Graduate study in New Testament at Oxford: benefits and possibilities

There are lots of great places to pursue graduate work in New Testament, early Judaism and early Christianity, and each programme has its distinctive strengths and limitations. I’ll leave it to others to offer comparative rankings among programmes of distinction, but I think Oxford has a number of strong selling points that recommend it as a scholarly destination. Let me mention only two here.

As far as I’m concerned, the crown of Oxford is its library system: the Bodleian is a UK copyright deposit library but also benefits from a long history of book and manuscript collecting, not to mention the significant regular donation of collections that enhance our holdings and the various College libraries (incidentally, personally I’d love to see grad applications from people who wish to straddle between the Faculties of Theology and Religion and of Classics to work on the Oxyrhynchus papyri, but that’s a matter for another day). But rivalling even the glories of our physical holdings is the remarkable investment in digital resources. It’s extremely rare to find a relevant journal that is available in electronic format to which we don’t have a subscription, and we have a robust collection of databases as well as access to several hundred thousand e-books. It seems that these days I rarely have to leave my office to do serious research.

Second, the world comes to or through Oxford. In part because our library collections draw people for sabbaticals, in part because of the ceaseless conference traffic, and in part because Oxford is, like some other university towns, a kind of Athens where people go to test their ideas, we have lots of wonderful speakers and events. The Faculty of Theology and Religion’s event booklet is always crammed full of attractive seminars with world-class figures, and for the student of antiquity, Oxford feasts the intellect with offerings from the Oriental Institute, the Classics Faculty and crossover ventures like the Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity. On any given day one is missing several excellent papers or speaking events from stimulating thinkers, and it’s not uncommon to hear people complain of the strain of trying to drink from the proverbial Oxonian firehose.

Of course, both those things are also true at other universities, mutatis mutandis, and I wouldn’t at all wish to say that Oxford is unique in these ways. But it’s also true that sometimes potential graduate students consider too narrowly their chosen programme of interest without broader consideration of the research environment. Naturally I think Oxford does well on the former as well as the latter scales of vision, but I won’t say more about that now.

All this is prompted by the season: potential graduate students are pondering their applications (my deepest condolences, poor souls). Markus Bockmuehl and I are always keen to hear from good potential applicants, and it so happens that the coming year would be a good one to apply for Oxford in terms of funding opportunities. A useful new website at www.oxfordscholarships.com is being hosted by one of the new external funders to provide information, including links to various funding schemes and application details. It’s also worth pointing out that Markus and I will be in San Diego and interested in meeting prospective applicants there; we’ve set up a doodle poll here with slots available, if anyone would like to avail themselves of a meeting.

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Oxford New Testament Seminar, Michaelmas Term 2014

Markus Bockmuehl has sent along notice of this term’s NT Seminar. We’re trying a slightly new format by including the graduate events and the senior seminar in the same slot, with alternating sessions, rather than their previously separate existence as two distinct seminars. Do come along if you’re in the area!

Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Oxford

 New Testament Seminar

Michaelmas Term 2014

This Seminar meets on Fridays 2.30 p.m. in the Gibbs Room at Keble College. All welcome.

Asterisked meetings will place particular emphasis on postgraduate training needs.

 17 October*

Introduction to New Testament Research at Oxford

Prof. Markus Bockmuehl

Keble College

*   *   *

24 October

Behind the Gospels: Understanding the Oral Tradition

Dr Eric Eve

Harris Manchester College

*   *   *

31 October*

Bibliographical Tools of the Trade for N.T. Research

Dr Hilla Wait

Philosophy and Theology Faculties Library

*   *   *

7 November*

Decoding Hermeneutics

Dr Andrew K.M. Adam

St Stephen’s House

*   *   *

14 November

The Apostle’s Hand: Galatians in the Canonical Process

Prof. Thomas Söding

University of Bochum

*   *   *

21 November

NO SEMINAR (Annual SBL Meeting in San Diego)

*   *   *

28 November*

Postgraduate Research Presentations (Details TBC)

*   *   *

5 December

‘Like the Scum of the World’ (1 Cor 4.13): Participation in

Christ’s Death in the Context of Ancient Expulsion Ritual

Prof. Asano Atsuhiro

Kwansei Gakuin University

M.B. 8.9.2014

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Gender Imbalance in NT Studies

Everybody knows there is a gender imbalance in NT studies. But it’s the sort of thing that’s hard to quantify. So I did a very brief, unscientific calculation by looking at articles published by women in two important NT journals over the roughly six year period from 2009-2014 (inclusive). The results surprised me.

JSNT has, since 2009, published 121 articles (ignoring Booklist issues). Of those, only nine have been written by women. And of those nine, two are by the same person (Jane Heath) and two are co-authored with a man. This means the percentage of articles published by women in this journal for the period only reaches about 7.5%.

For interest, the women published are Nicola Denzey Lewis, Wendy North, Anna C. Miller, Jane Heath (bis), Alice E. Connor (as co-author), Louise Lawrence, Susannah Heschel, and Beverly Gaventa (as co-author).

I repeated the calculation for NTS, with slightly better results:

Total = 205 articles

Articles by women: 29 (of which four as co-author), 14%, as opposed to JSNT’s 7.5%.

Articles by: Korinna Zamfir; Brittany E. Wilson; Dorothea H. Bertschmann; Sheree Lear; Jane Heath (bis); Madison N. Pierce (as co-author); Helen Bond; Karen King; Emily Gathergood; Christine Gerber (bis); Candida Moss (as co-author); Margaret Mitchell; Gudrun Nassauer; Adela Yarbro Collins; Margaret Y. MacDonald; Jacqueline Assaël (as co-author); Eve-Marie Becker (bis); Lee A. Johnson (as co-author); Susan Grove Eastman; Paula Fredriksen; Hanna Roose; Alicia J. Batten; Susan Docherty; Adele Reinhartz; Rita Müller-Fieberg; Camille Focant.

In both these cases, I don’t think it’s right to blame the journal or their policies. They are simply double-blind peer-reviewing what is sent to them. But it does provide a couple of hard numbers, although unscientific since the scale of the investigation is so small, that begin to move toward quantifying this troubling imbalance in the field of NT studies more broadly.

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Published at last: Ferdinand Christian Baur und die Geschichte des frühen Christentums

I’m delighted that this edited volume on Baur has been published, and with an impressive array of contributions (my own minor essay is the least of these!). Here’s a link to Mohr Siebeck’s site, and it’s also available on Amazon.

Here’s the info from Mohr’s product page:

Ferdinand Christian Baur und die Geschichte des frühen Christentums

Hrsg. v. Martin Bauspieß, Christof Landmesser u. David Lincicum

[Ferdinand Christian Baur and the History of Early Christianity.]

Published in German.

Ferdinand Christian Baur (1792-1860) can be seen as one of the most important sources of inspiration for the development of historical-critical research in the 19th century. His immense body of work covers many areas of the New Testament, the history of the church and of dogma. Baur’s works contain numerous ideas which can be applied to current discussion in which many fundamental questions in regard to the historical-critical method are being posed. These ideas are dealt with in individual studies by the authors of this volume, which provide reconstructions of Baur’s view on various subjects from the New Testament and early church history as well as studies on the relationship between Baur and Strauß, Hegel’s philosophy and Baur’s significance for practical theology. This creates an image of Baur’s theological and historical approach which can give the current discussion more depth. 

Survey of contents:

Stefan Alkier: Wunderglaube als Tor zum Atheismus. Theologiegeschichtliche Anmerkungen zur Wunderkritik Ferdinand Christian Baurs – Martin Bauspiess: Das Wesen des Urchristentums. Zu Ferdinand Christian Baurs Sicht der synoptischen Evangelien – Volker Henning Drecoll: Ferdinand Christian Baurs Sicht der christlichen Gnosis und der zeitgenössischen Religionsphilosophie – Jörg Frey: Ferdinand Christian Baur und die Johannesauslegung – Daniel Geese: Die Aenlichkeit der Meister. Ferdinand Christian Baur und Adolf von Harnack – Anders Gerdmar: Baur and the Creation of the Judaism-Hellenism Dichotomy – Ulrich Köpf: Ferdinand Christian Baur und David Friedrich Strauß – Christof Landmesser: Ferdinand Christian Baur als Paulus-Interpret. Die Geschichte, das Absolute und die Freiheit – David Lincicum: F.C. Baur and the Theological Significance of New Testament Introduction – Robert Morgan: F.C. Baur’s New Testament Theology – James Carleton Paget: The Reception of Baur in Britain – Notger Slenczka: Ethische Urteilsbildung und kirchliches Selbstverständnis. Ferdinand Christian Baurs Deutung des protestantischen Propriums in der Kontroverse mit Johann Adam Möhler als Korrektiv gegenwärtiger Selbstmissverständnisse – Martin Wendte: Ferdinand Christian Baur: ein historisch informierter Idealist eigener Art – Birgit Weyel: Ferdinand Christian Baur und die Praktische Theologie – Johannes Zachhuber: The Absoluteness of Christianity and the Relativity of All History: Two Strands in Ferdinand Christian Baur’s Thought

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A Renaissance in the Study of F C Baur?

While the great Tübingen theologian, Ferdinand Christian Baur, has always featured in the distant background of Forschungsgeschichten and footnotes, there have been some periods in which he himself has become the object of more sustained study. In the mid-20th century there were a number of monographs on him, notably following the period of dialectical theology when questions about the relationship between theology and history were sharply posed. With all the questioning of historical criticism and its adequacy these days, we are again in a period when such questions are live, and it’s intriguing to note that we are again seeing an upsurge of interest in Baur. As I have noted elsewhere, Johannes Zachhuber’s recent Theology as Science in Nineteenth-Century Germany: From F. C. Baur to Ernst Troeltsch makes Baur one starting point for considering the debate about the Wissenschaft of theology. This month should see the appearance of two more important books on Baur: Peter Hodgson and Robert Brown’s translation of Baur’s History of Christian Dogma from OUP, and an important collection of essays in German and English on Ferdinand Christian Baur und die Geschichte des frühen Christentums / Ferdinand Christian Baur and the History of Early Christianity from Mohr Siebeck. Moreover, Hodgson and Brown are also at work on a translation of Baur’s Vorlesungen über die neutestamentliche Theologie, and there are plans for a translation of his essay on the Christ-party at Corinth. To speak of a minor Baurian renaissance might not be too strong! 

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Studia Philonica Annual’s New Website

David Runia writes to say that the Studia Philonica Annual‘s new website is up and running, now hosted (following Greg Sterling’s move there) by Yale Divinity School: http://divinity.yale.edu/philo-alexandria.

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Markus Bockmuehl appointed as the Dean Ireland’s Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture

I was delighted to learn that Markus Bockmuehl, out of an extremely strong international field, has just been appointed as the Dean Ireland’s Professor of the Exegesis of Holy Scripture. Hitherto Professor of Biblical and Early Christian Studies at Keble College, Oxford, he takes up the position after the long and distinguished tenure of Chris Rowland, whose retirement was marked by a special seminar in Oxford yesterday. Markus has an excellent reputation as a deeply learned scholar, widely read in ancient and modern literature in an embarrassing number of languages, a formidable critical intellect but also a constructive voice in current New Testament circles. Beyond all his impressive expertise, Markus is also well known for being an empowering and challenging supervisor, who draws from his graduate students the very best work of which they are capable. This is a wonderful appointment for us in Oxford, and augurs well for the future of New Testament and early Jewish and Christian studies here.

Speaking of that future, this means that we’ll be conducting an international search in the autumn to identify Markus’s replacement in his current position. We will be looking for an excellent scholar with an impressive publication record and good teaching experience to join us in our delivery of the NT syllabus here at all levels. And we’ll also hope to make some announcements about funding possibilities for New Testament graduate work in Oxford; watch this space…

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