Welcome to a new blog in the making. It’s going to take some time to add all the links, features, and content that I’d like. Thank you for your patience in the meantime. I’d welcome your suggestions about content. Please feel free to make them by replying to this post. Thanks!

I suppose this might be a good time to introduce the header image, one that encapsulates this blog and my scholarly background and interests. After spending a couple weeks this past summer in a paleography course at Calvin College (learning how to read medieval and Reformation-era handwriting), I had the privilege of visiting the Special Collections library at the University of Michigan. I went there especially to photograph the one and only manuscript of John Chrysostom’s Homily on the Cross and the Bandit located on American shores. The image is from the first page (verso side) of that manuscript (Mich 238). I did this archival research in the hope of one day producing a critical edition, but this will require spending at least a couple months in Europe. My dissertation at the University of Virginia (forthcoming in the Brepols’ series Cahiers de Biblia Patristica, edited by Rémi Gounelle) found that this sermon was the most influential text on Luke 23:39-43 (the story of the so-called Good Thief, often known as Dismas) in late antiquity. This sermon coursed quickly across the Mediterranean, as evident in Greek, Syriac, Latin, Coptic, Armenian and Arabic imitators. I also gave an invited talk at St. Katherine College (a new Orthodox college in Encinitas, California) on Chrysostom’s interpretation of this passage. There I treated of this sermon in detail, including the way it likely bore an immense influence on the history of crucifixion art, which so often accents a visual connection between the bandit and Jesus. If you’d like to hear the lecture, you can find it here. My English translation of Chrysostom’s sermon is also slated to appear in the first volume of a new book series I have started entitled Ancient-Future Sermons (riffing on Robert Webber’s books), a series that aims to make the best early Christian sermons widely available in fresh English translations today.

If all that didn’t make sense, let me summarize by saying that my scholarly interests include the history of the interpretation of the Bible (especially the Gospel according to Luke), early Christian homilies, apocryphal texts and traditions, paleography, the translation of rare or neglected texts, classical languages (especially Hebrew, Aramaic, Syriac, Greek and Latin), and the commerce of texts and ideas across the Mediterranean in late-antiquity.

I’d love to hear from you if you share some of the same interests, especially if you host a blog devoted to some of the same interests. Let me know if you’d like me to include a link to your blog!

– Mark Bilby

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