Thursday, March 04, 2010
  Why the cost of online resources matters
Under the title "Why online resources matter" John posted an email like many we have all probably recieved:
My name is . . . in China. I am asked to write an essay for my M Div on the subject of "what is Isaiah's Contribution . . .?" I surf the web and read Isaiah 1:2-20 Bibliography you wrote and with your expertise in that field, would you give me some insight relating to the my subject or introduce any books or articles that might be of help? I can't excess the needed resources for my essay because of the nature of the country I live and serve in.
My only quibble, posted as a comment to his blog also is to add a qualification to the headline: "not behind (inaccessible) pay to view barriers". Many of the resources needed for an MDiv student are online already on the sites of the great and wonderful academic content aggregators (like EBSCO and ATLA).

But the cost is too high for this person's institution, and is too high for most individials. There is an increasing global digital divide is between those with institutional subscriptions and those without (whether because they have no entry to an institution, or because their institution is not wealthy enough).

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 02, 2010
  If you are still short of stimulating reading
The latest (and perhaps, greatest in living memory)* Biblical Studies Carnival has been available for days now.

Thanks to Anuma for one of the best carnivals I can remember for a long time, entertaining and full of posts I want to read (but missed because my blogroll is too short, or because time is even though the blog is there so I did not see the great post anyway ;)

* This is not intended to disparage the fine work of recent collectors of Carnivals, having done it once I know how much work it is and how easily the human (or at least my) brain is by such quantities of data. Most carnivals have been good, many have directed me to posts I discover I would have missed, but this one even better, or worse, because I'll not have time to read all the interesting sounding posts before next carnival :(


Friday, February 26, 2010
  Funding the volunteer web
Photo by Jemal made available freely under a CC licence :)
The web has become a funny place. Despite its ethos of volunteerism and culture of free, increasingly volunteer effort and time are not enough for worthwhile projects. Meanwhile borrowed money, cosmetic surgery, pornography, and other essentials of modern life can finance themselves, and even enable others to make a modest income from blogging.

The latest illustration of this strange situation is Librivox. LV is a huge volunteer effort that In a mere four-and-a-half years, has made thousands of free audiobooks for anyone to enjoy. The site gets 400,000 visitors every month.One recording I did has already passed 10,000 downloads. Yet LV is appealing to its volunteers to donate money as well to pay for the system that enables all this. LV is deeply committed to the dream of free culture, so all its recordings are placed in the public domain. This ethos sits uneasily with advertising, otherwise a combination of Amazon links and/or Google Adwords would ensure an annual income of far more than the $20,000 that they are seeking (in the hopes it will cover the next few years of opperation).

There is a strange logic here, even a tiny payment from a few of the users who download and enjoy the books would cover the cost. Yet LV asks the producers of the content (well at least one group of them, the authors and original publishers are mostly dead, so they are not contacted by the appeal). So it is the readers, prooflisteners and project coordinators who must pay.

Perhaps in the gift economy and the culture of free this is the way it should be, with people covering the cost of publishing their work. But how does this fit with academic publishing? Academics (with a few, over the 20th Century a dwindling few, amateur scholars as exceptions to the rule) are mercenaries, we undertake our scholarship for pay. Yet even in this realm of "workers worthyof their hire" (we hope) publication has usually been free!

No, books and journals have not been free, but authors have most often given them away, it is usually only the commercial publisher of the work who makes any significant money (and then often barely enough to meet their costs) royalties on the average book (or even well above average like your latest one) are barely cover the coffee consumed in its writing.

There's the real paradox of digital publishing, a sector (somehow in this over-managed world we are always part of a "sector") that traditionally gave away its (or at least this) product is wary of the new culture of free and hides its work behind the firewalls of commercial publishers. Apart from hidebound inertia and fear of the new what explains this strange reality?

[See also this old post by Mark Goodacre.]

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, February 08, 2010
  Visualising Biblical Data
Exhibit is claimed to be a "simple widgets tool" enabling mere mortals to make useful, interactive web-based visualisations of data sets easily. It is open source :) with samples like these:
There have to be ways to use this in teaching our disciplines, but I wish I had some immediate ideas, so I could try it ;) Just looking at it though suggests a fine playroom where pericopae were listed by size, genre, location etc... and one could see various cuts of this information...

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, January 11, 2010
J.K. Gayle at Aristotle's Feminist Subject has a brilliant (shining, sparkling, sharply cut) post the Prostitute... or probably "the Prostitute, Post-Pentateuch Persuasion, and Play in Bible Translation". I won't spoil it by sumarising, or ruin it by excerpting (much ;) but I do want to encourage you to read it. I hope that people who read this blog will really enjoy the post in full, as I am.

To encourage you I will just offer this small gem: the post talks much of wordplay:
By "wordplay," I mean both playfulness with words and wiggleroom in their interpretation.
With that sentence in the opening of the first full section I am hooked.  But it is only a detail, so DO read the post in full, please :)

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, November 17, 2009
  Twitter a survey
Lifehacker recently ran a survey on Twitter. Interestingly, for a fairly techie blog full of early and enthusiastic adopters, especially given Twitter's apparent cult status among the trendy Digerati. About half (47%) of respondants to the poll have no inclination to twit.
Twitter is
a waste of time
less than passionately interesting
mildly interesting
really significant
the best thing since the previous best thing
my life, my soul, my all free polls

This fits my reaction, unlike other trendy tools I have found potentially interesting and explored (for a recent example take Google's Wave) or tried to explore but given up on (like Second Life), I have never been able to imagine the point of Twitter!

I would be interested to know though whether my readers and their readers have a similarly large number of Twitagnostics, or whether "we" have more Twitter-gnostics ;)

So please vote in the poll here, and/or link to it ( so your readers (at least if they are in the biblical studies and related disciplines whether as professionals or amateurs ;) can vote.

You will see from the questions that this is not entirely serious and scientific, but either by polling or by comments I really would be interested to hear what you all think :)

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, October 15, 2009
  Biblical studies podcasts
Chris Heard has begun a podcast series that specialises in Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) topics at first I was unable to check it out as he only published it to iTunes now it is also available for non-proprietary download. Sounds good, I am looking forward to episode two of "God and Someone Else" looking forward since Chris smartly ends with a cliff hanger ;)

Chris thus joins the existing biblical studies podcast series (the order is chronological, since style, audience and frequency offer interesting variety):
Do try them, you'll like (at the very least some of) them!

Incidentally (but appropriately) our PodBible daily podcasts of the Bible itself from various amateur readers precedes all of these biblical studies 'casts :)

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, October 03, 2009
  Biblical Studies Carnival
The latest carnival is up (here) the pair have done an excellent job of condensing organising and the result is clearer and more coherent than usual, perhaps blogger pairs should do the carnival more often ;)


Friday, September 25, 2009
  God as Mother
A few people have begun to mention my experiment in "networked publishing" (a fancy name for using sophisticated blogging software to allow readers to discuss, and potentially impact the content of, a book) Not Only a Father: Motherly God-language in the Bible and Christian Tradition those I have noticed are:
But as yet no one has begun to comment or discuss the material on the site :( I hope this weekend to add chapter three which will mean that the following material is available:
  1. Talking Pictures the introductory material
  2. Biblical Talk of the Motherly God:
    1. A Personal God without Icons
    2. Imagery in the Old and New Testaments
    3. God’s Motherly Love
Chapter 3 "Early Theology of God as Mother" which looks at motherly God-talk in the early fathers and through to the middle-ages should be online fairly soon. Other chapters will follow. But for the project to work, I really need people to read and discuss (or argue with) the work... so please do visit, and comment, or ask your friends to do so :)

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, September 19, 2009
  Motherly God-language: an experimental publication
Julia's Jesus' image so intrigued me partly because for the last few weeks I have been exploring publishing my Not Only a Father: Motherly God-language in the Bible and Christian Tradition material. This short book is an attempt to explore the warrant in Scripture and Christian tradition for talking and picturing God as mother (as well as father). This has been a hugely divisive topic in churches, and on the whole Evangelicals have rejected such talk, largely (it seems to me because "liberals" have welcomed it ;)

Not Only a Father was written and edited with print publication in mind, but increasingly I am frustrated with the model that puts more and more books before fewer and fewer readers, unless you are skillful at tickling the public fancy and create a blockbuster.

Most print books apparently only sell a couple of hundred copies. [I read this statistic on somebody's blog recently, but did not note the source :( so if it might be you, tell me in the comments and I'll add a link!] What's the point, except for a specialist work with a tiny target audience, most blog posts get more readers than that ;) So, put the material online for free and watch the readers roll in... except my "output" gets measured by a committee who value refereed or publisher approved publication... so seek a publisher and lose the audience, but gain brownie points in the academic system :(

Enter, the successor to CommentPress (which was a fascinating project from the Institute for the Future of the Book). My bright idea is to publish Not Only a Father online free using so that the ideass can be discussed paragraph by paragraph. This form of commenting will encourage (I hope) a deeper and more reflective conversation than the usual forum perhaps even because at paragraph level deeper than for blog posts followed by comments. I will argue to the committee that this is research into new forms of publication (a research area where I have established credibility through the Hypertext Bible Commentary project and associated journal articles). Thus I hope to have my cake and eat it also :)

BUT in this bid to score points, while also allowing maximum accessibility, I need your help. If you (or you know of someone who) are interested in reading about and/or discussing this issue of motherly language for God. Please visit, or point your friend to Not Only a Father I have uploaded two chapters already: Talking Pictures an introduction to using picture language to spesak of God, and Biblical Talk of the Motherly God. Several other chapters will be added over the next weeks, and one is still being researched.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, September 16, 2009
  Citing Internet Ephemera
By its nature the Internet is an ephemeral medium, how many of the Biblioblog 500 still have the same URL as when they started (incidentally the site itself has moved so recently Google still lists the old URL alongside the new one ;) Why, even the venerable NT Gateway used to have a different URL just a few years back.

This makes scholars nervous of citing digital media. This is bad for scholarship, but good for nostalgia buffs who want to be scholars. They can go on advocating paper for preference.

Enter WebCite...
WebCite®, a member of the International Internet Preservation Consortium, is an on-demand archiving system for webreferences (cited webpages and websites, or other kinds of Internet-accessible digital objects), which can be used by authors, editors, and publishers of scholarly papers and books, to ensure that cited webmaterial will remain available to readers in the future. If cited webreferences in journal articles, books etc. are not archived, future readers may encounter a "404 File Not Found" error when clicking on a cited URL. Try it! Archive a URL here. It's free and takes only 30 seconds.
This needs to be better known, so please pass it on... HT to Suzanne McCarthy

NB: in case you think I should have referenced the Biblioblog Top 50 above I've done it here (so please don't complain ;)

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 02, 2009
  Biblical Studies, carnival or theme park?
This month's fun was collected at The Goldern Rule, as usual there is too much to read, and too little time to read it, but you are sure to find at least something that will justify the time spent ;)

Labels: , ,

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!

Labels: ,

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 :(

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009
  Biblical studies podcasting
I've just had an interesting "chat" with Mark G about Biblical Studies podcasting. Some of the conversation (we used MSN, if we had only used Skype I could have recorded it, but ironically we used plain text ;) was technical stuff that would only be of interest to others doing podcasts, but there were two nuggets that deserve wider thought:
KQED Radio - Michael Krasny's studio by David Sifry
  • a joint biblical studies podcast, maybe of two sorts:
    • a virtual common-room, where a few of us chat about some topic
    • a more prepared edited 'cast where different people speak briefly and then perhaps respond to what another has said (getting the interactivity but allowing a more considered approach)
  • maybe using a Facebook page to encourage wider interaction with our podcasts - we each said that while we appreciated the way voice adds a richness, nuances like tone distinguish sarcasm from more gentle wry humour, we missed the interaction with an audience that other media like live talks or blogs provide
I'm convinced that both ideas are worth following up. But, at the start of a new semester, am also too busy to remember ;) so this post is (a) a "reminder to self" and (b) a call for comments - what do you think of the ideas and (c) a call for expressions of interest, would you be interested in participating in such a recorded conversation?

On the technical details:
  • we thought of using Talkshoe so participants could phone in and would not need recording gear themselves
  • we also thought of getting someone to act as host and ask questions / guide the conversation
So, what is needed:
  1. a topic: needs to encourage different points of view, probably to work well needs to allow different personalities to 'come through" (audio rather than text medium) needs to be potentially interesting to a wider audience
  2. a host: needs to be willing to refrain from expressing their own opinion!
  3. some speakers
  4. an editor: to take the recording and cut the fluff (remove the worst ums and errs, or where the participants make asides like "is this too loud?") - I'd be happy to do that.
This post has mainly been about the joint podcast idea, but I do not want to forget the Facebook idea either... this would be a page where podcasts by bibliobloggers or others who open serious biblical studies to a wider audience would be listed and so get mentioned on the profiles of the page's members and perhaps encourage a bit more interaction...

Dramatis Personae:

Mark (as well as being the biblical studies Blogfather) has started an excellent NT focused podcast series NT Pod and for a couple of years I've been doing an occasional 5 Minute Bible podcast (basically Hebrew Bible focused but occasionally trespassing - nearly 40 'casts so far).

Labels: , , ,

Friday, May 29, 2009
  Making it (electronic publication) count
As a follow up to my previous post, and an indication that I am not really the angry old man presented in that post ;) I'll draw the attention of biblical scholars who blog to the excellent set of guidelines for evaluating digital work being produced by the Modern Languages Association in the USA.

"Being produced" because the material is a wiki, being refined continually by members of the MLA's Committee on Information Technology, though the guidelines are already very useful.

Note to Jim: Wiki technology, far from being the necessary haunt of flagrant dilletants, can be a really easy way for a group like this to publish ongoing work - Judge the product not the technology (a useful motto for this conversation ;) :End note to Jim

The site: The Evaluation of Digital Work contains a very useful annotated listing of Types of Digital Work, and a Short Guide to Evaluation of Digital Work that would be really useful to members of committees called upon to evaluate digital scholarship, as well as illustrative material and an (unfinished) section assisting applicants with Documenting a New Media Case.

NB. This post follows on from the following earlier discussion:
Stephen's Academic Blogging: Publication or Service?
Mark's Academic Blogging: Publication, Service or Teaching
My rant Should blogging count for academics?
(see also Jim's Blogging: To What End? and Mark's Why blog? and - though you may need to scroll to see the connection - Media Literacy: Making Sense Of New Technologies And Media by George Siemens - Apr 25 09

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, May 28, 2009
  Should blogging count for academics?
Many academics now blog. [Cue crusty elderly mumbles about how back in 2006, 5, 4... there were merely a handful of us...] So, the issue of whether, and if so how, blogging should "count" among academics is a live one. There is, certainly nothing like a clear common answer. Even among blogging-academics the topic has been hashed and rehashed, but little light as emerged.

Evaluations of academics' performance are traditionally, and probably globally, thought of under three headings:
  • teaching: fairly obvious, includes preparing, marking, talking to students...
  • research: usually requires publication in a peer-reviewed form of actual research, so writing a Bible Dictionary article usually counts as service or teaching not research
  • service: a rag bag for anything else the academic and their evaluators think of as "work", committees, consulting, speaking to non-professional groups etc.
The current posts among biblical studies bloggers, opened the conversation with Stephen's Academic Blogging: Publication or Service? and also Mark's response Academic Blogging: Publication, Service or Teaching posing the question in terms Marx would have approved. Does blogging "count" as work, and if so of what sort? In other words the question is economic, should I/we be paid to blog?

Jim in a typically forthright reply poses the question differently in Blogging: To What End? and Mark offered a typically reflective answer in Why blog? I'll answer Jim's question briefly, and then return to the original one. I blog because I enjoy the intellectual stimulation of reading other people's posts, and I hope that (by blogging myself) I can add a different voice and perspective to the mix. In short I blog for the same reason that I do not (despite being a raving introvert) sit silent in a corner during conversations in the Carey staffroom, or the church coffee room after the service, because I feel part of the community.

So, back to the question should blogging count as work for academics?

Professional scholars have long enjoyed a privileged elite status in society, not least in the freedom to choose how to spend time. As long as certain requirements of teaching and committees are fulfilled, we get to select which interests to research. To a large extent too we get to choose when to work, late into the evening for some, early mornings for others... and if the plumber can only call on Tuesday afternoon there is a good chance that the family academic can arrange to be home at that time :)

And yet, these freedoms, and especially the freedom to research, have been restricted over the years.

When I began at Carey in 1993 we taught typically 4-5 courses a year, 2 larger courses (maybe 25-35 students) in one semester and 3 smaller ones with 7-20 students in the other. This left plenty of time for research and service, and these activities were not rigorously assessed. If my research produced no publications some years, but I wrote a series for the denominational paper, that was fine.

Now we teach 5 courses a year, and few of them have less than 30 students while the largest have 70-80. About a third of these are distance students, so a whole extra layer of preparation and interactivity online has been added. My guess is that overall these changes double the time taken each year by teaching, take out committee meetings and the like... research and service become spare time activities. Yet research is now subject to a government sponsored evaluation process, it is not enough to produce an article for a local (= Australasian) journal, at least some of my publications must be in top international journals...

Should blogging "count"? I do hope not, because if it does, I'll need to produce "n" posts a year, and remove from Sansblogue any posts I fear will not meet the approval of some committee. If blogging starts to "count" then the biblical blogsphere will become a mass of turgid, safely academic, posts full of language designed to impress rather than to communicate, relieved only by the amateurs - used in it's deep sense of someone who undertakes an activity for love rather than payment - and the outsiders.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, March 29, 2009
  Gentle (though firm) wisdom on Bible copyright issues
Peter Kirk has put up two fine well thought out and researched posts on the issue of copyrighting Scripture:
In the first he deals primarily with the issues around Zhubert's Re:Greek. In the process providing much (though speculative) light on the murky world of commercial Bible publication. The second homes in on copyright applied to the Bible and translations of the Bible.

These are both fine works. I suggest you all read them, and I suggest they both get listed in the next Biblical Studies Carnival.

After all the discussion of copyright and of the practicalities of funding Bible Sosiety work has settled there are practical issues left open.
  • What is the legal status of MorphGNT?
    • If it is street legal then other projects can use it.
    • If not, then "we" need an open source project to produce a good legal morph analysed Greet text
  • Can something be done to produce an equivalent for the Hebrew Bible? (Here as Peter points out there are no legal complications with eclectic texts MorphMT could be simply based on The Westminster Leningrad Codex (see its licence document).

Labels: , , ,

Friday, March 27, 2009
  Bible societies and dens of theives
I've been meaning to comment thoughtfully and at length on Zhubert and the MorphGNT issue, but selling a house while teaching (laughably but accurately called a "full time job" = it takes up all the time available) has stalled a longer post.

Then David wrote Closing open Bibles saying:
I’m all in favor of open source, but I tend to side with GBS on this. I wouldn’t be surprised if an agreement is worked out regarding the MorphGNT.
I suspect that all we need to do is wait. Bible Societies in general are slow moving beasts with good reason. Don’t mistake cumbersomeness with inefficiency. They are big and think very long term.
This gets my goat, I started writing a "comment" but it was getting long and heated ;)

I am usually very sympathetic to the right of people to be paid a reasonable wage for their work. I can understand that corporations need to "recover their costs".

But Bible Societies, at least the ones I know anything about, get given money by pew sitters like me "to make the Bible available". That money pays the wages of those who do the work (where they were not already paid by their academic institution and did the careful editing work as part of that job).

If GBS (or any other Bibe Society) restricts people making the text freely available, simply to protect the economic viability of their print editions - which are expensive to produce luxury items - then they are betraying the generations of Christians who have coughed up their hard earned cash "to make the Bible available"!

Now, this is an oversimplification, but it seems to me that to take money from someone under false pretences is (more or less) theft. To accept donations to make the Bible available and then restrict its availability to protect the market for an expensive luxury item is therefore theft.

I need some convincing that the German Bible Society is the useful, if somewhat slow elephant David describes, and not rather a den of thieves! For now, I am picturing Jesus, cords at the ready, bursting into their hallowed halls...

PS: I see the guy David referred to has a fine full post on the subject Copyrighting the Holy Spirit's words, then living off the profit... do read it! They also have a declaration of full disclosure, so I'll add one: As far as I know I have never received any payment or benefit from either a Bible Society or their commercial competitors, I did for some years get soft drinks at wholesale prices by sharing my buying with the General Secretary of the Bible Society in Zaire (now again Congo DR).

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, February 03, 2009
  What makes Biblical Studies anti-social?
Jane Hart's weekly list of interesting educational links mentioned Academic Earth an organization founded to give everyone on earth access to a world class education.  It has thousands of video lectures from the world's top scholars. It looks a brilliant resource. The front page includes lecture series from Princetown, MIT and Yale (OK so it is Americano-centric) cool!

The "Subjects" tab lists: Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, English, Entrepreneurship, History, Law, Mathematics, Medicine, Philosophy, Physics, Political Science, Psychology and Religion so there's something for everyone!


The only entry under "Religion" is Christine Hayes fine series Introduction to the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible). And we already know about those lectures... where are all the other Biblical Scholars? What makes Biblical Studies so ungenerous, so unwilling to share?

If your institution has a less "dog in the manger" attitude to teaching about the Bible than my employers do please go to the page about partnering with Academic Earth, you may earn no cash, but you might raise your reputation and assist people with fewer resources...

Labels: , , ,

Friday, December 12, 2008
  Stupidity and publication in biblical studies
Jim has a post in which he draws attention to a site which offers a back to front Hebrew text, while claiming to allow people to read the Bible "just as it was first written". The post title More Dilettantism will do nicely to reference Jim's post, as the subtitle mentions the site's name and I do not wish to encourage Google or others to visit it till the Hebrew text is represented readably.

The dillettant in question is a male, who from his description must be middle aged (at least) however Jim illustrates his "Biblical Studies Dilettante Award" with an image of a young girl. This is WRONG, if the stupidity was committed by a middle aged male use a picture of a stupid middle aged male. As it is Jim seems to be suggesting that young blonde women are typically stupid, my daughter is a young blonde, and I'd bet on her rather than Jim (or most other middle aged male bloggers) in an IQ test.
Photo: Bold and Stupid Men by runaway wind

Labels: ,

Sunday, November 02, 2008
  Biblioblogging: its now a city
There are now so many blogs that have an interest in the academic study of the Bible that no one, not even Jim West (who spends most of his waking hours at the task) can keep track of them all.

Duane, however, has done a sterling job of summarising and listing some of the most (excitable and) interesting of last month's posts in the traditional carnival, while keeping the size to an almost readable (if you ignore half the categories) post. This 2,500 word essay must have one of the lowest word to link ratios on the web, perhaps that is the secret of why Google loves the Carnivals ;)

And, if Duane's mamouth read suggests too many (new to you) blogs to read, then the infamous Bishop NT Wrong has a list of the top fifty, half of which I have still never heard of... If this sounds like belated fin de siècle weariness don't believe a word of it, it's just that the marking season has started :(


Monday, October 27, 2008
  Vernacular resources: watering the desert of books II
I'm just back from a long weekend away, and teaching tomorrow, so before I respond specifically to comments on the post below, I'll respond to some of the frequently asked questions in other conversations about the idea.

Won't the translations be inaccurate?

Oh yes! But this is part of the attraction of the project, as well as being rendered in the mother tongue the out of copyright texts are also adapted (a little more than is usual in a translation – for all translations are also to some extent cultural adaptations) this makes them more useful. But it may mean that some sort of peer review process should be built in, to ensure that undesirable errors do not creep in. I doubt this needs to be formalised. Since the new “text” is semi-oral and since semi-oral cultures have a flexibility to adapt their texts, the pastor would rework and improve any chapter that their colleagues question.

How will we ensure that busy senior pastors actually find time to do the translating?

First, not a lot of time is needed, just read a chapter, then reread it a paragraph at a time and speak it in their mother tongue. Say two hours for a chapter, once they have done a couple during a training day, and done the first few more slowly on their own. Second, the laptop itself is a carrot. It stays under their authority as long as they produce an agreed number of chapters – becoming their possession after an agreed period. Third, the fact that they are producing this resource is a source of honour (mana etc.) and the fact that it is in their voice will also add to their authority in other things.

Senior pastors won't be able to master the unfamiliar technology!

How many senior pastors do you know who do not have children (and/or grandchildren, nieces, nephews...) in their household. How much training do you think those guys will need? But it is true not all will be able or willing to support the project. Many useful medicines cannot be tolerated by some patients, Penicillin is a well-known example, this does not stop their use among the rest of the population!

Sometimes you have to really hunt for that mobile phone signal.
Photo by MikeBlyth

There will be a lot of new technology to break down and support!

Not a lot. Most of the distribution can be to existing mobile phones or MP3 players. So, for each district you are looking at one laptop (the OLPCs are designed to be rugged and if they are becoming the possession of the families there is an interest in protecting them) and perhaps several MP3 players (they are also very rugged and now quite cheap <$20 retail). You would naturally use the laptop model that is that is chosen for the national education system, or one for which support should be available. And anyway, how much does it cost under the old print system to get books to pastors? And they are culturally inappropriate books, in foreign languages!

This scheme gives the power to the local church!

Yes! Great isn't it :) Print allowed foreign missions, missionaries and ministries to produce “great” resources for the poor people people of the land. This way they get assisted to produce resources for themselves. If they start out doing Matthew Henry in Kisangali, how long do you think it will take before some pastors also produce their own “texts” dealing with locally raised issues? Where has print ever achieved that degree of localisation?

This scheme will reduce the motivation for literacy in places with low literacy rates :(

First, get your priorities right! What are you about? Helping people become clones of the West? Or deepening their understanding? Second, if you think this little project will have a bigger impact than radio, TV and mobile phones you have a higher view of its potential than I have ;) Literacy as we have known it for 500 years is under threat, but this project will not contribute much to the change, though it does work with it rather than resist... “Literacy” and “books” are not idols to be worshiped but a technology and skill that are no longer as dominant as they once were – do not make the dominant technology of the past a fetish object!

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, October 24, 2008
  Watering the "Desert of Books"
Following on from my previous post The "book" of the future Theologians Without Borders has converted a comment to a stimulating post in Transferring Knowledge in a Desert of Books Jennifer Turner puts the experience of teaching in Africa where "libraries were very sparse, due both to shortage of funds and lack of materials in the local language" with the sight of an OLPC laptop, to generate the dream that we might "skip to the next generation of knowledge transfer" by putting a library on such a machine for village pastors.

How about we put these two posts together, and then tweak the results a bit?

At selected centres (like theological colleges) someone provides a laptop stacked with out of copyright or e-texts for which permission had been given. Senior pastors with a good command of the "imperial" language (English, French or whatever) then read selected works a paragraph at a time into the built-in microphone, translating into their mother tongue as they go. It would not be an accurate translation, and it might well include explanation, but that would just make it more useful!

It is in the senior pastors' interest to help, because they get to base a laptop at their home (their kids will nag them into it) and the churches they are responsible for will respect them even more.

These audio books get loaded onto mobile phones (or MP3 players) for village pastors and others. The result semi-literate (and lets face it in much of the world village pastors are often either semi-literate or less than fluently literate) pastors get real solid stimulus and information for a fraction of the cost of print.

It is in the village pastors' interest to listen because they will seem better educated, without all the hassle and risk to their status involved in moving from partial to full literacy.

Do the maths! For a district with say 20 local churches:
  • cost of one laptop, loaded with "books" $250
  • plus 20 MP3 players @ $30 = $600
Round it up to allow for labour $1,000. This provides all the pastoral workers and anyone else who is interested with all you can eat access to all the "books" on the laptop for (say, on average) five years. Compare this with printing "real" books, the same money probably buys 100 paper books!

All we need are:
  • enough people to catch the vision
  • publishers of texts like the Africa Bible Commentary to be willing to see their print editions reach extended twenty-fold
  • people to "sell" the idea to senior pastors
  • a bunch of Western agencies to give up their fetish for print!
Which of the above bottlenecks do you think will scupper this vision? Or can you see other problems with it?

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, October 02, 2008
  The Bible as canonical meaning machine
Claude pointed to a small version of this superb visualisation by Chris Harrison, Carnegie Mellon University; Christoph Romhild, North Elbian Evangelical Lutheran Church/Science:

I wanted to see and know more, the report did not give enough details, and the image was too small to see the real beauty. So I chased down (hunting in the Boscogoogle) Chris Harrison's homepage. He gives more info, and much bigger images. There you can see the full beauty of this visualisation, and catch a glimpse of how the Bible functions as a canonical meaning machine. As I read the rather vague description the "cross references" are not diachronic allusions or quotations, but rather the sort of connection real readers synchronically make (see the discussions of "intertextuality" in the bibliablogsphere captured in the Carnival or start here Intertextuality: Part 3 and work back).


Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 25, 2008
  Sermons you shouldn't have preached! What's with nuns? and a fine new biblical studies blog :)
Jim pointed to it, and it's shaping up to be a fun read... "Stupid Bible Tricks" a new column in Ethics Daily. The first does the dirty on the delightful, amazing, but false claim that the presence of the letters את untranslated in Genesis 1:1 puts Christ into the first verse of the Bible. Actually the easy way to get the series is to subscribe to Susan Piggott's blog since Ethics Daily does not make their RSS feed very visible :( that way though you'll get any other good posts Susan offers as a bonus :)

As an example of what to expect from such posts, here's an extract from one on practical ecumenism (called "My Sister the Sister") answering the questions that arise when people hear that Susan's sister is a real life cloistered nun:
Many people are quite curious when they find out my sister’s a nun. “What on earth does she do all day?” they wonder. “Doesn’t she want to get married?” others ask, mystified. “You mean she stays in that monastery all the time and doesn’t come out?” still others demand. And, there’s always the Evangelical who wants to know, “But, is she saved?”

In response: (1) she prays for the world all day and in the middle of the night, too. (2) She considers herself married to Jesus, and I’ve heard he’s quite the bridegroom. (3) Yes, except for doctor’s appointments and medical emergencies. (4) She loves Jesus with her soul and has devoted her life entirely to God. What do you think?
...But do read the whole post, as I missed out some of the best bits!

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008
  What will we do when you are gone: digital life after death
In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.
[1789 B. Franklin Letter 13 Nov. in Writings (1907) X. 69] Quoted from

Indeed, as we all know, taxes can be avoided, at least by the rich. Death however, is in the end unavoidable and unpredictable, our end might be tomorrow if we fail to take due care crossing the street.

It's an issue we don't talk about, indeed until recently (at least in my experience) it is one that people online have avoided thinking about. In nthe "virtual world" we've pretended that death happens to other people. This pretence is assisted by the fact that online the dead simply "fade away", there is no new activity on the blogs and email lists and even attempts at direct contact (unless you use a phone number or physical address - which is cheating) simply go unanswered.

What happens, though, to all the effort and love that have gone into our online worlds when we die. Print books continue to reside on library shelves until the special entropy that affects libraries moves them to the stacks, and eventually to the second hand bookshop. Online it is different, as Peter discovered (aftermath of Early Christian Writings and friends) even without the extreme case of death a little inattention and your site is gone.

Of course there is the Wayback Machine.However, out of the more than 1,600 pages in my Amos commentary the best result this branch of the Internet Archive can offer is 95 pages from 2005. This blog, though it has a few less pages suffers even more the highest Wayback score is 7 pages.

Peter's problems stemmed from a failure to renew his domain name on time, I wonder who has the details of your domain registrations, hosting accounts etc. and do they know that they will be responsible for the treasures after you are gone?

Now that I've put the wind up you by introducing the extreme (if totally unavoidable) case of death, what about the other common problem, a fine resource is built up - let's call it New Testament Gateway (since a while back Mark discussed just this issue) the originator of the site loses energy or moves on to other tasks, or is simply overwelmed... Certain sites are of use to all of us, we rely on them. Yet their future is highly insecure.

What should we do?

Some suggestions for discussion:
  • individually: we should seriously think about making a list of key data for our domain names and hosting etc. and ensuring someone we trust has it and has the means to use it in the event we cease to be able to...
  • as communities (and I guess these would have to be informal ad hoc small communities) we agree on some sites that are worth maintaining and developing, and in collaboration with their founders we take steps to ensure continuance and continuity.
  • maybe: CARG should organise first discussion and them action to ensure that some of this gets done in a more organised and collective way...
If we do nothing the future of the past of biblical studies online is very insecure.

Labels: , , ,

  Bible "Style Guide"
Huge thanks to Stephen for the tip off (via email) to this brilliant resource:

The Bible Style Guide may be "a reference text designed specifically for those working within the media industry." But the "crash course in the Bible" it offers is good for far more than just "busy journalists, broadcasters and bloggers." It combines a very brief, down to earth, and wise glossary of key terms that people use when talking about the Bible. With a crash course in the nature of biblical literature, translation and the Bible in today's world. There is probably no one who can not learn something from this free 70+ page book!

Students, do you:
  • think Ebionite is a sort of ancient plastic?
  • a Codex is used to decode secret messages?
  • that a canon goes "bang"?
Just get The Bible Style Guide and look it up! The answers are neat, quick and sensible.

Kids, do you think the Bible is old fashioned but confused because you were brought up to think it a Holy Book?
Just get The Bible Style Guide and browse through it like a magazine.

Mature Christians (that's code for "not longer young" and somewhat stuck in a rut) just get the (totally free)
Bible Style Guide and discover something new and inspiring - before breakfast.

Teachers, fed up with people who do your Intro class yet still think the Catholic Epistles were written by Pope Benedict? Point all your classes to The Bible Style Guide and then warn them you'll get tough on people who have not at least mastered its under 80 pages!

Quite seriously this is the most compact, useful and easy to use Bible Handbook I have ever seen...

Labels: , , ,

Friday, September 12, 2008
  Amos reviewed in BTB
I have just received another review of the Amos: Hypertext Bible Commentary "volume", this time in Biblical Theology Bulletin, by Anselm C. Hagedorn of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. I will quote the concluding paragraph:
However, these concerns are probably not the ones of the users whom Bulkeley had in mind for his commentary. There is certainly a wealth of information to be found on this CD, but the present reviewer remains sceptical whether a disc can really be an adequate substitute for some standard books such as a Hebrew Bible, a lexicon, and a concordance. Also in his goal not to offer a chosen path of interpretation for the user, Bulkeley runs the risk of losing his user/reader altogether. Sometimes it would have been helpful to know what Bulkeley actually thinks about the text, since I seriously doubt that the intended user without formal training is able to judge the scholarship adequately. All these quibbles aside, amongst the commentaries available for a general theological readership this is clearly one of the better ones.
First the detail: Hagedorn says he "remains sceptical whether a disc can really be an adequate substitute for some standard books such as a Hebrew Bible, a lexicon, and a concordance." The Logos and Bibleworks programs of course demonstrate that it can ;) But I do not see HBC_ as a competitor with these. A commentary complements such tools.

The issue that Hagedorn raises with his comment that "Sometimes it would have been helpful to know what Bulkeley actually thinks about the text" is a significant one, and one about which I still have mixed feelings.

On the one hand it is frustrating that most reviewers of the commentary assume that I believe that the book of Amos was somehow written very close to the period in which the prophetic speeches it contains are set. I don't. I am still convinced that something like Wolff's reconstruction of the redaction history of the book is likely, Coote's simplification of Wolff sometimes seems better because simpler, but at other times recognition of the complexity of everyday life convinces me that even Wolff's scheme is probably an over-simplification. But we do not and cannot know. We can make intelligent guesses, like Wolff's, about the history of the redaction of the book (though by the time I finish reading Van Seters I may be convinced we can dispense with the notion of redactors ;) But all we can know is the book, and the setting in which it presents "Amos", that is what I choose to read... My readers attributing to me a naive historicism is frustrating.

But on the other hand, I have been delighted when in one week an Orthodox Rabbi and a Messianic pastor write to me thanking me for the work, I chuckle when in the same month small groups of Brazillian Catholics were using my commentary in their study of Amos, while somewhere to the north of them whole Sunday Schools of Southern Baptists were doing the same! On the whole I would not choose to exchange this delightful (if ironic) understanding of Scripture by such diverse groups to undo the misunderstanding (of my position on the possible/likely history of composition and transmission of the book) by scholars.

It will be interesting when other writers for the series have written and we can compare how different judgement calls on this issue work.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, August 28, 2008
  Creativity in Theological Education
A while back Geoff Pound (of Theologians Without Borders) put some effort into collecting ideas and stories about Creativity in Theological Education quite a bit of this material appeared in "one off" posts on the TWB blog, but he also collected together a summary post. Unfortunately, perhaps due to the "finished" feel of the posts they have not generated the discussion they might have if these things had been said in instutional staff rooms ;)

Readers of Sansblogue are likely to be stroppy, strong minded individuals, and many are likely to have strong opinions about theological education. So, if you have not done so already please go and explore these posts on TWB and disagree, express your strong opinions, generate discussion - the honour of the blogsphere is at stake, surely this electronic medium is no worse than a college staff room at discussing ideas?!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 21, 2008
  Important announcement: BANE non-commentary series
Allan Lenzie, like Charles, was shocked by the number of "forthcoming" commentaries listed on, he has decided to do something about it and announced that a New Un-Commentary Series Seeks Non-Contributors many readers of this blog will already be queueing up for places on the prestigious team ;)

For anyone who still possesses the desire to comment (on a book of the Bible that is) and who would like a wider than usual audience, reaching the parts books from Brill or More Inerrant Than Thou Press cannot reach, please consider undertaking a "volume" for the Hypertext Bible Commentary series this is peer reviewed, but available freely in electronic form. The first "volume" has been reviewed in a number of well respected journals.

To see the instructions for contributors, or to "dip your toe in the water" by offering an article for the companion Hypertext Bible Dictionary, just go to the website.


Sunday, August 03, 2008
  Biblical Studies Carnival
The latest Biblical Studies Carnival is online, on time, and spot on. Though in three (3) parts, suggesting that the talk of splitting to carnival into two posts a month may not be a dumb idea. John, the Trekkie, Hobbins does the comprehensive, balanced and serious job you'd expect in:
Now, for the (im)patient Biblical Studies Carnival XXXIII (is that a round number?) is scheduled to appear at Michael Halcomb’s.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 24, 2008
  Will Jim rejoice? Can "knol" become trendy? Will the wicked Wiki die?
Closeup from photo of Pottsville Conglomerate from Wikipedia
Google's latest toy is available. It's a "proper" encyclopedia, one that looks for "authoritative" individuals, so I expect Jim and other Wikipedia bashers to get in boots and all!

Mind you they need to. At present the front page of Googlepedia features clogged toilets and how to backpack. Ah, the joys of a fully "authoritative" and commercial encyclopedia, so much better than Wikipedia - NOT! Yesterday to illustrate the genre of the Torah I needed a photo of conglomerate, I found this on Wikipedia. I wonder if the googleplex will ever match that? For now - until the authorities get busier - don't bother looking for biblical material on Google, "Isaiah", and the like are blank, though there is an article on "David". Jim won't like it though ;) But for the rest of us it even has a photo!

Photo of "David" from the Googleplex

Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 06, 2008
  Zotero and SBL manual of style
Back in April there were some problems with using Zotero with the (then under development) SBL Manual of Style "Citation Style" at least when adding page numbers. At the time we were told it would be fixed in version 1.0.4. It probably was, but I forgot to check, and now we are on version 1.0.5 and it seems to be working fine. So, anyone who has been holding off using SBL in Zotero, as long as you have been allowing updates, go for it!

A superb, free, bibliography manager now got even more useful for biblical scholars, though I still have a small gripe, Zotero does not yet know how to handle book reviews :( the main styles for this are covered by this Duke University Library page and you can see how much fiddling would be needed to change a Zotero reference like this from one style to another!

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 19, 2008
  Writing for Hypertext Bible Commentary
Yesterday I had an interesting session chatting with a potential author for a commentary in HBC_. During the conversation it became more and more clear that today there is no longer much need to allow most authors to write in their wordprocessor. Biblical scholars on the whole are becoming used to web publishing through "learning management systems" like Moodle, or even their personal blogs. So, rather than complex semi-codes to allow wordprocessor docs to be converted, they need straightforward instructions for writing in a simple HTML editor like KompoZer (or KompoZer Portable).

The result is that I have updated the general manual and stylesheet: Writing for Hypertext Bible Commentary - which starts from the concept of a "hypertext" commentary and moves on to the details of format and working of the HBC_ series. I have added Using KompoZer to prepare HBC_ to explain how to do it in practice. Both can be accessed from the project opening page.

PS: I forgot to say, my reason for posting this here is to encourage you to look at one or both of these documents and make any comments that could help refine or improve them. If you would rather email than comment here please send to

Labels: ,

Friday, June 06, 2008
  E-texts and the SBL Handbook of Style
Danny has a fine post: Electronic editions of texts and the SBL style in which he makes sensible suggestions for citation styles for e-texts from Bible software packages. The issue is not trivial, because I sense as Danny does "After all, it is the way the citation looked in my footnotes that caused Mike and Craig to object to them." that many of my colleagues' preference for citing paper works comes from the ugly citation styles (and/or from ignorance of the proper style to use ;-0 for e-texts.

So how about a session at CARG devoted to recommending citations styles for e-texts, which could then go to the proper quarters to be included in the next edition (ten years is a very long time in scholarship in the 21st century ;-) of the SBL Handbook of Style.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, May 09, 2008
  Bibleref but no markup
While I was preparing the Amos: Hypertext Bible Commentary I put a heck of a lot of work into manually preparing pages so that references to Bible passages would be clickable to give the text. Now, thanks to the kind people at Logos, who I expect will benefit from their kindness through lots of links like this one, I have been able to add a cool tool to this blog, and my others that automatically takes most Bible references I type and uses Sean's clever Bibleref system to add the verse as a popup, and make the reference a link to the passage. My only disappointment is that apparently it does this without rewriting the source code for the page, so probably Google etc. will not be able to use this semantic markup :( maybe in a later implementation?

Oh, yes it works like this:
  • Jer 31:31-34
  • Amos 1:1
  • 1 John 3:16
PS: Does anybody know how to tell Wordpress about this, since the AsiaBible blog is hosted by Wordpress, so I can't install the plugin myself, I need to convince them that you will all want it too...

Labels: , ,

Monday, March 17, 2008
  SBL International Bloggers
In a comment on the post below Why I (usually) blog - and why I am not blogging (here) much this year Stephen asks:
Tim, do you know if there will be any SBL Biblioblogger gathering at the SBL international meeting in July?
Oh, yes Stephen, there will, the hereby announced, but as yet undated (since it was your comment that reminded me of the need to get something organised ;) Great, First Ever?, SBL International Bloggerfest. International (and indeed national, of any and all nationalities) bloggers with an interest in academic study of the Bible and/or Theology in any other of its (subsidiary? ;) forms are invited to share a meal and chat. All you will have to do is get yourself to Auckland at the time of the International SBL meeting this July. If anyone has a suitable microphone system we'll also tag on a meeting of the International Society for Theological Podcasting (and related disciplines) and do a podcast... Minor details like exact date, and location (our house, or some suitable eating house in walking distance of the conference...) to follow. But please (and seriously, folks) book the concept, and once it is announced book the date too!

PS: If you plan to be in Auckland in July and are potentially interested, please indicate this in a comment below, and say if there are particularly bad or good times for you. This may help plan the event!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 01, 2008
  Narrative Speed
On IBSWM I have also completed, at least in penultimate draft, a short entry on Narrative Speed, also for my online Introduction to Biblical Narrative.

On Monday we head off for Sri Lanka, so if you want to hear from me over the next couple of months please subscribe (by RSS or email) to the blog that will have writing, photos (and we hope video interviews with interesting people) relating to this travel and teaching Old Testament in South Asia including a refugee camp. (If you have a blog yourself please link to it, so that people find it before we return ;)

Labels: , ,

Saturday, November 03, 2007
  Biblical Studies Carnival XXIII
The redoubtable John Hobbins of Ancient Hebrew Poetry posted Biblical Studies Carnival XXIII days ago, promptly on the 1st, I have been so snowed under I have not even begun to properly read it and explore all the goodies he has uncovered, and he also has a Biblical Studies Carnival XXIII Supplement Series ;) with additional entries. But... I have marking: three assignments and half an exam, and a sermon for tomorrow to deal with before I can do more than reward myself with titbits of biblical blogery ;) so I'll just note the carnival for now...


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.

Labels: , , , , ,

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 / December 2009 / January 2010 / February 2010 / March 2010 /

biblical studies blogs:

other theology/church blogs:


Powered by Blogger

Technorati Profile

Yellow Pages for Auckland, New Zealand