[Background: Sisyphus was the mythical king of Corinth. His punishment in Hades was to eternally push a heavy rock up a hill, only to have it roll back down again at the end of the day. He did it all over again the next day. Forever.]
I was talking with a colleague earlier today. I was lamenting that I saw a new Bart Ehrman book (this one on the Gospel of Judas); he said, "Yeah, I'll probably end up reading it." I asked why. He said that he browses the "New Age" style aisles at the local Barnes & Noble to see what sorts of things the masses are reading and then he reads them so he knows what's up and how to respond.
After hearing this, I responded somewhat cynically, "That seems like a Sisyphean task".
Then I immediately thought, "Hey, that's a good blog post!"
So with all that lead-in: What are the Sisyphean tasks of Biblical Studies? What do you find yourself doomed to eternally repeat in your work? If you're a teacher, are there things that you find yourself returning to over and over again that students don't seem to grasp? If you write, are there things you continually return to to explain over and over?
Additionally, What are the Herculean tasks of Biblical Studies? There have got to be some big things left to do that, realistically, only certain people (or perhaps groups) can do. What are they? And who, in your estimation, is poised to take them on?
I'm still thinking through these things, wondering what I'll come up with in answer to these questions. But I wanted to ask the questions of a larger audience. Anyone out there have any ideas? Feel free to use the comments here, or respond on your own blog. If you email me a link, or if I come across your response, I'll post links here.
Update (2006-08-28): A few responses, though I'd hoped for more. Oh well. Check out:
Also, ricoblog reader Clint Yale emails the following Herculean task:
What about the complete digitizing of all extant manuscripts and then heir conversion into text format? The completion of the UNICODE haracter sets so that they reflect all the diacritics and maverick markings that occur in the Biblical manuscripts.
I can think of three names: Bill Warren, Daniel Wallace and David Parker as heads of the whole process. These three generals with the help of hundreds if not thousands of troops in the field could accomplish this. It would be more profitable to use our computers for this goal then to have them set up to be coordinated in search of ET’s trying to communicate with us. This would take innovation, cooperation, perserverance, money, time and a whole lot of coordination.
There exists in raw form databases of the texts that could be used as the basis for the creation of the electronic editions of manuscripts that need to be converted to electronic format.