A New and Important Book on the Bible

A few months ago an important book of the Bible came out, written for general readers but based on a life-long pursuit of scholarship by a senior scholar at Oxford, John Barton.  I was asked to write a review of the book for the London newspaper, The Telegraph, without having yet seen the book.  It is really terrific, one of the best introductions to the Bible (that is not a textbook, in any sense) that is available.  I ...

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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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A Readable Edition of the “Lost” (i.e. non-canonical) Gospels

As I have pointed out before on the blog, the topic of the last post, the edition of the non-canonical Gospels (The Apocryphal Gospels: Texts and Translations), which I published with my colleague Zlatko Plese, was meant for academics – professors of New Testament and early Christianity and their graduate students.   Most other people, of course, have no need or desire to see the original Greek, Latin, or Coptic of a text along with a translation.  People generally ...

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The Scholarly Edition of the Apocryphal Gospels

In my last couple of posts I began to describe how my edition of the Apocryphal Gospels came about.   After having done the Apostolic Fathers in two volumes for the Loeb, I had decided never to do another translation project again.  Too hard!  But then, forgetting my decision, I thought it would be useful to have a Greek/Latin – English version of the early Christian non-canonical Gospels.  And at the urging of the editor at Harvard, submitted a proposal also ...

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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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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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My Two Books on Forgery

In a couple of weeks I will be going to Quebec City to deliver a keynote address for a scholarly conference on Pseudepigraphy in Antiquity; most of the presenters will be giving papers in French (hopefully we’ll have written versions for those of us who can’t pick up the nuances well orally), mine will be in English.  I’ll be saying more about it anon on the blog — the work on the paper is getting me back into the question ...

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Writing Scholarly and Popular Books on the Same Topic

As many of you know, I am now working on a scholarly monograph dealing with an aspect of the afterlife, on the heels of having written a “trade” book (that is, for popular audiences) on the topic more broadly.  The trade book is coming out in March, and will be called Heaven and Hell: A History of the Afterlife; I am nearly finished researching the scholarly book — it’ll take another month or two — and then hope to ...

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Who Has The Answer For a Happy Afterlife?

A few days ago I gave the opening part of the paper I read at a conference of New Testament scholars a couple of weeks ago, on the accounts of the afterlife in the Christian apocryphal book called Acts of Thomas (an account of Thomas’s missionary adventures in India), one of them involving a near death experienced that revealed the glories of heaven and the other a near death experience of the horrors of hell.

Most of the paper involved contrasting ...

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A Christian Forger Caught in the Act

Next month I will be giving a keynote address at a conference dealing with ancient pseudepigrapha at the University of Laval, in Quebec City.  I have recently been discussing the topic (of ancient authors falsely claiming to be a famous person) on the blog in relation to the letter of James, and as you know, it was the subject of my monography Forgery and Counterforgery ten years ago, and my spin-off popular account Forged.   I haven’t ...

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