The Review of Biblical Literature (RBL) has just published a review of my book, authored by New Testament scholar and textual critic, Prof. Juan Hernández, Jr. (Bethel University). The four page review captures very well the intentions of the project and I want to thank Prof. Hernández for such a kind review. RBL is paywalled, but I extract a couple paragraphs below.
“With this book, the rationale for the exclusion of a select, carefully edited, and, by all counts, textually “meritorious” collection of amulets from the task of textual reconstruction has been eliminated. The writing, so to speak, was already on the wall. Studies have highlighted the value of noncontinuous manuscripts for textual criticism for some time now. That writing, however, moves toward fulfillment with the publication of Brice Jones’s New Testament Texts on Greek Amulets from Late Antiquity, the first systematic attempt to model how nontraditional artifacts can serve as bona fide witnesses to the Greek New Testament. What remains is a matter of will.”
“Brice Jones’s New Testament Texts on Greek Amulets from Late Antiquity is thus an undeniably exacting and captivating study that successfully models how a particular class of noncontinuous manuscripts—amulets—can serve as witnesses for understanding the textual history of the Greek New Testament and contribute to its textual reconstruction. Social artifacts are effectively transformed into textual artifacts in this study with considerable yields. The investigation is a model for how such work should be undertaken in the future. The assembled database is also of clear, independent value, irrespective of the book’s conclusions. The material is, in substance, above reproach, and any concerns that emerge are a matter of circumstance.”
“But the greater irony emerges from what New Testament Texts on Greek Amulets from Late Antiquity does so well, and for which it justifiably receives high marks: the transformation of a social artifact into a textual one. The task requires a commitment to a form of extraction that detracts from the artifact’s original function. Amulets are thus stripped of their humanity, with their record of the hopes, dreams, fears, anxieties, and superstitions of the ancient supplicant, for a “higher” purpose. They are mined for a handful of Greek letters--voces magicae—in order to find correspondence with, and contribute to, a reconstructed text, the Greek New Testament. That text, however, is not a simple textual artifact. It is also a social artifact, and it too requires the right words, the right rituals, and the right ritual specialists.”
I was recently asked to contribute an article on the "first-century" Mark fragment (P.Oxy. 83.5345) in the journal Early Christianity. Toward the end of that published piece, I wrote:
"There is one important question that remains unanswered regarding this papyrus. Despite the EES’s statement to the contrary, why have multiple people, including Steve Green, president of Hobby Lobby and the Green Collection’s benefactor, admitted that the Oxyrhynchus Mark papyrus was for sale at some point?"
It is now fairly evident that “first century” Mark was offered for sale. Please see the THIS blog post by my colleague, Brent Nongbri, who relays breaking e-mail correspondence from Mike Holmes.
Essentially, if the allegation in the e-mail is true, it indicates that an Oxford professor (Dirk Obbink) intentionally tried to sell papyri belonging to the Egypt Exploration Society (EES) to the Green Collection.
This is not to be taken lightly. I am very curious to see what actions the EES will take here. It seems altogether criminal, in my opinion. This is a sad state of affairs indeed, but a conclusion (if proven true) that many have already drawn.
This news is part of a much larger web of conversation and debate around the manuscript acquisitions of the Green Collection, which I have posted about here, here, here, and here.
It's been a while since I've posted and so I thought I would include a few updates (=personal plugs) here. Back in the fall, I accepted an invitation to submit an article for a special issue of Early Christianity, whose theme is "Oxyrhynchus." I wrote a brief overview of P137, widely known as the "first century" Gospel of Mark....that is not from the first century! So many things could be said about this little fragment but I only scratch the surface in a few pages. It is forthcoming in the first issue of vol. 10 of the journal.
Last but not least, I am very happy to announce that my book on amulets has just appeared in paperback; I received my first copies today from the press (Bloomsbury). There are three differences from the hardback published in 2016: 1) a few corrections were made, 2) the images of papyri are converted to black and white, and 3) it's about $100 cheaper! So, now is the time to go BUY ONE...HERE.
I had several kind invitations to submit my manuscript to other publishers, but I am very happy with my decision to have my work published in the prestigious Library of New Testament Studies series. The book has been reviewed many times already in the field, and the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. The book has been cited in several books and articles; I'm just glad that people are reading it and finding something to take away from it. If nothing else, get it for the pretty pictures of papyri, which pop in color in the hardback version.
(Please excuse the self-blurbing in this post!)
[A guest post from Dr. George Kiraz]
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