Alternative Scriptures: Finding Sirach

I have been posting about the astonishing wave of scriptural and Bible-related discoveries at the turn of the twentieth century, and their cultural impact. Although not quite as sensational as the find of a new alternative gospel, one moment in particular demands our attention for what it suggest about the nature of the Bible and [Read More…]

The Missing Century, Revisited

My last post was a near-despairing attempt to locate a spiritual and/or political crisis that might have produced the amazing story told in Deutero-Zechariah, chapters 9 through 14 of that text. (See earlier posts for a summary). Groping for an answer, it occurred to me to synthesize what we actually do know about Jewish history [Read More…]

Gnostics and Platonists

Although the origins of Gnostic thought are controversial, many of the core themes and terms undoubtedly stemmed from Greek philosophical thought, especially Platonism. That did not necessarily mean that early Gnostics were taking these ideas directly from Greek thinkers or schools, rather that they came from a Jewish (and emerging Christian) world that had long [Read More…]


The scriptures attributed to the Biblical figure of Enoch commanded immense respect in the early Christian church, but by the ninth century or so, these had largely vanished from use, in Europe at least. Not only were they treated with less respect, but they effectively disappeared. Why and how did this happen? What does this [Read More…]


Any history of the New Testament text makes extensive use of the magnificent fourth century Greek Bibles, the “uncial codices.” We know the three greatest as Alexandrinus, Vaticanus, and Sinaiticus. These were splendid deluxe volumes intended for major churches, intended to be accessible to the Empire’s new Christian elites. They thus give an excellent idea [Read More…]