Author Archives: larryhurtado

About larryhurtado

I'm a scholar in New Testament and Christian Origins, currently Professor of New Testament Language, Literature & Theology in the University of Edinburgh (since 1996), and previously Professor in the Department of Relgiion, University of Manitoba.

Language & Identity in Early Christian Texts


(Larry Hurtado)  Earlier this week I finished reading the newly-published version of the PhD thesis of another of our recent students:

Julia A. Snyder, Language and Identity in Ancient Narratives, WUNT 2, no. 370 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2014).

She demonstrates admirable familiarity with principles of linguistics, especially socio-linguistics, applying herself to three case-study texts:  Acts of the Apostles, Acts of John, and Acts of Philip.  For each text, her question is whether the terminology of speakers varies with difference audiences being addressed.  In particular, when Christians are portrayed addressing other believers do they use different terminology (e.g., in referring to Christ and/or God) than when addressing “outsiders”?

It’s data-rich, measured and careful in making judgements, and to my mind persuasive in them.  Congratulations, Julia!

A New Study of Codex Alexandrinus


(Larry Hurtado)  I’m pleased to announce the publication of an in-depth study of Codex Alexandrinus, a fifth-century manuscript, one of the three earliest codices containing the entire Christian Bible:   W. Andrew Smith, , A Study of the Gospels in Codex Alexandrinus: Codicology, Palaeography, and Scribal Hands (Leiden: Brill, 2014).  It’s all the more a pleasure to note this publication as it’s based on Smith’s  2013 PhD thesis completed here.  I am pleased also to have served as his principal supervisor.

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.

Excavations at Roman Fort: Binchester


(Larry Hurtado) Recent archaeological work at the Roman site, Vinovia (now known as Binchester, in County Durham (UK) has yielded results include evidence of Christianity.  In particular, findings include a silver ring with an intaglio inset with an anchor and two fish set in a fashion familiar in early Christian art/symbols:


It is interesting to find this sort of evidence in the remains of a military garrison.  The ring is likely from the 4th century CE.  For more information on the site and the archaeological work, see here.

New Book on the Genre of Acts


I announce publication of the thesis of yet another of our recent PhD students, Dr. Sean Adams, who is currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow here in the School of Divinity:

The Genre of Acts and Collected Biography.  Society for New Testament Studies Monograph Series 155.  Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 2013.

The genre of Acts continues to be a debated topic in New Testament scholarship. Despite its literary relationship to the Gospel of Luke a majority of scholars assign these books to two different genres: Luke is traditionally viewed as a biography of Jesus, and Acts as a history of the early church. Comparing in detail the structure and content of Acts with the formal features of history, novel, epic, and biography, Adams challenges the dominant view that Acts is a history, arguing that the best genre parallel for the Acts of the Apostles is in fact collected biography; the first monograph-length work to argue for such a perspective.

By taking this view Adams addresses a number of interpretive issues. For example, it helps explain the structure of Acts, its focus on the disciples and the advancement of the Christian message, and its need to delineate in-group and out-group members, particularly through their interaction with either Peter or Paul. Additionally, it provides an interpretation for the ending of Acts that not only understands the existing ending as an intentional composition by the author, but also explains why Luke did not recount Paul´s trial and death. The shift away from Paul to the preaching of the kingdom of God reinforces the thrust found in a number of collected philosophical biographies that a disciple is only as important as his faithful adherence to and proclamation of his master´s teaching.

In this work Adams models a fluid and flexible perspective on genre. More than just a collection of formal features, Adams shows that genres are to be understood in light of their cultural context and relationships to other genres. Moreover, genres form a dynamic system whose boundaries are constantly in flux. This flexible and malleable understanding of genre provides a strong warning to biblical scholars and classicists who might be tempted to apply rigid generic definitions.

The publisher’s link on the book is here.