Daily Archives: 2015-01-01 22:43:04 UTC

Biblioblog Commendation: Apocryphicity

Tony Burke’s blog Apocryphicity is a first rate blog for anyone interested in critical studies of early Christianity and its literature. Coincidentally the blog has been running as long as Vridar (since November 2006) yet I only discovered its treasures a day or two ago.

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Here’s what I have gained from reading it in just that short time.

Tony Burke played a significant role in the translation of The Story of Joseph and Aneseth so central to the popular controversial publication this year of The Lost Gospel: Decoding the Ancient Text that Reveals Jesus’ Marriage to Mary the Magdalene (Harper Collins, 2014) by Simcha Jacobovici and Barrie Wilson.

lostgospelHe explains his role, the reasons he undertook the task and his experience of peer pressure to refrain in Translating Joseph and Aseneth: My role in Jacobivici and Wilson’s “Lost Gospel”. I found this paragraph quite a refreshing read at a number of levels:

Throughout the process Barrie and Simcha warned me that I might be criticized for working with them on the book; other scholars have shied away from participating on Simcha’s projects out of fear of damage to their careers, others because they worry that their views will be misrepresented, as often happens in documentaries. I think Barrie and Simcha’s decision not to tell me about their argument was motivated, at least in part, by a desire to prevent my scholarly reputation from being damaged.

I am not one to shy away from controversy and believe that no argument—even if it is highly speculative, even if it is presented outside of scholarly circles—should be silenced. It has been frustrating to see other scholars and the media dismiss the book without having read it or fully engaged with its arguments. I don’t expect Barrie and Simcha’s position on Joseph and Aseneth to convince many on the origins of this text, but there are aspects of their work that are of interest for the study of Syrian Christianity. (my bolding and formatting as in all quotes)

Why do so many scholars seem to think that rubbishy and ignorant dismissals of ideas they find offensive will teach and inform anybody? Why do so many public intellectuals treat the public with contempt?

Tony Burke sounds like someone you can talk to, who will defend his views and who will give you something substantial and valid to think about that may lead you to revise your own thoughts.  read more »

Morality: Why and What Is It? (And more blog serendipity)

New Morality

New Morality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I used to think morality was a distinctively human attribute but no more. To tell the complete story I really believed morality was unique to humans and divinities or spirits of some kind. This led to unresolvable problems that hurt my head, such as:

  • Why does a good sleep or healthy diet have such a profound effect on moral behaviour of so many of us?
  • Is not our morality supposedly a non-physical phenomenon we can control by our means of strong character? It’s because we are responsible for our actions that we punish those who do bad things, isn’t it? But what do we do with research that shows bad behaviour is related to chemical imbalances or other nasties in our bodies?
  • How does God judge wicked deeds and motives if they could be avoided or change by a simple tinkering of a chemical balance in the brain?

Would a more rational list of Ten Commandments include things like

Thou shalt not eat meat sacrificed at MacDonalds. I will utterly blot out the remembrance of MacDonalds from under heaven.

Thy hoary heads shalt nap at noon for the Ancient of Days napped at noon.

We change. I no longer think our “moral nature” sets us apart from other animals at all. I’ve posted on this a few times now. One of my recent posts referred to Steve Wiggins’ review of Moral Animals on his Sects and Violence in the Ancient World blog. Love the title.

Another blog that I’ve discovered and enjoy exploring is aperi mentis. It’s Latin for “open your mind”. Another great title. Its byline:

a blog dedicated to the exploration of science, humanism & rationality (with a scattering of history and linguistics)

Lots of my favourite goodies there! He also has a post on the gospels: read more »