Christian Apocrypha at the 2014 CSBS/CSPS

For a few years now I have been organizing an informal session at the annual meeting of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies on Christian Apocrypha. This year's session is in partnership with the Canadian Society of Patristic Studies. The annual meetings for both societies take place May 24 to 26 at Brock University in St. Catherines, Ontario. Here are the details:

Sunday 8:30-11:45 (Rm 211)
APOCRYPHA – A Co-Sponsored Session with the Canadian Society of Patristics
Presided by: Timothy Pettipiece (Carleton University)

8:30-9:00 Anna Cwikla (University of Toronto) “The Dialogue of the Saviour and the Synoptic Gospels”
Other than the Gospel of Thomas, Nag Hammadi texts are rarely considered in scholarship concerning the literary relationship to the Synoptic Gospels. The initial work on the Dialogue of the Saviour in the 1970s argued that it shows no certain dependence on any NT writings. Although this thesis has slowly fallen out of favour, the initial literary outline proposed by Helmut Koester and Elaine Pagels continues to obscure more in-depth source criticism. By shifting away from these artificially imposed gridlines, previously unexplored parallels to the Synoptic Gospels become evident, thus making the case that DialSav should receive more attention in this discourse.

9:00-9:30 Callie Callon (University of Toronto) “Physiognomy as a component of characterization in the Acts of Peter”
Ancient physiognomic thought held that the body and soul were intrinsically related, and that observation of a subject’s physical appearance provided insight into his or her character. Beyond being a diagnostic tool, however, physiognomy could also be used as a strategy of persuasion to bolster or malign an individual’s character to an author or speaker’s audience. The use of physiognomics to praise or denigrate was not restricted solely to actual personal interactions, but, as Elizabeth Evans has demonstrated, was often employed by authors of narrative works to aid in their characterizations of their story’s protagonists and antagonists. I propose that much like contemporaneous narratives in antiquity the Acts of Peter utilizes physiognomic commonplaces to reinforce its positive portrayal of Peter and its negative depiction of Simon.

9:30-10:00 Bradley N. Rice (McGill University) “Jesus the Gadfly: Introducing the Dialogue of the Paralytic with Christ”
The Dialogue of the Paralytic with Christ offers one of the most provocative portrayals of Jesus outside the Infancy Gospel of Thomas. Unflinching in its depiction of Jesus as a wayward troublemaker and intractable disbeliever, Dial. Paralytic was unknown to scholars of Christian apocrypha until relatively recently. In my paper I will offer an introduction to the Armenian and Georgian versions of Dial. Paralytic, which I am presently preparing for the forthcoming More Christian Apocrypha volume (ed. Tony Burke and Brent Landau). I will then explore the textual relationship that Dial. Paralytic seems to share with the Armenian Infancy Gospel in order to shed light on the obscure origins of this singular apocryphon.

10:00-10:15 Break

10:15-10:45 John Horman, "Translation Matters”
Our Coptic translation has skewed our understanding of the Gospel of Thomas. Because it was found in a collection of documents translated into Coptic, and because at first its relation to three papyri fragments was not at first recognized, it became customary to refer to it as the “Coptic Gospel of Thomas” as if the accidental fact of its having been translated into Coptic was part of its very essence. This, however, as Goodacre notes, falsifies out understanding of Thomas. I will in this paper probe this falsification under several headings. First, literary relationships are obscured. For example, when in Th. 4:2 the Coptic translator omitted the words “and the last first”, he obscured the fact that for this saying Thomas has a literary relationship with Mark and not with Q. Second, Thomas’ meaning is concealed. In the introduction, the Coptic translator has introduced a copula where very probably none was intended. In Th. 68,9 the translator has repositioned a negative, making what was originally a clear statement into mystifying nonsense. Third, relations between sayings are garbled. For example, the translator has obscured the connection between Th. 36 and Th. 37, and between Th. 7 and 8. Fourth, in some cases the translator simply had no idea what the Greek text was about. For example, in Th. 2, he replaced a carefully constructed sentence with a Stoic platitude. In Th. 60 he simply gave up and wrote “this is about the lamb”. Finally, much of Thomas has been omitted by the translator. For example, the translator has omitted the bulk of Th. 30 and Th. 36.

10:45-11:15 Robert A. Kitchen (Knox-Metropolitan United Church) “The Syriac History of Philip”
The text is notable in its title as it is an apocryphal history of the apostle Philip, not a gospel. It is a translation into Syriac (manuscript dated 1569) from a Greek text which has not been preserved. The History begins at the moment Philip lands in Azotus, transported from the wilderness road in Acts 8:40. The author/translator relies on motifs from Acts and the Old Testament prophesies and interpretations of the Messiah. Christ once again appears to Philip in a vision with a commission to go to Carthage and remove a satanic ruler, which he will effect simply by crossing himself as he enters the palace. Philip and company are transported to Carthage on a ship via almost-warp speed, a dolphin and a talking ox are employed for divine service, and an unusual resurrection. Essentially, the History is an anti-Jewish polemic in which a Jewish bystander, Hananya, is successively the anti-hero, convert, martyr and resurrected one. The sermons and testimonies are replete with anachronistic knowledge of Christian Messianic interpretations, as well as prophetic condemnations of unfaithful Israel. This paper will focus upon the function of this early Greek text in a later Syriac environment.

11:15-11:45 Questions and Discussion

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