A d F o n t e s

(Latin: "to the sources")

Gospel Coalition “Confessional Statement” and “Theological Vision for Ministry”

Recently a movement called the “Gospel Coalition” released a document including its “Confessional Statement” and “Theological Vision for Ministry.” To be honest, I think perhaps I heard of this group once–I think I have a memory of hearing about it stored in the dark recesses of my brain–but I haven’t followed it. So I know little about it. What I’ve surmised is it’s another evangelical-ish group intended to redefine its ecclesiological boundaries in different theological and ministerial terms with the intention of doing at least two things: (a) creating unity around what the organizers think are “essentials,” and (b) trying to address a selection of what the organizers perceive are prevalent problems facing Christianity and the world today.

I feel a little ambivalent about these sorts of movements–including one I signed my name to once (granted, this one didn’t inevitably do anything). On the one hand, I like the idea of Christian unity that crosses denominational boundaries and tries to understand and appreciate Christian history and diversity, even where there is difficult conflict. But I usually get uneasy when this kind of intention is implemented. The reason is that it often breaks down because people and their convictions don’t often fit neatly into the boxes we’d like to fit them in. For example, I and many people I know would consider ourselves basically evangelical and sympathetic to many of the concerns this document’s “vision of ministry” outlines, nevertheless we wouldn’t fit squarely within the scope of what the “confessional statement” means to include (though perhaps they mean to exclude me).

One question I have about this new “Gospel Coalition” is why it felt the need to go beyond the classical creeds–e.g. the Nicene, Apostolic, or even Constantinoplian. I would have thought that a group intending to be ecumenical and proactive–especially a group entitled the “Gospel” Coalition–would have tried to stick with the essentials. Perhaps there’s a good reason I don’t understand.


May 30, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Oxford University Press Reprints


This is something profs and grad students should probably know about–something that actually took me about a year to realize. About one year ago I was doing work on πολεις in the Greek and Roman Near East. I knew practically nothing about when or how they were founded, how they were governed, or to what extent they reflected their Greek and Hellenistic counterparts while under non-Greek/Hellenistic rule, or after Rome acquired the region.

So I wast sent by a professor to the classic works of A.M.H. Jones: his Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces and The Greek City, OUP 1937 and 1940, respectively. They were difficult to find in our school library, but I did find them online available for purchase at reasonable prices: $20-$30 a piece, whereas given their date I would’ve expected much more. So I bought them. (In retrospect they weren’t as helpful as I would have liked, but helpful nonetheless; more helpful were the Cambridge Ancient History, Oxford Classical Dictionary, and working through inscriptions.) What I did not realize at the time was that these reprints were part of a larger project of Powell’s Bookstores to bring a large number of old Oxford University Press books back into print–books which were still in high demand.

I made this discovery only after I stumbled upon a few more reprints, and happened to look at the final page of Rostovtzeff’s 3rd volume of The Social and Economic History of the Hellenistic World, which lists all the reprints available (would I have looked there a year ago, I would’ve obviously made this discovery earlier). There are probably 100 books listed there.

In addition to the ones mentioned above, there are a few others worth singling out:

**Both Rostovtzeff’s SEHHW and his Social and Economic History of the Roman World. Both of these sets are quite dated, but they’re still immeasurably useful for getting a good historical narrative and collecting primary sources. They are going for around $40 and $30. I’ve often found them very helpful starting points for any work I do on Hellenistic and Roman political and economic history.

**F.W. Walbank’s Historical Commentary on Polybius (3 vols) is available. Get it while you can. I think one can find it used for like $500 or something. I got mine for $70. It’s incredibly helpful, and of course must be counseled when working with Polybius. I used this a lot when writing a paper on Polybius’ concept of geography and the οικουμενη. Walbank was of course not specifically interested in the subject, but he give a very thorough textual and methodological discussion of bk. 34 and Strabo: the former is not extant but was a chapter on geography which Strabo used as a source.

**Ronald Syme’s Tacitus (2 vols). Just as Walbank on Polybius, this is a must for working with Tacitus. William V. Harris once told me that whenever he works with Tacitus, Syme’s volumes inevitably end up close by. I took that as a major hint, and found mine for $30 (again, more than reasonable).

**R. Meiggs, The Athenian Empire. Again, dated, but still a standard work on 5th c. BCE Athens. I found this book very helpful in getting my bearings on the Athenian Tribute Lists (5th c. inscriptions), which was not an easy task given that it falls in a very difficult period, historically speaking.

How to find them: I found them through a few different search engines. Powell’s sells them, but they’re not always listed on their website. Try also:


May 28, 2007 Posted by | Books | Leave a comment

Call For Papers


This is probably an odd topic for my first real post, but why not. We at Columbia University are hosting a graduate student conference on various expressions of periphery in the Graeco-Roman world. It’s entitled “Rome in Extremis: Outsiders and Incendiaries in the Roman World,” and will be held Sept. 29-30, 2007; abstracts due June 22 (though interested folks should contact me if they need more time). Susanna Elm of UC Berkeley will be our keynote. (click here for the flyer).

One thing probably requires mentioning, I think. Anybody who has been involved in Biblical studies, Jewish studies, early Christianity, or the like knows that this chosen topic has been done already; it’s been done a lot in the past two years, in fact. At the national SBL conference of 2005 probably half of the sessions were devoted to related issues–especially Jewish and Christian internal and external relations and identity formation. AAR and AJS of the same year also had numerous sessions. Several graduate student conferences at various institutions were also held–among them Yale and Princeton (I attended the former). So there’s a real question about whether there’s really any benefit in having yet another conference on periphery. Is there room for another?

Initially I doubted it, however since then have changed my mind. The reason is that there are a lot of other issues concerning “periphery” that haven’t really been brought up in this new wave of discussion, or at least could be more fully. The most of them come from thinking of periphery not in terms of “people groups,” but as phenomena that expose different “seams” in Graeco-Roman society(-ies). The following came to mind, for example:

-Sexual preferences and sexual identity
-Gender and civic roles
-Socio-economic status and social boundary formation and maintenance
-Literacy and illiteracy
-Geographical boundaries
-Roman law
-Taxation; tribute raising
-Founding poleis

Of course, we do not intend to exclude, for instance, issues like religion or ethnos. Such are more than welcome. Rather, these are the kinds of that we are also self-consciously seeking to integrate which, I think, justify yet another conference on periphery. Put another way, we are trying to integrate certain topics more traditionally handled in classical studies into a discussion that has predominantly involved religions and people groups.

As for me, I think I’ll probably present. I’m not sure what though, but I’m thinking about either some of my studies on the confluence of Roman and Arabian law or Jewish paganism in Asia Minor.

So, here again is the Call for Papers.

May 28, 2007 Posted by | Academy | 1 Comment

We’re Back.

After an 8-or-so month hiatus, I’m back blogging. This is a new iteration of my former “midrash-le” blog. Look forward to, yet again, a somewhat irregular schedule of blogging.


May 26, 2007 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments