Daily Archives: 2011-09-08 21:32:55 GMT+0000

How easily do historical Jesus scholars drop in that “interpolation card” when it suits

Catching up with Géza Vermes’ The Changing Faces of Jesus I was surprised to find Vermes suggesting that the entire Philippian Hymn (2:6-11) is an interpolation inserted probably around the early second century!

I guess anti-mythicist crusaders have been on my back so much that I had begun to lose sight of what is acceptable and respectable fare in the works of mainstream biblical scholars.

For those not in the know Géza Vermes, according to the Wikipedia article (and I don’t apologize for using Wikipedia since, for all its many faults, it has been recognized by a study published in Nature as no less authoritative than the Encyclopedia Britannica in science articles, so we may reasonably feel entitled to some confidence in the rest) is described as:

a noted authority on the Dead Sea Scrolls and other ancient works in Aramaic, and on the life and religion of Jesus. He is one of the most important voices in contemporary Jesus research,[1] and he has been described as the greatest Jesus scholar of his time.[2] (I retain the linked footnotes)

In the prologue Vermes reinforces his well-groundedness within the scholarly mainstream:

I have read a great deal over the years and learned much, positively and negatively, from other scholars. I have assimilated their learning and understanding and stored everything up in my heart. (p. 4) read more »

Peer review and [you know what]

Part of my job as a coordinator of the management of research data at an Australian university is to be familiar with the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research. The section in this document on Peer Review (chapter 6) is interesting when considered against the controversial remarks that sometimes erupt over mythicist publications. The code lays out the responsibilities of peer reviewers and researchers in Australian universities and other publicly funded research institutions. The mere fact that a code sets out responsibilities is itself testimony to the potential for the process to go awry. Its success relies upon the professionalism of enough of those involved to keep everyone in line and avoid lapses. The code is a valuable reminder of its potential limitations.

Here are some excerpts. Bold type has been added by me. read more »


9th post in the series by Roger Parvus. The complete series is archived here.

In the letters of Peregrinus there are some passages that concern his gospel. If, as I have proposed, he was an Apellean Christian, we can expect to find here too some rough-edged and clumsy corrections by his proto-Catholic editor/interpolator.


8:2. “But I exhort you to do nothing in a spirit of faction—instead, in accordance with the teachings of Christ. For I heard some saying, ‘If I do not find [in] the archives in the gospel I do not believe.’ And when I said to them, ‘It is written,’ they responded, ‘That is what is in question.’ But my archives are Jesus Christ; the inviolable archives are his cross, his death, his resurrection, and the faith which is through him. It is by these that I desire to be justified, with the help of your prayers. [9:1. The priests are good, but better is the high priest who has been entrusted with the holy of holies; he alone has been entrusted with the secrets of God. He is himself the door of the Father, through which enter in Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, and the prophets and the apostles and the church. All these combine in the unity of God. 9:2. Nevertheless] The gospel has a distinction all its own, namely the appearing of the Savior, our Lord Jesus Christ, his suffering and his resurrection. [For the beloved prophets announced him, but the Gospel is the completion of imperishability. All these things are good, if you believe with love.”]

The above passage begins by relating part of an exchange the prisoner had with his Judaizing opponents. There is almost universal agreement that the “archives” in the second sentence refers to the Old Testament. And most scholars are in agreement as to the general sense of the verse: the Judaizers were Christians but insisted that the gospel meet some Old Testament-related requirement of theirs. But beyond that, there has been much debate about the punctuation and precise interpretation of the verse. The biggest problem is that at face value it seems to say that if the Judaizers’ requirement is not met they do not believe in the gospel. It seems incredible that Christians would not believe in the gospel. So, to avoid such a radical interpretation, a number of alterations have been proposed. read more »