Dear readers, friends, and colleagues,
I am pleased to announce that I have heard word this afternoon of the publication of the volume ‘Is This Not the Carpenter?’: The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus (CIS Series; Equinox), edited by Thomas L. Thompson and I. Stock will be available over the next few weeks (some distributors in the UK have already received inventory, like Amazon.co.uk and the Book Depository, which has ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’ available for about $86 and $85 respectively; quite the discount considering the normal price of $110). North American distributors should get stock in by the first week of August (though I hope stock will arrive much sooner).
First some background. For those who don’t know, this project started four years ago, over a skype conversation. It went something like this (I’m approximating from memory–reception history and all that):
Me: “You know, why aren’t these questions being asked?”
Thomas (amused): “I ask that myself; I’m not sure.”
Me (naively): “These questions deserve to be asked. Maybe we can work on a project together.”
Thomas (thinking I meant a symposium of sorts): “That is a huge undertaking; where will we host it? Who would come?”
Me (slightly confused): “Well we wouldn’t have to go anywhere necessarily to edit a volume, would we?”
Thomas (laughing): “Oh, I see! Yes, yes, well first you have to define the questions you want the volume to ask.”
Me: “Okay, where do I start?”
Thomas: “Start by writing me a proposal with what you want the book to be about and we’ll go from there.”
And I did. I wrote up the first draft of the proposal and Thomas sent it back to me full of red ink. So I rewrote it. Same results.
I wrote that proposal four times before a draft caught his eye and he said, “Now I think you’re onto something. Let’s say you revise this one more time and then we’ll see where we are at.” And so I did….and finally, after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, we had a solid proposal.
One thing about working on this project initially was that I had no formal training (back in 2008, though in 2009 I was back in school) and I had some rather bizarre misunderstandings about academic processes. A lot of the very basic principles of academic discourse were foreign to me, despite the fact that I had spent many years researching the subject prior to starting it.
Looking back I was a completely different person when we started; I would like to believe this volume helped me grow, to become a better person, to become a better academic. In fact is was partially Thomas’ urging, partially my desire to become credible, and partially some other personal dilemmas that were the catalyst to my return to school; I would probably still be living the same life I had been living in 2008 had it not been for this project, so in a lot of ways–both personally and professionally–I owe a lot to this collection of essays. Consequently, I owe a lot to a great deal of people as well.
That said, I would like to take a moment to thank some individuals. First and most importantly I have to thank Thomas Thompson for his patience in putting up with my incessant questions and middle-of-the-day-phone calls (for him anyway) to ask about something or another. Without him, I doubt this project would have gotten off the ground; or if it had, I wouldn’t have been introduced to all the wonderful people I have had the pleasure of working with on this project. Thomas has been a mentor to me since day one, when he responded to a series of questions I had for him about all sorts of topics. With much enjoyment I listened to every one of his anecdotes and had more than a few laughs. I have not stopped learning from him and hope that he will continue to relieve me of all my pesky bad habits and faults for years to come.
Also, much credit is due to the contributors, without whom this volume would not be as stunning as it is; Niels Peter Lemche, Roland Boer, Jim West, Lester Grabbe, K.L. Noll, Ingrid Hjelm, James Crossley, Emanuel Pfoh, Joshua Sabih, Mogens Müller, and Bob Price. Wonderful people one and all. I may not agree with them on every detail, but I can say that this volume does not lack in talent and lucidity. This project has born fruits in the form of many new friendships that I continue to cherish. I hope the readers out there will enjoy their contributions to scholarship as much as I have. I’m sure Thomas shares my sentiments.
On a more personal note, it takes a lot to trust a relatively unknown person like me; especially initially, when I was just some kid with an interest in history. So as far as that goes, I hope that the final product is an indication of my respect for that given trust. Thank you all for believing in this project and, in some ways, for trusting in me. It says a lot about your character and quality.
I’d also like to thank Equinox for graciously accepting this volume for publication, and dealing politely with my nagging here and there. Both Val and Tristan have been saints in this whole process, even going out of their way to explain things to me which–in my great ignorance–I’m sure was second nature to them. I hope to work with equinox in the future and will recommend Equinox to other scholars in search of an excellent academic publishing house.
Finally, I’d like to thank Matthew C. and Kim H. for their generous contributions to my research materials over the last few years. They are both excellent people and I am lucky to have them as friends.
Now, some minor errata…oh, yes, there is some of that…. no book is perfect, not even this one.
Having not seen the most recent publication yet (my copy is on its way and won’t arrive for a few weeks), I was dismayed when I opened the book (published last year–apparently one of several conference copies that were lost in the mail) and saw, in the very beginning of the introduction, a correction that I had stressed to the copy-editor to fix on several occasions. It was sent in with every draft of the manuscript–including the final manuscript review–and mentioned in many email exchanges (because it was never changed whenever I looked at it). The error is an embarrassing one.
In the quotation of Mark 6:3, instead of ὁ τέκτων it reads ὁ τέκνων. The difference may appear subtle, but the first means ‘craftsman’ (see my discussion here) and the second means ‘children’. I’m certain it was missed when all of the Unicode Greek font had to be changed into SPIonic (to the terror of all involved), but needless to say I was not at all happy to see it in the final print edition I have, but when I saw it in the final edition there was nothing I could do. I was not permitted to see the final post-galley PDF file that was sent to print (because of legal issues; the file could potentially be leaked and made available for free to people which would cut back on sales) so there was no way to be sure if any of my corrections made it (though, as I said, Equinox did a fantastic job despite this hiccup).
So with that glaring error pointed out for all to see, this post must come to an end. But hopefully you’ll pick up a copy or ask your library to pick up a copy and, maybe–if the Publishing gods are happy with us–they will put out a paperback version which will be more affordable.
Recent book reviews of ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’ can be found here:
- Thomas L. Thompson on the book
- Richard Carrier Reviews ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’
- Bill Hamby Reviews ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’
- Tom Bolin Reviews ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’
- Philip Davies Discusses ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’ and the Question of Historicity
- Arrival of My First Copy
- ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’ at SBL San Francisco!
- Read my response to Bart Ehrman here.