Archive for the ‘SBL Apocrypha’ Category

2007 SBL Report

Thursday, November 22nd, 2007

As promised in my last post, here are some brief comments about this year’s Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. Keep an eye out also for Jim Davila’s roundup on Paleojudaica (he may even have some good photos) and April DeConick’s comments on Forbidden Gospels.

The meeting took place in sunny San Diego, California—a wonderful location. Usually I try to take some time at conferences to check out the city a little but most of my wanderings were relegated to the boardwalk behind the hotels and a trip to the nearest mall for gifts for loved ones. One night was dedicated to a death-defying trip south of the border to Tijuana. After polling about 1000 other academics, I could find only one other brave soul willing to join me on this “spiritual quest” (the “spirit” in this case was a bottle of Tequila); in retrospect, they are far wiser for it.

On day two I took in the papers of the Early Christian Families Group and an AAR session on “The Holy Child: Traditions of the Infant and Child Jesus”. In the evening I squeezed in at the end of the crowded session on “Books of the Gospel of Judas: An Evening with the Authors” and stayed around long enough to introduce myself to April DeConick (of Forbidden Gospels fame).

Day three was spent at two Christian Apocrypha sessions. The highlight of these sessions for me was the presentation by Abraham Terian on his forthcoming edition of the Armenian Infancy Gospel (due next year from Oxford). This is a long-neglected text that has been in sore need of an edition. I also enjoyed the session on the “Function of Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphical Writings in Early Judaism and Early Christianity.” Several of the panelists referred to recent discussion of the concept of “canon”—namely, that canons are malleable and differ from one group or one location to another; so it is difficult to speak of one Christian or Jewish canon as if it was universal. The topic of the fluidity of what is “canonical” has been mentioned on Apocryphicity quite often in recent months; so I followed this discussion with interest.

On the final day of the conference I stayed only long enough to present my own paper on “Heresy Hunters in the New Millennium.” The paper was received well—Pierluigi Piovanelli provided a positive response and those present echoed my concerns about anti-Christian-Apocrypha apologetics. The highlight of the discussion that followed the paper came when a student of Darrell Bock stood up, declared his own apologetic interests (very brave in a room full of godless liberals), and said that he was taking from the session a lesson about the need to be scholarly rigorous in his treatment of the literature (and that’s all we ask).

The best part of any conference is the interactions with colleagues and friends that come at receptions, dinners, and late-nights at the bar. You can live down the street from someone but only really see them once a year at SBL or CSBS. And you also get a chance to finally meet face-to-face scholars whose work you have followed and admired from afar.

To next year in Boston…

Christian Apocrypha at the 2007 SBL Meeting

Friday, August 24th, 2007

The Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature is fast approaching (Nov. 17-20). The Program has been posted on-line and several bloggers have been drawing attention to particular sessions (see The Forbidden Gospels on the Gospel of Judas papers). Here are the complete details of the Apocrypha sessions:

November 19, 1-3 pm

Christopher Matthews, Weston Jesuit School of Theology, Presiding Antti Marjanen, University of Helsinki
Does the Gospel of Judas Rehabilitate Judas Iscariot? (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Edward Dixon, Emory University
A Hope for Status Inversion in the Acts of Thomas (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Derek S. Dodson, Baylor University
Dream Magic: The Dream of Pilate’s Wife and the Accusation of Magic in the Acts of Pilate (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Jennifer A. Glancy, Le Moyne College
Mary in Childbirth (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Paul G. Schneider, University of South Florida
A Johannine Trajectory for the Lord's Secret Sacrament (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)

November 19, 4-6:30 pm

Abraham Terian, St. Nersess' Armenian Seminary The Armenian Gospel of the Infancy (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Claire Clivaz, University of Lausanne
Madness, Philosophical, or Mystical Experiment? A Weird Text, Recognitions 2:61-69 (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Päivi Vähäkangas, University of Helsinki
The Doctrine of Creatio ex Nihilo in Pseudo-Clementine Literature (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Caleb Webster, Claremont Graduate University
Taking Over Thomas: The Subversion of Judas Didymus Thomas in the Edessene Abgar Tradition (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Business Meeting (30 min)

November 20, 9-11:30 am

Ann Graham Brock, Iliff School of Theology, Presiding Tony Burke, York University
Heresy Hunting in the New Millennium (30 min)
Pierluigi Piovanelli, University of Ottawa, Respondent (10 min)
Marvin Meyer, Chapman University, Respondent (10 min)
Discussion (10 min)
Judith Hartenstein, Philipps Universität-Marburg
Non-canonical Appearance Stories and the Development of the Resurrection Tradition (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Cornelia Horn, Saint Louis University/ Dumbarton Oaks
Qur’anic Perspectives on Jesus’ Life and Death in the Light of the Transmission and Reception History of Apocryphal Christian Literature (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Timothy P. Henderson, Marquette University
The Gospel of Peter and Early Objections to the Resurrection of Jesus (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)

Noteworthy also are two papers in the “Function of Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphical Writings in Early Judaism and Early Christianity (through 3rd to 4th centuries CE)” session (Nov. 19 4-6:30 pm):

Simon Lee, Harvard University Competition between the Holy Scriptures of the Lord and the Oral Traditions: Examination of the Transfiguration Account in Acts of Peter (Second Century CE) (20 min)
Henry Rietz, Grinnell College, Respondent (5 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Stephen J. Shoemaker, University of Oregon
Between Scripture and Tradition: The Marian Apocrypha of Early Christianity (20 min)
George Zervos, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Respondent (5 min)
Discussion (5 min)

SBL Christian Apocrypha Section Call for Papers

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006

Interested in presenting a paper for the Christian Apocrypha Section of the Society of Biblical Literature? The call for papers for the 2007 Annual Meeting in San Diego November 17-20, 2007 has been posted. Here are the details:

Call For Papers: This Section pursues the latest research on aspects of the Passion/Resurrection narratives in extracanonical texts as, e.g., the Gospel of Peter, the Acta Pilati (Gospel of Nicodemus), or the Gospel of the Savior. This focus includes interest in the genesis and development of passion traditions or themes, the communities that produced them, and their place on the map of Christian origins. Another session is open to all issues pertaining to the apocrypha and encourages submissions for the Seminar Papers.

Call For Papers Opens: 11/15/2006

Call For Papers Closes: 3/1/2007

Program Unit Chair:Ann Graham Brock (

Apocrypha at SBL 2006

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

As I write this some of our colleagues are enjoying themselves in Washington for the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. Why am I not with them? I have skipped the SBL for several years now under the pretense that I want to devote my energies to my book. Usually that means I miss SBL and continue to avoid the book but this year I am actually busy at work.

For those who cannot attend SBL but are curious about the papers being presented this year, I offer the following list:

November 18 (morning): Apostle as Conveyor of Authority

Edward Dixon, Yale Divinity School: “A Hope for Status Inversion in the Acts of Thomas”

Simon S. Lee, Harvard University: “Peter and the Transfiguration Event in 2 Peter and the Apocalypse of Peter

Catherine Playoust, Harvard University: “James and Peter in the Apocryphon of James

Glenn E. Snyder, Harvard University: “Third Corinthians: An Orthodox Production of Scripture”

November 18, 2006 (afternoon): Mary Magdalene and Apostolic Authority  

Judith Hartenstein, Philipps Universität, Marburg: “Mary Magdalene the Apostle: A Re-interpretation of Literary Traditions?”

Jane D. Schaberg, University of Detroit Mercy: “Magdalene Christianity: A Collection of Fragments, or an Actual Reality in Early Communities?”

Esther A. de Boer, Theological University of Kampen, the Netherlands: “‘Surely, He Has Not Spoken to a Woman’”Responses from Elaine Pagels, Christopher Matthews, Philip Sellew, and Ann Graham Brock.

November 20, 2006: Open Session

Janet Elizabeth Spittler, University of Chicago: “Tuna Redivivus: Dried Fish Returned to life in Herodotus, the Alexander Romance and the Acts of Peter

Nicholas Perrin, Wheaton College: “The Thomasine Community and a Case of Double Identity”

Matthew Burgess, Yale Divinity School: “‘Am I my brother’s keeper?’ James ‘the Lord’s brother’ as a Source of Authority in Early Christianity”

Jeremy W. Barrier, Texas Christian University: “Tertullian and the Acts of Thecla or Paul? Readership of the Ancient Christian Novel and the Invocation of Thecline and Pauline Authority”

Mariko Yakiyama, Claremont Graduate University: “The Christian Ideal of Marriage in the Apocryphal Acts of Andrew and the Writings of Clement of Alexandria”

Also of interest:

November 19: Pseudepigrapha~The Pitfalls of Categorization: A Panel Discussion of James R. Davila, The Provenance of the Pseudepigrapha: Jewish, Christian, or Other?

Pierluigi Piovanelli, University of Ottawa: “In Praise of ‘The Default Position,’ or Reassessing the Christian Reception of the Jewish Pseudepigraphic Heritage

Chad Day, University of North Carolina, Charlotte: “‘The Way Forward’ or Two Steps Back? Assessing Davila’s ‘The Provenance of the Pseudepigrapha’”

Magnar Kartveit, School of Mission & Theology, Misjonshogskolen i Stavanger, Norway: “The Jewish source in the Ascension of Isaiah

John C. Reeves, University of North Carolina, Charlotte: ‘“A Demonstrably Jewish Text’? Reconsidering the Similitudes of Enoch

And in the joint session for the Social History of Formative Christianity and Judaism Section and Archeology of Religion in the Roman World Section (November 21):

Reidar Aasgard, University of Oslo: “The First Rural Christians: Excavating the Milieu of the Infancy Gospel of Thomas.”

Ans in the Synoptic Gospels Section (November 21):

Michael F. Bird, Highland Theological College: “Sectarian Gospels for Sectarian Communities?: The Non-canonical Gospels and Bauckham’s ‘Gospel for All Christians’”

Phew! I think that’s all of them. If you were able to attend any or all of these sessions and would like to offer a report, please send an e-mail to me or post a comment.