(Helen Bond) Welcome to our new CSCO website! As the previous posting notes, we’re all going to take it in turns to introduce ourselves and our research over the next few weeks and the honour of going first seems to have fallen to me.
I got into biblical studies in the first place not primarily out of any particular Christian commitment (though I am a member of the Church of Scotland), but out of a fascination with ancient cultures and later their languages. I read Biblical Studies at the Universities of St Andrews, Durham, and Tuebingen; in the last two places I was lucky enough to work with Profs Jimmy Dunn and Martin Hengel, whose work I greatly admire.
I’m particularly interested in the gospels. First, in the historical background to the texts – both the historical Jesus, and the historical context of the gospels themselves. I don’t think that the evangelists were writing primarily to convey historical information (they had much more important truths to convey), but the eternally frustrating quest to piece together ‘what actually happened’ keeps me quite happy. My second interest is in the theological and literary presentations of the gospels, the way they present Jesus, and the way in which events and characters serve to promote their Christological views.
Both of these interests came together in my two books – the first on Pilate and the second on the high priest Caiaphas. Somehow I seem to be drawn to characters – not, I hope, in a naive hope that I can recover something of what they were really like, but as an umbrella under which I can look at a number of distinct but related studies (so for Pilate I was able to look at his coins, and the description of him in Philo and Josephus; and for Caiaphas I was able to look at the tomb that’s thought to be his, varying Christian traditions linked to his house, and his ‘afterlife’ throughout the centuries).
My interest in ‘bad guys’ is becoming a bit of a joke (did I mention that I edited a festschrift for Larry Hurtado?!), but I’m now doing something I vowed I would never do, and that’s writing a book on Jesus (for Continuum’s Guide for the Perplexed). I’m continually feeling overwhelmed at the amount of literature out there, but trying to piece the evidence together so that it makes sense in a first century context is indescribably exciting . . .