Tuesday, 13 December 2016

SBL Annual Meeting 2017 Pseudepigrapha CfP

One day early and as a special service to the readers of this blog, the SBL Annual Meeting 2017 Pseudepigrapha Section Call for Papers:

The Pseudepigrapha Section will organize four sessions at the 2017 Annual Meeting in Boston. The first session in an open session. We invite any paper proposal relevant to the Old Testament Pseudepigrapha.

The second session is entitled “Pseudepigrapha and Gender”. We invite papers that explore gendered language, motifs and discourses broadly conceived. We particularly encourage paper proposals that either discuss gendered framing and formatting of key figures in the Pseudepigrapha, or explore the ways in which increased attention to gender may change and add to current debates on pseudonymous attribution to figures.

The Pseudepigrapha Section will organize two sessions entitled “The Impact of Digital Humanities on the Study of Non-Canonical Texts”, co-sponsored with the Digital Humanities in Biblical Studies Consultation and the Traditions of Eastern Late Antiquity (AAR). We invite papers that discuss how the Digital Humanities in general, and the ongoing digitization of manuscripts in particular, are influencing the study of non-canonical texts. These texts must fall into the broad category of Pseudepigrapha, or stem from or have been influential in Eastern Late Antiquity, but need not fall into both categories. Important questions to explore include: what new opportunities does digitization provide for the study of non-canonical texts/texts from Eastern Late Antiquity, and does digitization and online availability confirm or challenge canonical divides and academic assessment schemes? Are canonical texts privileged or treated differently than non-canonical texts? Are earlier Western texts prioritized over Eastern Late Antique texts? How does digitization affect the imaginations of literary categories?

Sunday, 30 October 2016

SBL Pseudepigrapha Section 2016 - annotated version

The SBL Annual Meeting is less than three weeks away. The program book has long been available online, even the printed version has reached me (in time this year), and I guess it is time to find out what sessions to attend.

I am co-chair of the Pseudepigrapha Section. Let me bring to your attention the sessions of this section - the annotated version.

Our first session takes place on Saturday (1:00 PM to 3:30 PM). This session presents the second volume of the Textual History of the Bible project, using the textual history of Ben Sira as its main case, tracing it in Hebrew, Greek, Latin, and Ethiopic sources.

S19-244 Pseudepigrapha11/19/2016
1:00 PM to 3:30 PM
Room: Bowie C (2nd Level) - Grand Hyatt (GH)
This session introduces a new project from Brill, Textual History of the Bible, Vol. 2: The Deutero-Canonical Scriptures. The focus of the session will be on the Book of Ben Sira.
The Textual History of the Bible: Ben Sira
Kelley Coblentz Bautch, St. Edward's University, Presiding
Armin Lange, Universität Wien
Introduction to the Textual History of the Bible (THB) (15 min)
Matthias Henze, Rice University
Textual History of the Bible (THB), Volume 2: The Deutero-Canonical Scriptures (15 min)
Benjamin Wright, Lehigh University, Introduction (20 min)
Eric Reymond, Yale Divinity School
Ben Sira in Hebrew (25 min)
Benjamin Wright, Lehigh University
Ben Sira in Greek (25 min)
Bradley Gregory, Catholic University of America
Ben Sira in Latin (25 min)
Daniel Assefa Kassaye, Institute for Religious Research
Ben Sira in Ethiopic (25 min)

The Pseudepigrapha Section Open Session has long traditions. Every year, the section receives several excellent paper proposals, but there is unfortunately only room for a few of them. Here's the 2016 selection (Saturday 4:00 PM to 6:30 PM):

S19-341 Pseudepigrapha11/19/2016
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: 208 (2nd Level - West) - Convention Center (CC)
Randall Chesnutt, Pepperdine University, Presiding
Atar Livneh, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Stylistic Devices and Exegetical Techniques in “Rewritten Bible” Compositions (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Torleif Elgvin, NLA University College, Oslo
The Solomonization of Canticles in the Hasmonean Period (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Blake A. Jurgens, Florida State University
Out of Egypt: A New Assessment Concerning the Provenance of the Testament of Solomon (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Aryeh Amihay, University of California-Santa Barbara
Jeremiah’s Death in the Vitae Prophetarum: A Christian Interpolation? (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Bradley N. Rice, McGill University
A New ‘Testament of Adam’ in the Syriac Revelation of the Magi? (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)

The third session (Sunday at 4:00 PM) has a thematic focus: violence. Violence has been a key topic of research for a while, and we are eager to find out what studies of pseudepigraphic texts have to offer:

S20-346 Pseudepigrapha11/20/2016
4:00 PM to 6:30 PM
Room: 208 (2nd Level - West) - Convention Center (CC)
Theme: Violence
The papers in this session discuss various forms of violence in the apocryphal and pseudepigraphic writings.Patricia Ahearne-Kroll, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, Presiding
Olivia Stewart, Yale University
Divine Violence in Sibylline Oracles 4 and 5 (25 min)
Benjamin Lappenga, Dordt College
Violence and Divine Favor in Liber Antiquitatum Biblicarum (25 min)
Robert Kugler, Lewis & Clark College
The Rhetoric of Violence in the Testament of Job: A contribution toward establishing the work’s date, provenance and purpose (25 min)
John Garza, Fordham University
“Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose”: The Rhetoric of Violence in the Animal Apocalypse (25 min)
Kyle Roark, Florida State University
A Crisis of Wisdom: Rethinking the Violent Rhetoric of Watchers (25 min)
Tim Wardle, Furman University
The Power of Polemics: Jewish Slander against Samaritans in Second Temple Literature (25 min)

For readers of this blog I am particularly happy to present our fourth and final session (Tuesday at 9:00 AM): Manuscripts, Scribal Culture, Scribal Change. This joint session, with Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature, has a solid line up, interesting papers, as well as a hidden gem:

S22-120 Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature; PseudepigraphaJoint Session With: Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature, Pseudepigrapha
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: 212B (2nd Level - West) - Convention Center (CC)
Theme: Manuscripts, Scribal Culture, Scribal ChangeMartti Nissinen, University of Helsinki, Presiding
Caroline Waerzeggers, Leiden University
Cuneiform Writing and Control in the Community of Al-Yahudu (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Seth L. Sanders, University of California-Davis
Were Babylonian and Judean Revelation the Same Type of Knowledge? (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Annette Yoshiko Reed, University of Pennsylvania
Demons, Stars, and Aramaic Jewish Scribalism (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Ian Werrett, Saint Martin's University
Fetishizing the Word: Literacy, Orality and the Dead Sea Scrolls (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
David Hamidovic, Université de Lausanne
A New Greek Papyrus relating to 1Enoch: Preliminary Remarks (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)

I look very much forward to seeing you in San Antonio!

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Gospel of Jesus's Wife saga and the role of the media

I have uploaded my draft paper "Media Dynamics and Academic Knowledge Production: Tracing the Role of the Media in the Gospel of Jesus's Wife Saga" to Academia.edu. You find it here.

The paper was presented last week at the Fragments of an Unbelievable Past-conference, organized by the Lying Pen of Scribes. You find Roberta Mazza's report from the conference here.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Fragments of an Unbelievable Past program update

Ariel Sabar, the journalist behind the Atlantic piece, "The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus's Wife", will be joining us in Kristiansand.

You find the updated program of the Fragments of an Unbelievable Past Conference here.

Sunday, 14 August 2016

Fragments of an Unbelievable Past?

The autumn semester is about to start here in Norway and I return to blogging again.
I want to dedicate the first blog post this autumn to the second conference organised by the University of Agder-based research project The Lying Pen of Scribes, called Fragments of an Unbelievable Past? Constructions of Provenance, Narratives of Forgeries. The conference, which will take place in Kristiansand (Norway) 14-16 September, brings together academics and media professionals from Europe and the US to discuss the role, importance and ethical challenges pertaining to manuscript provenance; the various outcomes of the overlaps between media, market and academia; as well as to explore scholarly and media made stories of manuscript finds and forgeries. The conference will revisit some of the last decades’ most debated cases, such as the James Ossuary, the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife saga, the Museum/Green Scholars Initiative, the Nag Hammadi find stories, and if I am not mistaken, we will also be introduced to some recent finds, some newly surfacing fragments, and publication initiatives that have proven particularly problematic.
I will give the paper “Media Dynamics and Academic Knowledge Production: Tracing the Role of the Media in the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife Saga”. In this paper I will approach the GJW saga as a case, discussing three ways in which media/the Media mattered to, took part in and possibly shaped academic knowledge production. I will first explore the relationship between the work of academics and media professionals at key stages of the development of the saga. Second, I will focus on the input of academics in particular, discussing how and the extent to which media/the Media may have mattered to the ways in which individual contributions, as well as the academic debate as such, were shaped. Third and finally, I will explore the GJW saga from a history of publishing point of view, that is, a broader media historical perspective: what did we learn, what’s new, and how do media/the Media matter to academic knowledge production?
The Unbelievable Past-conference has a great line up, you find the program here.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The 2016 SBL Annual Meeting program book available online: two sessions of interest

The 2016 SBL Annual Meeting program book is now available online. Even if the Annual Meeting is still five months away, I wish to draw attention to two sessions that should be of special interest to readers of this blog: bookmark them and show up!

The first session is jointly organized by the Pseudepigrapha Section and the Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature Section on the theme "Manuscripts, Scribal Culture, Scribal Change". An excellent line up, a particularly interesting topic, and some real news (check out the last paper).


Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature
Joint Session With: Hebrew Scriptures and Cognate Literature, Pseudepigrapha
9:00 AM to 11:30 AM
Room: Room TBD - Hotel TBD

Theme: Manuscripts, Scribal Culture, Scribal Change
Martti Nissinen, University of Helsinki, Presiding
Caroline Waerzeggers, Leiden University
Cuneiform Writing and Control in the Community of Al-Yahudu (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Seth L. Sanders, University of California-Davis
Were Babylonian and Judean Revelation the Same Type of Knowledge? (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Annette Yoshiko Reed, University of Pennsylvania
Demons, Stars, and Aramaic Jewish Scribalism (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
Ian Werrett, Saint Martin's University
Fetishizing the Word: Literacy, Orality and the Dead Sea Scrolls (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)
David Hamidovic, Université de Lausanne
A New Greek Papyrus relating to 1Enoch: Preliminary Remarks (25 min)
Discussion (5 min)

The second session is the Philology in Hebrew Studies review session dedicated to Eva Mroczek's recently published book, The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity (Oxford University Press, 2016). I am one of the reviewers and look very much forward to this session.


Philology in Hebrew Studies
4:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Room: Room TBD - Hotel TBD

Theme: Review of Eva Mroczek, The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity (Oxford, 2016)
Jacqueline Vayntrub, Brandeis University, Presiding (10 min)
Liv Ingeborg Lied, Det Teologiske Menighetsfakultet, Panelist (20 min)
Benjamin Wright, Lehigh University, Panelist (20 min)
David Lambert, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Panelist (20 min)
Thomas Bolin, Saint Norbert College, Panelist (20 min)
Eva Mroczek, University of California-Davis, Respondent (20 min)
Discussion (10 min)

Friday, 20 May 2016

What facsimiles may do for you: the Syriac Codex Ambrosianus (7a1) reimagined

I have been working on the Syriac Codex Ambrosianus lately. Or have I?

Let me be precise. For a couple of weeks during the last years, maybe for a month all together, I have indeed been exploring the codex kept at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana. But apart from that, I have been sitting at my desk in Oslo working on Antonio M. Ceriani’s facsimile edition, Translatio Syra Pescitto Veteris Testamenti ex codice Ambrosiano, sec. fere VI photolithographice edita (1876—1883) as well as the Gorgias Press reprint edition published in 2013.
The fact that published editions of a text are something qualitatively different than the copies of that text surviving in actual manuscripts has been pointed out on several occasions already and need not be reiterated here. Eva Mroczek is among the scholars who have eminently shown how such editions may come to shape the scholarly imagination of given texts.
However, what I want to run with you in the current blog post is the ways in which facsimile editions may also shape our imagination, both of a manuscript and its texts, using Ceriani’s facsimile edition as a test case. The effects of a facsimile may be more subtle and therefore sometimes harder to pin down, since a facsimile edition is supposed to be a reproduction of the manuscript page and because it is sometimes used by scholars as a manuscript replacement. “Facsimile” – the very word promises an exact copy, right?
Let me start by making one thing very clear: the importance of Ceriani’s photolitographical edition of the Syriac Codex Ambrosianus for the research on the Peshiṭta version of the Old Testament cannot be overstated. At the time of its publication in the latter part of the nineteenth century it was regarded a masterpiece. Ceriani’s facsimile edition was of unrivalled quality and usability, making the texts of the codex available to the scholarly community. The importance of the edition can be illustrated by the fact that its very existence was one of the reasons why the Codex Ambrosianus was chosen as the main manuscript source for the editions of the Peshiṭta Old Testament, published by the International Organization for the Study of the Old Testament and the Leiden Peshiṭta Institute in the series The Old Testament in Syriac According to the Peshiṭta Version since 1966 (1972). The facsimile made the manuscript witnesses easily available to the editors taking part in the project.
Due to the importance of this particular facsimile edition, it becomes even more pertinent to point out how it may shape our imagination of the codex: how it changes the codex, what it adds and what it takes away.
Four brief points. The first three concern the way the facsimile represents the organization of the codex, the page layout, as well as the various text units co-inhabiting the page. The fourth and final point concerns the editor’s additions to the codex.
First, the facsimile edition does not show the difference between black and red ink. In other words, all text is reproduced in black. This means that titles, end titles and subsection headings, which are written in red ink in the manuscript, do not stand out as they do in the codex itself. Hence, we may easily overlook some of the subsection headings, in particular, and we miss out on the visual effect and function the red ink may have had to those who engaged with the codex in late antiquity and the middle ages, serving for instance as book marks and to highlight unit dividers. We also miss out on observations that may matter to the way we understand the production phase of the codex and possibly the use of various Vorlagen in that process, for instance the observation that the layout of Chronicles stands out from the rest of the codex, containing no red ink whatsoever. In Chronicles, there are no subsection headings and no use of rosettes as paragraph markers (crafted in red and black in the rest of the codex), but rather a different set of division markers.
Second, the facsimile shows only (approximately) half of the marginal notes appearing in the codex itself. The best preserved marginal notes certainly show in the facsimile as well, but the ones that have faded, some of the notes written in green and red ink, as well as those that are partly erased do not show. Several of these notes provide information about later engagement with the codex, particularly the notes appearing on the first eleven folios containing Genesis, and certainly matter to the discussion of the usage (or non-usage) of this codex (I may return to these notes in a later post).
Third, the 2013 Gorgias reprint (which is, as far as I can tell, based on the University of Pennsylvania copy of the facsimile [?]) has systematically reproduced the recto pages of the folios in the position of verso pages and vice versa. This makes it difficult to grasp the constitution of the codex, for instance, how the quires are made up and how running titles in the upper margins are functioning. And importantly: since we cannot see in this edition how the pages are facing each other in the codex, it is much harder to detect the occasions where ink has been transferred from one adjacent page to another. This extra ink on a page may be misunderstood as part of the text of the columns, or as a correction or an additional note. (And by the way: the additional note on folio 330v, which provides important information about the history of the codex, has not been included at all in this edition).

Fourth, Ceriani equipped the biblical books in the facsimile with titles, as well as chapter (and sometimes verse) numbers. On the one hand, this may certainly serve as an aid to the reader. On the other hand, the addition of titles and chapter enumeration may also effectively add to – and hide – information, further affecting our imagination of the texts in the codex.
The representation of the First Epistle of Baruch is an excellent example. In the codex, the so-called First Epistle of Baruch is copied on folios 176v-177v. The title in red ink on folio 176v identifies this epistle as “The first epistle of Baruch the scribe, which he sent from the midst of Jerusalem to Babylon”. There is no chapter enumeration, but rosettes are serving as paragraph marks. In the facsimile, Ceriani has added a title in the intercolumn next to the title provided in the column, identifying the First Epistle of Baruch as “Ep. Bar. Apoc.”. He has also added chapter numbers, starting with 78 and ending with 86. In other words, Ceriani’s additional paratextual layer re-identifies this epistle as the epistle located in the latter part of the Apocalypse of Baruch (2 Baruch), which is copied elsewhere in the codex (ff. 257r-267r), and assimilates the organization of this text unit with the organization of the epistle copied as part of the larger apocalypse, starting in chapter 78.
On the one hand, it could be argued that Ceriani has done editors of the epistle a favor, showing that this epistle ascribed to Baruch is copied twice in the codex – after all the two copies share approximately 80% of the text and may in this regard be understood as more or less “the same”. In the history of editing of this epistle the two copies have indeed been used as witnesses to the same text, a single epistle of Baruch. On the other hand, it should be pointed out that Ceriani has effectively erased the identity of the First Epistle of Baruch as an autonomous text unit in the codex. In the codex, this epistle bears another name than the epistle in 2 Baruch, it is copied as part of another tripartite unit (The Epistles of Jeremiah and of Baruch), and copied adjacent to Jeremiah and Lamentations. Furthermore, the organization of the text, indicated by its use of rosettes as division markers, suggests that it has been read quite differently than the epistle attached to the apocalypse – which may potentially be important since this is the (version of the) epistle that was read in worship contexts. Ceriani’s additions, thus, may have served the work of text critics identifying various witnesses to an assumed earlier Epistle of Baruch, but they have certainly clouded the view of those of us who aim to understand this text unit as it appears in the codex kept at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.
Back at my desk in Oslo, I find myself constantly juggling the two in my mind, the codex and the facsimile. After my last stay in Milan, I had memorized the position of a passage in the codex, but due to the inverted location of the verso and recto pages in the reprint edition I have to reimagine everything in order to retrieve it in Oslo. Moreover, I constantly have to remind myself that the titles provided by Ceriani serve most of all as indications as to how modern scholarship has perceived of biblical books and assessed copies of texts in manuscripts primarily by their perceived value as text witnesses. They do not help me understand the organization and identifications of the text units as integral parts of the codex.
And, as the memory of the codex continues to fade, the facsimile is starting to play tricks with my mind.

This blog post is based on my research and is part of the wider dissemination of my work. If you want to use the information in this post, please cite it!
Lied, Liv Ingeborg, “What facsimiles may do for you: the Syriac Codex Ambrosianus (7a1) reimagined,” posted on Religion – Manuscripts – Media Culture, [20 May 2016] (URL, retrieved [date]).
If you want to discuss any of the findings or hypotheses, feel free to contact me in the commentary field below.

Select literature

P.A.H. de Boer. “Praefatio.” Pages v-xiv in Institutum Peshittonianum Leidense, Vetus Testamentum Syriace iuxta simplicem syrorum versionem. Part I, fasc. 1. Leiden: Brill, 1977.
Antonio M. Ceriani. Translatio Syra Pescitto Veteris Testamenti ex codice Ambrosiano, sec. fere VI photolithographice edita. 2 vols. Milan: Bibliotheca Ambrosianae Mediolani, 1876-1883.
–.         , ed. A Facsimilie Edition of the Peshiṭto Old Testament Based on Codex Ambrosianus (7a1). Introduction by Emidio Vergani. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2013.
Liv Ingeborg Lied. “Between ‘Text Witness’ and ‘Text on the Page’: Trajectories in the History of Editing the Epistle of Baruch.” In Snapshots of Evolving Traditions: Jewish and Christian Manuscript Culture, Textual Fluidity, and New Philology. Edited by Liv Ingeborg Lied and Hugo Lundhaug. Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur 175. Berlin: De Gruyter, forthcoming.
Eva Mroczek, The Literary Imagination in Jewish Antiquity. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Consider the most trivial mystery of all the mysteries of the Syriac Codex Ambrosianus solved

I hope you are ready for a fun fact, because that’s all this blog post has to offer.
I am in Milan again, just briefly, to attend a seminar on the Syriac Codex Ambrosianus (7a1; B 21 Inf and bis Inf), as well as to continue my work on the place of 2 Baruch in this particular codex. Today, while working on B 21 ter Inf, Antonio M. Ceriani’s annotated copy of the facsimile edition of the codex, I solved a mystery that would easily qualify as the most trivial mystery of all the unsolved mysteries of the venerable Codex Ambrosianus, the oldest complete manuscript of the Peshiṭta Old Testament that has come down to us.
In March, I spent a week in the Biblioteca Ambrosiana working on this codex, focusing in particular on codicological features, text layout and unit organisation, as well as signs of later use and reader engagement with the codex. One recurring feature caught my eye: it looked like someone had had “an accident” involving a pink highlighter while working on the codex. At least this was what I thought at the time. Something pink was smeared on the margins of a handful of the parchment folios. It made me shake my head, wondering who on earth would bring a pink highlighter to their desk when working on the codex. A special kind of “later reader engagement”, indeed. My imagination was certainly put to the test.
This head-shaking mystery was solved today: at least, I have a prime suspect and I think I know how the crime was committed.
Antonio M. Ceriani, the famous nineteenth century prefect of the Biblioteca Ambrosiana, worked extensively on the Codex Ambrosianus after taking up the position in the library in 1855. His impressive publication record includes Latin translations, and editions of the Syriac text of several of the books in the codex, starting in 1861. He also published the much acclaimed facsimile edition (1876 and 1883), and he was preparing a thorough codicological and palaeographical description of the entire codex, which he unfortunately did not finish. B 21 ter Inf contains his work in progress notes on this unfinished project. Apparently, Ceriani worked systematically on these features of the codex from early 1890 to late 1892 and again for some periods in 1898 and 1899. (We know this because he consistently dated his work on the various pages [ – a special service for the three or four 2 Baruch geeks out there: he worked on 2 Baruch from 24 June to 12 July 1892]).
And now, please allow me to introduce my exhibit A. Ceriani’s notes in B 21 ter Inf are penned in black, red and something that looks like cyclamen coloured ink. On some of the pages, the red and cyclamen inks are smeared (Cf. e.g., fasc. 8, pp. 554, 556, 563; fasc.1, pp. 6, 12), providing a perfect match for my head scratching/shaking observation of pink smearing in the codex itself.
In plain words, working on his never published palaeographical and codicological description of the codex, Ceriani was consulting the Codex Ambrosianus while taking notes in B 21 ter Inf, his hands occasionally being tainted by the red and cyclamen inks, and as a result he left some not so subtle marks on the 6th/7th century parchment folios.
Mystery solved.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Snapshots of Evolving Traditions – A Sneak Peek!

The edited volume, Snapshots of Evolving Traditions: Jewish and Christian Manuscript Culture, Textual Fluidity, and New Philology has just been submitted to the publisher. The volume, which is edited by Hugo Lundhaug and me, will appear in De Gruyter’s TUGAL-series, hopefully in the late autumn 2016. This blog post offers a sneak peek!

According to the introductory chapter (Lundhaug & Lied), the main goal of the volume is,

“to explore the relevance and value of applying a perspective inspired by New Philology to [the study of Christian and Jewish manuscripts and their texts]. It is not a volume on New Philology per se, but rather a collection of studies exploring the implications of taking seriously a range of implications arising from it, suggesting new and exciting arenas of research. From this perspective the book has three main foci: (1) The study of texts in their manuscript contexts. (2) Textual fluidity and its implications. (3) Discussion and evaluation of modern editorial practices. The volume thus aims to show how perspectives inspired by New Philology can provide us with additions, constructive alternatives, and critical correctives to a historical-critical paradigm and its privileged models of interpretation which are still dominant in those academic fields that have made early Jewish and Christian texts their main topic of study.”

The TOC suggests the richness of the contributions in the volume – empirically, theoretically and methodologically:

1. Studying Snapshots: On Manuscript Culture, Textual Fluidity, and New Philology
Hugo Lundhaug & Liv Ingeborg Lied

2. An Illusion of Textual Stability: Textual Fluidity, New Philology, and the Nag Hammadi Codices
Hugo Lundhaug

3. Reading Variants in James and the Apocalypse of James: A Perspective from New Philology
Lance Jenott

4. The Making of a Secret Book of John: Nag Hammadi Codex III in Light of New Philology
René Falkenberg

5. Two Witnesses, One Valentinian Gospel? The Gospel of Truth in Nag Hammadi Codices I and XII
Katrine Brix

6. Monastic Paideia and Textual Fluidity in the Classroom
Lillian I. Larsen

7. Textual Fluidity in Early Monasticism: Sayings, Sermons and Stories
Samuel Rubenson

8. Four Texts from Nag Hammadi amid the Textual and Generic Fluidity of the “Letter” in the Literature of Late Antique Egypt
J. Gregory Given

9. Know Thy Enemy: The Materialization of Orthodoxy in Syriac Manuscripts
Michael Philip Penn

10. “You Have Found What You Seek”: The Form and Function of a Sixth-Century Divinatory Bible in Syriac
Jeff Childers

11. Between “Text Witness” and “Text on the Page”: Trajectories in the History of Editing the Epistle of Baruch
Liv Ingeborg Lied

12. The End of the Psalms in the Dead Sea Scrolls, Greek Codices, and Syriac Manuscripts
Eva Mroczek

13. Translating the Hekhalot Literature: Insights from New Philology
James R. Davila

More information is available in the De Gruyter New Publications Catalogue, here:

The volume has just been mentioned over at PaleoJudaica, here: http://paleojudaica.blogspot.no/2016_04_10_archive.html#9061691599764561291

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Trolls don't read/Stare back at them

It is 8 March today and time for my annual International Women’s Day post.
One year ago, I shared a post entitled “Trolls at my door” on this blog, discussing some of the challenges of being a female academic blogger. Just like so many other women with an online presence, I sometimes receive responses that are unpleasant, uninvited and occasionally downright sickening. Some of these messages I categorised in last year’s post as examples of “trolling”; other messages I described as less aggressive, but equally disturbing in the sense that they are completely off the point and irrelevant to what I have posted. Instead of entering into discussion with me, and hence responding to what I am in fact writing, they address my digital avatar, which the name and the picture on the blog give away as being female.

I ended the post with a short remark: “I know this post means trouble. I am bolting my door.” I meant that. I was worried that the post, which had a distinct feminist touch, would call out a couple of trolls from the digital woods. However, days went by and nothing happened. Or let me correct that: nothing new happened. It was business as usual. I received the typical notes from those who obviously see my blog as an invitation—the number of these notes always peaks after posting. A couple of guys found this the appropriate time to befriend me on Facebook—guys I have never met, with whom I have nothing in common, and with whom I share no common friends. Normality. Absurd online normality—well-known to so many women. But nothing unusual.
And then it occurred to me (and I guess it should have occurred to me a long time ago, particularly since I grew up with Norwegian folktales which are literally swarming with trolls that are not exactly awfully bright): trolls don’t read! Trolls scroll and gaze at pictures! At the very least, they don’t read academic blogs, and probably they will not read this post either, so I can write pretty much what I want. Hah!
At first, I found this hilarious, but after a while it got to me: another realisation of the utter irrelevance of what I have to say.
And a new concern. The profile picture. Did the photo I had chosen as a profile picture on my blog invite all of this? The picture, which was taken by a professional photographer for Norway’s leading Christian newspaper when I was serving as a columnist there, shows me looking straight into the camera. I am not smiling, certainly not doing anything special at all, but sure, I am wearing my hair down.
For a while I considered removing the picture, replacing it with a photo where my Cruella De Vil stripe of grey hair is adding some years to my appearance. Or I could choose a photo where I am wearing my glasses, standing in front of the rows of books in my office, feeding as little as possible the preconceptions of incompetence and availability which obviously are out there. Or I could pose very inelegantly in front of a well-known academic institution, which would lend me the authority I apparently do not have. Or, as a last resort, I could try to really stare at them (still not smiling, still wearing my hair down) and see if I could turn any of them into stone, more or less like this,

—but hell no!
If I take down the original profile picture, I give in to them. I signal to them, to myself and to others that I cannot raise my voice online and be represented visually as female at the same time. If I replace it, I would also disallow some guys out there an opportunity to be exposed to and maybe even start to get used to the fact that women write academic blogs, while looking straight into the camera, and simultaneously wearing their hair down. Even blonde hair.
Happy International Women’s Day to all those of you who have read my entire post and who, by reading even this very last sentence, have proven that your literacy level is way beyond the trolls in the digital woods!

Photo courtesy of Aina Kostamo.

Monday, 7 March 2016

NNJCI trip to Ethiopia - update

The Nordic Network for the Study of Judaism, Christianity and Islam in the First Millennium (NNJCI) is happy to announce that the planned trip to Ethiopia (22 October - 5 November 2016) has received funding. The trip is now available at half the price.

Deadline: 31 March 2016.

More information about the network, the trip, etc., here:

Friday, 8 January 2016

SBL Book History and Biblical Literatures CFP

The SBL Book History and Biblical Literatures CFP for the 2016 Annual Meeting is out.
Too interesting to miss.

Call for papers: This section investigates how insights from Book History illuminate scriptural literatures. We consider the culturally contingent concepts of text, authorship, readership, publication, and materiality, marshaling scholars of Hebrew Bible/ANE, Judaism, Early Christianity, Nag Hammadi, Syriac studies, and other sub-fields within the SBL to encourage collaborative and comparative work. We will host three sessions in 2016. The first session welcomes proposals on the theme of PUBLICATION. What did it mean to make a text "public" in the ancient world? If "publishing" is a modern concept that scholars sometimes anachronistically impose on antiquity, what are some ways we might think historically about the promulgation and dissemination of writing in the ancient societies that produced our sources? The theme of the second session is open. Given the lively interest in our 2015 theme of Paratexts, we welcome more submissions that engage this topic (the study of textual frames, such as titles, prefaces, epilogues, colophons, marginalia, etc), but also invite proposals on any topic within the purview of Book History and Biblical Literatures. For both of these sessions, we are particularly interested in proposals that take comparative and theoretical approaches and bring different subfields of the SBL into conversation with one another. In keeping with the interdisciplinary emphasis of the section, we especially encourage submissions from scholars working in Qu'ranic Studies/Islamic Studies. Our third session is an invited panel sponsored jointly with the Bible in Ancient and Modern Media section on reading practices in antiquity, featuring classicist William Johnson of Duke University. 

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Who is reviewed at the SBL Annual Meeting?

Every year in late November, approximately 4,500 biblical scholars from all around the world meet up for the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) Annual Meeting in a US city. The SBL Annual Meeting is among the largest international meeting places for scholars working in the fields of Biblical and Religious Studies and is a main event for anyone specialising in biblical and related writings. For four days, papers are presented, sessions are attended and recent publications are discussed.

Among the most prestigious sessions at the Annual Meetings are review sessions and sessions set up in honour of the research or the career of a scholar. Over the last five years, the SBL has hosted approximately 30-35 review sessions and 10-15 honorary sessions each year. These sessions showcase the work of a scholar and tend to be well attended. They are likely to boost book sales and be career building, and they may be part of the process of authorising the status, or the memory, of a scholar as a leading figure in his or her field. Review sessions are important also because scholars in Biblical Studies are still associated with and recognised primarily for their books. Given that review and honorary sessions are likely to be important, the question of who gets their books reviewed, how and, where, warrants some attention.

In this blog post, I focus on one aspect of this question by asking how many female scholars get their books reviewed, how many honorary sessions are set up to celebrate women’s careers and how this compares to their male colleagues. I have gone systematically through the SBL Annual Meeting programme books from 2011 to 2015, counting review sessions and honorary sessions, looking for the relative distribution of men and women. (Other aspects deserve attention as well. For instance, ethnicity, or the intersection of gender and ethnicity, have not been dealt with here.)

Review sessions

Fig. 1
Authors/editors having their books reviewed, total
Men having their books reviewed
Women having their books reviewed

This overview shows the total number of authors/editors having their books reviewed at the SBL Annual Meetings over the last five years and the distribution of male and female authors/editors.
One general tendency is apparent: many of the books reviewed at the SBL are authored or edited by men. Between 64 and 76 % of authors and editors having their books reviewed from 2011 to 2015 were men, while between 36 and 24% of the authors/editors were women. In share numbers, the male dominance is obvious. However, since, according to the 2015 Society Report approximately 75% of SBL members are in fact men, the numbers are not unreasonable per se.
Two further tendencies should be noted, though. First, many of the review sessions devoted to books published by women are either hosted by SBL groups dedicated to studies of gender and/or women, or they are special sessions with such a thematic focus. This does not reduce the importance of these review sessions in any way, but this tendency implies that in the remaining review sessions organised by SBL groups and sessions that do not focus on gender issues, in particular, the relative amount of reviews of books published by women is lower.
The second tendency deserves some additional attention; namely, the distribution of sessions devoted fully to one single male or female scholar and his/her book.

Fig. 2
Sessions fully devoted to one single author/editor, total
Sessions devoted to men
Sessions devoted to women

While Fig.1 shows the total of all authors/editors having their books reviewed during an Annual Meeting, Fig. 2 counts the number of sessions dedicated fully to one single author/editor and his or her book. The figure shows that between 80 and 90% of all book review sessions devoted in their entirety to one author or editor are dedicated to male scholars and their books. Hence, when focusing on these particular sessions, the number of female scholars and their books are low. In other words, at the occasions when books published by women are reviewed women have a higher tendency to either share the session and, hence the attention with another or many other colleagues. Alternatively, the woman is part of a team of authors and editors and shares the session with them. Either way, the frequency of a session devoted to a single, female, author/editor is remarkably low.
Honorary sessions
My search through the programme books from 2011-2015 also included a look at honorary sessions.  

Fig. 3
Honourees, total
Male honourees
Female honourees

Fig. 3 shows the number of honourees from 2011 to 2015, and the distribution of male and female scholars being honoured. I defined an honorary session as an event organised in honour of a particular scholar to celebrate his or her career or scholarship, his/her life or contribution to a field, or a session set up to celebrate an awardee.
The general tendency is clear: sessions honouring a female scholar and her contribution to the field are rare. On average, 13% of the honorary sessions are dedicated to women. In share numbers, one might say that sessions in honour of women’s scholarship and careers are as good as non-existent (The total number of program sessions over the years 2011-2015 has varied between 449 and 523, according to the 2015 Society Report). From 2011-2015, there were never more than three such sessions in honour of women at any Annual Meeting. In 2013 and 2015, there was only one.
It should be noted that my definition of an honorary session did not include sessions dedicated to male scholars serving an “emblematical” function in the sense that their names are representing a particular perspective or way of thinking. Hence, sessions attributed to the work and impact of, e.g. Kierkegaard, Bultman, Tillich, or Bonhoeffer were not taken into consideration. If they were included, which they arguably could be, as they show how the memory of exceptional male scholarship is kept alive, the relative percentage of female honourees would have been even lower than 10%. None of these “emblematic” sessions are, as far as I have seen, dedicated to a perspective associated with a female scholar.
It could and surely will be argued that the reason for the low representation of female honourees is the historical dominance of men in the field and, that, in the generations of scholars that are now typically celebrated at the SBL, women in the Academe were few. It is possible, thus, that the number of women will rise during the next decades due to the increased number of women in academic jobs. However, this hypothesis remains to be checked and, at the time of writing, it is an hypothesis only.
Who is reviewed and who is celebrated at the SBL Annual Meetings, and why does it matter?
The present exploration is brief, simple and preliminary. There are several questions I do not have ample material to answer. I am for instance not claiming to know the relative amount of female SBL members getting their newly published books reviewed at the Annual Meetings, nor do I know how this number compares to the situation for their male counterparts. I leave this for further exploration. Likewise, I do not have sufficient material to argue why the situation is as it is. However, I would like to make some suggestions. On one level, one might say that the numbers are the result of every single decision made by chairs and steering boards of the various SBL groups. If this is the level of explanation we choose to accept, I am as responsible for the general outcome as anyone else, having served and still serving as chair and at steering boards in the SBL system. Although the figures above should clearly serve as a reminder to both chairs and steering boards, I would argue that the relative lack of women should be explored primarily as part of a broader, systemic tendency. Eva Mroczek has called attention to the fact that during the last decade the three most prestigious awards endowed by the SBL have had only male recipients. Likewise, Ellen Muehlberger has highlighted the male dominance of the Review of Biblical Literature, which was founded by the SBL (here). My findings are adding to this picture.  
I am, most of all, worried about the impression created by the imbalance displayed by this exploration of the review and honorary sessions at the SBL Annual Meetings. When scholars who get a full review session dedicated to their books tend to be men, and when scholars who are celebrated for their work are almost exclusively men, it is very likely that the imagination of the successful scholar will be shaped in a male image.

Thanks are due to Eva Mroczek, Ellen Muehlberger, Torgeir Sørensen and Benjamin G. Wright III.