Everyday Life in Byzantine Lycaonia

The following article by Sir William M. Ramsay is now available in PDF. This material is in the Public Domain and so can be freely distributed and copied.

William M. Ramsay [1851-1939], “A Country Town of Lycaonia. A Description of the Conditions of Christian Life under the Eastern Empire,” Journal of the Transactions of the Victoria Institute 41 (1909): 36-46.

A Country Town of Lycaonia

My subject is an attempt to set before you some slight picture of the main facts in the life of a country town in the centre of Anatolia in the province called in ancient time Lycaonia, during the Byzantine Empire. Now we read a great deal in books, in ancient history, and in the history of the Church about that period, but historians concern themselves chiefly with great men, the great religious leaders, generals, and statesmen; with the rarest exceptions we find nothing whatsoever with regard to the practical facts of life among the common people in that country during the period when these great men were living and working. There is some literary material, which has still to be collected, with regard to the life of that period in the private letters of Basil and other great men, which give a great deal of material for the facts of ordinary life. The ordinary people made it possible for Churchmen to exercise their leading power, for generals to have .armies to conduct to victory or defeat; and without the knowledge of their common life, a knowledge of history becomes one-sided and misleading in the highest degree. We want therefore to know something of the common people, the way they live, their surroundings, their views of life, and how far they were affected by the great Church leaders, generals and statesmen.

The question may be asked with regard to the Byzantine Empire; Is it worth while to take up our time in making out some picture of a period rightly regarded as a period of decay in the history of the world? There is no doubt that Gibbons’ title, The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire, is correct. The fall was in great measure due to the pressure of what was going on in the Byzantine Empire, that is in Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Two remarks will bring out the importance of life in the Byzantine Empire.

Click here to continue reading.

Learning From Ancient Exegesis

St Jerome (from Andre Thevet)
St Jerome (from Andre Thevet)

I am grateful to the Evangelical Homiletics Society for their kind permission to place on-line the following article, which explains what we can learn from examples of ancient exegesis of the biblical text:

Timothy J. Ralston, “‘Back to the Future’: Classical Categories of Exegesis, Application and Authority for Preaching and Spiritual Formation,” Journal of the Evangelical Homiletics Society 3.2 (2003): 33-51.

Summary (from text)

The categories lectio continua, lectio semi-continua, lectio selecta and lectio divina describe hermeneutical approaches to the application of scripture. Consequently these categories provide a helpful means to classify the hermeneutical validity of an application presented in a sermon and, by implication, the relative authority of the ethic derived from one’s interaction with a biblical text. They also offer a well accepted taxonomy to understand the differing use of the Bible in the spiritual formation of individuals and Christian communities. Therefore, they represent valuable categories worthy of recovery and adoption for evaluating sermons.

Perhaps I state the obvious. I hope so. Most (if not all) Evangelicals express a genuine commitment to the ideal of lectio continua, that which we believe lies at the heart of preaching in the tradition of sola scriptura. Often, however, our preaching hermeneutic, even that which designates itself as “expository,” displays more of the characteristics of lectio selecta or lectio divina. Unfortunately few appreciate the difference and most aren’t aware of the problem.

The Holy Spirit is not limited by the poverty of a method, but the weakness of our application to reflect the results of authoritative exegesis must surely detract from the simplicity of the Bible’s authority as it speaks to human need. Ultimately, anything less than lectio continua in preaching undermines a local church’s ability to form the lives of its members according to scripture and to engage with other Christian communities in obedience to our Lord’s requirement of unity in faith and witness – the measure of true Christian maturity and the measure of success in our effort toward the spiritual formation of the Body of Christ.

To read the full article click here. Visit the author’s web page here.

Biblical Studies Carnival – August 2014

Biblical Studies Carnival - August 2014

Welcome to the August Biblical Studies Carnival!

This is the first Biblical Studies Carnival I have ever hosted. I have learnt a great deal from the experience and hope that you enjoy reading the post.

Old Testament

Scot McKnight has an interesting discussion of how Christian theologians in the 1800s used the idea of “Pre-Adamites” and points out some of the motivations behind the various theories adopted. Guy Waters considers whether it is essential that Adam be understood as being a historical person and concludes in the affirmative.
Claude Mariottini analyses Richard E. Averbeck’s fascinating essay “Breath, wind, spirit and the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament”. Brian Collins considers the significance of “land” in Genesis 8 and 9 (here | here). Craig Keener has a three-part series on the Conquest entitled “Slaughtering the Canaanites” (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3). Rusty Osborne has a helpful study on the correct translation of “Asherah”. Rick Sumner has a discussion about the enduring value of Samuel Sandmel’s paper on “Parallelomania”. I found it interesting that he reaches the same conclusion as I did when I uploaded the article to the Web in 2008. Peter Mead offers an overview of Psalm 46 and some of the reactions it can evoke.

David deSilva has put the first of his videos produced for on-line courses at Ashland Theological Seminary on YouTube – this one on an introduction to the Septuagint (HT: Clifford Kvidahl). Larry Hurtado offers some scholarly resources of the LXX. The possible end of Aramaic is a living spoken language is discussed by Claude Mariottini, who also considers possible references to elephants in the Old Testament as he celebrates nine years of biblioblogging this month.

 – Old Testament Related Book Reviews

Thomas Bolin reviews: Jim West, Ezra-Nehemiah: Person in the Pew Commentary Series.

James M. Bos reviews: Jason T. LeCureux, The Thematic Unity of the Book of the Twelve.

George J. Brooke reviews: Florentino García Martínez; Hindy Najman and Eibert Tigchelaar, eds., Between Philology and Theology: Contributions to the Study of Ancient Jewish Interpretation.

Tim Bulkeley reviews: Jim West: Ruth: Person in the Pew Commentary series.

Joseph Lam reviews: Alan F. Segal, Sinning in the Hebrew Bible: How The Worst Stories Speak for Its Truth.

Was Noah Good?Peter J. Leithart reviews: Carol M. Kaminski, Was Noah Good?: Finding Favour in the Flood Narrative (Library Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies).

Claude Mariottini reviews: David G. Firth and Paul D. Wegner, eds. Presence, Power, and Promise: The Role of the Spirit of God in the Old Testament.

Pekka Pitkanen reviews, Volkmar Fritz, The Emergence of Israel in the Twelfth and Eleventh Centuries B.C.E.

Carol Newsom’s, "Daniel” in the Old Testament Library seriesJim West reviews: Carol Newsom’s, “Daniel” in the Old Testament Library series.

Lena Sofia Tiemeyer &Hans M. Barstad, eds., Continuity and Discontinuity: Chronological and Thematic Development in Isaiah 40-66Jim West reviews: Lena Sofia Tiemeyer & Hans M. Barstad, eds., Continuity and Discontinuity: Chronological and Thematic Development in Isaiah 40-66.

Apocryphal Literature

Apocryphicity has a series on three posts about texts due to be published in Brent Landau, ed., New Testament Apocrypha: More Noncanonical Scriptures (part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | and announces a call for papers for a symposium to take place in New York at the end of September.

– Apocrypha Related Book Reviews

The Infancy Gospel of ThomasTony Burke reviews: Constantine T. Hadavas, The Infancy Gospel of Thomas: An Intermediate Ancient Greek Reader.

Oda Wischmeyer reviews: Jeremy Corley, Sirach.

Dead Sea Scrolls

Jim Davila notes the launch of a website defending the controversial conclusions of John Allegro on the Scrolls.

New Testament

Jacob Cerone has produced interesting studies on the Greek text of the Gospel of Mark (9:19 | 10:13), while Michael Bird notes both a recent article on Mark’s possible provenance and Paula Gooder’s defence of the historicity of the Gospels. Craig Keener contrasts the feast of Herod and the meal Jesus provided for his followers (Matthew 14:1-21). James Crossley (herehere), Chris Keith (here | here) and Michael Bird interact over the criteria of authenticity and – specifically- the historicity of John’s Gospel.

Phillippians (apparently “Bible-book of the month”)  is covered by Lynn Cohick in a video series (Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5) (Thanks to Jeremy Bouma for posting the links.) Phil Long continues his insightful exposition of Philippians on Reading Acts: 3:1-3, 3:4-6, 3:7-11, 3:12-17, 4:1-3, 4:4-7).

In the light of current events in and around Israel, Ian Paul tackles the notoriously complex issue of Israel’s future in the land (Part 1 | Part 2) and concludes:

Because of all this, I do not believe that, remarkable though it is, the establishment of the State of Israel in 1947 is a ‘fulfilment’ of ‘end times’ ‘prophecies.’ Neither do I believe that Israel has a divine right to the land which trumps all other rights. I do want to defend the right of Israel to exist, and to be a particular homeland for Jews around the world, and to use reasonable force to defend itself—like any other nations. But I do this on grounds other than ‘divine right’ or ‘prophecy.’ [emphasis in original]

Donald Hagner shares his recollections of NT scholar George Eldon Ladd who clearly had a lasting influence on his students (Part 1 | Part 2). Wayne Coppins shares an insight into German NT scholarship with a post on Benjamin Schliesser and the Cosmic Interpretation of pistis in Gal 3.23, 25.

Chiastic Structure of Ephesians 5:21-33
Chiastic Structure of Ephesians 5:21-33

Kay Bonikowsky looks at the chiastic structure of Ephesians 5:21-33 and provides this superb illustration (right).

Matthew R. Malcolm has a couple of posts on the alleged dynastic conflict between the family of Annas and the family and followers of Jesus, which he considers worthy of scholarly consideration (see here and here). D. Miller looks at what Luke says (or does not say about the observance of the law in Luke-Acts (here & here).

BiblcalStudiesOnline provides links to a video lecture series by Richard Bauckham and Chris Marshall on the historical Jesus at Carey College, 7-8 August 2014 and Jim Davila foresees a Colloquium on the Star on Bethlehem to take place in October.

 – New Testament Related Book Reviews

N.T. Wright, Pauline PerspectivesKevin Brown reviews: N.T. Wright, Pauline Perspectives: Essays on Paul, 1978-2013.

James Allison, International Critical Commentary on JamesKevin Brown reviews: Dale Allison, James: A Critical and Exegetical Commentary.

Paul's Divine ChristologyDave Capes reviews: Chris Tilling, Paul’s Divine Christology.

Jack Collins reviews: Robin Jarrell, Fallen Angels and Fallen Women: The Mother of the Son of Man.

G.K. Beale, The Book of RevelationMatt Dabbs reviews: G.K. Beale, The Book of Revelation (NIGTC).

Diglot reviews: John Granger Cook, Crucifixion in the Mediterranean WorldDiglot reviews: John Granger Cook, Crucifixion in the Mediterranean World.

Herbert W. Bateman IV, Interpreting the General Letters: An Exegetical Handbook

Eis Doxan reviews: Herbert W. Bateman IV, Interpreting the General Letters: An Exegetical Handbook.

Charlesworth and Pokorny, eds. Jesus Research. 2 Vols.

Nijay Gupta reviews: Charlesworth and Pokorny, eds. Jesus Research. 2 Vols.

Nijay GuptaChris Keith, Jesus Against the Scribal Elite reviews: Chris Keith, Jesus Against the Scribal Elite.

Abson Joseph reviews: Matthew V. Johnson, James A. Noel, and Demetrius K. Williams, eds., Onesimus Our Brother: Reading Religion, Race, and Culture in Philemon.

Mike Kok reviews: Jim West, Mark: Person in the Pew Commentary Series.

Phil Long reviews: Sean Freyne, The Jesus MovementSean Freyne, The Jesus Movement.

Pettit and Mangum, Blessed Are the Balanced: A Seminarian’s Guide to Following Jesus in the AcademyPhil Long reviews: Pettit and Mangum, Blessed Are the Balanced: A Seminarian’s Guide to Following Jesus in the Academy. [Note also Andi Naselli’s post and book review on a similar subject here].

David A. deSilva, Galatians: A Handbook on the Greek Text.Matthew D. Montonini reviews: David A. deSilva, Galatians: A Handbook on the Greek Text.

Carl Mosser reviews: Jody A. Barnard, The Mysticism of Hebrews: Exploring the Role of Jewish Apocalyptic Mysticism in the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Also worth mentioning is Matthew D. Montonini’s brief run-down of forthcoming New Testament commentaries and Brian Small’s collation of book reviews of commentaries on the letter to the Hebrews.

Textual Criticism

On Evangelical Textual Criticism Peter Gurry provides a detailed report on the fifth Summer School of Greek Palaeography in Oxford. Larry Hurtado offers a summary of his recent article  “God or Jesus? Textual Ambiguity and Textual Variants in Acts of the Apostles,” [in the multi-author volume, Texts and Traditions: Essays in Honour of J. Keith Elliott, edited by Peter Doble and Jeffrey Kloha (Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2014), pp. 239-54.)].

Hurtado also announces the publication of:

W. Andrew Smith, A Study of the Gospels in Codex Alexandrinus: Codicology, Palaeography, and Scribal Hands (Leiden: Brill, 2014).

and goes on to say:

The book focuses on the Gospels, but also addresses wider questions of codicology (i.e., the physical features of the codex itself). Smith then probes with considerable expertise the scribal hands (he argues for more than one scribe), and marginalia, and various other matters. The result is surely the most detailed study of Codex Alexandrinus in many years, and a ground-breaking study of the Gospels in this manuscript in particular.

Biblical Languages

Jeremy Bouma presents five good reasons why learning biblical languages is still important and Jim West extends an invitation to those wanting to learn Hebrew.

Biblical Archaeology

The discovery of a pre-70AD coin-hoard near the site of the new Jerusalem-Tev-Aviv Highway is noted by George Athas, Bible PlacesFerrell Jenkins, John Byron, Jim Davila, The Sacred Page and Claude Mariottoni, making it the “most commented on” archaeological discovery in August. Michael J. Caba’s “artefact of the the month” is the Esarhaddon Stela.  Larry Hurtado records the results of the excavations at the site of a Roman Fort in Binchester, Co. Durham that demonstrate the presence of Christians there and Ferrell Jenkins reports the “awl-inspiring” tale of the oldest metal object found to date in the Middle East.

Bible Places covers the Siege of Lachish Wall Relief, the discovery of a board game in the ruins of the ancient city of Gezer, the use of drones in archaeology surveys and 3D scanners to examine ancient pottery. The blog also has helpful weekly summaries of activity in the field of biblical archaeology (here, here, here and here).

Jack Sasson’s elevation to an honorary council member of the International Association for Assyriology is recorded by Jim Davila. Peter Leithart has a post on how the story of Noah’s Flood is depicted on 3rd Century AD coinage and Matthew R. Malcolm ponders the significance of a 2nd Century AD letter square from Smyna.

Claude Mariottoni has an excellent post on the significance of Hezekiah’s Seal and the discovery of a Canaanite wine cellar at Tel Kabri also catches both his attention and that of Jim Davilaarenmaeir reports on the discovery of a new seal found at the site of ancient Gath. Also worth mentioning here is Jim West’s link to the archive of BBC Radio 4 series In Our Time which deal with Ancient Greece.


Inerrancy: Five ViewsThe inerrancy debate continues with John Byron re-posting the results of the latest US Gallop poll on the Bible’s historical accuracy. Scot McKnight provides a review of Inerrancy: Five Views dealing with objections. He writes in a later post that he thinks that inerrancy:

…is a disruptive child in the theological classroom. He or she gets all the attention of teacher and students. A biblical view of inerrancy demotes it under the word true, all as part of God’s choice to communicate efficiently and sufficiently. When the word “true” governs the game it’s a brand new, healthy game. Good teachers know how to handle disruptive children.

Michael Bird responds to McKnight’s critique of his section of the book and has some general thoughts to add here. Chris Tilling takes issue (well, 17 issues to be exact) with Albert Mohler’s contribution to the same volume. Michael Bird commends two recent articles by Armin Baum on inerrancy and canonicity.

Greg Beale contributes the first of what is to be a series of responses to Peter Enns’s “Aha” Moments. Christopher Skinner offers his take on the new series here.

Miscellaneous Book Reviews

Bradford A. Anderson reviews: Alison M. Jack, The Bible and Literature.

David M. Maas reviews: Thomas R. Schreiner, The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments.

Ken Schenck reviews: Paul Ricoeur, Interpretation Theory.

Ken Schenck reviews: Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, Chapter 17.

Nina Collins, Healing on the SabbathJim West reviews: Nina Collins, Healing on the Sabbath.

New BiblioBlogs

James Crossley – Harnessing Chaos

And Finally…

I wanted to thank Phil Long for inviting me to host the August Biblical Studies Carnival. It has been tremendously helpful for me to work through the biblioblogs systematically and it encouraged me to update my blogrolls (please update your links to biblicalstudiesorguk blogspot com, which is now redundant). My apologies if I haven’t included your favourite post above. Despite being the holiday season, many blogs were still surprisingly active.

September’s Biblical Studies Carnival

Next month’s Biblical Studies Carnival will be hosted by Mike Skinner at cataclysmicblog.com. There are still vacancies for Carnival hosts for November and December 2014 and for all months in 2015. Please contact Phil Long [plong(at)gbcol.edu] if you  can help.