVES / Lincoln Journal Star

John Turner, professor of classics and religion at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, is a scholar of the Coptic language and one of the leading experts on Sethian Gnosticism. That’s why he’s so eager to study the original documents contained in Codex Tchacos, the 1,700-year-old manuscript that contains the recently released Gospel of Judas and three other ancient religious works.

But he’s frustrated that he’s not able to examine the materials.


A transcription and translation are posted on the Web at The site also has some photos of the crumbling manuscripts for on-screen scrutiny, but only a few of the 26 pages of the gospel have been posted so far. Four pages of the manuscript are on display at National Geographic headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Turner is examining the available material but wants to see more. He’d like to have photographs of each page of the manuscript, so he could analyze the Coptic characters and make his own judgment about whether the transcription by scholars Rodolphe Kasser and Gregor Wurst is accurate

Seriously, I know the National Geographic Society is publishing the pictures in a book later this year, and I appreciate them releasing the transcriptions and some photos pretty promptly, but I can't see how it would hurt them to let people like Professor Turner have photos of the rest of the document in advance.
CSSS Special Symposium

Tradition, Interpretation and Appropriation in Syriac Prayer

Wednesday May 17, 2006 10am – 5:30 pm

University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario

University College, King’s College Circle

Croft Chapter House

Introductory Note

Amir Harrak, University of Toronto

“‘Magianzing’ the Dragon in the Hymn of the Pearl"

Robin Darling Young, University of Notre Dame

“Lament, Liturgy and Prophesy in the Syriac Version of 4Ezra”

Hindy Najman, University of Toronto

“The Narrative Setting of Manasseh's Prayer in the Didascalia”

Judith C. Newman, University of Toronto

“Hebrew, Aramaic and Syriac Liturgical Expressions: Translational Similarities and Differences”

Harry Fox, University of Toronto

“Patterns of Prayer: The Hûssoyô Incense Rite of Forgiveness”

Joseph Amar, University of Notre Dame

“Iconography of the Western Syriac Liturgical Year”

Abdo Badwi, University of Kaslik, Beirut

“The East Syriac Liturgy Malka: Origins, Development, and Significance”

Amir Harrak, University of Toronto

Closing Remarks

Hindy Najman, University of Toronto

All are welcome

The Canadian Society for Syriac Studies
Phone: 416-978-3184
FAX 416-978-3305
From the Hugoye list.

There's also a call for papers for a Syriac session at a Patristics conference in Japan this fall:
The Third Conference of the Western Pacific Rim Patristics Society is due to be held between 29th September and 1st October 2006 at Nanzan University, Nagoya, Japan.

I am hoping to organise a "Syriac" session, consisting of several 20-minute papers, at the conference. So far, I have promises of papers from one Australian and two Japanese contributors. For the purpose, among others, of promoting Syriac and related studies in the Far East, it would be good if this number could be increased with the help of Syriacists either from within the "Western Pacific Rim" or from beyond. (It is not often that Syriacists have excuses for travelling to Japan. This may be your chance!).

The main theme of the conference this year is the "Use of the Gospels in Early Christianity". Papers for the Syriac session may but need not fall under this theme.

On the WPRPS, please see:

On the 2006 conference, with "call for papers" and "registration form":

The deadline for submission of paper titles and 100-word abstracts is 30th June.

I ask those wishing/willing to take part in the Syriac session at the conference both to take the official steps for registration and to drop me a line at this e-mail address.

Hidemi Takahashi
Dept. of Area Studies
School of Arts and Sciences
University of Tokyo
Again, from the Hugoye list.

Monday, May 01, 2006

SIMON PARKER -- R.I.P. Sad news indeed. This just in from Jack Sasson's Agade list:
I got this dreadful news from Kathe Darr

With great sadness I am writing to inform you of the death of Dr. Simon B. Parker Saturday evening shortly after 7:00 p.m. Simon suffered a brain hemorrhage last weekend. He died peacefully with his family surrounding him.

Simon's home address is 47 Woodland Road, Newton, MA, 02466. His wife'sname is Sonia; their sons are Jonathan and Jeremy. Jonathan and his wife, Ann, have two children, Julian and Asher.

The family requests that instead of flowers, contributions be sent to a scholarship in Simon's honor. Money can be sent to Mr. Steve Morin, Office of Development and Alumni Relations, Boston University School of Theology, 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA, 02215.

Funeral arrangements will be posted as soon as are completed

I will relay any future information on funeral arrangement. Let me notice here that
Simon Parker taught at School of Theology at Boston University where he was a Professor of Hebrew Bible and the Harrell F. Beck Scholar of Hebrew Scripture. I am reproducing from his website this brief notice about him and his. Please go there for a full listing of his publications.

"Professor Parker concentrates on the interpretation of biblical literature in its ancient literary, religious, and social context and on its significance for the church in the present day. His earlier research focused on Israel’s inheritance from earlier Canaanite culture (as represented especially in Ugaritic literature) and its transformation of that tradition. More recently his primary research interest has been the construction of the social and religious life of ancient Judeans out of Hebrew inscriptions in relation to other archaeological sources and biblical literature. He is the author of The Pre-Biblical Narrative Tradition (Scholars Press, 1988) and Stories in Scripture and Inscriptions (Oxford University Press, 1997) and has edited and contributed translations to Ugaritic Narrative Poetry (Scholars Press, 1997). For eight years he served as the general editor of the Society of BiblicalLiterature’s translation series, Writings from the Ancient World, editing seven volumes. He has published numerous articles in books and scholarly journals, as well as a few for a broader readership in church publications. Notable recent articles include: “ Official Attitudes toward Prophecy at Mari and in Israel,” Vetus Testamentum 43 (1993) 50-68; “The Beginning of the Reign of God: Psalm 82 as Myth and Liturgy,” Revue Biblique 102 (1995) 532-59; “Did the Authors of the Books of Kings Make Use of Royal Inscriptions?” Vetus Testamentum 50 (2000) 357-78; “Graves, Caves, and Refugees: An Essay in Microhistory,” Journal for the Study of the Old Testament 27 (2003) 259-88.".
A QUARTER OF A MILLION INDIVIDUAL HITS! I just noticed the counter, which now reads 250,033. I don't know who number 250,000 was, but welcome anyway.
LIGHT BLOGGING TODAY. It's the May Day holiday and I've been trying to catch up with admin and get started on an upcoming seminar presentation on the More Old Testament Pseudepigrapha Project. But I did manage to get the blog search engine working again. Anyone who has used it recently will have noticed that it was stuck in 2003. It now covers the entire blog again. And I've fiddled with the archive settings and moved it down to a less intrusive place. Now if I can just get the RSS feed working again ...
TWO NEW ISSUES OF DEAD SEA DISCOVERIES need to be noted. Here are the tables of contents:
Volume 12, Number 3, 2005


Observations on the Editorial Shaping of the So-Called Community Hymns from 1QHa and 4QHa (4Q427)
pp. 233-256(24)
Author: Harkins, Angela Kim

The Ideological and Literary Unity of 4QInstruction and its Authorship
pp. 257-279(23)
Author: Nitzan, Bilhah

4Q251: Midrash Mishpatim
pp. 280-302(23)
Author: Shemesh, Aharon

A Cave 4 Fragment of Divre Mosheh (4QDM) and the Text of 1Q22 1:7–10 and Jubilees 1:9, 14
pp. 303-312(10)
Author: Tigchelaar, Eibert

4Q245 (psDan' ar) and the High Priesthood of Judas Maccabaeus
pp. 313-362(50)
Author: Wise, Michael O.

Book Reviews

Book Reviews
pp. 363-374(12)

Volume 13, Number 1, 2006


pp. 1-3(3)
Author: Collins, John J.


The Book(s) Attributed to Noah
pp. 4-23(20)
Author: Stone, Michael E.

Marginalia on 4QInstruction
pp. 24-37(14)
Authors: Martínez, Florentino García

Isaiah 11:15: A New Interpretation Based on the Genesis Apocryphon
pp. 38-45(8)
Author: Eshel, Esther

A Statistical Analysis of the Textual Character of 4QSamuela (4Q51)
pp. 46-54(9)
Authors: Cross, Frank Moore; Saley, Richard J.

Fragments of a Leviticus Scroll (Aruglev) Found in the Judean Desert in 2004
pp. 55-60(6)
Authors: Eshel, Hanan; Baruchi, Yosi; Porat, Roi

The Scriptural Setting of the Book of Jubilees
pp. 61-72(12)
Author: Vanderkam, James C.

Exegetical Notes on 4Q225 "Pseudo-Jubilees"
pp. 73-98(26)
Author: Kugel, James

Towards a Study of the Uses of the Concept of Wilderness in Ancient Judaism
pp. 99-113(15)
Author: Najman, Hindy

Book Reviews

Book Reviews
pp. 114-125(12)
Links to the individual articles can be found on the pages linked to above. The articles require a paid personal or institutional subscription to access.

I'm very behind on recent journal issues. I'll try to catch up in the coming days or weeks.

Sunday, April 30, 2006


I am sorry to inform you that John Trever died on Saturday morning. I received the news today from Risa Levitt Kohn, who forwarded an e-mail from his son, Jim Trever. He writes, "There will be a memorial service for him next Saturday at 2:30pm or 3pm Pacific time at the Freedom Village Chapel 23442 El Toro Rd. Lake Forest, CA 92630."

John Trever was acting director of the American Schools of Oriental Research in Jerusalem in 1948 and he participated in the authentication of the first Dead Sea Scrolls, taking important photographs of Cave I material. He continued to work on the Scrolls through his lifetime. His book, The Dead Sea Scrolls: A Personal Account, has been published in revised form by Gorgias Press.
MORE ATTENTION is given to the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha in a piece by Msgr. Pedro Lopez-Gallo in the B.C. Catholic, again inspired by the Gospel of Judas:
The Gospel of Judas
'Much ado about nothing'

By Msgr. Pedro Lopez-Gallo

The publication of the Gospel of Judas has made much noise for nothing, because this apparently new information about Judas, the villain, and the other disciples, the heroes, was already known and pronounced heretical about 150-180 years after the death of Jesus by the Church Fathers.

There were many other gospels similar to this that more or less resembled the inspired books of the Old and New Testament; they appeared about 40 to 60 years after Jesus rose from the dead. There were the gospels of James, of Bartholomew, of Nicodemus, of St. Thomas, of Mary, and a myriad more.

These books are called apocrypha, and include those books written by Jews for the purpose of continuing their tradition, for instance, the Assumption of Moses, the Sibylline Oracles, etc. Christians also wanted to complete other facts or miracles of the New Testament. Many heresies were scattered through these books. I want to describe, briefly, three of the most deplorable at the beginning of Christianity.

Actually, those Jewish books are technically called "pseudepigrapha" (see here). Christians wrote such Old Testament-related books too.

The three heresies he proceeds to discuss are Gnosticism, Manichaeism, and Docetism.
JAMES TABOR is interviewed in the Charlotte Observer about his book, The Jesus Dynasty. And the Observer also publishes excerpts from the book here.
DA VINCI CODE "DEBATE": I probably have already linked to this A.P. article by Richard N. Ostling, but since every newspaper on earth seems to be printing it in advance of the movie release, I'll note it (again?) here:
With movie due, 'Da Vinci' debate persists

Associated Press

A line from Dan Brown's "The Da Vinci Code" tells you why it's easily the most disputed religious novel of all time: "Almost everything our fathers taught us about Christ is false."

With 46 million copies in print, "Da Vinci" has long been a headache for Christian scholars and historians, who are worried about the influence on the faith from a single source they regard as wrong-headed.

I'm not sure I'd say there's been a "debate," exactly, since no one is actually defending the silly historical distortions in the book. (Ostling may not be responsible for the headline.) But there's been lots of talk and lots of noting of the countless errors in the book. Anyhow, the movie premiers worldwide on 17-19 May. I'm going on the 22nd with some other St. Mary's College people and I'll let you know what I think.