# Monday, March 05, 2007

I just read with interest Chris Wiemer's post on the Jesus Tomb stuff. One thing he mentioned concerned the Acts of Philip:

[The filmmakers] spent more time dealing with Mariamene, which they assumed could be contracted into Mariamne. They then apparently made the connection to Mary Magdalene, since in the Acts of Philip, Philip has a sister named Mariamne, and apparently (since I don’t think the Acts have yet been translated into English, at least according to Harvard Magazine and Harvard University Gazette) this Mariamne is Mary Magdalene. However, the connection itself isn’t solid-proof. Instead the discoverer of the manuscript, François Bovon, doesn’t claim, as far as I can tell from sources, that this is definitely Mary Magdalene, but that only it is possible for her to be identified with Mary Magdalene. Not having the text in my hand, I cannot say one way or another.

Now I'm curious. Everyone says that the name is found in the Acts of Philip, but nobody discusses the character of that text, its contents, or anything about it—as if the simple existence of the name in the text is all that matters and the nature, character and contents of the text means nothing.

I'd figured there was a text and transcription readily available. But after reading Chris' post, I guess it isn't. [Update: The translation is found in M.R. James' NT Apocrypha (amazon.com) and is available online. h/t Danny Zacharias, but see below for more] So I checked my copy of Schneemelcher's NT Apocrypha, vol. 2 (amazon.com) (here's vol. 1 (amazon.com) if you're interested). There are a few pages on contents (vol 2. pp. 468-473, sect. 12.1 Acta Philippi), but no translation. And the description is of a text in shambles. Some interesting excerpts below:

... we may conclude with a high degree of probability that the version of the Acta Philippi which has come down to us originated in encratite circles in Asia Minor somewhere about the middle of the 4th century. Since this version is however an artificial conglomeration of very diverse and sometimes contradictory material, the question of the authorship and origin of individual parts remains open. (p. 469)

So, in other words, folks think the text was composed/assembled in the middle of the 4th century ... 300+ years after Jesus' death and resurrection. No connection with Mary Magdalene is discussed. However, the next paragraph continues:

The report included at the beginning of the eighth act, about the division of the world among the apostles and the sending of Philip together with Bartholomew and Mariamne to the 'city of the serpent' forms a clear brak after the preceding first seven acts, and signals the beginning of the 'Acta Philippi in Heirapolis' with the appended martyrdom (cc. 94-148: Aa II/2, 36-90). This part is without doubt the most important—in terms of volume also—and oldest section of the Acta Philippi, and is conspicuous both for its stylistic unity and also for its depth of thought—in contrast to the episodes of the first seven acts, which are often intermixed without continuity, full of adventures and poor in ideas. (p. 469).

If Philip is in Heirapolis, then we're dealing with Philip the apostle, right? The one Papias mentions (see here, sect. IV)? So what is the connection of Mary Magdalene with Philip the apostle? None that I am aware of. Here's more on Mariamne in in Acts of Philip:

The fact that not all of the elements of this old tradition found their way into the 'Acta philippi in Heriapolis'—e.g. there is not a word about Philip's daughters, and instead the apostle is given his 'sister' Mariamne as a companion—and that (against this tradition) a martyrdom embellished with rich symbolism and profound trains of through was already added signals the relationship of our present Acts to the five older Acts of the Manichean corpus, although we cannot always demonstrate a direct dependence upon them. (p. 470).

There's more, this on parallels with other apocryphal literature:

Moreover, from act 8 of our present Πράξεις 'Mariamne', who is assigned to the apostle as sister and companion, plays a role similar to that to Thecla at the side of Paul..

The dialogue between Mariamne and Nicanora, in which the two women are described as 'twin sisters, daughters of the same mother' (c. 115, Aa II/2, 45.15-46.13) could, in A. Orbe's opinion contain an esoteric interpreatation fo the Heilgeschichte according tot he Valentinian myth with clear analogies to the Acts of Thomas. (p. 470)

So, some see parallels of Philip & Mariamne to Paul & Thecla. And there's also this bit about Mariamne's twin sister.(?) I'm unaware of Mary Madgalene having a twin sister, or of her being sister to the apostle Philip. There's nothing in Schneemelcher at all about Mary Magdalene even being potentially associated with the Mariamne of the Acts of Philip.

Another book I have to hand that discusses the Acts of Philip is Early Christian Greek and Latin Literature (amazon.com) by Moreschini and Norelli. Their treatment is much less detailed than that inside of the Schneemelcher volumes. However, they do say this:

The section comprising 8-15 and the martyrdom brings Philip the apostle on the scene again. He, along with his sister Maryanne and Bartholemew, is a missionary in the city of Ofiorime, which the manuscripts identify with Hierapolis in Phrygia. (vol 2, p 222)

Here, the name translated "Maryanne" has to be that of Mariamne. Again, no comparison of any sort with Mary Magdalene. Magdalene isn't mentioned at all. Heck, "Mary" isn't even mentioned.

So, how do the filmmakers make the connection? If their methodology is sound, then perhaps we can conclude today that this "Maryanne" foreshadows the "Maryanne" of Gilligan's Island? The logic is the same—find a matching name and go with it. You heard it here first, folks.

I can only imagine what the Discovery Channel will drag out next Easter ...

Update (2007-03-07): Chris Weimer (Thoughts on Antiquity) writes in a comment regarding versions of the Acts of Philip:

The Acts of Philip you found online were an older, fragmentary version. François Bovon found a complete manuscript just a couple of years ago, and that version has not been translated yet. You were looking at a translation from 1924, well before the discovery.

I knew M.R. James was from 1924, and I figured based on references to Bovon in both Schneemelcher and Moreschini & Norelli that there was a new MS find. I was about to write an update, and then Chris commented clearing everyting up. Thanks, Chris, for putting the dots together for us!

Update (2007-03-13): Stephen Pfann weighs in with a full re-examination of the so-called Mary Magdalene ossuary. His conclusion: No dice. Check out his paper Mary Magdalene is Now Missing: A Corrected Reading of Rahmani Ossuary 701.

Post Author: rico
Monday, March 05, 2007 8:04:33 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Saturday, March 03, 2007

[This is part of a running series on the Didache. See the introductory post for more information — RWB]


1 Χειροτονήσατε οὖν ἑαυτοῖς
Appoint for yourselves, therefore,
   ἐπισκόπους καὶ διακόνους
   overseers and deacons
      ἀξίους τοῦ κυρίου,
      holy of the Lord,
   men (who are)
      καὶ ἀφιλαργύρους
      and not lovers of money
      καὶ ἀληθεῖς
      and truthful
      καὶ δεδοκιμασμένους·
      and well-proven:
         ὑμῖν γὰρ λειτουργοῦσι καὶ αὐτοὶ τὴν λειτουργίαν τῶν προφητῶν καὶ διδασκάλων.
         for to you they themselves also minister the ministry of prophets and teachers.

2 μὴ οὖν ὐπερίδητε αὐτούς·
Therefore you must not disregard them:
   αὐτοὶ γὰρ εἰσιν οἱ τετιμημένοι ὑμῶν
   for they are your honorable ones,
      μετὰ τῶν προφητῶν καὶ διδασκάλων.
      along with the prophets and teachers.

3 Ἐλέγχετε δὲ ἀλλήλους
Correct one another
   μὴ ἐν ὀργῇ,
   not in anger,
      ἀλλ ̓ ἐν εἰρήνῃ
      but in peace
ὡς ἔχετε
as you find
   ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ·
   in the gospel:
      καὶ παντὶ ἀστοχοῦντι
      and anyone who has done wrong
         κατὰ τοῦ ἑτέρου
         against another
      μηδεὶς λαλείτω
      shall not be spoken to
         μηδὲ παρ ̓ ὑμῶν ἀκουέτω,
         nor shall he hear from you
            ἕως οὗ μετανοήσῃ.
            until he repents.

   4 τὰς δὲ εὐχὰς ὑμῶν
   But your prayers,
   καὶ τὰς ἐλεημοσύνας
   and your charity,
   καὶ πάσας τὰς πράξεις
   and all your observance
οὕτω ποιήσατε,
in this way do:
   ὡς ἔχετε
   as you find
      ἐν τῷ εὐαγγελίῳ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν.
      in the gospel of our Lord.


The beginning of the chapter transitions with a "therefore". Didache 14 is about keeping pure, Didache 15 transitions into leadership and other community guidelines. Thus I can only reason that proper leadership (overseers and deacons) combined with proper teaching (prophets and teachers), proper relationship (respond in peace, not anger), and proper practice (say prayers, give alms, etc.) all combine to ensure that the Eucharist is properly kept.

The problematic portion here, for me, is verse 3 which deals with the unrepentant one: He is to not hear from anyone until he repents. But that is prefaced with correcting in peace and not anger, as is "found in the gospel". The reference to the gospel, I'd think, must relate to Mt 18.15-20—particularly given the commonality of Matthew's gospel referenced in the Didache. So one has first approached the brother, then a group of two or three has approached him, then he has been put before the church. After this, then, the unrepentant brother is to be "as a Gentile and tax collector" (Mt 18.17). So I don't think it is as harsh as it seems once we plug in what the gospel says.

Next up: Didache 16. That's the last chapter!

Post Author: rico
Saturday, March 03, 2007 12:39:59 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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The blogging engine I use (dasBlog) isn't that popular, so I haven't had many problems with comment spam. However, I awoke this morning to comment spam of an unsavory sort on one of my entries. It has been deleted, but it also has spurred me to enable comment approval.

So, when you make a comment, now I'll be emailed, and I have to actually approve it before it gets posted on the site. Apologies for that, but that's how it's gotta be.

Blasted spammers. We need to pray for their souls.

Post Author: rico
Saturday, March 03, 2007 11:25:31 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, March 02, 2007

[This is part of a running series on the Didache. See the introductory post for more information — RWB]


   1 Κατὰ κυριακὴν δὲ κυρίου συναχθέντες
   Upon coming together on the Lord's Day of the Lord
κλάσατε ἄρτον καὶ εὐχαριστήσατε,
break bread and hold the Lord's Supper,
   προεξομολογησάμενοι τὰ παραπτώματα ὑμῶν,
   confessing your sins beforehand,
      ὅπως καθαρὰ ἡ θυσία ὑμῶν ᾖ.
      so that your offering may be pure.

   2 πᾶς δὲ ἔχων τὴν ἀμφιβολίαν
   And all those having a quarrel
      μετὰ τοῦ ἑταίρου αὐτοῦ
      with another of your number,
μὴ συνελθέτω ὑμῖν,
do not let them gather with you
   ἕως οὗ διαλλαγῶσιν,
   until they have reconciled
      ἵνα μὴ κοινωθῇ ἡ θυσία ὑμῶν.
      so that your offering may not be defiled.

3 αὕτη γάρ ἐστιν ἡ ῥηθεῖσα ὑπὸ κυρίου·
For this is what the Lord says:
   Ἐν παντὶ τόπῳ καὶ χρόνῳ προσφέρειν μοι θυσίαν καθαράν.
   "In every place and time offer me a pure offering.
      ὅτι βασιλεὺς μέγας εἰμί,
      For I am a great king,"
   λέγει κύριος,
   says the Lord,
      καὶ τὸ ὄνομά μου θαυμαστὸν ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσι.
      "and my name is great among the nations".


The liturgy (that word is too formal for the context, I think, but you get what I mean) for Eucharist was given in Didache 9 and Didache 10. Here in Didache 14, the view is from a higher level. It assumes that the process for the meal is known and instead focuses on when to hold the feast (on "Lord's Days of the Lord", a curious phrase) and how to prepare for the feast.

Preparation involves confessing one's own transgressions and also reconciling any quarrels, fights, misunderstandings and whatnot one has with anyone else. This likely comes from Mt 5.23-24:

23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Mt 5.23-24, ESV)

This degree of preparation is justified with appeals to what "the Lord" says. Niederwimmer (in his commentary [amazon] (amazon.com)) finds basis for the second quotation in Mal 1.11 and Mal 1.14. I say why not the whole range?:

11 For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name will be great among the nations, and in every place incense will be offered to my name, and a pure offering. For my name will be great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and its fruit, that is, its food may be despised. 13 But you say, ‘What a weariness this is,’ and you snort at it, says the Lord of hosts. You bring what has been taken by violence or is lame or sick, and this you bring as your offering! Shall I accept that from your hand? says the Lord. 14 Cursed be the cheat who has a male in his flock, and vows it, and yet sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished. For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name will be feared among the nations. (Mal 1.11-14, ESV, emphasis added)

The whole range has to do with purity for one's offering, and that is really what Didache 14 is getting at: When we come before the Lord, we are to offer him our best, so we confess our sin and we also make right our relationships with others.

Also worthy of note is Niederwimmer's summary of some previous chapters:

In retrospect we find a more or less cogent train of thought here. While in chaps. 11–13 the Didachist had, in a sense, looked outward (toward the arriving guests of the community), in chaps. 14–15 he looks inward (at the relationships within the community itself). In doing so he touches on two groups of questions: on the one hand the moral status of the community, and on the other hand problems that arise with regard to the leadership of the community (the subject of chap. 15). In the first instance he decrees that the community may only offer its eucharistic sacrifice in a pure state when (1) the members have been purified of sin by a previous confession, and (2) all quarrels have been cleansed away by a prior reconciliation. Only in this way can the sacrificing community be clean; only in this way can it offer the pure, eschatological sacrifice prophesied by Malachi.
Niederwimmer, K., & Attridge, H. W. (1998). The Didache : A commentary (amazon.com). Facsims. on lining papers. Hermeneia--a critical and historical commentary on the Bible (199). Minneapolis: Fortress Press.

Next up: Didache 15

Post Author: rico
Friday, March 02, 2007 7:37:30 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Thursday, March 01, 2007

Charles Halton over at Awilum is hosting BSC:XV, which he he has already posted. So go check it out and see what's been going on in the biblioblogosphere this past month.

And give Awilum a look-see too while you're there!

Post Author: rico
Thursday, March 01, 2007 7:31:06 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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Here's my translation for James 3.1-12, which we're going over on Friday in our home group Bible study. It reads rough in some spots but that is because I largely keep the phrase and clause order from the Greek intact.

1 Not many of you should become teachers my brothers, knowing that we who teach will receive a greater judgment. 2 For greatly we all stumble. If anyone does not stumble in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle even the whole of his body. 3 But if horses' bits of bridle we put into their mouths, for them to obey us, we steer even the whole of their bodies. 4 And behold, great ships being driven by strong winds are steered by a very small rudder wherever the impulse of the steersman guides. 5 In the same way the tongue is a small part, but it boasts greatly.

Behold, how a small fire ignites such a large forest! 6 The tongue is a fire: the world of the unjust. The tongue is put in charge of our parts, defiling the whole body; setting ablaze the wheel of being* and set ablaze by Gehenna. 7 For every kind—beast and bird, snake and sea creature—is tameable and has been tamed by human-kind. 8 But the tongue no human can possibly tame; (the tongue is) a restless evil, full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless the Lord and Father and with it we curse humans—the same humans made in the image of God. 10 Out of the same mouth come blessing and cursing. Not ever, my brothers, are these things to be! 11 Does a spring from the same source pour forth both fresh (water) and salt (water)? 12 Is it possible, my brothers, for a fig tree to produce olives? Or a grapevine (to produce) figs? Neither can salt produce fresh water.

* "wheel of being" ==> idiom for "course of life" or "way of life".

Post Author: rico
Thursday, March 01, 2007 7:14:26 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Monday, February 26, 2007

The NW Regional ETS meeting this past weekend was in Salem, OR. That means that we had to drive through Portland, OR. You may or may not know, but Portland is home to Powell's Books. Their main store is one city block, and it is all books, new and used. You've gotta stop by if you're in town.

So we stopped, but only for about half an hour since we were hungry. The trip was focused, but I found two books that piqued my interest, and I only spent 20 bucks!

It was a great time just poking through some books in the religion section.

Then, at the regional meeting, they had a book giveaway. I was the lucky bibliophile who walked away with the following five books:

All in all, a great day!

Post Author: rico
Monday, February 26, 2007 7:09:32 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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(If you're reading this with a feed reader, you may be missing out on relevant images. Check out the actual post on my main blog site. — RWB)

A friend and colleague of mine, Dr. Michael S. Heiser, presented a paper on the "Jesus Ossuary" at the 2003 meeting of the Near East Archaeological Society. This is the ossuary behind the "Jesus Family Tomb" sensationalism that the biblioblogosphere is abuzz over (see Ben Witherington for a good overview).

In his paper, titled "The Jesus Ossuary: A Critical Examination", Dr. Heiser works through the inscriptions on the relevant ossuaries using L.Y. Rahmani's A Catalogue of Jewish Ossuaries in the Collections of the State of Israel. In case you're wondering about Dr. Heiser's skills and training to do such work, here's his CV.

Mike posted the paper on his website this afternoon. So grab it and check it out, and see reproductions of the relevant inscriptions for yourself.

Update (2007-02-26): Just received word from Mike that he and Darrell Bock will be on Coast to Coast AM tonight talking about the Jesus Family Tomb thing. I won't be able to listen, but if you are you can find a local station on the Coast to Coast AM site.

Update II (2007-02-27): The Discovery Channel website has a PDF file with material from Rahmani's book as well. The PDF also has Amos Kloner's 1996 article on the tomb and inscriptions, which include maps of the tomb.

Update III (2007-02-27): Duane Smith over at Abnormal Interests has a post dealing with the inscriptions as well. It is worth reading.

Update IV (2007-03-01): Richard Bauckham (yes, that Richard Bauckham) guest-posts on the names and the inscriptions over at Chris Tilling's Chrisendom blog. You need to read this, Bauckham is the go-to guy in onomastics.

Post Author: rico
Monday, February 26, 2007 1:31:25 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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