On: Alpha Christianity Call for Papers
Oldtime members of Synoptic may recall how over the past decade or so I have
now and then drawn attention to the likelihood that the considerable number
of canonical and noncanonical texts which do not mention the Resurrection,
but have a quite different theology, imply the existence of a form of
Christian belief (to which I have recently given the name Alpha
Christianity), which seems to date back to the time before the death of
Jesus, when his death was thus not yet available to be the subject of theory
building, and thus most probably to the lifetime teachings of Jesus.
(Resurrection or Beta theology, which is in full spate by the time of the
late Pauline letters of the 50's - and there are no *early* Pauline letters
- represents a later development, which as we know became largely dominant
by the end of the 1st century).
This Alpha possibility has been further supported by the results of my
philological investigations of some of the key texts, such as Mark (here
coinciding in one important detail with the results of Adela Yarbro Collins,
and in another detail with an earlier suggestion of Vincent Taylor) and
Luke. These results have also been reported at regional and national
sessions of SBL, going back to 2006. They tend to identify early text strata
which either reflect (Mark) or insistently keep to and further develop
(Luke) this Alpha belief.
And so on.
These results have attracted a certain amount of attention in recent years,
and following the SBL meeting last November, an interest group, with its own
E-mail list, was begun in order to accommodate that interest, and to give it
a certain scholarly scope. One institutional consequence is that there will
be special Alpha Christianity sessions at two regional SBL meetings this
spring: SBL/NE in April(details finalized) and SBL/EGL in March (details
still being worked out).
I am attaching the revised Call for Papers for the SBL/NE Alpha session, in
case someone on this list would be interested in participating. That Alpha
Call incorporates instructions for all SBL/NE submissions, from the more
general Call. If the attachment here provided does not come through, the
same is posted on the home page of the Alpha web site:
The top of that page is a general introduction, the middle is a TOC for
associated pages (which I blush to say are not yet all uploaded), and the
bottom contains SBL relevant data, including the home pages of the SBL/NE
and SBL/EGL sites, where the most current information about both can be
So far (but we are open to any good suggestions that come in), the topics
that seem likely to be represented at SBL/EGL in March tend toward the late
1st century, and those at SBL/NE in April toward the early 1st century: John
the Baptist, Peter, the earliest Christian liturgical expressions. There is
no reason that this tendency needs to be enforced; I mention it only in case
it might suggest a topic to someone.
Let me know if there are questions about either session, or about the Alpha
enterprise in general.
Best wishes of the weekend,
E Bruce Brooks
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
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