Here’s a video of Simon Gathercole that’s been making the rounds on the interwebs today. Here Simon discusses the enigmatic text that was released to the public to great fanfare back in 2012. The consensus position among scholars still seems to be that this is a modern forgery on an ancient piece of papyrus. This video is apparently circulating in support of the most recent fascicle of New Testament Studies, which is devoted solely to discussing the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. Mark Goodacre, who has been one of the major players in the web-based discussion about the authenticity of this fragment, provides an overview of the recent NTS here.
“Specialization [within academic disciplines] enhances concentration and control. It makes possible sustained, intense effort on closely defined tasks. But it also often separates us from just those people to whom we ought to be listening and who might need to listen to us. On the other side of the great divide–in popular culture–we have seen developments that also inhibited the free interchange between professional scholarship and lives of Christian laypeople. First, that radical individualism and subjectivism that has been characteristic of the modern, western world, whose influence on the academic ways of knowing we’ve already talked about in earlier lectures. That individualism and subjectivism have also been deeply embedded in the popular ethos perhaps in North America more than anywhere else on earth. So, as the evangelical scholar James Callahan has pointed out, in the 19th century America, the doctrine of perspicuity–the transparence of Scripture–became a democratized affirmation of religious equality. It was a matter of democratic ideals that anybody’s reading of the Bible was as good as anybody else’s. The Bible thus became ‘the people’s book.’ And with that came that suspicion of the expert, which might have been a healthy antidote to that professionalization and compartmentalization I just mentioned, but in practice, leads rather to something close to anarchy in popular interpretation.”
From 29:41 – 31: 09 of Lecture 4 discussed in my last post.
My own experience in the field resonates with exactly what Meeks is describing here.
I am always looking for resources that I can recommend to students or that I will find helpful for my own thinking about certain issues. Today I have a recommendation that accomplishes both of these nicely. Over at iTunesU, on Emory University’s Jesus and Culture page, I stumbled across a series of lectures given at Candler School of Theology back in 2010 by Wayne Meeks, Woolsey Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at Yale Divinity School. These lectures are obviously five years old, but like my 1998 Dodge Stratus (which I purchased in 2005), they were “new to me.” I had a chance to listen to several of these lectures while working in my yard the other day and they’re quite good (as you might expect).
Here’s a general description of the lectures:
The Alonzo L. McDonald Family Chair on the Life and Teachings of Jesus and Their Impact on Culture is supported by gifts from the McDonald Agape Foundation, chaired by Alonzo L. McDonald. McDonald was a longtime trustee of Emory University. The McDonald Agape Foundation “supports lectures and other public presentations that deal creatively and imaginatively with the person and teachings of Jesus as they shape and form culture.”
If for some reason you don’t have access to iTunes (1) you should probably consider joining the 21st century, and (2) you’ll be able to find Professor Meeks’s lectures here (numbers 11-15 on the list). Their titles are as follows:
(1) “Does Anybody Know Jesus?”
(2) “Memory and Invention”
(3) “A Story to Think With”
(4) “The Bible Teaches….”
(5) “Is Jesus the Last Word?”
Given the particulars of my background and biography (which many readers of this blog know) I found lecture number four particularly insightful. Like me, you can cut your grass and trim your weeds while being instructed by one of the great thinkers and communicators in our field.