Mark Panel  |  Vuong  |  Brownlee Lecture  |  Richlin  |  De Troyer

The 2008 Spring Public Lecture Series

Thursday, 28 February, 7:30 p.m.:  Panel Discussion

The Secret Gospel of Mark: Find or Forgery?

Dennis R. MacDonald, Presiding; ALBRECHT AUDITORIUM

Dennis R. MacDonald, IAC Director; IAC Mimesis Project Director; Professor of Religion (NT), Claremont School of Theology, Claremont Graduate University Gesine Robinson, Project Director, Coptic Texts Editing, Institute for Antiquity and Christianity Marvin Meyer, Chapman University Religion Professor and Project Director, Coptic Magical Texts, Institute for Antiquity and Christianity






Presiding over the panel and analyzing the text from a literary perspective, Dennis MacDonald contributes to the panel his wealth of understanding of both Christian scriptures and classical texts, especially on topics related to Christian apocryphal writings and imitations of Homer in ancient Jewish &  Christian writings. MacDonald is director of the IAC and John Wesley Professor of New Testament at CST and Professor of Religion at CGU. He also directs the IAC project Mimesis in Ancient Jewish and Christian Literature.

Birger Pearson is director of the IAC's Roots of Egyptian Christianity Project, and professor emeritus at UC-Santa Barbara. His most recent work is Ancient Gnosticism: Traditions and Literature (2007). In it, he "situates the advent of Gnosticism within the Greco-Roman religious world and critically appraises the sources."

John Dart is Christian Century News editor (and former Religion News Reporter at the LA Times) and author of the 2003 work, Decoding Mark, which Dart calls "the story of a lifetime." In his book, Dart shows that the two-part "beloved young man" episode was one of Mark's typical stories sandwiched around a contrasting incident (here Mark 10:35-45). This and other literary techniques tied to the episode belie claims that Morton Smith pulled a hoax.

A respected biblical scholar and coptologist, Gesine Robinson has years of experience working with original texts and knows firsthand the complexities of preserving and translating them, as well as answering questions of authenticity. Robinson is director of the Coptic Texts Editing Project at the IAC and teaches New Testament at the Episcopal Theological School at Claremont.

As translator of the Tchacos codex and member of the National Geographic team that made the Gospel of Judas public, as well as one of the leading authorities on the Nag Hammadi texts, Marvin Meyer brings a wealth of scholarship and experience to his views on Secret Mark. Meyer is director of the IAC Coptic Magical Texts project and Griset Professor of Bible and Christian Studies at Chapman University where he also directs the Albert Schweitzer Institute.

Morton Smith’s publication of Clement of Alexandria and A Secret Gospel of Mark in 1973 ignited a firestorm of controversy among New Testament scholars that continues to rage thirty five years later. At the core of his book is his claim to have discovered, transcribed in the covers of a seventeenth-century edition of the letters of Ignatius of Antioch, an authentic letter of Clement of Alexandria to a Theodore, who had asked him about an esoteric version of the Gospel of Mark used to instruct catechumens. Clement replied that there was such a document and provided brief excerpts of it, one of which mentions a youth who was naked except for a linen cloth and who spent the night with Jesus. Scholarly opinion oscillates between those who consider the putative secret Gospel the earliest version of Mark and those who consider Smith’s alleged text a forgery. Others argue that even if Smith’s text is authentic, it only witnesses to a later version of the Gospel interpolated by Christian libertines.

The IAC panel represents scholars at both extremes and in the middle. At stake are issues of modern manuscript discoveries and forgeries, New Testament textual criticism, and the literary sophistication of the Gospel of Mark.


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Tuesday, 25 March, 6:00 p.m., Visiting Scholar Lily Vuong

Mary, the Temple, and Ritual Purity in the Protevangelium of James

Lily Vuong is a PhD candidate at McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada, and is presently a visiting researcher/scholar at Claremont Graduate University where she is finishing up her dissertation entitled Accessing the Virgin: Gender and Purity in the Protevangelium of James. Her area of study is in Early Christianity with a special interest in New Testament Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphal writings.

Gender studies have also played an important role in her research, especially in terms of its construction and interpretation in early Christian literature. Other topics of interest include the relationships between Judaism, Christianity, and Greco-Roman culture and the formation of Jewish and Christian identities in Late Antiquity.

This lecture is co-sponsored by the IAC and the Women's Studies in Religion Program at the CGU School of Religion.

Lily Vuong


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Thursday, 27 March, 7:30 p.m., Professor Lester L. Grabbe

BROWNLEE LECTURE (in Albrecht Auditorium)

Exit David and Solomon?:

The Current Debate on the History of Ancient Israel

Lester Grabbe

CGU Alum and student of WH Brownlee Lester L. Grabbe is head of the Department of Theology at the University of Hull, UK, where he is also Professor of Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism. Grabbe has authored numerous texts, including, Priests, Prophets, Diviners, Sages: A Socio-historical Study of Religious Specialists in Ancient Israel (1995) and the recent Ancient Israel: What Do We Know and How Do We Know It? (2007). A frequent guest on both Viking Radio and Radio Humberside to discuss such topics as: the Ten Commandments, the Jewish festivals, the 4th of July, and Nostradamus and the millennium, Grabbe has also lectured at both York and Lincoln Cathedrals.

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Thursday, 17 April, 7:30 p.m., Professor Amy Richlin

Looking East: Roman Comedy and the Geo-Politics of Slavery

Amy Richlin teaches Latin Literature, History of Sexuality, and Feminist Theory as Professor and Graduate Advisor in the Department of Classics at UCLA. Author of The Garden of Priapus: Sexuality and Aggression in Roman Humor (Yale 1983; rev. Oxford 1992), editor of Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome (Oxford 1992), and co-editor, with Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz, of Feminist Theory and the Classics (Routledge 1993), Richlin recently saw her translation of Plautus' Rudens brought to life onstage at the Getty Villa as the play Tug of War. That translation is one of three in her 2005 work, Rome and the Mysterious Orient, translations of three plays by Plautus with notes and introductions, focusing on Roman attitudes to the Near East and Africa. Her most recent work is Marcus Aurelius in Love (Univ of Chicago Press 2007). In addition to her 30+ years of teaching and writing, Richlin founded women's crew at Princeton while an undergrad there and on graduation won the Class of 1916 Cup, "awarded each year to the Princeton varsity letterman who continuing in competition in his senior year achieved at graduation the highest academic standing."

Amy Richlin

photo credit:

Phil Channing, courtesy of USC College Magazine

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Monday, 28 April, 7:30 p.m., Professor Kristin De Troyer

From Esther to Samuel: Reflections on 10 years in Claremont

Kristin De Troyer

Kristin De Troyer, director of the TRANSLATION AND INTERPRETATION IN THE GREEK ESDRAS TRADITION IAC Research Project, is Professor of Hebrew Bible at Claremont School of Theology and Professor of Religion at Claremont Graduate University. De Troyer focuses on the Second Temple Period and has developed a special interest in the history of the Biblical Text, its translations and their hermeneutical aspects. She has published books and articles on the different texts of the Book of Esther and is currently writing a commentary on the Greek text of Esther. Together with Professor Rosario Pintaudi (Florence, Italy) she is preparing the edition of an Old Greek Joshua and Leviticus papyrus from the Schøyen collection. Her other interests are hermeneutics and gender studies, as evidenced by her recent work, Wholly Woman-Holy Blood: A Feminist Critique of Purity and Impurity (TPI, 2003). De Troyer's lecture is co-sponsored by the Ancient Biblical Manuscript Center and will be held on the CST campus, Butler 201.


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Unless otherwise noted, all lectures begin at 7:30 p.m.
in the Library of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity 

Lectures are free and open to the public.