The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in the United States and Canada and the Henry Luce Foundation, Inc., have named François Bovon as a Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology for 2002-03. Bovon, the Frothingham Professor of the History of Religion at the Divinity School, was named a fellow in the category of “Bible and the Church,” and will write on the topic of “The New Testament and Early Christian Apocrypha.”
With this proposal, Bovon seeks to complete his analyses of the connection between the New Testament and noncanonical writings of ancient Christianity that are commonly, although misleadingly, termed the “Apocrypha of the New Testament.” These texts, written in the first centuries of the common era, discuss Jesus, his male and female disciples, and his family, and were written parallel to and in concurrence with (or continuity of) the New Testament writings.
These gospels, acts, epistles, and revelations served as readings, liturgical and private, in diverse Christian communities. Although condemned in late antiquity, these texts did not vanish. Greek, Latin, Syrian, Coptic, Armenian, Georgian, Arabic, Gaelic, and Ethopic churches found ways to accept the best of this “apocryphal” heritage into liturgical, spiritual, and especially hagiographical literature. Arguing that the “apocryphal” texts in late antiquity were often held to be useful for private piety, edification of the community, and historical understanding of Christian origins, Bovon will engage in a new way a longstanding theological debate about scripture and tradition.
Selected on the basis of the strength of their proposals to conduct creative and innovative theological research, Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology conduct yearlong sabbatical research projects in areas of theological inquiry ranging from the Bible, to Christianity and contemporary culture, to communities of faith. This year’s fellows constitute the ninth class of scholars since the inception of the program in 1993.