Prof .Daniel Falk (University of Oregon) will visit us next week and present a paper on ‘Material Aspects of Prayer in the Dead Sea Scrolls’. Tuesday April 3, at 3-4.30 pm in the Martin Hall. All welcome!
(Larry Hurtado) The latest issue of the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus (vol. 10, 2012) leads with a large article by Richard Bauckham on evidence from ossuaries and inscriptions about the family of Caiaphas: “The Caiaphas Family,” pp. 3-31. The jump-off point in his essay is an inscription on an ossuary announced by the Israel Antiquities Authority in 2008, which reads “Marian daughter of Yeshua bar Qayafa, priest from Ma’aziah from Bet ‘Imri”. But Bauckham also includes in the scope of his discussion a larger body of references in ancient texts (NT, rabbinic, Josephus) and other artifacts that have been, and must be, considered in drawing a picture of the family connected with the name “Caiaphas”.
Bauckham contends that “Caiaphas” originated as a nickname given to an ancestral figure in the Jewish priestly clans, which then became a family name of one particular line. He proposes also that the name (“Qayafa”) comes from a word designating “the jelly or crust that forms on boiled meat,” suggesting an obvious possible derivation of the term from the temple practice of boiling meat from sacrificial offerings. But he grants that “just what it was about the progenitor of the Caiaphas family that earned him this nickname we shall probably never know” (18). (With “Hurtado” [Spanish: "stolen", from "hurtar"] as my surname, I can identify well with how a nickname can come to be a family name!)
Bauckham’s study is a model in measured but focused analysis of a wide-ranging body of data, from which PhD students (and not a few established scholars as well) can take lessons. I’ll also be keen to see what my colleague, Helen Bond, makes of his argument, given her own published interest in the Caiaphas priest mentioned in the Gospels: Helen K. Bond, Caiaphas, Friend of Rome and Judge of Jesus? (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004).
(Larry Hurtado) One of the big issues in debate in recent scholarship on the ancient Roman world is the extent, nature and uses of literacy. Everyone agrees, it seems, that a majority of people of that time were illiterate, but the size of that majority remains under dispute.
This has implications for students of the NT and earliest Christianity, of course. For example, some scholars have contended that texts played less of a role than most have assumed, and that “orality” was dominant. There is much more involved than can be addressed properly here. Suffice it to say that I’ve not been terribly impressed with the level of acquaintance with the relevant hard data by some of those downplaying the importance/use of texts and pushing for what I am bound to regard as a somewhat simplistic view of “orality”.
By way of illustration, take the incidence of graffiti. These aren’t typically data reckoned with in some of these discussions, but probably should be. For graffiti, by their nature, are likely to reflect “sub-literary” use of writing and reading. Indeed, in graffiti we probably have our most direct access to a “popular” level of ancient Roman societies.
In a fine collection of studies, I point to an interesting essay by Kristina, Milnor, “Literary Literacy in Roman Pompeii: The Case of Vergil’s Aeneid,” in Ancient Literacies: The Culture of Reading in Greece and Rome, eds. William A. Johnson and Holt N. Parker (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 288-319. Milnor discusses the incidence of graffiti that make use of phrases from literary texts, often to make jokes. As she notes, there are thousands of graffiti from Pompeii alone, and of various types, “written in charcoal, scratched with a stick or stylus, painted with a brush,” giving us “a window onto the language of everyday life in the ancient Roman world,” and giving us direct artifacts of “words written by ordinary people performing an activity (writing graffiti) that we in the modern day do not associate with the cultural elite” (291).
Milnor’s essay is a salutary indication that the full body of data to be considered in engaging the “literacy” vs. “orality” debate is more diverse and demanding that some have recognized.
See the new ‘Welcome & Events’ tab above, for upcoming CSCO events here at New College. We are also now adding faculty pages, with pre-pub samples of their work for download. First up, is the CSCO’s director, Helen Bond (pictured left). Her page includes links to her books as well as six articles/chapters she has written—definitely worth checking out.