Wednesday, January 31, 2007
  Arsene Lupin Gentleman Burglar
I've mentioned LibriVox before, the project describes itself:
LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books.
One LibriVox project I've worked on has now been released back into the wild: Extraordinary Adventures of Arsène Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar. This is a fine Victorian comedy melodrama in which Sherlock Holmes makes a bungling appearance! Do have a listen, and let me know what you think...

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Thursday, January 25, 2007
  Religion & Internet
Stephen pointed to the Religious Studies Review issue on Religion and the Internet (he also kindly emails me about such things which I greatly value, this time he gives a hat tip to When Religion Meets New Media a blog I don't [yet?] subscribe to...)

He also pointed to the 2005 Concilium on "Cyberspace – Cyberethics – Cybertheology". So, it is only fair to add the 2005 issue of Colloquium, to which he and I both contributed! It also has the advantage of putting all the articles online (and at least for now!) open access:

Back to the Future: Virtual Theologising as Recapitulation
Tim Bulkeley

Theology as Virtualising Enterprise
Peter Horsfield

New Zealand Christian Churches Online: Websites, and Models of Authority and Participation
Mary Griffiths and Ann Hardy

Metaphysics, Ontology and the Structural Design Process: Creating a Space for Virtual Converstational Christian Presence
Iain Doherty

Resident Evil: Horror Film and the Construction of Religious Identity in Contemporary Media Culture
Paul Teusner

Hacking with the Divine: A Metaphor Theology-Technology Engagement
Stephen Garner

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007
  (Ana)Baptist Hermeneutics
I've just finished marking a research essay concerned with "Anabaptist Hermeneutics", with Elaine I'm busy putting the finishing touches to the course outline for "Biblical texts and contexts", tomorrow we have another supervision meeting with an excellent PhD candidate (Nasili Vakauta, whose theme is "Reading the Bible Tu'a-wise: Oceanic Hermeneutics and Biblical Interpretation" - tu'a are Tongan commoners) and I am about to start reading semi-final drafts of Karen's master's thesis (her topic is the usefulness of various recent synchronic approaches to biblical studies for creating Church curriculum). So, hermeneutics is in the air round here...

My context, teaching in both Carey (a Baptist theological college) and the University of Auckland (in a School of Theology very committed to various forms of contextual reading - not least forms of liberational readings that of use varieties of hermeneutic suspicion), leaves me pondering two issues:
  1. Can Evangelical biblical scholarship and what (to distinguish it, yet not use evaluative language) I'll call Western Academic biblical scholarship talk to each other?
  2. Can a Baptist hermeneutic survive in the academy?
The first question arises, for me, from the increasing lack of significant overlap between the books and articles on my Carey and University bibliographies. The books tend in both places to come from a limited and select range of publishers. Despite some publishers, like Eerdmans, appearing strongly on both lists the Carey lists tend towards Baker Academic, IVP and Zondervan, while the University lists tend more to Fortress Press, Liturgical Press, OUP and the like. Journals obscure this gulf, but it is noticeable that I tend to choose different articles in the two contexts.

Both lists reflect my interests, combined they would reflect the much of the breadth of contemporary biblical studies. Separated they each represent communities that are unwilling, or unable, to converse. Something like this experience is reflected (unless I have badly misunderstood) in posts in the biblioblogsphere often responding to Jacques Berlinerblau's Chronicle of Higher Education piece "What's Wrong With the Society of Biblical Literature?" (subscription required). These included:

Wow, something touched a nerve!

So, how does Baptist Hermeneutics, assuming there might actually be such an animal (you know the joke "four Baptists = seven opinions"), relate to all this?

There are some common threads and tendencies that run through recognisably "Baptist" interpretation of the Bible. (By 'recognisably "Baptist"' I mean acts of interpretation not merely by Baptist interpreters, but that have some character or style that makes them seem more "Baptist" than others - I know a vague, arbitrary and subjective criterion, but you do better!) Something like Stuart Murray's (from Biblical Interpretation in the Anabaptist Tradition 206 or see the summary by Stuart Murray-Williams) list seems about right:
  • The Bible as Self-interpreting
  • Christocentrism
  • The Two Testaments
  • Spirit and Word
  • Congregational Hermeneutics
  • Hermeneutics of Obedience
Taken together these items produce a hermeneutic which privileges the gospels, reads the Old Testament in the light of its "fulfillment" in Christ (which to me means the way Jesus fills out or completes) and understands any part of the Bible in the light of the whole. Such reading is constrained also in two ways that academic reading is not.
  • It is reading in community - not individualistic.
  • It is reading for and in obedience to Christ - not reading for its own sake or with its own value.
Such reading is therefore deeply at odds with the Western Academic tradition, which is individualistic and "proud". (By "proud" I mean the opposite of "humble", a humble reading respects the text, seeks to follow and to learn from the text, but will not judge or evaluate. Western Academic reading is most un-proud in the sense that it expects robust peer review and argument, but it is often proud with respect to the biblical text.)

Does this mean that such an (Ana)Baptist reading cannot survive in the academy, but only in the church? (Wait for the next installment of these musings...)

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Monday, January 22, 2007
  Trouble with feeding
It seems there have been problems with the RSS/Atom feed again/still. I am working on this, so please excuse this (and possibly other) seemingly unnecessary posts as I try to fix and test the system!

Friday, January 19, 2007
There's yet another attempt to harness the free community oriented benefits of Wikipedia to a more traditional (and therefore [perhaps?] reliable?) form of approval. Started by a Neuroscientist called Izhikevich, Scholarpedia seems to be a heady mix of Wikipedia, peer review and social software.

Scholars who participate will gain Brownie Scholar Index Points which will buy them more favourable treatment. Users will be able to benefit from reliable (or at least authorised) content, as well as suggest edits (though the page's curator will have a veto).

Will it work? Who knows... Will even Jim read it's articles (when it gets round to publishing in theology)? Can this mix of idealism and pragmatics work at all? See the review in ifBook for more coherent thoughts than I have time for this week, whatever this is a project to watch with interest as we anxiously await the future of scholarship.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007
  Blogging: text, hypertext and writer-text
Before I return to the past, a recent post by Stephen Carlson really caught my interest. In "Blogging as Hypertext" Stephen continues a discussion of blogging pre-publication of ideas.
[Previous posts include:
Among other things Patrick comments that for writing a coherent paper (he is a grad-student) it was
easier to make it into a more coherent paper first and then convert some of it into blog posts after the fact.
He speculates
It is a little bit different, as I'm not planning on publishing it.
Actually, I don't think that this difference is significant, though maybe the question of the sort of coherence required IS.

In that connection Stephen quotes my SBL Forum article, "Hypertext and Publication in Biblical Studies" (May 2004), concerning text and hypertext and how each relates to different scholarly genres. He then poses the question:
Where does blogging fit into this? It is more like text or hypertext?
He notes the supercficial linearity of a blog post - a text-like feature, but goes on to note also the tendency for blog posts to be short and reverse chronological (newest at the top) as hypertext-like features.

He concludes with the provocative comment:
Early discussions of hypertext often focused on the reader’s experience. Perhaps blogging ought to be viewed as the new hypertext, but from the writer’s perspective.
Such a focus on the "writerly" nature of blogging is a major reason why blogs are seen as a feature of Web 2.0 (whatever that convenient but infuriating slogan cliche actually means!), and after all many of any blogs readers are themselves bloggers... (How many of Kevin's ["Google Analytics"] "women ... named Suzanna", and the rest of us, ourselves have blogs?!)

And, this writing for and in a community of writers (or several overlapping communities as most of us do) gives a blog post another and perhaps more significantly hypertextual feature, posts link. Unlike many self-conscious hyper-texts this linking is not often internal. [Except where the author is trying to subvert the nature of the medium, "by imposing a linear structure on top of the blog, for example, by naming conventions for each post or limiting hypertext links to the next post in the desired “logical” sequence."]

Most blog posts though have one or several external links, connecting this coherent fragment of text to other fragments by other authors, surely an epitome of hyper-textuality.

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We'll, I'm back, the summer holidays are over so I'm home again with an Internet connection (and lots of email to catch up on, and this week lots of work too :(

Oddly the end of the summer holidays down here coincides with the start of summer, this odd state of affairs is the result of following slavishly the Northern Hemisphere dates for Christmas and New Year. [Cue reference to all those posts about the date of Jesus' birth, except that over the last few weeks I've hardly been reading blogs, most of the time with no Internet connection!]

Anyway I'm back and plan to start reading the posts that I've bookmarked from the last couple of months as I catch up! I'll probably post about a few over the next week or so. If yours is not mentioned, it probably got lost when I had a computer failure - yes, the trusty laptop has not been so trusty and crashed badly on me a day or two ago - I don't know quite what is missing... So if you though I might comment on a post of yours, and I don't then email me or it may slip into the crack between the dimensions of the electronic world, along with who knows how many vital emails full of good news!

Saturday, January 06, 2007
  Negev flash flood video ::
Todd Bolen (of the superb has a link to this cellphone video of a flash flood in the Nahal Zin, about 60Km south of Beersheba in the Negev. If you have ever wanted to see why psalm 23 delights in being led by "still waters" just imagine sheep drinking from the pools you see at the start of the video!

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007
  PodBible audio "Bible in a Year" ::
Thanks, Wayne, for mentioning that one of the options at PodBible is to hear the whole audio CEV Bible in a year. Basically if your new year's resolution was to read the Bible in 2007 but you prefer to listen than read you just need either to log on daily to PodBible and download the day's chunk, or set your blog or podcast software to do it for you! (There is also a version that gives just one chapter per day - though that naturally takes more than a year for the whole Bible.)

We recorded this audio Bible using volunteers over a long weekend. So this is not just the Bible in ordinary English but read by ordinary people. You'll hear accents as different as Indian and Russian, or Pacific Island, Chinese and American as well as quite a lot of Kiwis!

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