Chairs: Kimberley Fowler and Jane McLarty
Session 1: Non-human Creatures
Peter Joshua Atkin, University of Chester, ‘The Son of Man Behaving Beastly: Reading Mark 1:13 with Daniel 4’ (22 mins)
The temptation narrative in Mark’s gospel contains an unusual detail that is absent from the counterpart traditions in Matthew and Luke. In Mark 1:13 Jesus is described as being “with the wild animals,” and scholars have disagreed about the significance of these few words. Several different Old Testament texts and typologies have been suggested as the inspiration behind this unique Markan feature, however none of these proposals have gained widespread support. This paper critiques these previous arguments and instead investigates the inclusion of this enigmatic Markan phrase by focussing on the description of Nebuchadnezzar in the Old Greek text of Daniel 4. While a connection between these two biblical texts has been suggested before, this paper will expand upon such observations through a more detailed comparison of several key features of these two texts. It will be shown that, due to these connections, it is probable that Mark’s reference to wild animals is a comment on the behaviours exhibited by Jesus by living in the wilderness.
Edward Creedy, Kings College, London, ‘Buzz, Bite and S(t)ing: Clement’s Animalistic Miscellany-Making and a Fresh Approach to the Question of His Trilogy’ (22 mins)
The textual relationship between Clement of Alexandria’s Protrepticus, Paedagogus and Stromateis remains the quaestio vexata of Clementine scholarship. Scholars continue to divide into those who suggest they form a literary trilogy, and those who would find different ways of organising these (and other non-extant) works. This paper will offer a fresh perspective on this debate through an identification and exploration of the miscellanistic character of Clement’s first major work, the Protrepticus. Through a comparison with Aelian’s On the Animals this paper will suggest that Clement’s use of animals in this work betrays a miscellanistic dimension to his exhortation. This identification has implications for how we understand this often understudied first major text itself, how we engage with Clement’s reading of the New Testament corpus, and the place and relationship of this work within Clement’s wider literary project. Clement’s animals, themselves so often overlooked, hold the key to offering a new solution to the question of the trilogy and the coherence of Clement’s project.
Kristi Lee, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, ‘Thecla’s Helper: The Lioness as Jesus and as Agent in the Acts of Paul and Thecla’ (22 mins)
The lioness in the Acts of Paul and Thecla saves the titular heroine from death twice. At the first salvation, the lioness licks Thecla’s feet and carries her around the arena. At the second salvation, the lioness sacrifices her own life to preserve Thecla’s, and she is mourned by a crowd of women. The lioness serves as both a manifestation of and metaphor for Jesus, but she also has her own agency, suggesting a complicated relationship among concepts of the human, the divine, and the animal in this early Christian text. This paper has two arguments: First, through the manifestation of Jesus as a lioness, the Acts of Paul and Thecla emphasizes the feminine affectivities and nature of the divine; Second, the depiction of the lioness in the Acts of Paul and Thecla indicates a belief in the agency, soul, and potential salvation of nonhuman animals.
Justin Hagerman, Lyon Catholic University, ‘Living in harmony and nourished by the fruit of the earth: Irenaeus’s cosmic vision as a synthetic interpretation of animals in Adversus Haereses 5.33.3–4′ (22 mins)
In Adversus Haereses 5.33.3, Irenaeus speaks of ‘all the animals’ (πάντα τὰ ζῷα), who eat the food that they receive ‘from the earth’ (ἀπὸ γῆς). Then, in 5.33.4, Irenaeus refers directly to Isaiah (6:9–11), whose imagery includes the animals living in harmony. With Isaiah, Irenaeus imagines that, like the ox, the lion ‘will eat of straw’ (φάγονται ἄχυρα). In a synthetic way, Irenaeus expands upon Isaiah’s imagery of future harmony by envisioning all the wild animals (πάντα τὰ θηρία) returning to the ‘first food given by God’ (τὴν πρώτην ὑπὸ τοῦ θεοῦ δεδομένην). With an allusion to Genesis (1:30), Irenaeus portrays all the animals as eating—once again—‘the fruits of the earth’ (καρπὸν γῆς). In view of these select references from Adversus Haereses 5.33–34, this paper will focus on how Irenaeus’ synthetic interpretation of animals contributes to his cosmic vision. By centering attention on how animals are nourished, Irenaeus connects a future harmony envisioned by Isaiah (6:9–11; 65:25) with an earlier provision of the fruit of the earth in Genesis (1:30).
Session 2: Alternative Later Epistles (Joint Session with Later Epistles Seminar)
Francis Watson, Durham University, ‘On the Coherence of the Bodmer Miscellaneous Codex’ (30 mins)
Recent codicological work has shown that the so-called “Bodmer Miscellaneous Codex” originally consisted of just five main texts and a short concluding hymn. This paper will investigate the theological rationale underlying the juxtaposition of these texts, and the key to this will be found in the exchange of letters known as 3 Corinthians. Here Paul responds to his Corinthian correspondents’ request to condemn those who deny the Saviour’s fleshly birth from Mary, precisely the theme of the text that opens this codex, the Birth of Mary, Apocalypse of James (now known as the Protevangelium of James). Other views condemned by Paul include denials of the creator God, the prophetic testimony, and bodily resurrection, all major themes within Melito’s Peri Pascha which concludes this codex. Supported by the less specific polemics of the Epistle of Jude, Paul is presented as the defender of the orthodox Christian metanarrative as elaborated in texts that retell the beginning and end of the gospel story.
Dan Batovici, KU Leuven, ‘The Clementine Catholic Epistles in Syriac’ (30 mins)
If in Greek the presence of 1 Clement and 2 Clement in Codex Alexandrinus is isolated, in Syriac these letters and other works attributed to Clement continued to be copied in New Testament (medieval through modern) manuscripts. Moreover, ‘the first and second letter of Clement’ are specifically associated with the Catholic Epistles in Syriac manuscript, liturgical, and ecclesiastic regulation contexts. In order to assess this complex setting, this paper traces the manners in which the association of ‘Clement’ with the Catholic Epistles as well as with an idealised earlier Christianity are constructed in West Syriac manuscripts.
Anthony Royle, University of Glasgow, ‘Conceptualising Quotations in 1 Clement in Codex Alexandrinus (GA 02)’ (30 mins)
Quotations in 1 Clement have been used by Donald Hagner and others to draw conclusions on early Christian and Jewish formations of canon as well as early Christian interpretation. Hagner’s analysis assumes that reuse of antecedent literature is an affirmation of authoritative texts. Although Hagner concludes that Clement of Rome’s idea of canon is broader than the much later fixed set of texts that became the ‘New Testament’, the assumption that citation is a means of determining a canonical framework is part of the larger issue in biblical studies regarding how quotations function within a work of literature. The focus, however, has been on the rhetorical and ideological function of citation and less on the material evidence.
This paper presents an analysis of the use of diplai in 1 Clement of Codex Alexandrinus (GA 02) to mark quotations of antecedent literature. The use of diplai in GA 02 provides some of the earliest notations from extant manuscripts of quotations in early Christian writings. The use of diplai reconceptualises questions about what constitutes a quotation, the function of quotation within a codex, and ideas of canonicity and intertextuality from a material culture perspective.
Session 3: Open Session
Sue Ann Mak, University of Oxford, ‘A Theology of Tears: Early to Modern Interpretations of Weeping in Luke’s Gospel’ (22 mins)
Out of the 40 mentions of weeping (κλαίω) in the NT, the Gospel of Luke contains 11 of those references. Besides containing the most references to weeping, Luke is also the only gospel in which the word tears (δάκρυον) appears (Luke 7:38, 44). Therefore, I am curious to understand how we should interpret the Lukan motif of weeping in the Third Gospel. I employ a reception historical approach to observe how the early fathers read weeping passages in Luke to gain an understanding of what the early interpreters thought about the action of crying. What sense did the early Christian readers make of these weeping texts? What is the significance of the slippage between what the ancients thought and how the moderns perceive these texts? How could an ancient reading enrich, contribute, and offer different interpretations to our modern views? These questions will be considered through an analysis of Lukan weeping in relation to repentance and grief as well as in connection to Christology and eschatology.
Darrell Hannah, Allsaints, London, ‘The Einholung of the Lord: 1 Thess. 4.13-18 in the Early Church’ (22 mins)
The idea that in 1 Thess. 4.13-18 Paul depicts the return of the Jesus as an imperial Adventus or παρουσία, in which the faithful are “caught up” in order to escort Christ to the earth, just as Roman Emperors and imperial officials were welcomed and escorted into cities and provinces, goes back to, at least, Erik Peterson. Peterson marshalled a great deal of evidence to show that Paul’s language can convey this understanding. While a good number of commentators remain unconvinced, Peterson’s explanation is perhaps held by a slight majority of modern interpreters. The thesis rests on the presupposition that one need not state what everyone assumes. Paul did not need to explicitly depict the actual escorting of the Lord to the earth, for it was sufficiently implied in his language, especially in the εἰς ἀπάντησιν of vs. 17. It would serve to confirm Peterson’s theory if it could be shown that early Christians read the passage in this way; that they assumed the return to the earth of both the Lord and the faithful. It has been asserted, however, that “a tedious search” of Patristic literature demonstrates that Peterson’s interpretation is shared by only one Father—John Chrysostom—who was unique among early interpreters. This essay will demonstrate that Chrysostom was far from unique in the early Church in his interpretation of 1 Thess. 4.13-18. Such an understanding is explicitly affirmed by at least one other member of the Antiochian School and by Augustine of Hippo. It will also be argued that while the majority of Patristic citations and allusions to this passage are inconclusive, there is good reason to believe the “Einholung” interpretation reaches back into pre-Nicene times and might well have been the earliest understanding among readers of Paul.
Hunter Brown, University of Oxford, ‘”The Law of Christ” in Ignatius of Antioch’ (22 mins)
Ignatius of Antioch is likely the earliest Christian writer, after Paul, to refer to the “law of Christ.” It is possible that the epistle of Barnabas predates Ignatius, but, as Holmes states, it is “difficult to be any more precise” than dating this epistle sometime between AD 70-135 (Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 3rd ed., Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007, 373). Surprisingly, the bishop of Antioch’s use of this intriguing construction has received only cursory exploration in prior Ignatian scholarship. Given its potential significance for Ignatius’ understanding of the Christian life and, secondarily, given that the Ignatian usage may contribute to the longstanding exegetical challenge of interpreting what Paul means by the ὁ νόμος τοῦ χριστοῦ in Gal. 6:2, this aspect of Ignatian thought is worthy of deeper analysis. This paper provides an exegetical argument for the meaning of the phrase in the middle recension of Ignatius’s letters and then concludes with a brief reflection about what the Ignatian usage may suggest about the Pauline meaning.
Jack Bull, King’s College London, ‘What did Ignatius Really Know? Revaluating the Reception of the New Testament in the Genuine ‘Short-Recension’ of the Ignatian Epistles’ (22 mins)
The writings of Ignatius, said to have been bishop of Antioch in the 2nd c., form the earliest Christian collection of letters outside the New Testament. Although their dating and authenticity are disputed, most follow the conclusions of Theodore Zahn and J.B Lightfoot that the famous set of seven letters in the so-called ‘middle recension’ (MR) are genuine and date them between 100-110 A.D. These seven letters have been used to show the reception of NT texts in early Christian literature, particularly Matthew, John, and the Pauline epistles. However, more recent scholarship on the ‘short-recension’ (SR), which only attests three epistles (Polycarp, Ephesians, and Romans), has shown that the SR may not be a redaction of the MR, as previously thought, and that the MR was the work of a later interpolator/forger. If the SR does predate the MR, what relationship does it have with the NT? This paper seeks to revaluate the reception of the NT in the genuine Ignatiana.