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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 continue to meet virtually through February 2022. Meeting links provided upon RSVP. Meeting dates and times are subject to change.

Meeting Schedule

09/23/2021 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
The Paraclete Problem for Johannine Historiography
Chris Keith, St. Mary's University (England, UK)


This paper contributes to the longstanding debate about the historical value of the Fourth Gospel. I argue against both those who regard the Fourth Gospel as historically "reliable" and those who regard the Fourth Gospel as historically worthless. In contrast, I forward two specific arguments. First, the Fourth Gospel not only has a historiographical program, but has the most sophisticated historiographical program among our early Jesus books. Second, the role that the narrator ascribes to the Paraclete disrupts the sophistication of that historiographical program in a way that scholars have sometimes failed to appreciate.

10/06/2021 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
‘The Deepest Secret’: A Summary of Paul’s Radical Missional Theology
Douglas Campbell, Duke University


Over against primarily Greco-Roman resources and Lutheran constructions of salvation, E. P. Sanders posited “participationist eschatology” as the center of Paul’s thinking (repristinating Albert Schweitzer’s thesis), thereby grounding it in Jewish eschatological resources and in a participatory soteriological dynamic. This paper endorses this position, arguing for its validity, then, drawing on a particular Eastern theological hermeneutic, for an explication of its eschatological dimension in terms of relational categories of personhood and communion. This explication generates a flexible structure-relationality distinction, which can then be seen to undergird Paul’s signature issue, namely, his mission to the pagans. Paul included the pagans within the church while leaving most of their own local structures intact, advocating strongly only the practice of a relational ethic of love within, and if necessary against, those structures. It follows that this rationale for inclusion affirmed the original Jewish structures of messianic Jesus followers as well, resulting in a radically inclusive and diversified early church, within which the pagan converts were known initially as "Christians" (Acts 11:26c). Sadly, much subsequent church practice has not continued these dynamics. Nevertheless, in the modern period, Paul’s original instructions can be scrutinized in terms of his central program. And that program, suitably expurgated, as Pauline theology, can continue to guide further ecclesial diversifications and inclusions.

12/09/2021 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
The Council That Might Not Have Been: Archival Rewriting in Fourth-Century Antioch
Emanuel Fiano, Fordham University


Eduard Schwartz’s 1905 publication of the Syriac version of the synodal letter of the council of Antioch of 324/325 gave rise to a heated dispute, verging on personal insult, between its editor, who claimed its authenticity, and Adolf von Harnack, who contested it. The document, if trustworthy, is historically important in many regards: it apprises us of an otherwise unknown council celebrated only a few short months before the Council of Nicaea; it informs us about the limited propagation of Arius’s doctrines at this stage of the Trinitarian controversies; it confirms the notion, known only from one other document, that the Nicene gathering was originally meant to be summoned at Ancyra; and it explains why at Nicaea Eusebius of Caesarea, condemned at Antioch, had to present a profession of faith. My talk will discuss the authenticity of the document by interrogating its theological contents and above all its transmission in Syriac canonical sources, proposing a hypothesis about the circumstances of its inclusion in the Antiochene corpus canonum.

01/20/2022 Online Meeting
6:00 PM
The Jews Killed Jesus: The Accusation from the New Testament to the Christian Empire
John Edwards, St. Francis College

02/24/2022 Online Meeting
6:00 PM

Colleen Shantz,

03/31/2022 Location TBD
6:00 PM

Chaya Halberstam,

04/21/2022 Location TBD
6:00 PM

Jennifer Glancy,