“Claiming Ignorance and Intimidating Witnesses: Reading John 9 in Greco-Roman Forensic Context,” Catholic Biblical Quarterly (forthcoming)
The interrogation of the man born blind in John 9 is a well-crafted scene that nonetheless presents several difficulties: the nature of the body interrogating him, whether official or unofficial, investigating or judging; the question of the apparent anachronism of an agreement to expel from the synagogue anyone who confesses Jesus to be the Christ (9:22); and the density of cognitive assertions that, unlike the rest of the gospel where variatio is common, consistently use only one verb (οἶδα). Reading John in light of contemporary trial records and literature may heighten our understanding of the nature of the scene. Since the declarative use of (οὐκ) οἶδα is a rhetorical trope used either to assert testimony or to avoid it altogether, John 9 can be read as a pre-trial hearing to assess the potential testimony of the blind man. The expulsion agreement, even in the story’s context (late 20s CE) and for any in John’s audience who had not experienced conflict with synagogues, may be read as an intimidation tactic to silence potential witnesses for the defense.
“The Ascension of A Square: Edwin A. Abbott’s Flatland as an Apocalypse.” Annali di Storia dell’Esegesi 33/2 (2016): 435-58
Edwin A. Abbott’s curious Victorian novel, Flatland (1884), told from the perspective of a square living in two dimensions who is brought “up” into three dimensions, has fascinated scholars with its eccentricity. Abbott studied mathematics, classics, and English literature, and recently the theological ideas of the novel have also been recognized. However Abbott’s extensive work in biblical studies has yet to be explored as an informative background for Flatland. Doing so shows that, in Flatland, Abbott has created a parody of an apocalypse, complete with dream revelations and heavenly journeys, in order to critique a cultural obsession with miraculous revelation divorced from empiricism and, more importantly, from morality.
“Gabriel, Abortion, and Anti-Annunciation in The Prophecy, Constantine, and Legion.” Journal of Religion and Popular Culture 27/1 (2015): 57-70
Although the angel Gabriel is viewed positively in three world religions, he has appeared as the villain in three Hollywood films over just a decade and a half: The Prophecy (1995), Constantine (2005), and Legion (2010). While these films draw on apocalyptic themes from the book of Daniel, they also play ironically on Gabriel’s other biblical appearance, the Annunciation of the virginal conception in Luke. All three films feature a Gabriel who attacks rather than protects women “impregnated” by a being of apocalyptic importance. The three movies can be shown to reflect various dimensions (and sides) of the contemporary American abortion debate, each casting Gabriel polemically in the image of misguided Christians (as they see it).
“A Tale of Two Riots: The Synkrisis of the Temples of Ephesus and Jerusalem in Acts 19-23.” Journal for the Study of the New Testament 37/1 (2014): 86-111
Towards the end of Paul’s career, Acts narrates two riot scenes tied to the temples in Ephesus and Jerusalem, forming a synkrisis between the two cities and their temples. The similarities between the two scenes argue for temples as places of danger for Christians while protecting the Christian community from perceptions of anti-cultic teaching. The endings, however, are very different. In the ﬁrst case, the correct response to the church is presented in Ephesus where the riot ends in a quick and orderly manner. In the second case, the incorrect response is presented in Jerusalem where the disorder spreads to the local government, forcing the Roman military to intervene.
“A Revelation from Gabriel to Nathan? The Herodian Temple and the Ideology of the Davidic Covenant in the Hazon Gabriel.” Annali di Storia dell’Esegesi 31/1 (2014): 7-27
The Hazon Gabriel, a Hebrew text written on stone that most likely pre-dates Jesus’ death, initially caused a great deal of controversy due to a possible reference to the resurrection of a Davidic figure after three days. Since the interpretation of that line has largely been rejected, the field is left open for other interpretations of the brief and fragmented text. This paper focuses on the many links to David and the covenantal scene in 2 Samuel 7 in Hazon Gabriel, arguing that both aspects of that covenant—the promise of an enduring Davidic line and the asserted right of God to have a temple built only on God’s initiative—present the proper literary backdrop for Hazon Gabriel. Meanwhile, the rebuilding of the second temple on the initiative of the non-Davidic king Herod, a project that required the demolition of the existing temple, is presented as the historical backdrop to the apocalyptic text.
“Measuring Arguments from Order for Q: Regression Analysis and a New Metric for Assessing Dependence.” Neotestamentica 47/1 (2013): 123-148
The argument from order for the two-document hypothesis is central to the claim that Q is a unified document rather than a collection of shorter documents or shared oral tradition. Once double tradition material is extracted from Matthew and Luke and paired, the argument becomes essentially mathematical. Previous attempts at measuring the degree of agreement have rarely included detailed methodological discussions. Hence these measurements derive from loosely defined or implied methodologies influenced by subjective choices of the scholar, making it impossible to judge the relative probabilities of their results. This article proposes a new statistical metric borrowed from regression analysis, the coefficient of determination (R2). This metric is then applied to influential tables of double tradition material to determine the strength of their agreement. As will be demonstrated, these tables do not provide strong evidence of a unified document behind double tradition material based on order alone.
Unique Conference Brings Together Scholars for a Fruitful Dialogue on Rationalities, Covalence: The Newsletter of the Lutheran Alliance for Faith, Science and Technology
Review of Zbyněk Garský, Das Wirken Jesu in Galiläa bei Johannes: Eine strukturale Analyse der Intertextualität des vierten Evangeliums mit den Synoptikern (WUNT 2/325; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2012). Review of Biblical Literature
Review of Helen K. Bond and Larry W. Hurtado (eds.), Peter in Early Christianity (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015). Reviews in Religion and Theology 23/2: 121-24
Review of Brian C. Dennert, John the Baptist and the Jewish Setting of Matthew (WUNT 2/403; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015). Annali di Storia dell’Esegesi 33/2: 571-72
Review of Clifford Chalmers Cain (ed.), Re-Vision: A New Look at the Relationship between Science and Religion (Lanham: University Press of America, 2015). Reviews in Religion and Theology
Review of Stanley E. Porter, John, His Gospel, and Jesus: In Pursuit of the Johannine Voice (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2015). Reviews in Religion and Theology
Review of Russell W. Dalton, Children’s Bibles in America: A Reception History of the Story of Noah’s Ark in US Children’s Bibles (LHBOTS 614/STr 5; London: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2016). Reviews in Religion and Theology