Saturday, July 21, 2012

William Lane Craig versus Richard Carrier on the Resurrection of Jesus

This is a video of a debate between William Lane Craig and Richard Carrier, held at Northwest Missouri State University (March 18, 2009), on the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus.

Needless to say, I find the position of Craig utterly unconvincing. What is most strange is the lazy assumption that Craig takes from the beginning that the Judeo-Christian god exists! If this does not give his ridiculous apologetic game away, then nothing will.

I provide my own critique of Craig here:

(1) Craig’s first “fact” is the burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea. This is not a “fact” at all: it is merely assertion in the gospel of Mark, and there is no necessary reason why it must be true. The Christians might have invented this to give Jesus an “honourable,” rather than a shameful, burial. Furthermore, Craig commits a gross non sequitur: even if it were true that Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus in a tomb, it simply does not follow that the location of the tomb was known by his disciples. One astonishing datum is that there was no known veneration of Jesus’s tomb in early Christianity: it is most probable that they had no idea where he was buried.

There is good reason to think that the gospel of Mark (the earliest gospel) is already filled with legends and fictions, and that the empty tomb story is one fiction of Mark (Collins 1989; Collins 1993; Lüdemann 1994). Moreover, it is quite likely that the author of Mark composed his empty tomb story as part of his literary mimesis or midrashic rewriting of certain Old Testament texts like Daniel 6:6–23 (Goulder 1976; Helms 1988: 135–136).

Despite Craig, even Jesus’s alleged rising on the third day in 1 Corinthians 15:3–6 is said to be in accordance with the scriptures, not with any eyewitness accounts, which suggests that the belief that Jesus rose on the third day could have come from nothing more than exegesis of an Old Testament passage in Hosea 6.2 (as Gerd Lüdemann 1994: 47 argues).

(2) Craig’s attempt to claim that Matthew and John are independent attestations of the empty tomb story is unconvincing. They are no such thing, but secondary and redactional stories from Mark. Nor does Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:3–6 require an empty tomb story at all. There is no direct evidence for any empty tomb in Paul. There are no multiple, independent sources for the empty tomb story: it is all dependent on Mark, and there is a good case he invented it (Collins 1989).

Contrary to Craig, the presence of women in the gospel of Mark as eyewitnesses to the empty tomb makes perfect sense if this was an invention of the author of that gospel. For the earliest tradition suggests that the male disciples had fled Jerusalem and returned to Galilee (so the women were plausible people to use in the empty tomb fiction), and the ending of the gospel of Mark tells us that the women told nobody of their discovery (Mark 16.8), which is exactly in accord with the more misogynist attitudes to women in the ancient world.

Moreover, it is a bad error to assert that women were never trusted as witnesses in the ancient Greek and Roman world. The gospel of Mark was clearly a work of Pauline Christianity and had its natural home in Gentile Greek and Roman Christian communities. While it was considered disreputable for high status women to appear in public in roles usually reserved for men in Greece and Rome, Richard Carrier has shown that women were perfectly able to give testimony in court: Cicero used women as witnesses against the corrupt Roman governor Verres (Cicero, Against Verres 2.1.94; 4.99), and an Oxyrhynchus Papyrus (P.Oxy. 1.37) preserves the testimony of a woman in court from Roman Egypt.

When early Christians heard the ending of the gospel of Mark, with the empty tomb, they will have asked: “Why have I never heard this before?” Michael Goulder has explained how some misogynist Christian men would have understood Mark 16.8:
“You know what women are like, brethren: they were seized with panic and hysteria, and kept the whole thing quiet. That is why people have not heard all this before.” (Goulder 1996: 58).
Thus it is not that the testimony of women would have been rejected per se, but their reliability in transmitting what they had seen and heard. Despite Craig and apologists like Craig, that is a very convincing explanation of why Mark used women.

(3) Despite Craig, the earliest tradition in Mark and taken over by Matthew is that the earliest resurrection “appearances”/hallucinations of Jesus were in Galilee, not in Jerusalem. This may well be true, and it suggests that the disciples fled back to Galilee after the death of Jesus. That is precisely why Mark has women go to an empty tomb in his ending, because in the tradition Mark received the disciples had fled. The stories of resurrection “appearances” at Jerusalem in Luke and John are therefore fictions. If these gospel writers could write fiction (such as the absurd fantasies one reads in the gospel of Matthew 28:1-3), then why not Mark in the empty tomb story?

(4) Craig asserts that there was no belief in a dying and rising Messiah in first century Judaism. That may well be true, but provides no serious evidence for the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. As Robert M. Price has argued, when Sabbatai Zevi (1626–1676), a Jewish rabbi who claimed to be the Jewish Messiah in the 17th century, apostatized, his movement did not collapse and there were Jewish believers in Sabbatai Zevi as the Messiah for at least two centuries following his apostasy! Even Nathan of Gaza, his leading disciple, continued to think Sabbatai was the Messiah.

Anyway, it is clear that Christianity - before it became a Gentile religion as developed by the apostle Paul - remained a minority sect within Judaism.

Is that not precisely what one would expect if early Christian ideas about a crucified Messiah were peculiar and an innovation?


Collins, Adela Yarbro. 1989. The Beginning of the Gospel: Probings of Mark in Context, Fortress Press, Minneapolis.

Collins, Adela. 1993. “The Empty Tomb in the Gospel According to Mark,” in Eleonore Stump and Thomas P. Flint (eds.), Hermes and Athena: Biblical Exegesis and Philosophical Theology, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, In. 107–140.

Collins, Adela Yarbro. 2009. “Ancient Notions of Transferal and Apotheosis in Relation to the Empty Tomb Story in Mark,” in T. K. Seim and J. Okland (eds.), Metamorphoses. Resurrection, Body and Transformative Practices in Early Christianity, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin and New York. 41–58.

Goulder, Michael. 1976. “The Empty Tomb,” Theology 79: 206–214.

Goulder, Michael. 1996. “The Baseless Fabric of a Vision,” in Gavin D’Costa (ed.), Resurrection Reconsidered, Oneworld, Oxford. 48–61.

Helms, Randel. 1988. Gospel Fictions. Prometheus Books, Buffalo, N.Y.

Lüdemann, G. 1994. The Resurrection of Jesus: History, Experience, Theology (trans. John Bowden), SCM Press, London.

Richard Carrier on Jesus Mythicism

Richard Carrier gives a talk here on Jesus mythicism: the theory that there never was an historical person called Jesus of Nazareth, and that Christianity arose from belief in a purely “heavenly” Jesus, who was crucified in the lower spheres of heaven (what was called the second heaven in Jewish cosmology) at the hands of evil spirits and demons. Now I do not agree with this thesis myself, but Carrier presents an interesting summary of it.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Bibliographical Resources and Encyclopedias for Classics and Ancient Greek and Roman History

I. Guides to the Literature and General Bibliographical Works
(1) Halton, Thomas P. 1986. Classical Scholarship: An Annotated Bibliography. Kraus International, White Plains, N.Y.

(2) Jenkins, Fred W. 1996. Classical Studies: A Guide to the Reference Literature. Libraries Unlimited, Englewood, Colo.

Jenkins, Fred W. 2006. Classical Studies: A Guide to the Reference Literature (2nd edn.). Libraries Unlimited, Westport Conn. and London.

(3) Hopwood, Keith. 1995. Ancient Greece and Rome: A Bibliographical Guide. Manchester University Press, Manchester and New York.

(4) Schaps, David M. 2011. Handbook for Classical Research. Routledge, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon and New York, NY.

II. Bibliographical Abstracts, Indices and Resources
(1) L’année philologique: bibliographie critique et analytique de l’antiquité gréco-latine. Société Internationale de Bibliographie Classique, Paris. 1928–.

L’année philologique on the Internet.

(2) Tables of Contents of Journals of Interest to Classicists TOCS-IN.

(3) Gnomon Online. The Eichstätt Information System for Classical Studies.

(4) Aufstieg und Niedergang der römischen Welt Search Index.

III. General Dictionaries/Encyclopedias
(1) RE = Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen

Pauly, August Friedrich von, Wissowa, Georg, Kroll, Wilhelm, Witte, Kurt and Karl Mittelhaus, Konrat Ziegler (eds.). 1893–1972. Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft. Neue Bearbeitung unter Mitwirkung zahlreicher Fachgenosen herausgegeben von Georg Wissowa. Reihe I (A–Q), 47 vols in 48. Reihe II (R–Z), 19 vols. J.B. Metzler, Stuttgart.

1903–1978. Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft. Supplement. J. B. Metzler, Stuttgart. 15 vols.

Erler, Tobias. 1997–2000. Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft. Gesamtregister. J. B. Metzler, Stuttgart. 1158 p. 2 CD ROMs.

Gartner, Hans and Albert Wunsch. 1980. Paulys Realencyclopadie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft. Neue Bearbeitung begonnen vom Georg Wissowa fortgeführt von Wilhelm Kroll und Karl Mittelhaus, unter Mitwirkung zahlreicher Fachgenossen. Register der Nachtrage und Supplemente. Druckenmuller, Munich.

Murphy, John P. 1980. Index to the Supplements and Supplementary Volumes of Pauly-Wissowa’s RE: Index to the Nachträge and Berichtigungen in Vols. I–XXIV of the First Series, Vols. I–X of the Second Series and Supplementary Vols I–XIV of Pauly-Wissowa-Kroll’s Realenzyklopädie with an Appendix Containing an Index to Suppl. vol. XV (Final) (2nd edn.). Ares, Chicago.

– the Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft (Encyclopedia of Classical Antiquity) is a huge multi-volume encyclopedia and the standard reference work for Classical studies. It is often called Pauly-Wissowa or abbreviated as RE.

The present work, which began in the 1890s under Georg Wissowa, is actually a new edition of an older work by August Friedrich von Pauly (1796–1845). A number of other editors followed Wissowa:

(1) from 1906, Wilhelm Kroll (1869–1939)
(2) Kurt Witte
(3) Karl Mittelhaus (1877–1946), and
(4) Konrat Ziegler (1884–1974).

The work is divided into 2 series: I. (A–Q) and II. (R–Z).

For more information, see here:
Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Wikisource.

Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Wikipedia

“Emerging Open Access Paulys Realencyclopädie der classischen Altertumswissenschaft,” AWOL – The Ancient World Online, December 30, 2010.

Reference Reviews Europe Online, 1998 1/2-147, History and Area Studies.
(2) Der Neue Pauly/Brill’s New Pauly
Cancik, Hubert and Helmuth Schneider (eds.). 1996–2003. Der neue Pauly: Enzyklopädie der Antike. J.B. Metzler, Stuttgart. 16 vols.

Cancik, Hubert, Landfester, Manfred, and Helmuth Schneider (eds.). 2004–. Der neue Pauly. Supplemente. Metzler, Stuttgart.

Cancik, Hubert, Schneider, Helmuth, Landfester, Manfred and Christine F. Salazar (eds.). 2002–2006. Brill’s New Pauly: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World. Antiquity. Brill, Leiden and Boston.

Landfester, Manfred et al. 2006–. Brill’s New Pauly. Classical Tradition: Encyclopaedia of the Ancient World. Brill, Leiden and Boston.

– this is an updated version of Der Kleine Pauly: the original (1996–2003) was in German, with an English translation called Brill’s New Pauly appearing from 2002.
(3) The Oxford Classical Dictionary, various edns.
Hammond, N. G. L. and H. H. Scullard (eds.). 1970. The Oxford Classical Dictionary (2nd. edn.). Clarendon Press, Oxford. 1176 p.

Hornblower, Simon and Antony Spawforth (eds.). 1996. The Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd edn.). Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York. 1640 p.

Hornblower, Simon and Antony Spawforth (eds.). 2003. The Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd rev. edn.). Oxford University Press, Oxford.

Spawforth, Antony and Esther Eidinow (eds.). 2012. The Oxford Classical Dictionary (4th edn.). Oxford University Press, Oxford. 1592 p.

– the latest and most up-to-date edition. This supercedes earlier editions.
(4) The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature, various edns.
Harvey, Paul (ed.). 1969. The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (1st repr. edn.). Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Howatson, M. C. 1989. The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (2nd edn.). Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York.

Howatson, M. C. 2011. The Oxford Companion to Classical Literature (3nd edn.). Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York.
(4) Andersen, Carl et al. (eds.). 1965. Lexikon der alten Welt. Artemis Verlag, Zurich. 3524 columns.

(5) Gagarin, Michael (ed.). 2010. The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome. Oxford University Press, Oxford and New York.
This is also available online.

(6) Lemprière, John. 1984. Lemprière’s Classical Dictionary of Proper Names Mentioned in Ancient Authors Writ Large (3rd edn. by F. A. Wright). Routledge & K. Paul, London and Boston.

(7) Peck, Harry. 1962 [1896]. Harper’s Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities (2nd edn.). Cooper Square Publishers, New York. 1701 p.

(8) Richardson, William F. 2004. Numbering and Measuring in the Classical World (2nd rev. edn.). Bristol Phoenix, Bristol.

(9) Shipley, Graham et al. (eds.). 2006. The Cambridge Dictionary of Classical Civilization. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
– A work derived from the The Oxford Classical Dictionary (3rd edn.).

(10) Smith, William. 1875. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities. J. Murray, London.

Smith, William. 1901. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (3rd rev. and enl. edn.). J. Murray, London. 2 vols.

(11) Speake, Graham. 2000. Encyclopedia of Greece and the Hellenic Tradition. Fitzroy Dearborn, London and Chicago. 2 vols.

(12) Wilson, Nigel (ed.). 2006. Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece. Routledge, New York.

(13) Warrington, John. 1970. Everyman’s Classical Dictionary 800 BC–AD 337. J. M. Dent, London. 537p.

(14) Carlos Parada, Greek Mythology Link.

(15) Encyclopedia Mythica.

(1) Bryn Mawr Classical Review (BMCR).

(2) The Classical Review

(3) Gnomon: kritische Zeitschrift für die gesamte klassische Altertumswissenschaft, Weidmann, Berlin, 1925–.

(1) Hammond, N. G. L. (ed.). 1981. Atlas of the Greek and Roman World in Antiquity. Noyes Press, Park Ridge, NJ.

(2) Morkot, Robert. 1996. The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece. Penguin, London and New York.

(3) Talbert, Richard J. A. (ed.). 2000. Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

(4) Talbert, Richard J. A. (ed.). 1988. Atlas of Classical History. Macmillan, New York.

(5) Wittke, Anne-Maria, Olshausen, Eckart, Szydlak, Richard et al. (eds.). 2010. Historical Atlas of the Ancient World. Brill, Leiden and Boston.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Bibliography on Ancient Egyptian Language and Grammar

For an overview of the subject, see D. B. Spanel, 2001. “Reference Works,” in D. B. Redford et al. (eds.), The Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt (vol. 2). Oxford University Press, Oxford. 130.

I. Lexicons

(1) The Beinlich Wordlist.
This is an searchable database of ancient Egyptian words in transliteration. It provides a German translation of the word and references to the entry of the word either in the standard Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache (see next entry) or in more recent publications.

(2) Erman, A. and H. Grapow. 1955–1963. Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache. 12 vols. Akademie-Verlag, Leipzig and Berlin.
This is the standard lexicon for the ancient Egyptian language. A list of words absent from the Wörterbuch can be found in G. Andreu and Cauville, S. 1977. “Vocabulaire absent du Wörterbuch,” Revue d'Egyptologie 29: 5–13 and Revue d’Egyptologie 30: 10–21.

(3) Faulkner, R. O. 1962. A Concise Dictionary of Middle Egyptian. 327 p. V. Ridler, Oxford.
A somewhat dated dictionary, but useful in that the translations are in English rather than German.

(4) Hannig, R. 1995. Die Sprache der Pharaonen: grosses Handwörterbuch Ägyptisch-Deutsch (2800-950 v. Chr.), 1412p. Philipp von Zabern, Mainz.
This is a recent lexicon, but has fewer entries than the complete Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache.


(1) Allen, J. P. 1999. Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. Cambridge University Press, New York.
This recent study is regarded as the best treatment of Middle Egyptian grammar since Gardiner’s work.

(2) Cerný, J. and S. Israelit-Groll. 1975. A Late Egyptian Grammar (Studia Pohl, Series maior, 4). Biblical Institute Press, Rome.
This is the standard grammar of Late Egyptian.

(4) Gardiner, A. H. 1957. Egyptian Grammar: Being an Introduction to the Study of Hieroglyphs (3rd rev. edn.). Oxford University Press, London.
The standard grammar for Middle Egyptian.

(5) Layton, B. 2011. A Coptic Grammar: With Chrestomathy and Glossary: Sahidic Dialect (3nd rev. edn.). Harrassowitz, Wiesbaden.
This will probably be the best Coptic grammar in English, since it incorporates all recent scholarship.

(6) Till, W. 1970. Koptische Grammatik (4th edn.; Lehrbucher fur das Studium der orientalischen und afrikanischen Sprachen, Bd 1). Verlag Enzyklopadie, Leipzig.
The standard grammar of Sahidic Coptic.

III. Transliteration of Ancient Egyptian

(1) A excellent transliteration font for Ancient Egyptian in both Macintosh and Windows format from the Centre for Computer-aided Egyptological Research used to be transliteration.tff, but I am not sure whether this is still available.

(2) The Deir el-Medina Database
Database uses a special font for Egyptian transliteration called Trlit_CG Times. This font will display characters for transliteration of Ancient Egyptian. To download the font, visit the Deir el-Medina Database website.

IV. Journals
The following are some of the more important journals for Egyptology:

Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR)
Bulletin of the American Society of Papyrologists
Egyptian Archaeology
Journal of Near Eastern Studies
The Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages
Journal of Egyptian Archaeology
Journal of Palestinian Archaeology
Journal of the American Oriental Society
Journal of the Ancient Near Eastern Society (JSNES) Index
Journal of Semitic Studies
KMT: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt
Near East Archaeological Society Bulletin
Near Eastern Archaeology
Studien zur altägyptischen Kultur