Wednesday, June 29, 2005
SBL International: Singapore ::

In this post I will mention highlights of the conference so far for me, and inevitably this will be a highly personal list -– we each only see the sessions we attend. In a semi-separate post below I will also try to give some impressions of the city.

SBL International ::

The highlight has been the participation of Asian scholars, compared with previous SBLI that I have attended (not necessarily in order ! Strasbourg, Jerusalem, Leuven, Sheffield, Cape Town) which were mainly white faced, and (with the exception of Cape Town) a roughly 50/50 mix of European and North American, this SBLI has a high participation by Asian scholars. (And also Ausies and Kiwis, though we hardly correct the race balance, shame there are no other South Pacific representatives!_*_) The historic Euramerican domination of academic theology is still present, chatting to several delegates from Indonesia I discovered that we all did our PhDs in Glasgow, perhaps next time a "reunion" is called for, like the Aussie group who are meeting for coffee on Thursday. (I wonder if Kiwis are part of greater Australia for these purposes?) The Asian scholar whose presentation I found the most stimulating was the Korean, Taek Joo Woo, who spoke on "Rhetorical force of the Marzeah institution in Amos 6:1-7". It had everything: Amos, that intriguing institution that combined booze-up, religion, food and ancestor cult while surviving in most Levantine cultures for thousands of years, and a chance to discuss his interesting ideas on the problematic verse 2 with him afterwards!

Another highlight was (Did I blog this yesterday? I do miss an Internet connection, though if I'd stayed at the expensive conference hotel I doubt I'd have been tempted enough to cough up $20 per DAY for the luxury on top of the room charges!) sitting near Heather McKie after my paper passing notes back and forth as we each developed an idea of hers in different directions into the embryos of two very different possible future papers. Mine titled "Man bites dog" would focus on the narrative in Amos 7:10-17 and explore authorisation and un-authorisation in that text, hers would explore biblical talk of harlot wives.

John Hill, of Yarra Theological Union, was another whose paper provoked me to discussion after the session. He explored the differences between the MT and LXX editions of Jeremiah to highlight ways in which MTJer might be read as a dissident text, in its second temple context. Not least for me this highlighted once again how much we lack a commentary that parallels the two texts, an obvious possibility where electronic presentation would have advantages over print! Why is it that -– at a time when the priority of the MT is far from evident -– the scholarly community has "canonised" the MT at the expense of the LXX?

Singapore ::

Is a booming buzzing cacophony, full of lights and movement. The streets are filled, 24/7 it seems, by people of many races busily living with gusto and panache. Foods stalls, or in the upmarket area near the conference "courts", offer delicacies from many different and/or blended Asian cuisines. And a good dinner costs only a few dollars. A part of me imagines living in such an environment with longing, but in real life I could not stand the constant noise and confusion.

I need peace!

I've retreated to my hotel room to write this
post, prior to an early night, but still there is chatter from the corridors, the hum of traffic and air conditioner, and an air of busyness that I imagine I can smell from the streets outside.

That the population of the city-state is drawn from the Chinese diaspora, Malays, Indians and Indonesians, with a good sprinkling of others means that here a different skin and accent do not mark one out as a foreigner and so the object of curious stares. I've never been to a place so welcoming. It is also clean and safe.

* I apologise if I have failed to notice anyone, since my first SBLI the numbers attending have shot up and it is no longer guaranteed that one can spot everyone, the loss of a family-feel is (despite this comment) compensated for by the greater richness of background!

Monday, June 27, 2005
SBL Singapore : never rely on technology (part 1) ::

Today was my presentation on Amos 7, good job I had a handout and so only REALLY needed to Powerpoint as notes for myself, though the print for the Hebrew was very small on the handout :( as the technology - in this most techno of cities - failed although my laptop would talk to the projectors in the other rooms it would not work in the Concept Analysis room. This is a headache as Lynne and I are presenting the Hebrew Vocabularies project (see below) in that room on Wednesday and we REALLY DO need the projector and an Internet connection for that. Oh, yes, the posh hotel the conference is in has wireless, it's just that so far no one I know has managed to connect. So I am typing this, not on my laptop, but on a machine in a nearby games parlour!

Saturday, June 25, 2005
SBL International - Davar: Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies ::

Blogging this from Sydney Airport on my way to SBL in Singapore. Apart from the paper on Amos 7 (= 7:1-8:3 but who's counting?) I am also sharing one with my colleague Lynne Wall to present Davar: Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies project. This is a really neat tool for sharing in creating multimedia vocabularies (with the words that you need for the book your class uses) in both onscreen and printable "flashcard" formats (in the flashcards of course you lose the sound and piccies, but students can test themselves on the bus without a WAP phone).

The URL is where you can test it out. The idea is that teachers who are happy with just the words we provide can use it without a logon, but those (just about anyone at the start as we only have a couple of dozen words as yet!) who want to add their own words get a login to enter data through an easy online form...

It's cool, uses XHTML and CSS, and collaborative, and useful so what more do you want? Try it out and let me know... (but expect delays as I am not staying at a posh hotel, so won't have Internet easily for the next week, unless I go to Changi airport which has fast Internet free!)

Thursday, June 23, 2005
Mea culpa - it's the exam/conference season! ::

Eek! I'm sorry, silly of me! I must have been looking at Ps 8:5 rather than Gen 5:2. Thank you Ed for the correction. My only excuse is that it is the exam and conference season down here, the busiest of the year, since at the other end we can usually finish marking before the Northern Hemisphere conferences start! (As Wayne points out I am not really living a day ahead of the rest of you, just on the right side of the date-line, but either way there are still only 24 hours in each day ;)

The ESV (doctrine : language : usability) ::

David Warnock, at the nicely named (at least for a longtime HHGG fan who is enjoying listening to the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio broadcasts on MP3) 42 Blog has a really good post about the ESV.

Lots of thought provoking questions, and a caveat:
My main concern is that this is being used as a new way of dividing the Church, I can already predict claims that "Real Christians use the ESV" and implying (or even stating openly) that those who don't are not really Christian (don't laugh, it has happened before, I am writing from personal experience here).
Personally the very first example on the ESV's "Compare Translations" page terrifies me. They translate Gen 5:2 as:
Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created.
The use of "Man" even with a capital is simply indefensible in contemporary English, as least as she is spoke outside Churches!

Both lexicography and context show that אָדָם * here is inclusive, but in contemporary English "Man" (even with the capital) is expected to refer to a gendered entity, especially when the capital follows "he named them...".

Psalm 8:4 shows this gender bias, and adds a hint of doctrinal bias too:
What is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
"Mother's son" would be more defensible here than "son of man"! (Of course we could keep the intertextuality if we rendered ο υιος του ανθρωπου in a similar way - as we surely should.)

It seems that for this translation at least - translation is a/effected by doctrine - how sad.

Stupid mistake corrected thanks to Ed Cook! back

Wednesday, June 22, 2005
Translation effected by doctrine! ::

Wayne (from Better Bibles) commented on the post below. Wayne seems to be saying that we can have a translation that is free of the taint of the ideology of the translator (treating the translation team as if they were one person). He cites the NRSV which he claims is "free of liberal, conservative, complementarian, and, for the most part, egalitarian ideology". And, viewed from where he and I sit, it is.

However, look closer, as conservative critics of the NRSV point out, to avoid sexist language it often substitutes a generic plural for a singular reference.

So, in Psalm 1:1 :
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;
Is NOT the same thing as "Happy is the man (understood generically) who..." In our fallen, post-Babel, world, good intentions are not enough, perfect translation is impossible, and ideology affects translation.

Thursday, June 16, 2005
Is translation e/affected by doctrine? ::

Adrian Warnock's UK Evangelical Blog has what's billed as an an interview with Paul House of the ESV translation team (but there seems only to be one question as yet...) which Wayne @ Better Bibles mentioned. I was caught by the spelling of the title, their version is "Is translation effected by doctrine?" which as I read it means: does doctrine produce translation?

[For pedants "effect: means
"# To bring into existence.
 # To produce as a result.
 # To bring about."
while "affect" means
"To have an influence on or effect a change in"
(see the usage note at]

So, does doctrine produce translation? Of course it does, but the relationship runs both ways, doctrine produces translation - Protestant and Evangelicals have on the whole been more active in translating Scripture than Orthodox or Catholic Christians have - but also translation produces doctrine - again just think of the impact of translating the Bible into English...

But another really interesting question, which I am sure can also be answered affirmatively is does doctrine affect translation?. Of course it does! Think of the "slant" that the desire for gender neutrality produces, or that the NIV's commitment to North American inerrantist views introduces...

Should doctrine affect translation? No. Does it? Yes.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005
Pray as you mark ::

Way back, when this blog was young, I posted a piece entitled The everyday spirituality of marking!? (stimulated by a post of Steve Taylor's)

Ever since I have been feeling guilty, for I dismally failed in this attempt at Appropriate Spirituality.

But now I've done it, while marking exams - no less! And it works, for me, I prayed briefly for the 70+ students in the University Intro class, as I marked. (It's best to pray after you mark each student's last question, otherwise I suspect one's impartiality might suffer!) A couple of sentences each, even those whom I could hardly remember much about, but in other cases with more detail.

One reason it worked this time is that "Cecil" the University's much maligned LMS has one brilliant feature, I click on a name in the class list, and up pops a small photo of the student, much better than names for reminding me of who is whom and of their stories.

When I say it worked, I mean not only did I get a warm glow for "being good", but also God used my prayers to challenge me, and I have a couple of things to work on as a result...

Monday, June 13, 2005
Audio introduction to the book of Jonah ::

In the middle of the busiest month of the year, with piles of marking and papers to prepare for SBL International and Peter Horsfield's research symposium in Melbourne on "Emerging Research in Media, Religion and Culture" I took the weekend off to go down to Taranaki and lecture on Jonah. The talk was received well, so I'm making it available as an MP3. (The usual CC attribution no commercial use license applies!)

Audio Introduction to the book of Jonah, delivered to Hawera Baptist Church, Taranaki, NZ on June 11th 2005. As the lecture lasts 40 minutes you can choose whether to DOWNLOAD or listen as you go STREAMING audio.

The recording was made as part of my trial of using an MP3 player to record classes and the like, to make the files available to students as a resource. If anyone listens do let me know what you think, either about the content, or the technology!

Labels: , ,

Virtual World correction ::

When I posted the first part of my review of the Virtual World project I mentioned the post to Ronald Simkins who wrote to fill out what I said about panoramic and spherical/cubic images. Here's the correction:
The primary difference between pans and cubes is that pans have a limited field of view (horizontally) whereas cubes have a 180 horizontal field of view so that you can see what is directly up and down from the spot of view. Cubes are therefore especially valuable in close quarters and where what is up and down is important.
Which makes really good sense once it is pointed out!

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