Apocryphal Call for Papers

Apocryphal Call for Papers August 18, 2014

Tony Burke shared this call for papers on his blog:

York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium Series 2015

“Fakes, Forgeries, and Fictions” Writing Ancient and Modern Christian Apocrypha

September 24-26, 2015

We are pleased to announce the third of a series of symposia on the Christian Apocrypha hosted by the Department of the Humanities at York University in Toronto, Canada and taking place September 24 to 26, 2015.

The 2015 symposium will examine the possible motivations behind the production of Christian apocrypha from antiquity until the present day. Have authors of the Christian apocrypha intended to deceive others about the true origins of their writings? Have they done so in a way that is distinctly different from NT scriptural writings? What would phrases like “intended to deceive” or “true origins” even mean in various historical and cultural contexts? This symposium has been inspired by the recent publication and analysis of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, and it will, among other topics, examine what the reactions to this particular text—primarily in popular media, including biblioblogs— can tell us about the creation, transmission, and reception of apocryphal Christian literature.

We encourage scholars from across North America to join us and share their research on topics that include but are not limited to: pseudepigraphy, modern apocrypha, authorship as canon criterion, possible motives for composition of “apocryphal” texts, the reception of Christian apocrypha in scholarship and/or popular media, and the recycling of non-Christian texts into Christian apocrypha. The program will include a panel focusing on the reception of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife. We welcome proposals from both established scholars and graduate students.

Email abstracts for papers or panel proposals to Tony Burke (tburke@yorku.ca) or Brent Landau (bclandau@utexas.edu) by September 30, 2014. Abstracts for papers should be approximately 300 words.

Travel and accommodation for all presenters is fully-funded by the Symposium. Presenters must be prepared to circulate drafts of their papers to registered Symposium participants two weeks prior to the event.

Just to be clear, it is a real call for real papers about the Christian apocrypha. It is the subject that is “apocryphal” and not the CFP or the conference. This disclaimer is for the benefit of anyone who finds their way here without being previously acquainted with my sense of humor.

I expect to be at the conference, to participate in discussion of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, especially as it relates to blogging. The speed at which the scholarly blogosphere draws conclusions is both impressive and worrying. There is a real chance that we can draw legitimate conclusions more quickly than the traditional mode of publishing could ever hope to accomplish. But there is also a risk that we will draw conclusions too quickly, based on partial evidence and/or photographs of evidence rather than the full evidence that is available physically in some place but not accessible to us online. And once we’ve drawn conclusions, we are more likely to stick to them even when new evidence comes to light. And so there are genuine risks as well as exciting opportunities as scholarly conversations move online.

Any blog readers planning to attend, and perhaps even submit a paper proposal?

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  • In addition to the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, this topic also seems inspired by the language espoused by Bart Ehrman in
    Forged: Writing in the Name of God–Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are.

  • GW Schwendner

    Interesting that the risks you envision for publication by non-standard means, blogs, papers on academia.edu. email, are in the case of GJW were mistakes made in the traditional modes. Crucial evidence was restricted by Harvard, esp. access to the “GJohn” forgery from the same lot of papyri until after the publication of the ed.pr.
    In terms of speed of publication, H.King had the most time and access and made the worst mistakes. Papyrologists at least are accustomed nowadays to working with digital images. The difficulty was in getting Harvard to release the hi-res images it had (although the fact that the lower-res images had been released on the HTR website seems to have been an oversight).

    In addition, one must consider the more important question of the role print and TV news, National Geographic specials, and the Harvard PR dept. generally played in distorting evidence and fixing premature conclusions in the public mind.