• Founded
  • Seminar Number

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.

John Edwards

Colleen Conway

Karl M. Taps

Meeting Schedule

09/12/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
The Secretary: Collaborative Authorship and the Composition of the Pauline Epistles
Candida Moss, University of Birmingham; New York University

10/19/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Antinous and the Problem of True Beauty in Clement of Alexandria
Benjamin Dunning, Harvard University


Alexandria's account of true beauty in relation to his vituperative reflections on same-sex eros. The analysis focuses on his treatment of Antinous, the famous erōmenos of the emperor Hadrian. Here I seek to situate Clement's scathing condemnation of Antinous as an erotic object within his larger theological argument about things (e.g., ornaments, statues) and persons—and about how their interrelation indexes the problem of the beautiful. I argue that, following Diotima's speech in Plato's Symposium, Clement subscribes most basically to an account of beauty that links it with ascent to the divine. As such, the figure of Antinous poses a particularly difficult problem for him—rendering visible the potential impossibility of maintaining true beauty as the telos of divine ascent, while attempting simultaneously to excise erotic desire entirely as the motor of that ascent.

11/09/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Is ‘John within Judaism’ a helpful approach to John’s Gospel?
Adele Reinhartz, University of Ottawa


In recent years, a “within Judaism” approach has been applied to the Pauline letters as well as the Gospels. This approach seems to be in the process of taking root for Johannine studies, especially the Gospel of John. “John within Judaism” has been featured in SBL sessions in 2021 and 2022, with a third session scheduled for SBL 2023. It has also been the subject of a half-day colloquium sponsored by the Enoch Seminar in March 2023. A volume of essays on “within Judaism” edited by Karin Zetterholm and Anders Runesson is set to appear within the next few weeks. In this paper, I will argue that, important as this approach has been in Pauline studies, it is not a helpful approach for Johannine scholarship, where it acts as a constraint on interpretation.

12/12/2023 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
Spirit Mediumship and the Future and Past of New Testament Studies
Denise Kimber Buell, Williams College


Within this paper, Denise Kimber Buell advocates for the significance of incorporating spiritualists, particularly those engaged in the central practice of mediumship, as a partial precursor to recent interventions in New Testament studies from feminist, womanist, and queer perspectives. By highlighting spirit mediumship as a widely popular and publicly scrutinized practice during the period of professionalization in New Testament and early Christian studies, the author seeks to explore novel avenues for examining the underlying implications in historical and contemporary debates surrounding approaches to biblical texts and antiquity. This paper constitutes a segment of Dr. Buell’s ongoing book project.

04/09/2024 Faculty House, Columbia University
7:00 PM
2 Peter 3, the Conflagration, and the End of Time
Jeremy F. Hultin, Union Theological Seminary


"Where is the promise of God's coming? Since the beginning of the world, all things continue as they have been" (2 Peter 3:4).

Behind these words lies the conviction, held by diverse thinkers, that the cosmos was eternal and indestructible. Indeed, it was widely believed that even to contemplate the dissolution of the universe was not only foolish but blasphemous. In response to these serious objections, 2 Peter seeks to make the idea of a cataclysmic "Day of the Lord" more intellectually and religiously palatable by recasting it in the language of Stoic physics, and by drawing on ideas—both biblical and philosophical—of the origins and nature of time itself. By examining how texts such as the Apocalypse of Peter and Sibylline Oracles 2 depict the cosmic conflagration, we can arrive at a new interpretation of the conflagration as described in 2 Pet 3:10-13. For instance, Sib. Or. 2.325-29 describes an eschatological end of time: gone are days and nights, seasons, years. This sheds light on 2 Pet 3:12, and other comments about "time" in 2 Peter. With the melting of the heavens and the stoicheia comes the end of time itself, and the inauguration of "the day of God" (2 Pet 3:12) and "day of eternity" (2 Pet 3:18). 2 Peter depicts a return to the timelessness of God's unique "day one" (Genesis 1:5; 2 Pet 3:8), a "day" outside of time. Those who "partake of the divine nature" (1:4) will, in the "eternal kingdom" (1:11), share in God's own transcendence of time.