Author Archives: cscoedinburgh

About cscoedinburgh

Senior Lecturer in New Testament Studies, University of Edinburgh

Peter in Early Christianity – last chance for cheap booking!

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(Helen Bond) Just a reminder that the early-bird booking fee of £40 runs out on Monday 15th April. After that it will cost you £50. Still a bargain, I’ll admit, but why pay more than you have to?

I’m still working on the programme, but it will be a very busy few days. We’re scheduled to start around 12 noon on the Thursday and end around 3.15 on the Saturday. Just in time for the ISBL in St Andrews . . . I’ll put the programme up just as soon as its ready.

Links to the booking form can be found above, under Events.

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The Mystery of Mary Magdalene

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(Helen Bond) Just a small plug for a TV progra.mme tomorrow (Good Friday). Melvyn Bragg, well-known in the UK for ‘thinking persons’ programming, is presenting an hour-long show in search of ‘the real’ Mary Magdalene. Prof Joan Taylor from King’s London has been keeping him on the straight and narrow as historical consulatant, and I think it promises to be a cut above some of the (pretty dire) documentaries that have been made about Mary lately.  Melvyn takes his search to Israel, and meets a number of scholars along the way (including Tom Wright, Joan Taylor, Kate Cooper and myself).

You can catch a glimpse of it here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p016qd9z

and the programme itself airs at 12 noon on BBC1 (and will be available afterwards on iPlayer).

For what it’s worth, my own view of Mary M is that she was probably a wealthy widow (hence her relative independence and the lack of any mention of a husband). I also suspect that she and other female disciples played an important role in getting the message to women, though that’s not something our gospels are particularly interested in telling us. The very fact that her name was remembered at all presumably suggests a greater role in the early Jesus movement than is obvious from the texts . . .

Hunterian trip

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(Helen Bond).  Further to Matt’s blog (below), I can report that the trip to the Hunterian Museum was a big success. A dozen or so of us made our way over to Glasgow and had a really interesting day out.

For anyone who hasn’t been, the Hunterian is a lovely, quirky little museum where you might find cases of beetles nestling next to Egyptian mummies, rows of eighteenth century jugs next to African spears, and jars of medical specimens next to a dinosaur bone. The Antonine wall exhibit is small, but contains a number of distance slabs, inscribed and often decorated by the legions who built the wall. There are also altars, grave stones, sandals and other artefacts. Here are some of Frank Dicken’s photos:

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Hunterian 2

The Hunterian is rightly proud of its numismatics collection, which has some beautiful pieces. Along with Tyrian shekels, we had a good look at their Jewish coins –  those of various Herods, the Roman prefects, those struck during the siege of Jerusalem and the Iudaea Capta ones issued with great enthusiasm by the new Flavian emperors. We were able to pass them round, and get a feel for their weight and designs.

The museum staff were extremely generous with their time – there’s a good chance we’ll be repeating the visit in years to come.

Bible on TV – Conference at King’s

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(Helen Bond) Last week saw a one-day conference at King’s College, London on the topic of ‘The Bible on TV.’ It was organised by Dr Eddie Adams, along with his colleagues at King’s and CTVC, an independent TV production company. The event was a sell-out, with 200 people gathered together, from school children to media people, academics to church ministers. It was such a good idea – I wish we’d have thought of it here!

The original impetus for the conference was a 2-part programme on St Paul due to be aired on BBC 1 this Christmas. It’s called David Suchet in the Footsteps of St Paul and features the lovely David Suchet (Poirot to many of us) walking the roads tramped by St Paul and meeting various academics, archaeologists and tour guides along the way. David became a Christian after reading St Paul’s letter to the Romans and has been a fan of the great apostle ever since, so its a very personal, considered programme. Eddie Adams was historical consultant, and David runs into me at Antioch. (If you’re interested, it goes out here at 9am on 23rd and 24th December, then again at the slightly better time of 6pm on 1st and 2nd Jan, I think on BBC2 that time).

The conference showed a few clips of the film and had a panel discussion devoted to it. But there were lots of other interesting sessions – Robert Beckford, who has made several TV programmes now, shared his insights on what makes a good programme, and who programmes need to appeal to. We also heard from the Head of Religion and Ethics at the BBC (Aaqil Ahmed), David Batty (a documentary producer and director), and Ben Quash (Prof of Christianity and the Arts at King’s). There was a nice mix between lectures, panel discussions (on sofas, a la Breakfast TV), and Q & A sessions.

I was also involved in another session in which Francesca Stavrakopoulou, Joan Taylor and myself each gave a 10 minute account of our experiences of working with the media. Not surprisingly, perhaps, there were some common themes – we’re all highly committed to working with media people on ‘Bible’ programmes, but we’ve all had some less than pleasant experiences, particularly when it comes to dealing with responses by viewers. The fact that we’re all female only exacerbated some of these responses. From my own point of view, its very difficult (if not impossible) to know in advance which particular 10-second clip of a 2-hour interview is going to be used in the final product. Its up to me to be clear and concise in my answers on screen, but I can’t really be blamed for the final thing! We also talked about the need for women to find an authoritative voice, and the opportunities that working with the media offer to academics to get their views out to a wider public.

I came away from the day feeling that there’s a lot of good work on the Bible being done for TV at the moment. The History Channel are due to launch their epic 10-part dramatisation of the Bible at Easter (in the US, at least) and I imagine that that will create quite a stir. I’ve seen some episodes already, and though I’m sworn to secrecy, I think they’re pretty good . . .

The conference was filmed and may be put up on the King’s website at some point, though I haven’t seen anything of it yet. Thanks again to Eddie and the team at King’s.