New in Print: Infancy Gospel of Thomas Reader

August 7th, 2014

Hadavas, Constantine T. The Infancy Gospel of Thomas: An Intermediate Ancient Greek Reader (Beloit, WI: CreateSpace, 2014). Hadavas is Chair of the Department of Classics at Beloit College. I'm interested in seeing what Greek text he is using (likely it is Tischendorf's Greek A with variants from Greek B and D). Here is the abstract:

The Infancy Gospel of Thomas (c. 150 CE) is an excellent text for students who have completed the first year of college-level Ancient Greek. Its length is short, its syntax is generally straightforward, and its narrative is inherently interesting, for it is the only account from the period of early Christianity that tells of the childhood of Jesus. This student edition includes grammatical, syntactical, literary, historical, and cultural notes. Complete vocabulary is provided for each section of the text, with special attention paid to the differences between Koine Greek and Classical Greek meanings and usage. Since the Infancy Gospel of Thomas possesses an unusually rich textual history, this edition also includes a selection of the most interesting variant readings.

(Via Mark Bilby)

Robert Conner on the Secret Gospel of Mark

July 28th, 2014

Robert Connor graciously passed along to me a draft of his forthcoming book, The "Secret" Gospel of Mark: Morton Smith, Clement of Alexandria, and Four Decades of Academic Burlesque, to be published by Mandrake of Oxford. Mandrake's web page provides the following abstract:

While cataloging material in the library of the monastery of Mar Saba in 1958, Morton Smith discovered a quotation from a letter of Clement of Alexandria copied in the end pages of a 17th century collection of the letters of Ignatius. After more than a decade of collaborative analysis of the find, Smith published his conclusions in 1973, setting off a firestorm of controversy in the New Testament studies guild.

In 1975, a Jesuit scholar, Quentin Quesnell, claimed the letter had been forged and implied that Smith was the forger, moving the focus of debate off the text itself and onto Smith. Since then the pages containing the letter have been removed from the book and possibly destroyed, while Catholic and evangelical writers, none of whom have ever seen the pages in question, continue to claim that Smith forged the letter.

Following his death in 1991, accusations against Smith took on a considerably more personal tone, highlighting his alleged homosexuality and by implication his dishonesty and moral perversity. Although the question of authenticity remains unresolved, the controversy has opened a window on the intellectually corrupt nature of apologetic New Testament studies, a subject of greater importance than the authenticity of early Christian texts.

Connor's small book spends more time criticizing hoax/forgery theorists (particularly Peter Jeffery) than analyzing the text; however, he does present a theory for why the Secret Mark pericopae were removed from the text to form what is now canonical Mark. I won't spoil the book here but if you want to get a good sense of Connor's arguments, listen to an interview with the author on the internet radio show Aeon Byte (on Youtube HERE), hosted by Miguel Connor (no relation). The interview begins around the 15 minute mark. 

Christian Apocrypha Sessions at 2014 SBL

July 21st, 2014

The program for the 2014 Annual Meeting of the SBL is now available. This year the Christian Apocrypha Section is offering four sessions (up from one last year!). One of these is a panel on presenting Christian Apocrypha to popular audiences, and another is a joint session with the Gospel of Luke Section honoring François Bovon. We had a large number of proposals this year and, while we would like to accept every paper, alas we cannot. Our thanks to all those who sent in proposals. We hope to see you in San Diego.

S22-118: Christian Apocrypha
11/22/2014 ~ 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Theme: "Canonical/Apocryphal" and Other Troublesome Binaries
Tony Burke, York University, Presiding
Matthew R Crawford, University of Durham: "The Diatessaron, Canonical or Non-canonical? Rereading the Dura Fragment"
Cornelia Horn, Catholic University of America: "Christian Apocrypha in Georgian on Jesus and Mary: Questions of Canonicity, Liturgical Usage, and Social Settings"
Richard I. Pervo, Saint Paul, Minnesota: "Canonical Apocrypha" 
Shaily Shashikant Patel, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: "Magical Miracles and Miraculous Magic: Discourse of the Supernatural in the Acts of Peter"
Brad F. King, University of Texas at Austin: "Reframing the Apocryphon of John: 'Christianizing' Revisions in the Long Recension"

S22-210: Christian Apocrypha
11/22/2014 ~1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Theme: Presenting the Christian Apocrypha to Non-Scholarly Audiences
Brent Landau, University of Texas at Austin, Presiding
Bart Ehrman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Author of Lost Christianities and The Other Gospels
Nicola Denzey, Brown University, Author of Introduction to 'Gnosticism': Ancient Voices, Christian Worlds
Robert Cargill, University of Iowa, Consulting Producer on History Channel's Bible Secrets Revealed
Roger Freet, HarperOne, Panelist, Executive Editor at HarperOneBreak
Hal Taussig, Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York, Editor of A New New Testament
Tony Burke, York University, Author of Secret Scriptures Revealed: A New Introduction to the Christian Apocrypha

S23-123: Gospel of Luke
Joint Session With: Gospel of Luke, Christian Apocrypha
11/23/2014 ~ 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Theme: In memory of François Bovon
Mikeal Parsons, Baylor University, Presiding
David Warren, Faulkner University: "A Biographical Sketch of François Bovon"
Brent Landau, University of Texas at Austin: "Blurred Lines: Apocryphal Additions to New Testament Manuscripts"
Claire Clivaz, Université de Lausanne: "NT manuscripts as «beyond categories» objects : thinking about the death of Jesus as object of reprobation"
Andrew Gregory, University of Oxford: "Useful for the soul? In dialogue with François Bovon on the early reception of Luke"
Michal Beth Dinkler, Yale Divinity School: "'The Thoughts of Many Hearts Shall Be Revealed': Listening in on Lucan Interior Monologues"

S24-111: Christian Apocrypha
11/24/2014 ~ 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Theme: The Cultural Context(s) of the Christian Apocrypha
J.K. Elliott, University of Leeds, Presiding
Petri Luomanen, University of Helsinki: "Judaism and anti-Judaism in the Protoevangelium of James, the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew"
Eugenia Constantinou, University of San Diego: "Holy of Holies! The Amazing and Impossible Life of Mary as told in the Apocrypha of the Christian East"
Lorne R. Zelyck and Joseph Sanzo, University of Alberta: "What is P.Berol. 11710: Amulet, Apocryphal Gospel, Biblical Elaboration?"
Dominique Côté, Université d'Ottawa – University of Ottawa: "Magic, Necromancy, and Theurgy in the Pseudo-Clementines" Michael Zeddies, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor: "More Evidence Origen Wrote To Theodore"

Christopher Skinner reviews Secret Scriptures Revealed

June 9th, 2014

Christopher Skinner has published a review of my book Secret Scriptures Revealed on the Crux Sola blog (HERE). He concludes:

Several features of this book stand out in my mind. First, the material Burke covers is grouped by subject matter, an arrangement that will likely prove useful for non-specialists. Second, his writing style is clear, engaging, and at times, even humorous in places. Third, at the end of each major section there is a textbox providing information for further study. What I most appreciate about this book is that Burke writes with the skill of an expert and the communicative ability of a great teacher. He ably accomplishes the aim of writing an introductory text for the non-specialist. I definitely plan to require this textbook the next time I teach the non-canonical literature!

Thank you very much, Chris.

Christian Apocrypha at the 2014 CSBS/CSPS: A Report

May 29th, 2014

The Annual Meetings of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies and the Canadian Society of Patristic Studies took place last weekend (May 23-26) at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario. Both societies are modest-sized groups of scholars; their gatherings are nothing on the scale of SBL or NAPS—the CSBS meeting, the larger of the two, regularly features 60-70 papers. But the gatherings are no less valuable and, in my opinion, far more friendly and collegial (they’re full of Canadians after all). They provide a welcome opportunity for Canadians living near and far to reconnect with one another.

For the past three years I have been leading a session at the CSBS on Christian Apocrypha. So far, the session has progressed without a guiding theme; with such a small number of scholars, it is best to keep the focus of the session as broad as possible. There was one major change this year in that we partnered with CSPS for a joint session. The goal was to expand our pool of possible presenters. As a result, we ended up with a good balance of New Testament and Patristics scholars, examining and discussing the texts through the particular perspectives of their fields. Also for this year I relinquished my role as chair of the session to Tim Pettipiece of the CSPS.

The first paper was “The Dialogue of the Saviour and the Synoptic Gospels” by Anna Cwikla, a student at the University of Toronto. Cwikla offered an overview of early theories (by Pagels and Koester) about the Dialogue’s relationship to the Synoptics; these theories attempted to bring some order to the structure of the text and argued that the Dialogue demonstrated no certain dependence on NT writings. Cwikla favours moving away from the structure imposed on the text and, by doing so, she says, more Synoptic parallels become evident. Her discussion focused on three sections of the text: 139.8-11 (with a possible parallel to Matt 6:34b/Matt 10:10b/Matt 10:25a), 144.13-20 (with Luke 11:1-2//Matt 6:5-6), and 136.5-10,20-24 (with Matt 24:27,30-31). The latter example has not been proposed previously, and John Kloppenborg, in the discussion period, noted additional Matthean allusions in that section of the Dialogue.

The second paper was “Physiognomy as a component of characterization in the Acts of Peter” by Callie Callon (another University of Toronto student). Callon was unable to attend the conference, so her paper was read by Michelle Christian (you guessed it: also from the University of Toronto). The paper examines the portrayals of Simon Magus and the apostle Peter in the Acts of Peter with an eye to contemporary physiognomic manuals. In the Acts, Peter is portrayed positively, speaking with a strong voice. But Simon speaks in a high voice, which is associated with femininity, androgyny, and poor oratorical skills. At one point in the narrative, Simon runs, which reveals “a disordered state of mind” and is associated with both femininity and with the actions of slaves. Also, Simon has a highly-sexualized vision of a female slave; visions reflect on their recipient, thus adding to the shameful portrayal of Peter’s opponent.

The reading of Callon’s paper was followed by Bradley Rice’s (McGill University) “Jesus the Gadfly: Introducing the Dialogue of the Paralytic with Christ.” Rice’s presentation drew from his work on the text for the More Christian Apocrypha volume that I am editing with Brent Landau. The Dialogue is extent in two forms: a shorter Georgian text from the 13th century and the longer Armenian from the 14th century. Few other scholars have worked on this text, leaving Rice with plenty of questions to address. Most interesting is the text’s connection to the Armenian Infancy Gospel. Both texts tell structurally-similar stories, with Jesus approaching someone in need of healing and entering into a dialogue about the nature of the illness and the afflicted’s attempts at relief before Jesus reveals that he has the power to heal his dialogue partner. The Dialogue also functions to communicate points of orthodox christology, though strangely in response to comments and questions from Jesus that are not orthodox.

After a short break, John Horman (an independent scholar living in Waterloo) presented his paper on “Translation Matters.” Horman presents regularly at CSBS on the Gospel of Thomas. His previous work finally saw publication a few years ago in his monograph A Common Written Greek Source for Mark and Thomas (WLU Press, 2011). This year he focused on the proclivities of the Coptic translator of Thomas and how the translation has obscured the original contents of the text. Horman pointed out that there are some inherent deficiencies in the Coptic language—it has no participles, no passive, no verb for “to have”—which contribute to difficulties understanding Thomas in its Coptic form. Horman’s paper was difficult to follow (it was somewhat technical, but there was no handout, and the structure of Horman’s argument was not always clear); nevertheless, he made it apparent that scholars must approach the Coptic Thomas with caution and resist thinking it represents well the Greek original. On occasion, Horman referenced a paper from another session delivered by Ian Brown (a student at—well, you know) called “You want answers, go to school! What Graeco-Roman schooling practices can tell us about early Jesus people.” Brown endeavoured to demonstrate that the Gospel of Thomas functions like texts used in philosophical schools—that is, collections of chreia composed on similar topics that do not reflect a systematic doctrine but are meant to evoke discussion on a wider corpus of materials. The implication of this connection is that Thomas is the tip of the iceberg for the writings and traditions used by the “Jesus school” who valued the text.

Finally, the session came to a close with Robert Kitchen’s (Knox-Metropolitan United Church) overview of the “Syriac History of Philip.” Kitchen is preparing an introduction and translation of the text for a future volume of the More Christian Apocrypha project. The text is extant in eight Syriac manuscripts, one of which was published by William Wright (Apocryphal Acts of the Apostles [1871], vol. 2: 69-92; online text), and in an Arabic form. Kitchen emphasized the text’s kinship with the Greek Acts of Philip, which contains 15 self-contained episodes of Philip’s missionary travels and the story of his martyrdom. The Syriac text is also a self-contained story which could fit easily within the Greek Acts, and the Syriac text features an antagonist named Ananias, who appears also in Acts of Philip 2. It is unlikely that the Syriac story was originally part of the Greek Acts, but the parallels suggest that the Syriac author was writing his text as a sequel of sorts to the earlier work.

Following the papers, I led a brief discussion on where we might take the Christian Apocrypha session next year. Likely, the informal nature of the gathering will continue, again to elicit as much involvement from CSBS/CSPS members as possible, particularly because so many of the presenters are students, who have less opportunity to depart from their thesis work to examine other topics. I mentioned also in my remarks that there is an observable tension between the CSBS members who, for the most part, examine the apocryphal texts for what they can tell us about New Testament texts or the origins of Christianity, and the CSPS members who advocate appreciating the material in its present form and setting. Both approaches are valid and lead to interesting results. The pairing of the two groups of scholars is helpful, then, for exposing the presenters and their audience to different methodological options.

Syriac Perspectives on Late Antiquity and Early Islam, University of Toronto

May 29th, 2014

I will be presenting a paper on Syriac Apocrypha at the University of Toronto conference "Hidden Treasures of the Eastern Church: Syriac Perspectives on Late Antiquity and Early Islam" November 15, 2014. The one-day event also features papers by Adam Lehto, Kyle Smith, Amir Harrak and others. I will post further details when the program is finalized.

New book on the Infancy Gospel of Thomas

April 26th, 2014

Congratulations to Stephen Davis on the publication of his new book, Christ Child: Cultural Memories of a Young Jesus (Yale University Press). I had a chance to read the book in manuscript form before publication but I'm excited to hear my complimentary copy is in the mail. From the testimonials:

"Stephen Davis's Christ Child is as theoretically important as it is fascinating. Davis takes the reader on an engaging journey through the Infancy Gospel of Thomas and its surprisingly rich afterlives in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. In the process, Davis challenges us to grapple with broader theoretical questions about transmission, textuality, and memory. Not only does Christ Child demonstrate the importance of attention to apocryphal texts, but it offers a model for bringing interdisciplinary insights from Memory Studies into research on religion and literature more broadly."—Annette Yoshiko Reed, University of Pennsylvania  

"Stephen Davis’s outstanding study of the so-called Infancy Gospel of Thomas provides a model for how early Christian “apocrypha” should be understood.  A major advance in the literary and cultural history of ancient Christianity."—David Brakke, The Ohio State University

Has Philip Jenkins found a “new source” for Secret Mark?

April 19th, 2014

Philip Jenkins, author of The Hidden Gospels: How the Search for Jesus Lost Its Way (2001) and frequent contributor to the Patheos blog, has published a short article in Books and Culture magazine with the tantalizing title “Alexandrian Attitudes: A new source for the ‘Secret Gospel of Mark.’” Unfortunately, Jenkins is not talking about a manuscript source, but a source of inspiration.

Jenkins’ previous contribution to the debate on the authenticity of Secret Mark was the claim that Morton Smith was inspired to forge the gospel after reading James Hogg Hunter’s 1940 novel The Mystery of Mar Saba, in which a character discovers a controversial noncanonical text at the Mar Saba monastery. Indeed, as Jenkins says in this new article, Smith expected scholars to pick up on this connection: “As I have noted elsewhere, the fact that Smith’s alleged find occurred at Mar Saba is either strong proof of the text’s authenticity, in that nobody would have dared invent such a thing, or else it is a tribute to the unabashed chutzpah of a forger.” Jenkins’ theory has been repeated a number of times since—notably by Robert M. Price, Francis Watson, and Craig Evans—and challenged by Allan Pantuck.

Now Jenkins has attributed another literary inspiration to Smith: Angus Wilson’s 1956 novel Anglo-Saxon Attitudes. The plot of the novel involves the discovery of a phallic fertility symbol in the grave of a seventh-century celebrated missionary bishop named Eorpwald, a disciple of the great English Archbishop Theodore. The reader discovers that the artifact was planted by an archeologist, Gilbert Stokesay, to discredit and disgrace his father, the chief excavator of the site, as well as other scholars. Jenkins says also that the novel’s author, Wilson, was openly gay and that “much of the book depicts English gay subculture. This theme also shapes the Eorpwald hoax. By faking the discovery, Gilbert was subverting the heroic image that the modern-day church has of its founders, to make them confront the possibility that those early predecessors themselves were open to unrestrained ‘pagan’ sexuality. To a large degree, he succeeded, as scholars so uniformly accepted these bizarre claims and integrated them into their understanding of medieval faith.”

Jenkins sees a number of parallels between Wilson’s novel and Smith’s discovery: a forgery planted in an early Christian site, the association with the name Theodore, underground controversial clandestine practices, and accusations of sorcery (against Eorpwald in the novel, and against Jesus in Smith’s monograph Jesus the Magician). Jenkins also points out that it is rumored that Smith was gay. Jenkins concludes: “At some point, surely, Occam's Razor requires us to seek the simplest explanation for the whole Mar Saba affair. There’s no mystery here. The Mystery of Mar Saba + Anglo-Saxon Attitudes = Secret Mark.”

Those who claim Secret Mark is a forgery or a hoax will seize on Jenkins’ theory here as additional proof for their position. More careful readers, I hope, will see that the parallels are as tenuous (indeed, more so) as those for Hunter’s novel. Allan Pantuck eviscerated this theory in his article “Solving the Mysterion of Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark” posted on the Biblical Archeology Review Scholar’s Study Page for Secret Mark. Challenging Francis Watson’s restatement of Jenkins’ theory, Pantuck asks, “if we were to take any event in modern history and tried to find a novel written before that event with a content that resembles it in various more specific details, what are the odds we could come up with a parallel? To what extent does real life ever imitate art, and if it does, how closely?” (12-13). Pantuck provides five examples, one of the more amusing is the sinking of the Mignonette in 1884. Only four people survived and after being adrift in an open boat for many days, three of them killed and ate the cabin boy, Richard Parker. Forty years earlier, Edgar Allan Poe wrote The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, in which four survivors of a shipwreck kill and eat a cabin boy named Richard Parker.

For both novels, Hunter’s and Wilson’s, what we have are nothing more than coincidences of names and isolated disconnected topoi—specifically, in Anglo-Saxon Attitudes a fake artifact, found in a grave of a follower of someone named Theodore, indicates that the occupant of the grave was involved in clandestine, pagan sexual practices; in Secret Mark we have a manuscript, found in a monastery and written to someone named Theodore, that mentions a version of a text that was corrupted by some early Christians known for their licentiousness (the Carpocratians). As for sorcery, Smith’s Jesus the Magician is an entirely separate work that does not even use Secret Mark to argue its case. And arguably, the alleged homoeroticism of Secret Mark is in the eye of the beholder.

What is disappointing to me about Jenkins’ recent article is its apparent disregard for those, like Pantuck, who have made significant challenges to the forgery/hoax hypotheses. Gratefully, Jenkins acknowledges the contribution of the collection of papers from the 2011 York Symposium on Secret Mark. He says of the collection:

Recently, Tony Burke has edited an impressive collection of scholarly essays under the title Ancient Gospel or Modern Forgery? The Secret Gospel of Mark in Debate (Cascade Books, 2013). Whichever side you take in the controversy, this book is eminently worth reading as a model of how first-class critical scholars go about forming their conclusions and debating disputed points. In these pages, admirably, their fundamental disagreements remain firmly within the boundaries of civility and mutual respect.

Yet Jenkins’ new article does not take into account anything written within it, save perhaps Pierluigi Piovanelli’s piece on Smith’s interest in occult and antinomian traditions. Brown and Pantuck’s critique of Craig Evans’ articulation of the Hunter-novel parallels is ignored, as is Pantuck’s carefully-documented claim that Smith lacked the capabilities required to compose the text and write the manuscript (an argument that is supported by the experts commissioned by Biblical Archeology Review who concluded that Smith himself could not have created the manuscript). The parallels between the discovery and the two novels are curious (amusing?) in-and-of themselves, but they are not compelling if evidence indicates that the manuscript could not have been manufactured by Smith (and I believe that is what the evidence indicates).

The goal of the symposium on Secret Mark was to gather together scholars of the text and work through the evidence for the authenticity of Secret Mark, set aside arguments that were weak (for either side of the debate), and focus on what was strong. Unfortunately, those who maintain that the text is a forgery continue to cite the same theories without acknowledgement of contrary arguments. It’s disappointing too that, more than a year after the  publication of the proceedings of the symposium, few reviews of the book have yet appeared, and none in an academic journal. Is this simply the typical time lag that occurs in the discipline? Or are the supporters of the forgery hypotheses hoping that, by ignoring the book, their critics’ voices will go unheard?

[My thanks to Philip Jenkins for sending me a copy of the complete article].

Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Declared Authentic

April 10th, 2014

The biblioblogs are abuzz this morning with the news that the promised scientific tests on the Gospel of Jesus' Wife fragment indicate that the papyrus and the ink are ancient, not modern. Here are the links to the discussion so far:

Harvard Magazine: "The Jesus' Wife Fragment: The Scientific Evidence"

The New York Times: "Papyrus Referring to Jesus' Wife is More Likely Ancient Than Fake, Scientists Say" by Laurie Goodstein

Harvard Theological Review 107:2 (2014): published online, with the original article by Karen L. King and a response by Leo Depuydt.

Paleojudaica: "GJW Tests Finally In" 

Jim Davila at Paleojudaica says "This round goes to those who think that the Gospel of Jesus' Wife fragment is a genuinely ancient literary artifact." I'd prefer to see this as a victory against those who would too quickly dismiss a text as a forgery SIMPLY (or principally) because they dislike its contents.

Christian Apocrypha at the 2014 CSBS/CSPS

April 2nd, 2014

For a few years now I have been organizing an informal session at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies on Christian Apocrypha. This year's session is in partnership with the Canadian Society of Patristic Studies. The annual meetings for both societies take place May 24 to 26 at Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario. Here are the details:

Sunday 8:30-11:45 (Rm 211)
APOCRYPHA – A Co-Sponsored Session with the Canadian Society of Patristics
Presided by: Timothy Pettipiece (Carleton University)

8:30-9:00 Anna Cwikla (University of Toronto) “The Dialogue of the Saviour and the Synoptic Gospels”
Other than the Gospel of Thomas, Nag Hammadi texts are rarely considered in scholarship concerning the literary relationship to the Synoptic Gospels. The initial work on the Dialogue of the Saviour in the 1970s argued that it shows no certain dependence on any NT writings. Although this thesis has slowly fallen out of favour, the initial literary outline proposed by Helmut Koester and Elaine Pagels continues to obscure more in-depth source criticism. By shifting away from these artificially imposed gridlines, previously unexplored parallels to the Synoptic Gospels become evident, thus making the case that DialSav should receive more attention in this discourse.

9:00-9:30 Callie Callon (University of Toronto) “Physiognomy as a component of characterization in the Acts of Peter”
Ancient physiognomic thought held that the body and soul were intrinsically related, and that observation of a subject’s physical appearance provided insight into his or her character. Beyond being a diagnostic tool, however, physiognomy could also be used as a strategy of persuasion to bolster or malign an individual’s character to an author or speaker’s audience. The use of physiognomics to praise or denigrate was not restricted solely to actual personal interactions, but, as Elizabeth Evans has demonstrated, was often employed by authors of narrative works to aid in their characterizations of their story’s protagonists and antagonists. I propose that much like contemporaneous narratives in antiquity the Acts of Peter utilizes physiognomic commonplaces to reinforce its positive portrayal of Peter and its negative depiction of Simon.

9:30-10:00 Bradley N. Rice (McGill University) “Jesus the Gadfly: Introducing the Dialogue of the Paralytic with Christ”
The Dialogue of the Paralytic with Christ offers one of the most provocative portrayals of Jesus outside the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Unflinching in its depiction of Jesus as a wayward troublemaker and intractable disbeliever, Dial. Paralytic was unknown to scholars of Christian apocrypha until relatively recently. In my paper I will offer an introduction to the Armenian and Georgian versions of Dial. Paralytic, which I am presently preparing for the forthcoming More Christian Apocrypha volume (ed. Tony Burke and Brent Landau). I will then explore the textual relationship that Dial. Paralytic seems to share with the Armenian Infancy Gospel in order to shed light on the obscure origins of this singular apocryphon.

10:00-10:15 Break

10:15-10:45 John Horman, "Translation Matters”
Our Coptic translation has skewed our understanding of the Gospel of Thomas. Because it was found in a collection of documents translated into Coptic, and because at first its relation to three papyri fragments was not at first recognized, it became customary to refer to it as the “Coptic Gospel of Thomas” as if the accidental fact of its having been translated into Coptic was part of its very essence. This, however, as Goodacre notes, falsifies out understanding of Thomas. I will in this paper probe this falsification under several headings. First, literary relationships are obscured. For example, when in Th. 4:2 the Coptic translator omitted the words “and the last first”, he obscured the fact that for this saying Thomas has a literary relationship with Mark and not with Q. Second, Thomas’ meaning is concealed. In the introduction, the Coptic translator has introduced a copula where very probably none was intended. In Th. 68,9 the translator has repositioned a negative, making what was originally a clear statement into mystifying nonsense. Third, relations between sayings are garbled. For example, the translator has obscured the connection between Th. 36 and Th. 37, and between Th. 7 and 8. Fourth, in some cases the translator simply had no idea what the Greek text was about. For example, in Th. 2, he replaced a carefully constructed sentence with a Stoic platitude. In Th. 60 he simply gave up and wrote “this is about the lamb”. Finally, much of Thomas has been omitted by the translator. For example, the translator has omitted the bulk of Th. 30 and Th. 36.

10:45-11:15 Robert A. Kitchen (Knox-Metropolitan United Church) “The Syriac History of Philip”
The text is notable in its title as it is an apocryphal history of the apostle Philip, not a gospel. It is a translation into Syriac (manuscript dated 1569) from a Greek text which has not been preserved. The History begins at the moment Philip lands in Azotus, transported from the wilderness road in Acts 8:40. The author/translator relies on motifs from Acts and the Old Testament prophesies and interpretations of the Messiah. Christ once again appears to Philip in a vision with a commission to go to Carthage and remove a satanic ruler, which he will effect simply by crossing himself as he enters the palace. Philip and company are transported to Carthage on a ship via almost-warp speed, a dolphin and a talking ox are employed for divine service, and an unusual resurrection. Essentially, the History is an anti-Jewish polemic in which a Jewish bystander, Hananya, is successively the anti-hero, convert, martyr and resurrected one. The sermons and testimonies are replete with anachronistic knowledge of Christian Messianic interpretations, as well as prophetic condemnations of unfaithful Israel. This paper will focus upon the function of this early Greek text in a later Syriac environment.

11:15-11:45 Questions and Discussion