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This seminar focuses on texts from the Mediterranean world of late antiquity, particularly as they relate to Christian origins. While it studies the New Testament, it also considers the Dead Sea Scrolls, Nag Hammadi texts, patristic literature, rabbinic material, and Greco-Roman texts.

Professor John Edwards

Professor Emma Wasserman

Jermaine Ross-Allam

All seminars will meet over Zoom for the 2020-2021 academic year. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change. 

Meeting Schedule

09/16/2020 Online Meeting
5:30 PM
Paul, Mark, and Marcion’s Gospel
Heidi Wendt, McGill University (Canada)


In this session I draw on a nearly completed article (see attached pending your RSVP) that synthesizes the past decade of scholarship on the Paul–Mark question—that is, what sort of relationship, if any, can be discerned between the Gospel of Mark and Pauline thought, or even Paul's epistles—in order to argue that the gospel’s trademark secrecy motifs, including its abrupt “original” ending, collude to privilege Paul as the most (or only) legitimate apostle. Noting a number of under- or unexplored elements that strengthen the case for Pauline influence on Mark, I characterize the latter as a narrative precursor to the epistles and cite other literary arrangements designed to impart doctrinal knowledge or divine wisdom through modulated sequences of philosophical, wisdom, and other literature. As a coda to that argument, I will provisionally suggest in my presentation to the seminar that, with evidence mounting for strong, even highly particular, affinities between Paul and Mark, it may be worth considering that Marcion’s Evangelion was not a version of the Gospel of Luke, but rather, of Mark. After briefly summarizing key planks of the Paul–Mark argument, I will spend the majority of my time laying out my case for a Mark–Marcion connection. This task entails a critical assessment of the evidence for, on the one hand, the character and contents of Marcion’s gospel, and, on the other, Mark’s early reception, which is curiously thin and ambivalent despite its alleged apostolic pedigree.

10/14/2020 Online Meeting
6:15 PM
The Influence of John the Baptist on Jesus' Teaching
James McGrath, Butler University


Disciples and students inevitably reflect the impact and influence of their teachers, even when they resist or reject that influence. Whatever Jesus' precise stance towards his mentor over the course of his public activity, it is reasonable to expect to find evidence that can aid us in reconstructing the teaching and emphases of John himself. By working deductively (in a manner that reflects our understanding of the influence ancient teachers had on their students), we can say more about the teaching of John the Baptist than is usually acknowledged. Triangulating between the New Testament sources, Josephus, Mandaean texts, and other relevant works helps bring the portrait into sharper focus.

02/25/2021 Online Meeting
6:15 PM
meeting cancelled

03/23/2021 Online Meeting
6:15 PM

Sarit Kattan Gribetz, Fordham University

04/14/2021 Online Meeting
6:15 PM

Travis Williams, Tusculum University