Right across from the host hotel in a large open area in downtown Wasington D.C. was the Circque d'Soleil. The more I thought about, the more appropriate I thought it was that it was there this weekend. The annual Society of Biblical Literature meeting also occured this weekend, as it always convenes the weekend before Thanksgiving every year. Its a remarkable event involving literally hundreds and hundreds of lectures, panel discussions, dialogues, tours, meals, films, and oh by the way huge book exhibits. To this meeting comes about 5,000 Bible scholars and scholar-wannabes every year. It is a true zoo.
You can come as a member of the SBL, you can come as a guest, you can give a paper if you are a seasoned veteran, you can give a paper if you are a recommended novice. The gamut is both daunting and impressive. Some of the best papers are by the doctoral students, some of the worst are by the grizzled veterans-- but not usually. Often the sessions are packed out with people sitting on the floor. Sometimes young scholars dissolve in a puddle of tears when the questions become too pointed or critical, sometimes scholars are given a rousing round of applause. Who knew that lecturing could stir such pathos.
You will hear everything from the sublime to the ridiculous to the infuriating. At one seminar you could hear a rousing debate about whether Mark 16.8 is really the original appropriate ending of that Gospel. At another you could here me advocating that the Beloved Disciple was actually Lazarus. At still another you could hear Richard Hays talking about whether narrative theory and narrative theology can describe and circumscribe the unity of the Bible. At still another you could hear me and Marcus Borg debating how to use the Bible across cultural and theological and temporal divides.
You can also go to the Smithsonian and see some of the very earliest Biblical manuscripts at a special exhibit in the Sackler gallery, including the Chester Beatty papyri--- p45 and p46 which include some of our earliest fragments from Galatians and the Gospels dating to around 200 A.D. or a bit thereafter. You could see Constantine's royal purple parchment of the Gospel, died in in rich royal hue. You could also go to the Jefferson Building at the Library of Congress and see the brand new illuminated St. Johns Bible being meticulously written by caligraphers and hand illustrated. It was gorgeous and is taking seven full years for about seven people to produce on huge vellum pages (i.e. calf skin). Like I said, its a potpourri (and did I mention the books were for sale at 40% off and more?).
Best of all it was a time for renewed friendships and fellowship. Sometimes just when you are stuffed with Biblical ideas you then get to go to a nice Thai restaurant with an old friend (in this case Richard Bauckham) and sing "Bless be the Thai that Binds" :) A very good time was had by all, but we all came home tired and bloated mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
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I'm ready to hear more about Lazarus and/as the Beloved Disciple. It intrigues me that the Beloved Disciple only shows up in the narrative after Lazarus has been raised. And there's the whole business at the end of John with Peter's question about what's going to happen to the Beloved Disciple and whether or not he would die. Have you written about this topic somewhere?
Ben, I loved your paper. Thanks again for taking the time to chat.
Yup===== see my What Have They Done With Jesus?
There seem to be a great many people who have thought that Lazarus is the Beloved Disciple. Would that mean that Lazarus wrote the Gospel of John? Should it be called the Gospel According to Lazarus?
Scholars have recognized that thereis a second voice at least at the end of the manuscript in John 21--- "this is the one who wrote... and we know his testimony is true" Who then is the we since it is not the Beloved Disciple? My answer is simple. It is the BD's community, and the person who collected and edited the BDs testimony is John of Patmos. This is how it came in the second century to be associated with someone named John.
Does Matthew 11:22 indicate that God only elects some to salvation?
20 Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. 21 "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.
Some time ago, you posted an article by Kevin Giles about the eternal subordination of Christ and the subordination of women. You recommended the book and I have been looking into it.
On another blog, there was a review of the book which was very good. However, one of the responses, while pointing out some adverse reaction to Giles' book, said that we should not confuse the eternal subordination of Christ with the heresy of subordinationism. What is the difference? Is there a difference?
Hi Rusty: The supposed difference is that Christ is functionally subordinate to the Father for all eternity, not ontologically subordinate. But in fact this is not what texts like Phil. 2. 5-11. Jesus is given a place on God's throne, God's name and God's worship. That hardly qualifies as functional subordination.
And as for Mt. 11.22 no it does not suggest any such thing. Jesus is simply drawing an analogy and saying that some would have already responded to the Gospel better than the cities in question. He's not talking about cities which will never get a chance!
Thanks for the information. It clears things up. I got your commentary on the Pastorals today, so I have some reading to do.
Have a great Thanksgiving and thanks for the blog,
I have a question about Romans. I am a scholar by absolutley no means, but as I was reading in Romans 2 I was struck with the idea of what Jeremiah said in Jer. 31 about the Law being written on hearts. Is Paul possibly alluding to this?
Thanks Ben! So is it possible that God gives different amounts of light to different people? I’m asking these questions because I’m trying to offer a biblical response to a question from an Atheist who seems to think God has not created the best possible world because not everyone has sufficient light to know him. The question I get is that if God knows how to perfectly communicate to every single person in such a way that they would repent, why does He not do so?
Enlightenment style questions are quite frustrating!!!
In regard to Romans 2, some scholars have indeed thought that the reference is to the Jeremiah idea of the Law written on the heart. However, Paul is referring to Gentiles here not Jews. So most think either conscience or natural law is in view.
Yes it is possible that God gives different light to different folk. Of course it is true that God knows in advance who will respond positively to God's grace.
I look forward to reading your comments on Lazarus and the Beloved Disciple? It's something that I have pondered for quit some time. I don't know if you discussed this but have you ever thought about the relationship between the name Lazarus in the book of Luke and the introduction to the Beloved Disciple in John 13? Like many things in Luke and John, Lazarus is a name that only these two gospels share. Luke tells us that Lazarus died and went to Abraham's Bosom (Kolpos). John, likewise, tells us that the BD reclined on Jesus Bosom (Stethos), an image that clearly echos Jesus being in the Bosom (Kolpos) of the Father. Is the name Lazarus, therefore, simply a clue that helps to connect a man of Bethany with the Beloved Disciple? If that is this case, isn't Simon the Leper perhaps a better canidate as the author of the Gospel of John?
I'd love to hear your thoughts.
Since Simon the leper was dead before Jesus died, he would not be a very good candidate for the authorship of that Gospel, but the 'bosom' parallels are interesting.
Thank you for your response. I've never heard that Simon the Leper died before the death of Jesus. I thought the first and last time that he appeared in Scripture was when Mary anointed Jesus at his house only a few days before Jesus was arrested. Is there a church tradition or a scriptural passage that you could possibly refer me to. Thanks again for you thoughts.
It is a clear inference from the text itself. You don't have a meal in an unclean house involving all the disciples. Their still Jews. It would have to be called the house of Simon the former leper if they were all going to be there and eat there. Leviticus is very clear about such skin diseases. The person, the house, etc. would be untouchable.
Please don't take these thoughts as argumentative. I deeply repect and value your thoughts as a teacher and a writer. I know the idea that Lazarus is a "oode name" for Simon the Leper is far fetched, but I'm not quit sure that just because Jesus was said to be at the house of a leper that means the leper had died. First it is possible that Simon's sur name was Leper due to the continued state of his illness. Thus even if Jesus had recently healed him, his name would not be quickly changed to Simon "the former" Leper. Matthew and Mark may have simply used this common name to distinguish him from Simon Peter. Secondly, it is possible, given Jesus practice of touching the unclean, participating in open table fellowship with known sinners, as well as subverting purity regulations in his teaching(Mark 7), that He actually did eat at a Leper's home while the Leper was there. While I perfer the first suggestion, the second does not seem to far out of bounds. Thanks again for your blog. I do enjoy regularly reading your educated and biblical thoughts.
There are three flaws in your argument: 1) it is one thing to say Jesus would go into that house. Indeed, he would. But in fact it was Jesus and the Twelve and a bunch of others as well it would appear. That's a whole different ballgame. 2) Leper is not a name or a surname, it is a descripter, like Sam the drug-addict. When a person leaves such a condition behind in early Judaism he goes to the priest, is declared clean and is no longer burdened with the stigma of such a descripter. You wouldn't continue to call the blind man in John 9 'the blind man' once he was cured!; 3) the discomfort of the disciples in the story in Mk. 14 is not with where they are, in Simon's house, but with the behavior of the anointing woman.
Thanks for the discussion. I enjoyed it immensely. Hope you had a good thanksgiving.
your brother in Christ
I'm disappointed. I visited this post thinking I'd get to hear a Biblical scholar's reaction to Corteo! False advertising! Didn't anyone see the show?
Well Cirque d'Bible is a whole nother world than Corteo, but both do involve clowns and processions :)
just curious, but who, then, is john of patmos. would he be one of the johns mentioned in other writings, or a different john than those mentioned?
i just wanted to get your thoughts on this. also, what do you think about bauckham's contention that matthew wasn't written by matthew?
I enjoyed your description of the religious circus known as SBL. I never knew scholars in the ivory tower could be so entertaining.
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