Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Q, Social Identity, and Apocalyptic Violence in History of Religions!

In the summer of 2009, I presented a paper on the rhetoric of apocalyptic violence in Q during the International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature. The meetings were held at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, just down the street from the Trevi Fountain and a short walk from the Pantheon! One of the highlights of the trip was being invited to submit the paper for publication in a special issue on Violence and Identity in History of Religions. Happy to say it just got published ("A Social Identity Approach to the Rhetoric of Apocalyptic Violence in the Sayings Gospel Q")!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

New Article in Harvard Theological Review!

Happy to say that an expanded version of a paper I was invited to give in the Q Section at the annual meeting of the SBL (Atlanta, 2015) will be published in the Harvard Theological Review (2018)! The title is “The Quest for the ‘Community’ of Q: Mapping Q Within the Social, Scribal, and Textual Landscape(s) of Second Temple Judaism.”

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Prayer in Q - Conference 2017 (Graz)

I was honored with an invitation to present a paper on "Prayer in Q" at the 2017 Q Conference in Graz, Austria (March 23-25). My paper was entitled "The Promise of Providence and the Problem of the Parables: Revisiting Prayer in the Sayings Gospel Q" and explored the literary and historical relationship between the Enochic Book of Parables and Q in light of Q's prayer texts. I've written on this topic in The Nonviolent Messiah: Jesus, Q, and the Enochic Tradition, but it was great to be able to discuss this with Q specialists in more detail and hear some excellent papers! Many thanks to Christoph Heil and the Dept. of Catholic Theology at the University of Graz for the invitation and hospitality! I look forward to seeing the published papers in Mohr Siebeck's WUNT series!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

New Article in Gnosis!

Happy to say that my new article, "'Knowledge is Truth'': A Course in Miracles as Neo-Gnostic Scripture," has just been published in Gnosis: Journal of Gnostic Studies! The article discusses A Course in Miracles - a book allegedly received from "Jesus" by Helen Schucman, a psychologist at Columbia Medical Center in NYC in the 1960s - as an example of what can be called "Neo-Gnosticism." I suggest that the Course represents a modern-day neo-Gnostic scripture that reflects significant trends in contemporary Western religiosity, especially the quest for alternative forms of esoteric “spiritual” knowledge and experience in a nominally Christian or post-Christian Western world. Many thanks to April D. DeConick and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments! 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Nonviolent Messiah (Review)

Pleased to find this review of The Nonviolent Messiah by Kelly Denton-Borhaug in the journal Dialog: A Journal of Theology

“Simon Joseph develops a biblical hermeneutic of nonviolence derived from his textual analysis of messianic portrayals in Judaism and early Christianity. His investigation leads him to assert the originality and centrality of Jesus’ command to love enemies . . . In this extensively researched and comprehensive study . . . Joseph encourages a recovery of the importance of Jesus traditions of nonviolence as a hermeneutical key for a better understanding of the historical Jesus . . . Joseph carefully builds his argument in a way that is very accessible to nonspecialists, almost as if he were writing a mystery novel. At the same time, this book’s detailed footnotes and bibliography demonstrate his meticulous care to address the concerns, intricate analyses, and discoveries of a diverse group of biblical scholars . . . Joseph notices that not only are the consequences of Jesus’ nonviolence ignored and marginalized in mainstream contemporary society, even in historical Jesus research there is surprisingly little attention to this subject.”

The full article, "Christianity: Maidservant to War?," can be read here.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

"The Gospel of the Ebionites" in NTS

Honored to have been invited by Francis Watson, the editor of New Testament Studies, to contribute an article to the journal about my new book, Jesus and the Temple: The Crucifixion in its Jewish Context (SNTSMS; Cambridge University Press, 2016). My article, ‘“I Have Come to Abolish Sacrifices” (Epiphanius, Pan. 30.16.5): Re-examining a Jewish Christian Text and Tradition,explores how a particular passage from the Gospel of the Ebionites (a ‘text’ that exists only in fragments extrapolated from the writings of Epiphanius) raises a number of questions about the use of non-canonical gospel traditions in New Testament studies. Since the Gospel of the Ebionites is generally regarded as a "Jewish Christian" text - and ancient "Jewish Christianity" continues to be hard for us to grasp both historically and conceptually - the text raises some interesting historical and theological questions about Jesus’ relationship to the Temple cult, questions still at the very center of contemporary discourse on the historical Jesus as well as the relationship between Early Judaism, "Jewish Christianity," and (Early Gentile) Christianity. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New Article in JSHJ

Happy to announce that my article, "Jesus and the Temple Incident: A New Proposal," has been published in the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus. The article was submitted in September 2013 and accepted for publication in May 2014 - and subsequently expanded into a monograph, Jesus and the Temple: The Crucifixion in its Jewish Context - published by Cambridge University Press last year. 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Why Did Jesus Die?

The Gospels portray Jesus as deeply upset with the Temple's administration during the last week of his life: a pious and passionate Jew offended by corruption in the house of God. Jesus is said to have "overturned the tables of the money-changers" and even predicted the Temple's destruction, but we never quite find out exactly what Jesus objected to.

The Gospels point to Jesus’ relationship to the Temple for historical and theological reasons: both to describe the historical setting of the final events that led to his death - including his criticism of the Temple's administration, his demonstration in the Temple, and predicting the Temple's destruction - as well as to set the stage for identifying Jesus as a sacrifice that will ultimately replace the Temple’s sacrificial system. 

The idea that Jesus' death was a sacrifice is a pervasive theme in the New Testament (1 Cor 15:3; Rom 8:3; 5:9; 1 Thess 1:10; Gal 1:4; 1 Pet 2:21-25; 1 John 2:2; Heb 7:27; 9:14; John 1:29). Early Christians searched the Scriptures to make sense of their experience, convinced that even the details of Jesus’ death were foretold in them. For them, Jesus did not die because he was a controversial figure who engaged in religious conflicts with his contemporaries; Jesus died because he took on God's wrath as part of God's divine plan: The son of man must suffer and die at the hands of the religious leaders. This explained why Jesus died ("for our sins"), but it did so by combining historical memory and theological innovation while constructing a conspiratorial narrative that implicated "the Jews" (Matt 27:25): setting the Jews against Jesus, and Jesus against Judaism, obscuring the original offenses that led Jesus to the cross in the first place.

A short excerpt ("Why Did Jesus Die?") from my book, Jesus and the Temple: The Crucifixion in its Jewish Context, which further explores these questions, can be read here.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Jesus and the Temple in The Expository Times

Paul Foster's review of my new book Jesus and the Temple: The Crucifixion in its Jewish Context succinctly re-presents the central thesis of this study: that Jesus' “understanding of the eschatological endpoint of the Torah is not exact observance, but radical reformulation that realigns it with God’s purposes in creation.”

Foster concludes: “Joseph presents a radical Jesus, who had a more wide-ranging programme of reforming Jewish religion than simply that of calling people back to wholehearted obedience. The ideas presented in this study are likely to generate significant discussion. Joseph presents a new way of understanding Jesus witihin Judaism, but which also means the divergence from normative Judaism found in early Christianity in fact is closely aligned with Jesus’ own critique of the parent religion.”

The full review can be found in the most recent issue of The Expository Times (“Why Did Jesus Die?,” 127 [2016], 509-10).

Thursday, March 24, 2016

In Memoriam: James M. Robinson

(June 30, 1924 - March 22, 2016)

I met James Robinson in 2004, when I started my Ph.D. program in Religion (New Testament) at Claremont. Although this was my first meeting in person, I had known about him for a long time. He was an international star in New Testament studies. He served as the General Editor of the Nag Hammadi Library. He was the founder and director of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity and the International Q Project, and served as co-editor of The Critical Edition of Q. I was thrilled when he agreed to direct my Q studies. Jim and I met every week in the IAC Library and worked through his collected essays on the Sayings Gospel Q. We would also meet at his house where he generously shared many of the insights, stories, and knowledge from his long career. Jim was a guiding force on my dissertation committee and graciously described my first book, Jesus, Q, and the Dead Sea Scrolls, as "a new stage in the study of first-century Judaism and Christianity." A couple of years later, I dedicated my JBL article to him ("Why Do You Call Me 'Master?' Q 6:46, the Inaugural Sermon, and the Demands of Discipleship,"). He called it Jesus' "hardest" saying. He was a great scholar, mentor, and friend. I'm going to miss him.