Archive for July, 2008

The History of The Thirty Pieces of Silver Given to Judas

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

As mentioned in the previous post, Bernard Outtier published in 1999 an expanded version of the Abgar Correspondence from an Armenian manuscript ("Une forme enrichie de la Légende d’Abgar en arménien" from Apocryphes arménians. This form of the text features The History of The Thirty Pieces of Silver Given to Judas, a text mentioned in a previous post. This short narrative is found also in Syriac, Garshuni, and Latin versions, though I do not as yet know how, or if, they differ from the Armenian version. Excerpted below is Outtier's French translation of the text with my English translation from the French.

Jésus dit à ses disciples :  « Savez‑vous d'où provient cet argent qu'Abgar nous a envoyé en présent ? » Et ils disent : « Nous ne savons pas. » Et Jésus dit : « Le père d'Abraham, Thara, a fait cet argent et avec cet argent il acheta la grotte aux fils d'Amor. Les Édesséniens prirent cet argent et achetèrent Joseph à ses frères. Et les frères de Joseph (le) portèrent en pré­sent à Joseph en Égypte. Les Égyptiens le portèrent en présent au roi Salomon, et le roi Salomon en fabriqua la porte du Temple. Quand Nabuchodonosor déporta Jérusalem, il brisa la porte, et on l'emporta à Babylone. Les Babyloniens le donnèrent aux Chaldéens. Les Chaldéens le donnèrent aux marchands, et les marchands le donnèrent aux bergers. Et Abgar, l'ayant reçu des bergers, nous l'a envoyé. Maintenant, prenez cet argent portez‑(le) aux prêtres et dites : ‘Jésus le Nazoréen vous l'a envoyé.’ » Et les prêtres, ayant pris l'argent, le donnèrent au vénal Judas, pour qu'il livre le Christ. Et Judas retourna l'argent et s'étouffa. Et les prêtres le donnèrent aux soldats qui gardaient le tombeau du Christ. Et, ayant pris l’argent, les soldats ne purent cacher l'éclatante et étonnante résurrection du Christ. Et ils (le) restituèrent aux prêtres, et les prêtres dirent : « Il ne faut pas garder cet argent, car c'est le prix du sang. » Puis ils donnèrent l’argent et achetèrent le champ du potier et (en) firent un cimetière d’étrangers.

Jesus said to his disciples: “Do you know where this money that Abgar sent us as a gift comes from?” And they said: “We do not know.” And Jesus said: “The father of Abraham, Thara, made this money and with this money he bought the cave with the son of Amor. The Edessenians took the money and bought Joseph from his brothers. And the brothers of Joseph brought it as a gift to Joseph in Egypt. The Egyptians brought it as a gift to King Solomon, and King Solomon made the door of the Temple with it. When Nebuchadnezar deported Jerusalem, he broke the door and carried it to Babylon. The Babylonians gave it to the Chaldeans. The Chaldeans gave it to the merchants, and the merchants gave it to the shepherds. And Abgar, having received it from the shepherds gave it to us. Now, take this money and carry it to the priests and say: “Jesus the Nazarean sent it to you.” And the priests, having taken the money, gave it to venal Judas, for which he handed over Christ. And Judas turned over the money and hung himself. And the priests gave it to the soldiers who guarded the tomb of Christ. And they gave it back to the priests and the priests said: “This money should not be kept, because it is the price of blood.” Then they gave the money and bought the potter’s field and made it a cemetery for foreigners.

Armenian Apocrypha

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

While at the AELAC meeting in Dole I picked up a book on Armenian Apocrypha (Calzolari Bouvier, V., J-D. Kaestli, and B. Outtier, eds. Apocryphes arménians: Transmission, traduction, création, iconographie. Actes du colloque international sur la literature apocryphe en langue arménienne [Genève, 18-20 septembre 1997]. PIRSB 1. Lausanne 1999). The book contains some interesting essays. Here is the table of contents:

V. Calzolari Bouvier, “En guise d’introduction: quelques réflexions sur le role de la literature apocryphe dans l’Arménie chrètienne ancienne (9-18)

M. E. Stone, “Two Armenian Manuscripts and the Historia sacra” (21-36)

A. Orengo, “Frammenti di testi apocrifi nei primi libri armeni a stampa” (37-52)

V. Calzolari Bouvier, “Un projet de répertoire des manuscrits arméniens contenant les texts apocryphes chrétiens” (53-70)

Ch. Burchard, “Character and Origin of the Armenian Version of Joseph and Aseneth” (73-90)

S. P. Cowe, “Text Critical Investigation of the Armenian Version of Third Corinthians” (91-102)

Th. M. van Lint, “Grigor Narekac‘i’s Tal Yarut‘ean. The Throne Vision of Ezekiel in Armenian Art and Literature I” (105-127)

B. Outtier, “Une forme enrichie de la Légende d’Abgar en arménien” (129-145)

A. Hultgård, “The Vision of Enoch the Just and Medieval Apocalypses” (147-158)

N. Stone, “Apocryphal Stories in Armenian Manuscripts” (161-169)

L. Zakarian, “La miniature du Vaspourakan et les apocryphes” (171-178)

N. Thierry, “Images cappadociennes atypiques du procès du Christ. L’intervention de la femme de Pilate – Le Christ en gloire – Caïphe deicide” (179-187)

Of particular interest is the piece by Calzolari Bouvier describing the difficulties working with the poorly catalogued material. It provides also a preliminary list of Armenian apocrypha including two curiously titled unedited (well, unpublished as of 1999) texts: “The Infancy of John the Baptist” and the “History of Mary Magdalene.” Outtier’s article on the Abgar Correspondence is also interesting because it provides the text and translation of an expanded Abgar letter with the story of the 30 pieces of silver given to Judas (mentioned in a previous post HERE).

Christian Apocrypha Sessions SBL 2008

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

The program for this year’s Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature is now available on-line. Here are the sessions and papers related to the Christian Apocrypha:

Christian Apocrypha
11/23/2008 ~ 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Theme: The Latest Publications in Christian Apocrypha: Gospel of Mary and Gospel Fragments

Karen King, Harvard University, Presiding (5 min)
Andrew Gregory, Oxford University
The Oxford Early Christian Gospel Texts (15 min)
Critical Review of Christopher Tuckett, The Gospel of Mary (Oxford University Press)
Esther A. de Boer, Protestant Theological University Kampen, Panelist (20 min)
Ann Graham Brock, Iliff School of Theology, Panelist (20 min)
Christopher Tuckett, University of Oxford, Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Critical Review of Thomas J. Kraus, Michael J. Kruger, and Tobias Nicklas, Gospel Fragments (Oxford University Press)
Paul Foster, University of Edinburgh, Panelist (20 min)
Pierluigi Piovanelli, University of Ottawa, Panelist (20 min)
Tobias Nicklas, University of Regensburg, Respondent (15 min)
Discussion (10 min)

Christian Apocrypha
11/24/2008 ~ 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Theme: New Perspectives on Lesser Known Traditions: Syriac, Egyptian, and Arabic

Robert Doran, Amherst College
Structuring the Fragments of the Gospel of the Egyptians (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Tony Burke, York University
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas in the Jacobite Syriac Tradition (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Brent C. Landau, Harvard University
The Christian Production of “Pagan” Pseudepigrapha (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Cornelia Horn, Saint Louis University
Neglected Figures in Neglected Apocrypha: Christian Arabic and Syriac Traditions (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Business Meeting (30 min)

Synoptic Gospels
11/24/2008 ~ 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Theme: Secret Mark after Fifty Years
Mark Goodacre, Duke University, Presiding
Birger A. Pearson, University of California, Santa Barbara
The Secret Gospel of Mark: A Twentieth-Century Fake (20 min)
Stephen C. Carlson, Duke University
Can the Academy Protect Itself from One of Its Own? The Case of Secret Mark (20 min)
Allan J. Pantuck, UCLA
Can Morton Smith's Archival Writings and Correspondence Shine Any Light on the Authenticity of Secret Mark? (20 min)
Scott G. Brown, University of Toronto
Fifty Years of Befuddlement: Ten Enduring Misconceptions about the “Secret” Gospel of Mark (20 min)
Charles Hedrick, Missouri State University, Respondent (20 min)
Bart Ehrman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Respondent (20 min)
Discussion (30 min)

And there are a few notable papers in the Early Christian Families sessions:

11/23/2008 ~ 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Stephen J. Shoemaker, University of Oregon Family Secrets: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Early Christian Apocrypha

11/24/2008 ~ 1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Mariko Yakiyama, Tokyo Union Theological Seminary
Influences of Egyptian Marriage Practice on the Apocryphal Acts of Apostles>

Apocrypha Vol. 17

Monday, July 21st, 2008

The latest volume of the annual journal Apocrypha was released just a few months ago. I picked up a copy at the l’AELAC conference. Here are the contents (previous years contents can be found on the l’AELAC web site HERE):

“Un fragment grec inédit des Actes de Pierre” by François Bovon and Bertrand Bouvier (9-54)

“Semiotik Intertextualität Apokryphität: Eine Annäherung an den Begriff ‘christlicher Apokryphen” by Tobias Nicklas (55-78)

Les Enseignements de Sylvanos et la parole tranchante. Jeux de mots et assonances plurilinguistiques” by Michèle Broze (79-86)

“Was the Gospel of Philip written in Syria?” by Bas van Os (87-94)

“Revisiting Preliminary Issues in the Acts of Thomas” by Susan E. Myers (95-112)

“Intersections: The Reception History of the Protoevangelium of James in Sources from the Christian East and the Qu’rān” by Cornelia B. Horn (113-150)

“‘Righteous people according to the Old Law’: Aelfric on Anne and Joachim” by Frederick M. Biggs (151-178)

The Gospel of Nicodemus in the Slavic Manuscript Tradition: Initial Observations” by Georgi Mincziew and Malgorzata Skowronek (179-202)

ÉTUDE CRITIQUE: “Michael J. Kruger, The Gospel of the Savior: An Analysis of P. Oxy 840 and its Place in the Gospel Traditions of Early Christianity” by Tobias Nicklas (203-210)

ÉTUDE CRITIQUE: “La philosophie du gnostique Basilide” by Lucia Saudelli (211-222)

ÉTUDE CRITIQUE: “Une collection de paroles de Jésus non comprises dans les évangiles canoniques” by Enrico Norelli (223-244)

ÉTUDE CRITIQUE: “The Old Slavic Apocrypha in Serbian Translation” by Georgi Mincziew (245-254)

Bock and Wallace on Religious Intolerance in the Academy

Friday, July 11th, 2008

I have been rereading Darrell L. Bock and Daniel B. Wallace’s Dethroning Jesus: Exposing Popular Culture’s Quest to Unseat the Biblical Christ (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007) for a paper I am writing. I was struck by one statement in particular:

“Certain narrow perspectives reign on many campuses almost without any expression of alternate viewpoints. What makes this a scandal is that educational universities, especially state universities, are supposed to be places where intellectual perspectives held by the full array of the populace represented by the schools are weighed. These public schools should not be think tanks of a singular point of view. The give-and-take of diverse viewpoints is what makes the educational experience. Yet in many universities, when it comes to religion, representation by believers within the various religious perspectives is lacking, as evidenced by the numerous students who say their faith has come under attack in courses on religion” (p. 21).

The statement shows a surprisingly misguided view of the goals and methodology of Religious Studies in the Academy. In our courses we do not seek to provide instruction, or even a forum, for all viewpoints on religion (though here by “religion,” I think the authors mean Christianity). What we do seek to do is examine religious texts and related historical events with the same scientific methodology as other university/college disciplines (e.g., literary criticism, social-scientific criticism, etc.). Religious or faith-based perspectives have no role to play in the Academy, i.e., unless it is to study these perspectives in others. Yes, sometimes my students comment that their faith is “under attack” in my classes, but that is never the intent. They are told from the start that they do not need to agree with the methodology of the discipline, just learn it; indeed, they could even learn it expressly in order to refute it if they wish (but such refutation should take place outside the classroom).

One of my strongest students of recent years was a conservative Christian. Every class he challenged what I was teaching, but never using faith-based arguments. Instead he questioned the evidence behind my statements and occasionally corrected my readings of texts with his handy electronic-KJV. He is a good example of how one can object to some of the conclusions reached by some scholars yet still work within the methodology of the discipline. To allow “various religious perspectives” into the classroom invites disaster.

Life of Mary in two Altarpieces

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Education of Mary by her mother Anna.While in Paris last week, I visited the Musée National du Moyen Age. The museum is situated in the Latin Quarter of Paris, combining two earlier buildings: Gallo-Roman baths (1st-3rd cent.) and the former residence of the abbots of Cluny (15th cent.).

The museum itself was founded in 1843 and contains works of art assembled by Alexandre Du Sommerard. I found two pieces particularly interesting: A 14th cent. altar front with scenes of the life of Mary (including her education by her mother Anna), and a tryptich of the Assumption of the Virgin from the 16th cent.








Assumption of the Virgin.

Réunion annuelle de l’AELAC 2008: A Report

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

The Sanctury at Mt. Roland in Dole, France.This year’s AELAC (Association pour l’étude de la literature apocryphe chrétienne) réunion took place in Dole, France June 26-28. The association was formed by French and Swiss scholars in 1981 and is responsible for a well-regarded line of critical editions (Corpus Christianorum, Series Apocryphorum), the journal Apocrypha, the Pleiades Apocrypha Collection Études apocryphes chrétiens, and a series of French pocketbook editions of individual texts (La collection de poche apocryphes). The membership of the group has become increasingly international over the years and now includes scholars from across Europe, Russia, and North America. The annual meetings are wonderful opportunities to meet scholars in the field, engage in collaborative endeavours, and hear about new developments in the study of the texts.

Many of the presenters this year were North American, which was somewhat comforting to those of us who do not speak French. Several of the papers dealt with narratives of Jesus’ childhood and infancy, a topic of particular interest to me. Here are some of the highlights of the réunion.

Andrei Vinogradov presented a study of the Acts of Andrew and Matthaias. What was interesting from my perspective was that he informed me later of a Russian manuscript of the text which features a recital of events from Jesus’ life including four stories from the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. He promised to send me a copy of his edition of the manuscript. I look forward to seeing where it fits into the Greek tradition of the text.

Reidar Aasgaard presented a summary of his stance on Infancy Thomas from his forthcoming monograph, The Childhood of Jesus: Decoding the Apocryphal Infancy Gospel of Thomas. The paper, called “Hearing With Children: The Infancy Gospel of Thomas as Evidence of Children’s Culture in Late Antique Rural Christianity”, argues “that the Infancy Gospel of Thomas had its Sitz em Leben within a rural middle/lower class village milieu…and that a main audience for the story was early Christian children.” Many of the participants of the reunion took issue with his two arguments, but his paper began a discussion of the text that continued for the next two days. In attendance also was Sever Voicu, who has contributed significantly to scholarship on Infancy Thomas.  He objected sternly to Reidar’s choice of manuscript base for his study: the unpublished 11th-century Sabaiticus 259, a Greek manuscript I also believe to be important.

My paper came next. I contributed a discussion, edition, and translation of Infancy Thomas from Vaticanus Syriacus 159, a manuscript used almost a century ago by Paul Peeters but never published. Again, a valuable discussion followed, though focused more on wider issues relating to Infancy Thomas than the Syriac text in particular.

Stephen Shoemaker followed with his paper, “A New Dormition Fragment in Coptic: P. Vindob K7589 and the Marian Apocryphal Tradition.” This fragment was published by Hans Förster in 2006, at which time he claimed it to be a witness to the earliest form of the Dormition (ca. mid to late second-century). This is a tantalizing prospect but, alas, Stephen proved convincingly that the ninth-century fragment instead “once belonged to an early medieval liturgy collection.”

Two additional papers continued the theme of apocryphal infancy traditions. Cornelia Horn presented on “Syriac and Arabic Perspectives on Jesus’ Childhood: The Book of Mary, the Arabic Apocryphal Gospel of John, and the Rise of Islam.” And Brent Landau shared with us a summary of his doctoral work on a text he calls The Revelation of the Magi which presents itself as the personal testimony of the Magi who visited Jesus in his infancy.

All-in-all, the réunion was fruitful both for the opportunity to discuss work with partners in our field and for the chance to gather with old and new friends.