YCAS 2015 Profiles 3: Stanley Porter

This is the third in a series of profiles of the presenters at the upcoming 2015 York University Christian Apocrypha Symposium to be held September 25-26 at York University in Toronto. Remember, if you register for the symposium, you will receive drafts of the papers in advance, thus enabling you to participate more fully in the discussions that follow. For registration information, visit the YCAS 2015 web site (HERE).

Stanley Porter Head ShotThe Symposium begins Friday morning with  a presentation by Stanley E. Porter. Porter is Professor of New Testament, as well as President and Dean, and holder of the Roy A. Hope Chair in Christian Worldview, at McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario. McMaster Divinity College is a free-standing theological seminary and graduate school located on the same campus as its sister university. Porter is the author of over twenty-five volumes, as well as editing well over ninety volumes of different types. His published scholarly works span the range of New Testament and related studies, from the Gospels to John to Acts to the Pauline letters and the rest. He is especially interested in Greek language and linguistics. Porter recently published a biography, Constantine Tischendorf: The Life and Work of a 19th Century Bible Hunter (Bloomsbury, 2015), and Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament: Studies in Tools, Methods, and Practice (Baker, 2015), and he has a forthcoming commentary, The Letter to the Romans: A Linguistic and Literary Commentary (Sheffield Phoenix, 2015) and a forthcoming volume entitled When Paul Met Jesus: How An Idea Got Lost in History (Cambridge University Press, 2016) soon to be published.

Porter has had a longstanding interest in extra-canonical documents, and in particular in the so-called fragmentary apocryphal Greek gospels. He was instrumental in helping to restart interest in these documents with a paper he published in 1997 calling for critical editions of all of these small, but important gospel-like manuscripts. Since then, many have published various editions and translations of these and other extra-canonical documents. Porter was one of the major contributors to the apocryphal gospels translated in the latest revision of Hennecke-Schneemelcher by Christoph Markschies and Jens Schröter (Mohr Siebeck, 2012). His critical editorial work on P. Oxyrhynchus II 210 has helped to establish this little-known document as one of the fragmentary apocryphal gospels.

“I continue to be interested in the apocryphal Greek Gospel fragments,” says Porter, “especially the early fragments that may date to the second and third centuries. I am also pleased that we continue to identify and bring into the discussion more of these texts as they are published and as we become aware of them. The more of them that we discover, the more insight we can gain into the intriguing textual development of early Christianity.” One of Porter’s goals in his research in this area is to help to appreciate the ways in which early Christianity developed as a textually-based movement.

Besides teaching courses on the history of biblical interpretation, various areas of Greek language and linguistics, and papyrology and epigraphy, Porter is senior editor of the Journal of Greco-Roman Christianity and Judaism, Biblical and Ancient Greek Linguistics, Filología Neotestamentaria, and the Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters, as well as editor of several monograph series and is on the editorial boards of several other journals. Porter is a graduate of the University of Sheffield (PhD, 1988), and is presently working on a number of volumes in the areas of the language and interpretation of the New Testament and its textual traditions.


“Lessons from the Papyri: What Apocryphal Gospel Fragments Reveal about the Textual Development of Early Christianity”

The Christian Apocrypha have not been given their rightful place in tracing the origins and developments of early Christianity. In previous work, I have explored two major dimensions of this shortcoming. The first is the role that apocryphal texts might play in textual criticism of the New Testament. The other is how the Christian Apocrypha reflect the development of the textual traditions of early Christianity. In this paper, I wish to combine these elements into an integrated paper that explores what we can learn from the Greek Apocryphal Gospel fragments within the textual and literary development of the early Christian movement. Attention will be paid to the individual characteristics of such documents, especially in relation to the canonical texts, and the various individual roles that they might play in particular textual contexts, with the possibility of their informing study of the canonical documents themselves.

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