The End of Bible and Ancient Near East

Posted on by Brooke

I’ve closed blogs myself, and know that it’s a natural part of the blecosystem, but I’ll be sorry to remove Alan Lenzi’s “Bible and Ancient Near East” from my RSS feeds. Alan’s has long been among my favorites.

Thanks for great posts, Alan. I’ll instruct my minions to let me know when you pop up again, whether in your old haunts or in another venue.

[Psst: Addendum]

The Earth Quakes Before Them

Posted on by Brooke

Local Big Ol’ University is back in session now—they start later than us at Adjacent Seminary—and the students, they are thick on the ground.

Like autumn leaves, you kick up showers of them when you walk.

Like gnats, you catch them on your uvula when you open your mouth.

Like worries, they fill your field of vision when you close your eyes.

As the prophet Joel anticipated…
Before them peoples are in anguish,
all faces grow pale.

Like warriors they charge,
like soldiers they scale the wall.

Each keeps to its own course,
they do not swerve from their paths.

They do not jostle one another,
each keeps to its own track;

They burst through the weapons
and are not halted.

They leap upon the city,
they run upon the walls;

They climb up into the houses,
they enter through the windows like a thief.

…they are climbing in the windows.

RBoC: T-Minus 21 Hours Edition

Posted on by Brooke

This time tomorrow, I will have finished with my first Hebrew session of the year, and be worshiping in chapel under the handicap of anticipating our first session of the large introductory Old Testament course.

On my mind today are the following:

  • It’s my wife’s birthday. Why do academics marry people with early September birthdays? Sometimes we just can’t help ourselves, and besides, I wasn’t an academic when we married, or when she was born, for that matter.

  • The Blackboard Help Desk never returns calls. [Later: that was pretty snarky. In fact, once they realized that our classes have started NOW, they have been very much on the case.]

  • I want to post on the “women in biblioblogging” kerfluffle about as badly as I don’t want to post on it. (No link: either you’re up on it or you don’t need to know.) Preliminary observations: 1) Among the non-Bible academic blogs, women appear to me to constitute a pretty solid majority (for a self-selected and anecdotal glimpse, see my second blogroll). 2) With others, I point out that the soi-disant “bibliobloggers” are a skewed sample of Bible scholars: aside from being mostly male, they are mostly grad students, and (I am not dying to try to defend this or even define it too closely) largely somewhat conservative in background or readership. 3) Biblical studies as a culture tends to lag at least a few decades behind its ancillary disciplines (literary criticism, archaeology, history, culture studies, you name it, and yes-it’s-true-that-other-fields-can-be-slow-to-hear-what-we’re-doing-too). 4) Jobs are hard enough to find and keep, and more so for women than for men, and so far “bibliobogging” isn’t exactly up there in the requirements for tenure. I don’t wish at this time to try to tie these points together into a coherent set of claims, except perhaps to say, “It’s pretty early in the day yet, folks, yet not too early for attention to collegiality and justice.” More to follow, maybe.

  • Pre-recording slide-enhanced podcast lectures takes, on average, four times longer than simply delivering the lecture in class. And that’s just for beta-version, not-ready-for-prime-time product.

  • Fall ball? Why did we think that we had time for our son to be involved in fall baseball?

  • I have a presentation to prepare for the annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (weekend before Thanksgiving, New Orleans LA).

  • I cannot wait to get back into some more substantial posts. Be patient, please, neighbors.


Posted on by Brooke

Always befriend a librarian. In the first place, they tend to be really fun, smart people worth hanging around with. But in the second place, sometimes they make you aware of what they find tucked away in closets and storage spaces. Sometimes, they find things like this:


An Olympia Deluxe International Hebrew typewriter. It will want a new ribbon, and it’s possible that the margin-setting-thingies aren’t working properly, but it’s clean and seems to work very well.


You can see that the arrangement is according to the standard Hebrew keyboard. I’m used to the Hebrew-Qwerty keyboard myself (bet goes where our B is, and so on), which means I have to hunt & peck.

Since Hebrew does not have upper-case letters, I was surprised to see a shift/tab key assembley (lower left, as you expect). It turns out that “upper case” produces standard-sized characters, and “lower case” produces little wee characters. In this sample, you can see my botched first line, then an error-free line of standard size, and finally a line in little wee size:


Typographically, I can’t say that the font face looks exactly like any of the Hebrew font that I have on my computer (I have SBL Hebrew and whatever comes with the Mac OS). Pretty close in spirit is New Peninim MT. The following will appear in New Peninim MT, but only if you’ve got it installed. Otherwise, it will probably be in some version of Lucida.

מי יתן אפו ויכתבון

Good times! And yes, I feel like Arthur Weasley gushing over a collection of “plugs.”

Promises to Keep

Posted on by Brooke

(Btw, you will have heard it elsewhere already, but Biblical Studies Carnival 44 has erected its tents and opened for admission over at Jim West’s place.)

Every now and then, in order to keep a post under a thousand words or so, I’ve thrown out a promise to flesh some idea out more fully in the future. Here, I’m going back to try to list some of those outstanding promises.

  • “Being a Student” series: I offered suggestions for students planning to ask for letters of reference, and said I would occasionally offer similar posts on “being a student.” I’ve done a bit, and may step up that series as we get into the academic year.

  • I haveseveraltimesusedtheterm “woo,” a term used by science bloggers and atheist bloggers to describe instances of pseudoscientific claims and arguments. At least once, I have promised to devote a post to justifying the term “Bible woo.” I keep deferring the post, because it calls for some fairly serious platform-building, including 1) distinguishing evidentiary “biblical studies” from devotional “Bible study”; 2) establishing how historical studies and literary criticism sit among the sciences; 3) figuring out how not to have to bring in an explanation of modernism and post-modernism if it can be avoided by any means; 4) distinguishing unsuccessful but methodologically sound “biblical studies” from fraudulently-conceived, pseudoscientific “Bible woo.”

  • In a related vein, I once suggested that the dichotomy “science v. religion” might profitably be swapped out for the distinction between “literal speech and figurative speech.” That is, if religious speech would try to be more clear about whether it means to be literal (and therefore falsifiable) or figurative (and therefore subject to the different critical canons of literary art), then much of the “science v. religion” conflict is sidestepped. My one post on the topic addressed a particular news item (Obama’s nomination of Francis Collins as Director of National Institutes of Health). I would like to write a follow-up post that fills in the argument that I started there.

  • These two are promises I’ve made to myself in the form of drafts or outlines: I would like to write a post about how we users decide what new technologies or platforms are for (“What is Twitter For?”); and I would like to further promote awareness of iTunes U and YouTube/Edu by featuring particular items from time to time.

  • As SBL gets closer and my fall teaching progresses, I will be testing out ideas about my paper topic: How strategies in distance learning contribute to the brick-and-mortar classroom.

By writing this post, I don’t mean that I’m going to drop everything until every item is neatly scratched off with a fine point pen. In fact, August (with class preparation amping up into high gear) might not even be the most fruitful time for the careful thinking that these plans ask for. But, it puts my loose ends of yarn into one basket here at my elbow.

What of these plans, if anything, would you like to see taking shape first? What other kinds of posts would you like to see more of?

Run Along and Play Now, That’s a Good Reader

Posted on by Brooke

I’m snowed under with unexpected emails from students and some other urgent tasks. But what can you do while I’m busy? Hm…

You eager beavers have already crashed the new online Sinaiticus site, rushing in like manuscript geeks to a manuscript (I’m too busy even to concoct a metaphor), so that’s out. [Later: It lives!]

Oh, just read popular Ph.D. Comics for a while. And scrounge for your lunch out of the fridge, I don’t have time to fix you something.

Five Book Meme

Posted on by Brooke

Yikes! So, Art tagged me way back when, and I missed it, and the meme has passed. But if I were of a disposition to be able to leave a loose end untied, I wouldn’t have completed even a week of grad school.

“Name 5 books or scholars that had the most immediate and lasting influence on how you read the Bible.” (The collected links to other five-book-meme-ing bibliobloggers are at the bottom of Biblical Studies Carnival 43. Congratulations on your discovery, Patrick!)

Duane’s caveat pertains: this is the list for today. Ask me tomorrow or the next day, you will likely get a very different list.

Here we go:

  • Clark M. Williamson, A Guest in the House of Israel. Two thousands years of Christian teaching of contempt for Judasim, including the most unlikely candidates (like Bonhoeffer and Barth). Only one chapter is on scripture, but the whole book has made me alert to the double standard by which Christians read the OT (good stuff = proto-Christianity, bad stuff = proto-Judaism).

  • Thorkild Jacobsen, Treasures of Darkness: A History of Mesopotamian Religion. My Intro to OT teacher, J. Gerald Janzen, had us read this before we read the Hebrew Bible. I still find myself reading God in the OT in terms of the providential numen, the king, and the parent, and blendings of the three.

  • Shlomith Rimon-Kenan, Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics (2nd rev. ed.). There are plenty of great lights in biblical narrative criticism, but it took a critic from outside the field to make for me of narrative criticism a truly organized and phenomenological undertaking. Reading biblical narrative critics allowed me to appreciate the approach, but it took Rimmon-Kenan to teach me to do it.

  • J.R.R. Tokien, LOTR and Silmarillion. Sorry, but this soaked into me so early that I compare everything to it. For me, the stories of Middle Earth will always constitute “the canon that got there first.”

  • David Sibley, Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. Sibley taught me to go beyond bird listing and into bird watching. Even your 500th Red-wing Blackbird still has something to teach, some wonder to disclose. What is true of my 500th Red-wing Blackbird is true, then, of my 500th reading of Gen 22, Psalm 23, or 2 Sam 7.

I don’t know that there can be anyone left in the biblioblogistanosphere to tag, and I’m ambivilent anyway about tagging at the tail end of a meme’s natural lifespan. If anyone comes on this post and wants to scoop it up into some other corner of the web, then consider yourself tagged and have fun.

Three Month Bloggiversary Clouding

Posted on by Brooke

Today marks three months I’ve been writing in this space. According to Wordle at least (which I think may be skewed toward recent entries: you can’t tell me I’ve brought up Arabic as frequently as the Bible overall), this is what I have been writing about:


You Know What’s Hard?

Posted on by Brooke

Re-entering the social web after four wonderful days hiking the Superior Hiking Trail. Not that I’m not excited to be back in the conversations. It’s just that there’s also the pack to unpack, the laundry to do, the family to love up, and suchlike mundania. Oh, yes, and my work.

Social web-wise, I have found time to:

  • Begin catching up on all of your own posts from this last week. Some of y’all Bible bloggers have been even more productive than usual, but I am getting there.

  • Discover how to add a tab to my Facebook profile featuring the “Social RSS” application. Now, on that tab I have posted feeds to this blog’s entries and comments, and also to my Tweets.

  • Begin to learn something about Yahoo Pipes, which is going to help me to get my students blogging and aggregate their course-related posts (and only those posts) to a shared NetVibes feed. More on this when I get it going.

Good to see you, and glad to be back.

While I’m AFK…

Posted on by Brooke

…could you all please stop by and turn the lights on and off from time to time, and maybe pick up the paper off the stoop?

I’ll resume blogging after June 9, less than a week away. In the meantime:

  • The Big 42 isn’t going anywhere, so take your time and enjoy it. I mean, Theophyle’s contributions alone could keep you happily occupied all weekend.

  • If you’re still looking for Big Hebrew Bible Internet Fun, scan through my “Hebrew Bible” or “Hebrew Language” aggregate search pages at NetVibes: throw a dart at the screen and read whatever it lands on.

  • The next Teaching Carnival is due June 8. If you want to stay abreast of Teaching Carnivals, follow the carnival on Twitter.

Have fun! See you next week.

Carnivalia: Coming Up, and Around the Bend

Posted on by Brooke

Time is almost up to suggest entries for the May 2009 Biblical Studies Carnival, to be hosted at Ketuvim. See the carnival’s home page to learn how to submit an entry; additional options for submissions by the host himself.

The most recent Teaching Carnival, at Bethany Nowviskie, is already eleven days old. The roughly semiweekly Teaching Carnival involves blogs about higher education (there are other carnivals for K–6 or K–12). I have read the Teaching Carnivals for a couple of years now, and continue to learn (and laugh) at a rate of about a ton per carnival.

The “If Youda Ast Me, I Coulda Told Ya” Department

Posted on by Brooke

We all knew that Akma’s Random Thoughts is an Awesome Blog by one of the World’s Smartest People, but it is nice to see it made official. (Link: www dot onlineuniversities dot com/blog/2009/05/100-awesome-blogs-by-some-of-the-worlds-smartest-people/ )

H/T to James McGrath, who notes that the alert eye will find around the blogosphere other lights who are not less in brilliance.

“But Now My Eye Sees You”

Posted on by Brooke

I had read him by the reading of the blog, but yesterday I had the chance to talk with him in person for a while. John Hobbins was here at G-ETS and was good enough to track me down. I enjoyed a fine hour with John, chatting on Hebrew, teaching and learning, pastoring, blogging, and varia. Somehow we forgot to talk about the book of Daniel, concerning which we have both written (see the bottom of his About page). Next time!

It’s always mildly surprising when one of these iPeople turns out to have a real face, and in this case a special pleasure. Thanks for taking time to stick your head in, John.

Master of My Domain

Posted on by Brooke

(We can still make that joke, right? Or has it been too long already?)

I’ve registered “” as the primary domain name for this unassuming little corner of bibliobiblicablogdomistan. Any links to “” will still direct here, though.

After absorbing this major announcement, by all means go back to the blogs with new posts of substance. I’ll try to make up this lost 20 seconds with the next post, I promise.

Font Sandbox

Posted on by Brooke

Don’t mind this post: here, I am writing out some Hebrew characters, some transliteration of Hebrew, and some Greek characters, just so I can look at them while I mess around with font stacks and browsers.

‏בְּרֵאשִׁית בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֵת הָאָרֶץ׃ וְהָאָרֶץ הָיְתָה תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ וְחֹשֶׁךְ עַל־פְּנֵי תְהוֹם

bĕrēʾšît bārāʾ ʾĕlōhîm ʾēt-haššāmayim wĕʾēt hāʾāreṣ wĕhāreṣ hāytâ tōhû wābōhû wĕḥōšek ʿal-pĕnê tĕhôm

ἐν ἀρχῇ ἐποίησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν οὐρανὸν καὶ τὴν γῆν ἡ δὲ γῆ ἦν ἀόρατος καὶ ἀκατασκεύαστος καὶ σκότος ἐπάνω τῆς ἀβύσσου

(Hm, I wonder why I cannot input an upsilon with a circumflex?)[edit: Turns out to be a Camino thing]

Okay, move on, nothing to see. That said, if you have interesting observations about what you see, by all means comment with a description, as well as your OS and browser information. At this point, I've added no font information to the HTML of this post, so these Unicode samples of text are defaulting to the template defaults. Thank you!