Friday, July 31, 2009

August Charts and Carnivals

It's 1 August and we are treated to a Smörgåsbord of biblioblogging highlights in a couple of places, by TAFKANTW and Jim West:

Biblical Studies Carnival 44: The Funhouse Edition

Biblioblog Top 50: July 2009

Both are fantastically comprehensive. I am very impressed! Biblioblog Top 50 is, in fact, a top 200 and something. And Jim West shows himself to be master of the art of the Biblical Studies Carnival. It's difficult to imagine how much work both have put in on these, so it is a big thanks from us all.

Podcasting -- everyone's at it!

In the words of Lily Allen, "everyone's at it". Well, six of us in the biblioblogging world, anyway! Steve Wiggins has a new podcast over on Sects and Violence in the Ancient World. I first saw reference to this on Daniel and Tonya's Hebrew and Greek Reader. There are three so far, the latest, Whence Monotheism, out today. It's a bit longer than 5 Minute Bible and the NT Pod. Because of this steady growth in the number of podcasts in our area, I have set up a new page on the NT Gateway on Podcasts (see also the recent NT Gateway blog post) and I'll be adding Steve Wiggins's next, though I'm hoping he sets up a separate tag for the podcasts because at the moment they simply occur among the other blog posts. Also today, a new Targuman podcast from Chris Brady.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

NT Pod 6: Resurrection and After-life in Paul: Programme Notes

I uploaded the latest NT Pod last night, touching on one of those perennial topics of interest to NT scholars, Resurrection and the After Life in Paul. My original plan to keep the NT Pod to 5 minutes or so an episode now appears to be under threat, as today I went over nine minutes for the first time. At this rate, the NT Pod will be up to the hour mark by this time next year!

For those who are less familiar with the material discussed in this episode and who would like to follow up on it, I will throw in a little bibliography. The classic essay I refer to in the piece is the following:

C.H. Dodd, "The Mind of Paul: I"; and "The Mind of Paul: II" in New Testament Studies (Manchester: University Press, 1953), 67-82 and 83-128.

The key piece is the second one, which deals with Paul's eschatology, and it is compulsory reading for anyone who wants to take the topic seriously. Both essays were originally written in the 1930s and published in the Bulletin of the John Rylands Library. I think they are Dodd at his best -- some of his finest writing. Unfortunately, neither is available online and it is my hope that one day that will change. A further bibliographical note: this is one of Dodd's own collections of essays that is called New Testament Studies. It is not the journal of the same name. Many a student has gone searching in the wrong place for this one.

I also mention N. T. Wright's "life after life after death" suggestion. The best place to access this in detailed discussion is in his Resurrection of the Son of God (Christian Origins and the Question of God, Vol. 3; London: SPCK, 2003), though I am sure there are many popular places to access the same thinking. Indeed, googling for "life after life after death" will turn up a surprising number of hits.

The piece in Josephus to which I refer in passing is War 3.374f:
Do not you know that those who depart out of this life according to the law of nature, and pay that debt which was received from God, when he that lent it us is pleased to require it back again, enjoy eternal fame; that their houses and their posterity are sure, that their souls are pure and obedient, and obtain a most holy place in heaven, from whence, in the revolutions of ages, they are again sent into pure bodies; while the souls of those whose hands have acted madly against themselves are received by the darkest place in Hades, and while God, who is their Father, punishes those that offend against either of them in their posterity? for which reason God hates such doings, and the crime is punished by our most wise legislator.
(Quoted from Whiston for ease of copying and pasting!). Wright discusses this and related material in Resurrection, 129-276 (specifically 176).

Reading and Hearing Papers -- John Hobbins weighs in.

Over on Ancient Hebrew Poetry, John FH has an excellent post On Reading and Hearing Papers at SBL-Rome 2009. He writes:
After ISBL-Rome 2009, I am more convinced than ever that most people do not understand what kind of content can be delivered and how to deliver it effectively before an audience which has sat through several presentations already whose point was barely intelligible or not intelligible at all.
And he goes on to list several "common errors". Given my comments on the topic here, over several years (Presenting Papers), John's post is music to my ears. I particularly liked common error number 5, "Wall-flower presiders". This is a great term, and one I am tempted to adopt myself.

SBL Annual Meeting 2009 talk

It is only July, but all over the biblioblogosphere, people are already talking about the SBL Annual Meeting in New Orleans on 21-24 November. Many bloggers will be there and many are reading papers. Daniel and Tonya have compiled a full list; Anumma is talking about a Tweet-up; Jim West has organized a massive bibliobloggers dinner; and now Stephen Carlson has the most important list of all, Dukies at SBL, an impressive looking bunch.

All this confirms that the SBL Annual Meeting is truly the "San Diego Comic-Con" of the world of Biblical Scholarship.

John Sweet Obituary in the Telegraph

There is an obituary of John Sweet, with a picture, in today's Telegraph:

Canon John Sweet, who died on July 2 aged 82, was for 36 years a greatly admired and much loved figure in the life of Cambridge University.

It's a fine obituary, and I am pleased to see that the warmth, generosity and kindness of John Sweet comes through so clearly. Like Graham Stanton, who has also recently died, John Sweet was a model of kindness and generosity in his interpersonal relations, and greatly loved by his colleagues, students and friends. I might well have mentioned him too in my recent piece On Scholarly Conduct over at Bible and Interpretation.

It looks like a copy editor has inserted an "s" in the book of "Revelations", which I hope someone will fix quickly.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Bible and Interpretation "In my view" piece

I have joined several scholars who are submitting regular op-ed style pieces to the Bible and Interpretation site. The new section of their site is called In My View and so far features pieces by Philip Davies, Robert Cargill, Thomas Thompson and me. My piece, published this morning, is called On Scholarly Conduct.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Comments on the Library of New Testament Studies

Nijay K. Gupta has recently successfuly completely a PhD thesis at the University of Durham and has been reflecting on the possibilities for going from PhD thesis to monograh, also in Choosing a monograph series to publish with. Nijay asked me a few questions about the Library of New Testament series and you can read it here: Interview with Mark Goodacre on Publishing with LNTS.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Academic publishing online -- and increased sales

It's good to see Robert Cargill weighing in on the question of academic publishing online, where he is commenting on a new article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by David Wiley, Giving Away Academic Books Online Can Actually Help Print Sales. The great thing about that short piece is that it actually features some research suggesting that this might indeed be the case. The anecdotal case has always appeared strong to me, that greater online access leads to great sales, and there are parallels to the same kind of thing in other areas. People who watch poor quality versions of TV programmes on Youtube will often subsequently order the DVD. With academic books, I know that I have on occasion spent so long on Google Books or Amazon's "Search Inside" that I have gone on and ordered the book I am getting a taster of. But the key, presumably, is more research on whether free online availability of books will boost sales of the same.

Of course it may not be the case of all or nothing. I would be interested to see more publishers developing models like those found in the music industry, where buying an mp3 version of a song is cheaper than buying the same thing on CD. I know that where an electronic vs. a print edition of a book is concerned, I will go for the print edition every time, just as I still prefer good old CDs to mp3s when it comes to music. The fact is that we are still in the early days of the online revolution, and now is a challenging time to be a publisher, I imagine.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Codex Sinaiticus Podcasts

While I was away, I didn't get chance to blog on the big news event in our area, the launch of the online Codex Sinaiticus on July 6. Now, ITSEE news notes some new podcasts from the British Library all about the Codex Sinaiticus project, and it features some familar names. They are between 7 and 12 minutes long and there are five of them altogether. Here at the NT Blog, we like podcasts, so here is the link to the page:

These podcasts are part of the From Parchment to Pixel: The Virtual Reunification of Codex Sinaiticus exhibition at the British Library. These five podcasts mostly take the form Juan Garcés conducting telephone interviews with David Parker, Amy Myshrall, Rachel Kevern and Timothy Arthur Brown. The first is an introduction by Juan Garcés himself.

The British Library's embedded media player (Windows Media Player) does not seem to be working in Firefox or Chrome, though it is working in IE. If that is the case for you too, they have a link to each podcast that you can use instead.

There is a great line in the podcast featuring David Parker, where he says that today is the most exciting time to be editing texts possibly ever.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Graham Stanton Obituary

Cambridge Network publishes today an obituary from the University of Cambridge on Graham Stanton:

NT Pod 5: Simon Peter in Mark: Programme Notes

The latest NT Pod deals with the topic of Simon Peter in Mark's Gospel. Against the background of the famous issue of Mark's negative portrayal of the disciples, I explore a little the interesting thesis of Mary Ann Tolbert that the interpretation to the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4.13-20) reflects programmatically the way that different people respond to Jesus in Mark, with a pun on Peter's name covered in the rocky ground (πετρῶδες). Peter, like those on the rocky ground, receive the word with joy when they hear it but they fall away (σκανδαλίζομαι) when trouble or persecution arise (Mark 4.16-17). This is what I call the "Peter pattern" in Mark, immediate enthusiasm followed by a falling away in the face of the cross, persecution, suffering. It is most clearly encapsulated in the Caesarea Philippi episode, where Peter initially gets things right, having understood and confessed that Jesus is the Christ (Mark 8.27-30), but then gets things horribly wrong, when he rebukes Jesus for talking about the cross and himself receives a rebuke from Jesus, "Get thee behind me, Satan" (Mark 8.31-33).

My own addition to this discussion is to link the portrayal of Peter in Mark with the perception in early Christianity of "Christ crucified" as a "stumbling block" to Jews (1 Cor. 1.23). It is the connection between the Christ and crucifixion that causes Peter to stumble, and Mark repeatedly stresses this using the same language of σκάνδαλον and σκανδαλίζομαι (Mark 4.17, 14.27, 14.29). Mark's narrative makes Peter the character through whom the reader comes to understand (and ideally to overcome) the anxiety in the concept of a crucified Messiah.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

More tributes to Graham Stanton

Peter Head has a wonderful personal reminiscence of his interactions with Graham Stanton over on Evangelical Textual Criticism. I did not know Graham Stanton so well, but on the several occasions I met him, he was unfailingly kind. I remember being somewhat intimidated by my first experience of an SNTS meeting back in 1996 in Strasbourg, when many senior scholars refused to speak to the unknown youngster, but Graham, who was the president that year, run off his feet, still took the time to introduce himself and to ask how I was getting on and to make me feel welcome. He was also hugely supportive a few years later when we hosted the British New Testament Conference in Cambridge -- again he took the time to be personally encouraging and friendly. For those who didn't meet him, it is worth underlining that this is not just people being positive about someone after their death. He really was well loved in the guild in a way that is quite uncommon.

The tributes are beginning to come in at the guest book in The Times, including one from Wayne Meeks.

Update: Dominic Mattos offers his reflections at the T and T Clark blog.

Graham Stanton death

The Times today publishes the sad news of Graham Stanton's death, mentioned here on Saturday morning:
Graham Norman. Lady Margaret's Professor of Divinity Emeritus, Cambridge, passed away at home on 18th July 2009, aged 69. Loving husband, father and grandfather who will be greatly missed by so many. Funeral Service at Emmanuel URC, Trumpington Street, Cambridge, at 2.30pm on Friday 24th July 2009. No flowers please, donations to Cancer Research UK.
Links to obituaries here as they appear.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Martin Hengel: The Times Obituary

The Times tomorrow has its obituary of Martin Hengel:

Martin Hengel: Historian of Religion

For a thorough round-up of other comments and obituaries so far published, see Jim West's blog.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Sad news: Death of Graham Stanton

I have just heard the sad news of the death of Graham Stanton, a great scholar and a true gentleman. He will be greatly missed.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Latest NT Pod: 1 Cor. 11.15

I released the latest NT Pod earlier today, NT Pod 4: Does 1 Cor. 11.15 refer to a "testicle"? It is a six minute summary version of my paper from the recent SBL International Meeting in Rome, but packaged for a general audience as is the norm for the NT Pod.

As usual, I am grateful for any feedback. I think the sound quality of this latest podcast is improved. I have invested in a nice new microphone and after some experimentation, it made recording much easier. Also, for those few interested in the technical sides of these things, I have located the problem that has been annoying me for earlier podcasts, a kind of blurring or slight doubling of my speaking voice. This appeared to be happening at the moment when I exported the recording as an MP3. It turned out to be connected to the way that LAME mixed the opening and closing theme with my voice, combining a stereo track and an mono track. By re-working the music into a mono track on Audacity, it synchronizes properly with my voice when I export to MP3 on LAME. You lose the stereo in the opening and closing theme, but I think that's a price worth paying to have the audio overall sounding better. Like all these technical things, recording and editing podcasts is a matter of constant experimentation and, I hope, gradual improvement. In a year's time, I will probably be laughing at these early efforts!

Friday, July 10, 2009

SBL International Report and new pic

The SBL site has a new picture of the international meeting last week in Rome, and once again it is from our Pauline Epistles section on the Wednesday morning. From left to right the characters are me (obscured!), Marilou S. Ibita, Soham Al-Suadi, William Campbell, Janelle Peters, Jeffrey Peterson, Kenneth Waters. Also, Kent Richard has a Report from the International Meeting.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

John Sweet (1927-2009)

I am sorry to be sharing the news of the death of John Sweet on 2 July. I heard the sad news when in Cambridge earlier this week. Selwyn College makes the announcement here:

Revd Canon Dr John Sweet

They have a book of condolences. I will add references to obituaries as they appear, but I have not seen any yet.

I met John Sweet for the first time at the SNTS Strasbourg in 1996 where he showed me great kindness. It was my first ever conference and I felt like a little fish in a big pond. Many of the scholars there were stuffy and unfriendly, some were rude. But John was generous with his time, charming and delightful. He was a contemporary of Michael Goulder's at Eton, and they shared a life-long friendship and admired one another's scholarship. He was a fine scholar and a real gentleman and will be greatly missed.

Death of Martin Hengel

I am on the road at the moment, enjoying a stay in England and seeing family and friends, as well as doing some work-related things, so I have not had time to add a mention of the sad passing of Martin Hengel. The biblioblogs have had some notice and comment; see, for example, Jim West's notice with lots of updates. No obituaries yet in the British press, as far as I can see.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Rome Travel Diary 4

It's the end of the SBL International Meeting here in Rome and from my perspective, the meeting has been a great success. We have we had a chance to see some of the great sites in Rome and to enjoy some wonderful Italian food, and the conference wasn't bad either.

Among the more interesting sessions I have attended over the last couple of days was the Bible and Music section this morning. I reckon that one of the strengths of the SBL International is in specialist sessions like this. First up was Richard Wright (Oklahoma Christian University), talking about "The Sounds of Silence: Hearing the Music in Pauline Assemblies", probably the best presentation of the conference that I heard. As it happens, I ran into Richard yesterday when we were in Piazza di San Giovanni in Laterano, and we managed to snap this photo of the chance encounter. (That's my daughter Lauren in the picture too). Today's session took place in one of the little wooden classrooms, like the one I mentioned in SBL Travel Diary 3. Unfortunately, the Saturday morning at the International Meeting is a bit like the Tuesday morning at the Annual Meeting and the session, which began with about 15 people, was down to 5 by the end, for Shu-chwen Chen's paper, including the speaker and chair.

Conclusion later . . .

SBL Rome

Today marks the end off the SBL International Meeting in Rome. It has been my first international and I have had a great time. My final Travel Diary is forthcoming but in the mean time, I am grateful for permission to reproduce the picture of the first Paul and Pauline Literature section on the Wednesday morning, which appears on the main SBL Site at the moment. You can see me on the far right of the picture. If you could see my facial expression, it would be expressing great relief that my paper was done, while listening intently to the others in the section.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Rome Travel Diary 3

Second full day at the SBL International Meeting in Rome and this time I had the good sense to walk through the streets from Trastevere to the Pontifical Biblical Institute with a t-shirt on and then to change when I got there. Another warm day. I seemed to meet lots of people at the conference today, old friends and colleagues, a real pleasure. The academic highlight was the afternoon session on the Bible and Visual Culture, organized by Martin O'Kane. Ian Boxall (St Stephen's House, Oxford) was up first with a wonderful presentation on "Visualising John’s Island: Patmos in Botticelli and Burgkmair", with nicely illustrated colour handout. As it happens, I ran into Ian Boxall later on just in front of the Pantheon and we managed to get a quick photo (left).

The other papers in the session were Nicoletta Bonansea (Università degli Studi di Torino), "The Role of Jonah in Christian “Imaginaire” Between the Third and Fourth Centuries", Linda Sue Galate (Drew University), "Secondary Signals II: Beyond the Symbol Specific in Ante Pacem Art" and Laura Carnevale (University of Bari), "Job: Iconography and History in the Middle Ages", all also fascinating and, for me, educational. I suspect that these kinds of sessions are going to be the most richly rewarding at the meeting. Those speaking were experts in materials with which I am not familiar, and the session was friendly and fascinating. It was held in a little old fashioned wooden classroom, with the speaker sitting proud in front of a wooden-framed blackboard, like teacher, at a raised desk. I have made a strong mental note to go to more sessions like this in the future, not least because I stayed awake almost throughout, which is something of an achievement for me.

I also made it to much of the Pauline Epistles section again, where 25-30 people were squeezed into a small, claustrophobic whitewashed room, much less pleasant than the one previously mentioned. There were seven hours of Pauline epistles today, three and a half hours this morning and three and a half hours this afternoon, both with 30 minute breaks half-way. I wish I could boast that I had managed to stay awake through these sessions too (with no disrespect intended to the excellent speakers in these sessions).

In the evening, we took in the Trevi Fountain and then the Pantheon, when the evening thunderstorm began, as on each of the previous evenings. We tried to take cover under the awnings of a nice looking restaurant in Piazza Della Rotonda, but soon the rain and wind was so heavy that we had to run inside the restaurant. We had a lovely meal there and several in our party thought it the best of the week; my seafood pizza was good but not as good as I have had in Trastevere on other nights this week, and of course we paid tourist prices in the centre compared to the cheaper food in our area.

After the storm, we walked through streets from the Pantheon back towards the Trevi Fountain, taking in an ice cream at San Crispino on the way. San Crispino is the best Gelateria in Rome, so they say. I enjoyed walking through the alley-ways in this area -- lots of Italians and, I suppose, tourists eating pasta and pizza and drinking wine on the streets. A nice place for a romantic weekend away.

Biblioblogging Carnivals and Charts

It's the beginning of a new month and there are new things to see in the world of the Biblioblogging aggregators. Pat McCullough has the latest Biblical Studies Carnival 43, Or the Apocalypse of Eve. It's an entertaining take on the format, with a big thank you to Pat for his trouble in digging up this ancient document. Not sSurprisingly, the ancients had no some idea what podcasts were, and the NT Pod, which launched in June, doesn't gets a mention in the Apocalypse of Eve. Luckily, though, it gets a mention in the latest Biblioblog Top 50 (blurb), also just out. As usual, TAFKANTW has done a remarkable job there. Thanks to all, and congratulations to Jim West who comes out on top once again!

Update: It turns out that a new, interpolated version of the the Apocalypse of Eve does feature a prophecy about the NT Pod, so I have amended the above accordingly.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Rome Travel Diary 2

First full day of the SBL International Meeting in Rome today and it was a really early start. We are staying out in the Trastevere district, a couple of miles away from the Pontifical Biblical Institute which is hosting the meeting this year. We have been walking everywhere and have clocked up many miles so far. Normally, it doesn't matter too much, with jeans and t-shirts and plenty of time. This morning at 7.45am in smart clothes, we walked in and sweated much too much in the ridiculously warm and humid early Roman morning. Luckily, I was not on first for the 8.30am session, and I had the chance to cool down a little before it was my turn.

The Pauline Epistles section was a lengthy three and a half hours in what appears to be a fairly typical arrangement at this conference, in contrast to the SBL Annual Meeting where two and a half hours is the norm. William Campbell, in one of his famous elegant striped jackets, was chairing the session. Jeffrey Peterson from Austin Graduate School of Theology was first up, talking about Wisdom and the Cross in 1 Cor. 1-4. As it happens, we managed to catch him for a photo earlier this week in front of the Constantine Arch (above). That's me next to him.

I was on second, at 9am, on the topic "Does περιβόλαιον mean “testicle” in 1 Corinthians 11.15?" (Handout (PDF) here). The point of the paper was to investigate an article by Troy Martin in JBL 2004 that made this claim, and to find it wanting. I was pleased with the reception of the paper and several useful comments and questions. For the first time at a conference too, my family were present, and it was nice to have their support, if a little unusual to see them present when I was talking about a rather sensitive topic (I quoted a large section from Martin's intriguing summary of ancient understandings of anatomy and sex).

Third up was Janelle Peters (Emory University) on "Practice Makes Perfect: Corinthian Veils as Stoic Kathekonta". There was a thirty minute break, again as seems to be standard at the SBL International, and the session continued with Soham Al-Suadi (University of Basel), "Kuriakon Deipnon: When Utopia Becomes Real", Marilou S. Ibita (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), "The Story of the Lord's Supper in Corinth: A Narrative-critical Reading of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34" and Kenneth L. Waters (Azusa Pacific University), "No Cursing in the Church: Anathema in the Corinthian Congregation (1 Corinthians 12:3) and the Letters of Paul". All of the speakers read their papers, most sat down. I was not too keen on the idea of sitting down so stood up to address the room, and did my usual thing of presenting rather than reading.

My first impressions of this, my first SBL International Meeting, is that it is a bit like a cross between the SBL Annual Meeting and the British New Testament Conference. Or perhaps the SBL Annual Meeting and one of the SBL Regionals. It has all the marks of the SBL Annual, with formal sessions, presiders, 30 minute papers, the SBL brand, with the same kind of program book, badges and so on. But the scale is very much smaller. In our session, one of the more popular ones, there were 30-45 people across the three and a half hours, where there would have been many more in the Annual Meeting. I noticed far smaller audiences in some of the other sessions as I walked around. The book exhibit is like that of a smaller conference; the major players were there but they were often on one table, with just one rep.

Because of the smaller numbers here, one could go along to the almost adjacent restaurant, Abruzzi's, and easily get a seat; there was no need to walk a long way, even if there was that same experience of spotting people you know coming to the same restaurant, or walking down the road past you and waving.

The Pontifical Biblical Institute itself seems to be an ideal location. It is easy to find, in the centre of Rome, and has (of course) a famous history. Some of the rooms were a little more like classrooms than the conference rooms one is used to at the Annual Meeting. One of the rooms, where the Psalms / Writings group was meeting, was a delightful wooden affair straight out of Indiana Jones. And there is a bar / snack bar open for business throughout, the thirty minute breaks giving everyone long enough to grab a drink and a snack during sessions.

No doubt my impressions will develop over the coming days. So far it has been a positive and enjoyable experience and I would definitely recommend the event to others thinking about coming in the future. On a personal note, the overwhelming feeling at the moment is relief to have my paper done, with time now to enjoy the conference -- and more of Rome -- in a more relaxed frame of mind.

Update (23.39): On Evangelical Textual Criticism, Tommy Wasserman has an excellent and thorough report on his experiences of the conference so far. Thanks too to Sharon Johnson for adding a link to this blog and to Tommy Wasserman's posts on the main SBL Site.

Update (3 July, 00.19): The SBL Site has a nice picture of our session on its main page. You can see me on the far right of the picture.