Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Thanks to Jim I now have to bear all something of myself and reveal where I was and what I was doing various decades ago (at least that seems to be how this thing works).
  • 10 years ago we had been in NZ for 5 years, not yet fellow citizens with the saints, but well-established manuhiri, looking back a decade it seems strange that I've taught my last class in the University of Auckland, back then all Carey classes were University of Auckland classes, more recently I've been 50% Carey 50% School of Theology... a big change now that casts its shadow back to my memories of long ago...
  • 20 years ago I was vice-recteur of les Facultés Protestantes au Zaïre (the institution that has now added other faculties to the two we had then to become the
    Université Protestante au Congo)

So that's three countries or continents in the period under review, obviously I shall have to seek employment in either Asia or the Americas if this trend is to continue indeed I must be overdue for relocation ;-)

It is always difficult to know who to tag, in one's turn, on these occasions. I do not have a good record. Since northern hemisphere memes seem to propagate just as our academic year down here is in final panic mode I often pick on people who have already had a go (which somehow I missed amid the marking). However, here goes:

I hereby tag:
  • AKMA (because his blog always has interesting reminiscences and I'd be glad of more context)
  • Mark Brown (because his post Wonderful News!! gave us a tantalising fragment of the story)
  • Judy Redman (to ensure that another antipodean is disturbed at this disturbing time of year, and to make sure that all those North Americans are aware that the University of New England is naturally down here!)
  • AKMA has responded, with a much fuller account than mine (but I'm not ashamed, just marking!)
  • Judy has also responded, also giving a fascinating insight through glimpses into her life particularly into how far from "egalitarian" our society was still in the late 20th century (I'm still not too ashamed, because still half sunk in the tide of marking :(


Monday, October 29, 2007
  Posting audio to a blog
Phil (of Narrative and Ontology) asked below how I post the audio files to my 5 Minute Bible blog. The answer is that I fudge it. Blogger does not make audio easy and I didn't have time to learn Wordpress, or money to use a paying service (like Evoca) so I use a free Flash MP3 player (I forget which one I used, but the JW MP3 Player) looks fine. I also use podifier to create an RSS feed that is compatible with iTunes as well as the feed that Blogger makes for me.

If it wasn't for RSS feeds and blogging software, on an "ordinary" website, like my Children's stories I just use the MP3 with an M3U textfile to stream the MP3 directly!

I'm sure there are easier ways... so why not tell me, and Phil in the comments, you might make both our lives easier ;-)

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Saturday, October 27, 2007
  How to sit exams
OK, at last its time, all the preparation and revision done (well almost all that's going to get done anyway ;-) the exam is tomorrow... What is left to do?

Photo David HC

  1. Prepare your survival kit:
    • two pens
    • two pencils (if it's an exam for which you have to draw graphs or whatever a sharpener too)
    • eraser
    • ruler
    • the essential damp face cloth in a transparent plastic bag to wipe your hands - they get sweaty in exams and to cool your fevered brow and neck. It is astonishing how refreshed you'll feel and how much more cool and calm too ;-)
    • Tictacs or if you are like me and 3 hours is too long between coffees caffeine tablets (but do NOT take too many, or you will swallow too many, NOT a good look!

    Photo Jack Hynes

  2. Before the exam:
    • plan how you will get there, if it is by public transport make sure you get an earlier bus or train, if by car allow extra time for parking - you do not want to arrive flustered in a hurry
    • the best advice comes from the famous Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy - Don't Panic!
    • really, do not panic, however bad it seems, you will survive, and if you keep calm pass with a better grade than you expect or deserve ;-)
  3. During the exam:
  4. Photo Mr.Tea

    • you planned how much time to allow for reading the paper and planning your answers (probably about 15mins, maybe 30mins for a 3 hour exam) and how long for each answer (30 mins?) write down the timetable - if you don't write it, you won't stick to it!
    • read the questions - SLOWLY - work out what they mean (really mean) you are NOT going to write a brain dump "all I know about..."
    • mark the questions you will answer
    • write headings for your answers - you can easily add more headings (the ones you forget now) later - but if they are written on the pages that count you already have some marks
    • sit back, stretch - hands locked behind head stretch your back and look at the ceiling, relax, do it again, wriggle a bit - this sounds daft, but you'll be surprised how calm it makes you feel, and calm is your friend ;-)
    • keep to the timetable, be ruthless, and start the next question
    • take regular breaks, use the cloth, do the stretch, relax, noticed how funny and worried everyone else looks - remember you are calm!
    • If (despite the timetable, and my advice above) the 15 minute warning comes before you have finished, try to fill out the headings that are left with some key points each... that way you can get most of the marks...

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Thursday, October 25, 2007
  Evangelicals on You Tube
The World Evangelical Alliance has become a user on You Tube, joining thousands (and perhaps millions) of individual Evangelicals and churches who already use the medium to communicate. For now the videos are basic "talking heads", but Geoff Tunnicliffe, the International Director of WEA, is a Canadian with a soft voice and a gentle approach, so they should work well, leaving the edgier stuff for the less institutional Christian presence ;-)

In the please-pray-for-Myanma video a few news clips, and in the Korean missionaries video some shots of the people being talked about could have enlivened the presentation. If many people watch these then perhaps the use of the medium will get more sophisticated - though hopefully still with the occasional and therefore low(ish) tech approach of these...

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  What Do You Take With You During an Evacuation?
Lifehacker asks an interesting question: What Do You Take With You During an Evacuation?
After two days of living on the verge of evacuation in wildfire-ravaged
San Diego, I've had lots of time to think about what stuff to grab and
go in case the fire comes my way. ... What about you? If you had 30 minutes to evacuate your home, what
would you take with you? Let us know in the comments.
They got lots of predictable answers... Many echoing the writer's own list.
... the computer, a hard drive or two, irreplaceable photo albums, jewelry
like wedding/engagement rings and heirlooms, and important
paperwork—like birth certificate, house deed, insurance papers,
This really happened to us in Kinshasa, not the bushfire but the evacuation. Civil strife, foreign paratroops to oversee the evacuation of the expat community... "OK, you are leaving tomorrow, you can only take one piece of hand luggage each."

We took
  • a couple of changes of clothes - much more than 24 hours in the same underwear gets uncomfortable and even niffy...
  • some biscuits (cookies for American speakers) and peanuts - we were not certain we'd actually reach the plane, or that a "refugee flight" would have food for the kids
  • water - ditto but even more important
  • swimwear - if we reached the plane and ended up in a hotel in Johannesburg the family would need entertaining
  • two "important possessions" - backup disks (that was the age of the floppy), thesis data, teddy bear, carving that had sat on my desk for years, painting by Barbara's dad who had died six months earlier ...
What shocked us, arriving eventually in the UK was that, while we mourned our colleagues and friends left behind, with in those days no Internet or phone system to use to contact them, everyone around focused on the things we had left...

The thing missing from all the sensible lists, but that was there by implication in our list? The small objects, other than photos (which everybody and their aunt mentioned on Lifehacker - even if only to note that are also digital now), that remind you of people and places. We are our past, as well as our present and futures.

Thursday, October 18, 2007
  What I'm buying

It's nearly the end of the year, just the marking tide to survive... I'm looking forward to my sabbatical! So, I'm buying "books"...

The first is delivered in print, I expect/hope to be surprised and delighted with a different perspective, even if the editors are all people whose works already fill my shelves ;-)

The second is actually 58 books the Word Biblical Commentary series. Paper copies of many of these are already on my shelves, but the convenience of adding them to my portable office (alias HP laptop) and to search and jump is just too good to resist... though, I have resisted the new, improved and updated edition with 59 volumes and the updated Isaiah volumes, a few hundred dollars (US!) more for three volumes is too much!

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  Whose world is it anyway?

Photo by kitsu

Writing the post below, It's not what we're teaching, it's HOW we are teaching! Reminded me of Amber's post We’re Living in Their World Now. Her account introduces a teacher, incensed (and I think also in-sensed) at a student daring to email another teacher during her class:
“Well, that’s when I banned computers from my classroom,” she said smugly. “That fixed that problem up right quick.”“It’s probably inconvenient for them to have to use pen and paper but it’s just so rude for them not to be focused on my lecture!”.
Amber responded:
If liberal education is going to make progress and be of any value in this culture, it has to embrace the way people actually learn and consume information today, not they way they did in the days of Socrates, or even our parents. Or even, truly, us..
Amen! She also imagined a start-the-year speech introducing the new batch of students:
They were five years old when Quentin Tarantino gave us Pulp Fiction. They’ve been using the internet since elementary school. They’ve never seen a floppy disk. They barely remember VHS tapes, and have never gotten tangled up in an overly long phone cord because they grew up with cordless phones. They’ve never recorded songs off the radio: they’ve always been able to download them. These are this year’s freshmen.” I’m sure that hearing this, many professors will balk and stammer, and many will think, “God, what do we have in common with these kids?”.
But, we still expect students, old and young in the age of MSN and TXT to sit, often in ROWS, and look to the front, while someone "delivers information and ideas"!?

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  It's not what we're teaching, it's HOW we are teaching!

Photo by athena.

Have you ever thought how sterile and alien an environment the average classroom is?

Have you every wondered what those students were doing with their laptops in your class?

Most of what we teach is not what we intended to teach, it is the things we do and say and the way we do and say them...

Michael Wesch has done it again, you may remember the brilliant YouTube video "Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us" now he's posted on his blog a video on teaching and the Facebook generation. A Vision of Students Today can basically either be read as a list of facts and figures from a survey of students - "read as a list" very literally since it is both presented in the video and as a list on the blog.

This is sobering [the title of my post refers to an anti-drunkenness campaign on NZ TV - "it's not the drink, it's how we are drinking"] to think about. Do we really realise how out of touch the culture into which we are seeking to inculcate our students is from the "real world"?

Before several of you remind me that students [may] need to learn that culture, since ordered thought and book-like presentation are necessary [probably/maybe] to orderly and deep thinking, I'll note that I am seeking to teach, persuade students to read books, indeed one objection made by a colleague to a class I helped plan was that it would be too successful in getting students to read - they would read less in HIS class ;-0

More striking and visceral though, for me, was the opening of the video which sets the scene and poses the issue in an empty classroom! The environment in which we teach (onsite classes) is alien and sets up a model of information which is no longer true! Information is no longer scarce, no longer "out there", no longer even ordered and organised the same way. It is not what we teach, it is how we are teaching that is the problem!

What teaching in the 21st century needs is not "better/more use of technology" - though that would be nice, nor (surely people do not actually believe this!?) students who are "as well educated as we were", but simply new ways of doing and being. Many of our deep-rooted assumptions are enshrined in material forms, "class" rooms, whiteboards, "lecturers" and the like. So, what do we do to change how we are teaching?

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007
  How to pass exams: Part Two: Collaborative Revision
Stephen (in an email) reminded me of one major area I left out of the previous post, collaborative revision. Sharing the load, sharing expertise, the wisdom of crowds... all the advantages of "2.0" and "open" can be claimed for collaborative revision. Stephen's experience and mine were very similar. A small group (mine was four of us) planned our revision together, shared out the topics and each prepared notes on one. We then pooled these and each made our own copy (with our own additions and changes) to the sheets the others had prepared. This process meant we talked through what was on the sheets and why, how the different parts worked together... in short we gave ourselves a revision tutorial.

Photo SamGrover

The key things are:
  • keep the group small so there is real accountability and commitment
  • process the notes others prepare - if you just use them 'as is' you will learn much less and it won't stick, revision is 'about' integrating knowledge into a system not merely cramming 'facts'
  • keep talking - the more you talk the notes through together the better

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Sunday, October 14, 2007
  How to pass exams: Part One: Revision
For years I sat exams, my school had exams three times a year, and I did two separate "first degrees", since then I've spent most of my life setting exams for others to sit! So now it is time to write the definitive "How to pass exams" series ;-) Warning: this post only covers exams in Arts-type subjects, with a small number of essay-type questions, for advice on multi-choice and short answer exams and for science exams look elsewhere.

Photo from Jez

In this first part I'll cover revision, the next post will cover the exam itself. (I covered "How to avoid reading books" in a previous post...)

Stage One: Select topics

  • Do NOT try to revise everything - that might be good for you, even great for your future usefulness to an employer ;-) but it won't help much with passing the exam!
  • Identify likely topics: make a list of the topics that the exam is likely to cover. At this stage you are aiming for a longish list, but not one that includes unlikely topics. Sometimes you will even be told the topics the exam covers, if not try to identify the most important topics from what was covered in the classes and the required readings. The "learning outcomes" (or whatever your institution calls them) may help you identify topics also...
  • Select the topics you will prepare. You want a list about 60% longer than the number of questions in the exam (to allow for bets that don't win), so for a 4 question exam you need a list of 6-7 likely topics, choose the most "important" first.

Noddy GuideTM
Is my name for a short simple summary of a subject or topic.
A good noddy guide will be:
- brief,
- simple but
- complete
Ideally, however, it will be written by a real scholar - avoid people with an axe to grind!
For smaller subjects, and for topics, subject "dictionaries" and "encyclopedias" are often a good source (e.g. in Bible the Anchor Bible Dictionary contains thousands of topic level noddy guides it also has quite a few subject level guides).

Stage Two: Prepare notes

Choose a noddy guide, it is worth spending some time to get the right one - ideally you will do this during the term (but I was seldom that organised ;-). The goal of this stage is to prepare a page or two about each topic, how you do this is up to you, as is what you include, but aim to cover the topic thoroughly - check this against your "noddy guide". Finding a good noddy guide for the topic is a real help, it may well also suggest ways to organise the material and headings.

Double check that you have all the most important information and ideas on these sheets.

Now, having gathered the material, reduce each topic to notes that cover at most one sheet. Do NOT use full sentences and connected paragraphs, but bullet points and headings that summarise the essentials.

Photo from CraigBoney

Another good approach is to divide your pages for the initial notes into two-thirds and one third, then to use the bottom one third to prepare a draft of the one page notes. If you do it this way it is still a good idea to copy the final brief notes onto a separate page.

Stage Three: Read and re-read

Now you read and reread both sets of notes... As "the day" gets near focus on the short notes - you can even take these with you to the exam room door (opinions differ, some people, like me, prefer to cram to the last minute, others like my wife prefer to have a rest in the hours just before the exam - I take my rest the day before that gives a longer rest ;-) but find the pattern that suits you) some institutions expect this and have a waste bin near the door, if not just place them in a corner and if need be retrieve them after the exam.

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Friday, October 12, 2007
  Somewhat unusual jobs I've had
Scott (at Jesus Creed) has a post Crazy jobs I’ve had in it he lists (some of?) his previous employment and invites others to do the same. Here's my list:
  • dolly boy in a ducting factory - the dolly boy holds a lump of iron against the inside of the ducting while the "craftsman" hammers the aluminium rivet flat, it is quite a noisy job but in those days we had no ear protectors
  • accounts clerk (temporary) - helping fix the accounts before the auditors got to see them, I worked at a side table in the CEO's office, so between the job and the telephone conversations I could not help overhearing I knew more about the company than anyone (yes, even the CEO in whose office I worked, he did not see all the invoices and receipts ;-)
  • student pastor (sole charge) of a church with 10 members - it was great practice for preaching each week to people you know and who know you
  • filling station attendant (night shift) during my PhD, the theory was I could get reading done in the quiet hours... after a few months of feeding the police and other denizens of the night (there were few if any all night fast food outlets in Glasgow at that time) I developed splitting headaches and had to give up this sinecure, for "real work" as:
  • Photo of one of many plastic imposters by Clouds76Father Christmas is Coming

  • Father Christmas - yes I confess I am not just any red faced, portly older gentleman, I am that (now retired from the role) red faced, portly older gentleman so just send me your Christmas wish lists and I'll see what I can do!
  • vice-recteur (vice-principal) of a University (well of two faculties on the way to becoming a University) with 2000 students - while there I was also (unpaid except in food) a rabbit, chicken and duck keeper (who once branched out into goose) for food, and part-time computer technician a role that dogged my steps later here in NZ :(
  • part-time computer technician when our administrator left in a hurry here at Carey I was offered got landed with the job of computer support, during my time our network went from six PCs on a peer to peer network sharing one printer to twenty plus PCs and laptops with an NT server and an Internet... I went from an (almost, well nearly almost) full head of hair to my present un-hirsuite state!
I'm sure I've missed a few doozies, but that will do to be going on... maybe Barbara can remember those I've omitted...

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Sunday, October 07, 2007
  Perk up revisited: Auckland cafe review
Back in May we visited the punnily named Perk Up" in Kingsland, the menu (the physical object, not the items on the list) has changed totally with no a "striking" almost garish vaguely 50s style laminated item. The actual items on the menu have not changed so much except that now several are grouped into an invent your own section. This is superb value, I had:
  • "chicken liver and bacon" (one item) beautifully cooked, almost as good as last times' dish,
  • "mushrooms" small ones, conveniently sliced in a very mushroomy gravy (I imagine made using the juices of the mushrooms with some of the mushroom concentrate we tried at the Food Show - note to self, must find the brand and supplier) which were also superb,
  • "five grain toast" what can I say, crisp, tasty, with a soft core
  • "hash browns" the nearest to a disappointment, beautifully cooked, but "merely" from a Watties packet!
The combination though was beautiful, varied and filling, and cheaper than Sarah's corn fritters or Barbara's spicy potato cakes, which themselves were well done and priced.

The service was also superb, friendly, welcoming and without being intrusive solicitous. The only missing step was failing to ask Sarah how she wanted her eggs. Still they came what I would call "between" firm enough so she ate most of them, but still slightly soft.

The coffee was good, the mochachino and cappuccino were quite happy, my long black was good and strong, hot water on the side, the only quibble was a slight bitterness (perhaps the beans were nearly but not quite as highly roasted as my last batch) but overall better than last time.

So, in conclusion -

Service: Superb

Food: Excellent

Coffee: Good

Perk Up
438 New North Road,
09 815 0434

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Saturday, October 06, 2007
  Humour in the Bible?!
In September I was so busy looking at posts (preparing the Carnival) that I never noticed how many comments Lingamish managed to provoke with his stirring (in several senses) post Funny Stuff in the Bible - I still haven't counted but it is a lot! The earlier attempt, Whoa to you who laugh, stirred up quite a hornets nest too ;-) What an opportunity missed! I could have guided all that traffic to my series of podcasts on Humour in the Bible, still some of the ideas suggested by the staunchly unsmiling L ;-) may encourage me to extend the series...

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Friday, October 05, 2007
  Ehud Ben Zvi and the futire [read "future"] of scholarly publishing
As John reminded me in an email and shows in his post Ehud Ben Zvi, the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, and Hypertextuality, the article by Ehud that SBL forum published while I was on holiday deserves comment and discussion.

The article is titled "A Prototype for Further Publication Development of the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures and Other Open-Access Journals" from its opening paragraph it is full of good stuff.
Worldwide, completely free, and unrestricted access to peer-reviewed journal literature is a social and academic good. It is important for the creation and dissemination of knowledge, and as such to the academic guild and to society in general. It is important for individual researchers, students, libraries, and the general educated public..
That paragraph might be dismissed as a platitude, or a pious hope, or even a utopian dream - and would have had to be, even a mere twenty years ago. Yet for over ten of those twenty years JHS has provided a working model. And one that has also changed and adapted. Changing technologies of print have permitted the Journal to be now also available in that secondary format.

The article briefly charts the progress and increasingly firm establishment of the Journal. In doing so it also comments on the acceptability of electronic publication within the academy. In a number of areas I would currently offer a less optimistic conclusion. So, Ehud writes:
In 1996, when the journal was begun, many scholars expressed serious concerns about how publication in open-access, electronic journals would be assessed for tenure and promotion. Electronic publication is not an issue anymore..
Anecdotal evidence suggests that (at least in NZ) while between 1996 and our first government-conducted round of Performance Based Research Funding assessments in 2003 Electronic publication grew strongly in esteem, but that by the second round in 2006 they had again become somewhat suspect. (There MAY be good reasons for this, not all electronic journals are as scrupulous as JHS in their review processes... The evidence is merely anecdotal because the process is confidential and the criteria are secretive and not revealed to the public who pay for the exercise or to the academics who are graded by it. This is a government activity ;-)

Ehud also admits:
there are still financial and human resources problems associated with the open-access model..
This surely is a major understatement! Recently the NY Times has ceased offering its Select service online through a subscription-based economic model. While the NY Times stresses the success of this subscription model with US$10 Million revenue annually, the following comment:
“But our projections for growth on that paid subscriber base were low, compared to the growth of online advertising,” said Vivian L. Schiller, senior vice president and general manager of the site,
Suggests that this change is due to lack a real critical mass of subscribers willing to pay for online content, rather than altruism! Meanwhile although providers of mass entertainment may be able to make a financially viable model using advertising revenue, but such a model (even if the academy desired it ;-) is unlikely to be viable for the average Biblical Studies publication. For there are costs involved in electronic publishing. Despite the possibility of greater use of peer-reviewers as amateur proof-readers several open access peer reviewed publications have been criticised for issues of quality control that in a conventional print publication would have been corrected by the proof-reading process. Some reviewers of the Amos: Hypertext Bible Commentary volume have drawn attention to such issues. John in his response to Ehud's article raises the same issue that Ehud raised in his review of my Amos commentary
Secondly, a number of articles published in JHS seem not to have been carefully proofed. In my own case, that is one reason I have not submitted anything to JHS. No matter how careful I am, typographical errors and worse creep in to the work I do. In this I am not alone. JHS needs to have higher copyediting and proofing standards..
A return to patronage (or sponsorship as it is often known today) is another model that is increasingly touted to provide necessary resources for open access publication. In the sciences it is common now for journals to request a fee (often paid out of the grant that funded the research). However, in Biblical Studies such possibilities are not the norm. All patronage raises questions about the independence of the research and its conclusions, so such a model is not without its problems, even if rich donors with an interest in the Bible were queuing up at our doors ;-) (See Sebastian Mary's books and the man, part III: the new patronage for one interesting viewpoint.)

Up to now JHS has published its articles in basic text format. The filetypes offered have changed, now just the page representation of PDF and the more fluid HTML with the proprietary wordprocessor formats MS-Word and Word-Perfect being dropped. Both formats are capable of moving beyond text, but thus far JHS has not explored these possibilities. In part this was doubtless driven in the early days by a desire to keep the journal as familiar as possible. It has also been driven by an appropriate caution:
Not everything that can be done in e-publication of texts is of necessity helpful. We have great tools, but one of the challenges we face is what we should do with them..
Now, however, changes are being explored which might see JHS begin to explore the greater possibilities that electronic publication offers beyond mere linear text.

When Ehud introduces these possibilities in this article he also mentions the need to avoid leaving readers "lost in hyperspace." Yet that is close to my experience with the early prototype pages he linked to in his email to JHS subscribers. For every occurrence of words such as Haggai or Zechariah (inevitably common in this article on "The Formation and intention of the Haggai-Zechariah corpus") produces a popup link to various online biblical texts. Since this is generated automatically the mention of "Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest" produces a less useful link to the text of Joshua 1:1. Thus in two ways this article exemplifies one of the problems with hypertexting biblical studies, link overload, and the mechanical generation of excess and unhelpful links. Different projects will doubtless cope with these issues in different ways, till gradually new conventions emerge. We need discussion of these issues, but there are few places where practitioners of academic hypertext can meet and share wisdom.

[Incidentally, the Hypertext Bible Dictionary will try to deal with this issue by generating most links (except those with biblical chapter and verse references) manually through the decision of an author or editor. See the draft instructions for authors.]

Automated linking also produces other issues, such as nul returns like that from BiBIL for the name August Klostermann. Since these results take time to generate empty results are annoying for users. This problem, of course, is one that clever programming may enable the actual implementation of this hypertext version of the Journal to avoid. But clever programming costs money, which brings us back to the issue of funding open access projects.

That JHS is doing this using XML and from the comment: "The purpose of these xml files is to allow readers to create their own hypertexts, if they so wish, within the limitations of open access databases." I assume and hope an open XML format and perhaps even a standard one like OSIS.

I will end these brief comments quoting Ehud's conclusion:
to implement all of these while keeping the journal open access, which is a non-negotiable issue for us, is a tough act. It involves technical, financial, and general resources challenges. It also requires a great amount of goodwill from a lot of people.
and hoping that the implementation will also be supported through ongoing conversation with other interested parties - not least JHS readers!

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  Psalm 22 (and an excuse ;-)
I've posted a new item on my 5 Minute Bible site, though it is titled "Complaint Psalms: Part One" it actually follows from an earlier post "Arguing with God: Jer 12:1-4" which began looking at the complaints (not "confessions!) in Jeremiah. This post begins to talk about the most often quoted complaint in the Bible, Psalm 22. I plan to follow it up with more in the series over the next while...

That, together with being terribly busy catching up after our lovely holiday in Thailand, explains why I have still (despite encouragement) posted on Psalm 68. I know, I must... maybe I will before the marking wave of the end of the semester breaks over me. But for now please make do with complaints, I love to tackle the mysterious and ancient praise song, but "I am a worm and not a human" and just at present not up to both tasks!

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007
  Bee keeping in ancient Israel
This undated photograph made available by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem shows an archaeologist next to an opening of one of the ancient beehives found in excavations in Tel Rehov in northern Israel. Archaeologists digging in northern Israel have discovered evidence of a 3,000-year-old beekeeping industry, including remnants of ancient honeycombs, beeswax and what they believe are the oldest intact beehives ever found. (AP Photo / Amihai Mazar, Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Image and text from AP
Todd points to some Short, Informative Videos from archaeological digs. The one that interested me most is The Beehives of Tel Rehov, about which I posted a while back. The video makes the extent of the find much clearer, and incidentally gives some idea of how a dig works.

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  AKMA, Prince, Radiohead and Biblical Studies
AKMA has a post noticing Radiohead’s new album, In Rainbows and its business model, for forty pounds sterling you can get a package with EVERYTHING:
…the new album, in
rainbows, on CD and on 2 x 12 inch heavyweight vinyl records.
A second, enhanced CD contains more new songs, along with digital photographs
and artwork.
The discbox also includes artwork and lyric booklets.
All are encased in a hardback book and slipcase.
But if all you want is the music, of the basic album, why download it and pay whatever you think is right. That's right, you fix the price.

Business Week had this to say:
Radiohead is trusting its fans to do the right thing, or something approximating the right thing.And I tend to think they will.File under "needless to say:" It's very hard to imagine an actual big-deal record label attempting anything like this.
Amy Phillips on Pitchfork wrote:
Haha, the entire record industry is so fucked!
AKMA expressed similar sentiments more verbosely but decorously:
You prosper in the digital environment by giving away what the internet
makes easy and by charging for what the internet doesn’t
facilitate (personal appearances, physical artifacts like packaging,
clothing, books, and so on). It’s that simple, but some
people and some corporate entities want to force the internet to
conform to the properties and characteristics of a pre-digital
environment. In the long run, they’ll be as successful as the
dinosaurs who commanded mammals to respond the the ice age by voluntary
mass extinction.
I am convinced they are right... But how do people (say biblical scholars) who do not get paid mega-bucks for personal appearances and the like pay for the other people's work needed for a successful publication. Our own work is either a hobby or we are paid for it as part of our job, but whatever format we choose except the casual blog, we need proofreaders, designers, film editors etc... to help make the "product"... how do we pay them?

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Monday, October 01, 2007
  Biblical Studies Carnival XXII

Biblioblogger of the month

As Jim reported:

"Alan Bandy was [the] victim subject interviewee for the September Biblioblogger of the Month.

Biblical studies as an international discipline

Jan Pieter van de Giessen emailed me "I think it would be nice giving some attention to nonEnglish Biblical Studies blogs". I thoroughly agree. However, there are some problems. All of us are busy, blogging is relegated to odd moments or the "small hours of the night", and many English-speaking biblical studies bloggers have not had the advantage of living or working much in other languages. Thankfully, Jan Pieter himself, Jim West (as multilingual a polymath as even John Hobbins could wish!) and others have nominated a number of posts.

We should be grateful to them for their nominations mentioned in the "sections" below.

JP proposed a couple of items that I found difficult to place, Jona Lendering writes about Synesius of Cyrene in Eenoprecht onoprechte bekeerling: Synesios van Cyrene (deel 4) and Mark's new (first post 18th) TheologicalGerman/Theologisches Deutsch a site for reading and discussing theological German, with its sister site Celucien's Theological French/Français théologique which is also brand new, and looks to be planning to start from the very beginning - with the "French alphabet"!

Jim also mentions a new Swedish blog Exegetisk Teologi when I looked (25th) it only had one post [Update: sorry, I don't know what happened here, put it down to being overworked and underpaid;-) there are dozens of posts.], Bilder på kung Herodes stenbrott, since this "Kredit till Dr Jim West, som på Biblical studies mailinglista, tipsade om detta", we at least know how the polymath knows of this new blog, though I am not at all sure how he discovered "Little Ho" or his post 駱駝穿過針眼 about the Camel and the eye of a needle! I suspect that humour aside, Little Ho's post on the Local (Christian) Publishing Industry 本地出版業 may be more relevant to this carnival. (NB. beware Google language tools which translated the first post's title as "Camels crossed eye")

Bible in General

Dale has a post on trusting the bible? with some interesting responses to a lecture by Bishop Spong which claimed that"The Bible is not the solution - it's the problem." Meanwhile Mark gave his students a simple test, and as a result laments The state of Bible Knowledge Today! I wonder, looking at his diagnosis framed in terms of failures of the Kiwi churches to engage with the Bible whether US students would actually do anybetter… or has the problem a different cause? (Me, I'm still shocked that anyone in an NT class would still think the book of Elijah was written by Paul ;-0

Meanwhile Matt's Bible Films Blog looks set to become an encyclopedia of Bible-related filmography, with this month among others entries Golgotha - Additional Comments (which are longer than the average blog review)!

Richard had a post that reached from the priestly code to Luke, via the prophets I will gather the lame, the outcasts and the afflicted whose title explains its range!

Hebrew Bible

Susanne really started something (while I was away holidaying in Thailand :) and technically falling outside this carnival's territory - being dated 31st Aug) with her Psalm 68 Part l In this post she inevitably opened up questions about God's name as well as the interesting psalm itself. So then the ball began rolling - with just a little pushing from Lingamish ;) I'll try to list all the posts (but please excuse me if I missed yours, or better still tell me and I will add it):
Susanne: Psalm 68
Part 2

68 Part 3

Lingamish: "This psalm is the most difficult of all psalms to understand and interpret." he must think higher of my capacities than I do, since he then emailed me to get involved in interpreting it ;-)
John at ancient hebrew poetry: When the Face of God Fills the Horizon: Psalm 68:2-4
Bob: Psalm 68
Wayne: Ps 68: Pt. 4: A house full of children

Bob: More on Psalm 68 and Some Commentaries on psalm 68
Susanne: Ps.68: Part 5 The barren woman
Aristotle's Feminist Subject: How Aristotle Reads Psalm 68
Lingamish: Psalm 68: Should we be singing the yucky stuff? and Psalm 68 as a Missionary Prayer
Bob: The precipices in Psalm 68
Susanne: Ps. 68: Part 6: The heavens dripped
Lingamish: How Aristotle Reads Psalm 68
John: Psalm 68:6-7 and the God of Many Names
Iyov: Psalm 68
Aristotle's Feminist Subject:How Aristotle Writes Psalm 68
Susanne: Ps. 68: Part 7: Reflections
The Voice of Stefan: Why Not to Blog on Psalm 68
Aristotle's Feminist Subject: Reflections Around an Embroidered Psalm
Iyov: Traditional Gentile view of Psalm 68
Lingamish: Psalm 68: A threnody for 9/11
Lingamish: Psalm 68: Tag, you’re it
Chris admitted: Psalm 68: coming late to the party

So John at ancient hebrew poetry then attempted to scoop the pool with a series of mega-posts on naming God (all dated 13th Sept), so he must have been saving them up ;-):

At this point Names of God(s) probably should be considered its own thread, with contributions Names of the Gods in Some Epigraphic Hebrew and "Blessed Among the Nations" and other Divine Appellatives from Duane.

Though Ps 68 was far from finished with:
Susanne: Ps. 68: Part 10

Lingamish: Psalm 68: Vassals all
John: The Beautiful Spoils of War: Psalm 68:12-19

Just to prove that Baptists are sturdily independent souls Sean the Baptist is ignoring the crowd and (though an NT scholar) working on Some Notes on Psalm 51 and More on Psalm 51.

Sonntagsblatt Bayern has an interview with Elijah, surely a scoop any tabloid editor would kill for…

The Other Testament

The Other Testament has its own equivalent of the Ps 68 marathon, (it began way back before this month): but Ayrton can perhaps be credited with the first post in the series this month (2nd) Juda e os judeus nos seculos VI-IV AEC Loren followed up with (7th) Jesus Was Neither Jewish Nor Christian, Doug responded quickly (8th) Jews and Judaeans revisted,
April entered the renewed discussion (10th) with first Now Jesus is not Jewish?, then (11th) Jesus
the Israelite?
and (12th) Jew or Christian? and a Link to Elliott's article (which may have started it all!) also Loren Jesus the Israelite: Questions of Anti-Semitism

Several of these posts have really good comments threads, does anyone know why NT people comment more, while OT people write posts in reply more often?!

To prove that conference season continues into September (the middle of the second semester down here) Sean the Baptist reported from the BritishNew Testament Conference 2007

Torrey has a new blog Research Notes on 1 Peter which already has a couple of useful reviews on this often overlooked epistle.

Stephen Carlson notes a useful new blog NT Resources Blog, and also in discussing an article from ETL opens interesting questions about ancient citation practices (Kloppenborg Nixes an Oral Q). Mark (naturally) is disappointed that the discussion focuses on Q (Kloppenborg on Variation in the Reproduction of the Double Tradition) and in doing so plugs his forthcoming SBL paper (a useful double whammy). April, with a sideswipe at Q1, is Rewriting Early Christianity seeking to rehabilitate Acts as a source for the early history of Christianity.

But then, Deirdre asks What did Paul know of Jesus and the Gospels? Judy considered Eyewitnesss accounts and asked at what point a redacted eyewitness ceases to count as an eyewitness account. In this mini-series April also discusses How can we know anything from our texts? (where anything seems defined as "information about events that happened"). Which, read in the light of the Maxi-Min conflict, causes me to realise with renewed force the importance of defining why we read before we start. Personally I am somewhat inclined to take a Jim West like stance of privileging theology over history as a motive for reading.

Is it time we recognised two or three related disciplines of historical/theological/literary biblical studies, rather than pretending we are all doing the same discipline!?

Back in the gospels Zephyr posts on Luke's Trial of Peter around the Fire.

Marco Rotman has a series of posts (in Dutch) on the life of Paul:

Sean in his Tiddlywikis and Bible Information not only makes provocative comments about the presentation of information about/related to Bible texts, but pointed us to Dave's Philemon TidlyWiki commentary. The format and delivery is fun, but I do find it somewhat disconcerting to come across
StyleSheetColors immediately after Theology and Themes in the menu (which is organized as a timeline)!

Scott McKnight finally did it, a mega post Missional Jesus: All of it which gives us all 60post s his Missional Jesus series. Not links, but 39.46 screen yards of post, it makes even some of John's Hebrew Poetry marathons - or this Carnival - look brief ;-)

James provides enough evidence of Jesus' Sense Of Humor to forever dispel Lingamish's Whoa to you who laugh and for those who are finding all this Bible blogging just a tad too tame there is the lively discussion Jerusalem tunnel from 70 CEDan started with his disquisition on Pauline Scatology (and before YOU make any jokes about expecting Eschatology not scatology from DTS Dan did that one himself) and then Doug's post Oh σκύβαλα – sanitising the Bible just inflamed the fire, getting a different pool of suspects involved in the hunt for dirty words in the Bible! But then I discovered the previous post by Michael, the hilariously unsound Top Twenty
Theological Pick-up Lines NOT to use
my particular favourite (one of the few equally inappropriate for any gender) is '12. During communion say, “Can I get you another drink.'


Todd continues to keep us updated on current developments in archaeology in Israel/Palestine, with posts like Mount Zion - New Excavations often enriching the posts with his fine photos. Stefan Green collected virtually every biblioblogging link to the Temple Mount excavations and added comment of his own (in Swedish). There are also what claim to be videos of the destruction with a link to a petition.

Biblische Ausbildung drew my attention to the JerusalemDrainage Tunnel from 70 CE Long running debates were not forgotten, the phrase "brother of" on the "James ossuary"is analysed by Anotonio Lombatti (in Italian).
Herodian quarry, al092407538sr

Todd also offered us a selection of fine photos (from Aubrey Laughlin) of the Jerusalem Quarry as well as a post indicating the location using Google Earth (the image - right - comes from his first post Quarry of Temple Mount Discovered).

Astronomy (or Interdisciplinary studies?)

Jan Pieter has a post on Biblical Women on Venus an unusual blending of astronomy and Bible. (With the possibility of adding feminist studies too into the mix?)


Many biblical scholars also teach, so it is useful to note Danny's announcement of the new improved Deinde Bib. Studies Glossary, a useful link to provide for classes. The tooltip format is neat, but may make it difficult to quote a definition.

Michael Pahl's discussion of some conundrums facing "Conservative" readers of the Bible might be a useful discussion starter.

Mary discussed Free, online theological education with resources from Gordon-Conwell among others, but concludes:

But these are scattered efforts by innovators, not a sustained, collective, FREE, process."

Judy has a nice rant about the elitist failure of biblical scholars to popularise their work. In Making biblical scholarship available to congregational members - a bit of a rant which includes this:

I have reasonably frequently heard it said that telling members of congregations about ‘modern’ biblical scholarship is not appropriate either because they wouldn’t understand or it would destroy their faith. I find this elitist and condescending and have been known to ask whether the person making the statement has understood the scholarship and if so, whether it has destroyed their faith.

BTW the comments thread is well worth following…

Claude in Learn Hebrew points to Learn Hebrew a vocabulary learning site that offers a simpler alternative to דָּבָר : Biblical Hebrew Vocabularies. Basically Learn Hebrew offers premade themed vocabs with a word, gloss and sound file, whileדָּבָר offers the possibility of exporting your own selected words into vocabularies for your students, and a richer collection of semantic information… So many useful tools and sites are becoming available, ironically (though perhaps for related reasons) just at the time when the "owners" of the meta-sites are either ceasing to maintain them (Torrey RPBS-Resource pages - going into sleep?) or casting around for a new model (Mark The Future of the New Testament Gateway).


Readers of the carnival are probably power-users of Bible software, but if you need a place to point your less gifted colleagues BibleandTech offers a roundup: Logos Workspace and BW7 Ben on Thoughts on Antiquity points to The Patrologia Graeca (Migne) in Greek Unicode via PDF (not a BS resource, but one many Biblists may be glad to know about).

Writing and publishing

AKMA in his Writer's Hurdles discusses two such hurdles he faced, the second concerns the search for a good opening, a topic which perhaps deserves more discussion on academic blogs ;-)

Deirdre's thoughts on writing this month include (in Pondering what to publish?) citing a gem from Rachel Toor's The Care and Feeding of the Reader "A good writer, she opines, must enchant the reader".

Charles has a rant about Why Anchor Yale Bible is Bad for Biblical Studies and the General Public which deserves more discussion and thought…

Digital scholarship

One of John's fine review posts discusses Ehud Ben Zvi, the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures, and Hypertextuality. While this is purely digital scholarship, another of John's reviews illustrates the usefulness and difference of blog post and "conventional" print-review his "The Book of Psalms"by Robert Alter: First Impressions does not aim (or claim) to be a full review, but offers a quick reflection on a very new work, which may help others with an interest decide whether to order, or how soon to try to read, the work in question. Thus blog and journal can complement each other. Though since John's "first impressions" continue into a series Robert Alter Translates the Psalms: A Review, Robert Alter Translates the Psalms: The Importance of Prosody, James Kugel vs. Robert Alter: The Cage Match of the Centurythe gap is narrowed, this post continues in James Kugel vs. Robert Alter:Round Two, James Kugel vs. Robert Alter on Psalm 51:7-8 Tyler also (on 27th) added his 2c in Alter on the Psalms.

Christopher reviewed Eric Cline's book, From Eden to Exile, Unraveling the Mysteries of the Bible (2007), The National Geographic Society, or at least chapter one of the book - another advantage of blog reviews is the option to offer them as serials, instead of in serials ;-)

[Perhaps we could call this sort of occasional scholarship Two Cent Scholarship and the old fashioned formal kind 100% Scholarship or in the case of Brill $100 Scholarship ;-)]

Jim (West) believes that scholarship is the art of concision (!), and thus praises the notion of The History of Ancient Israel in Ten Pages. Indeed by this standard he himself excels, a 39 word notice of a 800+ page book How to Read the Bible! But it is indeed another book worth noticing!

Charles drew attention to Kugel's argument that the attempt to mix critical study of the Bible with claims that the Bible has an authoritative role in modern life is "Biblical Criticism Lite" - an undesirable project. Charles offered a link to a condensed version of Kugel's thinking and proposes that his claims be discussed. Since the notion is closely related to Avalos' SBL forum piece and book which have generated some blog interest in previous months, perhaps discussion of Kugel's thought on this can help give this issue - surely a vital one for professional Biblical Scholars - another lease of life... John also writes A Review of Chapter Five of Hector Avalos, The End of Biblical Studies I'm doubly biased (firstly I think Jonah is so brilliantly funny and such a well-written work and secondly Avalos approach does not appeal to me) so I enjoyed his paragraph:

That is Avalos’s take on the book of Jonah: “distorted,” “aggravating,” “annoying,” “ugly.” Ironic, I think. The book of Jonah is delightful precisely because it is permeated by a self-deprecating humor that is altogether lacking in Avalos.

Which is perhaps justifiable sarcasm, if Avallos' views are a vitriolic as a line John quotes suggests!

Avalos does not think highly of his fellow biblical scholars. In his “Introduction,” he says that what they have to say is “either bland, ambiguous, or outright fatuous. Since 1982, I have encountered only about a dozen truly memorable papers.”

Jim (Davila) among others posted the SBL email trumpeting the new improvedONLINE CRITICAL PSEUDEPIGRAPHA PROJECT thoughsadly as Joepoints out this useful project is not (yet?) as Mac compatible as one might wish, or the press release suggested, he also offers a substantial REVIEW OF NADIA ABU EL-HAJ, FACTS ON THE GROUND: Archaeological Practice and Terriorial Self-Fashioning in Israeli Society (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001)

Just before the start of this carnival, but not mentioned in the last (modesty?), Duane in Peer Review and Blogging - Discussing and Being Discussed considers the uses of tagging posts about peer-reviewed
articles, and listing citations of blogs in such articles not least as a way of marking the interaction of blogaria and conventional scholarly publishing. (Duane's post was stimulated by The BPR3 Icon Contest has anyone seen Tyler's entry? It is bound to be good!)

Other review posts included: Rod on Con Campbell on Verbal Aspect and Narrative, Jeremy's Nahum Commentaries Zephyr's Recent Letter of James Research and More With Less Recent James Research, Edward (alias Ralph) offers a review of a few paragraphs (which is the sort of detail that good print reviews avoid!) in Halpern and the Beerothites, Rick's series on I also had a few posts on Stanley Porter's
Hearing the Old Testament in the New Testament
(the series began in August, just),

And finally, my friends, since we all need help to read right I must draw attention to 5 Tips: How to Read the Bible the RIGHT Way - MY Way these tips could change your life!

The next Biblical Studies Carnival is hosted by John Hobbins at Ancient Hebrew Poetry it will cover October 2007. Please nominate posts John is erudite, prolific and always interesting, but even he cannot read everything!

For more information, please consult the Biblical Studies Carnival Homepage.

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