I made a pilgrimage to Medina yesterday – Medina, Ohio, that is, although I actually turned right at the intersection and so went to Akron rather than Medina. Akron is the location of this year’s Eastern Great Lakes Biblical Society meeting. Under the auspices of that regional SBL meeting, E. Bruce Brooks’ Alpha Christianity group meets. They are one of the few groups working on the New Testament texts who are also seriously interested in the Mandaeans. You can read the papers that were circulated in advance of the conference on the Alpha Christianity webpage. The discussion of the possible relationships between New Testament texts and other NT texts, as well as Mandaean sources, was provocative and valuable.
The session after that on extracanonical literature featured papers on ring composition in Josephus, exploring in particular verbal and structural parallels between stories about characters named Antiochus in Books 1 and 7 of Jewish War; whether famous rabbis in the 4th century could have been secret Christians as claimed in Epiphanius’ Panarion, and as suggested by the evidence about Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and Elisha ben Abuyah in rabbinic sources (see the saying attributed to him in Avot de R. Nathan), and Eleazar ben Damah; and whether 4Q501 was produced by the Qumran sectarians.This has been a really good meeting, and well worth the drive!