November 17, 2022

Here’s what I’m doing at the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature joint annual meeting in Denver, Colorado. The first of my two papers on Monday 21 November is in session S21-136 of the Q program unit, which will take place from 9:00 AM to 11:30 AM in Room 203 (Street Level) of the Convention Center (CC). Here are the title and abstract: Q as a Source of Knowledge about John the Baptist In her groundbreaking study... Read more

November 14, 2022

At the weekly Friday coffee time at the Visiting Scholars Center at Oxford University’s Weston Library I had the opportunity to give a talk about the Mandaeans and the amazing collection of their manuscripts in the Bodleian Libraries, with some of those manuscripts on display, including not only the Book of John which I was involved in translating, but also Diwan Abatur which is an impressive illustrated scroll. They put lots of tables in a row to allow it to... Read more

November 9, 2022

While I was reading Andrew Perriman’s book In the Form of a God about early Christology (forthcoming from Cascade and available for preorder from the publisher and on Amazon), and his excellent and insightful treatment of Philippians 2:6-11, I found myself wondering whether anyone had suggested that the first verb, a participle, be understood in the present tense. In other words, Paul’s encomium to Christ follows on from his emphasis on being likeminded in relation to Christ: Have the sort... Read more

October 27, 2022

People like me who identify themselves as liberal Christians often get asked, “Can you explain the basics of liberal Christianity to me?” I have done so from time to time in the past and thought it was about time to answer the question again.  One of the first questions that is sometimes in mind even if not articulated is whether there is any difference between liberal Christianity and progressive Christianity. The short answer is not necessarily, but sometimes. As in... Read more

October 21, 2022

Doctor Who Explores Theology 24 October 2022 at 7:30 pm St. John’s College, Durham University LRC Lecture Room In this public lecture Dr. James F. McGrath, a “doctor who explores theology,” explores the theology that Doctor Who explores. The classic episode “The Enemy of the World” saw one of many instances in which someone pondered what the Doctor might be a Doctor of. “A Doctor of Divinity?” Astrid Ferrier asks, and the Doctor tries to change the subject. Since then... Read more

October 17, 2022

This started out as a collection of links, but I also want to float an idea and get feedback on it sooner rather than later. The Gospels depict John the Baptist as predicting someone who comes after him (i.e. one of his followers) being stronger than himself and enacting the judgment that John merely foretells. The Gospels differ on whether John says he is not fit or not worthy to do something with that person’s sandals, and whether the action... Read more

October 13, 2022

The Sinai Manuscripts Digital Library (SMDL) at the UCLA Library is currently hiring for several grant-funded, remote positions. The SMDL ( is a collaborative project between St. Catherine’s Monastery of the Sinai, the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library (EMEL), and the UCLA Library to make available online all manuscripts held in the Monastery library. The project’s focus has been on multi-spectral imaging of palimpsested manuscripts through the Sinai Palimpsests Project and the imaging, description, and publication of the Sinai Arabic and... Read more

October 12, 2022

When I saw that Isaac Morales had just published a book with the title The Bible and Baptism I quickly contacted the publisher to request a review copy. Working on a project about John the Baptist, I knew the book would be of particular interest to me at present. The book is part of a new series from Baker: A Catholic Biblical Theology of the Sacraments. Biblical theology has been defined in more than one way, and for those not familiar... Read more

October 7, 2022

I am now settled in in Oxford continuing my research on John the Baptist. There have also been thrilling opportunities to hear music and look at manuscripts, mostly ones relevant to my project but sometimes just really awe-inspiring ones for someone in my field. Here at Magdalen College there is a handful of fragments of papyrus that are sometimes called the Magdalen Gospel. If you are a New Testament scholar you know it as P64. It is an important manuscript... Read more

October 1, 2022

I was disappointed by the commentary from Ian Paul and Ben Witherington on the subject of Mary Magdalene and the question of what her nickname means, a question which is the focus of a recent article by Libbie Schrader and Joan Taylor. If you don’t have access to the article, its two authors offer a presentation about their research and many journalists have reported on it. Witherington wrote dismissively about their proposal in a way that made clear he hadn’t... Read more

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