Thursday, March 02, 2006

Blog Move

This blog is now transferred to here.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

New Blog: pro lingua Latinae magistris

I want to welcome Mark Keith to the classical blogdom with his new blog pro linguae Latinae magistris. In case you couldn't figure it out from the name, the blog is about teaching Latin, in particular high school Latin. Here is the blurb:
This weblog is dedicated to the musings of a high school Latin teacher. It is my hope that these comments, thoughts, and ideas will be of benefit to all teachers of Latin: experienced, inexperienced, and brand new. I will strive to remain positive, productive, and professional.
Welcome Mark!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Magna Carta: Sigla, Ligatures, and Diacritics

I have a couple of questions for any reader who may be knowledgeable about Medieval Latin manuscripts. I have a copy of the Magna Carta reprinted from Lincoln from which I began to make a transcription. I also was using the one hosted at the British Library.

My first question is the TC question - why version is superior? I'm inclined to go with the one at the BL, but before I do I'd like to get some information first.

My second question goes to those knowledgeable with medieval manuscripts. I'm interested in the sigla, ligatures, diacritics, etc... I've compiled a short list at my forum where I'll be keeping it up-to-date as I go through the document. You can join the conversation here.

  1. The elongated "a" in gra[cia] and the little & above it (the familiar ampersand - doesn't look like the Latin ligature for "et" nor does "et" fit in anywhere)

  2. The 7 between Norm[anniae] and Aquit[anniae] - well, some may not draw their sevens like that, but I do [edited - yeah, this has to be a ligature for "et"]

  3. I'm supposing the "3" at the end Abb[a]tib3 is a ligature for "us" (abbatibus). Actually, it looks more like the IPA symbol ʒ)

  4. The -e in Hib[er]nie is, I suppose the shortened form of -ae; Hiberniae. Odd that the online transcription should give us thus Anglie, Hibernie, Normannie etc...
Any information would be greatly appreciated.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Archaeologiests Unveil Staircase in Tivoli

From here:
Archaeologists who have been digging for more than a year at the villa of Roman Emperor Hadrian in Tivoli have unearthed a monumental staircase, a statue of an athlete and what appears to be a headless sphinx.

...The staircase is believed to be the original entrance to the villa, which was built for Hadrian in the 2nd century A.D.
Read more at link.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

That Phoenix - the ANE List

From here:
All ANE subscribers,

The voting members of the Oriental Institute have decided to withdraw
their support for the OI's continued hosting and management of the
ANE list. Therefore, all list activities will end at noon (CST)
February 16, 2006.

The on-line archive with old ANE posts will remain available for the
time being. A date for the removal of the archive will be announced
in advance on the ANE home page:

We hope that the ANE community will be able to move their discourse
from the ANE to one or several alternative list(s). Please note that
for the privacy of the subscribed members to the ANE list, we will
not distribute to any individual or organization our current email

John Sanders
Magnus Widell
Thus falls the mighty ANE list, one that I had been ignoring for quite some time due to the bickering. Jeffrey Gibson has already opened up the ANE-2 list as a moderated list here on Yahoo. What's this? Another Gibson list? No way!

Nah, just kidding. Hopefully, this one will be better fared than the last.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The Quest for the Historical Jesus, pt. 3

There are three early historians who are thought to mention Jesus Christ. The first is Josephus. Flavius Josephus was a Jewish historian writing once captured in Judaeo who then wrote for the emporers of Rome. He wrote in Aramaic and translated it himself into Greek, but all we have surviving is the Greek copy. He published his Antiquitates Iudaeorum (Antiquities of the Jews) in the early 90's CE. In it, he refers twice to Jesus Christ. However, the passages are very dubious and show clear signs of tampering. In fact, the first reference is so Christian, that it is often labelled the "Testimonium Flavianum" for its gospel-like message.

Perhaps the best survey of the passages is done by Peter Kirby at In it he examines the both passages and evidence for and against their authenticity. His conclusion is typical - the first reference is spurious and the second contains an interpolation. I would have to agree with him on this.

More recently, some have challenged this. Notably, Stephen Carlson at Hypotyposeis suggests that some form of the TF must have been original since Tacitus uses it. Also, G. J. Goldberg makes a case that Josephus and Luke both used a proto-source for their information.

Well, concerning Josephus and Luke, it has been shown elsewhere that there Luke most likely had used Josephus independent of this examination. I currently have no doubt that Luke uses Josephus. However, I do not think the situation is so simple as it may seem. As Goldberg's theory may afford some evidence to an original TF, I still have my doubts.

Ken Olsen has been doing some research on this, and you can find our conversation on Xtalk about it. Ben C. Smith has also dared to rebut some of Olsen's claims as well.

That the passage is entirely spurious, I find on Peter's site that arguments 5-11 are the most convincing. It was, in fact, those arguments that led me from thinking that it was merely corrupted to entirely spurious, especially 5 and 8. That the passages sticks out like a whale in the jungle (pardon my metaphor) is always the first sign of an interpolation. (Well, second sign - the first is absence in some manuscripts).

So what of Luke and Tacitus then? This is difficult. To be certain, there are no certainties here. It's merely guesswork, hypothesizing, and scratching of head and chin. Actually, I am still undecided entirely. I like what Ben has done, but find that Ken Olsen's dismissal makes more plausible sense. What if the parallels are merely imagined? Odd coincidence for those that seem like real parallels? Especially noted is that Tacitus seems to not know Antiquitates at all, instead relying on Bellum Iudaeorum (War of the Jews).

Also, there is something odd about passage in Tacitus. When first reading it, it did not seem right to me - call it gut instinct. It was then I realized that others also have doubted it's authenticity. Having checked into it, there are only two qualities which seem unTacitean. There's the odd cut-off in Tacitus, which makes a short sentence (Tacitus is usually rather profuse with his words). The other being the alliteration which is rather unknown in Tacitus - "Tibero imPeritante Per Procuratorem Pontium Pilatum suPPlicio Adfectus Erat". A user on IIDB made a rather impressive post in favor of forgery, and this is where I got it from. And of course, the Procurator/Prefect and Christ/Chrestian mismatches seem to nudge me as something wrong. What? I'm not sure. But something... Hopefully I'll have more on this sooner or later.

The last author is Suetonius, who in the Life of Claudius 25.4 we see, "As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from Rome." This is, however, a rather dubious connection to Jesus. When did Jesus instigate the Jews in Rome? However, we see later on, "Punishment by Nero was inflicted on the Christians, a class of men given to a new and mischievous superstition."

At this time, I have no conclusion, not even a working hypothesis on how to solve this jungle of a puzzle. I am working on the possibilities, though, and will keep everyone updated on how that turns out.

Updated: I realized that I was missing a couple of links. All should be fixed now.

New Blog: Gospel of Matthew

Just found this blog scrolling through Dr. Goodacre's blogroll, not sure how I missed it earlier. It is a blog by Jason Hood about the Gospel of Matthew, a favorite subject of mine. He, like me, also lives in Memphis, TN. He has plenty of information for me to look over, take what I need, and criticize with what I disagree with, though I must say, Jason, it looks good so far.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Is Matthew Jewish?

Phil Harland's recent blogpost A Very Jewish Jesus: The Gospel of Matthew's portrait (NT4) raises a very relevant concern for me. He writes:
Something I often stress to students of early Christianity is that this Jesus movement was very much a form of Judaism in its origins. The peasant Jesus was a Jew, and all the earliest followers of Jesus were Jews, Jews who continued to feel that following the law (the Torah) was humanity’s response to God’s covenant with his people (Paul, the Jewish Pharisee, was a bit of an exception in not requiring that gentiles follow the Jewish law in order to join, but in other ways was also very much a Jew and did not object to Jewish followers of Jesus following the law).
This as it stands I do not have a problem with at all. The original Jesus, if he existed, was definitely Jewish, and most likely so were the earliest Christians. My post here is a strong piece of evidence I found for it, and that there's an issue with Paul and James at all suggests that early Christianity was wholly Jewish.

I also do not have a problem with Phil relating Jesus to Moses:
Furthermore, Jesus is often presented as the new Moses, as in the birth narrative. This continuing theme of Jesus as the expected prophet like Moses continues in what Matthew has as the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7).
This idea, actually, plays a central part in my theory on Matthew that I introduced here back in July last year. Since then, I've even gotten a good portion of my paper written and reviewed by various people. So far, the reviews have been very positive, which gladdens me. (Although, Loren Rossen, if you're reading this, what did you think of it? I've got some more revisions to do, but your input is always helpful, although to be honest I know you must disagree with it.)

However, I do think that his view of Matthew is not accurate. To be sure, his view is the common one circulating now - the status quo of Matthean studies is his fidelity to the Law. In my paper, I argue that Matthew is not a Jewish gospel. Au contraire, Matthew is a Christian gospel which denies the Torah.

Phil quotes Matthew 5.17-20 in favor of Matthew's Judaism. However, in context with larger Matthew, the verse takes upon a different meaning altogether. For Matthew, Jesus was Jewish, and he accepted that, but he had to explain why they weren't Jewish anymore. "If Jesus was Jewish, why shouldn't we be Jewish also?" he may have asked himself. The gospel fully explores this question and answering it is fundamental to understanding Matthew's ecclesiology.

I regret to not release my paper yet, as it is not anywhere near finished, but I can bring up some key points.

  1. Matthew does affirm the entire Law, but only until everything is fulfilled. We can't say certainly when fulfillment occurs, but it definitely is prior to Matthew's writing. The top candidates are either the death and resurrection of Jesus or the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.
  2. Matthew clearly in several places nullifies the Law and sums the entire Law up in one or two phrases. (Mt. 5.11, 7.12, 23.23).
  3. Matthew foreshadows the stripping of Israel from the Jews and the giving of it to the faithful (Mt. 8.7-8.12).
In the paper, I make much more explicit, and hopefully I can finish that soon enough so everyone can read it.