"The object of all good literature is to purge the soul of its petty troubles." ~ P.G. Wodehouse

Friday, January 27, 2012

Biblical Studies Research resource: BiblicalStudies.org.uk

I just added a link under "Biblical Studies Resources" to BiblicalStudies.org.uk. This is a great resource for looking up commentaries, articles, and other secondary literature for studying the Bible. The site had some links to articles for a current project I am working on. Take a look and see what it has to offer.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Childs the Challenge of the Christian Interpreter of Scripture

"The challenge of the Christian interpreter in our day is to hear the full range of notes within all Scripture, to wrestle with the theological implication of this biblical witness, and above all, to come to grips with the agony of our age before a living God who still speaks through the Prophets and Apostles."

--the concluding sentence of Brevard S. Childs, "Psalm 8 in the Context of the Christian Canon," Interpretation 23.1 (1969), 20-31 (31).

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity

There looks to be a great conference at Lincoln Christian University on the forthcoming book edited by Chris Keith and Anthony Le Donne: Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity (T&T Clark/Continuum, 2012). The major contributors to the book will be at the conference and some of them include Dale Allison, Mark Goodacre, Jens Schroeter, and Loren Stuckenbruck. Morna Hooker has written the  foreward, which is posted at the T&T Clark blog, and the opening line is priceless! The premise of the book is that the criteria of authenticity have never really yielded us an objective view of the historical Jesus. This book has been a long time coming. I am looking forward to its release.

[30 May 2012 -- new location for the conference!]

Facebook and the "Power of Sharing"

In the Economist's The World in 2012 edition there is an interesting piece by Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, entitled "Sharing to the power of 2012" (p. 50). She opens by talking about Mark Zuckerberg's "law of sharing." This "law" is Zuckerberg's assertion that every year the amount of information shared digitally will double. She says, "Around the globe, people will share more and more of their lives online, transforming relationships on every level--personal, commercial and institutional."

In the article she talks about the positives of sharing and how organ donors have been found through sharing information on social media and how money has been raised for charity. (However, there wasn't any mention of the people who have had their homes broken into when they share the dates of their holiday.) So there are some positive aspects of social media. The Arab Spring is an excellent example.

One of Sandberg's early paragraphs was striking. She states, "Expressing our authentic identity will become even more pervasive in the coming year. Profiles will no longer be outlines, but detailed self-portraits of who we really are, including the books we read, the music we listen to, the distances we run, the places we travel, the causes we support, the videos of cats we laugh at, our likes and our links. And, yes, this shift to authenticity will take getting used to and will elicit cries about lost privacy. But people will increasingly recognise the benefits of such expression. Because the strength of social media is that it empowers individuals to amplify and broadcast their voices. The truer that voice, the louder it will sound and the farther it will reach."

Now, maybe I am just being a cynical Facebook holdout, but I find it difficult to believe that posting a list of books I am reading, how far I run and how often, and cat videos gives my "friends" (i.e., a lot of acquaintances I had once) a "detailed self-portrait" of myself. I don't believe those things say anything about my "authentic identity." Maybe I am old-fashioned, but a cup of coffee or tea across a table from a real friend is authentic sharing. Social media can become just another mask or false facade we use to present ourselves to the world. Obviously, we can do this apart from technology, but it is much easier to do hundreds and thousands of miles away into a computer screen or tablet.

This may just be more cynicism, but Sandberg's comment, "But people will increasingly recognise the benefits of such of expression", seems to be a thinly veiled reference to the fact the Facebook recognises and benefits from the more each individual shares. Targeted marketing becomes much easier the more everyone "likes" and shares.

I realise I am sharing my thoughts digitally. Maybe this is media raising the volume of my voice, which will carry if it finds an ear. Whatever the case, my interest is primarily in the comments about authentic identity. They deserve more reflection. Social media continue to challenge what identity is or at least our perceptions of what it is and what it can and should be.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Biblical Studies Symposium at Tyndale

Saturday, February 4, 2012, is the 3rd Tyndale Biblical Studies Symposium. There will be seven papers given by Tyndale Faculty and alumni. The time is from 9:30am-4:00pm. No lunch is provided but there will be coffee and tea. It looks to be a great day.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Apocalypse Against Empire by Anathea Portier-Young

At the close of last semester, I had the privilege of reviewing Anathea Portier-Young's recent book, Apocalypse Against Empire: Theologies of Resistance in Early Judaism (Eerdmans, 2011). The review will hopefully be coming out in the Review of Biblical Literature within the next six months (see review here). The book is well done and I recommend it for those interested in early Judaism and Jewish apocalypses, as well as those who work in the area of New Testament. The background that she provides on the Seleucid and Hasmonean periods is stellar.

Portier-Young presents a solid argument that Daniel, the Book of Dreams, and the Apocalypse of Weeks were written as apocalypses against empire. She provides an in depth look at the Seleucid regime under Antiochus IV Epiphanes and the terror of his imperial rule. Portier-Young also gives a helpful reminder that the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid empire is not the same as Jewish rejection of Hellenism. Her book is a valuable look at why apocalypses were written, and it will be a solid resource for years to come. Evidence of the acceptance of her work can be seen in this summer's Nangeroni meeting of the Enoch Seminar in which the topic will be "The Seleucid and Hasmonean Periods and the Apocalyptic Worldview."