Abstracts for 2015 CSBS/CSPS Christian Apocrypha Session

The Annual Meeting of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies will take place May 30 to June 1, 2015 at the University of Ottawa. For the past four years I have been leading a session at the CSBS on Christian Apocrypha. Last year we began a partnership with the Canadian Society of Patristic Studies for a joint session and once again this year the two societies have assembled a wide-ranging (and multi-lingual) group of papers for the session. Also of interest to scholars and readers of Christian Apocrypha is the session entitled “Later Christianity,” which includes several additional papers on Christian Apocrypha. For further information on the annual meeting visit the CSBS web site.

Saturday 8:30-11:45 Later Christianity
Presiding: Tony Burke (York)

8:30-9:00 Hélène Dallaire (Denver Seminary)
Evidence of Jewish Christianity in Church History: Textual Evidence
The presence of a believing Jewish community has, for the most part, passed unnoticed in much of the literature on church history. While the New Testament clearly places the birth of Christianity in a Jewish context and in the synagogue of the 1st century, the events that led to the separation of Jews and Gentiles pushed Jewish believers into the shadows of both the church and the rabbinic world for centuries. Christian and Jewish literature of the last two millennia, including that of the Church Fathers, Rabbinic literature, medieval Jewish writings, and the works of the Reformers, provides glimpses of a continued Messianic Jewish presence throughout the history of the Church.

9:00-9:30 Matthew W. Mitchell (Canisius College)
Ignatius, the Gospel of the Hebrews, and lost Jewish-Christian Sects
Research into “Jewish-Christianity” and the concomitant (if not always overlapping) quest for the so-called Jewish-Christian gospels continues unabated. Although scholars have become increasingly self-aware about the methodological traps that terms like “Jewish” and “Christian” contain, much of the scholarship on the Jewish-Christian gospel traditions has focused on technical and philological methodology to the exclusion of theoretical reflection. This paper will discuss the significance claimed for the Gospel of the Hebrews, touching upon its disputed presence in the Ignatian corpus (Smyrn. 3.1-2), and examine the underlying assumptions of such claims.

9:30-10:00 Heather Barkman (University of Ottawa)
Beyond Perpetua: Identity Construction and North African Female Martyrs
Literary descriptions of female martyrs engage in identity construction in order to justify and explain these women’s unusual authority and visibility within the community. As martyrdom was most often a local phenomenon, it is important to examine these depictions in their regional context. North Africa is a particularly rich area of study, offering depictions of female martyrs in martyr texts, sermons, and letters. Although Perpetua often dominates such discussions, this presentation will compare other North African female martyrs to discover which ideals are emphasized, which characteristics are minimized, and how the conception the ideal female martyr changed over time.

10:15-10:45 Michael Pettem (McGill University)
The Descending Star
“… and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was” (Mattthew 2:9b). What did this strange verse mean to Matthew’s first audience? This paper will study the story of the Star in Ignatius’ letter to the Ephesians, and will apply an approach inspired by reader response analysis to Matthew. The rather surprising conclusion is that Matthew’s first audience would have seen that the Star was pointing to the baby as the Lord designated to judge the nations and usher in the Kingdom of God.

10:45-11:15 John Horman (Waterloo, ON)
Sources of sayings attributed to Jesus in the first and second century
Sayings ascribed to Jesus are found both in those documents eventually accepted as part of a “New Testament” and in documents within the Christian movements that were not. Because these sayings have come down to us with many variations, it has frequently, especially in the mid twentieth century, been supposed that they were handed down only by word of mouth. We know, however, of at least two written collections, one, the Gospel of Thomas, evidently a selection written to illustrate a particular theme, the other, a five volume work by Papias, evidently aspiring to completeness. Other written collections can be deduced from evidence left in surviving literature, such as Q, used by Mark and Luke, and my N, used by Thomas and Mark, and we also find traces in early “patristic” writings and in works now labelled “apocryphal”. These sayings, however, did not have the status of Scripture, and could be transformed according to the needs of those who used them.

Monday 1:30-4:45 Christian Apocrypha (CSBS/CSPS Joint Session)
Presided by: Timothy Pettipiece (Carleton University)

1:30-2:00 Tony Burke and Sarah Veale (York University)
Two Martyrdoms of John the Baptist
In 1904 Alexander Berendts (Die handschriftliche Überlieferung der Zacharias- und Johannes-Apokryphen. TU, N. F. 11/3. Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs) published a comprehensive survey of five martyrdoms of John the Baptist extant in Greek and Slavonic. Of these, only Passion 5 (the Life and Martyrdom of John the Baptist; CANT 181) has seen much attention—a critical edition and French translation was published by François Nau (“Histoire de saint Jean Baptiste attribuée à saint Marc l’Évangéliste,” PO [1908]: 521-41) and an English translation was prepared by Andrew Bernhard for New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures (forthcoming). As for the other four texts, there is much confusion in Berendts’ and Nau’s reports about the contents of the unpublished manuscripts. This paper seeks to make some progress in sorting through the various witnesses by presenting editions and English translations of two texts: Berendts’ Passion 2 (the Decapitation of John the Forerunner attributed to his disciple Eurippus; CANT 180.2) and an unedited, related but lengthier text (untitled but also attributed to Eurippus; CANT 180.4). The translations will appear along with introductions in the second volume of New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures.

2:00-2:30 Pietro D’Agostino, École Pratique des Hautes Études (Paris)
Re-write, Re-use and Recycle: Transformations in the Writing of Christian Apocrypha
In the scope of the pseudepigraphical production the place of the so-called History of the Rechabites (also known as The Narration of Zosimos) was for long discussed for several reasons. First of all, the suitability of the literary category of “pseudepigraphical” to classify the work; secondly, the possibility of tracking down the apocryphal Jewish traditions that are gathered in it. The biblical and extra-biblical materials (cf. Jeremiah, 35) that we can find in the work are related to the sons of Jonadab, son of Rechab, and concern their destiny in a paradisiacal abode, separately from the rest of the human kind. These narrative matters, collected by an anonymous author, were included in a monastic ascetic work that concerns the life and adventures of the Christian hermit Zosimos. Is it the case of Christianization of Jewish apocryphal? It is in the intentions of this paper to answer to this question, showing how difficult can be to name a definition for the literary genre of this work (often too fastly classified as a pseudepigraphon), and researching the ancient core from which the legend of the Rechabites originated.

2:30-3:00 Pierre Cardinal, Université Laval
Une relecture chrétienne des Psaumes de Salomon dans le second discours de Pierre (Ac 3,12-26)
Les Psaumes de Salomon, conservés dans la Septante, plaident pour la libération prochaine de l’envahisseur, une référence à l’entrée des Romains à Jérusalem peu avant notre ère. On assure à Dieu la conversion des coeurs, en espérant la libération et l’envoi du Messie. La réalisation concrète de cet espoir est justement le propos du second discours de Pierre (Ac 3,12-26). Il s’agit pour l’auteur de démontrer que le jour de la miséricorde est venu, celui où Dieu purifie et bénit Israël par l’envoi de son Messie (PsSal 18,5). D’où l’engagement à la repentance et à la conversion qui correspond à l’appel de Pierre, pour qui les jours annoncés et leurs bienfaits sont arrivés (PsSal 9,7.10; 18,6). La venue du Messie s’inscrit dans l’alliance conclue jadis avec les Pères (PsSal 9,10). Cette façon de s’inspirer d’un texte est comparable à ce que Craig Evans avait observé dans le 1er discours de Pierre (Ac 2) (“The Prophetic Setting of the Pentecost Sermon,” dans C.A. EVANS et J.A. SANDERS, Luke and Scripture: The Function of Sacred Tradition in Luke-Acts, Minneapolis, Fortress, p. 212-224]). Davantage que la seule citation de Joël 3,1-5 (Ac 2,17-21), c’est l’ensemble du 1er discours qui montre un réseau de correspondances avec le Livre de Joël. Celuici peut être qualifié de subtext. On observe le même phénomène de réappropriation dans le second discours de Pierre, où ce sont les Psaumes de Salomon, en particulier 9,7-10 et 18,3-7, qui constituent son arrière-plan scripturaire. Le second discours de Pierre constitue un bel exemple d’une réinterprétation chrétienne d’un écrit juif qui n’a finalement pas été inclus dans la version définitive du canon.

3:15-3:45 Anna Cwikla (University of Toronto)
Witnessing the True Martyr in the Testimony of Truth
The Testimony of Truth is often used by scholars as a case in point of heresiologists’ claims that “Gnostics” rejected martyrdom in early Christianity. Recent scholarship, however, has suggested that Test. Truth. is criticizing not martyrdom per se, but rather the act of confessing that one is a Christian “in only word (but) not with power” (Test. Truth 31:24–26). By comparing Test. Truth’s critique of this confession with similar views held by Clement of Alexandria, this paper explores the possibility that some heresiologists misunderstood the “Gnostics’” position against this deficient confession to be a whole scale rejection of martyrdom.

3:45-4:15 Emily Laflèche (University of Toronto)
Ritual Aspects of the Eroticization of the Divine in the Gospel of Philip
The eroticization of the divine is a trope that has occurred in different forms of literature throughout the second Temple and early Christian period. The aim of this paper is to show there are many moments in the Gospel of Philip that point to the ritual aspects of the eroticization of the divine, such as the ritual of the bridal chamber. This paper will address the ritual aspects of this eroticization in the bridal chamber and attempt to allow for further clarity to the purpose of the bridal chamber within this text.

4:15-4:45 Calogero A. Miceli (Concordia University)
An Ancient Chain Letter: The Epistle of Christ from Heaven
The Epistle of Christ from Heaven (Ep. Chr. Heav.) is an ancient letter purported to have been written by Jesus Christ and have come down to Earth from Heaven. The work is comparable to a chain letter in that it exhorts its readers to observe the Sabbath and warns that those who fail to observe or who do not own a copy of the letter will face terrible punishments as consequence. The following paper presents a modern introduction and interpretation of the Ep. Chr. Heav. which will be published in the forthcoming More Christian Apocrypha volume (eds. Tony Burke and Brent Landau).

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