Once More: Alternative Hotels In Downtown Atlanta Where #SBL2015 Will Meet

atlantaSometimes people would like to attend the Annual Meeting but the cost of the official hotels can be daunting.  And for many, downright prohibitive.  Accordingly, a friend in Atlanta who knows the area has provided a list of alternative hotels close to the Annual Meeting locations: Atlanta Alternative Hotels.  You can download that PDF and have a list of hotels, locations, prices, and website contact as well as phone numbers.

Quote of the Day (Evening Edition)

43234_StPaulTheApostleBut haue cast from vs ye clokes of shame, and walke not in craftines, neither handle we the worde of God deceitfully: but in declaration of the trueth we approue our selues to euery mans conscience in the sight of God.  If our Gospell bee then hid, it is hid to them that are lost. In whom the God of this world hath blinded the mindes, that is, of the infidels, that the light of the glorious Gospell of Christ, which is the image of God, should not shine vnto them.  –  St. Paul – (2 Cor. 4:2-4)

Fun With Strack / Billerbeck

At Rev 1:8 Str-B offer this observation:

Was ist das Siegel Gottes? … R. Bebai (um 320, so lies statt רבינו) hat im Namen des R. Reuben (gegen 300) gesagt: „Wahrheit“ אֶמִת. Wie verhält es sich mit אמת? Resch Laqisch (um 250) hat gesagt: Das Aleph steht an der Spitze der Buchstaben (im Alphabet), das Mem in der Mitte u. das Tav am Ende; deshalb heißt es: Ich bin der Erste u. ich der Letzte u. außer mir gibt es keinen Gott Jes 44, 6.*

Sheds a whole new light, doesn’t it, on Jesus’s various declarations concerning himself as ‘truth’ in the Gospel of John…

___________________
*Strack, H. L., & Billerbeck, P. (Vol. 3, p. 789).

Very Sad News: Eduard Lohse has Died

lohseSeine unverbrüchliche Liebe zum Evangelium hat sowohl Eduard Lohses wissenschaftliche Arbeit als auch sein Wirken als Landesbischof und Ratsvorsitzender geprägt”, heißt es in dem Kondolenzschreiben. Lohse ist am Dienstag im Alter von 91 Jahren in Göttingen gestorben. Er war von 1971 bis 1988 Landesbischof der Evangelisch-lutherischen Landeskirche Hannovers. Das Amt des Vorsitzenden des Rates der EKD hatte er von 1979 bis 1985 inne.

May he rest in peace.  He was a brilliant, readable, gifted theologian.  I always profited by whatever he wrote that I had the chance to read.  If you aren’t familiar with the man and his work, go here.

A Radio Series in Six Parts on the Cranach Family

Die Cranach-Serie bei MDR FIGARO

Sein Leben lang stand Lucas Cranach der Jüngere im Schatten seines Vaters. Noch heute – 500 Jahre nach seiner Geburt in Wittenberg – ist er trotz seiner eigenen Formensprache vielen weitgehend unbekannt. Doch er war wie sein berühmter Vater, Lucas Cranach der Ältere, nicht nur ein virtuoser Meister seines Fachs, sondern auch ein wichtiger Wegbegleiter der Reformation und ein einflussreicher Kommunalpolitiker. Mit anderen Worten: Der Sohn hat die großen Fußstapfen seines Vaters durchaus ausgefüllt und erfolgreich dessen Unternehmen fortgeführt.

Denn genau das war es, was Lucas Cranach der Ältere in Wittenberg etabliert hatte: Ein florierendes Malerunternehmen, eine Werkstatt mit vielen Angestellten. Deshalb ist die Autorenschaft vieler Werke bis heute fraglich – signiert wurde letztlich nur noch mit dem Emblem der geflügelten Schlange.

Sich auf den Spuren von Cranach zu bewegen, heißt, sich der gesamten Malerfamilie zu nähern. MDR FIGARO lädt dazu ein, Leben und Werk des älteren und jüngeren Cranach kennenzulernen – eine Familie in Zeiten des Umbruchs. So begeben wir uns auf die Spuren der Malerfamilie, besuchen die Orte, an denen außergewöhnliche Bildwerke verblieben sind und wo man etwas über ihre Auftraggeber erfährt.

Go to the link above for all six parts.

“Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript” – Win a Copy

706477I’ve been sent an additional copy of this volume and since I don’t need two I’m giving away a copy of Codex Sinaiticus: New Perspectives on the Ancient Biblical Manuscript. It’s available in the UK from the British Museum but won’t be available here in the States until September.  Unless, that is, you win it.

To win, here are the rules (which will be adhered to without any deviation whatsoever):

  1. In comments below, tell me when you first encountered the Codex.
  2. Describe what you think of the manuscript.
  3. Tell me why you’re deserving of it.
  4. Do you own a cat?
  5. What is your favorite blog?
  6. If you are on twitter or facebook, share this post there.
  7. Are you a resident of the United States?
  8. What is your email address?

The contest runs from right now till next Wednesday, July 1. The winner will be notified by email.

But What Really Kills More Americans? Terrorists, Racists, or Booze?

We need a war on booze then don’t we.  So when will Aslan (I liked him in the Chronicles of Narnia) point that little factlet out?  Never?  Probably not.  Because there’s no social outrage against the demon booze.  All embrace his deathly grip without so much as a ‘nah’.

booze

  • Prevalence of Drinking: In 2013, 86.8 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they drank alcohol at some point in their lifetime; 70.7 percent reported that they drank in the past year; 56.4 percent reported that they drank in the past month.
  • Prevalence of Binge Drinking and Heavy Drinking: In 2013, 24.6 percent of people ages 18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month; 6.8 percent reported that they engaged in heavy drinking in the past month.
  • Nearly 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making it the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
  • In 2013, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 10,076 deaths (30.8 percent of overall driving fatalities).

Come on Aslan, denounce booze. Be consistent. It’s far more deadly than the demon du jour.

Johannes Bugenhagen: Friend of Luther

bugenhagenJune 24, 1485: Close friend of Martin and Katie Luther’s, Johannes Bugenhagen was born in Wollin, Pomerania, now a part of Poland.

Bugenhagen became a supporter of Luther in the early 1520s and soon moved to Wittenberg. On October 25, 1523, he was named the pastor of St. Mary’s church in Wittenberg, making him Luther’s pastor. He also became a lecturer and professor at the University of Wittenberg. Luther often affectionately referred to him as Dr. Pommer in reference to the location of his birth.

Luther and Bugenhagen soon became close friends. It was Bugenhagen who performed the marriage ceremony for Martin and Katie. They also gave him the honor of being named one of the god-fathers of their first born Hans.

Bugenhagen proved himself useful to the spread of Lutheranism as well. He was often sent out by Luther to advise various territories in Northern Germany and Scandinavia. He also revised the church orders in these areas, removing the papistic abuses and including more congregational singing.

In this painting from the altarpiece from the City Church (St. Mary’s) in Wittenberg, Bugenhagen is depicted administering the office of the Keys – forgiving the sins of the penitent and retaining the sins of the impenitent. The painting is by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

-Rebecca DeGarmeaux

D.G. Hart on Flags and Stuff

Hart writes

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After crossing the eastern half of the country and listening to NPR for at least 10 per cent of it, you’d have thought that the Confederate Flag shot those AME church members in Charleston (though it sure did knock Laudato Si below the fold). Nothing about Dylann Roof and his family or background, nothing about the families of the victims, or about the congregation itself and how it is going to go on. Instead, aside from the escaped convicts in New York State, the media is all about stories related to taking the flag down.

And then he gets better.

The Review of Biblical Literature: Issues and Problem Solving

The preceding post justifies, it seems to me, the inclusion here of RBL’s own statement regarding various accusations and complaints raised against it recently from certain quarters:

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Views and Reviews of RBL

Four or perhaps five times a year RBL is contacted by the author of a work that we have reviewed with a complaint about some aspect of that review. Occasionally an RBL reader with no personal connection to an author or book will email objecting to the content or tone or quality (or all three) of a certain review. None of this is surprising in light of the large numbers of subscribers to (8,000+) and reviews published by (400+ a year) RBL. Nevertheless, we take every complaint or objection seriously and work toward a mutually acceptable resolution in every case. More difficult to address are the occasional public criticisms of an RBL review that serve as the launching point for what seems to us an unjustifiably negative characterization and criticism of the RBL enterprise in general. For example, recently we read that “RBL has now spun so far out of control that we can hardly trust it anymore” and that RBL uses “reviewers who have not a single shred of evidence to show expertise in the book they are reviewing”. Although we obviously do not share this opinion of RBL’s work, once again we take all criticisms seriously, if only as an opportunity to clarify what RBL does and why it was developed for the field.

First, RBL seeks to offer a comprehensive body of book reviews in the field of biblical studies, representing the field’s diverse subdisciplines. To adopt a classroom metaphor, we are more lecture hall than a graduate seminar. Not everyone prefers a lecture-hall approach, but it nevertheless serves a purpose. So it is with RBL. The reviews are not usually essays in the technical sense (review essays might be published in JBL); the intended purpose of RBL is rather to provide comprehensive coverage of a field that has a robust publishing output. One need only compare the exhibit hall at the SBL-AAR Annual Meetings with other peer learned society meetings to appreciate this. Consequently, we accept for review scholarly books within biblical studies or its cognate disciplines that are relevant to the work or intellectual growth of SBL members or RBL readers, that are representative of that research, writing, and teaching. Disagree with us if you will, but at least do so from a position of understanding why we do what we do.

Second, once a book has been accepted for review assignment, RBL is committed to identifying reviewers who are appropriate for that book and its author. In practical terms, we generally assign the works of senior scholars to their peers in the field. By the same logic, if an English translation of a book originally published in, say, German becomes available for review, we prefer to assign the book to a scholar who will write an English-language review accessible to the intended market of the book. Similarly, books for the classroom are assigned to active teachers and library resources to qualified librarians. The same principle applies to works intended for a congregational market (an important segment of RBL’s readership), which are appropriately assigned to qualified individuals working in that setting. In this and every other situation, we seek a reviewer appropriate for the book being assigned. That comprehensive coverage and attention to membership interest has been a goal of RBL from the beginning. It stands to reason that not every book, nor every review, is for every scholar. We expect members to discern what serves their needs and to acknowledge that other colleagues are equally served. One does not exclude the other.

Third, there is no single pattern that a useful book review must follow. Although we are most accustomed to the review essay that devotes the first two-thirds to a survey of the book’s contents and the final third to evaluation, there is nothing inherently bad about a book note or a review that provides only a summary of a work’s contents. Again, RBL’s goal is to provide to all its readers a comprehensive body of reliable, informative book reviews. As a rule, if a review provides a fair and informative overview of the book, we will regard that review as useful and thus publishable, even if some aspects of the review could be improved.

RBL is a remarkable asset to the field (it is accessed 2 million times a year). The entire discipline (including publishers) benefits by having our field’s books reviewed with efficiency, in many cases while the book is still a front-list title. RBL is led by an editorial board appointed by the SBL’s Research and Publications Committee, and day-to-day operations are managed by SBL staff. RBL reviews are assigned by members of the editorial board; only rarely are unsolicited reviews published, and then only after carefully vetting of the review. Far ahead of its time, RBL harnessed technology and adopted open-access principles to provide this comprehensive and efficient body of reviews for its members in attempt to cover the field.

Can RBL do better? Yes. Might one expect a few reviews not to adhere to every member’s standards? Yes. Are some books reviewed not useful for every member? Of course. Because we know all this to be true, we never ignore those who encourage RBL to do even better than it has done thus far. To that end, we respectfully ask our critics to adhere to some common courtesies of discourse that foster dialogue rather than close it down.

1. Be specific in your complaint. Anyone can generalize and criticize a review as poor or substandard. If you genuinely want to be constructive, specify exactly what you consider to be inadequate with the review. It is not enough, for example, to claim a reviewer does not have credentials or suitable institutional affiliation.

2. Be careful in your choice of words. Using forceful, vivid language to describe one’s perspective is perfectly reasonable, but overstatement is not. For example, describing the selection of a given reviewer as “offensive” or characterizing an unflattering review as “cruel” will be regarded by most as hyperbolic. Relying on such rhetoric is rarely conducive to productive scholarly discourse.

3. Be respectful of all parties. If one’s goal is to promote dialogue and mutual respect, referring to reviewers as “slovenly illiterates,” stating that they “have not a single shred of evidence to show expertise in the book they are reviewing,” or questioning their motives or ethics generally is not a productive way to proceed. Rather, show the reviewer the same respect that you expect from the reviewer toward the author of the book.

4. Be transparent about your own biases. Just as we ask potential reviewers to decline an offer if the author is a colleague or friend, so those who wish to criticize a published review are wise to disclose any relationships they have with the author or reviewer. RBL readers are intelligent enough to weigh arguments on their own merits, and they should be shown the respect of full and honest disclosure.

5. Consider acting privately before speaking publicly. Sounding a public alarm when a fire breaks out is commendable; sounding that alarm before one has made the effort to determine if there is a fire, not so much. RBL is always happy to explain why we do what we do, in hopes that we can establish a level of understanding and mutual respect with critics, even if disagreement remains. At the least, this should ensure that any future public disagreements will be conducted in an informed and civil manner.

We invite you to work with us to make RBL even better than it already is—a service to the discipline and the academy.

A Question for the Managers and Participants of Marginalia Review of Books

Would it be correct to say that Marginalia is undertaking a campaign to undermine RBL?  I ask because it seems that the participants whom I am aware work on Marginalia are lately being very critical of RBL, in a quite concerted, public, and vocal way.

I ask as an outsider to Marginalia and as a sometime reviewer for RBL.  But as an outsider, sitting on the sidelines and watching the ‘Review Wars’ presently taking place I am forced to wonder.  I doubt that I am alone.

I’m not accusing, I’m asking:  Is Marginalia attempting to paint RBL in a negative light or in a less than complimentary way simply to boost Marginalia’s popularity and thereby subtly and carefully seeking to usurp and displace?

Thanks very much for your cogent, honest answers.

SBL, Facebook, And Official-dom

The other day I mentioned the disappearance of the SBL Facebook page and its replacement by the ‘Unofficial’ page.  I’m happy to say that since then John Kutsko and I have had a conversation in which the matter of SBL on facebook featured as a major segment of the discussion.

Evidently, the previous incarnation of SBL on Facebook was itself not an official SBL endeavor and Mike Ensley, who moderated the discussions was, like the present unofficial page guy, himself not a member of SBL.

The deletion of the unofficial page which appeared to be official (even though there was a disclaimer, which I confess I never saw) was both appropriate and sensible and frankly, as I suggested the other day, the present incarnation too should be shut down.

There’s good reason for this: the unofficial page, even though clearly that, still wrongly associates its participants with SBL and its conversations with SBL members.  There are topics discussed and persons denigrated and issues raised which simply have no place at all in anything connected to SBL.  But the general public doubtless assumes otherwise.

The good news: SBL is going to work on putting together a PROPER facebook presence which will go live on 1 January, 2016.  It will be the official facebook presence of SBL and will be properly monitored and administrated by SBL members.

Accordingly, it continues to be my view that the unofficial page needs to go.  Legally, SBL could make this happen because the term ‘Society of Biblical Literature’ has particular legal protections.  Even an ‘unofficial’ page infringes on those protections (with, as we have seen, good reason!)

I look forward to seeing what SBL rolls out in due course, and I appreciate John’s forthrightness and candor in our conversation.

Quote of the Day

St Paulἀλλὰ ἀπειπάμεθα τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς αἰσχύνης, μὴ περιπατοῦντες ἐν πανουργίᾳ μηδὲ δολοῦντες τὸν λόγον τοῦ θεοῦ, ἀλλὰ τῇ φανερώσει τῆς ἀληθείας συνιστάντες ἑαυτοὺς πρὸς πᾶσαν συνείδησιν ἀνθρώπων ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ.  εἰ δὲ καὶ ἔστιν κεκαλυμμένον τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ἡμῶν, ἐν τοῖς ἀπολλυμένοις ἐστὶν κεκαλυμμένον, ἐν οἷς ὁ θεὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος τούτου ἐτύφλωσεν τὰ νοήματα τῶν ἀπίστων εἰς τὸ μὴ αὐγάσαι τὸν φωτισμὸν τοῦ εὐαγγελίου τῆς δόξης τοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὅς ἐστιν εἰκὼν τοῦ θεοῦ. — Paul of Tarsus  — (2 Cor. 4:2-4)