SBL Greek font released

SBL just posted a new Greek Unicode font (SBL Greek). Here’s James 5:17-18 in the new font:

Here’s a screenshot of the SBL Greek font next to a few other Unicode Greek fonts (Gentium, Palatino Linotype, Vusillus Old Type, and Arial Unicode MS):

The font looks pretty decent. Here’s a screenshot of what the font looks like embedded with English (Latin) letters in Times New Roman:

I’m not sure if I like the ‘slant’ of the font. It looks as if the Greek is ‘italicized’ by default (though the ‘slant’ is not nearly as pronounced as Vusillus Old Type). The line height is not exactly the same as Times New Roman either (the difference is very slight, but there’s still a difference). I think I still prefer Gentium for writing and Palatino Linotype for web browsing.

I will be interested to see how it looks against the SBL BibLit transliteration font (yet to be released). I do hope they combine SBL Hebrew, SBL Greek and SBL BibLit into a single über-font similar to Cardo. That would be quite handy.

The font is available for download at the SBL Biblical Fonts page.

HT: Rod Decker at the NT Resources Blog.

UPDATE: Mark Hoffman notes on the BibleWorks Forums that “According to John Hudson who designed the SBL fonts, once both fonts have stable versions, there will be a combined font called SBLBibLit.”

The Epistle of James at Boston SBL

Michael Bird at Euangelion notes that a draft of the Boston SBL program has been posted. Here’s my own “bird’s eye view” of papers presented on the Epistle of James, or the “historical James”:

  • A New Fragment of James from Oxyrhynchus / Michael Theophilos, University of Oxford

    It is not insignificant that 42% of published New Testament papyri are from Oxyrhynchus, Egypt. Furthermore, of the fifty-eight NT papyri dated to the first half of the fourth century or earlier, Oxyrhynchus contributes to nearly 60% of the material, i.e. thirty four fragmentary papyri. Given Oxyrhynchus’ prominence, prosperity and significant Christian influence this is somewhat understandable, even if it is equally as baffling as to why so much literature, both biblical and otherwise was ‘thrown out’ en masse, only to be found centuries later by two Oxford graduates, B. P. Grenfell and A. S. Hunt of Queen’s College. The primary research that will be undertaken in this study concerns an assessment of a previously unknown New Testament papyrus fragment of the epistle of James from Oxyrhynchus (inventory number 51 4B.18/c [1-4]b). The significance of this study is to offer original and focused research into the history of the textual tradition of the New Testament. Discussion of the fragment will be divided into three sections. Firstly, an extended introduction which will note, among other things, the paleographic points of interest – roll/codex, recto/verso, date, lines/width/height of columns, estimated length of roll and significant reading marks (accents, breathings, quantity marks, punctuation). Secondly, an edited Greek text, both diplomatic and transcriptional (with a short description of how multi-spectral imaging aided in this process, and finally, a section devoted to issues which require further treatment, including exegetical comment, notable paleographic details and collation with other extant manuscripts. Images of the papyri will be included in the presentation.

  • Ill-Skilled Postmen and the Addressees of James: The Socio-rhetorical Function of the Prescript of James / Erin Vearncombe, University of Toronto

    The prescript of James serves an important socio-rhetorical function which provides the key to understanding the purpose of the paraenetic letter as a whole, establishing a guide for exegesis. James 1:1 is the only epistolary element in the document, yet the identification of the (fictive) sender James and the (fictive) audience of the twelve tribes is essential to the interpretation of the text. The address of James “to the twelve tribes in the Diaspora,” along with the pseudepigraphical identification of the author, functions to signal the rhetorical strategy of the letter, acting as a guide for the interpretation of the social world which is constructed in the document. A discussion of previous approaches to the prescript and epistolary status of James, including the characterization of James as a Judean Diaspora letter, an analysis of the pseudepigraphical character of James and the construction of ethos in the letter and a comparison of the text to other Greco-Roman paraenetic letters in terms of the primary importance of status association and negotiation in paraenesis will help to shed light on this socio-rhetorical functioning of the prescript.

  • Jesus and James on Justice in the Courts: A Reconsideration of the Ward/Allison Proposal / Christopher N. Chandler, University of St. Andrews-Scotland

    When interpreters of James come to the discussion about the seating of the rich and the poor in 2:1-13, they are faced with two interpretive options. The majority of recent interpreters, based upon parallel passages in later church orders, opt to understand this to be about seating arrangements in an early Christian worship service. A minority position, which is often noted but rarely taken seriously, is that 2:1-13 depicts an ancient judicial setting between two litigants. This latter position was argued for by R. B. Ward in his 1966 dissertation and a subsequent article in 1969. D. C. Allison demonstrated convincingly in 2000 that Ward’s position, far from being new, was a viable interpretive option among a majority of scholars prior to the 20th century. This paper seeks to build upon the ‘Ward/Allison’ thesis that 2:1-13 depicts an ancient litigious scene in two ways: 1) by demonstrating a significant but rarely noticed parallel between James 2:1-13 and Matthew 7:1-5, and 2) by uncovering the exegetical underpinnings of both of these passages in their halakhic, midrashic engagement with Lev 19:15-18—a section of laws governing just legal judging. Some of the theological implications such an interpretive shift of 2:1-13 might have upon the discussion of faith and works in James 2:14-26 may also be explored.

  • “Love Your Neighbor as Yourself” (Leviticus 19:18b) in Early Jewish-Christian Exegetical Practice and Ethical Formulation / Christopher N. Chandler, University of St. Andrews-Scotland

    The exhortation to “love your neighbour as yourself” from Leviticus 19:18b is a central maxim of Jesus and the early Christian movement. Yet the meaning of this expression attributed to Jesus and the NT authors is often taken for granted as a universalizing principle. The central ethic of the Jesus movement, ‘love,’ is therefore either understood as a kind/gentle attitude or is left rather undefined and vague. This discussion needs more nuance. Drawing upon Jewish exegetical traditions surrounding Leviticus 19:15-18, I shall suggest that both Jesus and his brother James understand Leviticus 19:18b not merely as a summary of the entire Torah, but firstly as a summary of the laws governing just legal judging in Leviticus 19:15-18a. Although Paul and Luke, engaged as they are in the Gentile mission, apply with rigour this principle of ‘love’ in a much broader universalizing manner in order to promote inclusiveness among Jewish/Gentile relations, this interpretation of the love commandment should not necessarily be assumed to be the sole view or use of Lev 19:18b in every case in the NT. The conclusion argued for in this paper, therefore, is that “love your neighbour as yourself” was not only viewed by early Jewish Christians as an ethical principle of universalizing peaceful relations between ethnicities, but was also seen to have ethical implications to do justice to one’s neighbour in the judicial system as well.

  • The Speech of Stephen; the Death of James / Shelly Matthews, Furman University

    This paper will consider the martyrdom of Stephen alongside related traditions concerning the death of James to underscore how both traditions grasp for ways to assert the split of Jesus believers, or Christians, from “The Jews.” As part of this analysis, the speech of Stephen will be set alongside the historiographical speech preserved in the Pseudo-Clementine recognitions 1.27-71, so that the relative hostility of each text toward unbelieving Jews might be better assessed.

  • There will be a joint session of the Letters of James, Peter, and Jude and Philo of Alexandria sections on The Formation of the Soul in Hellenistic Judaism and James. The meeting will be chaired by Stanley Stowers (Brown University) and will include the following papers:
    • “Living in the Soul Alone”: Philo of Alexandria on Soul Formation / Hindy Najman, University of Toronto

      This paper is interested in the way Philo depicts the natural course of the life of the sage as he eventually becomes soul or mind alone. Additionally, the paper considers how natural law and mosaic can serve to guide the soul on its journey to its telos.

    • Philo of Alexandria on the Contemplative and the Active Lives / Gretchen Reydams-Schils, University of Notre Dame

      Philo uses the phrase ‘unsociable community’ to criticize misguided forms of sociability. In the Roman era and so-called Middle-Platonism, under the influence of Stoicism, the boundary between the theoretical and the practical life becomes blurred (even more so than in the Stoicism of the Hellenistic era). This paper will examine the relationship between these two types of life in Philo’s work, taking also into account the relation between an individual and community, and the differences among different kind of communities.

    • Stoic Psychagogy and the Letter of James / John S. Kloppenborg, University of Toronto

      Interpreters have occasionally noted the coincidence between James’ vocabulary and technical terms of Stoicism, usually dismissing them as coincidental. This paper argues that in significant ways, James shares with Stoicism notions of care of the soul, control of the epithymiai, and the role of rational persuasion in the guidance of the soul.

    • Self-Mastery, Apatheia, Metriopatheia, and Moral Theory in the Epistle of James / Luiz Felipe Ribeiro, University of Toronto

      The reading of the Stoics’ influence on James received little support and only very recently got a comprehensive treatment in Matt A. Jackson-McCabe’s “Logos and Law in the Letter of James: the Law of Nature, the Law of Moses and the Law of Freedom. Before Logos and Law in the Letter of James, Jackson-McCabe contends, two lonely treatments of the Epistle allowed for a straight connection between James and Stoic Philosophy. Arnold Meyer in 1930, and M.-E. Boismard in 1957, independently argued that implanted logon (Jas 1,21) and the Perfect Law of Freedom (Jas 1,25) were drawn by the author of the Epistle from a Greek environment, particularly from Stoicism. According to Jackson-McCabe, James’ use of Implanted Logos derived from the early Stoa understanding of Émphutoi Prolepseis (Implanted Preconceptions). This paper proposes to add to Jackson-McCabe’s thesis of Stoic influences in James’ psychology and moral theory. It argues that the pseudonym Yakob might be read in light of the Jewish Hellenistic reception of Stoicism of the idea of the Stoic sage who achieves apatheia, or of the sage who is striving to control his passions through moderation (metriopatheia). This conflation of the Jewish Patriarch and Stoic sage can be seen in the figure of Joseph in the Testaments of the XII Patriarchs and in Abraham, Isaac and Yakob in Philo of Alexandria. The Epistle of James is seen deriving its own ideas about the sage from the Jewish Hellenistic reception of Stoicism and the tradition of the haploûs sophos, the single-minded sage, the man who is the embodiment of simplicity, showing no sign of duplicity, listening and practicing the Logos (Jas 1, 33-35).

  • The Jewish Christianity / Christian Judaism sessions may be of interest as well:
    • How “Jewish” Is the Protevangelium of James? Mary, the Temple, and Ritual Purity / Lily Vuong, McMaster University
    • Characterization of Women in the Pseudo-Clementine Literature / Päivi Vähäkangas, University of Helsinki
    • Jews and/or “Judaizers” in the Epistle of Barnabas: Internal Threat, External Rival, or Ideological Construct? / James N. Rhodes, Saint Michael’s College
    • Mandaean Polemic against Jews and Christians as Evidence about the Origins and Setting of Early Mandaism / James F. McGrath, Butler University