Thursday, June 19, 2008

Visiting the Land Down Under=Oz

The first stop on my world circling bone-wearying tour was Australia, to do a conference at Morling colleague and to give a lecture on Oral Texts at MacQuarrie University, which certainly has one of the leading Ancient History Departments in the world, when it comes to the study of early Christianity in its original social setting. Whilst there I had some time with my friends Edwin Judge and Alanna Nobbs and Chris Forbes, and made a new friend, Don Barker, who kindly gave me the tour of the papyrology and ancient artifacts museum. Contained in this museum are many things of importance for Biblical and Christian studies, but this post is devoted to some of the papyri Do showed me and let me take pictures of.

Let me explain what you are looking. Firstly, the picture is of myself Edwin Judge, whom we were honoring on the occasion of this conference. Clearly he is one of the major figures in the reorientation in the way we view the social level, life, and status of early Christians (see the recent collection of his crucial essays edited by my old mentor David Scholer). Beside Edwin is Alanna Nobbs a central figure in the History department at Macquarrie and finally there is Larry Welborn who has just been added to the faculty there half time, and will continue at Fordham half time. When you add Steve Llewellyn, Chris Forbes, Don Barker and others you have the best department there is in the world when it comes to early Christian history. One of the specialities is the cataloguing and publishing and translating and analyzing of ancient papyri relevant to the NT period, which of course includes some Christian ones, some NT ones, and some Greco-Roman ones. I have included pictures of all of these sorts in this post.

What you see is the blow up image under the microscope of one of the early Christian papyri, here focusing on the nomina sacra, the abbreviated sacred name, in this case the abbreviation for Christ. Note the line over it as well indicating abbreviation of the sacred name. The next two pictures are of their famous Acts 8 fragment, and I am sorry they are not of better caliber but it is hard to shoot through glass, and especially at an angle. Then we have a lead curse tablet which roles up, by which it was believed you could zap your foes. Next to this is a practice tablet, where someone is learning to write Greek, and perhaps doodling as well. Below this is a letter fragment and you can see how delicate it is, and how it must be carefully handled. The last picture is a Christian papyri with an image of a demon on it, no less!

There is much more of interest in this little museum at MacQuarrie, and I wish to thank all my friends there for a splendid time indeed. Australian hospitality is justly famous-- Good on you mates :)


AG said...

Hey Ben,
I am glad you made it to Australia, i have been a long time reader of your blog and your books and appreciate your site. I was not able to goto to the morling lecture but just wanted to say it is great to have people of your great ability and level teaching in OZ. Come back again asap and check out some other places and colleges in OZ Try N.T.C in Cleveland, QLD. I believe it to be one of the few 'Wesleyan' colleges in OZ, besides that Steve Irwins Australia Zoo is about 1 hour drive from it. Keep up the great posts.

phil said...

Do you have any good references to point me towards that give a history of how demons were viewed throughout church history?

Ben Witherington said...

Well there are good articles on demonology in most Christian dictionaries, but to start with the feel for how demons were viewed in Jesus' day see Graham Twelftree's help book Jesus the Exorcist.


Andy Rowell said...

Dr. David M. Scholer, professor of New Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary, passed away on Friday, August 22, 2008, after a long struggle with cancer. Scholer, who was 70, served on Fuller’s faculty for the past 14 years.

Fuller Seminary Remembers the Life of David M. Scholer

Blog tributes: Prof. David M. Scholer (1938-2008)

Ari said...

Wow. So this is what I missed out on before I came to MQ.

Just for anyone interested - the Macquarie uni Society for the Study of Early Christianity is having their annual conference this weekend (Sat, 9th). It will be starring many of the people 'endorsed' by Prof Witherington above such as Professor Edwin Judge, Professor Laurence Welborn and Dr Chris Forbes. But wait, there is more! Visiting Fellows Professor Judith Lieu, Lady Margaret’s Professor of Divinity and Fellow of Robinson College, Cambridge University, and Professor Beverley Gaventa, Helen H.P. Manson Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Exegesis, Princeton Theological Seminary.

The topic of the conference will be 'The Paradox of Paul'.

More info can be found here: