Saturday, November 27, 2010
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
More than half of young adults have never heard of the King James Version of the Bible, according to a new survey. The influential translation, which will celebrate its 400th anniversary next year, is believed to be the biggest selling book ever produced.
But a new poll has revealed that 51 per cent of under-35s have never heard of the King James Bible, compared to 28 per cent for those over the age of 55.
A spokesman for the King James Bible Trust, which commissioned the poll, said: “There has been a dramatic drop in knowledge in a generation. “Yet this is a work which was far more influential than Shakespeare in the development and spread of English.”
I had a good conference at SBL Atlanta this year. In fact, it was one of the better ones. I heard several good papers and enjoyed catching up with others in the field. The location was excellent since Atlanta is easy to get around and food, although more expensive than Ashland, was reasonable for a major city.
I must confess, however, to holding a certain level of disquiet when I think about my chosen field and what the future holds for it. This stems not from my regular work environment, my colleagues nor the students I teach. I admit that I am quite happy there and with what I do. I am still thrilled to think that someone actually pays me to do this. Some days I am afraid I will have to find a “real job”.
No, my anxiety level rises up each year when I attend the annual meeting. Somehow the meetings have had the same waning effect on me as Christmas. I remember the first one that I attended. I was overcome by the sheer number of papers. I scheduled my days so full that I was often unable to find time to eat lunch between sessions. I read name tags on the sly and began to put faces with the names on the articles and monographs I had read. And oh the books! I had never seen so many and at such good prices. Surely there was a God and his address was someplace in Grand Rapids Michigan.
But eventually, like a child who no longer believes in Santa Claus, the magic of the meeting wore off. Now, having attended the meetings for more than a decade, I no longer find that they provide the level of intellectual stimulation that I crave. The papers can, I am sorry to say, be somewhat underwhelming.
But more than the sessions the thing that bothers me most is the sheer volume of material that is being published each year. I am not talking about peer reviewed scholarship. Rather, I am thinking about all of the other books that appear each year and are usually out of print within five years. I walk around the stalls and wonder how many more commentaries we need on Matthew, Joshua or any other book of the Bible (says the man who signed a contract to write a commentary).
What are we doing? Our scholarship has become, in some ways, a celebrity sport. We stand in awe of speakers who are introduced as the author of twenty books, over one hundred articles and three video series. Bart Ehrman and NT Wright appear on the Colbert report, and while I admit I found their performance entertaining, I wonder why it is that these people are held up as the representatives of scholarship in our field?
Whatever happened to the individual who only wrote three to five books in his/her whole career and yet truly left a lasting impression on the field? The sheer volume of books put out each year makes me suspect that the tail is wagging the dog. Sometimes, I fear that we consider the volume of publications produced as an indicator of our importance and indispensability. Like squids, we squirt ink and conclude that the small cloud produced in the water is indicative of the influence we are having in the greater ocean in which we live.
I wonder if I am the only one who feels this way or if I am just way too tired having coming off of the SBL experience.
Anyone out there have any opinions?
Biblical Archaeology Review has posted a 23 minute video from the Naked Archaeologist program. The host investigates the question: "who wrote the Bible?" The premise of this episode is that he wants to disprove the documentary hypothesis and prove that the Pentateuch was written by one person named Moses
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Now there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man; for he was a doer of wonderful works, a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ. And when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men among us, had condemned him to the cross , those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him. And the tribe of Christians, so named for him, are not extinct at this day
Monday, November 22, 2010
My name, like that of many of my sisters in the faith, might have been entirely forgotten. My story was not one that would have made headlines in the world of which I was a part. But a strange thing happened—to those unfamiliar with the workings of God, at least. Someone came upon my story in a musty tome which had seldom seen the light of day. When that person read my story, she discovered that I had given my life for my faith in Jesus as Lord just as bravely as any of the male martyrs whose stories were carefully passed down. She determined to bring my story to the attention of leaders in the church who were in the position to see that my story did not die.
I do not know the details of how any of this happened, but I do know that the hand of God was in it all. My story became known to enough of the leaders in the Eastern Church that they decided my memory must not be forgotten. I owe a great debt to those nameless church leaders whom I was never to know. They decided that my memory would be renewed every year. They gave me my own day of remembrance—an honor which even most of the male martyrs were not accorded.
So the next time that November 22 rolls around, pause and remember me. If God’s Spirit should so move you, offer up a prayer of gratitude that I was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for me. Then go forth in the same spirit, my sisters, to share the boundless love of Christ. Do not be deterred by those who say you cannot preach or be leaders in the church. God says you can. There may be many obstacles in your path. You may at times feel terribly alone to the point that you are about ready to give up. Just remember that one person plus God constitutes a majority! The same Spirit will carry you through the dark times that enabled me to stand firm in faith to the end. I am Saint Apphia.