Dietmar Neufeld

  • Landscape and Spatiality
  • Ethnicity, Identity, and Collectivism
  • Constructions of Gender and Sexuality
  • Patronage, Clientage, and Benefaction
  • Ancient Economies
  • Mockery and Secrecy in the Gospel of Mark
  • Mockery in the Ancient World
  • The Ridiculed Paul Ridiculing: Paul defendings his loss of status in 2 Corinthians
  • Rumor, Gossip and Information Management in the Ancient World

Mockery and Secrecy in the social world of Mark’s Gospel

The Gospel of Mark presents Jesus fearlessly lampooning the public piety of the religious authorities; “Jesus said to them, ‘Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocrites,’ as it is written, ‘This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching human precepts as doctrines.’ You refuse the commandment of God in order that you might stand by your tradition” (Mark 7:6-9). On another occasion, Mark records that the scribes from Jerusalem dressed Jesus down: “He has Beelzebul and that in the magistrate of the demons he casts out demons” (Mark 3:22). At the house of Jairus, Jesus was roundly made laughing-stock to the crowd who had gathered to lament the death of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:39-40). As these examples illustrate, mockery powerfully conveyed social judgements of one sort or another, targeted persons, things, or actions that deserved ridicule or occasioned contempt, demarcated insiders from outsiders, and profiled potentially divisive practices related to purity, piety, healings, and exorcisms.

‘Embellishment for Exaggeration: InventioAkribeia and Historia as Enquiry: I John in a Competitive Literary Environment’ International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, Vienna, Austria, June 2007

‘Truth Talk. Emerging from and Anti-Society and Entering Conventional Society: the Case of I John’ Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, Salamanca, Spain, July 2006

‘Central and Peripheral Ecstasy. The case of Daniel’ St. Petersburg Christian University, St. Petersburg, Russia, June 2005

‘The Rhetoric of a Possessed Body. The Rhetoric(s) of Body Politics and Religious Discourses’ The University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa, August 2004

‘Social Significance of States of Ecstasy: The Case of Sarai and Hannah’ The Social Sciences and the Hebrew Bible, The International Context Group. The University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland, June 2004

‘Body, Adornment, and Identity in the Life of Adam and Eve: Vita and Genesis’ The International Context Group, Philadelphia, March 2003

‘Body decoration and Clothing in the Revelation of John’ The International Context Group, University of South Africa, Pretoria, June 2001

‘Sumptuous Clothing and Ornamentation in the Apocalypse’ The International Context Group, Notre Dame University, South Bend, Ill., March, 2001

‘The Body and Altered States of Consciousness in the Greek Magical Papyri’ Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, Université Laval, Québec City, PQ, May 2001

‘Ecstasy as Ritual in the PGM’ American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature, Nashville, Tennessee, November 2000


Reconceiving texts as speech acts: an analysis of I John, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994, pp. vii + 152

[reviewed by J. Peláz, Presentación de libros (1997), 225; A. Reinhartz, Studies in Religion 25 (1996), 244; E. Botha, UNISA, South Africa Neotestamentica 29 (1995), 141–42; S. A. Hunt, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 56 (1994), 125–26; G. Segalla, Studia Patavina 42 (1995), 148–50]

(with Daphna Arbel and Robert J. Cousland, And so they went out. The Lives of Adam and Eve as Cultural Transformative Story [UBC Studies in Religion 2], New York: T&T Clark/Continuum (2010), ix-189.

(Editor) The Social Sciences and Translation of the Bible [Symposium Series, Society for Biblical Literature] Atlanta: Scholars Press and Leiden: Brill, 2008, pp. i + 200

(Editor, with Richard E. De Maris) The social context of the New Testament, New York: Routledge (2010), v-285.

Complete list of published work

[books are indicated in bold type]


‘An Unjust Judge and a Destitute Widow: Luke 18:1-8’, Mennonite Brethren Herald 26, 2–3


Review of J. Kotva, Jr., Scripture, Ethics, and the Local Church: Homosexuality as a Case Study (1988), in Conrad Grebel Review 7, 181–4


Review of D. M. Smith, First, Second, and Third John (1991), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 55, 398–9

Review of W. M. Swartley (ed). The Love of Enemy and Nonretaliation in the New Testament (1992), in Conrad Grebel Review 11, 289–94


Reconceiving texts as speech acts: an analysis of I John, Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994, pp. vii + 152

Review of D. A. Black (ed.), Linguistics and New Testament Interpretation: Essays on Discourse Analysis (1992), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 56, 817–8

Review of M. Davies, Rhetoric and Reference in the Fourth Gospel (1992), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 56, 366–8


Review of D. A. Lee, The Symbolic Narratives of the Fourth Gospel: The Interplay of Form and Meaning (1994), in Journal of Biblical Literature 114, 243–5

Review of J. Painter, The Quest for the Messiah: The History,Literature and Theology of the Johannine Community, 2nd ed. (1993), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 57, 604–05

Review of N.T. Wright, Who Was Jesus? (1992), in Critical Review of Books on Religion, 325–7


‘Eating, Ecstasy and Exorcism: A Social Scientific Approach’, Biblical Theology Bulletin 26, 152–62

Review of A. K. Adam, What is Postmodern Biblical Criticism (1995), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 58, 430–2

Review of S. McEvenue, Interpretation and the Bible: Essays on Truth in Literature (1994), in Studies in Religion 25, 131

Review of F. Watson, Text, Church and World: Biblical Interpretation in Theological Perspective (1994), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 58, 366–8


And When that One Comes: Aspects of Johannine Messianism’, in P. Flint and M. Abegg (eds), Eschatology, Messianism and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 120–40

‘Jesus and Apocalypticism: Context. in M. Desjardins and W. E. Arnel (eds), In Whose Historical Jesus? Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 212–14

Review of D. J. Hawkin, The Johannine World (1996), Studies in Religion 26, 402


Review of D. Wenham, Paul: Follower of Jesus or Founder of Christianity? (1995), in Biblical Interpretation 6, 1, 128–30

Review of C. Spiq, Theological Lexicon of the New Testament. 3 vols. (1994), in Biblical Interpretation 6, 1, 126–8

Review of C. Hoegen-Rohls, Der nachösterliche Johannes: Die Abschiedsreden als hermenutischer Schlüssel zum vierten Evangelium (1996), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 60, 157–8


Review of D. R. Beck, The Discipleship Paradigm: Readers and Anonymous Characters in the Fourth Gospel (1997), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 61 (1999), 146–7

Review of U. Schnelle, The Human Condition: Anthropology in the Teachings of Jesus, Paul, and John (1996), in Religious Studies Review 25 (1999), 99


‘Jesus’ Eating Transgressions and Social Impropriety in the Gospel of Mark: A Social-Scientific Approach’, Biblical Theology Bulletin 30, 15–26

‘Acts of Admonition and Rebuke: A Speech-Act Approach to I Corinthians 6:1-11’, Biblical Interpretation 8,4, 376–99

Review of W. Verburg, Passion als Tragödie? Die literarische Gattung der antiken Tragödie als Gestaltungsprinzip der Johannespassion (1999), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 62, 765–6

Review of J. J. Kanagaraj, “Mysticism” in the Gospel of John. An Inquiry Into its Background (1998), in Review of Biblical Literature 2000, 393–5

Review of J. L. Resseguie, Revelation Unsealed. A Narrative Critical Approach to John’s Apocalypse (1998), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 62, 156–7


Review of P. L. Tite, Compositional Transitions in 1 Peter. An Analysis of the Letter-Opening (1997), in Studies In Religion 30, 120–1

Review of R. Metzner, Das Verständnis der Sünde im Johannesevangelium (2000), Catholic Biblical Quarterly 63, 346–8

Review of J. J. Kanagaraj, “Mysticism” in the Gospel of John. An Inquiry Into its Background (1998), in Journal of Biblical Literature 120 (2001), 572–4


‘Clothing and Ornamentation in the Apocalypse of John’, in A. Van Arde (ed.), The Social World of the New Testament [Hervormde Teologiese Studies 58], Pretoria, 664–89

Review of B. J. Malina, The New Jerusalem in the Revelation of John (2000), in Review of Biblical Literature (, 1–2


Review of J. Painter, 1, 2, and 3 John (2002), in Toronto Journal of Theology, 240–1

Review of S. Ruschmann, Maria von Magdala im Johannesevangelium (2002), in Catholic Biblical Quarterly 65, 479–80


‘Under the Cover of Clothing: Scripted Clothing Performances in Revelation’, Biblical Theology Bulletin 35, 67–76

‘Christianity in Sardis and Smyrna’, in R. Ascough (ed.), Religious Rivalries: Struggles for Success in Sardis and Smyrna, Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 32–49

Review of J. Hoon Kim, The Significance of Clothing Imagery in the Pauline Corpus (2004). in Biblical Theology Bulletin 35, 114

Review of T. Griffith, Keep Yourselves from Idols. A New Look at I John (2002), in Bulletin for Biblical Research 15, 124–6


‘Rituals of Ecstasy in the Greek Magical Papyri’, in Essays in Honour of Frederik Wisse: Scholar, Churchman, Mentor [ARC 33], Montreal: McGill University Press, 74–88

‘The Rhetoric of Body, Clothing and Identity in the Vita and Genesis’, in J. Vorster (ed.), Rhetoric of the Bible in Politics and Religion [Scriptura 90], 679–84

‘Barrenness Affliction and its Social Significance’, in P. Esler (ed.), Modeling in Ancient Israel: Social –Scientific Studies of the Old Testament in its Context, Fortress Press, 128–41

‘Magic and Spirituality’, in Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development, Sage Publications, 273-75.

Review of R. Schäfer, Paulus bis zum Apostelkonzil. Ein Beitrag zur Einleitung in den Galaterbrief, zur Geschicht der Jesusbewwegung und zur Pauluschronologie (2004), in Religious Studies Review 32, 43–4

Review of J.-A. A. Brant, Dialogue and Drama: Elements of Greek Tragedy in the Fourth Gospel, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers (2004), in Studies in Religion 35, 150–51


‘Nino Ricci’s Testament: Imagining Jesus Then and Now’, in P. C. Burns (ed.), Jesus in Late Twentieth Century Literature, Art, and the Movies, New York: T&T Clark/Continuum, pp. 19-35.

Review of R. S. Dutch, The Educated Elite in 1 Corinthians. Education and Community Conflict in Greco-Roman Context, London/New York: T&T Clark International (2005), in Religious Studies Review 33, 68–9

Review of G. I. Bond, Paul and the Religious Experience of Reconciliation. Diasporic Community and Creolic Consciousness, Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press (2005), in Religious Studies Review 33, 73


(Editor) The Social Sciences and Translation of the Bible [Symposium Series, Society for Biblical Literature] Atlanta: Scholars Press and Leiden: Brill, 2008.

‘Amos Niven Wilder’, in Encyclopedia of the Historical Jesus, Routledge, 2008, pp.677-79.

Review of M. J. Debanné, Enthymemes in the Letters of Paul (2006), in Toronto Journal of Theology, 24/1 (2008) 108-110.

Review of L. E. Vaage, Religious Rivalries in the Early Roman Empire and the Rise of Christianity (2006), in University of Toronto Quarterly, 77/1, 217-18

Crook, Zeba A. Reconceptualising Conversion: Patronage, Loyalty, and Conversion in the Religions of the Ancient Mediterranean. Beihefte zur Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft und die Kunde der älteren Kirche 130 Berlin: de Gruyter, 2004. Pp. xv + 310. RBL 4, 2008 (


‘Prohibitions/Abstention from Food and States of Ecstasy in the PGM’, in Ambiguities, Complexities, and Half-Forgotten Adversaries: Crossing Boundaries in Ancient Judaism and Early ChristianityEssays in Honor of Alan Segal. Leiden: Brill (forthcoming 2009)


University of Winnipeg 1977B.A.
Mennonite Seminary1979M.A
McGill University1991Pd.D


1987–89 Sessional positions at McGill University (Montreal) and Carleton University (Ottawa)

1989-–94 Sessional position, University of British Columbia, Department of Religious Studies

1994–2001 Assistant Professor, University of British Columbia, Department of Religious Studies

2001– Associate Professor, University of British Columbia, Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies

Awards for teaching

2002 Just Desserts Award for Teaching Excellence awarded by the AMS
2006 Killam Teaching Prize

Competitive Research Grants

1995 UBC HSS Small Research Grant
1999 UBC HSS Small Research Grant
1999 UBC Large Hampton Grant
2000 UBC Small Research Grant
2001 UBC/SSHRC International Travel Grant
2003 UBC HSS Small Research Grant
2005 UBC SSHRC International Travel Grant
2005 Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (UBC), primary investigator with J. McFetridge. ‘Ancient Spaces: A Student-Driven Experiential Approach to Teaching and Learning in Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies’. Project Title: ‘Creation of re-usable 3D reconstructions of Ancient Greek Structures’.
2006 Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (UBC), co-investigator with Ulrich Rauch (primary), Dietmar Neufeld, Toph Marshall, Linc Kesler, Marvin Cohodas, Michael Griffin. Project title: ‘Ancient Spaces: student-driven reconstructions of ancient civilizations’


My area of research focusses on the use of the social sciences and cognitive sciences in New Testament Interpretation. My research is driven by the question of how best to make sense of the New Testament, a book of great significance to Western Culture yet often perplexing. Our cognitive habits, enculturated ways of speaking, value systems, customs, and world views are noticeably different from the ancient ones. We must not assume that our political and economic systems functioned in similar fashion to the systems in Greco-Roman antiquity. I, therefore, rely on the interpretive models of the social sciences, particularly cultural anthropology and ethnographical studies of non-western, traditional cultures, to bridge the gap between these two worlds. I have published extensively on issues of honour and shame, gender and sexuality, ecstatic states and possession, and clothing and adornment (The Social Sciences and Biblical Translation, 2008/Understanding the Social World of the New Testament, 2012). I am currently writing a book on Mark and Mockery in the Greco-Roman World under contract with T & T Clark. I am also fascinated by what the cognitive sciences have to offer by way of understanding the universal human propensity to imagine after-life realities, or resurrection bodies, or other-worldly journeys, or unimaginable torture in hell for the wicked,or bodies unconstrained by the laws of nature. For example, the story of Jesus walking on water retains some of the physical features we attach to a body in locomotion on land but also violates basic intuitive physics when it does so on water (Matt 14:25). The insights gained by neurobiology and neuroanthropology help us to give account of the persistance of such beliefs in the New Testament. Our department is a single unit with three-interdisciplinary streams, Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies, working together collectively, collaboratively, and cooperatively to give you a transformative research experience. Join with me and our department for an interdisciplinary-learning experience you will not forget.  

Courses Currently Taught