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

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Pope John Paul II on Labor and Co-creation

A little over thirty years ago, Pope John Paul II made this comment as part of his blessing the fishing fleet at Flatrock, Newfoundland (Sept 12, 1984):

"Men and women are meant to contribute by their work to the building up of the human community, and so to realize their full human stature as co-creators with God and co-builders of his Kingdom." 

You can see his full comments here.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Interview on Reconsidering the Relationship between Biblical and Systematic Theology

Jason Maston asked me some questions recently about the recent book I co-edited on the relationship between biblical and systematic theology: https://dunelm.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/ben-reynolds-on-biblical-and-systematic-theology-author-interview/.

Thanks, Jason and the Dunelm crew.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Importance of Big Ideas and Great Books

There is an excellent piece entitled "Philosopher Kings: Business Leaders would benefit from studying great writers" in the Schumpeter column of the October 4th 2014 Economist. The article is a lament with some poignant comments arguing that business leaders would be better off spending weekends reading great books and discussing big ideas with others rather than doing team building exercises or experiencing leadership skills on a kayak trip. The call is for business leaders to take some "inward-bound" courses instead of the typical outward-bound courses.

I think that the piece offers some great advice, and I think that the advice shouldn't just be taken by business leaders. Everyone in every walk of life could use a few big ideas and read a great book or two. Connecting with the broader ideas of what humanity is and what culture is can expand our horizons and challenge us to rethink our own narrow parts of the world. If a business leader can be encourage to rethink wealth accumulation by reading Plato, then what else can happen when other writers, thinkers, and philosophers from the past are read in new contexts?

The argument of the piece also reaches beyond mere weekend retreats for business leaders. What if someone was to immerse themselves in four years of university education that focused on great books and big ideas? What if rather than spending one's university years on one subject the coursework was part of a broad-based curriculum that integrated arts, humanities, and social sciences and challenged students to wrestle with humanity's big questions, to integrate disciplines with life and questions of faith, and to encourage analytical thinking and clear, concise writing? What if we abandoned the contemporary call for the "practical" and "employable" and actually graduated students who can think and make decisions and be innovative, which are arguably practical and employable in their own right? If this was the education that we pursued, we would have a few more people who could think outside the box, who could assess the past and consider the promise of the future, who would have a better understanding of what it means to be human.

The liberal arts or a broad-based curriculum may be old-fashioned. It may not be trendy, but something has to be said for its longevity. And I'm not convinced that the existence of glowing screens in front of every face make the liberal arts obsolete. I think our present time is in need of great books and big ideas more than ever. 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thoughts on "Jesus Christ didn't exist"

The Daily Mail Online has run a piece today entitled: "'Jesus NEVER existed': Writer finds no mention of Christ in 126 historical texts and says he was a 'mythical character.'" The writer is Michael Paulkovich who is described as a "historical researcher." (It is probably worth mentioning that the next story that the Daily Mail suggests its readers view is "Has 'Dracula's dungeon' been unearthed in Turkey?")

As the title, and every following paragraph, states, Paulkovich did not find reference to Jesus in 126 ancient historical writers (his list is provided), and so therefore, Paulkovich believes Jesus was mythical. The assumption built in here is that by the end of the first century Jesus was famous enough throughout the Roman Empire that any decent historian would have mentioned him: "all of whom should have heard of Jesus but did not." 

Yet, it should be obvious that this is clearly an argument from silence. For example, before today, the odds would have been quite good that there were more than 126 historians and writers who had not heard or written about Michael Paulkovich. Note also the difference between hearing and writing. A historian may have heard about Jesus, but considering what histories they were writing, where they were writing, their perception of Jesus' importance, etc., it is not required that they write about Jesus. It is also telling that the Dead Sea Scrolls are brought into this as evidence against Jesus' existence, and with a misspelling no less: "the silence from Qumram [sic]." The Dead Sea Scrolls found at Qumran have been dated to a period that briefly overlaps with early Christianity: 200 BCE to 70 CE, yet as Geza Vermes states, some of the scrolls are from the third century CE and the majority of manuscripts are from the the first century BCE and thus pre-Christian (The Complete Dead Sea Scrolls in English, 14. See pages 21-23 for Vermes' discussion of the actual relationship between the scrolls and the New Testament). 

Positively, although there is no mention of Jesus in these 126 authors, with the possible exception of the debated Josephus readings, we do have writings from the first century and second century that speak about Jesus. While it is typically pushed aside, the reality is that the New Testament is a collection of documents that all purport the existence of Jesus. The bulk of historical Jesus scholars over the last century have agreed on some basic historical facts of Jesus' life, even if they do not believe Jesus was the Son of God or Messiah. E.P. Sanders in The Historical Figure of Jesus states, "There are no substantial doubts about the general course of Jesus' life." He lists the following "statements about Jesus that meet two standards: they are almost beyond dispute; and they belong to the framework of his life, and especially of his public career." He adds, "(A list of everything that we know about Jesus would be appreciably longer.)" Sanders' list is as follows, but I provide it here somewhat abbreviated yet with mostly Sanders' wording.
  • Jesus was born near the time of Herod the Great's death
  • he lived his early life in Nazareth
  • he was baptized by John the Baptist
  • he called disciples
  • he taught in the countryside and village and not in cities (This latter point is of interest for Paulkovich's claim.)
  • his message was "the kingdom of God"
  • he went to Jerusalem for Passover near the year 30 CE
  • he caused a disturbance in the Temple area
  • he had a final meal with his disciples
  • he was arrested and put on trial by the Jewish authorities
  • he was executed on the orders of the Roman prefect, Pontius Pilate (pp. 10-11)
The tension in Paulkovich's claim is that a common person in the far reaches of the Roman Empire, who taught in out of the way places and was executed along with two others, is not likely to have been mentioned by historians, who were sometimes located far from Jerusalem. Jesus did later become well known, but how well known and by what time? By the end of the first century CE, the group called the Way and followers of Christ were only beginning to be noticed in certain pockets of the Roman Empire. 

For an excellent discussion of the issues of whether or not Jesus existed, see Mark Goodacre's NTPod 47: "Did Jesus Exist?"! Paulkovich's argument is obviously not quite so astoundingly new.

[For thorough response to Paulkovich's claim, see Candida Moss and Joel Baden here.]

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Apology to Saeed Hamid-Khani

It has been a while since posting, but I have been meaning to get to this one.

I wanted to formally apologize to Dr. Saeed Hamid-Khani for not making use of his published thesis in the writing of my own thesis on the Gospel of John. Hamid-Khani's thesis was published as: Revelation and Concealment ofChrist: Theological Inquiry into the Elusive Language of the Fourth Gospel (WUNT II/120; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2000). It was examined by William Horbury and C.K. Barrett. John Philip M. Sweet was Hamid-Khani's supervisor. 

In the course of working on an essay related to the topic of "revelation" in the Gospel of John, I ran across the title of Hamid-Khani's book. I was able to get a copy through interlibrary loan and waded my way through the immense amount of work that the volume contains. The striking contribution of Hamid-Khani's thesis is his challenge to Rudolf Bultmann's claim that what is revealed in John's Gospel is an empty revelation formula, i.e. Jesus only reveals that he is the Revealer. Hamid-Khani argues that the elusive language of John's Gospel has content and that has a theological force in that it is tied to the Evangelist's use of the OT. For the Gospel, Jesus is the fulfillment of the OT. Those who do not believe this will find the Gospel's language elusive. Those who do believe will understand the truth. 

There is much more in Hamid-Khani's book, but I was surprised that I had never run across it before. A quick perusal of the bibliographies in the post-2000 edited volumes Gospel of John that I have on my shelf indicate that I am not alone. Hamid-Khani's book is not listed in Donahue, Life in Abundance: Studies of John's Gospel in Tribute to Raymond E. Brown, 2005; Lierman, Challenging Perspectives on the Gospel of John, 2006; Thatcher, What We Have Heard from the Beginning, 2007; or Bauckham and Mosser, The Gospel of John and Christian Theology, 2008. The title is also missing from Porter and Gabriel, Johannine Writings and Apocalyptic: An Annotated Bibliography, 2013, even in their section on "Revelation" (!).

A Google search of the book title presents records of the book on Google books, the various places it may be purchased (Amazon, Mohr Siebeck, etc.), various bibliography repositories, and the review by Josaphat Tam at RBECS, Academia.edu, and Facebook (see below). A search of the Review of Biblical Literature website reveals that the book was never reviewed for RBL. Cornelius Bennema acknowledges Hamid-Khani's book in his preface to The Power of Saving Wisdom, although only to say that the book came to him at a late stage. Hamid-Khani's book essentially disappeared...or never appeared. 

My sincere apologies to Saeed Hamid-Khani for not interacting with scholarship that I should have. This will be remedied as best I can in my current work on John, apocalyptic tradition, and revelation. 

A review of Hamid-Khani by Josaphat Tam may be found on the site "Reviews of Biblical and Early Christian Studies" (here).

Monday, June 9, 2014

Thomas Dekker in Dororthy Sayers

Great quote at the beginning of chapter 15 of Dorothy Sayer's Lord Peter Wimsey novel Gaudy Night.

Do but consider what an excellent thing sleep is: it is so inestimable a jewel that, if a tyrant would give his crown for an hour's slumber, it cannot be bought: of so beautiful a shape is it, that though a man lie with an Empress, his heart cannot beat quiet till he leaves her embracements to be at rest with the other: yea, so greatly indebted are we to this kinsman of death, that we owe the better tributary half our life to him: and there is good cause why we should do so: for sleep is that golden chain that ties health and our bodies together. Who complains of want? of wounds? of cares? of great men's oppressions? of captivity? whilst he sleepeth? Beggars in their beds take as much pleasure as kings: can we therefore surfeit on this delicate Ambrosia? Can we drink too much of that whereof to taste too little tumbles us into a churchyard, and to use it but indifferently throws us into Bedlam? No, no, look upon Endymion, the moon's minion, who slept three score and fifteen years, and was not a hair the worse for it.
--Thomas Dekker

Monday, June 2, 2014

John Ashton's new book, The Gospel of John and Christian Origins (Fortress Press)

John Ashton's book The Gospel of John and Christian Origins was published this spring by Fortress Press. I did have the opportunity to read earlier versions of about half the chapters, and it has been enjoyable to read through the finished book.

Ashton has continued themes from his previous book on John, Understanding the Fourth Gospel (1st ed. 1991; 2nd ed. 2007). Ashton made significant changes between the two editions of Understanding, but the third section on "Revelation" (pp. 303-528 in the 2nd ed.) was largely left unchanged.
(See my comments on that volume here.) Ashton acknowledges he is revising that section in Gospel of John and Christian Origins, but he is also making more explicit his arguments for the history behind the Gospel, its writing, and Johannine Christianity.

The primary interlocutors and support for Ashton throughout the book are Wayne Meeks, Rudolf Bultmann, Ernst Käsemann, and J. Louis Martyn. Coupled with the title, it is clear that that he is concerned with the historical situation of the evangelist and his Gospel. Ashton is not a fan of methods that avoid the historical dimension, such as narrative criticism, and in "Excursus 1: The Gospel Genre," he strongly disagrees with Richard Burridge and Richard Bauckham that genre determines how texts are read.

Ashton judges rightly, in my opinion, that the focus on Hellenistic origins argued by Wetter, Bultmann, and Dodd is not correct and that the Gospel has a home in the Judaism(s) of the Second Temple, which Brown was quick to highlight in the years following the discovery and publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Ashton has an intriguing and important chapter on "The Essenes" in which he contends that Qumran exegesis and its emphasis on mystery and revelation reflects a "veering away from the insistence on the definitive nature of the revelation to Moses that already characterized the dominant party in Israel" (74). 

To take a step back, Ashton opens the book by indicating what he sees as the displacement of Moses by Jesus in the Gospel of John. This view is what drives his understanding of the origins of Christianity as portrayed in the Fourth Gospel. Ashton assumes the two-level reading of Martyn, that the Gospel itself tells us about the Johannine community as much as, if not more than, the events of Jesus' life. The displacement of Moses by Jesus ("we are his disciples" 5:31-47; "the law came through Moses" 1:17; etc.) reflects the power struggle or change of belief by those synagogue-goers who have come to believe in Jesus.What becomes evident throughout is that Ashton, like Christopher Rowland, sees any reinterpretation of the law and prophets as a negation of what was previously prophesied. It may be worth considering if this view is necessarily the case. One could argue that Moses may not be cast aside and replaced, since the Johannine Jesus does say that Moses wrote about Jesus (5:45-47). If Moses did write about Jesus, then we may not have displacement. However, regardless of the manner in which we take this, one's interpretation comes down to one's understanding of Second Temple handlings of prophecy and revelation. [On this see, Bockmuehl, Revelation and Mystery in Ancient Judaism and Pauline Christianity (WUNT II/36; Mohr Siebeck, 1990) and Jassen, Mediating the Divine: Prophecy and Revelation in the Dead Sea Scrolls and Second Temple Judaism (STDJ 68; Brill, 2007); Reynolds, "Apocalypticism in the Gospel of John's Written Revelation of Heavenly Things," EC 4.1 (2013), esp. 88-94.]

The "Mosaic-Prophet" of Martyn's argument (cf. also Meeks) is found wanting by Ashton, and in the later chapters, Ashton argues for "three strong streams of Jewish tradition that flow into the Christology of the Fourth Gospel" (133). These streams are "the mission of the prophet," "the Incarnation of Wisdom," and "the Son of Man." Chapters 7 and 8 focus on these three themes. Ultimately, Ashton returns to the theme of revelation and understands this as important for the Christology of the Fourth Gospel. 

"From the first page of this book I have argued that resonating through the Gospel, and most emphatically in the Prologue, is the insistence that the truth, the real revelation of God, is not the law but the self-revelation of Jesus, who represents in his own person God's plan for his people, and indeed for all humankind. For he now replaces both the law and the great figure of Moses through whom the law was given." (190-191).

Ashton rejects Meeks' and Martyn's views on the reason for this replacement (Samaritan traditions and synagogue disputes). Instead, he picks up a suggestion of Christopher Rowland and contends that the followers of Jesus took this view of Jesus because they saw him as more than the Messiah and more than the prophet-like-Moses. As a result, they speculated on who Jesus was, and this speculation led to the portrayal of Jesus' humanity being "eclipsed" by a portrayal of the glorious, descended one.

Much more could be said about The Gospel of John and Christian Origins, especially because Ashton touches on many topics, but I will leave that for you to read.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Professor Maurice Casey, 1942-2014

I was sorry to hear this week that Professor Maurice Casey passed away on 10 May 2014. There have been numerous postings in honour of Professor Casey, from longer interactions with his scholarship by his former student James Crossley (parts one and two), Mark Goodacre, Larry Hurtado, and Dominic Mattos, to a number of announcements and annecdotes shared by Jim Davila, Jim West, Peter Head (in comment), and Chris Keith, as well as others I have not read.

I had the privilege of meeting Maurice on a few occasions while I was working on my doctoral thesis on the Son of Man in John. Like Peter Head, I met Maurice at the annual conference on the use of the OT in the NT held at St. Deneiol's library in Hawarden. My paper was scheduled for the last day of the conference, and on the preceding evening, Maurice told me that my paper on the Son of Man in Daniel 7 and John 5:27 was the paper he was most looking forward to hearing. For a doctoral student who knew he was going to be making some arguments that this well-known Son of Man scholar would disagree with, I quickly became more intimidated than I already was.

Once I finished my paper the next day and as he rose to ask me a question, I had a sinking feeling that he was about to ask the sort of question that would leave me without a thesis. He did ask an extremely relevant and pointed question; it was a question that continued to follow me every time I presented on my thesis topic. (The question surfaced during my viva.) Over lunch following the session, Maurice probed me further about why I was arguing what I was arguing. He did so in such a kind and cordial way. I have always been grateful for his questions, the way in which he asked them, and the interest he showed in the work of a doctoral student. His questions forced me to further my arguments and learn more about how scholarly debate and challenge can take place in a collegial manner.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Frederick Murphy, Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World: A Comprehensive Introduction

This past semester I taught a course on the New Testament and Jewish apocalypses. For the required texts, along with reading the Jewish apocalypses themselves, I required John Collins' The Apocalyptic Imagination and the recent award-winning and posthumously published Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World by Frederick Murphy. I have a book review of Murphy coming out in next Trinity Journal, but I wanted to make some comments here that I was not able to include in the more traditional book review.

My students found Murphy more readable and accessible than Collins. I suspect that this is because Murphy has written in a style that an undergraduate can more easily grasp, and I think the fact that Murphy summarizes more familiar (biblical) material than Collins (Jewish apocalypses) also made Murphy seem more friendly.

One challenge with using a book like Murphy is that it is a long textbook that summarizes a lot of primary material, while highlighting specific themes throughout. If you want to read (or you want your students to read) the primary material and have another book summarizing it along side your reading, Murphy is helpful with this. However, some may find this to be a lot of extra reading. However, some undergraduates need or prefer this sort of guidance through the primary material, particularly if the material is not familiar to them -- e.g., the murky world of Jewish apocalypses.

As you read Murphy, you should be aware that throughout the book, the word "apocalypticism" is essentially used synonymously with "eschatology." What Murphy is focusing on throughout the book are the roots of eschatology in Judaism, its growth in the Second Temple period, and the influence that eschatology has on early Christianity. There is almost no interest in apocalypticism as having to do with revelation or the revealing of heavenly things (cf. Christopher Rowland and Christopher Murray-Jones, The Mystery of God). The focus is quite significantly on the end-of-the-world and the events connects with it, such as judgment. However, it is striking that in pages 8-11, where Murphy lists the primary features of "apocalypticism," eschatology and judgment are not listed or at least not high up the list.

Throughout Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World, Murphy provides discussions of apocalypticism in the prophets and the NT books, but sometimes, as I have just hinted, these elements often have little connection to apocalyptic literature...apocalyptic eschatology, yes; apocalyptic literature (and angelic revelation of heavenly mysteries), no. For example, in his discussion of Romans, Murphy provides an extensive discussion of Paul's Adam Christology. I still have not figured out how Adam Christology is relevant to an apocalyptic worldview...unless we are talking about eschatology and some sort of two-age schema, on which the Jewish apocalypses do not have the corner market and which I personally do not consider "apocalyptic."

NT passages such as the angelic announcements to Zechariah, Mary, and Joseph, Paul's ascent into third heaven, the revelation of the Father by the Son in John's Gospel, the Watcher tradition in 2 Peter and Jude (not to mention the citation of 1 Enoch 1:9 in Jude), and the mystery of the gospel hidden for long ages but now revealed are obvious (at least to me) apocalyptic elements in the NT that largely go unmentioned or are given short shrift in Murphy's book. As long as the reader understands that apocalypticism is something broader and that Murphy is primarily using it to refer to apocalyptic eschatology, Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World can be a helpful introduction to the NT's connection to the OT and the thought world of the Second Temple.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Wycliffe Centre for Scripture and Theology Colloquium Spring 2014

The Spring 2014 Scripture and Theology Coloquium at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto will be held May 9, 9am to 4pm. Refreshments and lunch provided.

The topic of this colloquium is Ecclesiastes. There is a great line-up, including Tremper Longman (Westmont College), Daniel Treier (Wheaton), Daniel Driver (my OT colleage at Tyndale), Ray Van Leeuwen (Eastern), and Chris Seitz (Wycliffe).

The colloquia are always an excellent integration of biblical and systematic theology.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Gospel of Jesus' Wife Fragment Latest, via Mark Goodacre

For those interested in the fragment called "The Gospel of Jesus' Wife" and the controversy around it -- forgery or not, see Mark Goodacre's helpful collection of links to recent comments and stories about the Coptic papyrus fragment.

Friday, March 14, 2014

King's College, London is hosting a conference June 20-22 on Jesus and Brian, the Life of Brian that is. The programme and other information can be found here. The mystery guest at dinner on 21 June might be worth attending! Chris Keith at the Jesus blog suggests one of the Pythons.

JBherosquareALTOh, another instance of wishing I was closer to London.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Son of God: The Bible Miniseries Remix

There has been a bit of talk with the release of "Son of God" in the theatres within the last two weeks. I have not seen it, but I have seen the full Bible miniseries from which "Son of God" is derived. Through various reviews, I have learned that material was edited out and deleted scenes added. So it would have been worth my time to view the "new" film as a study in modern Gospel redaction.

Craig Keener's article in CT highlights the removal of the devil from the "Son of God." I suspect this means that the entire temptation narrative was excised. Keener's article is also provides an in-depth look at the role the devil plays in each of the Gospel narratives. So his review is not so much a review as an excellent mini-study on the devil in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

Kenneth R. Morefield in a CT movie review refers to the "Son of God" as "a bit like listening to a pretty good tribute band doing a set list of Top 40 hits you have heard most of your life." He points out how the footage was shot and initially edited for television and thus on the big screen it doesn't have quite the same punch, especially when there are places when you feel a commercial should follow that climax. His review in intriguing in the way he considers, more as the review progresses, media and the event that going to the movies is.

Over at Her.meneutics Margot Starbuck writes a nice piece on how the images of God that we see in film or read in books influences and can challenge our perceptions of who God is. She uses "Son of God" and Diogo Morgado's recent incarnation of Jesus as a springboard for that discussion.

Nothing like another rendition of Jesus to get people talking. 

My previous comments on the Bible miniseries included entries on Angels, Character Portrayal and Juxtapositions, and Weakest and Powerful Moments.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Polytechnic Utiliversity by Reinhard Hütter

In case you missed it, there was an excellent piece on higher education by Reinhard Hütter in the November 2013 issue of First Things entitled "Polytechnic Utiliversity: Putting the Universal Back in University." Hütter offered a thoughtful and challenging look at the ideal set out by John Henry Newman about what a university should be, and  Hütter compared this with the utilitarian, professionally focused institution that the larger universities have become. The second paragraph of the essay gives you the sense of his perspective:

"The ideal of a liberal education that carries its end in its very practice has been supplanted by an efficiency-driven program of knowledge making and a respective training in the communicative, mathematical, and scientific skills necessary for contributing to this knowledge making and applying it to ends dictated by individual and collective desires. The university has morphed into a polytechnicum with a functionalized, propaedeutic liberal arts appendix, a community college on steroids, with undergraduate training subdivided into functionalized pre-med, pre-law, pre-engineering training and the “salad bar” consumer curriculum in the humanities."
Hütter attributes the beginning of the "efficiency-driven program" to Francis Bacon and points to Friedrich Nietschze as anticipating what would happen with a "purely secular utilitarian knowledge production." Newman forms the backbone of Hütter's argument that theology and universal perspectives offer the best way forward in university education. The knowledge of God or of religious truth, according to Newman, is greater than any knowledge available through human reason and natural theology. Newman, as quoted by Hütter, states:
“Admit a God,” he writes, “and you introduce among the subjects of your knowledge, a fact encompassing, closing in upon, absorbing, every other fact conceivable. How can we investigate any part of any order of Knowledge, and stop short of that which enters into every order? All true principles run over with it, all phenomena converge to it; it is truly the First and the Last . . . . You will soon break up into fragments the whole circle of secular knowledge, if you begin the mutilation with divine.”  

And well, that appears to be what the modern university has done.

Disappointingly, Hütter ends the essay with only two possible options: give up and let the "polytechnic utiliversity" and the consumer version of education have its way or to fight for Newman's idea of a university, which Hütter terms an "all-too-unlikely utopia." It is hard to fight for something that is not quite possible or viewed as utopia. Is there no middle way (preferably a middle way on the Newman side of the middle)? Are small liberal arts colleges and universities the hope? The financial pressures of the last few years have made our consumer-minded society harder to sell on the liberal arts, but for the sake of humanity, I hope that the "dystopia" of the utiliversity is not "all-too-likely."

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Surprise! Texting and Web Surfing Affects Learning

Here is the concluding quote from a recent study by Kuznekoff and Titsworth on the use of texting and social media posts by students in the classroom:

". . . students who use their mobile phones during class lectures tend to write down less information, recall less information, and perform worse on a multiple-choice test than those students who abstain from using their mobile phones during class." Cited from,  J. H. Kuznekoff and S. Titsworth,"The Impact of Mobile Phone Usage on Student Learning." Communication Education, 62.3 (2013): 233-252 at 251.

Not any surprise here. This is also why texting and driving are illegal in most places.

Some further illuminating quotes from the study are as follows:

"The practical implication stemming from the tests surrounding hypothesis 2 is that students who were actively texting/posting simply recalled less information than students who were not texting/posting. Specifically, students in the control group scored 36% higher than the group with low rates of texting/posting and 51% higher than the group with high rates of texting/posting" (p. 247).

"From a purely physical standpoint, texting impedes notetaking. Cognitively, as students engage in dialogue with others through texts/posts, they will likely be less capable of adequately processing information, taking notes on that information, and recalling information during assessment opportunities" (p. 247).

"Compared to those students who do not text/post, when students engage in these behaviors they will potentially record 38% fewer details in their notes, score 51% lower on free-recall tests, and 20% lower on multiple-choice texts" (p. 248).

"Because students were able to recall some aspects of the details, a lack of attention cannot be the only explanation--texting/posting must also impact how students process information after the information has passed through their attention filters" (p. 249).

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Importance of Reading and the Joy of Reading Wodehouse

Ran across this post on the value of recreational reading as important and a valuable human activity. There is some wonderful discussion of P.G. Wodehouse, one of my favorite authors, as an example of excellent recreational reading. The post and Wodehouse are worth some time of recreational reading.