A few months ago Mike Holmes was named executive director of the Green Scholars Initiative. In this capacity, he oversees the work on (and publication of) the many manuscripts in the Green Collection, including the much-discussed though never seen 1st-century fragment of Mark’s gospel. It was recently brought to my attention that Mike has shared some general information on the publication process. There is no earth-shattering news, but it at least lends some transparency to things. You can find his entire post here, but I’ll share this excerpt:
I would like to offer the following comments, which represent my attempt to balance the competing interests:
Artifacts of various sorts have been assigned to GSI scholars, who will, under the supervision of experienced editors, investigate and prepare them for publication. These artifacts include jar handles, inscribed bowls, DSS fragments, and a variety of Greek papyri, both documentary and literary (including, but not limited to, fragments of the LXX, gospels, epistles, and patristic writings).
For every item published under the auspices of GSI, the goal will be to give, as part of the initial publication, as much detail as necessary regarding (a) provenance, both ancient and modern (subject, of course, to any legal restrictions attached to the terms of purchase); (b) authenticity; and (c) date—along with, of course, all the other information that usually accompanies such publications.
Items will be published in the order that they become ready for publication—a status that is difficult to predict. (Some items, for example, are easily identified, while the identity of others can be difficult to determine. For example, the presence of canonical material in a fragment does not necessarily mean it is a copy of a canonical document; it could be a citation that is part of a patristic homily or sermon. Some items are easily read, while others require special photographic or other treatment to reveal the writing, etc., etc.) GSI will seek to move items to publication as quickly as possible—but not at the expense of dealing with critical issues as fully as necessary.
Those with any interest in Marcion should check out the recent posts here and here by Dieter Roth, who is posting at Larry Hurtado’s blog. Dieter has also recently published an excellent book on the text of Marcion’s gospel.
The Live Science website is not where most people turn for breaking news on biblical studies, but they have just published a helpful summary of some of the details surrounding the still-yet-to-be-published alleged first-century fragment of Mark’s gospel. A close reading might reveal a couple details not previously known by some readers of this blog. Read the entire article here. Craig Evans appears to be the main source for it. A couple excerpts from the piece (with my own emphasis added) include…
The first-century gospel is one of hundreds of new texts that a team of about three-dozen scientists and scholars is working to uncover, and analyze, by using this technique of ungluing the masks, said Craig Evans, a professor of New Testament studies at Acadia Divinity College in Wolfville, Nova Scotia…
The business and personal letters sometimes have dates on them, he said. When the glue was dissolved, the researchers dated the first-century gospel in part by analyzing the other documents found in the same mask…
Evans said that the only reason he can talk about the first-century gospel before it is published is because a member of the team leaked some of the information in 2012. Evans was careful to say that he is not telling Live Science anything about the first-century gospel that hasn’t already been leaked online…
Evans says that the text was dated through a combination of carbon-14 dating, studying the handwriting on the fragment and studying the other documents found along with the gospel. These considerations led the researchers to conclude that the fragment was written before the year 90…
Evans said that the research team will publish the first volume of texts obtained through the mummy masks and cartonnage later this year. It will include the gospel fragment that the researchers believe dates back to the first century.
The final contribution to this volume examines Luke’s knowledge of Palestinian geography.
Hengel opens by noting that many Greco-Roman historians in antiquity and even educated Jews had very little information about the region, so it should not be surprising if the same is discovered about Luke. His first volume reflects scant interest in geographical details, whereas Acts shows greater effort in this regard. In reviewing the material of Acts, Hengel contends that certain sections show a much greater awareness of the land than other sections do. The two most notable passages demonstrating a high level of knowledge are the account of Paul’s arrest at the Jerusalem temple (Acts 21) and the subsequent journey from Jerusalem to Caesarea (Acts 22-24), both of which appear in the so-called “we” passages of Acts. According to Hengel, the best explanation to account for the disparity in the level of Luke’s geographical knowledge is that he was present for the events described in the “we” passages.
Larry Hurtado has a helpful discussion of the reason(s) why Paul persecuted Christians before his conversion, a topic that has long been of interest to me. He engages the recent work of Paula Fredriksen in the process. Personally, I tend to agree with Hurtado that the most significant factor was early Christian devotion to Jesus, devotion so strong that it could even be defined as “worship,” which obviously would’ve struck other Jews as “blasphemous.” I do think, though, that other factors could have played a role. For example, there is the question of why it seems that only certain Christians in Jerusalem were persecuted in those earliest years – the “Hellenists” (led by Stephen), but not the “apostles” (to use Luke’s terms in Acts 6-8). There must have been differences, however slight, amongst the earliest Christians. And then to fast forward 25 years, why is Paul violently opposed by some Jews in Jerusalem, while James (and other Jewish-Christians) are free to practice “Jesus-devotion” without hindrance?
It was officially announced today that Mike Holmes has been named executive director of the Green Scholars Initiative, and will be overseeing the Museum of the Bible’s research projects around the world. Much has been said about this project, particularly the mysterious (alleged) 1st-century fragment of Mark’s gospel, and we’ve been waiting years to see the first publications from this massive undertaking. As someone who has known Dr. Holmes for a long time, I’m confident that he will do great work leading this task (and maybe that he’ll give me the “inside scoop” on some stuff the next time I bump into him). Here’s the entire release:
WASHINGTON, Nov. 7, 2014—
With construction set to begin this fall on the eight-story, 430,000-square-foot Museum of the Bible, the museum is broadening its team of scholars and experts with new roles and hires. Pedagogical scholar Jerry Pattengale, Ph. D., transitions into the role of executive director of education, allowing him to focus full time on developing Museum of the Bible’s curriculum and pioneering education initiatives. Biblical manuscript authority Michael Holmes, Ph. D., will take on the role of executive director of the Green Scholars Initiative, overseeing Museum of the Bible’s research projects around the world.
Pattengale’s background as an innovator in academia is well-suited for this new position. Recognized for his role as a student advocate and efforts to link education with historical research, Pattengale will continue to serve as senior editor of an innovative Bible curriculum for American and international school markets and will initiate future Museum of the Bible forays into the education space. He will also maintain his post as the first University Professor at Indiana-Wesleyan University.
Assuming the role of executive director of the Green Scholars Initiative, Holmes will lead a team of researchers and student-scholars at more than 60 universities around the world advancing groundbreaking discoveries on artifacts from the Green Collection. Holmes holds a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he also taught New Testament, and continues in his role as University Professor of Biblical Studies and Early Christianity at Bethel University. He is a frequent speaker and international lecturer who has authored 11 books on biblical and early Christian writings.
“As excitement builds around the 2017 opening of Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C., our staff’s roles and responsibilities are growing to reach new heights of quality and scope. Drs. Pattengale and Holmes bring world-class expertise in the fields of biblical research and education that will serve our global efforts well for years to come,” said Cary Summers, chief operating officer of Museum of the Bible.
The penultimate article in Martin Hengel’s Between Jesus and Paul explores the role of hymns in early christological development. It is filled with numerous helpful insights into first-century Christian worship practices.
Hengel’s starting point is 1 Cor 14:26 – “When you come together, each one has a hymn…” In this instance a hymn is not a previously existing song known to the worshipers but rather a spontaneous “new composition, inspired by the Spirit” (79). Such hymns were an important part of worship in Pauline (and other) communities. This picture is also confirmed by the evidence of two “deutero-Pauline” letters: Colossians 3:16ff and Ephesians 5:18-20, the latter of which is dependent on the former, in Hengel’s judgment. The threefold references in both letters to ψαλμοῖς ὕμνοις ᾠδαῖς πνευματικαῖς do not refer to different genres of song, but to one and the same kind. The author(s) is simply using the three most significant LXX terms for the religious song.
Throughout the NT, hymns to Christ are far more common than hymns to God. Hengel demonstrates that early Christian interpretation of the saving activity of Christ is the driving force behind the creation of hymns. Some of this originally involved reflection on messianic psalms, particularly Ps 110, as indicated by texts such as Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20-22; Heb 7:24-25; and 1 Pet 3:18-22. This activity was present in pre-Pauline communities, even in the earliest Jerusalem community. The resurrection experiences of the earliest Christians led them to the conviction that God had enthroned Jesus at his right hand, which consequently led to reflection on OT passages such as Ps 110.
The most common theme in early christological hymns is the intrinsic connection between the salvific death and subsequent exaltation of Jesus, which gave them a “marked narrative character” (93). Even more than earliest Christian prayer, the hymn to Christ had a “didactic” character and thus played a formative role in christological development. It served as a “living medium” for the progressive development of christological thinking, a development that eventually entailed the idea of pre-existence before creation, mediation at creation, and the incarnation itself. So what began as reflection on messianic psalms would eventually lead to the Johannine prologue.