Saturday, November 23, 2019

‘First-Century Mark’ SBL Panel

74
Panelists (photo credit)
I’m at home with a newborn so I’m not attending SBL this year. But the big news was the all-star panel on “First-Century Mark.” Our own Elijah Hixson and Mike Holmes were on it as were Bart Ehrman, Roberta Mazza, Jill Hicks-Keeton, and Brent Nongbri.

From the reactions I’m seeing online, it sounds like it did not disappoint. I heard that evangelicals got a bit of a (deserved?) beating and that this blog was apparently a target at one point too. Even the emergency alarm went off! If, like me, you weren’t able to attend, you might want to read the excellent Twitter threads from David Bradnick, Candida Moss, and CJ Schmidt. Perhaps one of our esteemed contributors who was there could give us an after action report once the SBL dust settles (hint, hint).

Now back to diapers.

Update: Brent has given his update now with some helpful additional material in the comments.

74 comments

  1. Why aren't these recorded and livecast?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. probably because the SBL isn't accustomed to wide public interest. It would have been awesome to have video. I'm still impatiently awaiting blogs from the panel.

      Delete
  2. Greg Matthews11/24/2019 12:58 am

    Was any of this recorded?

    ReplyDelete
  3. On the panel is one of the people - Roberta Mazza - responsible for the oversight of the Oxyrhynchus papyri - both the Mk fragment whose publishing delay is the basis for the issues surrounding it as well as the 120 (so far) stolen papyri. Did she make any attempt to explain the delay?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It’s still not clear exactly what level of oversight a person in Mazza’s position has at EES. But it would be good to know.

      Delete
    2. Basic searching and found the EES annual report for year ended March 2019

      Regarding the Oxyrhynchus Papyri the following is mentioned:
      “With ongoing support from the AHRC conservation and publication of papyri in the collection has continued. This included the much talked about papyrus fragment of the Gospel of Mark, which was published as P.Oxy LXXXIII 5345 in GRM 104 sent to subscribers in early 2018.
      Interest in the collection resulted in the papyri having been reproduced in publications 30 times over the past year (24 in 2017-2018).
      In March 2019, a thorough survey of the EES Oxyrhynchus cartonnage collection (housed in Oxford) was conducted by conservator Susi Pancaldo and volunteers Ellen Jones and Helen Neale. This survey identified some urgent conservation needs within the collection which will be investigated further as a priority.”

      As to oversight the following is mentioned:
      “ORGANISATIONAL STRUCTURE
      The administration of the Society is in the hands of the Board of Trustees, which meets five or six times a year. There are Committees covering Finance, Fieldwork and Research, Management of the Oxyrhynchus Papyri, Management of the Delta Survey and other matters as required; these Committees make recommendations to the Board of Trustees. A Director is appointed by the Board of Trustees to manage the day-to-day operations of the Society.”

      There is a committee for the Oxyrhynchus Papyri – who is on that committee is not mentioned nor is it mentioned as to how the committee reports to the 12 member Board of Trustees – one of whom is Roberta Mazza.

      Going through accounts the 12 member Board of Trustees supervise a staff of just 5.4 persons, of whom just 0.3 manage the various collections of which the Oxyrhynchus Papyri is just one. No mention is made anywhere in the report of stolen papyri, nor any hint of this in the section on “Principal Risks and Uncertainties”. There is also online the agenda of the 2019 Annual General Meeting, held on 16 November – again no mention of the stolen papyri.

      From what is not mentioned it looks like delays in publication and stolen papyri don’t rate as significant to the EES.

      Delete
  4. It is a bit early and premature to hold such a panel while the police are still investigating.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The panel wasn't addressing criminal activity. It was clarifying what we all can learn from this situation. I think everyone agrees that there should be more honesty and transparency about matters like these.

      Key players were invited to speak:
      Ehrman - because it was in a debate where news of POxy 5345 first broke in 2012...
      Hixson - because he was the one who broke the news that POxy 5345 had been published...
      Nongbri - because he is one of the foremost researchers on the provenance and backstories behind papyri discoveries...
      Mazza - because she is with the EES which owns POxy 5345...
      Hicks-Keeton - because she has published on the subject of MOTB...
      Holmes - because he is with MOTB...

      There were a diversity of views, questions, and opinions that were expressed. It's important that all the views were expressed so they can be properly assessed and addressed.

      Delete
  5. Congratulations Peter and Kris Gurry. Praise God for a safe birth!

    ReplyDelete
  6. My point was that the story is far from over. Judgments were being leveled against people that may turn out to be seen in a different light when this is truly all over.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. On one hand, we should abstain from making certain judgments, but important facts were shared from this panel and these may bring to light additional insights. Heretofore, if various scholars on this panel and in the room hadn't shared information in their possession, then it's likely that this would have remained in the shadows longer and some aspect may have remained there permanently. This is an excellent example of scholars working together and putting aside egos and differences to make sure that truth and justice prevails.

      Delete
    2. *aspects
      *prevail
      Sorry, I'm operating on limited sleep.

      Delete
    3. truth, justice, and the American way

      Delete
    4. No, just's God's way is enough.

      Delete
    5. "Heretofore, if various scholars on this panel and in the room hadn't shared information in their possession..."

      If that's the case, then why was Bart Ehrman on the panel?What did he have to offer other than what we all already knew, that Dan Wallace told him in a debate that FCM existed and would soon be published?

      Delete
    6. Bart was there so Dan wallace could make awkward statements and say that Ehrman had an agenda "TOO".

      Delete
  7. Regarding the presentation by Dr. Hicks-Keeton, it may be easy and expedient (at least for some) to focus upon her critiques concerning the diversity of the contributors to this blog, but this approach evades other important issues, particularly her critiques concerning MOTB and the "reliable bible" ideology, which merit attention. Even if you disagree with her critique of the blog's diversity, which should be discussed, you cannot reject all of her other concerns by means of association. I think that a sincere and genuine dialogue requires both "sides" to look at all of the highlighted points.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Believing the Bible is reliable is not an "ideology". It's just faith and love for tradition. Something both sides lack.

      Delete
    2. Tommy Wasserman11/25/2019 7:01 pm

      Dear David (D. Bradnick),

      I absolutely agree with what you say! Personally, I felt very hurt by the way she portrayed me and other bloggers, and I am the kind of person who would like to sit down and talk to her about it, and also try to be understood as a scholar and person, what "evangelical" means in a Swedish context. I hate to see that the US is getting so polarized and that "evangelical" today is so loaded so I personally feel extremely uncomfortable with it. In any case, the discussion of what "evangelical textual criticism" actually is can go on (and I think she used a few citations from Pete Williams which reflect his view of the matter, in order to prove her case about the "reliable bible" ideology. In any case, for me a high view of Scripture is a matter of personal belief. I have no intention of trying to prove that this or that textual variant is the original word of God. I would like to work as a text-critic as if God didn't exist, so to speak. On the other hand, I have a personal faith which certainly affects also my scholarship, and I try to be honest about that. I am certain that other people's belief or disbelief affects what they do to. I prefer not to be put in a box of privileged white male text-critics who just pretend to do real scholarship.

      From this session, I really also appreciated Bart Ehrman's critique of how the First-Century Mark was communicated to the world in a debate. I think his critique was rather balanced and fair. It is also very good that Dan Wallace has apologized publically (in a blogpost I think), something that Ehrman appreciated, and if I were Wallace I would not only wear a black shirt (which he did to mark his funeral/sorrow, so to speak), but probably also repeat my apology in on this occasion.

      Delete
    3. David, I would not say this blog has been hesitant to criticize the MOTB or its practices. But are you saying her comments on the diversity of this blog are or are not relevant? Or, are you just saying they’re not the most relevant part of her critique of ‘reliable Bible’ ideology (a term without meaning to me since I was not there).

      Delete
    4. Peter,

      To be fair, I wrote, "other important issues" and also noted that "her critique of the blog's diversity...should be discussed."

      My point is that her other critiques shouldn't be discarded or ignored because a person (or persons) disagrees with one of her points. A fair hearing requires that one look at all of her points--something that I haven't seen yet, but hope to see. Also, I hope that people will go beyond labels and name-calling to engage with the paper itself. I am certainly not accusing you of doing so, but look at some of the comments above. I'm surprised that they haven't been removed by a moderator. From an academic standpoint, in this case my own, they are not constructive.

      Delete
    5. Tommy Wasserman11/26/2019 1:21 am

      Dear David, several of the bloggers are at a big crazy meeting for biblical scholars, so there is little time to think through and moderate here... I apologize, nevertheless.

      Delete
    6. Tommy Wasserman11/26/2019 1:36 am

      I forgot to say, yes, I do feel there could be more diversity, but, I also think it is sad to just bunch us all together as "white male evangelicals" ... I don't feel comfortable in that box. And, there is some diversity in this group... retired scholars who never post, middle-age Scandinavians who post rather regularly ... of Jewish background (yes, still with white skin and blue eyes), a wonderful lady who admittedly posts seldom (and who herself admits she has problems with the technical stuff of blogging; signing in, etc), an Aussie or two, a Dutch, some British, a guy from Slovakia, not a privileged background in terms of economy, etc. So, what does diversity mean. Yes, indeed, gender diversity is crucial. Personally, I try to promote female scholars in the field in all sorts of ways. Recently I invited one to write guest posts. I invite good papers presented by female scholars to a journal that I am editing (TC journal, her article was just published in the current volume). I presented a paper at SBL with a female student in Boston 2017 and wrote an article with her to be published. That opened doors for her and she was admitted to a PhD program.

      Delete
    7. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    8. D. Bradnick,

      You state:"Even if you disagree with her critique of the blog's diversity, which should be discussed, you cannot reject all of her other concerns by means of association."

      "My point is that her other critiques shouldn't be discarded or ignored because a person (or persons) disagrees with one of her points...but look at some of the comments above. I'm surprised that they haven't been removed by a moderator. From an academic standpoint, in this case my own, they are not constructive."



      Sir, wouldn't this be considered talking out of both sides of your mouth? On the one hand you plead that we should hear Dr. Hicks-Keeton out, regardless of what we may think about some of her comments. Then, you go on to imply that the moderators should delete the comments of others--simply because you dislike something they said. Which is it? Are we to hear people out, or are we to censor and ignore them?

      Delete
    9. Matthew,

      I am more than happy to hear people out. But ad hominem attacks that do nothing more than throw around labels and name-call are fallacious and are not constructive (for example: X's entire argument can be ignored because he/she is a feminist and/or a Marxist). Besides lacking substance, the remarks to which I referred seemed to possess a particularly scathing tone with no desire for genuine discourse.

      What about her claim that the "reliable bible" is undefended by and indefensible? There seems to be a greater concern to defend empty comments that merely label and discard her position as feminist and Marxist rather than to engage the actual issues.

      Delete
    10. D. Bradnick,

      I didn't get a chance to read all of the comments which were deleted, so I cannot agree or disagree with your assessment--which is problematic. My point was, suppose an ad hominem remark or some strong rhetoric was contained within a larger comment which actually had some substance. It seems that according to your above reasoning, the comments should of remained in play, correct?

      Am I correct to suppose that you think her comments were not of an ad hominem nature, or scathing tone?

      ... Because when an educated woman of the academic world begins to through around the "white male privilege" card, it's obvious to me what her intentions are. Scathing ad hominem is actually a perfect definition of such behavior. Can we agree on this?

      Delete
    11. David, there’s not really any substance to engage with for those who weren’t at her paper. But we can certainly agree that simple name calling is pointless.

      MMR, it’s probably best to avoid the potentially endless exercise of adjudicating whether or not comments should have been removed. What’s gone is gone. Let’s move on.

      Delete
    12. **throw

      Nothing like a little autocorrect to spice things up.


      Peter Gurry,

      Your comments are both noted and agreed with in general.

      Delete
    13. Perhaps the blog could invite Dr. Hills-Keeton to make a post about her paper so that there is substance to engage? Or perhaps invite engagement within a different forum?

      Delete
    14. There is no urgency. It seems like it was the least substantial paper in the session.

      Delete
    15. Well, isn't that a convenient response?

      Delete
    16. I just wanted to say that I really appreciated your comment here, particularly about how you approach the field.

      Delete
    17. DB,
      Are you insinuating that Dr. Head is being disingenuous with his statement?
      Couldn’t just as easily be true, at least in his estimation?

      Tim

      Delete
  8. We don't generally moderate comments. We enjoy hearing diverse voices.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That didn't seem to be the case earlier with the Schrader discussion.

      Delete
    2. Tommy Wasserman11/26/2019 1:23 am

      Perhaps that was because I hosted those guestposts, and I am probably the most keen moderator. There were indeed many inappropriate comments.

      Delete
    3. Tommy Wasserman11/26/2019 1:37 am

      I have now removed some comments in this thread that I deemed inappropriate.

      Delete
    4. Dr. Wasserman,

      If by "most keen moderator" you mean a man who caters to heretics and yokes himself to false teachers,--then you are indeed correct sir. Unfortunate, because the Lord could make good use of your immense scholarship.

      "For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe."


      Dr. Wasserman writes:

      "I have no intention of trying to prove that this or that textual variant is the original word of God. I would like to work as a text-critic as if God didn't exist..."

      ...And regretfully, it shows.


      I Samuel 17:40•••••


      Delete
    5. Tommy Wasserman11/26/2019 6:46 am

      Dear Matthew, overall i moderate very little. In one particular blogpost series I had to moderate a lot including comments by you, but I think I remember you also apologized at some point, which was good.

      Delete
    6. Dear Tommy,

      Indeed I did apologize--and would so again in reference to my comments above if I did not consider it an act of treason to my Lord. My only hope is that you understand that the above comments were made out of love,--as opposed to spite.

      ...And yet in ironic fashion, I must say that I am very sorry (for what it's worth), and offer my condolences for the loss of your good friend and colleague Dr. Larry Hurtado. May the Lord comfort his family and friends in this time of need!

      Life, as it goes, is too short.
      Ecclesiastes 9:10 Ecclesiastes 12:13
      Respectfully, M.M.R.

      Delete
  9. Thanks Anonymous. Absolutely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. PH,
      Apparently we cannot even know what you are thanking anonymous for!
      So much for a diversity of opinions!
      Tim

      Delete
  10. TW,
    It appears to me at least, that your extremely uncomfortable feelings towards American evangelicals is determining your moderating this blog, which at one point was at least evangelical and faith affirming. Now that we know you are only interested in Textual Criticism that excludes God, that makes much more sense.

    Tim

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tommy Wasserman11/26/2019 6:50 am

      I think you probably get me wrong. Textual Criticism cannot exclude God. What I am saying is that I do not think I can prove that the Bible is God's Word with textcritical (or any other) methods. It is a matter of my own belief. And yes, I can be open about what I believe on this blog, that is, that the Bible is God's word. But I cannot reach that conclusion based on textual criticism. It is by faith and I will not pretend otherwise. On the other hand, I cannot say that my faith does not affect me as a scholar . . .

      Delete
    2. TW,
      I am absolutely sure that I misread you! With the passing of Dr. Hurtado, my comments certainly seem petty.

      Tim

      Delete
  11. Perhaps it would be worthwhile to reread Pete Williams’s founding post which says, among other things, “Typically people divide into those who are interested in doctrine and those who are interested in history and texts. Here I hope we can see that there need be no division between these groups.”

    As for moderating comments, I try not to do that unless absolutely necessary. I assume our readers are smart enough to sift the wheat from the chaff in most cases. That said, I don’t always publish comments on old posts unless they contribute something new to the discussion. In the case of this current comment thread, Tommy stepped in as moderator given that I am with child so to speak.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I also don’t publish the spam. Although lately it’s gotten so flattering that I’m tempted to let it through.

      Delete
    2. PG,
      From the same founding blog post:
      I want this forum to be robust in two ways: first, it is not going to be embarrassed about believing that the Bible is true and that the Bible is made up of particular words which come from God.
      Tim

      Delete
    3. Tommy Wasserman11/26/2019 6:53 am

      I do not have a problem with that. It is a matter of faith and not a textcritical method through which I can prove "that the Bible is made up of particular words which come from God."

      Delete
  12. As a conservative evangelical, I hold to the inerrantist position required for ETS membership that is simultaneously well expressed in the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. On this basis, it would appear that a clear distinction should exist between evangelical and non-evangelical presuppositional and methodological standpoints. There seems to be a major difference between practicing textual criticism “as if God didn't exist” versus an initial presupposition that not only does God exist, but that he has revealed and providentially protected his word through the centuries by means of (mostly) manual transmission.

    In the 19th century, a similar presuppositional demarcation would characterize the varied approaches of Scrivener and Tregelles on the one hand, and Westcott-Hort on the other. To set God, divine inspiration, and providential oversight of the biblical text off in a corner while attempting to treat NTTC the same as that of “any other book” (WH) would seem to negate what “evangelical” means in relation to our practice of the discipline.

    Let the outsiders criticize as they will; however, I prefer that the evangelical side remain continually conservative in regard to faith and practice — including the practice of biblical textual criticism, without intrusion from purely secular and/or politically correct viewpoints.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Tommy Wasserman11/26/2019 11:42 pm

      Thank you Maurice, I understand your position, which is different than mine. I do not subscribe to the Chicago Statement. On the other hand, I believe that God not only exists, but that he has revealed his word through the centuries. However, he has not given us the New Testament in the same way as Moses received the two stone tablets. Whereas I do think the New Testament has been very well preserved, I would not want to claim that either Nestle-Aland 28 or Robinson-Pierpont's Majority Text are without errors, in the same way that neither Codex Vaticanus, Codex Bezae or minuscule 35 are without errors. They all testify to the earliest text though, in all their fragility. And, the easiest hypothesis is that the initial text is the authorial text. These are my views, and perhaps I wouldn't be accepted as a member of the ETS. I have heard stories of people that were excluded because their view of Scripture was not satisfying for the society.

      As for politically correct, in some areas like the right for women to be ministers, that is so uncontroversial as it can be in my context. My school of theology started in 1908 and the very first class for future ministers had female students so this is my tradition and I am quite proud of it (and believe it is according to Scripture and God's will). I know the Southern Baptists think differently about the ordination of women.

      Delete
    2. Dr. Wasserman,

      You write: "in some areas like the right for women to be ministers...this is my tradition and I am quite proud of it (and believe it is according to Scripture and God's will)."



      Considering that I have previously given my word that: "out of respect I will refrain (as best I can) from addressing you in such matters", I will tread lightly here and keep my comments Text based. My question is simply this; When you state that you, "believe it is according to Scripture", does this include all of the commonly held Canonical books in their entirety? -MMR

      Delete
  13. I’m not an evangelical, but I do visit this blog from time to time. It shows 20 male contributors and only 1 female. Surely, you can do better than this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Candida Moss‏ @candidamoss · Nov 23


       More








      "Quick look at the gender balance in the room Speakers: Male 4 Female Audience Members: Female 15 Male ~200" - posting by Candida Moss.

      SBL gender balance is similar to ETC gender balance when it comes to NT textual criticism - why would it be otherwise?

      Delete
    2. I saw that which is pretty sad actually.

      I'm assuming that in order to contribute to this blog, a scholar needs to be invited. No? How can a woman contribute if she's not extended an invitation?

      Delete
    3. Tommy Wasserman11/27/2019 1:05 pm

      Dear Patty, I have never invited anyone to become a member, but since I got on board in 2006, at least, all have applied for membership (and very many of the members are not active at all, they might have written one blogpost ever). On the other hand, I have invited guestblogposts over the years. Most recently I invited Libbie Schrader (Duke University) to share her research in a three-part blogpost.

      Delete
    4. Yes, I read about her work on Mary Magdalene. It's very interesting. Hopefully, she'll contribute!

      Just my two cents: someone who has recently published their work may be more apt to post. That would be motivation to blog here whether it's male or female.

      Delete
    5. Patty, our membership principles are stated on the about page.

      Delete
  14. It's obviously up to *evangelical women* to _choose_ to participate here — hardly due to some misguided attempt by supposedly "privileged white male" textual critics to keep them out.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Might I add that the Southern Baptists have *no* opposition to women or minorities laboring in the field of NTTC. It therefore is unwarranted to raise the quite unrelated issue of women's ordination as though such had some impact on either NT textual criticism or the parallel unrelated claim involving a presumed "white privilege" concept, particularly given that we have both women and various minority students presently involved in NTTC in our own seminaries.

    Let textual criticism deal with the *text*, and not with personalities or various unrelated political or current socio-political issues.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know the exact words spoken by Jill Hicks-Keeton. Was she talking about evangelicals in general or male scholars who participate on this blog?

      Delete
    2. Dr. Robinson,

      Hello sir, you state :"Might I add that the Southern Baptists have *no* opposition to women or minorities laboring in the field of NTTC."

      I'm taking it that you're in agreement with this position. If so, I also have "*no* opposition to women or minorities laboring in the field of NTTC.", although with one caveat in regards to women.
      I'm interested to know if there are any restrictions and/or limitations concerning women working in the field of NTTC in your view? -MMR

      Delete
    3. MMR, you’re getting a bit off topic now. If you’re interested in Southern Baptist policies or Dr. Robinson’s own position, I might suggest that personal email would be more appropriate for that conversation than the comments on this blog post.

      Delete
    4. Dr. Gurry,

      Apologies, I was just following the lead of Dr. Wasserman and Dr. Robinson in this regard. Considering that they are both leading scholars in the field and blog contributers, I was under the impression that the topic was fair game. Apparently I was mistaken.

      Even so, there's only so long that the Church can hide from the questions posed either directly, or by implication--regardless of whether the said comments have been deleted or stand.

      As for me, I'll stand by the Apostolic maxim:

      "We ought to obey God rather than men."

      Thank you again for your input. -M.M.R.

      Delete
    5. Also, putting things in the appropriate context, my reply only concerned an unrelated issue that had been specifically mentioned. Other than that, I have no problem with *anyone* studying, laboring, or publishing in the NTTC field, whether evangelical, SBC, or otherwise.

      I might not agree with their theology, presuppositions, methodologies, or conclusions — but that would be the norm for most people in any case.

      Delete
  16. FYI: I have updated the original post with a link to Brent Nongbri’s report.

    ReplyDelete