Gary Greenberg's blog on biblical studies and related matters

“The Case for a Proto-Gospel” officially published

I have been advised today that Peter Lang has officially released my book, The Case for a Proto-Gospel: Recovering the Common Written Source Behind Mark and John. It can be ordered from Amazon and many other book sellers. It is also available on the Peter Lang website in Hardcover, EPUB and Kindle editions. Academics interested in publishing a review should contact marketing@peterlang.com.

Barrie Wilson, Professor Emeritus and Senior Scholar, Religious Studies, York University, Toronto, says of my new work,

Gary Greenberg is a superb intellectual detective, following up on tantalizing clues in ancient texts to uncover sources and insights that others have missed. In this latest work Gary traces similarities between the Gospel of John and the earlier Gospel of Mark. In so doing, he makes a remarkable discovery — lurking behind both gospels is an earlier document that each has used, independently of the other. Here is a new source document that sheds important light on the crucial decades following Jesus’ death.

Carefully crafted, well written, based on historical and literary analysis, Gary’s book enhances our understanding not only of the Gospels of John and Mark but the process whereby the gospels themselves came to be.

Is John a Synoptic Gospel?

I have a new piece up at the Bible and Interpretation site, titled “Is John a Synoptic Gospel?” It’s based on my forthcoming book “The Case for a Proto-Gospel: Recovering the Common Written Source Behind Mark and John.” It’s in the final stage of manuscript preparation before going to the printer, but I have to work out some final pre-press issues with the publisher. Hopefully, it will go to press in March.

Biblical Israelites maintained cult practice in temples outside Jerusalem

Research conducted by Tel Aviv University and Israel Antiquities
Authority archaeologists shed new light on these cult practices thanks
to new excavations at the site of a temple uncovered in 2012. Or, at least that’s what’s being argued by some of the excavators according to this article from The Times of Israel

Berenice, the Jewish Queen of Rome, and the Origins of Replacement Theory

An interesting article about the rise of fears in non-Jewish cultures that Jews would take them over. The article begins with an exploration of the role Berenice played in Rome, after the Romans defeated the Jewish nation and destroyed the Temple. Berinice, and her brother Agrippa II, were Herodians, descendants of Herod the Great, whose descendants ruled over various parts of the Jewish nation in the first century. The Herodians were Roman loyalists (who owed their titles to the Roman emperors) and opposed the Jewish revolt.

Here’s a portion of the opening. The article goes on to explore subsequent historical developments within the Christian world in which fears that a Jew could someday become Pope fueled some Christian reactions against the Jewish people.

In 70 CE, the Roman Emperor Vespasian’s son, Titus, had defeated the Judean rebellion, destroying Jerusalem and the Second Temple. However, once victorious, he chose as his willing consort Berenice, the sister of Agrippa II, the former king of conquered Judaea. This choice was not so odd as it may sound: Berenice and her brother had opposed the Jewish revolt from the beginning. Along with the spoils of the Temple, Titus brought Berenice back to Rome, where, according to Cassius Dio (Roman History LXV 15), she lived with him as if she were his empress, exerting considerable power.

Some Romans were troubled by the romance of Titus and Berenice and spoke out against her. In her prior marriage to the king of Pontus, Berenice had required that he convert to Judaism and be circumcised. There was probably concern that Titus would be convinced to do the same. The result would be a Jewish emperor of Rome, in effect reversing the outcome of the Jewish War. Worse, Titus and Berenice’s children would be Jewish, ensuring that future emperors would be Jewish. In other words, the Roman Empire would be in Jewish hands.

Did Israel Always Have Twelve Tribes?

In my 101 Myths of the Bible, I raised questions about whether the sons of Jacob formed the twelve tribes of Israel (Myth 63). The idea wasn’t new or original at the time. Variations on the argument within the scholarly community had existed well before I put my own take into the record. In a recent essay at Thetorah.com, there is a nice academic review of the question: Did Israel Always Have Twelve Tribes? Worth a read.

More lists of great biblical archaeology discoveries

Bibleplaces blog has a 2019 ten-best list of discoveries in biblical archaeology, along with explanations for why each item was included. Not to be outdone, Bible Archaeology Report goes for the long shot, top ten discoveries of the decade. Longer explanations but, again, I think some of the enthusiastic interpretation of the evidence for some of the conclusions may be a bit misplaced.

Book Review: Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period

While the temple in Jerusalem was the iconic center of life for Jewish people in the Second Temple Period, it’s not very well known that there where other Jewish temples that existed alongside and in contrast to the Jerusalem temple. Although a lot isn’t known about these other centers of worship, they included the anti-Jerusalem Samaritan Temple; a temple in Egypt’s Persian era at Elephantine that may have worshipped more gods than just Yahweh; and the very historically problematic Oniad dynasty temple allegedly in the Egyptian city of Leontopolis, mentioned in the writings of Josephus and 2 Maccabees.

Meron M. Piotrkowski’s Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period attempts to unravel the mystery surrounding the Oniad movement and fill in the many gaps in the historical record, about which there are many academic arguments. If this sort of thing excites you then mosey over to Ancient Jew Review for Miguel Vargas’s lengthy and interesting review of Priests in Exile: The History of the Temple of Onias and Its Community in the Hellenistic Period