Baker Academic

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

I Wrote Another Book, Sort Of - Le Donne

One of my favorite classes to teach is Introduction to the Bible. I've tried several different textbooks for this class, but ultimately landed on Sumney's very fine: The Bible: An Introduction (Fortress Press). The second edition is now on pre-order and will be available for course adoption this fall. The second edition also has a new companion text:

This slim book includes an introduction to hermeneutical concerns and provides a selection of ancient texts that contextualize the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. Each chapter includes several questions for discussion and reflection.

If you're considering a new textbook for your Introduction to the Bible class, you can request an exam copy.


ps. Traditionally authors publish a first edition before they publish a second edition. I hereby proclaim that from this moment and into perpetuity: first editions are for suckers. All good books will be published first in the second edition. Amen and amen.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Yom HaShoah

"...our language lacks words to express this offence..."

                                ~Primo Levi

DeConick on the Jesus' Wife Fragment

April DeConick has a lovely new webpage! She comments on the latest developments in the Jesus' Wife scandal here:


Friday, April 25, 2014

Interview with Caroline T. Schroeder re: Jesus' Wife Fragment

I have appreciated the friendship and collegiality of Caroline T. Schroeder these past two years. Carrie was among the handful of Coptic experts whom I leaned on. I will also say that it was her idea that we host a public lecture on the "Jesus' Wife" fragment at Pacific in 2012. Carrie is brilliant and gracious and has just won a super-duper fancy grant related to this project. Do yourself a favor and check out her book, Monastic Bodies

Dr. Schroeder could speak with wit and aplomb on any number of topics. In this interview, I've ask her to address the latest developments concerning the Jesus' Wife fragment.


ALD: Carrie, Thank you for weighing in on this topic. I know that many folks will be interested in your perspective. Back when the "Gospel of Jesus' Wife" fragment was first publicized, you took a "wait and see" position. Others were quick to claim forgery or authenticity, but you seemed open but cautious. Are you still withholding judgement? And if not, what has persuaded you?

Daniel Kirk on Bart and Bird

Over at Storied Theology, Daniel Kirk offers one of the most entertaining reviews these ole eyes have ever seen. I have not yet picked up Bart Ehrman's latest book and so it will be a while before I get around to reading the Mike Bird apologetic. I'll admit that I am not immune to schadenfreude. Not proud of it, but here we are. I enjoy this review in its own right. Daniel Kirk is a great reviewer; an art I've never mastered. But I think that I can abandon any karmic scruples in this particular case because I know that Mike will take it in stride. Some folks would be devastated by a review this devastating - not Mike Bird. Mike will yawn, scratch himself, and write another book. My guess is that Mike was expecting a few reviews like this.

My favorite line - one that will stay with me for a long while - from Kirk is:
In short, my assessment is that an evangelicalism that has Ehrman as its chief foe is in better shape than an evangelicalism that has Bird as its great champion.

Kirk follows this with:
A part of me wants to apologize to Bird for this, perhaps the most negative review I have ever written, but in truth I feel that he owes an apology to the rest of us–to we who consider ourselves evangelicals and are about the difficult business of engaging critical and historical scholarship for the sake of the church, and perhaps most especially to the other contributors to this volume.

J. R. Daniel Kirk, remind me never to tug on your cape.


Voodoo Bread - Le Donne

If you ever have the opportunity to accept the hospitality of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, take it. Last night, after my guest lecture, I was treated to a restaurant called "New Orleans' Food and Spirits." Char-grilled oysters, then catfish, stuffed with Cajun crab cakes (yes, this is legal in LA). I also had something called "voodoo bread." I think that I've sold my soul to voodoo bread, people.

Thanks be to God.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Winner of Jesus against the Scribal Elite--Chris Keith

The true random number generator has spoken, and comment 19 is the winner of a copy of my latest book, Jesus against the Scribal Elite.

True Random Number Generator 19 Powered by RANDOM.ORG

The owner of comment 19 is "Paul A." and his comment is below.  Paul A., if you'll write me at, I'll arrange for you to get your copy of the book.


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Pericope Adulterae Conference—Chris Keith

Folks, in light of your unlimited travel budgets, after you go see Anthony Le Donne speak this Thursday at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary . . . come see me speak at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC!  I'll be speaking at the Pericope Adulterae conference on Friday and Saturday.  Other speakers are Jenny Knust, Tommy Wasserman, David Alan Black, Maurice Robinson, and John David Punch.  For registration details, you can go here.  I'll be arguing the party line that the account of Jesus and the woman accused of adultery in John 7:53-8:11 was a later addition to the Gospel of John.

Monday, April 21, 2014

I Will Be Presenting in the Big Easy this Thursday - Le Donne

This Thursday (4/24/14) I will be giving a lecture at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. My presentation is titled "When Did Jesus Become Great?" The fun begins at 3 pm.

In this lecture I will discuss a few tendencies in historical Jesus scholarship. Many historians argue that Jesus' greatness was recognized during his lifetime. Categories such as healer, prophet, messiah, and Son of Man are often used as ciphers to interpret Jesus' public career. Many other scholars argue that Jesus became a "great man" in retrospect. In this view, Jesus was aggrandized by his followers using such titles. I will argue that several modern philosophical factors are at work in this scholarly divide. These include (neo)Romanticism, Christian supersessionism, the (re)emphasis of Jesus' Jewishness, and the ongoing influence of Albert Schweitzer. In keeping with my own tendencies, I will do my best resist either/or dichotomies.

If you're near the NOBTS campus, stop by and introduce yourself!


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Friday, April 18, 2014

My Interview with Maclean's Magazine - Le Donne

Last week I gave an interview with Brian Bethune of Maclean's Magazine. Bethune takes a more optimistic view of the Jesus' wife fragment than is warranted, but deals kindly with my latest book and does not misconstrue my words. This is really the most you can hope for in these cases. Please note also that Bethune had no say in the title or art used in this article. Both seem inclined to sensationalize the topic. That said, I am grateful for the opportunity.

Here is the link:


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Homeless Jesus

Timothy P. Schmalz's "Homeless Jesus"; 2012
Canadian artist Timothy P. Schmalz invites us to meet the real Jesus again in his interactive statue titled "Homeless Jesus." Schmalz's statue brings together several levels of aesthetic realism. (1) On the face of this faceless portrait, Jesus is realistic. He is so real that he has caused concerns among neighbors of St. Alban's Episcopal Church in Davidson, North Carolina. (2) This leads us to ask the question, if homelessness wasn't a real issue in the first place, would anyone have called the police to have "Jesus" removed? (3) The only marks that distinguish this statue as "Jesus" are the nail wounds in both feet. But notice also that there is enough room on the bench to sit at these feet. Thus Schmalz's Jesus invites encounter and participation. Jesus becomes real on a fourth level as he is tactile.

But as the link above indicates, not every person in Davidson appreciates the invitation. Cindy Castando Swannack, a neighbor to St. Alban's Episcopal, found the statue off putting, "Jesus is not a vagrant, Jesus is not a helpless person, who needs our help."

In a way, Swannack interpretation falls in line with Christian orthodoxy. We Christians commemorate a risen Christ. John's Apocalypse guides us from a slain lamb to a victorious warrior. But even in our post-Easter reflections (and the biblical Gospels are just this) we see the image of a kingly judge who instructs:
‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Matt 25:34-36.

Finally, as Christians commemorate Good Friday, we pause to remember the forsaken Jesus. Christians throughout the ages have created sacred space and time to encounter the forsaken Jesus. This is what Swannack misses in her rush to censor Schmalz's statue and thus "clean up" the neighborhood.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Passage from Elie Wiesel's Night

Akiba Drumer left us, a victim of the selection. Lately, he had wandered among us, his eyes glazed, telling every­one of his weakness: “I can´t go on . . . It´s all over.” It was impossible to raise his morale. He didn´t listen to what we told him. He could only repeat that all was over for him, that he could no longer keep up the struggle, that he had no strength left, nor faith. Suddenly his eyes would become blank, nothing but two open wounds, two pits of terror.

He was not the only one to lose his faith during those selection days. I knew a rabbi from a little town in Poland, a bent old man, whose lips were always trembling. He used to pray all the time, in the block, in the yard, in the ranks. He would recite whole pages of the Talmud from memory, argue with himself, ask himself questions and answer himself. And one day he said to me: “It´s the end. God is no longer with us.”

And, as though he had repented of having spoken such words, so clipped, so cold, he added in his faint voice:

“I know. One has no right to say things like that. I know. Man is too small, too humble and inconsiderable to seek to understand the mysterious ways of God. But what can I do? I´m not a sage, one of the elect, nor a saint. I´m just an ordinary creature of flesh and blood. I´ve got eyes, too, and I can see what they´re doing here. Where is the divine Mercy? Where is God? How can I believe, how could anyone believe, in this merciful God?”

Poor Akiba Drumer, if he could have gone on believ­ing in God, if he could have seen a part of God in this Calvary, he would not have been taken by the selection. But as soon as he felt the first cracks forming in his faith, he had lost his reason for struggling and had begun to die.

When the selection came, he was condemned in advance, offering his own neck to the executioner. All he asked of us was:

“In three days I shall no longer be here. . . . Say the Kaddish for me.”

We promised him. In three days´ time, when we saw the smoke rising from the chimney, we would think of him. Ten of us would gather together and hold a special service. All his friends would say the Kaddish.

Then he went off toward the hospital, his step stead­ier, not looking back. An ambulance was waiting to take him to Birkenau.

These were terrible days. We received more blows than food; we were crushed with work. And three days after he had gone we forgot to say the Kaddish.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Larry Behrendt reviews Jesus against the Scribal Elite—Chris Keith

Friend of the Jesus Blog Larry Behrendt reviews my latest book, Jesus against the Scribal Elite, over at his blog dedicated to Jewish-Christian dialogue and aptly titled "Jewish-Christian Intersections."  Larry claims to be an amateur, but he gives a remarkably nuanced account of not only what I claim in that book, but also what I don't claim.  He adds a few further thoughts of his own.  I was particularly intrigued by his placement of Jesus within a larger "democratizing strain" of Jewish pedagogy.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The King and I: Karen King Replies to My Reply - Le Donne

Professor Karen King refers to my The Wife of Jesus twice in her Harvard Theological Review essay. Before I address her comments, let's pause to consider how the internet has changed scholarship and scholarly dissemination. Prof. King published a draft of her essay in 2012. I discuss this essay in my 2013 book and she addresses my concerns in her 2014 essay revision. So she cites a book that cites the essay that she has yet to publish. And within this bizarre time loop of cyberspace, we've managed to find Jesus' wife. Let the wild rumpus start!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Who Arranged Jesus’ Marriage, When, and Why?

I would like to thank Harvard Theological Review for the considerate timing of their recent issue. You have no idea how much pressure I was feeling to go see a Russell Crowe flick. Luckily, Jesus' chuppah trumps hot-and-bothered rock monsters almost every time. I can now wait for it on Amazon Prime. I'm hoping for some targumic special features!

Karen King’s recent HTR essay suggests a later date than she originally guessed. Perhaps the fragment comes from the eighth century. Moreover, she suggests that (given the time period) this fragment might betray some Islamic ideology concerning marriage.

It is an interesting suggestion, but I will suggest three other ideological contexts that I think explain Jesus’ marriage better. But let’s be clear from the start, in all three of these options, Jesus’ marriage is arranged. The Jesus we find in the New Testament is not for traditional family values by anyone’s standards. If he was married or has become married in our collective imagination, it wasn’t something that Jesus pursued for himself.

Jesus’ marriage would have been arranged by his parents, probably between his 16th and 30th birthdays. In rabbinic literature the age of twenty is given as the upper limit of marriage (especially important for aspiring teachers and religious leaders). The Babylonian Talmud suggests that boys who want to avoid lust (cf. Paul’s rationale) should get married shortly after puberty. The Jerusalem Talmud offers a slightly later age range. By and large, the rabbis don't recommend celibacy as an option, much less see it as desirable. To pursue celibacy was tantamount to a disregard for family honor, fiscal wellbeing, and ancestral blessing. Rabbinic literature postdates Jesus by several centuries, but the issues of family honor, fiscal wellbeing, and ancestral blessing are very ancient. To the point, these issues are among the most important in Jesus' culture.

Larry Hurtado’s Summary of the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Fragment—Chris Keith

Over at Larry Hurtado's Blog, Prof Hurtado gives a useful and concise summary of the Harvard Theological Review that contains the most recent assessments of the Gospel of Jesus' wife fragment.  He adds some further thoughts as well.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I Have Accepted a Position at United Theological Seminary - Le Donne

I have some very exciting news to share. Exciting to me, at least. I have accepted a position at United Theological Seminary to teach New Testament. My family and I will be moving to the Dayton, OH area this summer to begin in the fall term. I am looking forward to working alongside a stellar and gracious faculty at one of the largest and fastest growing seminaries in the UMC.

For those readers who have followed this blog for a few years now, you may recall that United Theological Seminary co-sponsored (with University of Dayton) the conference related to this book. This conference might have otherwise been untenable. Chris Keith and I were deeply grateful for the hospitality shown to us in Dayton. I should mention here that Joel Watts (a former student at United) went to bat for us. I don’t doubt that his efforts planted the seeds necessary for the 2012 conference and my recent good news. May his beard grow ever longer.

It has become clear to me that United is a place that values collegiality and academic freedom. These two qualities are becoming quite rare in the world of higher learning. Moreover, United’s continued investment in social justice was very attractive to me as I was weighing my options. All in all, I think that after (the better part of) ten years on the job market, I’ve found a home.

I will also take this opportunity to say that United boasts some of the best graduate-level online and hybrid courses in the field. I will continue to teach online and invite you to consider my course offerings at United. If you live in the Dayton area, I invite you to consider my brick-and-mortar classes where we will discuss Run–D.M.C., "Welcome Back, Kotter," good films by M. Night Shyamalan, the "Third Quest," and other old skool topics.

One last word on a serious note: I know all too well that there are hundreds of unemployed and (worse) underemployed scholars out there. I know well the feeling that comes from watching yet another job cycle pass by with disappointment and depression. My present joy has not wiped away my experiences—as unemployed, as adjunct, and as undervalued employee—of institutional dysfunction over the last decade. I know that those of you who have suffered most do so silently or in hushed commiseration. I offer no consolation to you who continue to be undervalued and abused. The problems are real and getting worse. I only offer understanding.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

I Hate Chris

Today my wife sent me a link to this lovely note:

This made me think of the "Chris" in my life. We all have a Chris, don't we?


p.s. sorry Ben.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Keith Against the Duke Elite - Le Donne

Jesus was a troublemaker. This statement, of course, assumes that Jesus was on the radar of those who could make such pronouncements. Jesus and Chris Keith have this in common. In his book Jesus Against the Scribal Elite Keith offers a compelling explanation for how Jesus rose from obscurity in Galilee.

Was Jesus an authoritative interpreter of Jewish legal instruction and sacred texts? If so, what sort of education and social status would have been assumed of him? If not, how did Jesus convince so many people that he was indeed a legitimate teacher? In answering these questions Chris Keith places his finger on the very pulse of the earliest stages of Jesus' career. If you have any interest at all in the cutting edge of historical Jesus research or the emergence of Christianity, don't miss this book!

Here is just a sample from the book. In these pages, Keith takes on the venerable E. P. Sanders (who has attained almost canonical status among Jesus historians). Keith writes: "…in his 1985 Jesus and Judaism, Sanders pronounced against the historicity of the controversy narratives. Sanders [...] generally followed Bultmann’s insistence upon the 'imaginary' character of the controversy narratives. [Sanders: 13–18] He surmised, 'All the scenes of debate between Jesus and the Pharisees have more than a slight air of artificiality.' [265]"

Keith picks up his debate with Sanders a few pages later:

On the Fine Art of Eating Humble Pie—Chris Keith

Since I ran my mouth several weeks ago about loving the Louisville Cardinals and hating the Kentucky Wildcats, only for Kentucky to beat Louisville and end up tonight in the national championship (ugh, it pains me to write these words), I thought I should share some of the humble pie I've had to eat.  I made a bet on the Louisville/Kentucky game with my good friend and former teammate Andy Carter, who happens to be a lifelong UK fan.  The stakes were our Facebook profiles.  I lost, and so this is what mine has looked like.  The only great news about tonight is that, one way or another, my Facebook profile is changing here soon.  Go Huskies!  (Did I just write that?!  What is this basketball season
 coming to?  Has spring football started yet?  Yes?  Oh, good.)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Quarterly Quote of the Month about Jesus for this Week

“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain't I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain't I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man - when I could get it - and bear the lash as well! And ain't I a woman? I have borne five children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain't I a woman?”

                                    ~Sojourner Truth

Thursday, April 3, 2014

ZOMBIES! - A Cultural Advantage that B. F. Westcott Did Not Enjoy

Whenever I want to remind myself of how good I have it, I like to think of the fact that my grandfather dropped out of school in the seventh grade to work in a coal mine. Sometimes I look at family photos of my hobbitlike great grandparents: sub-five-foot Italians. I don't know if their feet were furry, but there is a very good chance of it. By way of gene pool and education, I have advantages that were unimaginable to my grandparents.

I also have advantages that my intellectual forebears did not. C. F. D. Moule and Morna Hooker (the doctoral supervisors of my doctoral supervisors) entered the field without computers or word processors. On one level, this fact is so obvious that it is uninteresting. On another level, it baffles me. How might my brain work differently, more deliberately, more carefully if I didn't have spell check or a backspace key?

Jesus against the Scribal Elite Giveaway—Chris Keith

The good folks at Baker Academic are giving away a copy of my new book, Jesus against the Scribal Elite.  You know how to enter:  (1) leave a comment; (2) sign up to follow the blog and leave a comment saying you did; and (3) share this post on Facebook or any other form of social media and leave a comment saying you did (you can leave a comment for each place shared).  Don't forget to leave comments since that's how we determine the winner.  For the wild card category this time, you can leave your favorite quotes from either of two of my favorite movies:  Tombstone and Dazed and Confused.  Here's mine from the first, from a young Val Kilmer in the best role he's ever played:  "Why, Ike, whatever do you mean? . . .  Maybe poker's just not your game, Ike.  I know!  Let's have a spelling contest."  And here's mine from the second, from a young Ben Affleck:  "I'm sorry, ma'am, I was just escorting your fine young son home from school.  There's some ruffians about. . . ."  As a request, though, let's keep the quotations relatively clean.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

British New Testament Conference Call for Papers—Chris Keith

As a reminder, the Call for Papers for the 2014 British New Testament Conference closes on Friday, April 18.  The meeting this year is at the University of Manchester from September 4 to September 6.  Helen Bond and I convene the Jesus and Gospels Seminar, so you can send proposals to us at or  We will have one open session.  Our lineup for this year is below, and we're very excited to have Jens Schroeter, Eric Eve, and Rafael Rodriguez with us.

Session I: Panel Review of Jens Schroeter, From Jesus to the New Testament (Baylor, 2013).

Session II: Open Session. We welcome offers of papers from postgraduates and established scholars on any aspect of historical Jesus research.
Session III: Invited papers from Eric Eve and Rafael Rodriguez on "Orality and Media in Gospels Studies"