2023 Annual Meeting announcement

The theme this year is Renewing our AABS Fellowship. As in previous years, it will be in conjunction with SBL and held in two parts.

17 November 2023, 4:30 PM to 8:30 PM

Dr. Steven Bishop, President

Schedule of Events
Friday, 17 November 2023
4:30 Gathering and Greeting
5:00 Holy Eucharist

The Rev. Dr. Andrew Guffey, Presiding

The Very Rev. Dr. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge, Preaching
6:00 Dinner
General $40
Student $25
Generous and Able (subsidize student rate) $50

7:00 Roundtable Discussions (3 Topics)

Help Plan Future Virtual, and In Person, Meeting Topics and Presenters.

AABS Journal Issue, Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, Anglican Episcopal History, Editor.

AABS publishing ventures, Justin Hoffman, Church Publishing Incorporated, Executive Editor.
8:00 Compline

19 November 2023, 11:45 to 12:45

Room: El Mirador B East (Conference Center) – Hilton Palacio Del Rio
Theme: Holy Eucharist
A celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the Anglican tradition. All are welcome. Please note the AABS off-site meeting on Friday, November 17, beginning at 4:30 PM.

AABS June 10, 2023 virtual meeting on “Recent Anglican Biblical Scholarship in Focus”

AABS is happy to announce our Annual Virtual Meeting June 10, 2023 at 2:30-3:45 p.m. EDT. This annual virtual gathering is an opportunity to connect with biblical scholars from around the world for conversation and fellowship. This year our program invites two scholars to discuss their most recent publications.
Our presenters are the Rev. Dr. George Martin and Mr. Jay Weimer. Dr. Martin will discuss his book Paul Found in His Letters, (Claremont Press 2022) and Mr. Weimer will discuss “Religion Between the Bible and Early Pre-Islamic Arabia” from his work in the forthcoming The Religions Around the Old Testament. Dr. Martin is a retired Episcopal priest, who in his retirement is deepening his research into the Apostle Paul. Mr. Weimar is a PhD Candidate at John Hopkins University in Hebrew Bible and Northwest Semitic Philology.
We hope you can join us!

“Real Presence, Real Absence?”

Sermon given by Rev. Neil Elliott for Good Friday in 2018 to St. John’s Episcopal Church, St. Paul, Minnesota. Reproduced here by permission of Rev. Elliott.

We Christians can be so vain, we probably think the prophets are about us.

That’s what it sounds like, at least, in First Peter: Whatever Israel’s prophets said, they were speaking not to their own time, but to ours. The early church was eager to prove that Christ had “died according to the scriptures” that they mined Israel’s scriptures for any reference to suffering—Isaiah 52 and 53; Psalm 22; even the book of Lamentations—and turned those into predictions of Jesus.

It continues today: think of Mel Gibson’s gory Passion of the Christ. Jesus’ agony was supreme, surpassing all other suffering; no other suffering counts.

We might instead understand that Jesus took part in the immiseration of the powerless in our world: that he suffered the injustice, cruelty, violence that so many others have known as well, for countless generations.

It might change the way we experience Good Friday. Instead of that constant effort to screw up our imaginations to travel back in time—“Were you there . . .?” We might ask instead, “Are we here?”

There are young people massing in the streets to demand an end to our national worship of gun rights, to which they have been made an endless and unwilling sacrifice. There are African Americans massing in the streets and city squares demanding an end to our hypervigilant, militarized, and yes, racist police culture. There are men, women, and children from El Salvador and Syria and Somalia and Yemen, fleeing famine, terror, warfare, risking their lives for what they pray will be safety and a future with us, even as a majority party poses them as our enemy. Are we here, are we present to them?

This year, Good Friday occurs almost exactly between two other auspicious dates. Thirty-eight years ago last week, Oscar Romero, the archbishop of El Salvador, was shot to death as he celebrated the Eucharist. He had openly challenged the U.S.-funded military to “stop the repression” of the Salvadoran people. As thousands gathered in the capital for his funeral, men in plainclothes fired automatic rifles and threw hand grenades and killed dozens more. The Salvadoran government and the U.S. government both said the culprits were probably Communist subversives; we now know those were lies. Some people knew it then; after all, some eighty thousand Salvadorans, many of them church leaders, were killed by national security forces in a decade-long war of repression.

Fifty years ago next week, Martin Luther King Jr. was shot to death on a hotel balcony. He and his colleagues in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference were in Memphis to support a labor strike, but they were also mobilizing a gathering of thousands of people for a Poor People’s March on Washington that would have riveted the nation’s attention not just to racial prejudice but to the profound inequalities and injustices that we still live with. When we say in the Creed that we believe in the Spirit, who has spoken through the prophets, I don’t think we mean “the prophets long ago who predicted the death of Jesus, then fell silent”; we mean, God’s word is spoken against injustice and cruelty in every generation.

One of our themes this year is “sharing our stories”: with your indulgence, I would like to share one of mine. The fall of 2001 was a somber, anxious time nationally, and a peculiar time for me to go back to seminary at Seabury, in Evanston, for a year of Anglican studies. I took classes on Anglican liturgy and sacramental theology and kept the routines of Morning and Evening Prayer and Compline, in a chapel pretty much like our chancel. On this particular Wednesday in November, some of us gathered for the Eucharist. The prayer ended, and we began that hymn taken from the ancient Didache:

As grain, once scattered on the hillsides,
was in this broken bread made one, —

—and then it was time to go up to the railing. I looked down to watch my step from the choir stall down to the floor of the chancel.

But I couldn’t see the floor. I was standing on a rocky surface—-there were rocks all around me, nothing but a steep hillside of rocks that stretched down into a valley below me, with some kind of settlement at the bottom. The sky was a heavy, ominous gray, and a chilling wind was blowing sleet into my face.

I saw two children coming up the hillside toward me, a boy and a girl. He moved like he was eight or nine, but he was scrawny, almost hidden in a dirty ragged sweater many times too big for him. The girl was six inches taller and was giving him direction, like an older sister.

But they weren’t coming to me; they hadn’t seen me. They were moving deliberately, poking at the rocks, obviously searching intently for something.

I knew in an instant where I was and what they were looking for—it had been in the news. The United States had begun intensive bombing of this mountainous region of Afghanistan in pursuit of the Taliban. The United Nations and aid organizations protested that after a terrible drought, perhaps as many as seven million Afghans, stranded in refugee camps, would die without aid convoys traveling on the very highways being bombed. The U.S. responded by sending planes to drop 200,000 MREs—meals ready to eat—onto the hillsides; a ridiculous, cynical gesture, given such desperate need.

These children, I knew, were looking for those little yellow packets of food.

But I also knew that Oxfam and Bread for the World had raised a protest. Little yellow plastic objects were more likely to be explosive components from U.S. cluster bombs; they had already killed or maimed dozens of children.

I knew I had to warn the children but—how? I didn’t speak—what was their language? I felt helpless.

And then, suddenly, I was back in the chapel in Evanston. I sat down heavily in another choir stall to let others go up to the rail.

I knew, somehow, that the helplessness I’d just felt was somehow connected to the words of Jesus we had just heard from the Gospel of John:

“The bread I give is my flesh for the life of the world.”

I felt convinced I’d been transported to a place where bread and life were sorely needed.

And I have been convinced ever since that the “real presence” of Christ isn’t something we concoct or manage with our liturgy: that Christ is most present where the need, the hunger, the fear, the desperation in our world is most profound. —That doesn’t mean Christ is absent or distant from us—unless we distance ourselves from the suffering of others.

Oscar Romero—and after him, Salvadoran theologian Ignácio Ellacuría, who was shot to death by another U.S.-sponsored death squad almost a decade later—spoke often of the pueblo crucificado: of Christ being “crucified” anew in the suffering people in our world us today. The question of this day perhaps is not so much how we can imagine ourselves back to Calvary, not so much how Christ is present to us as we gather here in prayer, as it is, how we are present, truly present to the ongoing suffering of Christ in our day.

May God give us grace not to draw back from him out of fear.

AABS Fall Meetings 2022

AABS October Online Meeting

The Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars invites you to join a virtual meeting on our continuing theme, “Teaching the Bible in Context.”

Dr. Phil Ruge-Jones

Bringing the Word Home:

The Guatemalan Aural Bible Translation Project

October 22, 2022

1:00  p.m. Central Daylight Time, GMT -5

In-Person Meeting at SBL (M20-201)

In addition to this online meeting, there will be a

Celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the Anglican tradition

in Denver, Colorado, during the meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature

November 20, 2022

11:45 a.m. – 12:45 p.m.

Capitol 3 (Fourth Level)

All are welcome

AABS Annual Fall Meeting 2022–Note the dates!

This Fall, the AABS has two events: a virtual meeting on 22 Oct 2022 (via Zoom) and a Eucharist on 20 Nov 2022.

The AABS will be holding a virtual meeting (via Zoom) at 1:00 PM CST on October 22, prior to the SBL annual meeting. The October virtual meeting’s topic will reflect our continuing theme, “Teaching the Bible in Context.” Our guest speaker will be Dr. Phil Ruge-Jones, whose lecture presentation is entitled “Bringing the Word Home: The Guatemalan Aural Bible Translation Project.” Registration for the October meeting will open on the AABS website (aabs.org) in September. To be added to our emailing list, please email a short request to Elizabeth Struthers Malbon.

Theodicy and Spirituality in the Fourth Gospel: A Girardian Perspective

The Rev. Daniel DeForest London, PhD

Every Fourth Sunday of Easter, Episcopalians and Anglicans read a portion of the Good Shepherd discourse in John 10. In Theodicy and Spirituality in the Fourth Gospel, I argue that this discourse functions as part of Jesus’s response to the question of suffering as asked by the disciples in the previous chapter: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (9:2). Sandra Schneiders explains that “the disciples are Christians of any time who agonize over the meaning of life’s mysteries, e.g. innocent suffering, and turn to Jesus for enlightenment” (Schneiders, Written That You May Believe, 157). The disciples’ question invites readers to bring their own questions of suffering to the Johannine Jesus, whose multi-layered response I attempt to unpack in my book.

In John 9 – 10, Jesus does not offer a theodicy, a philosophical defense of God in the face of suffering. Rather, the Gospel of John offers what I call a theodical spirituality, which is the experience of praying the question of suffering and receiving a divine response. In the response, Jesus reveals our dangerous attachment to blaming the victim and scapegoating the innocent (John 9:3-4). He then presents three sets of dichotomous symbols (day/night, vision/blindness, sheep/wolf), which each include metaphors (Light, Judge, Shepherd) that subvert the dichotomy and reveal Jesus’s commitment to liberating both the victim and victimizer. This reading ends up challenging all the dichotomies and dualisms that seem to dominate the Fourth Gospel.

I highlight cues within the narrative that invite the reader to identify not only with the disciples but also with the Pharisees, the Ioudaioi, as well as the oft-overlooked “wolf,” which is featured on the book’s cover. By identifying with the interrogators in the narrative, the reader can begin to see his or her own complicity in systems of scapegoating violence and Jesus’s commitment to dismantling them. Building on the insights and categories of Johannine scholar Adele Reinhartz and philosopher René Girard, I use what I call the “anthropological tale” of the Gospel as a key to interpreting the Johannine symbols and metaphors within the pericope and to demonstrate how anti-Jewish readings of John prove antithetical to the Gospel message.

When the Ioudaioi ask Jesus, “How long will you keep us in suspense?” (John 10:24) their words hearken back to the disciples’ initial question of suffering, especially since their first two words echo the classic question of biblical lament: “How long?” (Psalm 13:1-2; 94:3; Habakkuk 1:2; Revelation 6:10). In fact, a more literal translation of their question is “How long will you steal away our breath?”, which is an especially poignant question today as COVID-19 continues to steal away people’s breath and claim millions of lives. 

Like the disciples in John 9, the Jews in John 10 represent all those who boldly bring their questions of suffering before God, from Job to Julian of Norwich to C. S. Lewis to Elie Wiesel. John’s Gospel not only invites readers to bring their own questions of suffering to God, but the Gospel also invites readers to be transformed by the divine response of the Good Shepherd, who instead of offering an explanation, offers himself. As Anglican theologian Austin Farrer put it, “God does not give us explanations; God gives up a Son” (Farrer, The Essential Sermons, 204).

Ultimately, the beloved discourse read on Good Shepherd Sunday takes on new levels of meaning when we understand it as Christ’s self-giving response to our own personal questions of suffering, questions that can sometimes be laced with our own wolfish rage. 

Daniel DeForest London (Ph.D., Graduate Theological Union) is the rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Eureka CA. He teaches at Church Divinity School of the Pacific and is the author of Theodicy and Spirituality in the Fourth Gospel (Fortress Academic), which was recently released in paperback. He and his wife live with two Yorkshire Terriers, one of which is named Gubbio, after the violent wolf whom St. Francis tamed.

AABS June Meeting 2022

The Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars invites you to join a virtual meeting on the topic “Teaching in Context: Towards a Cultural, Native, and Subaltern Reading” on Saturday, June 18, 2022, at 3:00 PM GMT. Our guest speaker will be the Revd Professor David Joy, Principal of the Kerala United Theological Seminary, Trivandrum, Kerala, India. Break-out room discussions will follow, and the session will close with a brief service of worship in one of the many forms of the Anglican tradition. Registration will open in May at the AABS website, and registrants will receive the Zoom link individually. All are welcome.

Guffey, The Book of Revelation and the Visual Culture of Asia Minor

The Book of Revelation and the Visual Culture of Asia Minor: A Concurrence of Images
The Rev. Andrew R. Guffey, Ph.D.

The book of Revelation is one of the most visually rich books of the Bible, and yet it is difficult to come to grips with its intense visuality. What are the “bizarre” images of the book doing? How ought we to go about understanding them? What are we to do with a work that sits on the very edge of textuality and visuality?

In The Book of Revelation and the Visual Culture of Asia Minor: A Concurrence of Images I set out to situate the visuality of the book of Revelation (its images) in the context of the visual world (both material and rhetorical) of Asia Minor. The notion of a “concurrence” of images, which I lifted from the renowned art historian Erwin Panofsky, helpfully deflects questions of “influence,” “borrowing,” or “sources,” and instead invites a recognition of a common cultural project. The images of the book of Revelation, I argue, are not borrowing from the visual culture of Asia Minor; rather they participate in it.

“The old method of the Apocalypse,” D. H. Lawrence, scathing critic of the Apocalypse, once wrote, “is to set forth the image, make a world, and then suddenly depart from this world in a cycle of time and movement and even, an epos; and then return again to a world not quite like the original one, but on another level” (Lawrence, Apocalypse, 97). Under the influence of another Anglican interpreter of the Apocalypse, Austin Farrer, I found myself asking about this world-making power of the images of the book of Revelation. “The book of Revelation,” Farrer wrote, “was the one great poem the first Christian age produced” (Farrer, A Rebirth of Images, 6). Whether or not we ought to call the Apocalypse of John a poem, Farrer’s insistence that the power of the book is in its images is almost certainly correct. Understanding those images and their power is a more difficult matter to unravel.

In concert with an increasing number of scholars, I look to ancient rhetoric and material culture to attempt the unraveling, most especially the rhetorical art of ekphrasis. Ekphrasis (vivid description) names a rhetorical device, but also a certain deployment of imagination. The description of persons, places, and events brings them within the realm of the visual, making them, as the ancient rhetorical handbooks said, “virtually present to the eyes” of the audience. The power of Revelation’s images is just this: in representing another divine world “not quite like the original one,” to use Lawrence’s language, they contest the representation of the gods and the divine world in the material culture of Asia Minor, through Farrer’s “rebirth of images.” The power of the program of images in the book of Revelation, as of ekphrasis, is to reorient the imagination. In the case of Revelation, it is to present the God of Israel, through Jesus Christ, as the principle power of the cosmos and of unfolding history, rather than the many visible gods that were etched in stone and coin. To make this argument concrete, I compare the visual rhetoric of Revelation with exempla from imperial numismatic iconography, the statuary of Artemis of Ephesos, and the so-called Great Altar of Pergamon.

In short, I find in the book of Revelation a tapestry of images that resonates with the visual culture of Asia Minor, if only to contest the world that visual culture represents. It is a project of unseeing one world, and showing an unseen world.

Andrew R. Guffey (Ph.D., The University of Virginia) is Priest-In-Charge of St. Mary’s In-The-Hills Episcopal Church, Lake Orion, Michigan. He currently teaches at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (New Testament) and Oakland University (Religious Studies). He can be contacted at arguffey@gmail.com.

Cover of Guffey, Book of Revelation

The Gospel of Mark is back June 6!

by Elizabeth Struthers Malbon
Professor Emerita of Religion and Culture, Virginia Tech
Christ Episcopal Church, Blacksburg, Virginia

This is liturgical Year B, the year of Mark’s Gospel in the three-year cycle of lectionary readings. But, in churches who follow the Revised Common Lectionary, we have not yet read much of Mark’s Gospel since the church year began in Advent late last November. During the Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany seasons, we read from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke on a number of Sundays and occasionally from John. During the end of the season of Lent and the season of Easter, the Gospel of John, which does not have its own year in the three-year lectionary cycle, takes center stage. But on the Second Sunday after Pentecost, this year June 6, we finally return to the short and powerful Gospel of Mark for some sustained reading.

The Gospel of Mark has been my research focus as a New Testament scholar. Thus, I have had opportunities to provide introductions to or overviews of Mark’s Gospel on a number of occasions, some of which are available electronically. Here are some links:

  • “Hearing Mark’s Gospel,” a blog written for St. Brendan’s Episcopal Church, outside Pittsburgh, December 6, 2017: //www.stbrendans.org/single-post/2017/12/05/Hearing-Marks-Gospel
  • “Exploring the Markan Jesus’ ‘Sea Crossings,” a blog written for the Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars, January 18, 2020: //aabs.org/esm-markan-crossings/
  • Two video lectures presented via Zoom to St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, East Hampton, Long Island, March 6 and 13, 2021, and now available on YouTube:

And here are two links to dramatic storytelling of Mark, word-for-word by memory, by a Lutheran pastor, theologian, and national colleague and friend of mine, Rev. Philip Ruge-Jones:

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhqMmDhc0UU  (Mark 1:1-8: 9)

//www.facebook.com/ANKOSfilms/videos/i-tell-you-this-is-the-way-it-is-the-passion-according-to-mark/1882968051735717/ (Mark’s Passion Narrative, Mark 14:1-16:8)

Most scholars recognize the Gospel of Mark as our oldest Gospel and an important source for at least Matthew and Luke’s Gospels, and possibly John’s Gospel as well.  Mark is also the shortest Gospel and has long been overshadowed by the other three canonical Gospels, as even the number of Sundays when Mark is not read in Mark’s lectionary year, Year B, suggests. But in

the 20th and 21st centuries, the Gospel of Mark has received renewed scholarly appreciation for its carefully structured storytelling, giving evidence of its birth as a story to hear and retell and witness to its staying power as a well-told tale of good news.

Upcoming AABS meetings

The AABS is holding two meetings in 2021, in June and in November.

June Meeting:
The Anglican Association of Biblical Scholars invites you to join a virtual meeting on the topic “Teaching in Context” on Saturday, June 12, 2021, at 11:00 AM-12:15PM, EDT (Eastern Daylight Time = GMT-4).

Our guest speaker will be Dr. Stephen Lim of Ming Hua Theological College in Hong Kong

Break-out room discussions will follow, and the session will close with a brief service of worship in one of the many forms of the Anglican tradition.

Register to receive the Zoom link via the registration form here.

Annual Meeting (November):
The AABS Annual meeting this year comprises three parts: a virtual meeting on 13 November, a Eucharist on 19 November, and another Eucharist on 21 November.

13 November 2021, 11:00 AM, EDT (Eastern Time = GMT-5)
Program TBD

19 November 2021, 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM
The AABS Friday meeting will be held at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church (315 Pecan Street, San Antonio, TX 78205; //www.stmarks-sa.org/). All are welcome to join us. Registration via the AABS website will facilitate planning (registration will be available later in the year here on the website). Information will also be sent out on our email list. Contact Elizabeth Struthers Malbon (malbon@vt.edu) if you wish to be added to the email list.

5:30 pm- Gathering and Greeting
Jane Lancaster Patterson, Seminary of the Southwest, Presiding
6:00 pm- Holy Eucharist

21 November 2021, 11:45 AM, EDT (Eastern Time = GMT-5)
A celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the Anglican tradition during the SBL/AAR meeting. All are welcome