My Conference on Pseudepigraphy

I have just returned from four days in Quebec City, attending a conference called “Regards Croisés sur la Pseudépigraphie dans l’Antiquité” – “Perspectives on Pseudipigraphy in Antiquity.”    It was focused, obviously, on ancient practices of pseudepigraphy, the practice of writing a book in someone else’s name, claiming to be someone famous (while knowing full well you were not that person).  In the New Testament, for example, 2 Thessalonians, Colossians, Ephesians, 1 and 2 Timothy, and Titus all claim to be ...

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Some Pitfalls of Writing for a General Audience

As I was pointing out, scholars in most fields often have problems with colleagues who write trade books.  It may seem weird to outsiders, but I explained one of the major reasons in the last post.  Another is related:  it is widely known that some scholars who start writing trade books never ned up doing anything else.  That is, they become popularizers of knowledge rather than producers of knowledge, putting all their efforts into reaching the masses instead of doing ...

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Why Don’t More Scholars Write Trade Books?

This post is free for all readers.  It can give you an idea of *one* kind of post you find on the blog, five days a week.  Usually the posts are actually discussing what scholars say about the New Testament or the early years of Christianity; some are more like this.  If you joined the blog you, could get all of them, each and every week, going back seven years.  And comment on them.  And hear me respond ...

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Why It’s Hard to Publish a Translation: Blast from the Past

In my last post in this thread, en route to discussing my latest attempt at publishing both a scholarly and a trade book on the same topic, I talked about how I took on the task of doing a new Greek-English edition of the Apostolic Fathers for the Loeb Classical Library.  At the end of the post I indicated that doing that edition was one of the hardest things I have ever done.   There were lots of things that made ...

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Did Superior Health Care Lead to the Dominance of Christianity?

Interesting question from a recent member of the blog:



In the August 5/12 New Yorker, a review of a new book, “The mosquito: A Human History of our Deadliest Predator.” In this review, this sentence: “In the third century, malaria epidemics helped drive people to a small, much persecuted faith that emphasized healing and care of the sick, propelling Christianity into a world-altering religion.” I realize that medical history is not your thing. If nonetheless you’d care to comment, any warrant ...

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On Producing a New Translation of Ancient Texts

I’m in the middle of discussing what it’s like to publish a trade book for general audiences and an  academic book for scholars on the same topic.  The third time I did this involved a completely different situation from the other two I have described.   One thing that was similar was that in this instance, yet again,I had no idea, initially, of producing a popular version, but planned simply to publish a work of scholarship.  Only later did I realize ...

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Learning New Things

I am constantly awed by some fellow scholars,who have not just enormous range of knowledge about so many things but also an inordinate, almost insatiable curiosity.   There aren’t many people like that, but I know some.   At the same time I am regularly puzzled by people who simply have no curiosity about much of anything, who have strong opinions about lots and actual knowledge about little, who just don’t have any real curiosity or drive to find answers to anything.

I’m ...

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Who Is The Enemy?

This will be a very personal post, about being an enemy of the Christian faith.

I’ve long been amazed, surprised, and perplexed about how, when it comes to religion, comments made in one context are completely non-problematic but when the (exact) same comments are made in another context, they are heinous and threatening.   Some of it almost certainly has to do with tone and general attitude.  But I wonder if it isn’t actually much broader than that.

One of the ways I’ve ...

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My Current Research Projects, 7/2019

I often get asked what I’m doing in my personal research – both long term and, well, what is it I actually do during the day?   It’s all related to the blog, so I thought I’d devote a single post to it, just a kind of overview of the kinds of things I’m working on.  Right now, as it turns out, it’s a wide range.

Tomorrow I’m off to Marburg Germany (I’ve been in London for most of the summer, so ...

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Could Most People Write in Antiquity?

I am ready now to discuss in a couple of posts the issue of whether Jesus’ brother James actually wrote the book of James, or if it was someone else wanting his readers to *think* it was him.   To make sense of what I want to say about it at the outset (it will take a couple of posts), I’ve decided I need to re-post an old post on a broader and even more interesting question: who actually *could* write ...

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