Category Archives: General

Regensburg Conference on the Prehistory of the Byzantine Liturgical Year

In early July 2018 the University of Regensburg is hosting a conference on the Prehistory of the Byzantine Liturgy, and I was delighted to have my presentation accepted.

The official program bulletin for this conference was recently distributed. I’m glad to see several friends will be in attendance, including Stephen Shoemaker and Richard Bishop. I’m looking forward to seeing them and to meeting scholars whose work I have long admired, particularly Wendy Mayer. I also want to express my gratitude in advance for the hard work of the conference organizers, Harald Buchinger and Stefanos Alexopoulos, as well as the generosity of the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung for underwriting travel and accommodation costs.

My presentation is entitled, “Festal Breadcrumbs of the Byzantine Eucharist: Patristic Antecedents of the Troparion tou deipnou.” The abstract follows:

According to Robert Taft, the tou deipnou troparion first arose in Constantinople, by 573-574 was established as a standard hymn for Holy Thursday, and by the 11th century became a regular feature of the Eucharistic ritual of Constantinople and other traditions indebted to the Byzantine Rite. The prior origins of this troparion are clouded, but this author’s careful examination of patristic exegesis in his dissertation uncovered several possible sources of influence, including Ephrem the Syrian, an anonymous Syriac dispute poem, and Nyssen’s Vita Macrinae. Continuing that research, and in preparation for a forthcoming monograph, the author has translated numerous homilies on Luke 23:39-43, most of which have a Holy Week liturgical setting and many of which have never been translated into a modern language. These include Greek homilies by Chrysostom (CPG 4110, 4116, 4338, 4339, 4877), Severian of Gabala (CPG 4103, 4728), Proclus of Constantinople (CPG 4062, 4604, 5828), among others. Several features of the tou deipnou are anticipated in these patristic homilies, as well as in patristic commentaries, hymns, and poems. These features include the emphasis on confession, the juxtaposition of Judas and the bandit, and several notable textual variants in Luke 23:42: “Remember me, Lord,” rather than “Jesus, remember me;” the absence of the term “come;” and the dative “in your kingdom” rather than the (earlier attested) accusative “into your kingdom.” While a singular influence cannot be illustrated, patristic homilies do evince common textual and interpretive patterns that helped shape the tou deipnou troparion of the Byzantine Rite.

A Public Prayer for the World: Silent Vigils for Justice

In our Academic Senate meetings at CSUF, we sometimes pause to have a moment of silence for CSUF faculty who have passed. While not overtly religious, it is a beautiful and meaningful ritual and tradition.

I can’t help but think about the many persons who never had an opportunity to be part of our community because of systemic injustice, and that we also have a solemn duty to be vigilant in remembering them.

For them, I offer this guidance and encouragement to all of us at CSUF and everywhere. In all public meetings in which we participate, let us find the courage to read the following and observe a minute of silence.

“Let us observe a moment of silence to remember those absent from among us because they were discriminated against, arrested, imprisoned, and murdered for their color, citizenship, companionship, creed and culture and not for the content of their character. Let us consider ways we can repair this damage and make our world whole.”

RLST 201: Week 6-14 Highlights

Where has time flown? The last week of the semester is upon us. During the last half of the semester, I participated more in specific discussion threads instead of giving the bird’s eye view that I had during the first part of the semester. Given that, I thought a selection of highlights from my posts would be useful to share.

Luke 11-12: On the Lord’s Prayer

Socratic question: since we have three different versions of Jesus giving instructions about what to say in prayer in early Christianity (in Luke, in Matthew, and in the Didache), is there actually such a thing as “the Lord’s Prayer” in the Bible, or is the idea of “the Lord’s Prayer” a later imposition on the Bible?

Same thing could be said about “the Ten Commandments.” Exodus and Deuteronomy give two different versions. So which one, if any, is the “real Ten Commandments”?

To put it differently, why did later Christian interpreters want to boil down these diverse texts into one definitive “Lord’s Prayer” and one definitive “Ten Commandments”? What does that say about how they saw and used the Bible?

Hint: liturgical/worship and educational interests can overshadow and overdetermine interpretation of the Bible!

Luke 11-12: On Judith and the Fall of Jerusalem

Fascinating connections between Judith to the suffering of Jerusalem. You might be interested in a popular article I wrote about Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds as a kind of modern day Judith.

Judith and Revelation in the New Testament have quite a bit in common. Revenge fantasies lamenting the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple, and a call to resistance against imperial rule.

Luke 13-14: Theological and Social Readings

When I read Luke 13:22-30, I read it as a warning against presumption. That theme is very strong in Calvin’s theology. While he says that those predestined to salvation can have assurance, he also stresses that believers should not be presumptuous, and that salvation/election manifests in mortification (self-denial) and good works.

Another way to read the passage is a warning not simply to go along with the crowd.

Yet another way is to read it as a warning to Jesus’ Jewish co-religionists not to assume that their Jewish religious/ethnic standing guaranteed them a place in the eschatological family reunion of God’s people. Gentiles may show themselves more devoted to YHWH than YHWH’s own people.

Lots of possibilities. I wonder if the Jewish/Gentile one is more in keeping with the original context of Luke in its historical context. If so, we should note Calvin’s focus on predestination is itself a profound transformation of the meaning of this passage. My master’s thesis on election and predestination in early Christianity may be helpful here. Early Christian theologians before Augustine saw election and predestination as corporate/ecclesial, not individual. Calvin’s individualistic way of thinking about election and predestination was quite likely a very different way of thinking than what was initially reflected in Luke within its original historical contexts.

Luke 13-14: Individual vs. Communal Interpretations

Ambrose’s interpretation reminds me of the point I made in my reply to another student’s post. Even in ancient Latin Christianity, interpreters took passages (like the fig tree) that had corporate/national/historical significance (as about the fall of Jerusalem) and reinterpreted them to be about the salvation of individuals. If we compare Western (Latin) interpreters to Eastern (Greek/Syriac) ones, often you’ll see that the Western interpreters are more individualistic, and that Eastern interpreters are more corporate/community focused.

Luke 13-14: Calls to Repentance

I’m curious as to whether you would describe these passages as focused on national/corporate repentance and judgement or individual repentance and judgment.

I was meeting with one of my grad student mentees today and we were talking about how English translations of the Bible are so stilted because there is no second person plural (as in Spanish and most Western languages). Because of this, and our individualistic culture, we tend to read the Bible as all about individuals when in its original context it is often speaking to groups of people (families, cities, nations, etc.).

For those of you who read Spanish, French, German, or other Western languages with a second person plural, be encouraged to compare English translations to translations in those languages so you can have more insight into the group-focused mentality that is typical of the books in the New Testament.

My favorite example of this is 1 Cor 6:19. Most people in the US today read that as about individuals (i.e., my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit), and then make it about working out or fitness or something that has nothing to do with the original context of the passage, when the original passage uses all 2nd person plural pronouns and possessives and is speaking of the Church as the collective/shared temple of the Holy Spirit.

Luke 19-20: A Soldier’s Devotion

In addition to the parable of the pounds, the story of the centurion in Luke 7 is also quite reminiscent of the teaching of Epictetus about the taking of oaths. Interesting to think that Jesus expected soldier-like devotion among his disciples.

It’s not well-known in popular circles, but many scholars would say that the historical Jesus led a guerilla warrior movement, and that this is what got him executed. Romans didn’t execute people for teaching about love and forgiveness. They did execute people who were seen as leading revolutionary/independence movements. The fact of the crucifixion is the most important evidence in this argument, but there are other hints throughout the gospels (e.g., the disciples carrying swords and staffs).

After the death of Jesus, and especially after the fall of Jerusalem to Rome in 70, the authors/editors who gave us the Gospels very carefully attempted to make Jesus sound less and less threatening to the so-called Pax Romana. The later the Gospel, the more involved its commitment to picturing Jesus as innocent and that his trial was a travesty of justice.

Luke 19-20: Religious-Corporate Personhood

We don’t often think today about “corporate personhood” in religious terms. It’s interesting to think about the character of Jesus in the Gospels as representing the life and history of a community. In this case, the cleansing of the temple may represent how early (proto-)Christian communities practiced worship that did not exploit the poor, but instead supported them, and the conspiracy to kill Jesus may reflect the sense of opposition these communities had to their way of life in solidarity with the poor.

RLST 201 Week 15: Funeral of James Cone

Happened earlier today at the historic Riverside Church in Harlem, the same place where MLK gave his famous Vietnam sermon.

If you’ve never heard of James Cone, but have heard of Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, Jerry Falwell, or Pat Robertson, this is a good time for reflection and self-awareness of how Christianity in the US and the West more generally is deeply infected by systemic racism and how the prophetic voices of our day who speak out against systemic racism are silenced or ignored.

What would it do to our understanding of the New Testament if we started with the (historically accurate) premise that Jesus was an oppressed person of color? How would it change the practice of Christianity in the US today if we started with that premise? How would it change our lives?

Guest Post: Marcus Verus Christianus, Making Everyday a Christian Day

An anonymous reader of my blog sent the following and asked that I post it as a special installment for Holy Week.

Making Everyday a Christian Day

by Marcus Verus Christianus

Despite the influence of Christian tradition in Western civilization on the reckoning of years (BC/AD), most Western languages still retain overt pagan references for the days of the week. English is one of the most susceptible to this pagan influence:

  • Sunday comes from the worship of the sun.
  • Monday comes from the worship of the moon.
  • Tuesday comes from the worship of the Norse god Tiw, viewed as a substitute for the Roman god of war, Mars.
  • Wednesday comes from the worship of the Germanic god Woden (= Odin), viewed as a substitute for the Roman god Mercury.
  • Thursday comes from the worship of the Norse god Thor, viewed as a substitute for Jupiter as the bringer of lightning and thunder.
  • Friday comes from the worship of the Anglo-Saxon goddess Frige, viewed as a substitute for the Roman god Venus.
  • Saturday comes from the worship of the Roman god Saturn.

In Western Romance languages, two of these pagan references have at least been replaced with Judeo-Christian ones: Sabbath in place of Saturn, and the Lord’s Day (Domin*) in place of the sun. But this is not the case in English.

It is past time for the English language to cease being a vehicle of pagan worship. It is time for Christians who speak English to stop practicing pagan worship in the use of pagan terms for these days. English can become the most Christian language in the world if we only have the will to create, practice, and enforce a completely Christian set of naming conventions:

  • Sonday in honor of Jesus as the only son of God and the day of his resurrection.
  • Moesday in honor of Moses and the giving of God’s Word/Torah/Instruction.
  • Toesday in honor of Jesus washing the disciples’ feet.
  • Woesday in commemoration of the destruction of the first and second temples of Jerusalem, the Babylonian exile, and all woes that have befallen God’s people.
  • Foesday in recognition of Jesus’ commandment to love our enemies.
  • Freeday in honor of Jesus’ inaugural sermon about the liberation of slaves and debts.
  • Shaubday in recognition of the Jewish Sabbath/Shabbat, when Jesus himself rested in the grave.

RLST 201: Spring Break Reflection: Marching for Our Lives & CSUF

My three children and I were part of the March for Our Lives rally yesterday in Santa Ana.

It was peaceful yet passionate. Lots of amazing speakers, including many high school students, Santa Ana City Council member Sal Tinajero, and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom. After the speeches, the middle and high school students led a march around Edinger Park.

It’s probably not talked about during recruitment, orientation, or most classes here, but Cal State Fullerton has its own story of a mass shooting. It took place in 1976, in the Library building where I work every day. A mentally ill employee was able to walk into a KMart, buy a semi-automatic rifle, and start shooting up people in the Library, killing seven.

In the years since, the University has taken many precautions, including automatic door closing mechanisms, active shooter drills, increased police presence on campus. But of course, there’s only so much any University can do when military style weapons and ammunition are so easily available.

What does all of this have to do with a New Testament class, you might ask? In the history of the interpretation of the Bible, Jesus’ teachings on non-violence and non-retaliation in the Sermon on the Mount have been tremendously influential. Ghandi and Martin Luther King, Jr., both took inspiration from these teachings as a basis for their movements of non-violent civil-disobedience against unjust laws. It should also be remembered that, in an age of Roman military power and Jewish guerilla warfare resistance, Jesus embodied a third way, refusing to align messianic identity with a strategy of violence, conducting a non-violent prophetic protest in the Jerusalem temple, and then non-violently accepting his arrest and death. Christians and non-Christians through the years have seen the significance of Jesus’ death not merely as a sacrifice, but as a model which we can emulate to transform the world.

I strive to maintain an apolitical approach to teaching, so I’ll close with this simple advice.

  1. Think carefully about your convictions, reflect deeply on the sources of those convictions, and find ways to advocate publicly for your convictions.
  2. Register yourself to vote, convince all of your friends to register to vote, then get out the vote!

Your voices are far more powerful than you can imagine. They can shape this country to be a more righteous and peaceful place.

RLST 201: Week 3 Discussion Summary (Reader-Response and the book of Revelation)

The exercise of summarizing each of the books of the New Testament proved more useful than I had first imagined. My primary goal was for students to do a quick, skim read of each of the books of the New Testament so as to get an overview. I’ve been thinking about having everyone do the same thing at the end of the semester to see if your summaries would change, but I haven’t decided whether to do that yet. One way to go about this is to see whether and how your individual summaries cohere or conflict with some of the handouts I provided at the start of the semester about the authorship and date of the books of the New Testament.

Even at this point, though, at least one poignant take-away comes to mind. A very brief comparison of everyone’s individual summaries reveals lots of overlaps, but also lots of differences.

How is it possible that all of us read over the same books and yet have came up with such different summaries of their meanings?

You may recall that one of the methods we discussed in Week 2 is Reader Response. The basic idea of this method is that readers bring their own meaning and interpretive tendencies to the text. This is not necessarily bad. Indeed, good texts often intentionally leave gaps so as to create more engagement from a greater variety of readers.

Ironically, one of the best ways to see this tendency is in the history of the interpretation of the book of Revelation.

Remember the pictures of Jesus, how different cultures make Jesus look like them?

That’s exactly what happens all the time with the book of Revelation. People frequently use Revelation to predict the end of the world in their own lifetimes.

Each generation the predictions and players change, but one thing remains consistent across history.

All of their predictions end up being dead wrong.

Luther, for instance, pictured the Pope as the Anti-Christ and predicted the end of the world in the 16th century. His end times predictions helped him start the German Reformation, but they obviously ended up being wrong.

Seventh Day Adventists (a denomination of 17 million today) were started by a preacher named William Miller who predicted end of the world would come in the 19th century and people could see it on a mountain. His were obviously wrong, but the hype leading up to his predictions led to this grand error being known as the “Great Disappointment.”

Those are just two examples out of hundreds.

More problematic is that these interpretations of Revelation tend to be very ethnocentric and nationalistic. US interpreters tend to picture the US as God’s chosen people and picture foreigners (Russians during the Red Scare, Arabs/Muslims more recently) as the bad guys.

So Revelation is used to underwrite American exceptionalist prejudices and geopolitical stances.

This class—and the scholarly study of the New Testament—is about shaking ourselves free of our national and cultural prejudices and learning how to put ourselves in the shoes of the people who created these texts.

The author of Revelation lived in the Roman Empire. His whole world—and that of his fellow Jews—was turned upside down when Roman legions invaded Judea and destroyed Jerusalem and the 2nd Temple. The apocalypse written in response is saturated with references to these events and describes in exquisite and imaginative detail how divine vengeance and judgment will come upon the city, emperors, and empire of Rome.

Pick up any scholarly commentary on Revelation, and it will show you all of these historical and literary connections. But turn on the radio or go to most churches, and you won’t hear anything about them.

Scholarly commentaries are trying to teach you how to read these texts well. Many popular sermons today are doing something quite different, either scaring people into believing in God (fear sells), claiming some kind of esoteric, prophetic insight into the events of the day (so smart!), or just underwriting a deeply prejudicial view of Christianity and the US vs. the rest of the world (poo on the EU). 😉

It’s a false choice to say that one has to choose between saying Revelation is about the Roman empire or saying Revelation is about a future end of the world. In its original context, it’s about both. It’s about the end of the world as envisioned by people living in the Roman empire and suffering unimaginable disappointment when their temple, capital, and much of their culture was destroyed.

The true choice is to decide whether you will read Revelation to try to understand how it is about others (ancient interpreters) or whether to remain entrenched in our cultural biases and prejudices that make Revelation all about us (modern readers in the US).

Again, it’s just like the pictures of Jesus. We can try to respect and understand him as someone very different than us, or we can re-make him in our own cultural image so that he is little more than a reflection of us.

Reader response reminds us that people will see whatever they want, that they will see themselves, their culture, their biases and prejudices embedded in texts. But good Bible scholars should respect these texts and their original creators enough at least to try to see them from the point of view of their ancient creators.

RLST 201: New Testament Week 7: Prospect and Retrospect

Coming up on the halfway mark, and almost done with our first round of research lenses! I’m super proud of this class for the great work you are doing. I’ve seen a lot of growth in your research and writing skills as regards New Testament studies, and you’re only going to get more awesome as the semester continues!

Working on the annotated translation today took me down memory lane in many ways. I had the honor of visiting Palestine, Israel and Jordan a couple years ago on a tour guided by a friend and legit scholar. It was eye-opening in so many ways.

By the way, if you are interested in me having a special online session or two where I share memories, insights, and maybe even photos of my travels in the “Holy Land,” please reply and let me know, and I’ll put something together. Currently, to the best of my knowledge, there is no CSUF study abroad to the Middle East, but if that’s something you are interested in, let me know. I’ve been thinking about putting together a study abroad to the Holy Land with one or two other professors who work in History, Art, Architecture, Judaism, and/or Islam so that we could give an awesome tour with rich insights from multiple perspectives.

So, the reason my Holy Land travels came back so vividly this week is because of the story of the Gerasene Demoniac in Luke 8:26-39, a story that also appears in Mark and Matthew. Gerasa = Jerash, which happens to be arguably the best preserved Roman-era city in the whole Mediterranean. You can walk down the same streets, see the same pillars, survey the same hippodrome, venture up to the same (though broken) bridges, behold the same triumphal arches, test the acoustics in the same amphitheater, and dip your hand in the same fountain that people did 2000 years ago–people including Jesus himself, who may have visited this city. Do a Google image search for “Jerash” and you’ll see some of those sights for yourself!

Jerash in Jordan: Cardo

Jerash in Jordan

Jerash was supremely memorable because it felt like going back in time 2000 years, like very little had changed except for decay, crumbled walls and ceilings, and a few buildings that had been repurposed into Christian basilicas. Almost everywhere else that people commonly go in the Holy Land (Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Capernaum, and even the recently excavated Migdal/Magdala–where, by the way, a photo I took now sits in the Museum of the Bible in DC)–almost everywhere else has been built, rebuilt, and rebuilt more, until the 2000 year old layers are impossible to see. They are covered over by 4th-5th century Christian basilicas, by 7th-9th century Muslim mosques, by 11th-12th century Crusader fortresses, and by more modern construction, much of which is designed to allure ignorant religious tourists.

For example, in Jerusalem there are signs pointing you to an “upper room” where they say Jesus had his last supper with the disciples and where Pentecost happened. The only problem is, that building was constructed a hundred years ago, not two thousand years ago. Religious tourism is a racket in the Holy Land, and people are happy to make stuff up to get more money from tourists who don’t know better.

But Jerash was like a national park and time machine for scholars of the Bible and antiquity. No shops except at the entrance. No vendors bugging you to buy their crap. Just the amazing feeling of walking around a mile by half mile city whose foundations had been preserved by centuries of dust and neglect until they were unearthed.

That’s kinda how I feel about studying the Bible, too. When I hear lots of today’s sermons, read today’s books, listen to today’s music, etc., I see layers and layers of fluff, so-called knowledge and two-bit history in pious garb, and lots of ways to divide people, entertain people, control people, and make money off of people. But when I pick up a synopsis of the Gospels, when I translate ancient Hebrew and Greek texts, when I re-read passages in Homer, or Vergil, or Plato, or Josephus, or Musonius Rufus, or Tacitus, or many other ancient voices, they feel like a time machine that takes me back and lets me see Jesus and the New Testament with eyes that are new and strange because they are so very, very, very old.

May your studies in this class continue to give you very new, very old eyes. 🙂

More reviews of my first book

Here I continue the initial summary of reviews of my 2013 monograph, as well as my summary of the review in Bryn Mawr Classical Review. Again, allow me to provide quotes directly from the reviews in their original languages, along with English translations for those who would prefer them.

Review 5. Meiser, Martin. Review of As the Bandit Will I Confess You: Luke 23.39-43 in Early Christian Interpretation, by Mark Glen Bilby, Theologische Literaturzeitung 140.5 (May 2015): 488-490.

Meiser’s thorough and positive review is summarized in two specific statements:

B., der auch des Syrischen mächtig ist, kann für sich beanspruchen, ein facettenreiches und lebendiges Panorama altkirchlicher Schriftauslegung vermittelt zu haben.

B(ilby), who is strong in Syriac, can claim for himself to have conveyed a multifaceted and lively panorama of the ancient church’s interpretation of Scripture.

B. kann man zu seiner materialreichen, problembewussten und methodisch stringent argumentierenden Arbeit nur gratulieren.

One can only congratulate B(ilby) on his materially rich, problem-conscious, and methodically stringent argument.

Review 6. Dulaey, Martine. “Patristique latine,” Recherches de Science Religieuse 103.2 (2015): 302-303.

Dulaey gives a positive summary toward the end of the review:

On trouvera encore dans le livre nombre de thèmes parénétiques exploités par les auteurs grecs, latins, syriaques et coptes sur la base de ces versets. On aura profit à lire cette étude qui est d’une remarquable exactitude pour tout ce qui touche à l’authenticité des oeuvres et à leur datation.

We can find in this book a number of parenetic themes exploited by Greek, Latin, Syriac and Coptic authors on the basis of these verses. One can profit by reading this study, which is of a remarkable exactitude on everything it treats regarding the authenticity of works and their date.

Right after this summary, Dulaey calls critical attention to my tendency to find more influence between one interpreter and another than may be merited at times, and also to note that some ideas could become widespread without passing directly from one known interpreter to another. I saw the attempt to draw possible connections as part of the value of a diachronic, comprehensive study of the early reception history of a single passage of Scripture. Raising the possibility of specific connections (e.g., between the poems of Ephrem and those of Gregory of Nyssa and Nazianzus) points out openings for future studies. In my defense, I often qualified these possible connections with tentative language (“may have influenced,” “might have read,” etc.).

Prior to this summary, Dulaey expressly disagrees with my diachronic case for Augustine changing his interpretation. I concede Augustine makes other references to martyrs being defined not by their death but by the cause/reason for their death. But that misses the point of my argument, that Augustine implicitly disagrees with Cyprian’s martyr-reading of Luke 23:39-43 prior to 419 and expressly agrees with Cyprian in 419 and after, and that Vincent Victor (not merely the Donatist controversy) was the reason for this shift in his interpretation.

Unfortunately, Dulaey (an Augustine specialist) elsewhere misreads or misconstrues the book on some important points, such as the range of options early interpreters evinced regarding synoptic disparity (not just chronological or sylleptical harmonization). Most astonishing to me was the claim that the church fathers “hesitated to see in him a martyr” (!). Augustine did not hesitate in this regard; he wavered from one position (that the bandit wasn’t a martyr) to another (that we was a martyr). Many other interpreters (such as Cyprian, Eustathius of Antioch, Hilary of Poitiers, Ambrose, Jerome, Chromatius) were quite explicit and consistent in claiming that the bandit became a martyr on the cross.

– Mark G. Bilby

Seoul Postscript

A few days ago I got back from Seoul, South Korea after attending the International Society of Biblical Literature conference and presenting three papers. I’m attaching a pdf of the ISBL 2016 Seoul Conference Program.

My first paper was an invited review of Dennis MacDonald’s forthcoming book, John and Euripides: The Dionysian Gospel (Fortress). My overall assessment of the book was that it makes a convincing case that the first edition of the Gospel of John depicted Jesus as a figure similar to and indeed greater than Dionysus/Bacchus, particularly as he was represented in the Bacchae of Euripides, the most popular play in Greco-Roman antiquity. My main critical comments pertained to MacDonald’s repeated case for the Gospel of John as a later text that borrowed from the earlier composed Gospel of Luke. In my view the potential parallels are sometimes inconclusive and at other times point toward the Gospel of Luke as the later text and one reliant on the earlier texts and/or traditions seen in the Gospel of John.

My second paper explored two Christian apocryphal tales in detail, the Rebellion of Dimas (CANT 78.2) and the Hospitality and Perfume of the Bandit (CANT 78.3), based on my creation of critical editions for these texts, as well as introductions and translations slated to appear in the next volume of More New Testament Apocrypha edited by Tony Burke and Brent Landau. Basically, both of these medieval legends were interpolations into the popular compilation known as Pseudo-Matthew and both promoted the cult of the so-called “Good Thief,” even though they represented two distinct and divergent clusters of medieval stories about this figure. Summaries and bibliographies for these two texts are available on the eClavis site mentioned below!

My third paper narrated the story of the birth of the eClavis for Christian Apocrypha. It began as a prototype I created for a Digital Collections class at Drexel University. After sharing the idea and prototype with Tony Burke, he, I and Brad Rice brought it to life as a subsection of the WordPress blog of the North American Society for the Study of Christian Apocryphal Literature (NASSCAL): The session participants gave helpful suggestions about how to improve the site, fund its work, and expand its collaborators to include notable European scholars of the Christian Apocrypha.

I also got to take in the beautiful Yonsei University campus, enjoy stimulating conversations with friends and colleagues, see a Korean Major League Baseball game (go Doosan Bears!), relish beautiful and delicious traditional Korean cuisine, and get some unique gifts for my family. All in all, a great trip.

Thanks again to Tom Phillips and Claremont School of Theology for allowing me to go!