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Contextualising a Fourth-Century Monastic Community
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This work tells the story of a community of fourth-century monks living in Egypt. The letters they wrote and received were found within the covers of works that changed our understanding of early religious thought - the Nag Hammadi Codices. This book seeks to contextualise the letters and answer questions about monastic life. Significantly, new evidence is presented that links the letters directly to the authors and creators of the codices in which they were discovered.
Histoire et archéologie antiques et médiévales
Les Chrétiens de Najrān sont célèbres grâce à leur martyrs (en novembre 523) et à leurs relations avec la principauté théocratique fondée par Muḥammad à Médine en 622. Mais, jusqu’à ces dernières années, seule la tradition savante manuscrite, chrétienne et musulmane, prouvait leur existence. Ce n’est plus le cas désormais. Depuis 2014, d’importants vestiges archéologiques, principalement des inscriptions rupestres, peuvent leur être attribués.
La nature et la distribution chronologique de ces vestiges apportent de substantielles inflexions aux connaissances sur l’histoire de ces Chrétiens, encore influents au xe siècle, et sur les langues et les écritures en usage à Najrān.

The Christians of Najrān are known by their martyrdom (November 523), described in Christian sources. According to Muslim tradition, the community was in relation with the polity of Medina, founded by Muḥammad in 622. Recent archeological discoveries attest this community in more details and bring substantial changes to our knowledge. Situated between Yemen and Medina, Najrān was not only an influential Christian community persisting until the 10th century, but has seen remarkable transformations. The Christians of Najrān underwent developments, some of which find an echo in the Qurʾān, the earliest layer of Arabic script and the Muslim tradition.
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Tehom, the Hebrew Bible’s primeval deep, is a powerful concept often overlooked outside of creation and conflict contexts. Primeval waters mark the boundary between life and death in the Hebrew Bible and the ancient Near East, representing the duality of both deliverance and judgment. This book examines all contexts of Tehom to explain its conceptual forms and use as a proper noun. Comparative methodology combined with affect and spatial theories provide new ways to understand how religious communities repurposed Tehom. These interpretations of Tehom empower resilience in times of suffering and oppression.
Prayer in the Ancient World (PAW) is an innovative resource on prayer in the ancient Near East and Mediterranean. The over 350 entries in PAW showcase a robust selection of the range of different types of prayers attested from Mesopotamia, Egypt, Anatolia, the Levant, early Judaism and Christianity, Greece, Rome, Arabia, and Iran, enhanced by critical commentary.
The project illustrates the variety of ways human beings have sought to communicate with or influence beings with extraordinary superhuman power for millennia. By including diverse examples such as vows and oaths, blessings, curses, incantations, graffiti, iconography, and more, PAW casts a wide net. In so doing, PAW privileges no particular tradition or conception of how to interact with the divine; for example, the project refuses to perpetuate a value distinction between “prayer,” “magic,” and “cursing.”

Detailed overviews introduce each area and address key issues such as language and terminology, geographical distribution, materiality, orality, phenomenology of prayer, prayer and magic, blessings and curses, and ritual settings and ritual actors. In order to be as comprehensive as practically possible, the volume includes a representative prayer of every attested type from each tradition.

Individual entries include a wealth of information. Each begins with a list of essential details, including the source, region, date, occasion, type and function, performers, and materiality of the prayer. Next, after a concise summary and a brief synopsis of the main textual witnesses, a formal description calls attention to the exemplar’s literary and stylistic features, rhetorical structure, important motifs, and terminology. The occasions when the prayer was used and its function are analyzed, followed by a discussion of how this exemplar fits within the range of variation of this type of prayer practice, both synchronically and diachronically. Important features of the prayer relevant for cross-cultural comparison are foregrounded in the subsequent section. Following an up-to-date translation, a concise yet detailed commentary provides explanations necessary for understanding the prayer and its function. Finally, each entry concludes with a bibliography of essential primary and secondary resources for further study.
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Abstract

In this article, I will examine the functions of oaths in narratives of encounter, confrontation and polemic between religious communities in late antiquity, especially Jews and Christians. Through an analysis of these narratives, I hope to show that oaths had several functions: specific oath formulae were strongly associated with specific religious identities, and as such could be used to highlight distance between religious groups. However, oaths could be used to demonstrate the permeability of religious boundaries, or even be deployed cunningly to conceal one’s identity or subvert expectations of its performance.

Open Access
In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

Four fragmentary Egyptian papyrus sheets containing liturgical texts housed at the Catholic University of Milan were published by Giuseppe Ghedini in 1933 and subsequently known as the Milan Euchologion. While reportedly lost, a single photograph of the papyri preserved in Harold Idris Bell’s papers in the British Library allows for a reassessment of the arrangement and contents of the papyri. Based on a new analysis of the fragments, it is clear that they preserve the end of an anaphora (fruits of communion, intercession, and doxology), a prayer of fraction, and a prayer of thanksgiving after communion and that they date to the second half of the fourth century. This places them among the earliest material witnesses to the anaphora and the post-anaphoral part of the Eucharist.

In: Vigiliae Christianae

Abstract

Are name statistics in the Gospels and Acts a good test of historicity? Kamil Gregor and Brian Blais, in a recent article of the jshj , argue that the sample of name occurrences in the Gospels and Acts is too small to be determinative and that several statistical anomalies weigh against a positive verdict. Unfortunately, their conclusions result directly from improper testing and questionable data selection. Chi-squared goodness-of-fit testing establishes that name occurrences in the Gospels and Acts fit into their historical context at least as well as those in the works of Josephus. Additionally, they fit better than occurrences derived from ancient fictional sources and occurrences from modern, well-researched historical novels.

In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
Author:

Abstract

Having taught the subject of the historical Jesus for more than thirty years, from New Zealand to London, I review from a personal perspective what has changed, and how I have taught the course over the decades. Overall, it seems harder to teach now than ever before, for reasons explored here.

Open Access
In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus
Free access
In: Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus