Off to the Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society


Tomorrow I head to Atlanta for the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society.  This is always a great occasion to catch up with old colleagues, meet new ones, and network with scholars from around the country.

In addition to a full slate of meetings, I will be involved in the following three sessions:

1. On 11/18 at 10:40AM I will be giving a paper in the Synoptic Gospels section (Hilton Grand Salon C) where I will review the recent book by Monte Shanks, Papias and the New Testament (Pickwick, 2013).  Afterwards there will be a panel discussion on Papias with me, Monte Shanks and Darrell Bock.

2. Also …

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Want to Understand the Transmission of the NT Text? Here is a Great New Resource

Fundamentals of NT TC

Whenever I teach textual criticism to my seminary students, I usually get two very different responses.  For some students, their eyes glaze over and they tune out as soon as they hear the word “paleography” for the first time.

For others, they find themselves fascinated by how texts were transmitted and copied in the ancient world.  And they are excited by the  fact that we can go to museums and see actual NT manuscripts–the earliest artifacts of Christianity. This archaeological component to textual criticism makes it a very tangible enterprise.

One thing that really helps teach students about this complex subject is finding the right text book.  But, admittedly, this …

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What is the Earliest Complete List of the Canon of the New Testament?


In the study of the New Testament canon, scholars like to highlight the first time we see a complete list of 27 books.  Inevitably, the list contained in Athanasius’ famous Festal Letter (c.367) is mentioned as the first time this happened.

As a result, it is often claimed that the New Testament was a late phenomenon.  We didn’t have a New Testament, according to Athanasius, until the end of the fourth century.

But, this sort of reasoning is problematic on a number of levels.  First, we don’t measure the existence of the New Testament just by the existence of lists. When we examine the way certain books were used by …

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Were Early Christian Scribes Untrained Amateurs?


In the ongoing debates about the reliability of early Christian manuscripts, and whether they have been transmitted with fidelity, it is often claimed that early Christian scribes were amateurs, unprofessional, and some probably couldn’t even read.

In Michael Satlow’s recent book, How the Bible Became Holy (Yale, 2014), this same sort of argument appears.  Satlow’s book argues that both the OT and NT canons were late bloomers, and that they bore no real authority until the third or fourth century CE.  And part of the evidence for this claim comes from Satlow’s assessment of the NT manuscripts.  He states:

The copies of early Christian manuscripts from around the second century

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