Forgery, Canon, and Digital Humanities at #AARSBL17

Forgery, Canon, and Digital Humanities at #AARSBL17 June 29, 2017

The Society of Biblical Literature and American Academy of Religion conferences in November have their schedules available at least in draft form, and so I thought I would share a little about the sessions that I am involved in. I’ll be talking about the making of Canon: The Card Game viewed through the lens of the Digital Humanities, focusing on the technology that made it possible to produce it. More details follow below.

I should also include a reminder that today is the deadline to register for the Annual Meeting!

Who wants to play the Canon game at AAR/SBL? Let’s organize something – perhaps in conjunction with the Bloggers’ Dinner, which I should also begin planning. Since we’ll be in Boston, is everyone OK with someplace that specializes in seafood? 🙂

S20-137: Joint Session Of: Pseudepigrapha; Digital Humanities in Biblical, Early Jewish, and Christian Studies
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Theme: Multi-spectral Imaging and the Recovery of “Lost” Texts from Palimpsests

James McGrath, Butler University, Presiding
Michael Phelps, Early Manusctripts Electronic Library
The Sinai Palimpsests Project: the recovery of erased texts in the world’s oldest library (20 min)
Keith T. Knox, Rochester Institute of Technology
Scholars and Scientists Working Together to Recover Erased Text (20 min)
Todd R. Hanneken, Saint Mary’s University (San Antonio)
The Jubilees Palimpsest Project (20 min)
Ted Erho, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Ethiopic palimpsests and the curious case of Petermann II Nachtr. 24 (20 min)
Loren T. Stuckenbruck, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
The Recoverable Text to 1 Enoch in Petermann II Nachtrag 24 (20 min)
Roger L. Easton, Rochester Institute of Technology
Spectral Image Processing Methods for Recovering Damaged Text (20 min)
Discussion (30 min)


S21-116: Digital Humanities in Biblical, Early Jewish, and Christian Studies
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Theme: Reading, Publishing, Gaming: academic digital challenges

Paul Dilley, University of Iowa, Presiding
Richard Bautch, St. Edward’s University
Gameplay, Biblical Text, and What Drives the Prophet: How Students Turned Call Narratives into a Video Game (25 min)
James F. McGrath, Butler University
Can the Dynamics of Canon Formation be Replicated through Game Mechanics? An Experiment in Gamified Pedagogy (25 min)
Katherine Jones, George Washington University
Likely Lies: A Statistical Analysis of the Prevalence of Modern Forgeries (25 min)
Claire Clivaz, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics
Academic publishing in an Open Access world : a partnership approach (25 min)
John Dyer, Durham University
The Habits and Hermeneutics of Digital Bible Readers: Comparing Print and Screen Engagement, Comprehension, and Behavior (25 min)
Discussion (25 min)


Elsewhere on the web on related topics, see the following posts and sites:

Ariel Sabar was awarded first prize for journalism by the AAR, in honor of his work on the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife.

Authenticity, forgery, provenance, and ethics at the 2017 SBL Annual Meeting

My internship on the ‘Forging Antiquity’ Project

Evangelical Textual Criticism shared the Forging Antiquity website, as did Ancient World Online.



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  • John MacDonald

    One point I find particularly interesting is Dr. Ehrman’s argument in “Forged” and “Forgery and Counterforgery” that forgeries in that ancient period were definitely frowned upon, and yet some of the Christian writers were doing it anyway. I suspect, and this is just my guess, they didn’t think they were doing anything wrong because they believed God wanted them to lie. There is scriptural support for justified lying, especially when God lies by putting lying spirits in the mouths of his prophets:

    “And there came forth a spirit, and stood before the Lord, and said, I will persuade him … I will go forth and be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets. And he said, Thou shalt persuade him and prevail also; go forth and do so. (1 Kings 22:21-22).”

    • John MacDonald

      And since the Christian forgers way back then had no problem with lying for God, maybe the writers of the authentic Christian documents were also inventing material about Jesus to suit their theological needs and passing these tales off as historical. The pre Pauline Corinthian Creed, for instance, may be a noble lie too early to be an honest, innocent legendary embellishment.