The dark reality of infanticide behind Matthew 1:21

Why knowledge of the culture of first-century life in the Mediterranean matters.

Newman Research Centre for the Bible and its Reception

One of the things that provoked discussion at last week’s Advent Seminar concerned a remark made by Leon Morris (1992: 29) that the angel’s instruction that “[Mary] will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus…” (Matt 1:21a) is, in the context of Mary’s predicament, highly significant.

It is important to remember that in pre-industrial societies marriage was not simply an agreement between two individuals, but a contract between two families. In ancient Mediterranean cultures, betrothal would have usually been initiated with a meal at the woman’s parent’s home (M. Pesachim 3:7), this would also be attended by the payment of an indirect dowry (M. Ketubot 5.2); a negotiated payment by the ‘groom’s’ family paid to the betrothed couple. This would have been part of the overall Bride-wealth.


Therefore, Mary’s unexpected pregnancy was not only a violation of sexually appropriate behaviour, but it could have…

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SBL draws nigh

…so I need some guidance from you more experienced SBLers.

  1. I am going to try and pack as lightly as possible, but what do you all bring with you? Besides clothes and toiletries, do you really need anything else if you aren’t presenting?
  2. I’m 6’5″ tall–where should I try and sit on the plane? I haven’t flown in a while, so I really don’t know where the best seat might be.
  3. I’ll be staying downtown, so I don’t plan to travel outside the SBL radius. Is this what most people do? If you do travel around, is it best to get a MARTA pass of some sort?
  4. I imagine the book hall to be pretty much a heavenly place, so I will have to exercise extreme restraint when it comes to buying books. Any advice here?
  5. I’ve narrowed the sessions I want to attend by presenter rather than the topic, though I kept a couple of sessions on the schedule because the subject interests me. How much time do you spend in the sessions themselves typically?
  6. Even though I’m almost ABD, I plan to attend the career workshops. I know that the job field is overrun by more qualified folks than myself, but I’m going to attend and meet various prospective employers, if for no other reason than to get a feel of the process. How should someone in my position approach this element of SBL? If you’re not interviewing, is there is suggested attire? Business casual? Since I’ll be walking, I’ll need to wear comfortable shoes, so that will determine in part my attire for my time there.
  7. I’m not ashamed to admit that I love getting free stuff–especially books! Any goodies I should be on the lookout for?

Giveaway – Studies in the Pauline Epistles: Essays in Honor of Douglas J. Moo

A few months ago I reviewed the Festschrift that was presented to Douglas Moo at last year’s ETS annual meeting (Part 1; Part 2; Part 3). This past weekend a friend gave me a goodie bag which contained a copy of this book, so I’m going to give it to one of you 🙂 Douglas Moo needs no introduction, and it’s obvious that this book is a treat for all Pauline studies nerds, especially those who appreciate the contributions of Moo.

Since I don’t have a self-hosted site I can’t use one of those fancy giveaway widgets, so you’ll have to do a bit more work for entries. Here are the various ways you can enter (comment separately for each to gain more entries):

  1. Comment on one way Moo’s scholarship has impacted you
  2. Comment on one issue in Pauline studies that fascinates you
  3. Follow me on Twitter

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One Year Ago

It was exactly one year ago that we faced the most trying time of our lives.

Our daughter, Leah, had a massive tumor removed from her abdomen.

I’ll forego the details here, but suffice it to say that week of waiting, tests, scans, surgery, recovery, and simply not knowing were beyond nerve wracking. We prayed, we cried, prayed some more, and leaned heavily on our friends and family who gathered with us. Needless to say, when we received the call that the tumor was benign, we were overjoyed! I remember we were all overcome with emotion and were beyond grateful!

Even one year later we still get emotional talking or even thinking about it, but we look back with more gratitude than can be expressed that Leah did not have to endure what we feared. We thank the Lord for getting us all through it and that our Leah is healthy and happy!

Αυτω η δοξα


Religion in the Roman Empire – A New Mohr Siebeck Journal (Gupta)

Crux Sola

At SBL I noticed that Mohr Siebeck was launching a new journal called Religion in the Roman World (3 issues per year). The editorial board looks well qualified. The price of the journal seems quite reasonable too, so kudos to Mohr Siebeck for thinking of professors and libraries with meagre book budgets!

Below is the journal’s opening statement:

Religion in the Roman Empire (RRE) is bold in the sense that it intends to further and document new and integrative perspectives on religion in the Ancient World combining multidisciplinary methodologies. Starting from the notion of “lived religion” it will offer a space to take up recent, but still incipient, research to modify and cross the disciplinary boundaries of History of Religion, Archaeology, Anthropology, Classics, Ancient History, Jewish History, Rabbinics, New Testament, Early Christianity, Patristics, Coptic Studies, Gnostic and Manichean Studies, Late Antiquity and Oriental Languages. We hope to stimulate the…

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