John the Baptist (Online 2021)

We’re pleased to announce a new Nangeroni conference on John the Baptist, organized by the Enoch Seminar in collaboration with the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus. All major international specialists in John the Baptist will be present, including Joel Marcus, Joan Taylor, Edmondo Lupieri, James McGrath, Albert Baumgarten, Cecilia Wassen, and Eric Noffke.

Dates: 11-14 January 2021

Register here:

Registration is free but $20 or more donation is welcome in support of the international activities of the Enoch Seminar.

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[Schedule is based on Eastern Standard Time]

DAY 1 (Monday Jan 11, 2021)

9:00am – Welcome(Gabriele Boccaccini & Michael Daise)

9:15-9:45am — Introduction: John the Baptist over the Centuries (Tradition, Scholarship, and the Arts) (Gabriele Boccaccini)

Gabriele Boccaccini’s presentation notes [click here]

(-) 9:45-11:45am — Freedman Panel, organized by the Department of Middle East Studies of the University of Michigan: Who is my John the Baptist? Contemporary Scholarly Portraits

  • Chair: Kelley Coblentz Bautch
  • Speakers: Joel Marcus, Joan Taylor, Edmondo Lupieri, Rivka Nir, Albert Baumgarten, Gabriele Boccaccini

Supplemental reading for Joan Taylor’s presentation [click here]

Rivka Nir’s presentation [click here]

Supplemental reading for Rivka Nir’s presentation [click here]

Supplemental reading for Albert Baumgarten’s presentation [click here]

Gabriele Boccaccini’s presentation [click here]

(1) 12:30-2:15pm — John the Baptist within Second Temple Judaism

Who was John the Baptist according to Josephus? Is there any relationship between John’s baptism and the Baptism of Adam in the traditions related to the Life of Adam and Eve? Can we notice any relationship between John’s preaching and the latest phase of the Enochic literature reflected in the Book of Parables?

  • Speakers: Steve Mason, Daniele Minisini, Kelley Coblentz Bautch, Johannes Tromp
  • Discussants: Claude Cohen-Matlofsky, Kenneth Atkinson

Steve Mason, “John the Drencher (aka Baptist), a Judaean Vir Bonus in Josephus, AJ 18.116–119″
 Exegetical tradition inclines us to treat every word by an ancient Jewish author as a theological utterance, and to explain it by reference to other Jewish literature. But understanding Josephus’ portrait of John means first considering what he wished to convey to his audiences in Flavian Rome. This requires attention to the context in Antiquities and the resources shared by author and audience. For Josephus, John’s fame as a drencher is incidental to his role as the good man and effective orator who risks all for justice, a foil for the grasping Antipas. Implications for reconstructing the historical John follow.

Presentation handout for Steve Mason [click here]

Supplemental reading for Steve Mason’s presentation [click here]

Johannes Tromp, “Baptism, but no John in the literature on Adam and Eve”
 In the earliest versions of the Life of Adam and Eve, no uncontested references to baptism occur. In later developments of the story, there are somewhat more convincing references to baptism, but no connection is made with John the Baptist. This seems to be true of apocryphal literature in general, even including New Testament apocrypha.

Kelley Coblentz Bautch, “Elijah Redivivus: John the Baptist and the Prophet Performed, Embodied, and Returned”
 This paper examines the diverse lore associated with Elijah in ancient Judaism and how these traditions of the “man of God” or prophet relate to the presentation of John the Baptist in the canonical gospels. The topic is not uncomplicated given the various ways Elijah “appears” within New Testament writings. Nonetheless, we focus on how John represents and embodies Elijah within the gospels, whether consciously or in retrospect, and we explore the idea of Elijah’s “occultation,” in association with eschatological or messianic traditions. Mindful of current studies on exemplars and pseudepigraphy, the following question is also in view: what does it mean in ancient Judaism to be Elijah Redux? 

Daniele Minisini, “Was John the Baptist an apocalyptic preacher? Some Enochic remarks”
 If it is true that the preaching of John the Baptist was characterized by strongly apocalyptic features such as the idea of an impending end and the advent of an eschatological judgment, it remains to be understood where to place him among the various Jewish apocalyptic tendencies of the Second Temple period. My paper will try to link John’s preaching with the last phase of the Enochic literature.

Daniele Minisini’s presentation [click here]

(2) 3:00-4:45pm — John the Baptist in Christian Tradition

How was the memory of John reshaped by the various Christian groups and authors who in various ways valued his figure for their own ‘agendas’? How is his mission and relationship with Jesus articulated in Christian “orthodox” sources?

  • Speakers: Michael Daise, Rafael Rodriguez, Joan Taylor, Francesco Pieri

Michael Daise, “Isaiah 40:3 and John the Baptist”
 Isaiah 40:3 has been broached from two lines of inquiry: as an identity marker for John the Baptist; and as an instance of early Jewish and Christian hermeneutics. The two approaches have not entirely been put in dialogue with each other; and my comments aim to make a start on this by bringing observations from the latter to bear on John’s profile in the gospels.

Supplemental reading for Michael Daise’s presentation [click here]

Rafael Rodríguez, “Finding John and Jesus in Tradition”
 Historians have wrestled with the varying portrayals of John in the Gospels and Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews. Was John the forerunner to Israel’s messiah, Jesus, or was he the more popular and influential figure, with Jesus being but one of his disciples? My paper sets the question(s) of John’s and Jesus’s reputations within the frame of recent advances in the study of tradition, particularly as that term intersects with notions of social and/or collective memory.

Supplemental reading for Rafael Rodriguez’s presentation [click here]

Joan E. Taylor, “Dimensions of John the Baptist in Early Christian Art
 While historians focus on John the Baptist in literature, in order to probe what we can know about the actual John and how he is represented in our diverse texts, we may also have a pre-existing image of what John looked like. Often our image is composite: partly derived from our reading of Mark 1:6//Matt. 3:4, partly from our familiarity with centuries of Christian art and partly from our viewing of contemporary films.  But how was John imagined in the earliest portrayals? Fortunately, we have ancient images of how John was visualised (3rd-6th centuries). One of the key aspects of such visualisations is multivalence: a widespread feature in early Christian art. John is shown as baptizing Jesus, in line with early Christian texts, but he is also representative of the actions of all Christian ‘baptists’ in the initiation ceremonies of the churches. Other additional meanings were also woven into the iconography, drawn from existing tropes of Graeco-Roman art, pointing to John’s deep linkage with both the divine and the natural worlds, so that John almost becomes a prophet of the Stoic God-as-Nature. Considering how the historical, meaningful and prototypical weave together in such art, we are prompted also to reflect again on John the Baptist’s reception in literature.    

Joan Taylor’s presentation [click here]

Supplemental reading for Joan Taylor’s presentation [click here]

Francesco Pieri, “John the Baptist in Origen’s Exegesis”
 Origen’s interpretation concerning John’s ministry and martyrdom should be recognized – as is often the case – as a major source of inspiration for most of the subsequent patristic exegesis. His announcement and baptism signify the actual role of Christian prophecy in preparing a way for the inner coming of the Logos. For the Church hiss dramatical death foretells the risk of losing its prophetic vigour due to an excessive search for agreement with worldly power.

Francesco Pieri’s presentation [click here]

DAY 2 (Tuesday Jan 12, 2021)

9:00am — Welcome

9:15-9:45am — Recap session:

(1) How confident are we about the possibility of “recovering” the historical John the Baptist? 

(2) How important is the study of Second Temple Judaism in order to understand the historical figure of John the Baptist?

(3) How important is the study of Christian traditions in order to understand the historical figure of John the Baptist?  

(3) 10:00-11:45am — John in Judeo-Christianity, Gnosticism, Mandeanism, and Islam

Do the sources testify to the existence of a messianic “Baptist sect” in competition to the Jesus movement? If so, at what stage? How is his relationship with Jesus articulated in the Pseudo-Clementine Homilies and Recognitiones? What role does the figure of John the Baptist play within Mandeanism? How is John represented in Nag Hammadi’s Gnostic texts? And in Islam?

  • Speakers: Giovanni Bazzana, Alberto Camplani, James McGrath, Caroline Lemmens
  • Discussants: Pamela Reaves

Giovanni Bazzana, “‘The Greatest Among Those Born of Women’: The Controversial Figure(s) of John the Baptist in the Pseudo-Clementine novel”
 Despite its very limited number of appearances in the relatively vast Pseudo-Clementine tradition, the character of John the Baptist has attracted significant scholarly attention for the unique traits displayed in this early Christian novel. Indeed, John is the object of a uniquely negative representation in some of the materials included in the Pseudo-Clementines and this state of affairs has moved scholars to plumb the novel in order to discover what it can teach us about the “historical John”. This intervention will take a different path by looking at the historical context in which the Pseudo-Clementine sources or the two extant versions of the novel depicted and debated the figure of “the greatest among those born of women”. This analysis will show how “John” maintained a crucial role as a signpost for controversies regarding group identity formation, the religious significance of water purification, and gender discourses.

Giovanni Bazzana’s presentation [click here]

Alberto Camplani, “John the Baptist at the intersection of contrasting salvific economies: a demon, a prophet, or a spiritual being? The different portraits of John in Gnostic texts and Marcion’s Euangelion”
 Gnostic speculations on the figure of John either as a representative of the old Demiurgic economy (Old Testament) or as a symbol of the preparation to the divine plans of the Saviour are compared with his marginalization in the Marcionite Evanghelion. This variety of attitudes can be justified on the basis of profound differences in theological and anthropological conceptions among a number of early Christian currents.

Presentation notes for Alberto Camplani [click here]

Supplemental reading for Alberto Camplani’s presentation [click here]

James McGrath, ”Can Mandaean sources be useful in the study of the historical John the Baptist?”
 It has become commonplace to dismiss or simply ignore Mandaean sources in New Testament studies in general, and even in connection with John the Baptist, when reference to them would seem particularly germane. Even scholars who accept the implausibility of the suggestion (made by Dodd and others) that the Baptist was introduced into Mandaeism in the era of Islam, tend to view Mandaean sources as nevertheless too late to be genuinely useful (just as most New Testament scholars set aside the Nag Hammadi texts as of interest in connection with the reception of Jesus and the New Testament Gospels, but not for the historical interpretation of them in their original context). In this conference paper I will explore further and in greater detail the analogy between Jesus and the Nag Hammadi sources on the one hand, and John the Baptist and Mandaean sources on the other. My paper will argue that historians would find the Nag Hammadi sources useful, and would use them cautiously and critically but nonetheless extensively, if we lacked the New Testament Gospels, and thus found ourselves in a similar situation with respect to Jesus to that we find ourselves in when it comes to John the Baptist. After exploring the methodological questions through this thought experiment, several concrete examples will be presented of material in Mandaean sources that should be judged historically valuable for those interested in John the Baptist as a historical figure.

James McGrath’s presentation [click here]

Supplemental reading for James McGrath’s presentation [click here]

Caroline Lemmens, “John the Baptist in the Islam”
 The figure John the Baptist emerges with the name Yaḥyā in the Qur’ān in the beginning of the 7th century. The Quran interprets John as an important prophet in his own right as well as an example for how believers should view Jesus. In all four places in the Quran where John is mentioned, Jesus is mentioned as well, both being prophets.’

Caroline Lemmens’ presentation [click here]

(4) 12:30-2:15pm — John the Baptist, the Temple, and the Priesthood

Was John a priest? What was his attitude towards the priesthood? Was his teaching or his baptism in opposition to the Temple? What was the attitude of the Temple and the Priesthood towards the preaching of John?

  • Speakers: Paul Anderson, Eric Noffke, Ian Werrett, Edmondo Lupieri

Paul N. Anderson, “John, Jesus, and the Transformation of Judaism”
 The ministries of John the Baptist and Jesus are presented as linked together in all four Gospels, but in Johannine perspective, their ministries overlapped, and the temple incident is linked to the prophetic witness of John. In both cases, the ministries of John and Jesus can be seen as challenging limitations ritual purification in the name of historic Jewish values and the transformation of Judaism.

Supplemental reading for Paul Anderson’s presentation [click here]

Eric Noffke, “John and John, two marginalized Jewish priests?”
 John the Baptist plays a key role in the fourth gospel’s narrative and theological plan. According to at least part of the scholarship, the fourth gospel is believed to be the work of a Jewish priest who became a follower of Jesus. If this approach is correct, can the evangelist’s priestly theology have affected his understanding of the Baptizer? And, above all, can this approach help us in finding out whether John the baptizer was a priest himself?

Ian Werrett, “John son of Zechariah and Elizabeth: Priestly Patrimony, Lukan Lore, or Baptist Gospel?”
 Of the canonical Gospels, Luke is the only book to identify John the Baptist as having originated from priestly stock (Luke 1:5). This does not prove that John was the descendant of priests, however. Rather, it indicates that the author felt it necessary to present him as such. In this presentation, I will focus on the depiction of John in the Gospel of Luke in hopes of stimulating a discussion on the author’s rationale for presenting the Baptist as having priestly credentials.

Ian Werrett’s presentation [click here]

Edmondo Lupieri, “Grasshoppers, wild honey, and camel’s hair again and again: is there any trace of qumranic/sadocitic/priestly halakhah in John the Baptist?”
 If the data regarding food and dress of John the Baptist were not an “archaeological curiosity” and came to Mark from a reliable and ancient pre-Synoptic tradition, they must have been saved for some reason. If, as many of us think, the original goal was to communicate something of John’s halakhah, then fresh reflections may help us to better situate him in the cultural vivacity and diversity of Second Temple Judaism.

(5) 3:00-4:45pm — John the Baptist, Qumran, and the Essenes

Was John an Essene? Was he at Qumran? Which are the major similarities and differences between John and the Dead Sea Scrolls? How is John’s relationship to Essenism to be revised in light of the latest studies on the Essenes, the Scrolls and Qumran?

  • Speakers: Joel Marcus, Albert Baumgarten, Corrado Martone, Cecilia Wassen
  • Discussants: Claude Cohen-Matlofsky, Kenneth Atkinson

Joel Marcus, “John the Baptist and Qumran”
 In John the Baptist in History and Theology, I argued that John started out as a member of the Qumran community, but subsequently left it to strike out on his own. In my remarks I will respond to challenges to this thesis having to do with the nature of the Qumran community and the similarities and differences between John and the Qumran group.

Supplemental reading for Joel Marcus ‘s presentation [click here]

Albert Baumgarten, “John’s Food and his Sectarian Past”
 John’s food was taken direct from nature. His refusal to eat bread and drink wine (like any normal person!) led people to charge that he had a demon, i.e. was mad (Luke 7:33). Comparison with the diet of expelled Essenes in Josephus and that of Josephus’ former master Bannus, seen in light of the analysis of food patterns suggested by Levi-Strauss and Louis Dumont, suggests that John had a sectarian (Essene or Qumran type?) past, in which his access to food prepared by ordinary Jews was prohibited and was limited to food under the auspices of the group. When that was not available, the only permitted food was that taken directly from nature.

Supplemental reading for Albert Baumgarten’s presentation [click here]

Corrado Martone, “John the Baptist in the Light of Qumran Literature: Some Considerations”
 The theme of the relationship between Qumran literature and Christian origins has long been a theme of great interest and remains so today. In this paper I will analyze and evaluate the possible analogies and differences between what we know about John the Baptist and his activities and what we know about the community of Qumran. To be tenable, the hypothesis of a relationship between John the Baptist and the community of Qumran should offer analogies between the two parties that are of greater weight than any differences: we will show how the alleged analogies that have been put forward over the years, far from being stronger than the undeniable differences, can hardly be sustained as analogies.

Corrado Martone’s presentation [click here]

Supplemental reading for Corrado Martone [click here]

Cecilia Wassen, “John the Baptist and the Qumran Movement: How Do We Compare the Sources?”
 By comparing the sources on John the Baptist with certain texts from the Dead Sea Scrolls, scholars commonly investigate whether or not John was a member of the Qumran movement. I will engage with Joel Marcus’s recent volume, John the Baptist in History and Theology, and reflect on some of the problems involved in such a comparison. Thereby I will examine the focus on the site of Qumran and the prominence of 1QS, particularly when it comes to purity issues.

DAY 3 (Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021)

9:00am — Welcome

9:15-9:45am — Recap session

— Was the John the Baptist a sectarian movement? or else?

(6) 10:00-11:45am –John’s Baptism, Messianism, and the Forgiveness of Sins

What was the relations between John’s baptism and Second Temple ritual baths? For whom was John’s baptism devised: for all and everyone (i.e. all Israel) or specifically for the sinners? What is the precise relationship between John’s immersion, the repentance of those who undertook it, and the forgiveness of sins? Which description of his baptism deserves more credit: Josephus’ or Mark’s? Was John’s baptism an ‘eschatological sacrament’ mediating forgiveness and effecting atonement and salvation? Did it intended to impart the Holy Spirit?

  • Speakers: Yonatan Adler, Ithamar Gruenwald, Jonathan Lawrence, Gabriele Boccaccini
  • Discussants: Benjamin Snyder

Yonatan Adler, “Ritual Immersion Practices in Second Temple Judaism”
 One way to examine John’s baptism is through the prism of contemporary Judean ritual immersion practices. These practices are best studied by investigating not only the textual evidence, but also the extensive archaeological evidence available in the form of stepped pools. The quantity and extremely widespread distribution of these pools throughout Judean settlement zones suggest that purificatory immersion was practiced regularly—perhaps daily—by a large segment of the Judean population.

Supplemental reading for Yonatan Adler’s presentation [click here]

Jonathan Lawrence, “Ritual Washing – Texts and Structures in the Second Temple Period”
 My presentation will outline the range of uses of washing in the Hebrew Bible and Second Temple Literature.  These uses ranged from various ritual situations, metaphorical uses of the idea of washing, and washing as initiation.  Some Christian writers have suggested from early times up to our own time that Jesus and early Christians were creating a new idea of washing as a rejection or transformation of  Jewish ritual washing.  However, the wide range of Second Temple period uses suggests that it may have been more of a process of adapting pre-existing concepts and diverging from Judaism instead of creating something new.  I will also describe archaeological evidence for the development of miqva’ot, ritual baths, in the Second Temple and later periods.

Jonathan Lawrence’s presentation [click here]

Jonathan Lawrence’s powerpoint presentation [click here]

Ithamar Gruenwald, “Did John the Baptist baptize Jesus?”
 My presentation will focus on the textual evidence preserved in the Synoptic Gospels. It indicates that no agreement existed between the synoptic texts with regard to the question, whether John physically baptized Jesus, or that Jesus baptized himself. This issue, primarily a textual one, has ritual and other consequences. As it comes up right at the beginning of the Jesus-story, it reflects historical, ritual and theological divergence of opinions, or traditions, with regard to the role which John the Baptist played, vis a vis that of Jesus, in the beginnings of the new religion.

Supplemental reading for Ithamar Gruenwald’s presentation – [Document 1] and [Document 2]

Gabriele Boccaccini, “From the ritual baths of Second Temple Judaism to the Christian Baptism, passing through John the Baptist”
 My presentation will examine the transformation of a ritual common to Second Temple Judaism into an eschatological ritual for the forgiveness of sins. It will focus in particular on the influence of the late apocalyptic Judaism (Parables of Enoch) in making the end of times not only of a time of Judgment but also a time of repentance for sinners.

Gabriele Boccaccini’s presentation [click here]

Supplemental reading for Gabriele Boccaccini’s presentation [click here]

(7) 12:30-2:15pm — John and the Law: Purity, and Other Halakhic Matters

What was John’s stance on the much debated question of purity in light of the other halakhic views known to us? How did he articulate the relationship between ritual/bodily (im)purity and moral/inner (im)purity? Did he considered sinners to be ritually unclean (and defiling?) as long as they remained unrepentant and unrighteous? Did he somehow conflate the two, so that immersing in water was seen as cleansing not only the body from ordinary levitical uncleanness – or perhaps some special kind of sin-generated impurity – but also the heart from sin? How are Mark’s reports on John eating locusts and wild honey and wearing a garment of camel’s hair to be understood from a legal point of view? Do they testify to a peculiar halakhah and a claim of expertise on subtle legal questions on John’s part? Was John celibate? If so, was this related to purity concerns?

  • Speakers: Benjamin Snyder, Lawrence Schiffman, Thomas Kazen, Vered Noam, Jonathan Klawans

Bnjamin Snyder, “John’s Immersion: In Ritual Context and Comparative Perspective”
 Interpreters have long sought to identify the origin of John’s immersion. Commonplace among these theories are the amassing of parallels and the emphasizing of differences in an effort to root John’s practice in a sect, such as the Qumran community (most recently argued by Joel Marcus), or a similar ritual practice, such as proselyte baptism, mystery religions, or priestly initiation. I first propose that the critical use of comparative method offers a necessary corrective to our attempts to understand John and his immersion. Then, drawing on insights from ritual studies, I argue that John’s immersion does not derive from from any antecedent but may be understood as the application of ritual purification in its “basic” sense and without a need to appeal to conflation.

Benjamin Snyder’s presentation [click here]

Supplemental reading for Benjamin Snyder’s presentation [click here]

Lawrence H. Schiffman, “John the Baptist and the Dead Sea Scrolls”
 It has been suggested that John the Baptist reflects in some ways the Qumran approach to ritual purity. This claim is based primarily on the role of immersion as a means of initiation in the Qumran Scrolls. We will explore this connection, taking the view that it is greatly exaggerated.

Lawrence H. Schiffman’s presentation [click here]

Thomas Kazen, “John’s immersions: ritual purifications, but from what?”
 Immersion is an unmistakable purification ritual, but from what would John’s immersions purify, that could not be achieved by an ordinary miqveh? Considering the relevant texts from the Synoptics, Josephus, and 1QS on immersion, purity, sin, and forgiveness, I will attempt to outline the options and disentangle them, first with the help of metaphor theory, especially conceptual blending, and secondly by trying out Lawson & McCauley’s Theory of Ritual Form. Is anything indicated by the fact that John’s immersions were seen to have had high impact and were associated with behavioural change?

Thomas Kazen’s presentation [click here]

Thomas Kazen’s powerpoint presentation [click here]

Supplemental reading for Thomas Kazen’s presentation [click here]

Vered Noam, “John and the “morning immersers”
 One of the main disputes regarding the image of John the Baptist revolves around the significance of his baptism. Was it directed at repentance and forgiveness of sins, or associated with Jewish ritual purity? Was it a one-time or a recurrent action? Marginal, later evidence connecting John to a stringent Jewish faction which advocated daily immersion has possible implications for this issue. Examination of rabbinic references to this sect may shed light, if not on the historical figure, at least on the way John was remembered in subsequent generations by those who were not among his adherents.

Jonathan Klawans, “John’s Baptism: An Innovative Rite of Atonement”
 While uncertainty will always remain, we begin with the observation that we do better to follow the synoptics over Josephus on John. Josephus has his own reasons for viewing John’s baptism as more symbolic than effective, as more evocative than innovative. The Gospels have it better: John’s practice was above all a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins—an innovative rite of atonement. In this respect, the rite was distinctive enough to be associated primarily with John’s memory for generations. Josephus’s testimony confirms, however, that water rites also inevitably relate to purity, and we will continue to do well to attend to the purificatory backgrounds and implications (both ritual and moral) of John’s distinctive and innovative practice.

Presentation handout for Jonathan Klawans [click here]

(8) 3:00-4:45pm — John and Politics

How did John react to the social, economic, and political troubles of his time? Did John have a social program? What was his attitude towards the wealthy? What was his attitude to Roman imperialism, the Jerusalem aristocracy and the Herodian house? Did John’s message have clear political implications, perhaps even revolutionary? What weight should be given to his political death in trying to reconstruct John as a truly historical person of his time rather than in more or less theological terms? What was his attitude toward Gentiles?

  • Speakers: Lester Grabbe, Nathan Shedd, Rivka Nir, Shayna Sheinfeld
  • Discussants: Lorenzo DiTommaso, Gregory Doudna, Morten Hørning Jensen

Lester Grabbe, “Herod Antipas”
 An introduction to the political and social context of John the Baptist, focusing on Herod Antipas

Nathan Shedd, “Negotiating Herod Antipas’ Masculine Rule”
 The characterization of Herod Antipas in Mark 6:14–29 has been variously construed. For some scholars, Mark all but exonerates the “king” while placing the blame for John’s death on the Herodian women in particular. For others, he holds the primary blame. In this essay, I will reconfigure the characterization of Antipas in Mark’s portrayal of John’s beheading by reading John’s death in light of ancient discourses of beheading.

Supplemental reading for Nathan Shedd’s presentation [click here]

Rivka Nir, “John the Baptist as a martyr “
 In the account of John’s death, I sought to show that though Christian martyrdom is a phenomenon essentially attached to and modeled on Jesus’ death, John may be perceived as a model of martyr who died for the faith, and his suffering and death must precede and foreshadow Jesus’ passion and martyrdom. The charge John levels at Herod ‘It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife’, on account of which he is put to death, posits him as a public and fearless defender of a tenet of religious faith. One may read this tenet in the spirit of Torah incest prohibitions, as does the prevailing approach, and link John’s martyrdom with Jewish martyrs who died for their allegiance to Torah commands. To my mind, however, the various aspects distinguishing John’s death neatly cohere with Christian martyrdom. I sought to show that the tenet of faith for which John was willing to lay down his life is the prohibition against divorce and remarriage, which was among the core principles of Christian theology. John’s depiction as conflicting with rulers at his own initiative, as confronting and defying them in public on his own without fearing death, his identity as the suffering Elijah and as prophet, and the promise of resurrection extended to him upon his burial, make him into a preliminary antecedent  model of the Christian martyr.

Rivka Nir’s presentation [click here]

Shayna Sheinfeld, “Revisiting the Historical John the Baptist as Prophet in First-Century Judaism”
 It is no surprise, given the eventual success of the religion we have come to know as Christianity, that John the Baptist has been imagined to be a unique outlier in the first-century Judaean landscape. These preliminary remarks revisit John’s place among his prophetic peers, seeking to position him not as an outlier but as part and parcel of the Jewish prophets in his socio-historical context.

Presentation handout for Shayna Sheinfeld [click here]

Supplemental reading for Gregory Doudna [click here]

DAY 4 (Thursday, Jan 14, 2021)

9:00am — Welcome

9:15am – 9:45am — Recap Session

Supplemental reading from Joan Taylor [click here]

(9) 10:00-11:45am — The Gospels and John the Baptist

How was the memory of John reshaped in each gospel? Can we trace a linear line of development, from Mark, Matthew, Luke to John? or did the early Christian tradition follow more complex lines of development?

  • Speakers: Harold Attridge, Tucker Ferda, Clare Rothschild, Catrin Williams
  • Discussants: Benjamin Reynolds, Alicia D. Myers, Brian Dennert

Harold Attridge, “Mark’s Data on John the Baptist”
 The paper reviews three passages in Mark referring to John the Baptist. The gospel’s initial episode (Mark 1:1-11) recounts John’s preaching and baptizing activity, culminating in the baptism of Jesus. The second (Mark 6:14-29) reports Herod Antipas’s identification of Jesus with John redivivus and tells of the Baptist’s end. The last (Mark 8:27-30) appears in a response by Jesus’ disciples to a question about popular opinion. These reports involve historical memory of the Baptist’s activity and interpretation by followers of Jesus about John’s messianic hopes and his relationship to Jesus.

Tucker Ferda, “John the Baptist in the Gospel of Matthew”
 This paper considers how Matthew has reshaped Mark’s portrait of John the Baptist, and combined Mark with additional material, to reconfigure the character of John in light of Matthew’s overall narrative aims. After briefly reviewing John’s role in the gospel as a whole, the paper looks in detail at the initial presentation of John’s preaching and baptizing activity (3:1-17) and Jesus’ teaching about John in the so-called “Baptist block” (11:2-30). It is argued that Matthew has at once expanded the role of John vis a vis Mark’s Gospel and given the him a more prominent role while also subordinating John to Jesus. John becomes an oracular prophet, remade in the image of Jesus himself, who is more intimately connected to the Scriptures of Israel.

Clare K. Rothschild, “John the Baptist in Luke and Acts”
 This paper presents John the Baptist in the Gospel of Luke, highlighting and interpreting the differences of his portrait, such as his diet and clothing (Mark 1:6 || Matt 3:4), from the Gospels of Mark and Matthew. It also addresses Christian perpetuation of John’s memory in Acts (e.g., 1:22) in particular Acts 19:2-7 in which his baptism is characterized by Paul’s followers as devoid of the holy spirit. All reports contribute to a Lukan revisionist historical program in which John the Baptist and Paul, somewhat remarkably, represent different ends of a single continuum of Christian origins.

Catrin H. Williams, “The ‘In-Between’ Witness: John the Baptist in the Gospel of John”
 It is widely recognized that all references to, and episodes involving, John the Baptist in the Fourth Gospel are bound together by his identity and function as a key witness to Jesus. This brief paper will examine the striking – and also varied – ways in which the Johannine narrative depicts the Baptist and his testimony, as well as offering some comments on what this presentation can disclose about the fourth evangelist’s shaping of earlier traditions about John the Baptist.

Catrin Williams’ presentation [click here]

(10) 12:30-2:15pm — John and the Historical Jesus

What was the relationship between John and Jesus? Was Jesus one of his disciples or did he simply approve John’s work ‘from outside’? Did Jesus subsequently break with John or in any case left John’s vision and concerns behind him in favor of a very different kind of message and activity? Or is Jesus’ ministry rather to be seen as a programmatic and consistent continuation of John’s work? What are the main aspects of continuity and discontinuity? How much of John’s teaching was taken up by Jesus? Was the Lord’s Prayer originally taught by John? Did Jesus baptize at first? If so, did he ever stop? Should Jesus’ purificatory healings of lepers and people possessed by ‘unclean spirits’ be seen as a departure from or rather an extension of John’s (and Jesus’) interest in purifying repentant sinners through immersion?

  • Speakers: Federico Adinolfi, Sara Parks, Darrell Bock, Fernando Bermejo-Rubio
  • Discussants: Benjamin Reynolds, Tamas Visi, Benjamin Snyder

Federico Adinolfi, “Roles or Goals? Rethinking the Relationship between Jesus and John”
 The relationship between Jesus and John has been variously conceived in terms of continuity, discontinuity, break-up and, ultimately, rivalry. A good deal of scholarship has seen the key to understand their relationship in the question of whether (and how) Jesus fulfilled the role of John’s Coming One (in the eyes of both). Finding this approach too idealistic (as well as too closely dependent on the questionable historicity of Q 7:18-23), this conversation wishes to suggest another path: looking at what John and Jesus did, and what they tried to achieve.

Federico Adinolfi’s presentation [click here]

Supplemental reading for Federico Adinolfi’s presentation [Document 1] and [Document 2]

Sara Parks, “John the Baptist’s Murder and the Vengeful Logia of Jesus”
 The so-called apocalyptic stratum of Jesus’ sayings has long been explained by a Sitz im Leben of persecution in the Galilean Jesus movement. Thinking with trauma theory, I argue that this hypothesis is unnecessary. Instead, we need look no further for an explanation of Jesus’ vengeful sayings than the traumatic murder of his mentor.

Sara Parks’ presentation [click here]

Darrell Bock, “John the Baptist and Jesus: What We Apparently Know and How That Matters”
 This will discuss Historical Jesus issues tied to John the Baptist about what we can be confident about and how that matters in discussing Jesus. In particular the apocalyptic dimension to John and Jesus will be discussed as to similarities and differences and what that means for Jesus studies.

Darrell Bock’s presentation [click here]

Fernando Bermejo-Rubio, “John the Baptist and Jesus of Nazareth, Two Rivals?: The Never Ending Story”
 In the wake of several articles of mine and other scholars’ on the relationship between Jesus and John, I will make some historical and historiographical remarks concerning this issue. I will enumerate the phenomenological parallels between these Palestinian preachers, then I will survey the alleged differences between them, and in this light I will critically examine the widespread claim that there was a kind of “rivalry” or even a “break” between the two figures.

Fernando Bermejo-Rubio’s presentation [click here]

Supplemental reading for Fernando Bermejo-Rubio’s presentation [Document 1] and [Document 2]

(-) 3:00-4:45pm — Wrap-up session

A final panel of specialists discussing the results of the conference.

Meeting Chairs:

  • Gabriele Boccaccini, University of Michigan, USA (Enoch Seminar)
  • Michael Daise, College of William & Mary, USA (JSHJ)


  • Joshua Scott, University of Michigan, USA

Speakers & Participants:

  1. Federico Adinolfi, ISSR San Francesco, Mantova (Facoltà Teologica dell’Italia Settentrionale), Italy
  2. Yonatan Adler, Ariel University, Israel
  3. John Ahn, Howard University School of Divinity (HUSD), USA
  4. Abdulaziz Abdulwahab Mohammad Alareedh, Industrial Technical Institute Sabah Al-Salem, Kuwait
  5. Paul N. Anderson, George Fox University, USA
  6. Verónica Moreno Arjona, Israel Institute of Biblical Studies/Université de Lorraine, Spain
  7. Daniel Assefa, TiBEB Research Center, Ethiopia
  8. Kenneth Atkinson, University of Northern Iowa, USA
  9. Harold W. Attridge, Yale Divnity School, USA
  10. Kyung Baek, Trinity Western University, Canada
  11. Krista Baker, USA
  12. Silvio Barbaglia, Studio teologico San Gaudenzio di Novara, Italia
  13. Lori Baron, St. Louis University, USA
  14. Albert Baumgarten, Bar Ilan University, Israel
  15. Giovanni Bazzana, Harvard University, USA
  16. Peter Beckman, Saint Paul University, Canada
  17. Morten Beckmann, University of Agder, Norway
  18. Mauro Belcastro, University of Genoa, Italy
  19. Ivan Benakovic, Gregorian University Rome, Rome
  20. Chiara Benini, St. Charles Foundation (Modena)- EPHE Paris, Italy
  21. Claire M. Bergen, IISHJ, USA
  22. Fernando Bermejo-Rubio, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (Madrid), Spain
  23. Harvey Van Bik, Lutheran School of Theology, Hong Kong
  24. Ellen Birnbaum, Cambridge, USA
  25. Laura Bizzarro, Universidad Catolica Argentina, Argentina
  26. L. Gregory Bloomquist, Saint Paul University, Canada
  27. Darrell L. Bock, Dallas Theological Seminary, USA
  28. Markus Bockmuehl, University of Oxford, UK
  29. Connor Boyd, University of Edinburgh, Scotland
  30. George Branch-Trevathan, Thiel College, USA
  31. Matthew Blaise Brankatelli, St. Mary’s University – Twickenham, USA
  32. Maria Brutti, Freelance teacher, Italia
  33. Alba Cagnina, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, France
  34. Rolex M. Cailing, Asia Graduate School of Theology, Philippines
  35. Alberto Camplani, Sapienza University of Rome, Italia
  36. Laura Carnevale, University Aldo Moro, Italia
  37. Paul Cavalli, Independent Scholar, USA
  38. Esther Chazon, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
  39. David Cielontko, The Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic
  40. Carsten Claussen, Elstal Theological Seminary, Germany
  41. Kelley Coblentz Bautch, St. Edward’s University, USA
  42. Eva Rose Cohen, International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, USA
  43. Claude Cohen-Matlofsky, EPHE Paris, France
  44. Bob Costello, University of Aberdeen, Scotland
  45. Marianne Josephine Dacy, University of Sydney, Australia
  46. Aleksandra Dominika Danielak, Jagiellonian University, Poland
  47. James Joseph DeFrancisco, Independent Scholar, United States
  48. Brian Dennert, USA
  49. Amber Marie Dillon, Western Seminary, USA
  50. Lorenzo DiTommaso, Concordia University Montréal, Canada
  51. J. Andrew Doole, University of Innsbruck, Austria
  52. Gregory L. Doudna, Indepent Scholar, USA
  53. Lev Eakins, University of Manchester, United Kingdom
  54. Shlomi Efrati, KU Leuven, Belgium
  55. Tucker S. Ferda, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, USA
  56. Trenton R. Ferro, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, USA
  57. Marcello Fidanzio, Facoltà di teologia di Lugano, Switzerland
  58. Roy Fisher, Loyola Marymount University, USA
  59. Paolo Franzosj, University Pisa, Italy
  60. Michele Stopera Freyhauf, Durham University/John Carroll University, UK/US
  61. Lisbeth S. Fried, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, United States
  62. Ida Fröhlich, Pázmány Péter Catholic University, Hungary
  63. Massimo Gargiulo, Pontificia Università Gregoriana – Centro Cardinal Bea, Italia
  64. Paolo Pietro Giannetti, Università degli studi di Torino, Italy
  65. John Goldingay, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, CA
  66. Batsheva Goldman-Ida, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel
  67. Sebastian Goncerz, Jagiellonian University, Poland
  68. Stephen Goranson, Duke University, USA
  69. Lester L. Grabbe, University of Hull, UK
  70. Naomi Graetz, Ben Gurion University, Israel
  71. Jesse Grenz, University of Cambridge, UK
  72. Matthew Grey, Brigham Young University, USA
  73. Christina Grobmeier, University of North Carolina-Charlotte, USA
  74. Ithamar Gruenwald, Tel Aviv University, Israel
  75. Amit Y. Gvaryahu, Martin Buber Society, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel
  76. Angela Kim Harkins, Boston College, USA
  77. Rebecca Harris, Messiah University, USA
  78. Kristian S. Heal, Brigham Young University, USA
  79. Karin Zetterholm, Lund University, Sweden
  80. Matthias Henze, Rice University, USA
  81. Vered Hillel, MJTI, Israel
  82. Justyna Ewa Horbowska, KUL, Poland
  83. Austin Wesley Hubbard, DTS, USA
  84. Giovanni Ibba, Istituto Superiore di Scienze Religiose di Firenze, Italia
  85. Benjamin Thorsen Isachsen, University of Oxford, UK
  86. Helen R. Jacobus, University of Manchester, UK
  87. Morten Hørning Jensen, Fjellhaug International University College, Denmark
  88. John Kampen, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, USA
  89. David Katzin, University of California Los Angeles, USA
  90. Thomas Kazen, Stockholm School of Theology, Sweden
  91. Bill Kennedy, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, USA
  92. Juheon Kim, University of Aberdeen, Rep. of Korea
  93. Paul Kim, Methodist Theological School in Ohio, USA
  94. Bethany Kinderman, University of Oxford, UK
  95. Jonathan Klawans, Boston University, USA
  96. Uri Kraut, International Institute of Secular Humanistic Judaism, Canada
  97. Adam Kubis, The John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Polska
  98. Anna Kuśmirek, Cardinal Stephan Wyszynski University, Poland
  99. Un Sung Kwak, University of Oxford, UK
  100. Peter Lanfer, Occidental College, USA
  101. Pavel Langhammer, Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic
  102. Nitzan Lebovic, Lehigh University, USA
  103. Gwangsoo Lee, University of St Andrews, Scotland
  104. Caroline Lemmens, University of Groningen, Netherlands
  105. Jim Lepkowski, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, USA
  106. Jonathan Lo, Hong Kong Baptist Theological Seminary, Hong Kong
  107. Kwang Meng Low, National University of Singapore, Singapore
  108. Vladimir Genadievich Lukin, Zaoksky Seminary, Ukrain
  109. Edmondo Lupieri, Loyola University-Chicago, USA
  110. Johannes Magliano-Tromp, Leiden University, Netherlands
  111. Daniel Christian Maier, Universität Zürich, Switzerland
  112. Vitaliano Mandara, Pontificio Istituto Biblico – Roma, Italia
  113. Mathew Mantabe, University of Cape Town, South Africa
  114. Joel Marcus, Duke Divinity School, United States
  115. Iñaki Marro, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Germany
  116. Corrado Martone, Università di Torino – Dip. Studi Umanistici, Italy
  117. Luca Marulli, Faculté adventiste de théologie, France
  118. Steve Mason, University of Groningen, Netherlands
  119. Brandon Massey, St. Mary’s University-Twickenham, USA
  120. Alexander McCarron, University of Oxford, UK
  121. Gavin McDowell, Université Laval, Canada
  122. James McGrath, Butler University, USA
  123. Kaitlynn Merckling, University of Edinburgh, USA
  124. Daniele Minisini, University of Rome La Sapienza, Italy
  125. Alastair Ramsay Moodie, University of Edinburgh (alumnus), UK
  126. Daniel Mueller, Marquette University, USA
  127. Dorota Katarzyna Muszytowska, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski University in Warsaw, Poland
  128. Alicia Myers, Campbell University, USA
  129. Behrad N. Mistry, IHCS, I. R. Iran
  130. George Neri, Innsbruck Universität, Österreich
  131. Rivka Nir, Open University of Israel, Israel
  132. George Njeri, Innsbruck Universität, Österreich
  133. Vered Noam, Tel Aviv University, Israel
  134. Eric Noffke, Waldensian School of Theology, Italy
  135. Gerbern Oegema, McGill University, Canada
  136. Markus Oehler, University of Vienna, Austria
  137. S. Ofotsu Ofoe, University of Ghana, Ghana
  138. Isaac Oliver/de Oliveira, Bradley University, USA
  139. Sara Parks, University of Nottingham, UK
  140. Stewart Penwell, St. Mary’s University-Twickenham, USA
  141. Thomas Persche, Herz e.V. – Institut zur Gesundheitsförderung und Herzensbildung, Germany
  142. Nestor H. Petruk, Italian Adventist University, Italia
  143. Stephen Pfann, University of the Holy Land, Israel
  144. Christopher Porter, Trinity College Theological School, University of Divinity, Australia
  145. Bobby Kurnia Putrawan, STAPIN, Indonesia
  146. Naila Razzaq, Yale University, USA
  147. Pamela Mullins Reaves, Colorado College, USA
  148. Adele Reinhartz, University of Ottawa, Canada
  149. Benjamin Reynolds, Tyndale University, Canada
  150. Giovanni Ribuoli, La Sapienza – Roma, Italy
  151. Erin Roberts, University of South Carolina, USA
  152. Rafael Rodriguez, Johnson University, USA
  153. Jean-Michel Roessli, Concordia University, Canada
  154. Clare Rothschild, Lewis University, USA
  155. Ibrāhīm Šafiʿī, University of Tehran, I.R. Iran
  156. Teresa Scarso, Unil, Italy
  157. Jeffrey Schesnol, Arizona Jewish Historical Society, USA
  158. Lawrence H. Schiffman, New York University, USA
  159. Nathan Shedd
  160. Shayna Sheinfeld, The University of Sheffield, USA
  161. Leonid Shulyakov, Higher School of Econimics, Russia
  162. Joseph Sievers, Pontifical Biblical Institute, Italy
  163. Benjamin J. Snyder, Northern Seminary, USA
  164. Alberto Solano Zatarain, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, UK
  165. Wojciech Maciej Stabryła, Salesian Pontifical University – Studium Theologicum Salesianum, Israel
  166. Gary Staszak, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, USA
  167. Carla Sulzbach, McGill University, Canada
  168. Balazs Tamasi, Jewish Theological Seminary/University of Jewish Studies, Hungary
  169. Karl M. Taps, CUNY, USA
  170. Mateusz Targoński, Pontifical Biblical Institute, Italy/Poland
  171. Joan Taylor, King’s College London, UK
  172. Dieter L. Thom, Australian College, Kuwait
  173. Babu Thomas, Asian Theological Association, Antioch Biblical Seminary, India
  174. Satoshi Toda, Hokkaido University, Japan
  175. Miles Tradewell, University of Exeter, UK
  176. James Tucker, University of Toronto, Canada
  177. Liliana Rosso, Ubigli Unito, Italy
  178. Wilson Valluru, Oral Roberts University, USA
  179. Nathanael Vette, University of Edinburgh, UK
  180. Tamás Visi, Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic
  181. Jason von Ehrenkrook, University of Massachusetts-Boston, USA
  182. Meredith Warren, University of Sheffield, UK
  183. Cecilia Wassén, Uppsala University, Sverige
  184. Ian Werrett, Saint Martin’s University, USA
  185. Catrin Williams, University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UK
  186. Christopher Williams, Boston College, USA
  187. Mehari Worku, Catholic University of America, USA
  188. Archie Wright, London School of Theology, USA
  189. Miroslaw Stanislaw Wrobel, John Paul II Catholic University in Lublin, Polska
  190. Jackie Wyse-Rhodes, Bluffton University, USA
  191. Yan Yu, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong
  192. Chi Yau Yue, Lutheran Theological Seminary, Hong Kong
  193. Magnus Zetterholm, Lund University, Sweden
  194. Ziony Zevit, American Jewish University, USA