Sunday, August 27, 2006
Teaching Biblical Hebrew ::

There have been a few posts recently (as Northerners get ready for the new year - down here the [academic] year starts in after the Christmas holidays in February ;-) about teaching Hebrew.

Tyler at Codex has a good summary post "Teaching Classical Hebrew", Joe Cathey has a useful survey of "Classical Hebrew Grammars" (with - as a reassurance for faint hearted non-Americans - no mention of guns ;-)

So I thought I'd:
So, here goes... If you have the joy of teaching Hebrew anytime soon do look at our דָּבָר : Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies collaborative project. It allows teachers to provide their students with multimedia vocabularies for regular learning based on the textbook they are using.

Students get to see something like this "“Vocabulary" (they also get a printable flashcard for use on the bus ;-) .

Teachers can go to the teachers' site and make up vocabs that are exported to their own server/LMS and if need be contributors (approved teachers) can add words that are currently missing. Though since we have over 500 words already done the need for this should not be huge for an Intro course!

Tags: , , ,

Monday, August 21, 2006
Representing God's personal name in translation ::

Names are usually easy to translate, you don't. Speakers of the receptor language sometimes have to adapt names to make them easier to pronounce, but on the whole proper names do not get translated. Tim Bulkeley remains Tim Bulkeley however you pronounce me! But God's name is a problem.

There is a good discussion of the issues on the SBL Forum. David Stein who was part of a team revising the JPS translation sets things out clearly, explaining how already at Qumran (some couple of centuries BC) the "name" was treated in special ways by the scribes, and how the translators of the first Greek Bibles set a fashion when they rendered the name "Lord" (κύριος). Yet "LORD" even when printed in capitals sounds like a title not a name. Many popular non-Jewish writers have used a transliteration of the name as it appears in the Hebrew text (since the habit began in Germany representing Y with a J) as Jehovah. Non-Jewish scholars, recognising that this form is not Hebrew, but a deliberate mixing of the consonants of God's name YHWH with the vowels of "lord" in Hebrew, designed to be unreadable as so remind the reader NOT to pronounce the name) have made an intelligent guess as to how the name might have been said. Put this is offensive to Jews, who often even avoid saying or writing "God" (putting G-d).

In the Amos commentary I represented the name יהוה as "Adonai" which looks like a name in English, and links to tradition by representing the Hebrew word for "lord". However, this is an idiosyncratic approach (though it has some support in Reform Judaism see Stein footnote 3) and for the Hypertext Bible Commentary series, and the University Bible Dictionary we need a better approach.

Stein and the JPS will render the name by presenting the Hebrew characters thus:
You have seen with your own eyes all that יהוה your God has done...
But many people think the introduction of Hebrew characters will unduly interrupt the flow of an Anglophone reader, and would prefer Roman characters:
You have seen with your own eyes all that YHWH your God has done...
What do you think?

Of these three options: יהוה, YHWH or Adonai which would you choose? Or would you opt for another possibility? Any input will be considered carefully before the editors decide!

Friday, August 18, 2006
PodBible and "devotional application" ::

Lingamish, who says in a comment below that he found this blog (and I assume PodBible) from a comment of mine on the Better Bibles Blog, has some kind things to say about the Bible podcasts in his post "Faith comes by hearing". However, there is one thing he says that is (I hope) not quite right. As well as the favourable comment on the choice of CEV (great for the job as it is simple and written to be read aloud) he says that we:
are distributing daily podcasts that include a short reading and devotional application.
Which, I hope, misses the point in two significant ways.
  1. the smallest readings we offer are the "chapter a day" version (which though short are still longer than most readings in churches on Sunday!) but we also offer "Bible in a Year" of several chapters at a time - it is precisely that hearers get the text in larger "chunks" that I see as one of the advantages of this medium!
  2. We do want people to read the Bible devotionally, but I think to say we provide a "devotional application" also misses the point. Our brief things to |think|pray|do| at the end of each chapter (of the chapter a day version) are carefully openended, we try to avoid telling others what the Bible is "saying" but hope to provoke them to work it out for themselves, and certainly to work out the application for themselves.
Lingamish closes his post (and do go and read it!) paradoxically in view of his title, with a reflection on the differences of hearing and reading Scripture. After making strongly the point that Scripture is more heard than read, and that therefore translations need to be apt for reading aloud, he adds:
Second, despite the fact that most people are exposed to Scriptures by hearing it, reading is a far more effective means of understanding a text. The best way to understand a text is to sit down and quietly read it.
In part this is true. You can more easily engage complexity, decode structure and the like when reading, and re-reading. BUT hearing, and particularly hearing larger swathes of text, means you are more likely to pick up themes and keywords and motifs that are repeated or opperate through a book. Both ways of consuming text have advantages! As the "Bible in an Electronic Context" postgraduate class and I were exploring together last Monday. Maybe one of them will post more on this and I can link to their post ;-)

Smart use of YouTube (or a quick facelift) ::

In the current "funding environment" Carey promotions are always cash-strapped. So it's nice to see Mike making neat use of YouTube to help. He's taken clips from videos made for other purposes and put them on YouTube.

So, if you're interested in seeing how I began my sermon on Song of Songs - in a chapel series on Church then and Now - you can (BTW the facelift is only for the still at the start, I return to normal once it's going ;-) :

Or, you can hear lecturers talk about their research:

For other snips see the video page on the college site, or the list samples from CareyMedia. (Incidentally, Mike, when are the DVDs going to be able to be ordered online? Drag the Carey site into the 21st century...)

Thursday, August 10, 2006
The Blog as a medium for Bible commentary ::

Michael Pahl has announced his intention to write a commentary on 1 Thessalonians in the form of a blog. This is really exciting. The form of blog is significantly different from the form of a vanilla hypertext. Of course the blog format will allow the usual hypertext features, and I'll be interested to see just how Michael implements and uses them. But blog also allows, even demands, interaction with both other (external) sites and with readers.

So, in the comments Michael promises "...when I list the primary textual witnesses to 1 Thess in an upcoming post, I can link to descriptions and photographs of various manuscripts." How I wish such things had been more possible when I began Amos.

[ NOTE TO SELF: I wonder if we should plan on including more external links in the Hypertext Bible Commentary, I am still hesitant knowing how often (even today, though much less than a decade ago!) resources move creating a broken link to be fixed.]

In many ways, though, the comments feature will be the more interesting. For Amos I interacted by email with many hundreds of readers, but by email (and so invisibly to other readers). I wonder how much more impact visible comments will have, and will the filtering effect of the blog medium be sufficient to efficiently filter out the nutters...

A project I'm really going to watch with interest!

The world and cultures of the Bible ::

For the first time, I'm sharing teaching an intro. course with this title. To an extent I'm finding out what it's about as I go! But I couldn't resist pointing the students to Tyler's recent post "The Strange New World of the Bible" which provides a nice swift reminder of (at least) one reason such a course is needed.

What and how to blog ::

Way back (almost a year ago) Seth Godin posted a much noticed item "What makes an idea viral?" He used seven simple ideas (four rules of "sending" and three about "getting" ideas) to explain such complexities as why Nietzsche's ideas spread slowly while "Numa Numa" (don't ask!) spread like wildfire.

These are the seven rules for viral ideas:

No one "sends" an idea unless:

  1. they understand it
  2. they want it to spread
  3. they believe that spreading it will enhance their power (reputation, income, friendships) or their peace of mind
  4. the effort necessary to send the idea is less than the benefits

No one "gets" an idea unless:

  1. the first impression demands further investigation
  2. they already understand the foundation ideas necessary to get the new idea
  3. they trust or respect the sender enough to invest the time
Which all makes a sort of sense, however, Jason Kottke has revisited the list and thought it through with respect to blogging: "How I Blog". A good post, as Jason implies, takes account of these rules.
  • It is comprehensible,
  • important to the blogger,
  • they expect some reward (even if only not themselves forgetting)
  • and the reward is greater than the effort of postng.
But also a good post also
  • draws the reader in (first impressions count),
  • but only readers with sufficient previous shared knowledge,
  • and only if they actually arrive at the blog to read the post. (Which is why I must post more now that the frantic rush is almost over, else you will not keep me on your "list" ;-)
If you want a quick, simple way to improve your blogging, just read Jason's post, and check your last few posts, and (like me, my last several have been dreadful :( notice how to write better posts!

I suspect I'm especially guilty of not thinking enough about "Get A":

a. the first impression demands further investigation - I spend a lot of time on getting the description of some linked text, photo, or video just right, so that the reader has a good idea of what they're getting into. Choosing a 1-2 sentence pull-quote that accurately represents the idea of an article is key in getting people's attention in a productive way. "This is an awesome link" is only going to cut it so many times; you need to tell people what the link is and give people an honest reason to click.

Though hopefully, today, "What and how to blog" drew you in. And wisdom stolen from others rewarded you!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006
What do Christians do? ::

Richard Beck, like many other Northern Hemisphere bloggers is back, he has just started a new series on "Christian Practice". As a good psychologist he is focussing on what people actually do. So, what actions are rightly (typically in one sense) "Christian"? Interestingly he starts in Part 1 with "Ahimsa" because paradoxically his first and foundational Christian practice has no name in Western languages.

What is this basic Christian practice? Read Richard, and see if you agree!

Saturday, August 05, 2006
Hyper/Text etc. and Scholarly Communication ::

Found this 2001 article with the intriguing titole "Hypertext And The Scholarly Archive - Paratexts, Metatexts And Intertexts At Work" (HTML : PDF) by Danish scholar Rune Dalgaard. (HT to Alex Soojung-Kim Pang of the always stimulating and thought provoking The End of Cyberspace blog.)

Rune argues:
With the Web, hypertext has become the paradigmatic rhetorical structure of a global and distributed archive. This paper argues that the scholarly archive is going though a process of hypertextualization that is not adequately accounted for in theories on hypertext.
and uses Genette for a theoretical framework to reject
the reductionist opposition of hypertext and the fixed linear text, in favor of a study of the intertexts, paratexts and metatexts that work at the interface between texts and archive.
since I'm busy getting students in The Bible in an Electronic Context thinking about just this reductionist opposition this paper comes to my attention at an opportune moment.

Of particular interest to me though, since I long ago argued that the sequential/plurisequential distinction was a convenient fiction, is his section: "Medium, Genre And Link" where he discusses and draws my attention to Joshua Meyrowitz' useful distinction between "medium, rhetorical structure and contents" this terminology might have been helpful when I was writing the paper that became "Form, Medium and Function: the Rhetorics and Poetics of Text and Hypertext in Humanities Publishing" especially the section "Hypertext rhetorics and poetics".

Those students are just starting to explore blogging, so soon I'll be posting links here to their blogs, and I wonder if some of them will read this and digest the Dalgaard article before I do!? (It is another busy weekend, following another busy week, with NINE meetings as well as most of the usual tasks of a teacher in early semester mode!)

SEARCH Tim's sites
Posts listed by topic
My academic CV

Write to Tim

January 2004 / February 2004 / March 2004 / May 2004 / June 2004 / July 2004 / August 2004 / September 2004 / October 2004 / November 2004 / December 2004 / January 2005 / February 2005 / March 2005 / April 2005 / May 2005 / June 2005 / July 2005 / August 2005 / September 2005 / October 2005 / November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 / January 2007 / February 2007 / March 2007 / April 2007 / May 2007 / June 2007 / July 2007 / August 2007 / September 2007 / October 2007 / November 2007 / December 2007 / January 2008 / February 2008 / March 2008 / April 2008 / May 2008 / June 2008 / July 2008 / August 2008 / September 2008 / October 2008 / November 2008 / December 2008 / January 2009 / February 2009 / March 2009 / April 2009 / May 2009 / June 2009 / July 2009 / August 2009 / September 2009 / October 2009 / November 2009 /

biblical studies blogs:

other theology/church blogs:


Powered by Blogger

Technorati Profile

Yellow Pages for Auckland, New Zealand