Pentateuchal Conference in Basel, 16th to 18th March 2017

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.’


Babatha’s Orchard

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.


The Jews, the Catholic Church and the Gospel of Matthew

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).