(Helen Bond) Just a quick thank you to everyone who came to the CSCO/Biblical Seminar special event last Friday. We had about 120 people crammed into the Martin Hall to hear Tom Wright on ‘Israel’s Commission, Abraham’s Reward: Re-reading Romans 2, 3 and 4′ (responded to by Jimmy Dunn), and Jimmy on ‘Luke’s Jerusalem Perspective’ (with a response by Tom). We had two excellent, high-level papers, and stimulating and engaging discussions afterwards. We’re hoping to be able to put up some pictures and even a recording, but we’ll have to await our technical friends for that . . .
(Larry Hurtado): P.Bodmer 12, previously thought to be a portion of a Paschal Homily by Melito of Sardis, and part of the multi-text Bodmer “miscellaneous codex”, is the subject of a recent article by Thomas Scott Caulley ["A Fragment of an Early Christian Hymn (Papyrus Bodmer 12): Some Observations," Zeitschrift fur Antikes Christentum / Journal of Early Christianity 13 (2009) 403-14]. I judge Caulley successfully shows that this text is a portion of an early Christian hymn that draws upon imagery of the eschatological banquet, and is likely from Syrian Christian provenance. The standard lists of early Christian texts will now require alteration in their attribution of this text. Caulley’s article includes a transcription and translations in English, French and German.
AnneMarie Luijendijk (Princeton University) has published a study of a fragment of Greek Isaiah long held in the Princeton University Library, but, curiously, not heretofore given the attention it deserves. She shows that the fragment (Princ.inv. Garrett Dep. 1924, Bell II 2G) is part of the same codex page as a published papyrus held by the Library of Congress (Lib.Cong. 4082B; Rahlfs-Fraenkel 844). So, we now have Isaiah 23:4-15 in the combination of these fragments. The Greek translation shows notable differences from the Massoretic (Hebrew) text. The presence of the nomina sacra form of Kyrios and the codex format combine to suggest strongly that the manuscript is a Christian copy of Isaiah. Luijendijk proposes a palaeographical date “in the third or fourth century” CE. Her article includes photos, transcriptions, and detailed notes. AnneMarie Luijendijk, “A New Fragment of LXX Isaiah 23 (Rahlfs-Fraenkel 844),” Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists 47 (2010): 33-43.
We asked a recently graduated PhD student of ours, Prof. Chris Keith of Lincoln Christian College, to contribute to the blog. Chris is interested in literacy in the ancient world and already has his second monograph ready for publication. Here is what he wrote . . .
Helen Bond invited me to contribute a guest post to the CSCO blog and I am grateful to oblige. I just submitted the manuscript for a monograph to T&T Clark and had planned a bit of digital vanity with a short post about it. Today, however, I received in the mail/post a copy of the late Martin Hengel’s Saint Peter: The Underestimated Apostle and it sparked another idea. While reading it, I wondered silently, “Will there be another Hengel?” and thought, “I should ask Helen (Bond, who did part of her doctoral work under Hengel) and Larry (Hurtado, who was, as I understand it, a personal acquaintance of Hengel’s) whether they think there will be another Hengel, and what it would take for a young scholar to develop into that type of scholar.” Since they both contribute to this blog, then, I offer this post as my query, and open it to anyone else reading.
I’ll offer a bit more background on why I wondered these things. First, one of the common complaints in “the guild” is over-specialization; i.e., scholars becoming too narrowly-defined in their work. Instead of being a “NT scholar,” one is a specialist in “Johannine narrative criticism” or “characters in Luke” or “apocalyptic metaphors in Paul.” No doubt this is a product of the huge number of members of “the guild” and the need for each to get published in a focused area, but Hengel is a prime example of a scholar who avoided this type of myopic focus over the course of a career. I admire (and am intimidated by) the vast topics that he addressed in his career, with intimate knowledge of each topic and the pertinent primary and secondary sources.
On this count, then—Can there be another Hengel under the current academic climate of (perhaps necessary?) specialization? Second, I wonder if theological education in general is sufficient to support the type of broad knowledge necessary to be a scholar of Hengel’s caliber. Much like with Schweitzer’s Quest for the Historical Jesus, it astounds me that Hengel wrote Judaism and Hellenism at the very beginning of his career! How many young scholars today would be capable of producing such a study??! Certainly not this one or anyone of his acquaintance. I had this thought similarly once when reading F. F. Bruce’s autobiography. Bruce discusses how he began to study Greek and Latin at an early age and how it paid dividends in his academic work. I immediately wondered whether future critical commentaries on the Greek texts will be poorer since most scholars now begin their language training in their early-20s at the earliest. So, on this second count—Can there be another Hengel under the current state of theological education?
Obviously, Hengel (and Schweitzer and Bruce) are atypical in the best sense of the word and it would be foolish for anyone to use them as their only scholarly barometer of success. The short answer to the question is, of course—No, there will never be someone quite like Hengel. With that caveat asserted, though, I pose these questions more broadly to Helen and Larry and the rest of the CSCO blog contributors and readers. What do you think? Will there ever be another Hengel? What would it take for a young scholar today to get to that stage? I would also be interested in hearing any personal anecdotes from those who knew Hengel. What made him tick? What made Hengel . . . Hengel?
(Larry Hurtado): In my 2006 book, The Earliest Christian Artifacts: Manuscripts and Christian Origins (Eerdmans), I included an appendix listing all copies of all texts of Christian provenance from before the 4th century CE. Already that list is out of date, and so I’ve uploaded an updated list onto my own blog site: www.larryhurtado.wordpress.com (on the “Essays, etc” page). Corrections and notice of omissions welcome.
(Larry Hurtado): Jan Bremmer retired from his chair in Religious Studies, University of Groningen (Netherlands) in January 2010. One of the commendable practices of that university is that retiring holders of professorial chairs give a “valedictory lecture” (just as it is common in European universities to give an “inaugural lecture” when installed in a chair). Bremmer’s valedictory lecture has been published: The Rise of Christianity through the Eyes of Gibbon, Harnack and Rodney Stark (Groningen: Barkhuis, 2010). It is an interesting discussion of three major figures who have focused on the factors in the growth of Christianity in the first centuries. Because of Bremmer’s uncommon breadth and depth of acquaintance with primary sources and with scholarship on them, I was particularly struck by a couple of his observations.
” . . . everything we know seems to point to Christianity being a movement connected and maintained by the written word, in other words, being a textual community. This was an important diffference from Graeco-Roman religion and cults like those of Isis, Mithras or Cybele. Nowhere do we see that their followers felt connected with ‘fellow believers’ in other places in the Roman Empire. Even though we can look at early Christianity as a collection of local communities, one of its strengths must have been the feeling of an empire-wide community sustained by epistolary and other contacts.” (p. 41)
” . . . as inscriptions and votive reliefs show, in Greco-Roman religion, especially in the East, the distance between deity and worshipper was steadily increasing. For the early Christians, in contrast, the love of God must have been especially important. . . . . There is nothing comparable in Greco-Roman religion to this close tie between believer and divinity.” (pp. 71-72).
I will underscore this by noting that I’ve been unable to find in “pagan” evidence references to the gods loving humans (and I omit the amorous adventures of Zeus with human women!). By contrast, references to the biblical deity acting out of love for humans are ubiquitous in the NT.