This is for purely selfish motives for those of us who have studied the Acts of Paul. I mean if tomorrow suddenly there was an Ecumenical Council which declared the Acts of Paul part of the New Testament canon, the few of us who have devoted any real time to studying the book would have sudden status in the community of New Testament scholars. Consider how Rodolphe Kasser, an otherwise obscure Swiss Coptologist, became a superstar overnight when the news media proclaimed the Gospel of Judas just as accurate as the New Testament. I am virtually unknown in the world of New Testament scholarship; all people ever seem to talk about is N.T. Wright this, N.T. Wright that. What if I changed my name to N.T. Dunn? Actually, James D. G. Dunn has a nice ring to it too.
Acts of Paul scholars are often discriminated against because our book is not in the canon. When I embarked on this scholarly journey I remember vividly how the Warden of Tyndale House pointed to the late Colin J. Hemer’s study of Acts and said, “Here is a work worthy to take to heaven”–thus, implying that a study of the Acts of Paul would fail to make the grade. He also predicted, nay prophesied, that I wouldn’t find a job, which turned out to be true, and so I have had to travel to the remotest part of the world, usually on my own dime, to Bangui (rated the 2nd worst city in the world) to teach pro bono in extreme heat and humidity. And besides, no one knows whether I should teach New Testament or church history (which has been a disaster because my knowledge becomes sketchy after about the year 200). In all fairness, then, the Acts of Paul should be included. I mean in our committee we could discuss the merits of the book itself, its catholicity, its apostolicity, and its conformity to the Rule of Faith. But for crying out loud, people should consider how unfair this situation is for Acts of Paul scholars. We deserve equal rights.
Well, I think Dr. Jeremy Barrier might join the committee. I broached the idea with Prof. Jean-Daniel Kaestli a few years ago in Switzerland and he suggested that since I lack a complete text of the Acts of Paul I should just forget it. I admit that that is an encumberance for my committee, but if a complete papyrus should be found, who knows? Is there anyone out there in the blogging world interested in joining my committee?