Why should we trust the gospels?

As part of a new series to prepare for/coincide with UNCOVER happening at All Souls over this year, I did a talk on Sunday evening on the question of the historicity of the gospels. It’s a contentious issue, full of mantraps and perilousness, not least because of the short length of time available to address it. But I had a stab, and aimed to touch on what I sense are the key issues, in the hope that the serious inquirer or thinker will follow whichever (or all) of them is important to them. (more…)

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Breathing life into the dry bones of ancient Corinth: Witherington’s Week in the Life

It seems that everyone’s joined in the cross-over craze. Rock stars are writing ballets and operas, chick-lit writers are getting elected to Parliament, and now a NT scholar has turned novelist. The point about Witherington’s very enjoyable new book, A Week In The Life Of Corinth, though, is it that it is entirely in keeping with his primary profession of opening modern eyes to an ancient and alien past. This explains the narrative’s regular interruption by text boxes providing historical background (covering topics such as slavery, the client/patron relationship, gladiators, the Roman legal system and a potted history of Roman as opposed to Greek Corinth). (more…)

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A journey from Perga to the Lycus Valley

I had one day to sightsee in Turkey last week which was fabulous. I even came back a bit sunburnt (much to the chagrin of every rain-drenched colleague on my return). Quite fun to be able to say that I got a tan at Laodicea. So here are a few photographic highlights. For the full Flickr set, click here. Having been based in Antalya (ancient Attalia) had a chance to visit Perga and Aspendos (along the coast to the east), and then travelled inland to the north west to the Lycus Valley (where Hierapolis, Laodicea and Colossae are).

First a general map and few panoramas from the trip… Click on each image for a closer view. (more…)

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From Attalia, Paul sailed back to Antioch…

It is a privilege to spend time with friends in Antalya – right on the south Mediterranean coast of Turkey. (Incidentally, and quite interestingly, in Turkish, the Med is called ‘Akdeniz’ which means ‘the white sea’ in symmetry to ‘Karadeniz’ (The Black Sea) at the other end of the Bosphorus). And Antalya was of course the ancient port city of Attalia in the apostle Paul’s day. (more…)

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Perfect potboiler plots? Rely on centuries-old Ecclesiastical Conspiracies

So… you want to write a runaway bestseller in 2012? Hoping to fill the cabin luggage of air-travellers the world over? Well, here is just thing… it’s guaranteed to hit the headlines at the same time and thus rake in the cash. An ecclesiastical conspiracy theory novel, ‘based’ on matters of ‘historical’ record and archaeological ‘certainties’. It offers the lot: corruption, scheming, sexual deviancy, hypocrisy, ancient history, power, scandals, and above all, the unveiling of secrets.

You hooked yet? I was. And it seems that the book-buying travelling public never tire of a new conspiracy thriller. So… you’ve got it made. (more…)

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Corinthian Caption Competition: the Crunchie Winners

So at last, the time has come. The time for the announcement of the prizes. The Virtual Crunchie can be printed off and enjoyed at your leisure.

There were some excellent entries. And so I felt duty-bound to aware a number of prizes in two categories: Topical and Exegetical. Runners up are honour-bound to share their crunchie with someone else. I’ll know if you eat the whole thing yourself.

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Friday Fun 16: Corinthian Caption Competition

Am in Greece this weekend for the launch of Langham Greece. It’s gone really well so far – lots of great discussion. Around 35 attending the conference and around 15-20 watching streaming of it online. REALLY encouraging.

But yesterday we had a free morning and so headed off to Corinth (obviously). I’d no idea that it was only an hour or so from Athens, which was great. We clambered up the Akrocorinth, and wandered around the remains of Ancient Corinth – which are extensive but in parts hard to imagine as intact buildings. You can see the snaps here. (more…)

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Jerusalem – the city with its very own book.

I really don’t think this book lives up to its hype, but I did work my way through roughly 3/4 of Simon Sebag-Montefiore’s epic Jerusalem, The Biography. It is a very uneven and, at times, curiously flat read. It is also (perhaps inevitably)  littered with sweeping statements and an over-reliance on just afew partisan scholarly perspectives. This was especially frustrating when it came to plumbing the huge depths and breadths of biblical and archaeological scholarship. But there were clearly some gems and insights. And so thought I’d share just one or two. (more…)

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