Showing posts from August, 2012

The difference between "college" and "university"

"...we use the terms 'college' and 'university' inchangeably. 'She went to Michigan,' we say, or 'he goes to Oberlin'--not bothering with the noun that follows the name, as if a college and a university were the same thing. They are not. They are, to be sure, interconnected (most college teachers nowadays hold an advanced university degree), and a college may exist as a division or 'school' within in university. But a college and a university have--or should have--different purposes. The former is about transmitting knowledge of and from the past to undergraduate students so that they may draw upon it as a living resource in the future. The latter is mainly an array of research activities conducted by faculty and graduate students with the aim of creating new knowledge in order to supercede the past."    --   Andrew Delbanco, College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012), p. 2.

The terminology in…

Susan VanZanten, Joining the Mission

I recently finished reading Susan VanZanten's, Joining the Mission: A Guide for (Mainly) New Faculty (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011), and I can guarantee that it will not be the last time I read it.  Joining the Mission is primarily directed toward faculty who are about to or have recently begun teaching at "one of the nine hundred religiously affiliated colleges or universities in the United States, which collectively enroll abour 1.5 million students annually" (vi). While providing the most advice for new faculty, there is plenty of career advice for those who have been teaching at one of these institutions for most of their careers.

VanZanten's title derives from one of her arguments: that faculty need to join the mission of the institution at which they teach. The chapter titles are as follows:

1. What is a Mission-Driven Institution?
2. A Very Brief History of Western Higher Education
3. Teaching: Call and Response
4. Teaching: Brick by Brick
5. The Faithful Prof…

Von Balthasar on Prayer (3)

A third quote from this deeply powerful book on God's word to us:

"Mary is the 'image of the Church' for two reasons: she is the location of the Word's indwelling, both bodily and in terms of being, in the most intimate union of mother and child sharing one flesh; but this indwelling arises from the spiritual servanthood of her whole person, body and soul, which knows no autonomy but only the law of conformity with the word of God. It is because she is a virgin, that is, pure, exclusively a hearer of the word, that she becomes a mother, the place of the Word's embodiment. Her 'breasts' are blessed only because she has heard the word of God and kept it (Lk 11:27 f), because she 'kept all these things, pondering them in her heart' (Lk 2:19, 51). All contemplation must take its directions from Mary if it is to keep the twofold danger at bay: on the one hand that of seeing the word as something merely external, rather than the deepest mystery withi…

Von Balthasar on Prayer (2)

Another quote from Hans Urs von Balthasar's Prayer:

"This looking to God is contemplation. It is looking inward into the depths of the soul, and hence beyond the soul toward God. The more contemplation finds God, the more it forgets itself and yet discovers itself in him. This unwavering "beholding", moreover, is also and always a "hearing", because what is beheld is the free and infinite Person who, from the depths of his freedom, can give himself in a way that is ever new, 
unsuspected and unpredictable. Therefore the word of God is never something finished, to be surveyed like a particular landscape, but it is something new every moment, like water from a spring or rays of light. "And so it is not enough to have received 'insight' and to 'know the testimonies of God', if we do not continually receive and become inebriated by the fountain of eternal light" (Augustine, Enarr. in Ps.118, XXVI, 6). The lover already knows this; the…

New Journal Link: Early Christianity

I have just added a link to Early Christianity under "Journals" at the right. The journal Early Christianity which was started in 2010 is now in its third volume and tenth issue, June 2012, Vol. 3, number 2. The editors are Jörg Frey, Clare K. Rothschild, Jens Schröter and Francis Watson.

Here is the website comment:

The journal is concerned with early Christianity as a historical phenomenon. Thereby, “Early Christianity” aims to overcome certain limitations which have hindered the development of the discipline, including the concept of the “New Testament” itself. The journal, then, is taken to cover not only the first Christian century but also the second.

This journal will not, however, give any special prominence to reception-history or to the second century. The total phenomenon called "early Christianity" comprises a kaleidoscopic range of individual phenomena, including communal structures, social norms, discursive practices, points of conflict, ma…

Vielhauer on "Apocalyptic"

In his 1964 introduction to "Apocalyptic," P. Vielhauer defines apocalyptic as primarily focused on eschatology or the imminent expectation of the end ("Introduction," in E. Hennecke, New Testament Apocrypha (W. Schneemelcher, ed.; R. McL. Wilson, ed. ET; vol. 2; London: Lutterworth Press, 1965) 581-607). The majority of scholars of apocalyptic literature today would not define "apocalyptic" as essentially eschatology. The following quote highlights some of the difficulties of defining "apocalyptic" and the contents of apocalypses.

"'For the youth of the world is past; the strength of the creation has long ago come to its end, and the approach of the times is (already) at hand and (indeed already) passed by. For the pitcher is near to the well, the ship to harbour, the caravan to the city, and life to its conclusion' (syr. Bar. 85:10).
"This cosmological statement makes it clear that the conviction concerning the nearness of …

James L. Kugel, "The Beginning of Biblical Interpretation"

James L. Kugel has an essay entitled "The Beginning of Biblical Interpretation" in Matthias Henze (ed.), A Companion to Biblical Interpretation in Early Judaism (Eerdmans, 2012), pp. 3-23. The essay is an excellent introduction to interpretation of the Hebrew Bible during the Second Temple period (i.e., "early Judaism"). He notes that such interpretation may be found in later Old Testament books such as Chronicles, the Greek translation(s) of the OT, apocryphal and pseudepigraphal texts (Ben Sira, Jubilees, Wisdom of Solomon, Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs), the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, Josephus, and Pseudo-Philo.

The central piece of the essay are the four assumptions that he argues form "a common attitude and approach to the biblical text" even with the differences of time, location, and content in the texts and authors mentioned above (p. 13, emphasis original). These assumptions are 1) The Bible is a fundamentally cryptic document, which means t…

Von Balthasar on Prayer

The following selection is from Hans Urs von Balthasar's preface in his book Prayer. The book, so far, is excellent.

"Anyone entering the sphere of radiance of the divine word is held fast by it; he knows from experience that this word not only communicates knowledge about God, but--hidden within the garb of the letter--actually has divine qualities: in itself it is an overpowering manifestation of God's infinity and truth, his majesty and love. God's epiphany compels the hearer to kneel in humble submission. The latter had imagined that he was dealing with a word he could grasp and evaluate, like other great and profound utterances of mankind; yet once he enters its field of force, he himself is the one who is grasped and evaluated. He had wanted to approach Jesus in order to see him ("Come and see!"), and now, under the gaze of Jesus, he finds that it is he who has long been observed, seen through, judged and accepted in grace by Jesus. All he can do now,…