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The Myth of Religious Violence

10th May 2011

Those in Edmonton this Friday May 13th will want to take in the 2011 deGroot Memorial Lecture with Dr. William Cavanaugh. He will be speaking on The Myth of Religious Violence. The lunch and lecture runs 12:00-2:30 pm and is at the King’s University College.

The cost is $25.00 for lunch and the lecture.

See you there!

Posted in Announcements, Conferences, Theology | Comments Off

Who’s Mark and What’s His Secret?

1st March 2011

A couple of my buddies over at York University who study the appendix to the Bible (I think it’s called the New Testament :-) ) also study some obscure stuff relating to the appendix (called the “Christian Apocrypha”). At any rate, they (I guess I can name them: Tony Burke and Phil Harland) are hosting a conference on the Secret Gospel of Mark at the end of April, 2011 at York University.

The conference, Ancient Gospel or Modern Forgery? The Secret Gospel of Mark in Debate, is the first of the York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium Series. More details may be found here.

If you are wondering what the “Secret Gospel of Mark” is, here is an excerpt from the conference website:

In 1958, American Biblical scholar Morton Smith made an astounding discovery in the Mar Saba monastery in Jerusalem. Copied into the back of a 17th century book was a lost letter by Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-215 CE) containing excerpts from a longer version of the Gospel of Mark. This Secret Gospel of Mark, as it became known, is now one of the most debated texts of the Christian Apocrypha. More than fifty years after its discovery, there is still no consensus on the issues of its authenticity. Was the letter truly written by Clement of Alexandria? Or by a medieval or even modern forger? Was the forger Morton Smith himself? The debate has heated up in recent years with the publication of Stephen Carlson’s The Gospel Hoax: Morton Smith’s Invention of Secret Mark (Waco, TX: Baylor, 2005) and several criticisms of Carlson’s work by other scholars. Unfortunately, there has been no effective venue for these scholars to share their views on the text and arrive closer to a resolution of the issue of its authenticity. It is hoped that some progress can be made by bringing these scholars together to present their latest work on the gospel to each other, to an audience of interested scholars, to a curious public, and ultimately to an even wider audience with the publication of the papers and summaries of the discussion that arises from their gathering.

(Stephen Carlson, author of The Gospel Hoax,  blogs over at hypotyposeis, often on Secret Mark)

I encourage you to check the conference out!


Posted in Announcements, Christian Apocrypha, Conferences, gospels | 2 Comments »

Endings and Beginnings

28th April 2009

Last Saturday (April 25, 2009), we celebrated the 68th and final graduation of Taylor University College, Edmonton, Alberta. I also had the privilege of being the Master of Ceremonies at the graduation banquet in the evening. Understandably, the day was bittersweet. It was great to rejoice with those students who completed their programs of study, but it was sad to think that there would be no more graduations for Taylor University College.

I have taught at Taylor University College for twelve years and was deeply involved in the design of the Religion & Theology degree programs. I am also an alumnus of the institution and even met and married my wife of over twenty years during my undergraduate degree (it was called North American Baptist College back then).  I have invested a significant part of my personal and professional life at Taylor and will cherish the memories of the excellent colleagues and students I have had over the years.

But life moves on. As of June 30, 2009, Taylor University College will close its doors. After this week, it will for all intents and purposes be closed. Offices are closing, faculty are moving out. As for myself, I am pleased to announce that as of July 1, 2009, I will be Assistant Professor of Theology (Biblical Studies) at The King’s University College here in Edmonton. King’s is a Christian university that offers fully accredited bachelor degrees in the arts and sciences, including a three-year BA in Theology.

King’s worked out a special arrangement with Alberta Advanced Education and Taylor to “hold” Taylor’s four-year Religion & Theology degree for four years. This will allow Taylor’s Religion & Theology students to finish their degrees at King’s. As part of this deal, King’s needed to add a faculty member from Taylor, and I was their choice because of my areas of expertise and program development background. Part of the plan is for King’s to develop their own four-year degree in Theology during the time I am at King’s and that if everything works according to plan, after the four years I will continue at King’s in a tenure track position.

After this week I will be pretty much finished my duties at Taylor. For the month of May I am planning to work primarily at home on my thesis and my paper on LXX Psalm 151 that I am presenting at the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies in Ottawa at the end of May.  I have arranged to move in to my office at King’s after the conference (probably June 1).

Suffice it to say that I am relieved and thankful that I don’t have to find a job outside of Edmonton or outside of academia and am very excited about this new lease on my academic life at King’s.

Posted in Announcements, News, Personal | 7 Comments »

Electronic Edition of the Göttingen Septuagint Announced by Logos

3rd March 2009

Logos Bible Software has announced a project that will make all Septuagint scholars’  mouths water: an electronic edition of all of the Göttingen Septuagint volumes, including the entire critical apparatus.  The LXX will be morphologically tagged and fully searchable; and if you own the texts found in the apparatus you will be able to just click and view the text. To make this all the more appealing, you can order the electronic edition at a fraction of the price of the print editions.

While the advent and availability of electronic texts has advantages and disadvantages, in the right hands tools such as these can revolutionize scholarship.

For more information on the Logos Göttingen Septuagint, see here.  For more information on the Septuagint, check out my “Resources relating to the LXX” pages.

Posted in Announcements, Logos, Septuagint, Software | 2 Comments »

German Translation of the LXX Published

3rd March 2009

The very first translation of the Septuagint into German has now been published: Septuaginta Deutsch: Das griechische Alte Testament in deutscher Übersetzung (Martin Karrer and Wolfgang Kraus, eds.; Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2009).

The “LXX.D” project has been on the go for about a decade, so it is nice to see it come to completion. Here is an excerpt from the press release:

It is said concerning the genesis of the Septuagint that 72 Jewish translators in ancient Alexandria translated the Hebrew Bible in 72 days into miraculously identical Greek. To this day, the very name “Septuagint,” which in Greek means “70,” evokes the legend surrounding the creation of the Old Testament in Greek.  The Septuagint was the standard Bible used by first-century Christians.  A knowledge of the Greek version of the Bible is necessary in order to comprehend many theological pronouncements, for example the virgin birth of Jesus. Moreover, it is still today the Scripture of the Orthodox churches.  However, it has never been published separately in German translation.

That situation has now been remedied. The first edition of the Septuagint in German will be presented to the public at the residence of the plenipotentiary of the EKD Council in Berlin (Charlottenstrasse 53/54) on 28 January 2009 at 3.30 pm.  Persons cordially invited to attend the presentation include Präses Nikolaus Schneider (Evangelical Church in the Rhineland), Bishop Johannes Friedrich (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bavaria) and Jan Bühner (general secretary of the German Bible Society), as well as the two principle editors, Professor Wolfgang Kraus (Saarbrücken) and Professor Martin Karrer (Wuppertal). Greetings will be pronounced by Bishop Joachim Wanke (Erfurt) and Metropolitan Augoustinos (Bonn).

Up to more than 80 persons worked at one time on the project, which had been coordinated since 1999 out of a specially set-up office.  According to Wolfgang Kraus, “Without the generous support of the Evangelical Church in the Rhineland, in particular, we would never have been able to complete the translation.”  However, the translation which is being presented is not the only positive result of the nearly ten-year effort. The translation process included academic symposia organized in Germany, France and the United States.  “In terms of international Septuagint research, Germany is now on the map,” declared Martin Karrer with visible pride.

The translators included Protestant, Catholic and Orthodox Christians, who consulted with Jewish scholars on questions of translation.  The result was a collective effort uniting various Christian denominations and Judaism.  For the first time, Orthodox Christians living in Germany have at their disposal a Bible in the German language.

The newly published translation, which comprises 1,500 pages in one volume, will be followed by a two-volume version which includes scholarly commentaries based on the Greek Bible.  The editors plan further publications, which testifies to the standing of the Septuagint as a source of important insights regarding the textual transmission of the Old Testament and as one of the cornerstones of European culture.

For more information on the German Septuagint project, you can check out their website:

With this publication, new translations of the LXX have now been produced for English (New English Translation of the Septuagint – NETS), French (La Bible d’Alexandrie; this project includes introductions and commentary on the text and is almost complete), and German. Translation projects are also underway in Italian, Modern Greek, Modern Hebrew, as well as Japanese.

Posted in Announcements, Septuagint | Comments Off

Codex Sinaiticus Conference

7th February 2009

As many of my readers may or may not know, there will be a special Codex Sinaiticus Conference at the British Library, London, on 6-7 July 2009.

The Codex Sinaiticus Project, an international initiative to reunite the entire manuscript in digital form and make it accessible to a global audience for the first time (see, will host a conference devoted to this seminal fourth-century Bible.

To celebrate the Project’s achievements, on 6-7 July 2009, the British Library is hosting an academic conference on topics relating to Codex Sinaiticus. A number of leading experts have been approached to give presentations on the history, text, conservation, paleography and codicology, among other topics, of Codex Sinaiticus. Selected conference papers will be edited and published as a collection of articles.

The list of confirmed speakers is quite impressive:

  • Christfried Böttrich
  • Christopher Clarkson
  • Eldon J. Epp
  • Harry Y. Gamble
  • Dirk Jongkind
  • René Larsen
  • David Parker
  • Albert Pietersma
  • Emanuel Tov
  • David Trobisch
  • Klaus Wachtel

As you can see, my advisor, Al Pietersma, is among the speakers.

It looks as if it will be a great conference.

If you want to read more about Codex Sinaiticus, check out my profile of the manuscript which was part of my Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible series.

Posted in Announcements, Conferences, Septuagint, Sinaiticus, Text Criticism | 1 Comment »

U2 and No Hype

15th November 2008

U2 - The hype and the feedbackI imagine that many if not all U2 fans have heard about an academic conference devoted to the music and message of the best rock band in the world, i.e., U2. The conference, “U2: The Hype and the Feedback,” is being held in NYC on 13-15 May 2009. I would absolutely LOVE to attend the conference and was actually invited by a friend to be on a panel discussion entitled, “U2, Faith and Justice: Theological Education and Spiritual Formation.” But, alas, it is unlikely that I will be able to attend due primarily to financial reasons (please send money!).

That being said, the conference looks like it will be fantastic. The blurb from the Conference website describes the event as follows:

Achtung! Scholars, teachers, students, journalists, clergy, musicians and intellectually curious U2 fans: for more than 30 years, U2 has asked us to look at the world, wrestle with ourselves and then dream out loud. From “I Will Follow” and “Running to Stand Still,” to “The Wanderer,” “Walk On,” and “One Step Closer,” U2 has charted the human heart and the ways of the world, calling out some of their more dynamic points of intersection. While doing so, they have created what Bruce Springsteen described as “some of the most beautiful sonic architecture in rock and roll.”

A band of paradoxes, ironies, ambition and sincerity, their influence in the worlds of music, entertainment, popular culture, humanitarian relief and the global politics of peace and social justice should be the stuff of spirited conversation. Hype? Feedback? Or the real thing? Come join the conversation as we see what U2 has done.

My opinion: U2 is the real thing (sorry Coca-Cola). I have been a big fan of U2 virtually since their inception. And I have also read much of the popular and scholarly literature about U2, have lectured on U2 in my religion and popular culture course (as well as used their songs as modern-day examples of lament in my Psalms and Hebrew Bible courses), and have managed to incorporate them in a number of my sermons. And, in case you are wondering, I also just sit back and listen to them!

While I may not be able to attend, you can! Registration is now open. To register, just go the the the Conference website.

Posted in Announcements, Popular Culture, U2 | 1 Comment »

Concept of Exile in Ancient Israel & its Contexts Workshop

27th March 2008

The University of Alberta and Ludwig-Maximilians Universität, Munich, are hosting a workshop on the Concept of “Exile” in Ancient Israel. The workshop will primarily focus on (but not exclusively) prophetic literature, including the social and historical setting against which it evolved and in a way that is informed by comparative ancient materials. The workshop is being held at the University of Alberta from April 7 through 11, 2008.

This workshop brings together scholars from the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich (LMU) and the University of Alberta, along with colleagues from other European and Canadian universities. This workshop is part of a newly founded cooperation between LMU and the UofA and is conceived as the first of two workshops. The second is planned for Munich (2009).

The list of participating scholars is impressive and includes the likes of Christoph Levin (LMU), Reinhard Müller (LMU), Hermann-Josef Stipp (LMU), Jan Christian Gertz (Heidelberg), Martti Nissinen (Helsinki), Hindy Najman (Toronto), James Linville (Lethbridge), as well as University of Alberta professors Francis Landy, Selina Stewart, Willi Braun, and Ehud Ben Zvi.

For more information, check out the workshop webpage here.

If you are in the Edmonton area, please consider yourself invited.

Posted in Academic Associations, Announcements, Conferences, History of Ancient Israel | 3 Comments »

The Slavonic Pseudepigrapha Project

23rd January 2007

I received notice today of an interesting online project dedicated to the Second Temple Jewish literature preserved in the Slavic milieux. The Slavonic Pseudepigrapha Project is developed by scholars from the Theology Department at Marquette University (Milwaukee, USA).

The resource provides original manuscripts, translations, and extensive bibliographies to the following pseudepigraphical materials preserved in Slavonic language, including:

  • Slavonic Life of Adam and Eve
  • Adam Octipartite
  • 2 Enoch
  • Sataniel Text
  • Apocalypse of Abraham
  • Testament of Abraham
  • The Ladder of Jacob
  • Joseph and Aseneth
  • Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs
  • Testament of Job
  • Life of Moses
  • Apocryphal Fragments about David, Solomon, and Elijah
  • Ascension of Isaiah
  • 3 Baruch
  • 4 Baruch
  • Pseudo-Danielic Fragments
  • Apocalypse of Zosimus
  • Ahiqar
  • The Word of the Blessed Zerubabel
  • The Josippon
  • Palaea Historica
  • Interpretive Palaea
  • Palaea Chronographica

This looks to be a great resource for those interested in the pseudepigrapha.

While I am on the topic of the pseudepigrapha, another excellent resource is the SBL sponsored, Online Critical Pseudepigrapha.

Posted in Announcements, Bible, Pseudepigrapha | Comments Off

CSBS Ancient Historiography Seminar: Call for Papers

10th November 2006

CSBSLogo.gif The Ancient Historiography Seminar / Groupe de Travail sur l’Historiographie Ancienne of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies invites papers on self-identification, community identity, and ethnicity in Judahite/Yehudite historiography for the 2007 Annual Meeting at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon (May 27-29).

Papers are invited to address a range of related questions, such as the understanding, presentation, and delimitation of “Israel” in various biblical texts, the relationship of Israelites to Judahites in Judean historical writings, the definition of Israel over against other peoples, the possible reasons why the ethno-religious community (“Israel”) was the focus of Judahite/Yehudite historiography, and the potential relationship of these issues to the Jewish-Samaritan controversy (at its earliest stages through the early part of the common era). Papers may approach the question from a variety of theoretical and disciplinary vantage points. For example, some may wish to pursue an inner-biblical perspective (Pentateuchal sources/writings, Former Prophets, Latter Prophets, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah), while others may wish to pursue a cross-cultural comparative perspective (e.g., Ancient Near Eastern, Greek, Hellenistic and early Roman historiographies: Herodotus, Berossus, Manetho, Josephus; or be informed by non-Western historiographic traditions). Yet others may want to relate (or unrelate) the material remains to the question of community identity in northern Israel, monarchic Judah, and/or postmonarchic Yehud.

To be considered for our program, please submit a 250 word abstract to Ken Ristau (kar340 [at] psu [dot] edu) by December 1, 2006.

The Ancient Historiography Seminar / Groupe de Travail sur l’Historiographie Ancienne is a professional, academic working group of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies / Société canadienne des Études bibliques (CSBS/SCÉB). For more information, please see our website.

Posted in Academic Associations, Ancient Historiography Seminar, Announcements, CSBS | Comments Off