Staff and Students with friends of the Centre visited Roman sites in Wales in April 2018, focusing on Caerwent and Caerleon. At Caerwent we toured the well-preserved Roman walls, the Romano Celtic temple, and then the forum and the basilica. In Caerleon we explored the well-preserved amphitheatre, the legionary baths and the museum. Richard Cleaves, an expert on the subject and a member of the Centre, acted as our guide for the visit. From the perspective of the Centre, these two sites provide invaluable information about the Roman context for understanding the New Testament texts and connections between Britain and the biblical world (for example, Vespasian, who besieged Jerusalem, at one time commanded the legion based at Caerleon). The day was accompanied by a delicious pub meal.
The Amphitheatre at Caerleon (photo: Pekka Pitkänen)
The legionary barracks at Caerleon (photo: Pekka Pitkänen)
The second edition of the highly successful The Early Christian World edited by Philip Esler has been published and is garnering continuing positive attention.
Dr Pekka Pitkänen will be speaking at the Conference on Paradigm Change in Pentateuchal Research, in Basel, 16th to 18th March 2017, on the topic ‘Reconstructing the Social Contexts of the Priestly and Deuteronomic Materials in a non-Wellhausenian Setting.’
Philip Esler’s new book, Babatha’s Orchard: The Yadin Papyri and An Ancient Jewish Family Tale Retold is published by Oxford University Press on Thursday 23rd February 2017.
The book applies the new historical methodology of archival ethnography to analyse four Nabatean papyri which all concern an intriguing story of how Babatha’s father, Shim’on, came to purchase a date-palm orchard in Maoza, a Dead Sea town, from a Nabatean woman in 99 CE. One feature of the book is the first identification of the nature of P. Yadin 4 and its two parties.
Earlier this year I published an article that interpreted Matthew 23 and the way that it presents the Jews, partly in light of the Second Vatican II document, Aetate Sua, which, inter alia, rightly absolved the Jews of blame in connection with the death of Jesus (‘Intergroup Conflict and Matthew 23: Towards Responsible Historical Interpretation of a Challenging Text’, Biblical Theology Bulletin: Journal of Bible and Culture 2015; 45:38-59.
On 10th December 2015 the Vatican issued a document to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Aetate Sua which restates its message in relation to the Jews very forcefully and makes clear that Catholics do not seek to convert Jews. Jews are ‘our older brothers’ and since the promises of God are everlasting they can find salvation apart from Christ in a way that remains a mystery:“‘THE GIFTS AND THE CALLING OF GOD ARE IRREVOCABLE’ (Rom 11:29): A REFLECTION ON THEOLOGICAL QUESTIONS PERTAINING TO CATHOLIC–JEWISH RELATIONS ON THE OCCASION OF THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF “NOSTRA AETATE” (NO.4).