# Sunday, March 01, 2009

Nijay points to a forthcoming book called Paul's Parallels: An Echoes Synopsis, to be published by Continuum (T&T Clark). Amazon lists it under a slightly different title (Pauline and Pseudo-Pauline Parallels, Echoes, and Musings (amazon.com)), the Continuum site says April 2009. It sounds awesome:

PaulsParallelsPaul's Parallels is the first and only New Testament resource text in tables format presenting Paul's verses in column one, next to a row of parallels, echoes, or like-minded quotes from Old and New Testament resources as well as other extant biblical materials. The passages are cited in full.

This master of the epistolary writings, gives a verse by verse demonstration of Paul's thoughts, his ethic, and his actions that were picked-up by later Christian writers, copied by pseudo-Pauline admirers. It delineates some as distinctively Christian while others remained only in Paul's writing.

In addition, Luke's history about Paul in Acts is presented using the same format so the reader can easily cross-reference each epistle to its chronological setting. Documenting the history of Paul’s ministry in the same text allows the reader to instantly turn to the time and place in which Paul wrote that particular message. While investigating serious textual, literary, genre, and other theological characteristics, the reader has the opportunity of simultaneously locating Acts in its historical context.

But there's a catch: It is priced at $225.00! (No, the '2' on my keyboard didn't stick, that $225.00 is correct; Amazon provides some savings with a price-as-of-this-post of $163.87). I can safely say that I will never get this book, unless someone with unlimited income and kindness sends it my way, or I happen upon a really cheap used copy somewhere. I realize these are basically books targeted to libraries with budgets (though that customer base is surely shrinking) and not single-person users, for the most part. I also realize these things can be spendy to produce, but also have limited audiences. But cryin' in the night, that's spendy! Of course, if someone at Continuum/T&T Clark would like to send a review copy my way, I'd be interested. (Hey, had to try!)


Update (2009-03-01): I saw a comment from Michael Bird on Nijay's post referring to a similar book by Walter Wilson to be released soon. A search on Amazon informs me the title is Pauline Parallels: A Comprehensive Guide (amazon.com), published by Westminster/John Knox. This sounds relatively similar to the above book, but is priced at $32.97! And Amazon has a release of Jan 27, 2009, so that means it is available for purchase. I'd love to see a smackdown between the two titles, particularly to see if the one book is really $200 better than the other. Again, I'd consider doing the smack-down if the publishers can get copies of the books my way.

Also, please don't confuse either of these books with the similarly-named Pauline Parallels (amazon.com) by Fred O. Francis and J. Paul Sampley. That book is published by Fortress Press and puts the Pauline epistles (sans the Pastorals, sadly) in topical synopsis. It's a handy book, and it is also affordable: the new book price is $21.78; used copies from about $13 (as of this posting, anyway)! I've found Francis & Sampley's work useful. It's a great place to turn when examining one Pauline passage to see if there may be other similar Pauline passages worthy of examination.

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Post Author: rico
Sunday, March 01, 2009 8:03:10 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, March 14, 2008

[NB: This post is a bit of a rant, and doesn't really come to an end or conclusion. It's just me thinking by writing, which is one of the most profitable ways I know to work my thoughts out. So, read on. But don't think I'm making conclusions or judgements; my thoughts could completely change. In other words, this is fluid, not static. RWB]

Here are some things about αλλα that I've noticed as I've worked through the 638 NT instances (a few times).

When considering an instance of αλλα, know that most of the time (approx. 85% of the time in the NT), a relationship with a negator of some sort is involved.

Instead of just making the oh-to-common mental note associating αλλα with the English gloss "but" and moving on, look around for the negative to determine what two things are in relationship with each other via αλλα.

Here's what I'm presently calling the "αλλα Funnel":

1: Look for a negator. This will be some form of ου or μη, most likely; or some other word like ουδεις, μηδεις, ουκετι, μηκετι, etc.) Again, around 85% of NT instances of αλλα involve a negator. You need to find it. Note the very small proportion of items that have negators on both sides of the αλλα (3 instances; e.g. 1Co 4.4).

2: First, look up (to the left). Over 75% of αλλα in NT have the negator preceding.

3: Still looking? Okay, look down (to the right). About 10% of αλλα in the NT have a negator following. In this case, the negator is usually ου or ουκ, and it usually follows the αλλα directly.

4: Still looking? Well, there are 15% or so instances of αλλα in the NT that do not seem to involve a negator. This is the minority case, so look again (up and down) to be sure.

5: Still looking? Then stop looking and assume there is no negator. At this point, you need to isolate the two items in relationship with each other through the αλλα. This is usually brain-dead easy; sometimes, though, it is a pain (Gal 4.8-9? 1Co 15.35?). Note that there are some instances where αλλα doesn't seem to be responding to an explicit statement. My working hypothesis at present is that αλλα must be a response (contrast, correction, clarification, expansion, what-have-you) to something; and when nothing is explicit the response must be to something implicit in the context. Examine the context and try to figure it out if the connection isn't readily apparent.

Now you're at the bottom of the funnel. The easy part is done, the hard work begins.

αλλα is typically described as a "strong adversative" and, to define "strong", most grammars say it is "stronger than δε". That isn't too helpful. That's like saying "bold" is stronger than "confident". So read the whole context of the statement (or statements) in question that uses αλλα as a hinge to compare. Read the larger context. What is happening with the two phrases/clauses that αλλα stands between? What is the point of the comparison of those two items? Is it replacement/correction? Is it enhancement or expansion? Don't cop out and just say it means "but"; get your mind out of the word-level jumble and think about the relationship between the phrases/clauses and what the point of the author could be in placing these items in juxtaposition with each other, using αλλα as a guide to that author's intent. He's left clues with αλλα, use (or non-use) of negators, and the items he's comparing.

On Lexicons and αλλα

This could actually be a whole additional post, but it won't be. In short, I've read most lexicon definitions of αλλα, and they are all uniformly unhelpful. They seem to jump from lexicography to syntax quickly, sorting "senses" by differing syntactic contexts that αλλα appears in. Cataloguing of instances by syntactic context does not make a helpful lexicon article.

I'm largely convinced that one of the reasons that αλλα is typically classed as an "adversative" is simply because in most of its instances it stands between two clauses/phrases, one negative and one non-negative. In this case, it is the clauses/phrases that are adversary, not αλλα. Then, if no negator is present, αλλα is said to be, perhaps, correlative or contrastive or continuative something like that.

[[This brings up a side rant: Morphologies of the Greek New Testament that provide senses/classifications to conjunctions (e.g. GRAMCORD, "conjunction, coordinating, adversative") are also relatively unhelpful if you're really interested in what the conjunction is up to. Why do I say this? Get yourself a few different morphologies that do this, and you'll see that everyone has different ideas in this area. Compare GRAMCORD to Friberg's morphology. You'll see that many do seem to be the same on first glance, but that's because most morphologies classify most instances of αλλα the same exact way. GRAMCORD has 97.6% of αλλα classified as "conjunction, coordinating, adversative"; Friberg has more variation with 86.5% as "conjunction, superordinating (hyperordinating)". (Full disclosure: The Logos Morphology has even more variation, but it also has more categories) Am I saying they should all be consistent? No; I don't subscribe to a 'concordant' method of morphological classification. I'm just saying there is a lot of variation so it brings into question the classification schemes themselves.]]

So what does αλλα do? What does it indicate? I'm still working on that.

My hope is to have some flash of insight and arrive at a grand unification theory. But I think a large part of the problem is that traditional methodology seems bound to try to answer the question, "how do I translate it?" (hence all sorts of categories and memorization of short glosses) when, in order to actually understand what the author is communicating, we really should be asking the question, "what does it mean?" or, perhaps, "how does it all go together?".

In the context of examining a discourse to better understand "what does it mean?", we need to examine how different parts of the discourse relate to each other. One way that discourse parts relate to each other is though use of conjunctions. So when the author/writer uses αλλα with two items in juxtaposition to each other, what is that author communicating? Are there semantic or grammatical connections between the two juxtaposed items and the rest of the discourse?

My guess is that that, chances are, αλλα means the same thing no matter what context it appears in. Instead, it's how the juxtaposed items relate to each other through αλλα that variation in understanding arises.

Update (2008-03-16): Responding to a few of the comments, I can only emphasize the word 'rant' in regards to αλλα and morphologies and lexicography/lexicons (not to mention grammars). If you compare the labelling of senses/types of αλλα across morphologies, you'll soon find that opinions differ, particularly as you get outside of the easy-to-understand instances (usually in some sort of negative context) and into the 'long tail' of instances. And that's fine; my rant is more my response to the difficulty of the problem than complete dissatisfaction with existing lexicons/morphologies. I guess my issue with the αλλα article in BDAG (and elsewhere) is that by their structure and breakdown they seem more geared toward telling me what to think about specific instances of αλλα than in sewing all that discussion up at the end and giving some thoughts on αλλα in general. It's more of a catalogue of instances than a discussion of the word.

To respond specifically to Mike about BDAG: I suppose one thing I'd like to see in BDAG is after the separation of discussion of αλλα in particular contexts, some discussion of how even in these differing contexts αλλα is functioning similarly. I realize the first sentence of the definition speaks of this somewhat, but something tying the whole thing in general would be nice.

To respond to Ken about adversative as a label: I don't have such a list, and I don't really have a problem with 'adversative' as a word to describe how αλλα functions. I do think that αλλα can be 'adversative' when no negator is present in either clause/phrase of the structure in question. What gives me pause would be to say of any instance of αλλα that it is an 'adversative αλλα'. No, it's αλλα. The context may be adversative, and αλλα is likely the hinge joining two adversarial or contradictory things; but that doesn't mean that αλλα is adversative. Anyway, that's my own issue with labelling things that I need to get over; not necessarily an issue with morphological classifications.

Post Author: rico
Friday, March 14, 2008 7:00:50 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, August 08, 2007

I'm frustrated.

A few years back I noticed that Eerdmans was going to publish James Royse's monumental dissertation, Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri — consistentely and frequently cited in footnotes in just about every NT text-critical tome I've read or looked at in the past three years. "Woo Hoo!", I thought. It would be available and might even be less that $100, which means I could buy it at SBL at a reasonable price!

Yesterday, I read the Evangelical Textual Criticism blog post on Brill's NTTSD series, which notes:

For those of you who have waited on James R. Royse's study of Scribal Habits in Early Greek New Testament Papyri finally to be published (the orginal dissertation on which it is based dates from 1981) will be pleased to hear that it is due this autumn (according to Brill's representative whom I met in Vienna). According to the gossip at the SBL in Vienna the delay of Royse's book on the part of the former publisher Eerdman's caused frustration for both the author Royse and the SD editor Epp and led the latter to turn to Brill which has now resulted in this permanent solution.

Well, I'm glad the book is getting published. But Brill wants $369.00 for it! (amazon.com) That means it is destined to only be purchased by university libraries; that it will suck hard-to-come-by money from other book purchases at said libraries, and it will be destined to sit in the office of some NT prof (or a departmental library) away from the main stacks where folks could actually use the durn thing.

What to do?

Don't buy the book. Go to the UMI dissertation express. Search for "Royse, James". It looks like you can get a copy of the dissertation for under 50 bucks, at least in the US. The 751 page dissertation was submitted in 1981, and the text has surely been sharpened in the past 26 years ... but hey, you'll actually be able to read and refer to it on your terms.

Even if Brill releases a paperback, who knows what the price will be. If you've considered the book before because, like me, you've seen it cited in footnotes and have drooled over it, then consider getting the dissertation via UMI instead of spending upwards of $400 with Brill.

Update (2007-08-09): Responding to the comments, particularly to Mike. I know the book would be expensive, but $370 is crazy. Are libraries really going to drop $370 on one title, and that not a substantive reference title? I am very glad Brill is publishing the title. My hope is that a few years down the road, after the libraries pay off the book's cost, it'll be put out in paperback, perhaps even by the SBL, and it will be do-able price-wise. I understand the economics of publishing and know there are costs for publishers to account for -- they don't grow money on trees. My post was a bit of a rant (hence the "rant" category), but also to point out that the primary substance of Royse's book, his dissertation, is available at a much more reasonable price for those who are really interested in the work but don't have a good library close (or who, like me, might be able to get it at a library but are such zealous bibliophiles they don't like to let go of books they've read, particularly if they could be useful in future studies). Anyway, c'est la vie, Scribal Habits. If I deem my text-critical reading needs to require Royse before a paperback is available, I'll head to UMI to get the dissertation.

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Post Author: rico
Wednesday, August 08, 2007 10:27:30 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, June 21, 2007

Stopped for a coffee at Starbucks (grande drip, no cream, no sugar) on the way into the office. On the cup was "The Way I See It #242".

Children are born with such a sense of fairness that they will accept no less than equal treatment for all. I know — I have three. I hope that as they grow, they keep that sense of justice and learn to challenge the old adage "life's not fair." It should be, in so far as we have control of it. — Beth Vanden Hoek, Starbucks ass't mgr, St. Louis, MO

Now, pardon me as a three-week-new father, but children are not "born with such a sense of fairness that they will accept no less than equal treatment for all". Ella (my sweet daughter) has one concern: herself. When she's hungry, she wants to eat, and it doesn't matter if it is two in the afternoon or three in the morning: She cries, wakes up Mom & Dad, and gets fed. She doesn't stop and think it might be more "fair" for her to wait a while for a more convienent time for Mom & Dad to awaken. Same for wet diapers. Or if she just wants to be held.

Apologies to Beth, but children aren't born with an innate sense of fairness and sharing. Kudos to Beth if that's the way her kids have been raised such that they act that way, it reflects well on her. But that is not innate, in-born behavior.

(I'll stop ranting soon, please bear with me)

Post Author: rico
Thursday, June 21, 2007 9:30:41 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Have you actually looked at all the junk on an Amazon.com book page recently?

It is seriously crowded with a bunch of junk that means nothing. Taking a book from the top of my wishlist, Bible Manuscripts: 1400 Years of Scribes and Scripture (amazon.com), I see far too much junk on the book's page at Amazon.

There are sections on this page for:

  • Better Together: where Amazon tries to sell you a related title too. OK, this is fine (though note, the price is simple addition of both books, it isn't discounted for buying both!)
  • Customers who bought this item also bought: OK, I can see this too. Maybe.
  • Editorial Reviews: Yep, this is fine.
  • Product Details: Yep, this is fine too — though I'd like it further up the page, like right after the price/picture/etc.

Next comes the cruft:

  • Help others find this item: What? Why is this here?
  • Tag this product: Again ... what the ?!
  • Are you the publisher or author? Learn how Amazon can help you make this book an eBook: This is nothing but spam. I wonder how often this actually gets a bite ... and then how often the resultant 'eBook' (blast, I hate that camel-casing stuff!) is actually purchased. I know it isn't worth my while. How many people does this annoy, on every page?!
  • Rate this item to improve your recommendations: Maybe I can see this ... but how much sewage does one wade through to get here?
  • Customer Discussions: How many books (besides Harry Potter) actually have discussions? Again, this is cruft. I'm buying books, not socializing with nameless, faceless know-it-alls.
  • Your Recently Viewed Items: Too far down the page to be worthwhile.
  • Look for similar items by category: Helpful ... but it should be much higher up the page.
  • Look for similar items by subject: Hmmmmmm ... what, according to Amazon.com, is the difference between a 'category' and a 'subject' ? This is too much stuff.
  • After this come a bunch of ads, followed by a feedback link.
  • Then, at the bottom of the page ... a Your Recent History page. Didn't they just tell me my Recently Viewed Items a few items ago? So why is this here?
  • After that come the Sponsored Links. Wow, glad those are there.

Now I just might be missing it, but I sure would like to customize my Amazon.com viewing experience so that most of that craptastic crud is never seen, and I can just see information about the book I'm interested in purchasing.

Because my sample page is a book yet to be published, it doesn't have the "Inside This Book" block. So check out The Writings of the Apostolic Fathers (amazon.com) to see an example. This is where textual ephemera like 'statistically improbable phrases' and 'captialized phrases' along with a concordance and text statistics are given. OK, so this is cool and at least somewhat relevant (it is info about the book I'm browsing) so I can let this one lie.

Also — did anyone else notice the inconsistent headline casing for page section titles? Sometimes they're all-capped ("Your Recently Viewed Items") and sometimes not ("Look for similar items by category"). What's that all about? Is there no house style for these sorts of things?

Ok, rant over. But I would love it if Amazon would trim the cruft off of their book pages.

These pages need some serious pruning.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, June 20, 2007 5:14:07 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Thursday, May 24, 2007

Time for a rant.

A narrowly-focused email digest that I receive (which shall remain nameless, though it isn't B-Greek) had -- as it frequently does -- mention of a seminar/course/workshop having loosely to do with the email group's primary topic. After long and tedious explanation of the course/workshop, the final paragraph noted (emphasis is mine):

These workshop (sic) have something to offer everybody. They are not strictly designed for computer types. The only prerequisites are an open mind and the desire to learn.

It sounds so nice, so pleasing, so enlightened and so innocuous. But it makes me chafe everytime I read it or something similar. One shouldn't have to list "an open mind" as a prerequiste, as if disagreeing or holding an alternate view is a sign of a closed mind. It isn't. Someone can hold an opposite opinion or position and it isn't a sign of a closed mind. And, someone may hold the same opinion and that isn't necessarily a sign of an open mind.

It's all meaningless blather and has nothing to do with anything. These sorts of "prerequisites" are useless, throwaway, make-the-author-feel-enlightened statements. If the seminar/workshop is interesting, then go, by all means. But attendence has nothing at all to do with an open mind or a closed mind. (Is my mind then closed when I'm done with the workshop?)

And -- here's a news flash for the description writer -- if someone is interested enough to do the travel and pony up the dinero to actually go to such a workshop (this one ranges from 749-2500 Euro ... and the course is in the Netherlands!) well ... that's a pretty good indication of a desire to learn (or the degree to which one is being compelled to learn).

So, my advice: be wary of anything that lists "an open mind" as a prerequisite.

OK, I'm done ranting now.

Post Author: rico
Thursday, May 24, 2007 1:55:47 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, March 12, 2007

So there I was last week Thursday, minding my own business, driving in my car listening to the radio. A commercial was on for some sort of local home supply place (think fixtures). The advertisment spoke of the company's "captivating showroom", conveying that it was spacious, beautiful, and attention-getting.

I have no idea why my mind works like this. I really don't. But the first thing I thought of was "What would happen if we did a 'word study' on the English word captivating using techniques commonly used in so-called 'Greek Word Studies'?" That is, let's assume we don't know English but we want to come to understand what this word "captivating" means.

First, we'd likely attempt to look up the root word. We'd probably guess 'captive' was the root word. So here it is from Merriam-Webster: captive:

Etymology: Middle English, from Latin captivus, from captus, past participle of capere
1 a : taken and held as or as if a prisoner of war b (1) : kept within bounds : CONFINED (2) : of or relating to captive animals <captive breeding>
2 : held under control of another but having the appearance of independence; especially : owned or controlled by another concern and operated for its needs rather than for an open market <a captive mine>
3 : being such involuntarily because of a situation that makes free choice or departure difficult <the airline passengers were a captive audience>
- captive noun

There are three senses listed; but since this is a 'word study' we probably wouldn't worry about any particular sense, we would likely establish the wideness of the meaning of the word, noting that it has to do with being held involuntarily or outside of our own control -- to be prisoner against our will.

Then we'd have to import that 'root' meaning back into the original context, and note that the showroom in question must keep us there against our will. It sucks us in against all of our better judgment and holds us for an indeterminate period, unwillingly, and we are unable to escape from it's enclosing grasp.

Now, to be fair, "captivating" has some sense of being held. But "captivating" has to do with being held by astoundment, wonder and awe; not of being held forcibly like a prisoner. We know that because we speak the language. But if we didn't, then we wouldn't know that — we'd only have posited that 'captive' is the root on which the word is based. If we do a 'word study' to determine the 'original meaning', we could end up far afield from where we started.

And that, in a nutshell, is the main problem with word studies. If one is intending to learn more about the scope of meaning (semantic range) of a term, that's fine. But importing that whole range back into one specific instance and its context is wrong.

That's why word studies, when attempting to understand a particular instance of a word in a particular context, need to start with that context. One can't just find some other instance of the word, one needs to locate instances of the word in similar contexts. The immediate context must also be examined to see if there are contextual cues for determining the meaning of the word itself.

To go back to our example, if the ad copy for the 'captivating showroom' further noted things like "spacious displays", "gorgeous fixtures" and "beautiful floor models" then we might have a better idea of what we'd be 'captivated' by — all without looking up anything, root form or otherwise.

So, to sum up:

  • Semantic range may include a specific instance's meaning, but by no means is equivalent with a specific instance's meaning.
  • Context is very important.
  • "Word Studies" that focus on meaning of root words can be misleading.

Please note that I have no problem with word studies per se; I'm even working through the Pastoral Epistles looking at words in context to determine specific usage. I do, however, have problems when they're done sloppily.

(OK, I'm off of my soapbox now)

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Post Author: rico
Monday, March 12, 2007 3:48:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, December 15, 2006

Edward Cook (Ralph the Sacred River) posts a rant about atheists, liberals and "orthodox folks". He catches sentiment that I feel from time to time too. The upshot seems to be about defending orthodoxy and Christian faith, and how some quarters seem to do a lot of defending, and others do a lot of permitting.

I'm reminded of a recent review (h/t: Bob and Eli) of Richard Dawkins' new book, The God Delusion, posted by the London Review of Books. The author of the review is Terry Eagleton. And if you wanted to read someone's literary smack-down of Dawkins' tripe, then you should read the review. Here's the opening sentence — and it gets better from there:

Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology.

As you read, you'll realize Eagleton likely lies on the 'liberal' side of Cook's dichotomy.

Post Author: rico
Friday, December 15, 2006 10:41:13 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Here's a thought on this somewhat persistent meme —

If you're presenting a paper at a conference, why not make that paper available on your web site after the conference? Or have a general policy of supplying the paper (with whatever caveats you want to state) to those who request it?

There were several papers I didn't get to last year. "No big deal", thought I. "I'll just email 'em and ask for a copy."

Well ... email I did. And I was surprised at the amount of times I was told (however nicely) to simply "stick it". I was only able to get one paper forwarded to me post-conference. I requested, as I recall, at least six. Not a good success rate.

(FWIW, my papers from 2005 ETS and SBL are available. The 2006 papers will be available too.)

Update (2006-11-08): Jim West (Dr. Jim West) writes:

On the other hand, I can't recall having requested a paper and it being denied. True, I've only asked for a handfull. A paper really has to be quite striking for me to want to read it again after hearing it. But my experience of requesting papers has been quite positive.

True. I'm actually talking about papers I wasn't able to attend, so I have no idea if they were worth requesting or not. Perhaps they weren't, and I should just filter them as such.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, November 08, 2006 9:27:50 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Friday, September 01, 2006

As I gather data to form/bolster/destroy opinions and hypotheses for the paper I'll present at the SBL in November, I'm continually reminded of a few different things.

First, one we all know (or should know): Correlation does not prove causation. This is patently obvious if you stop to think about it. In terms of style and authorship studies in the Greek New Testament, this may be reflected with thoughts like "Because things are similar it doesn't mean they have the same source." Thus some commentators have posited that even though Colossians and Ephesians are similar, they're different enough that they likely don't have the same source, or that one is an edited version of the other.*

Second, one we all easily forget (shame on me too): Lack of correlation does not prove disunion. That is, if I've shown that two things are not correlated as highly as other things all I've really done is show that they're different in some way. The reasons for difference, at least as regards authorship of NT epistles, cannot automatically be assumed to evidence itself in different authorship.  P.N. Harrison,** in my opinion, fell prey to this one because his work only verified that the degree of infrequent words in the Pastorals was higher than in other Paulines.*** He posited (but I don't think he proved) that differences in vocab meant different authorship. Since he, to his mind, proved a difference in vocabulary the difference in authorship came with the package. But he didn't, really. He only proved that the Pastorals, as a group, have a higher percentage of infrequent words ("Pastoral hapaxes", in Harrison-speak). The lack of correlation (infrequent words) does not automatically lead to disunion (different authors for the Pastorals).

Because of all of this, I feel a bit doomed. I'm gathering data on how words are modified in the Pauline epistles and doing a bunch of statistical mumbo-jumbo (that I actually understand, mind you!) to see how things correlate and compare.

But no matter what, at the end of the day, all that can absolutely be said is that particular feature usage between epistles is similar or different. Exploring the reasons for similarity and difference is, of course, where the rubber meets the road. That is the art of scholarship/academia. And that's where I end up needing to remember the above two provisos.

And then, after all of that, I remember that the Biblical Greek Language and Linguistics session I'm presenting in allows 10 minutes for presentation, with an informal half-hour follow-up for Q&A. And I'll barely be able to get through the stats in 10 minutes, let alone think about what statistical similarites and differences I find might mean.

* For the record, I think that's a horrible argument, which is why my blithe statement of the argument is biased and, likely, inaccurate. But why couldn't Paul have cribbed his own work? Chances are he kept copies of his letters ...

** Harrison, P.N. The Problem of the Pastoral Epistles. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1921.

*** Actually, Harrison's work had other methodological problems, but I'll grant that the Pastorals have more infrequently-occuring words than other books in the NT corpus where the NT itself provides the word frequency measure. See O'Donnell's Corpus Linguistics and the Greek of the New Testament for further discussion on Harrison's methodology.

Post Author: rico
Friday, September 01, 2006 4:57:38 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, July 10, 2006

As my beloved fiancé Amy was otherwise occupied working on some issues for our upcoming wedding (!), I spent Sunday afternoon with my good friend Roberto. As usual, we discussed the Pastoral Epistles. Roberto just can't understand my view of the authorship of the Pastorals and begged me to give him a platform by which to espouse his views.

I've always had as soft spot for Roberto, and he caught me in a moment of weakness. I told him to go home and send his missive to me in an email, and I'd make sure to post it here. I regret that now; Roberto can sometimes lack tact and precision in his presentation. But, alas, I am a man of my word, so here is Roberto's diatribe ... er, uh, cogently and well-thought-out position to provide some "balance" on the issue of authorship and style of the Pastoral Epistles.

Rico, first thanks for giving me this platform to reach the two people who regularly read your blog-thingie, whatever it is. I'm sure they'll find this refreshing from your normal, long-winded, over-wordy drivel.

Let's get right into it, shall we? Your position on the authorship of the Pastorals (you attribute them to Paul) is flat-out wrong. And while you camp out in areas of stylometry and syntax because you find it interesting, you're missing the forest for the trees. Open your eyes and see the forest.

First, you're one to always stress the internal evidence. By this, let's be frank: You mean that the epistles themselves say that Paul was their author. And there you stop, saying it's good enough for you. But have you ever read the Pastorals in comparison with the undisputed Paulines? Let me sum it up in four words: It's the ecclesiology, stupid! Can't you get it through your thick skull that the ecclesiology "Paul" describes in the Pastorals is radically different than that alluded to in the undisputed Paulines? The Pastorals have it so much more formal ... so much more, how shall I put it ... Ignatian. Yeah, that's the word. I mean c'mon, Rico, you read the Fathers. Can't you see that the ecclesiology described in the Pastorals — even in Ephesus, the city where "Timothy" is supposed to be ministering in 1 & 2 Timothy — is much more reflective of that described by Ignatius (who wrote in the early 100's ... at least 35 years after Paul's death)?

Second, let's look at this in terms of other canonical books, particularly the Acts of the Apostles. Where, pray tell, do the Pastorals fit in the scope of the history presented in the Acts? There is absolutely no room for them. You (the one who says we need to stick to "internal evidence"?) need to jump through hoops to posit more missionary journeys and prison stays for Paul in order to make room for the composition of the Pastoral Epistles. How is that sticking to the text? You're making it up and you know it.

Third, you blather on about how unique vocabulary doesn't really show anything in regards to authorship. Again, this is a forest and trees issue. It is circumstantial evidence that only serves to reinforce the primary reasons for thinking the Pastorals are non-Pauline. Have you read the Pastorals? And the undisputed Paulines? I mean, at least Acts sounds like Luke when you read it. The Pastorals are all whacked. Some concepts are the same, but the underlying language has changed. Other ideas and concepts not mentioned in the undisputed Paulines are prominent in the Pastorals, and vice-versa. I mean, please, just look into the usage of the following words in the undisputed and deutero-Paulines and compare them with the Pastorals, and report back to me when you've seen the light:

  • εὐαγγελίζω/εὐαγγέλιον: Over 100 times in Paul & Pastorals, but only five times in Pastorals. Wasn't "Paul" preaching the gospel?
  • εὐχαριστέω: Paul "has thanks" for most everyone he writes to. But why does he write it differently in the Pastorals (e.g. 1Ti 1.12)? Hmmmm? Hint: The answer doesn't have to do with Luke as amanuensis ...
  • ἐχουσία: So, 37 times in Paul & Pastorals, but only once in the Pastorals — and that in Titus? I mean, c'mon.
  • ἐκκλησία: This is a vital concept in the Pastorals, since they're all about church order, right? So why is the word so relatively infrequent in the Pastorals? Four times in the Pastorals, but 99 times in the undisputed and deutero-Paulines. Really? If "Paul" were writing about the church, wouldn't "Paul" be using the word a little more frequently?
  • μυστήριον: Paul uses this concept a lot too. But only four times in the Pastorals (36 times in "Paulines"), and those four are only in First Timothy?
  • νόμος: Anyone who's read Romans knows Paul talks about the law. Frequently. Yet the Pastorals only have the word twice (and those within one verse of each other, 1Ti 1.8-9?) out of the 137 times they occur in Paul and the Pastorals? Riiiiiight.
  • παρουσία: You mean, "Paul" doesn't mention the return of Christ; or at least not using the same terminology he has elsewhere (e.g. 1 Thess?) And this is supposed to be Paul?
  • περιτομή: Only once in the Pastorals, and then only in reference to "Paul" himself? In a letter to, of all people, Timothy? Seems weird to me, especially when it happens frequently (30+ times) in the undisputed and deutero-Paulines. Are you sure this is the same Paul?

I'll spare you other instances, but know that I could go on. (Remember, you've got me reading that paper you're writing for the SBL this November — the one that if you're lucky they'll just laugh you out of the place?) Vocabulary is not the primary reason for thinking Paul didn't write the Pastorals, but it is secondary and somewhat confirming of other problems in dealing with the authorship of the Pastorals.

Finally, let's just look at the whole picture. The setting of the Pastorals, according to their own internal evidence, just doesn't fit what we know about Paul's journeys from Acts and from his other epistles. The content of the Pastorals doesn't jive with what we read from Paul in his other epistles either. The big tip-off is the issue of ecclesiology, it is radically different than anything else we know in Paul or the rest of the NT for that matter. But it fits incredibly well in the early second century (I'll even grant late first century, 80s or 90s ... well after Paul's death). Plug in vocabulary differences and other stylistic discrepancies (look, even your beloved Anthony Kenny's A Stylometric Study of the New Testament finds that Titus is a statistical outlier in the "Pauline" corpus) and if your eyes are open, and your presuppositions laid aside, you'll have to admit that there is a strong case Paul didn't write the Pastorals. Some Pauline ideas, that is to be sure. But the Paul of Romans and First Thessalonians? I don't think so. And if you look at it honestly, you won't think so either.

Rico, thanks again for posting this. I know you don't want to, but it's for your own good. Really. Now swallow the pill and get on with life, my friend. We'll do lunch soon and you can tell me how all your little blog-friends (both of 'em!) reacted to my wisdom.

Blessings, Roberto.

Well, there you go. Now you know what Roberto thinks. I was hoping he'd get into canon lists and text-critical issues, but c'est la vie. Maybe next time!

Post Author: rico
Monday, July 10, 2006 11:28:31 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, April 17, 2006

Some may be familiar with American TV from the 1970-1980's. If you are, then you're familiar with the show called "Happy Days".

You may remember the episode when the Cunninghams (and Fonzie, and Ralph, and Potsie) were on holiday at the beach. Fonzie had a fear of water. Through a set of hard-to-believe circumstances, he is challenged to water-ski jump over a shark cage. Ever the man, he dons his leather jacket, hops on water skis, and jumps the shark to save his cool-ness.

Many connoisseurs of late 70s/early 80s TV pin this exact episode as the moment where the TV show "Happy Days" went from acceptable to bothersome. And thus the phrase "Jump the Shark" has meant similar things to me.

Here, today, it is my opinion that Bart Ehrman has "jumped the shark".

I just read his essay in the Gospel of Judas, pp. 77-120 over my lunch hour. (The essay isn't that long, the typography of the whole book is super-padded in an effort to get close to 200 pages). And while overall there is good, solid information in the essay, there are flashes where one can only say, "Why, Bart? Why?!". One of the most egregious is below.

We aren't sure when this gospel was written. The copy in our possession appears to date from the end of the third century—around 280 or so (250 years after Jesus' death). But that doesn't tell us when the book was originally composed. In the case of the Gospel of Mark, for example, we don't have any surviving copies until after the third century, but Mark, most likely the first of the canonical gospels to be written, was almost certainly composed by 65 or 70. The earlier copies have all been lost, worn out, destroyed. So too with the earlier copies of the Gospel of Judas. (Ehrman, p. 81)

Holy non-sequitur, Batman! One leaves the paragraph thinking that it's possible Judas was written at the same time Ehrman postulates for Mark—65 or 70. He leaves the comparison to Mark hanging, the last sentence of the paragraph seemingly implying (though not really) that Judas is similar. A careless reader could easily connect the lingering dots and think, "well ... if that happened with Mark, why not Judas?" 

Ehrman's following paragraph mentions that a reference to Judas (a reference, not a citation) is found in Irenaeus, which dates to around 180. This brings us closer to the likely situation. But this is Ehrman's only allusion as to date of original composition of the Judas we have until 10 pages later, pp. 91: "... most will probably date [Judas] to 140-160 or so". And it is less than clear (particularly to the careless reader) leaving the Mark-Judas comparison dangling.

My other primary reason for thinking the shark has been jumped is with the insistent lumping of orthodox Christianity ("orthodox" in a doctrinal sense [e.g. in alignment with the Apostles Creed and other ecumenical creeds]) with gnostic spiritualities. I half get the sense that if I worship at the church of Dan Brown I can still consider myself Christian. It seems as if Dr. Ehrman has the opinion that if one's religious sensibilities have anything to do with Christ in any way, then that one can be called a Christian.

But Dr. Erhman's essay itself distinguishes the problem with referring to gnostics as Christian: in general, gnostics deny that Jesus was fully God and fully man. They'd cringe at the Symbol of Chalcedon. We embrace it. Also, gnostic spirituality, as Dr. Ehrman describes it (and I think he's right) focuses on seeking salvation (freedom from material world and transference into a completely spiritual being) for one's self and achieving it by one's self. Christianity is most definitely not about achieving salvation on one's own terms. It is about the worship and glorification of God who provides salvation for us in the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ.

Lumping this all together under a label of "Christian" is not helpful to the discussion. Adding in the concept of competing "Christianities" with winners and losers (Irenaeus == 'winner'; Gospel of Judas/Gnostics == 'loser') where the winners write history and therefore define proper doctrine is a distraction.

Again, to be fair, Ehrman doesn't come out and say this straight up. But it is alluded to throughout. Language of "winners" and "losers" (or inclusion and exclusion) in canonicity battles is frequent—but Gospel of Judas doesn't appear on any canon lists we know of, does it? So how could it have been "excluded"? This style of allusion happens, for instance, on p. 116:

The New Testament consists of twenty-seven books that the victorious orthodox party accepted as sacred texts conveying God's word to his people (Ehrman, 116).

And this sort of thing is just my problem with this particular essay. Most of the essay is excellent and fairly explanatory. But then stuff like the above slips in and makes one (well, me, anyway) cringe.

And that's why I think Bart Ehrman has "jumped the shark". Not that his scholarship is suspect per se; please don't think that. It is the forced and obvious leaning toward sensationalism that I'm starting to tire of. I consistently use his edition of the Apostolic Fathers and for the most part like the translation and find the notes helpful (though a little light on the textual criticism side of things). I wish he'd return his focus to those sorts of projects.

Please, Dr. Ehrman, now that you're over the shark cage, please return to editing new critical editions and translations of some early Greek texts and leave Time, Newsweek and 60 Minutes to others.

Post Author: rico
Monday, April 17, 2006 2:54:47 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Friday, November 25, 2005

First, it's back to business. Enough biblioblog navel-gazing; let's do some work! In an effort to move the conversation from existential queries and criticisms, I point you to PastoralEpistles.com and some non-canonical citations relevant to 1Ti 4.16 that I've compiled since the conference. There's a seven page PDF file. The phrase "you will save both yourself and your hearers" is the subject. Similar phrasing/concepts occur in other early documents. So what does it mean? What does it point to? How should this be exegeted? That's what I'm looking into. Check out the citations; if you have further items to add please send along the citations.

How's that for "open scholarship"?

Now, since I was at the biblioblogger session at SBL, I feel I need to weigh in on the latest conversation regarding male and female in the biblioblogosphere. I'm not planning to say more on this, so here it goes:

I think I'm proof that what has been called "biblioblogdom" isn't an exclusive club of some sort. I'm not a professor or instructor at a university, college or seminary. I hold no graduate degrees. I am not currently purusing a graduate degree.

I'm just a guy interested in this stuff who likes to write, who finds value in blogging as a method to work out thoughts. The "biblioblogosphere" is a bonus for me in that folks who have degrees, and who teach, and who know much more than I do actually read what I write, offer feedback, and gently guide me along if I'm off the track -- or that I can interact with if I think I'm right and they're wrong.

I think that to "make it" in the biblioblogosphere, one has to have some shameless self-promotion going. I really don't think it is a male/female thing.

When ricoblog had just started, nobody but friends of mine read it. Every now and then, however, I'd write something that I thought would fit in the discussion on other blogs. So, I'd (hesitantly) send an email to that blog's author pointing them to what I'd written. If they linked, great. If not, that was fine too. At least they'd check it out.

Stephen C. Carlson (Hypotyposeis) linked to some early stuff of mine on the Apostolic Fathers after I sent him an email. I notified Mark Goodacre of some later posts, and then later Jim Davila found me from there, I think. It wasn't anything magical, it was just making folks aware of work I'd done that I thought was relevant to what they were doing.

Also, if you read biblioblogs and have a blog -- don't be afraid to comment and leave a link to your own blog in the comment. If someone likes your comment, they'll check out your stuff. If I think a commenter adds something to the conversation, I like to update the post to point folks to the comments, when I do this I typically link directly to the person's blog in question.

Additionally, keep a blogroll. Use a service like Bloglines (or whatever) to manage it. List the blogs you like to read. Many bloggers also list blogs that they know have linked to them. That's what I try to do. If you've linked to me or would like to have your blog listed in my generic blog roll, please send an email. I zap through the list a few times a week to see what's going on and to see if blogs I don't regularly read have any interesting posts. Getting in these blogrolls increases your chance of traffic stumbling upon your site (not to mention higher Technorati rankings ... )

In short, there's a lot of information and links floating around out there. If you're blogging and lamenting the fact that your posts aren't magically picked up by other blogs, try either emailing the blog author or commenting or trackbacking. Announce your blog via email to bloggers you like to read and ask to be placed on their blogrolls if they see fit. They may ignore you, but most (that I know) will check out the link and see what's up.

A final caveat: when commenting on a blog post, be sure to add something to the discussion. If you just say, "yeah, and see my blog too, it's really good!" you will probably not be mentioned further or highlighted for further linking.

Ok, that's it. Now, let's get to work. Who's doing what? And when do we have to have abstracts submitted for SBL International and for the 2006 meeting in DC?

Update (2005-11-28): Rick Mansfield (This Lamp) adds a comment on the 1Ti 4.16 bit above. Additionally, Eric Sowell (The Coding Humanist) blogs some thoughts. Thanks for the input, guys. I should say, however, that I'm less interested in the Greek grammar/syntax and more interested in the phrase itself as similar phrases are found in other writings, both before and after the Pastorals. I'm curious as to use of the "both to yourself and to your hearers/readers" and similar sorts of things. Was this common? Was Paul using a catch-phrase of some sort to score rhetorical points? Or did later writers (e.g. homilist of 2Clement) pick up on Paul and use similar phrasing for similar reasons? (Don't mind me, just thinking aloud ... )

Post Author: rico
Friday, November 25, 2005 1:43:10 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, November 02, 2005

At least, that's what I thought. Didn't that whole thing get settled in the fourth century?

Apparently I'm wrong. World Magazine has an article by Gene Veith that mentions a Bible version called The Inclusive Bible. Veith (who seems rightly horrified by the Inclusive Bible) writes:

The Inclusive Bible follows the higher critics in leaving out the Pastoral Epistles and Revelation, and it follows The Da Vinci Code in including instead the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas. This translation is endorsed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and the evangelical leader Tony Campolo.

I guess the editors still view the canon debate as open. So why not drop out Hebrews too? I mean, we don't really know who wrote it. And while we're at it, let's drop Jude out too. I mean, c'mon, it quotes Enoch and it is really kind of weird to boot. Can't we just get rid of 'em?

Yes, folks, that is sarcasm. I guess it was just too hard to make the Pastoral Epistles "inclusive" so they figured they'd drop the whole lot. You can argue all you want about Pauline authorship; I'd contend that matter is certainly not at the point where removal from the canon should be considered. In the area of canon, with established books, doubt on the part of some should not lead to outright dismissal of the book. (This is inclusivity?)

Makes me wonder what they did with the shorter & longer endings of Mark. Or John 7.58-8.11. Or 1Jn 5.7-8. I mean, you know, stuff that is really uncertain from a bona-fide text-critical point of view. Did they drop those passages too? Or are they OK because they don't have any "inclusivity" issues?

How is it "inclusive" for this edition to remove books from the canon like this?

Update (2005-11-03): Thanks to prodding from a ricoblog reader and some curiosity of my own, I did a little searching for more information on this. I can't find any listing for something called The Inclusive Bible that fits Veith's description. The closest I can find (thanks for the pointer, John) is a listing at AltaMira Press. This seems to be equivalent with a translation by "Priests for Equality" mentioned earlier (and uncited by me) in Veith's article.

Is there such a translation as the one Veith describes? If so, and if you know the publisher and can point me to a page that describes the contents and philosophy of the translation, I'd be appreciative. Until then, I apologize for the noise. Thanks!

links | rants
Post Author: rico
Wednesday, November 02, 2005 2:08:24 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, August 31, 2005

As a result of my last post, I received an email from Paul Nikkel who posts at deinde.org. He pointed me to a recent post of his that I wanted to highlight here. Specifically:

Earlier this spring there was discussion about an open access repository for self-archiving scholarly work as well as placing available online articles. I noted at the time that we were working towards just this idea here and the implementation was imminent. Unfortunately the events of summer got in the way and only recently have we moved things forward again. At this point everything is in place and Danny has been poking around a bit behind scenes to make sure things are working. What we need now are some "beta" testers to not only play around with the system but also to give us suggestions on the way the submission process works, category framework, group organization etc. (and of course any bugs). If you are interested in helping us out please send an email to admin deinde org (fill in the blanks with @ and . ) and we'll set up a user account for you. We really need some help on this and would really appreciate anyone who can spare a little time and bother.

This resonates with me because it actually involves applying some of these thoughts that have been flitting about the biblioblogosphere. Whether it is a success or not, something will be learned in the venture.

I'm reminded of an episode of The Simpsons. You know, the one where Homer has laser surgery done on his eyes? Here's the script:

Optometrist: Maybe you're a candidate for laser eye surgery.
Homer: Will it get me out of having to choose glasses?
Optometrist: Well, yes, but I must warn you it's an experimental procedure and we still don't know the long-term effe—
Homer:  [finds the laser and aims it at his eyes] Less yappin', more zappin'!

Let the zapping commence.

Post Author: rico
Wednesday, August 31, 2005 8:59:40 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, August 29, 2005

The meme-o'-the-week seems to be something going by the name of "Open Scholarship" or, alternately, "Open Biblical Studies"; and it is somehow (I'm not sure how yet; they seem to be completely different to me) tied to the open source movement.

Some recent posts are:

I'm sure there's more (like this one from Peter Kirby) but that's the thrust of the past day or so.

Before I go too much further: even though I do have a specific disclaimer link noted at the bottom of each post, and even though this blog is my own and is not that of my employer, I need to state that these thoughts are my own and should not be construed as a statement by or policy of my employer.

And I apologize in advance for the randomnity below; but writing will help me understand what I think about all of this. And that's really my goal.

Now, with that said, I'm confused by this whole "Open Scholarship" thing. As near as I can tell, it means that people do work and write stuff, and then they upload it somewhere that purports to be a central repository. And somehow, that's "open" and therefore cool. So everyone is excited.

But I'm really confused. I don't see how "scholarship" isn't "open" already. Anyone with an interest can look into pretty much any topic they please. Right now. Let me offer a few scenarios on how folks get started.

Situation 1: Grad Student. This is something I'm unfamiliar with as I have not pursued formal graduate studies. But people interested in scholarship do it. I dare say a fair number of readers of this blog are currently pursuing graduate studies or directly make their living from people pursuing graduate studies. When folks pursue such studies, they get access to faculty, access to facilities, and they get direction and training in their chosen area. At least, that's how it is supposed to work. Right? Yes, it involves the ability and financial means to pursue, but people do it. Anecdotally, I'd guess more folks are pursuing graduate studies today than in times past.

Situation 2: Motivated Amateur. Ahhh, home. This is me. I've looked into graduate studies in the past. I'm sure I'll flirt with the thought in the future. But for now: No way. There's nothing stopping me from pursuing the fields I'm interested in. Resources are available from a number of sources. AbeBooks.com and other online aggregated used book sellers (BookFinder.com, Amazon.com's used books) are awesome sources. My own thought (and practice) is to take a portion of the money that I'm not spending on graduate studies and call it my book budget, and spend that on titles in areas of Biblical Studies that I'm interested in. I'm in a decent sized city, so that means that interlibrary loan is a viable option as well, if I really want to peek at a book I can't justify purchasing (Crum's Coptic Lexicon is in dire need of a reprint, and I wish Lampe's Patristic Greek Lexicon was just a bit cheaper.) I stumble along, write some things, thoughtful folks out in the biblioblogosphere offer comments, direction and most importantly, encouragement. But my point is: the motivated amateur doesn't need some existing framework in order to jump in and explore the areas he's interested in. He can jump in. Really. The water's fine. C'mon in.

These are only two paths -- I'm sure there are more -- that can be one's start along the road of "Biblical Scholarship". But I don't see how "open" applies here, so I'm still confused about what "Open Scholarship" is.

Is it a philosophy?

Is it a grand, glorious wiki site where anyone can opine on whatever theological whatnot they so desire?

Is it open because it's on the internet?

I mean, I read what Tim Bulkeley wrote on Sansblogue, but I must be dense because I'm not "pickin' up what he's puttin' down". Are there really scads of people around the world thinking, "Oh, I'd be a Biblical Scholar in no time if I only had access to more resources on the internet!" It all sounds remarkably generic and therefore thoroughly unobjectionable, which is why I guess I object. I need specifics. I need to know why folks who would scarcely pick up a Bible Dictionary or commentary (available freely from just about any church library and rather cheaply from Christian Bookstores, used book stores, CBD, or even stores like Barnes and Noble) would flock to an "Open Scholarship" web site, or how they'd even know it existed, and what they'd be expected to do with it.

Is it some community-driven commentary thingie? The web has plenty of half-started and never-finished projects of this nature. What makes "Open Scholarship" different?

Is it like the Joint Association of Classics Teachers' Greek and Latin programs? If so, how is "open" different or better than what they've done?

Is it scholarship by committee? (please say 'no')

Is it a Biblical Studies version of arxiv.org?

Is it CCEL?

Is it different from Crosswalk.com? Gospelcom.net? How?

Is scholarship like N.T. Wright, but "Open Scholarship" like Tom Wright? Less cryptically, is one goal attempting to convey scholarly material in a more palatable mass-market form?

Is it one thing (one web site)? Or is it a number of different things? If different things ... why do we need to have a discussion? Why not just do it, and let it stand or fall?

Is it doing an end-run on academic publishers? I mean, I cringe at Brill prices like everyone else, but they put out some very good stuff with very limited marketability that, frankly, wouldn't ever get published anywhere else. This sort of work isn't easy, and it isn't cheap, and folks don't just happen to know about it if it gets posted on a web site somewhere. Even then, its status is questionable. And even then -- shouldn't the guys who did the work receive some remuneration in addition to the accolades of their peers? You know, like bread on their table? Relying on a "sugar daddy" somewhere to write a blank check to cover it probably isn't a realistic expectation and should therefore be discouraged.

With all of that said, I'm still confused. But the "open" meme starts to make sense to me with one assumption: In the context of "open scholarship", the terms "scholarship" and "publishing" are equivalent. That is, if publishing and disseminating one's work is the goal, then "open scholarship" makes things easier because the difficulty of publication is removed -- anyone can hop in the pool. The bar is lowered.

But I don't buy that, and I don't think that's what anyone I've linked to means by the term.

To my uninformed and naive thinking, "scholarship" has absolutely nothing to do with publication. I won't knock publication -- it would be cool to be published, and I have a basic understanding of the requirement that those in more academic settings have in this area. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to be published some day. But if I do work or write things simply (or primarily) to be published, then I've got to wonder about my motives. In my view, for scholarship to really be scholarship (as opposed to name-building or department-building) one must be motivated by compulsion. That is, the problem or subject area is looked into, studied and examined because it is interesting or because one has an insight on a particular problem or issue. That insight may lead well down the road to other things, or it may amount to nothing. But I'd offer that the reason for examining it is to solve the problem -- not (primarily) so that everyone knows the person who solved the problem, or made the connection, or shed new light on an old issue. The scholarship is in the doing.

Additionally, scholarship isn't just adding to the work in a given area, it is also familiarizing one's self with the existing dialog, and the history of dialog in given subject areas. It is reading source editions and not relying upon abstracts, summaries or selected readings. It is reading journals that publish new research/scholarship in your field and familiarizing yourself with back issues of the same journal. It is evaluating and understanding the arguments you agree with and the arguments that make you queasy. It is attending conferences and interacting with others in one's field. It is interacting with and adding to the conversation in one's chosen area.

And I haven't even got into collaboration yet, which I thoroughly am confused by. I sort of understand it with software, but not with scholarship. So I write something and someone else comes along and edits it, without my approval or consideration, and now the thing I did is different? Huh? But, alas, I've gone too long, rambled too far, and probably offended some people along the way with some of my comments. Please accept my apologies if my tone or manner offended; no such offense was intended.

Update (2005-08-30): My time is pretty tight, and I don't quite have another post on this subject in me, so I'll offer a few trailing thoughts here.

First, there is a bit of "rhetorical slant" to what I wrote above, but that is semi-intentional. I probably did go overboard in a few places, though. Apologies if that muddied my questions.

Regarding Mike's example of Funk's Grammar: That whole thing actually confuses me too. I don't understand how Funk's Hellenistic Grammar isn't already accessible. I searched AbeBooks this afternoon and found used or print-on-demand copies listed ranging from $60 to $90. For a three volume Greek grammar, that price seems okay (cf. Moulton-Howard-Turner at four volumes for well over $100, which folks seem to think is a good deal). I'm also sure that Funk is available at several libraries and (though I haven't looked) it could probably be retrieved by interlibrary loan to evaluate, if someone wanted to see if it was worth shelling out $90 for. It isn't necessarily easy -- one would have to at least go to a library and fill out an interlibrary loan request. And it isn't cheap or free -- time to do the interlibrary request or $90 is required. So, I'd say it already is accessible. It surely isn't ubiquitous. But it can be had.

For those who don't know me personally, my nature is pragmatic. I want to know about the application of an idea; I don't necessarily want to completely define the idea before I can apply it. So I see major themes in this "open" meme -- essentially (please correct me if I'm wrong or rash):

  • free
  • on the 'net
  • quality Biblical Scholarship

And that's great. One thing I appreciated about Peter Kirby's post on the topic was that he had real projects listed as suggestions. He said, "Ok, here's some stuff that I'm doing. How can these projects work within the proposed framework?" (e.g., free, on the 'net, and decent scholarship). I haven't seen any follow-up on that, and I haven't seen further mention of it outside of Kirby's blog. But I see the major trends, and I see Peter saying, "how 'bout these?", and then nothing else seems to happen.

So the pragmatist in me keeps wondering about the application, because once I see something in motion or have a clear idea of how scholarship would actually take place in such a system (e.g., "use cases", which someone suggested in a comment on Ed Cook's blog, as I recall), I'll be able to make more sense of it.

Either that, or someone can blog a psuedo-socratic dialogue between Socrates, Oigosoursicus, and Kataphronicus to explain. That sort of stuff usually works for me too.

Post Author: rico
Monday, August 29, 2005 11:20:06 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, December 27, 2004

I was recently asked to describe why I blog. This is something I've thought about in the past but don't really have a good answer for. There's the standard stuff of writing to work out thoughts, to share things with other folks and to get feedback on ideas. I know folks who live in the same town as I do who read this blog and I interact with them personally on some of the topics brought up here; and the blog is helpful for that.

That answer seems less than satisfying, at least to me. It is accurate, to a degree. But it comes up short. After all, there are others who read my stuff that I've never met and don't even know about.

Even more disturbing to me is that blogging in the way I do it (short to long posts of an eclectic nature consisting primarily of opinion) is really somewhat vain. (sorry; I don't recall where I read this thought, let me know the source and I'll gladly insert a link). No, not that blogging is useless (though that's debateable) but that blogging in this manner may be a sign of an incredibly self-absorbed person.*

I'm not ready to chalk it up to self-absorption, however. I really do find value in the interaction when discussing things, however trivial they may be. And sometimes, it's just stuff I find to be funny (ahem: Horrible Christmas Music?).

[Please bear with me, I'm getting to my point.]

I'm reminded of something I read two days ago in Diarmaid MacCullogh's The Reformation. In MacCullough's section on Erasmus, he writes:

Erasmus constructed a salon of the imagination, which embraced the entire continent in a constant flow of letters to hundreds of correspondents, some of whom he never met face-to-face. In the later days of division, this proved a precedent for the letter-writing campaigns of many Protestant leaders of humanist inclinations, like Philipp Melanchthon, Heinrich Bullinger, John Calvin, and Theodore Beza, but also for the thirty thousand letters surviving from that phenomenal correspondent of the Counter-Reformation, Archbishop Carlo Borromeo. Erasmus should be declared the patron saint of networkers. (MacCullough, 94)

Which brings me to my point.

Please don't think I'm equating myself with Erasmus, or my little backwoods of a blog with some sort of Erasmian “salon”. I'd be immensely satisfied to simply be one of Erasmus' many correspondents; someone he'd give a few minutes of time to in order to answer a question or give an opinion on a point or piece of work.

I think this idea of “correspondence” starts to get to the point of why I blog in the way I do. I think blogging is a way to correspond in a single forum with multiple topics and differing audiences. For instance, I know full well that many of you had no interest whatsoever in my plumbing woes of a few weeks back. But it was interesting to me, and it seemed to be a good thing to blog about as I have friends and family (Hi Mom & Dad!) who read this blog who don't really get into some of the Greek/NT/Pastoral Epistles stuff I blog about. They can keep up with some of the day-to-day minutiae of my life without my having to go to James-Joyce-ian levels of detail. And other folks who I don't know at all benefit from that conversation — you'd be amazed at the amount of hits this blog gets from folks searching for the very part number I replaced to fix my leaky tub spigot.

So, that's one aspect of a blog as correspondence. The other side of that coin involves dialogue.

That's where someone like me — no graduate degree or training, just an interested and motivated amateur with some text-processing power under his belt — can post thoughts, ideas and questions and, if I'm lucky, someone with an informed opinion can read them and perhaps even give a quick response, typically to shove me in the right direction. (Folks like Stephen C. Carlson, Jim Davila and Marc Goodacre — thanks for this).

In the end, I think this is the primary factor in why I blog: I think, therefore I blog. To simply consider an issue only in the ethereal area of one's mind is a tragedy. Ideas develop more when they're commited to media of some sort, like paper, word docs or as blog entries. Allowing others to read them gives opportunity for feedback and development.

I don't think I'm Erasmus. Far from it. But I'd like to be someone like Christopher Eschenfelder:

[Erasmus] was a friend not merely to princes and bishops but to anyone who shared his passion for learned wisdom. In 1518 he happened to meet a well-read tax collector on the river Rhine at Boppard, Christopher Eschenfelder, who was thrilled to meet the great man and talk to him about his work. They kept in touch until the end of Erasmus's life. (MacCullough 94)


* But I did score as a 100% introvert on the Myers/Briggs inventory the last time I took the test (scored as an INTJ) so that may explain it.

Post Author: Rico
Monday, December 27, 2004 3:41:41 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Saturday, November 27, 2004

[NOTE: I'm not going to get into the substance of the story; I know folks who are reading the book and don't want to inadvertently spoil any of it for them. The review at Crooked Timber, which pointed me to the book in the first place (review linked below as well) will give you the basics.] 

This book, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, is long. Too long. Despite what other reviewers have to say about Ms. Clarke's mannerly prose, she needs an editor.

She also needs a story. The last 200 pages actually had a story developing — coming to a rather quick end at the end of the book — but the first 600 pages that set the thing up were woefully boring and almost pointless.

I realize that she was likely going for an old-time mannerly feel in her writing, but she needed more story to pull it off. The footnotes with faked history and background info were helpful in this respect, but the main body was just too boring, at least for me. I would've been much happier with this story if I'd only had to read 400 pages to get to the end.

Next I'm reading The Reformation: A History by Diarmaid MacCulloch. 800 pages on the history of the Reformation — now that's a story!

Post Author: Rico
Saturday, November 27, 2004 7:19:52 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Wednesday, November 24, 2004

I know I said I was done, but I'd forgot about this bit.

While most of the presentations of papers were good, some were simply awful and tough to sit through. This is to be expected. However, my primary beef is that not all presenters gave their audience something to evaluate and take home with them.

I'm not talking about a copy of the paper, I'm talking about a handout that has the basic outline / major points of the paper so that one can follow along. After attending one of Edward Tufte's seminars this past summer, I now see how valuable this aspect really is.

In my mind, Ken Penner (I went to both of his papers; one on purpose and one on accident) was on the right track. He had a handout / synopsis of the major points and evidence of his work, and then read his paper. While listening to someone read a paper isn't the best (Mark Goodacre's reports of going extempore in his presentation are interesting and provocative; hopefully more folks try just such a thing next year) it is at least less of a trial with a synopsis.

The folks working through “Discourse Grammar of Mark 13” in the Greek Language and Linguistics seminar had it right as well. A large handout with lots of information that one can revisit to evaluate argument, as well as a presentation that, while much of it was read, wasn't necessarily presented that way. These folks worked through the text, knew it, knew their point in presenting, and made their case in an engaging manner. It was one of the best presentations I was able to attend. Cheers to them for their work and their engaging presentation.


Post Author: Rico
Wednesday, November 24, 2004 3:06:20 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Sunday, November 07, 2004

Increasing property valuations cut both ways.

Last year (2003) I was able to get a re-appraisal on my house and remove the dreaded “PMI” (aka “Private Mortgage Insurance”) from my mortgage payment based solely on the newfound equity in the new appraisal value. This was based on some insane (yet welcomed, of course) property sales in my neighborhood.

Well, the taxman finally came along for his share of the pie. After voting “no” on every tax increase on the ballot (I'm of the Milton Friedman “Don't ever vote for a tax increase. Ever.” school), Whatcom county extracted their revenge.

My property in Bellingham is now valued at 133% of what it used to be (that is, it was X, now it is (X * 1.33)). Come January 1, my property taxes will increase by a similar proportion. The scary thing? The assessed “fair market” value is less than I'd get if I put it on the market right now.

So that extra chunk plus the 0.1% sales tax increase for the Whatcom county jail that just passed (I think the plethora of other levy measures that could've meant new tax levies for me — state, county, and city — failed) means Rico will be writin' larger checks to the taxman ... er, taxmen.

It almost makes me want to go libertarian.

Nah, I won't do that. Yet. But daggum, we need folks in all levels of “gummint” who won't spend my money (and the money of other taxpayers) like they just won the lottery and there's no tomorrow.

Post Author: Rico
Sunday, November 07, 2004 10:20:19 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00) 

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# Sunday, October 17, 2004

Awhile back, I posted an offer for Google email account invitations.

In the past week or so, site logs indicate a whole lot of traffic (ok, like five hits a day, but that's a lot for me!) being directed to ricoblog as the result of a google search for account invitations. And folks I wouldn't know from Adam have been sending me requests for invitations.

So, for the record: I'm not giving out any more Google email invitations unless I know you personally.

I've deleted the comments on the earlier post so others don't get hit up. Heck, the post itself is a throwaway so I deleted the whole stinkin' post. Hopefully that addresses the issue.

Thanks to the folks who keep on readin'. Hopefully you continue to find it worthwhile.


Post Author: Rico
Sunday, October 17, 2004 1:03:25 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Friday, September 10, 2004

My colleague Eli Evans recently reminded me of something I wrote awhile back (Dec. 17, 2003). So, here it is:

Here's a list of argument types to watch out for. If you're arguing with (you know, debating) someone, and they pull out one of these arguments: stay the course. You know you've won. Why did I think of this? Well, I was listening to NPR the other day, and ... well, you know.

Argumentum ad Hitlerum: If you're debating someone, and they compare you or people who espouse ideas that you support to Hitler — you've won the argument. Also, watch out for the following subtle variations on this particular fallacy:

  • Argumentum ad Stalinum: Comparing one to Joseph Stalin
  • Argumentum ad Mussolini: Comparing one to Benito Mussolini
  • Argumentum ad [insert dictator or general bad guy here]-um: You get the drift. 

And please don't forget the soon-to-be-very-popular Argumentum ad Saddam Husseinium.

Argumentum ad Filiium: If you're debating someone, and they say something along the lines of "But think of the children" — especially if they over-emphasize "children" — you've won the argument. There are several subtle variations on this argument too.

  • Argumentum ad Senior-Citizenum: Instead of "the children", now you're implored to act irrationally for "Senior Citizens" or "the Elderly". Note: if you're an AARP lobbyist or employee, then this is not a logical fallacy.
  • Argumentum ad Envrionmentum: Now, instead of "the children", we're to think of "the environment" or "mother earth" or some other such object. Be on watch for seemingly convincing scentific stats with absolutely no backup or citation whatsoever. Especially if "global warming" is mentioned.

Argumentum ad Nauseum: Sometimes, people don't know when to give up. They've implored you to save the children. They've vociferously demanded that you save the environment. They've compared you Hitler, Goebbels, Stalin, Mussolini, Saddam, Ayatollah Khomeni, Genghis Khan, and just about anybody else who's exercised a fanatic bent towards world domination from about 400 AD on. And they don't stop. Don't worry, you've won. Wipe the foaming froth from their mouths and declare yourself the victor.

These are just a few common logical fallacies presented in argument — even public debate — today. Be on the lookout for them, they appear when you least expect them.

What other common logical fallacies do you encounter? I'm not looking for a full philosopical tome or a formal survey on the topic of logic. But are there other common arguments made today that, while many people acquiesce upon their mention, are really indicators that the one who makes the argument has actually lost?

Update: Mr. Evans, your wish is my command. At least this time. There were two comments on this thread:

Eli Evans:

There's argumentum ad emotion-um — what I'm saying is true because I passionately hold it to be true. "I've looked inside myself and this is what I find." People who argue like this are common, and not used to the intellectual rigor of logic. Some can be turned around, though.

Closely related is the argument from personal experience, which is just poor extrapolation from too small a sample. "I can't believe something is generally true if I had a personal experience that I can cite to the contrary." There's always someone who knows (or was) the exception that seems to disprove the rule.

There's one of my favorites, Argumentum ad Espiritu Sanctum ... well, you probably know what that one is. "I'm right because the Holy Spirit told me so." Try arguing with that one.

I run into a lot of tautology, as well.

Pete Williamson:

Argumentum ad Historium/Traditionum — a favorite of your more historically encrusted congregations and denoms. To wit, the argument is sealed with the mighty phrase "We've never done it that way before, that's why."

Argumentum ad Parentii (is that the proper plural?) — never fails when responding to the child/ren's queries of "Why?" Important to place the stress properly on "Because I SAID so." Acceptable alternatives are "Because I'm your FATHER/MOTHER (note again the stress)."

Post Author: Rico
Friday, September 10, 2004 9:58:17 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Monday, September 06, 2004

Went to Wal-Mart today to look for a white board. I remembered how much I dislike that place. Too many people, stuffed in a store with too much stuff and aisles that are too narrow. There's no way to get in & out quick; the aisles are so narrow that you can't get around the folks who are simply meandering about. They've got too much junk in the middle of aisles and it clogs the place up. So when the family of four stops to check out something stuffed in the middle of the aisle, the only place they can stop to look at it is to just stop in the middle of everything ... and in-and-out-quick guy (that's me) is stuck.

I hate Wal-Mart.

And their white boards are too small. 3'x2' was the biggest they had. I want 3'x4', at least.

Post Author: Rico
Monday, September 06, 2004 5:12:56 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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# Friday, August 27, 2004

I received my Neighborhood News from the Samish Neighborhood Association today. I'm not a dues-paying member, but hey, they send me the newsletter so I read it.

Bottom-right, page 3 has the following paragraph:

Parking in Residential Yards Now Prohibited

Bellingham has a new ordinance that prohibits parking in residential yards (BMC 11.33.185). To report a possible parking violation, call 911 and ask for parking enforcement.

Get that? The emphasis is mine. Call 9-1-1 to report a “possible parking violation”? That's what my “Emergency Services Levy” is funding? Hold on; I thought if the levy didn't pass that much-needed “emergency services” would be denied. Ambulances would stop running. Fire trucks would be mothballed. Police officers would be restricted to walking beats -- uphill both ways, with five feet of snow. Their only weapons would be sling-shots. Response times to vital emergencies would lag, putting people at risk!

Yet, 9-1-1 is supposed to handle calls about parking? That's a 9-1-1-worthy emergency? This is what my “emergency services” tax levy is paying for? An operator to direct calls that should just go to the police department anyway, but don't because some busybody is too lazy to look at the front inside page of the phone book?

When the 9-1-1 services come a-askin' for more money (and they will) be sure to read the fine print and see how the levy will expand services. I know these folks do good work, but if it is an emergency service, let it be an emergency service. If it is directory assistance, then call it that, and implement it that way. Don't guilt folks into voting for “emergency services” so that oh-so-critical “potential parking violations” can be taken care of with swiftness and efficiency.

Rico's Rule of Thumb: If you think, “should I call 9-1-1?” then you've answered your question. Don't. Open the phone book and call the number for whatever service you think you need. These numbers are typically listed on the inside front cover. You'll know when you need to dial 9-1-1. You won't have to think about it, you'll just know. Trust me.

Post Author: Rico
Friday, August 27, 2004 9:30:44 PM (Pacific Daylight Time, UTC-07:00) 

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