(1) Jona Lendering has been reading the Roman historian Velleius Paterculus, whose reputation has been improving among scholars in recent decades. In observing some deliberate counter-messaging (compliment Augustus, but subtly illustrate his flaws), Jona compared Mark's Gospel (positive declarations about Jesus, surrounded by struggle and ultimate failure) and wondered if this general technique was more common in Antiquity than we've noticed. A very interesting question.
Personally, I was far more intrigued by Jona's insight on Velleius, and what it says about Tiberius' reign (c.29 AD) that a work so set on flattery of the current emperor would be so consistently negative about his previously revered predecessor. Promoting the Tiberian bloodline, and its guardian Sejanus, public statements like Velleius' probably helped undercut the one thing preserving public favor for Agrippina's sons - their claim to the Augustan bloodline. There's more to be found here, if someone's not found it already.
(2) By the way, Jona also wrote a fantastic post about Roman Germany, after Varus, based partly on an artifact called the Tongeren lead bar. Really good stuff, if you're into Roman History. Siiiigh. I wish more Classicists with good historical sense would post online... about the NT era... more than once in a blue moon...
(3) The BMCR Books Received (posted Aug.3rd, for July) included several on Religion in Roman times, which look interesting: Bockmuehl, Markus and Guy G. Stroumsa (edd.). Paradise in antiquity: Jewish and Christian views; Casadio, Giovanni and Patricia A. Johnston (edd.). Mystic cults in Magna Graecia; Mitchell, Stephen and Peter Van Nuffelen (edd.). One god: pagan monotheism in the Roman Empire. AND Monotheism between pagans and Christians in late antiquity (Co-authors, two titles); Orlin, Eric M. Foreign cults in Rome: creating a Roman Empire; Várhelyi, Zsuzsanna. The religion of senators in the Roman Empire: power and the beyond. Of course, none of these will be gracing my shelves, ever, but if some fellow blogger cares to buy and reviews any of these, I'd love to read that!!!
(4) The BMCR also posted a book review of Danijel Dzino's Illyricum in Roman Politics, 229 BC-AD 68. If you're one of those who enjoyed my reconstruction of the Pannonian War back in 2007 (included in the 'Yearbooks' for AD 6, 7, 8 & 9), then by all means, you'll enjoy this review. *** For the rest of you, work on Roman Illyricum helps cement what Paul said in Romans 15:19 about his personal travels - and that reference is huge for anyone trying to work out Pauline Chronology. ***
(5) Mike Bird put up a much noticed article at Bible & Interpretation - called Gentiles for Moses? - about Gentile Proselytes in Antiquity and whether Jews worked very hard to convert them. I liked it. I haven't quite finished all of it, with its plethora of footnotes. But I liked it. Good stuff. :-)
(6) Last Friday, Dorothy King, Ph.Diva, discussed and linked to a recent dissertation on the Temple Treasure in Medieval Rome, and then Leen Ritmeyer posted the same day, uncannily, about upcoming [further] excavations at Rome's Forum of Peace, which Vespatian built to celebrate the destruction of Jerusalem. Fascinating connections. (The dissertation itself, by the way, was in History at LSU. Geaux Tigers!)
(7) Daniel Kirk and Dan Wallace had a long conversation about Pharisees. Daniel also posted a lot this month about something called "Inerrancy". But I don' know nutin bout dat. I just try my best to always trust the Bible. (!) By the way, Dr. JRDK had several good posts this month and may have peaked in his blogging stride by late summer, two years running. This time, he seems to have warded off the temptation to quit blogging. Good. Of all "theological" blogs that I (try to) read, I like Daniel's Storied Theology best.
(8) I'm getting tired of hearing about it, without owning it, but I still can't afford to buy it. But if anyone wants to send me a copy of The Sacred Bridge: Carta's Atlas of the Biblical World, I'd surely be much obliged! Or buy any book linked here, and Amazon will give me a few nickels towards it. :-)
(9) Various Bibliobloggers also posted great stuff:
Phillip J. Long had an excellent post on First Century Judaisms? - plural, question mark. RBL has a a review that I still need to read, on a book that offers a political and theological take on Acts. It's called World Upside Down: Reading Acts in the Graeco-Roman Age. And someone on Twitter said the Bible is like a software license. We all scroll to the bottom and click "agree".
It would naturally be Michael Barber who pointed out that Moses was also a Priest... but of course he's absolutely correct. Not that I want to live at the foot of Mt. Sinai, Michael. ;-) Just joshing, my Catholic Brother! Meanwhile, Scot McKnight enjoyed reading the book Jesus Manifesto, by Len Sweet & Frank Viola. I still need to read my copy, too. The consensus seems to be that, yes, Jesus is indeed very good. :-)
On the Zondervan blog, Darrell Bock has just said he'll be condensing last year's IBR Jesus book, Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus. Good. Thanks, Darrell. That thing's a dang doorstop. Meanwhile (speaking of apologetics!) the bloggers at History of the Ancient World let us know that it's possible Cleopatra DID drink a pearl, as Pliny claimed, even though most scholars took that to be fiction. Here's a video, with some science on the most likely 'solution'.
Brian LePort blogged about Quirinius here and here, as I blogged about here. Doug Chaplin had a great post about Christians (mis)reading Torah - and yes, that does apply to NT studies, as you'll see if you read Doug's wonderful post. And Charles Savelle alerted us to some great tidbits offered by first century historian Paul Maier.
By the way - this one's not about NT or History, but - Seth Godin has announced he's no longer going to use traditional publishing. Wowie, zow-wow. I am patiently jealous.
(10) Finally, I have to say it seemed like there were tons of posts in August about the possible/supposed historicity of Adam, Eve & Eden. This helped me when putting my thoughts into Genesis AS IF History, which I'll hope becomes the last thing I ever post on this topic. By the way, this one IS related to NT/History. How? I'll repeat that post's thesis:
it is NOT evidence for Adam's historicity to point out that both Jesus and Paul spoke about Adam as if he were real. This is unfortunate, from one way of thinking. However, the pattern of Jesus and Paul IS an example of how we might speak and write about Adam. Thus, we might do as well as Jesus and Paul did if we continue speaking AS IF Adam were, in fact, a historical figure.And that's why I said it. That, plus it goes with the early posts in my super-long series on The Movement of God, which will eventually build all the way up to the NT.
Us NT folks can't ever forget the OT, folks.
Huh. I guess this post was pretty much the best of my Google Reader, after all. Go figure!