Monday, August 31, 2009
  Digital Faith @ The University of Auckland
On Saturday I'm sharing in a morning of talk and discussion titled Digital Faith, hosted by the University of Auckland's School of Theology, the other speakers will be interesting and challenging all have blogs worth subscribing to:
  • Mark Brown @ Brown Blog
    CEO Bible Society New Zealand & founder Anglican Cathedral in Second Life
  • Stephen Garner @ Greenflame
    Lecturer in Theology and Popular Culture, School of Theology, University of Auckland
  • Heidi Campbell @ When religion meets new media
    Assistant Professor, Dept. of Communication, Texas A&M University & author of Exploring Religious Community Online.
But as well as tuning in to their blogs, if you are near Auckland do come to the session:
OGGB4 Lecture Theatre, Level 0, Owen G Glenn Building, Grafton Road, The University of Auckland
Saturday 5th September 9am-12pm
$5.00 morning tea provided

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  Dumb post removed
I should not post hurriedly when I have a headache and am tired :( I have removed my dumb post, in the hopes it does not lead anyone else astray, I must have been more cross-eyed than I realised, sorry!

Thursday, August 27, 2009
  Style sensitive translation
Nuyorcian Poets Cafe by Salim Virji
PoetJohn, the Hebrew Poet, has a really stimulating post (but then you'll say his posts usually are) A Style-Sensitive Translation of Luke 1:1-4. In it he agrues that: the style and register of the opening of Luke is "the high falutin’ prose in which the best history is traditionally written. In English, think Edward Gibbon or Thomas Macaulay."and offers a good first draft of what a rendering of these verses in such style would sound like.

This is a drum several of us have banged before, most Bible versions obscure the style and register differences among biblical authors and passages. So a passage from Mark and one from Luke will sound more alike than the same passage from REV and CEV or even REV and NRSV. Thus the style and register preferred by the translation team takes precedence over that of the composers! This is plain barmy, nuts, and a great shame as it hides the human fingerprints that readers of Greek and the Semitic languages find all over Scripture.

Thomas Babington Macaulay, 1st Baron Macaulay from Wikipedia

J. K. Gayle and Doug Chaplin both post fine comments on John's post, suggesting how the following passages should sound. Is this a project that a team of bibliobloggers could collaborate on? Maybe, in view of the start already made Luke would be a good book to begin with? The contributors could all be authors on a site at is a successor to CommentPress, a WordPress derivative that allows commenting at "paragraph" level on posts. Thus if the text of the proposed translation were posted with each verse as a separate "paragraph" others could comment at that level, and the translators could easily then produced a revised version in the light of suggestions.

Declaration of interest: I am exploring with another project in view. I will describe that in another post soon.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009
  Old Testament Podcasts
All the talk of podcasting seems to have fired me up again, in the last ten days, I've posted three new 'casts to my 5 Minute Bible series:
None of these is ground breaking new research, but that's not the goal. Just short (5 minutes or so) snippets that serious Bible readers can hear and then enjoy using to discover more as they read.

If they work for that then the series is working :) and 3.7GB in July (which equates to 16 podcasts each of which was downloaded more than 300 times during the month - not to mention the other 24 podcasts that were less popular).

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Saturday, August 15, 2009
I was asked in a tutorial this week about resources for students who want to explore the background to Bible passages.

In the class we talked particularly about two sorts of tool Dictionaries and Commentaries. In this post I will focus first on the sorts of task for which different tools are useful, then in a later post I'll describe different sorts of tool found under the each of the two headings: Dictionaries and Commentaries.
Photo by fmckinlay

Different tools for different tasks

For preference one does not dig a trench with a fork, but equally if one is breaking up clods a fork is more effective than a spade.

Bible dictionaries (a catch all term for encyclopedic works that relate to the Bible - not actually dictionaries at all) are really useful to get a quick fix on a person, place, object, activity, custom etc. in the context of Ancient Israel or the world of the Eastern Mediterranean under the Romans. That is if you have a term that needs explaining they are great to give you a quick fix of "background" information.
An example of a "Bible Dictionary"

So, if you are reading Ezekiel 26 you probably realise that Tyre is a place rather than a round rubber tube, but you may want to know more... Likewise in Ruth there is mention a few times that Boaz is a "kinsman" (your translation may vary) and in chapter three Boaz explains that there is "another kinsman more closely related than [he]" (Ruth 3:12). This clearly is more than a matter of "what sort of cousin are you?" it is important to the book. To read Ruth sensibly you need to know more. Bible dictionaries exist to serve such needs.

[In the Ruth example you will meet a frustration known to dictionary aficionados as "hide and seek", most Bible dictionaries will not have a convenient entry headed "Kinsman", this case is particularly hard, and to find the information you were after you may need to spot that older translations speak of him as a "redeemer". Looking up that word may finally enable you to strike gold!]
An example of a commentary
Commentaries work differently they are not organised (like a dictionary) by terms, but follow through the Bible text in order. In a commentary you look up the passage you are studying and all the information provided is conveniently presented together in one place. A commentary will also, usually, conveniently discuss not only things that get entries in Bible dictionaries, but also the wording and literary working of the passage. This convenience, however, comes at a price :( Commentaries are organised around the commentator's idea of what the passage means. They are like railways, if you wanrt to get where they are going they are fast and convenient. Like railways they are less useful if you have a different destination in view ;)

So on the whole avoid consulting commentaries as long as you can. The more you work at a text before reading one the more chance you have of arriving at a destination determined by the text that is different from the one the commentator recommends ;)

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Thursday, August 13, 2009
  The funniest clip this week? !
For our Understanding and Interpreting the Bible class Miriam discovered this brilliant clip from a BBC series I had not seen, so funny, and opens up questions about preunderstandings and biblical interpretation too ;)

The series is for sale on Amazon UK :)

  Watch out or the bears will get you!
In his post "Bad Boy Bible Study meets Ship of Fools" the indefatigable Lingamish throws a challenge at several of his friends. Since he is doing a series on Bad Boy Bible Study (which incidentally I have tagged to read when I get the chance as it looks like something I might want to point people to for good advice) I guess we are the ship of fools ;)

Before naming his band of fools (a fine role in the mythical medieval court) he wrote about one of the nastiest stories in Scripture 2 Kings 2:23-24. For those of you too lazy to mouseover the link reftagger should have made this is where Elisha curses a crowd of teasing boys and some bears maul 42 of them. David then commands us:
  • You’ve been asked to teach or preach on this passage.
  • What would you say?
Granted that this week I'm flat out with a busy semester, 40 assignments to mark and more on the way, and the usual busyness of someone trying to buy a home (in Tauranga not here in Auckland), the first thing I'd say is "I am sorry, I did not have time to prepare properly for this sermon." Actually I wouldn't as you never apologise like that in advance, but I'd think it, and David asked for our reactions ;) And in this blogging context it is relevant, you need to remember this is a knee-jerk response not my considered thoughts.

First I'd retell the story, or more likely read it from a good simple DE translation like the CEV. Then I'd point out that Bible stories almost never intend us to take their characters as examples. Think 2 Sam 11.
  • act like David, forcibly (or at least through abuse of power) take any young woman you fancy
  • act like Bathsheba, don't say a word even when such crimes are committed against you
  • act like Uriah, be an unreasonable prig
Neither does our story contain examples to follow.

We expect life to be fair - it is not. If there was proportionality in this story, Elisha the "good" prophet would control his temper, the bad boys would be good, and carry Elisha's pack for the poor old baldie, and above all a good God would not allow bears to attack mischievous but otherwise harmless kids. But life is not fair, get over it! AND (and here is where I would begin really to bring other Scripture into consideration of this passage) pray for the coming of the Day of the LORD when every sort of wrong and injustice will be put right.

Learn to live in a world "out of joint" (it is that way because of human sin, in which we hold shares) while looking for the coming of a new creation.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009
  Language and shibboleths
Philip Davies has a fine rant at Bible and Interpretation, it is neatly titled Watch Your Language! Non-minimalist readers will have to plough through the ritual shibboleths at the start, reminding them that Davies is a card-carrying minimalist, and dares to believe that we know nothing about "Israel" prior to the Persian period, but that suddenly at that time (despite a similar quantity of archaeological and textual evidence from beyond the Bible, though less from within ;) we can speak of a real historically verifiable entity. But once past this ritual bellowing, the short article is a fine reprise and development (in a commendably short space) of the reminder he first made some two decades ago that much of the language biblical scholars use is fossilised religious speak. Do read it. I doubt you will agree with everything (I doubt Philip agrees with everything Davies writes here ;) but it should make you think and that was his purpose in writing!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009
  Selling arms to violent criminals
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a Nobel Peace Prize winner (her party was elected by a landslide in the last free elections so you could say she is the elected head of state) yet she has been convicted of not expelling an unwanted visitor that her junta appointed jailors allowed to invade her home.

The ethnic opposition to the military dictators in Burma has been either bribed or is being crushed into silence.

It is time you and I spoke up. At least we can oppose selling more arms to these thugs! Please sign up :)

Wednesday, August 05, 2009
  Open Office, Spellcheckers and National Pride
My daughter Sarah and I have been using Open Office, and finding it a great replacement for the Wordprocessor, Presentation program and Spreadsheet offered by the Great Satan.

Except... since the upgrade to 3.1 we have had strange spellings accepted instantly by the spell chekker ("chekker" is an example - this is not normal NZ English spelling ;)

I have solved the problem, OO (like many citizens of the Imperial Homeland) is unaware that NZ is not part of Australia. I needed to tell OO that I wrote Australian English and now the spell checker works fine - though God help us if it ever starts to check pronunciation ;)

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Tuesday, August 04, 2009
  If you want your biblical studies with a dash of the freakshow...
The latest carnival is up, and of course has been for days now :) Life is so hectic this year it is a wonder I am not linking to two carnivals back :( Jim West does a typically acerbic and entertaining job of rounding up the suspects, and introducing more new (to me) biblical studies blogs than I'll ever have time to read :(

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Sunday, August 02, 2009
  Linux and Bibleworks and/or Logos
I as being driven absolutely bats by "Windows Vista" Microsoft's Inopperative System. Since I had to get a new laptop when the old one broke I have been suffering Vista. no relief is in sight till Seven is released - if it is really any less terribly bad. The last straw was an attempt to access and copy to thre local hardrive some PodBible files to upload via FTP to a server in the USA. After Vista had copied each file, the uploads to the USA happened within seconds, but copying between external and internal hard-drives is taking over an hour for about 7MB of files.

I am now only needing Windows to run Bibleworks, and occasionally Logos. All my other needs can be sorted by using Linux and Linux software (I'll really miss Camtasia, and no doubt some video conversion will not be as easy, but I'll manage.

So does anyone know (for a fact because they have been doing it) that a Linux Windows emulator will run Bibleworks and/or Logos? Or does anyonme know how to get Vista to access external (USB) hard-drives to give reasonable transfer rates?

To make an infuriating situation worse a newer external drive that I am using for backup comes with its own Synch program that runs as a portable app from the drive itself and it can copy files in seconds that Vista takes hours over :(

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