Again with the Women…

Posted on by Brooke


When a community or an activity is overwhelmingly dominated by male voices, I simply assume that this is a sign of extreme ill health.

I might make arguments about why the community is in such a state, and about which external or internal factors are to blame, and how to bring the patient to a healthy state. But, nothing could convince me to spend time debating about whether the community is in ill health, any more than I would be drawn into a discussion about whether a 98%-white community were in ill health. Exclusion simply is a condition of ill health, an indicator of pathologies.

I bring this up because the Bible-blogging community has again asked itself, “Where all de wimmin at?” (see comments there, and if possible see this older post also).

To which I say, “Good”; frankly, I am not sure there are any more urgent questions to be asked.[1] [A belated clarification: I mean by this to say, This is an urgent question; sorry that my phrasing was not as clear as possible.] Anybody who wants to can compare the level of participation of women in SBL or AAR to that in the Bible-blogging community and see the disparity.

That said, depending on how the conversation takes shape, it may or may not be a conversation I want to be involved in (not meant as a threat; I know that the world turns with or without my help; just processing things aloud in my head).

Insofar as the conversation is about whether there is a problem or not (especially in the mode of, “Won’t you complaining wimmin just kindly explain one more time why you think that there’s a problem here?”), I’ll just wander off to the punch bowl and see if any other like-minded folks are also there, rolling their eyes and trying to look like they just came in to get out of the rain.

Insofar as the conversation is about the role of wimmin in the (a, some-or-other) church, you’ll find me elsewhere, waiting for notice that the talk about biblical studies is scheduled to begin.

Insofar as the conversation is about why the women bloggers just can't enjoy a healthy (persistent, endless) debate about how uncomfortable they make traditional, complementarian-minded men feel, and why they can’t just be more sensitively tolerant of world views that prefer to see women’s voices marginalized, I’ll…well, no, thanks.

But, insofar as the conversation acknowledges at the outset a problem in exclusion—no matter what the possible internal or external root causes of that exclusion—and seeks to discover and address root causes; insofar as that search for root causes is well-meaning and sincere, however naive and fumbling; insofar as the conversation partners are eager to be self-critical; in short, insofar as the conversation situates itself in 21st century academia, then I am cautiously excited for its possibilities and earnestly committed to participate.

(Postscript: I can imagine a related post dealing with the fact that Bible-blogging is less independent of sectarian confessional writing than is the peer-reviewed work associated with SBL or AAR.)

(Second postscript, later: J.K. is also welcoming conversation.)

BACK TO POST Though some other questions might be closely related, such as that of the relation of privately-held sectarian claims (about gender, for instance) to the publicly-shared evidence and lines of reasoning that characterize academic biblical studies.

[Again with the Women… was written by G. Brooke Lester for and was originally posted on 2010/04/05. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Blogiversary (No Fooling)

Posted on by Brooke

Today “Anumma” is one year old: on April 1, 2009 I wrote the first piece of substance in this space. Fascinatingly (to me, anyway), that first bit of writing is still the 3rd most popular of my posts (2nd most popular if you don’t count carnivals).

The most popular post remains some mess about the President, the “antichrist,” and lightning, a piece written in a casual hour before my second cup of coffee. That thing still garners comments, even as of yesterday. I’d like to say that, if I had known how many people would read it, I would have spent more time on it; but the truth is, if had had that knowledge, I wouldn’t have been capable of writing it.

As a special Blogiversary present, you all made March 2010 the biggest month of my twelve. So, thanks!

Annuma’s biggest referrers are Charles, Doug, and Bryan, partly from linking Anumma in posts and partly because these are well-trafficked sites that honor me by putting Anumma on their blogrolls. Thanks, guys. For my part, I am pleased to have sent some meager traffic over to Akma, Bryan, and Jim.

The most popular search terms bringing readers to Anumma remain “lightning from the heights,” “obama antichrist video,” and other variations on “I or somebody close to me is a hopeless rube who should be sat on every first Tuesday in November.” As a Joss Whedon fan and in my opposition to Bible woo, I am happy to see that “phlebotinum” still draws readers.

My second favorite thing about maintaining this space is the writing itself, which also happens to be my least favorite thing. But my most favorite thing about maintaining this space is the conversations I have enjoyed, here and elsewhere, arising from my participation in these overlapping online communities. I am a changed person for them.

On average, in internet terms, the number of folks who wander through this space on a given day is laughably small. But, even that small average number of daily visitors is larger than the number of students who have enrolled in my largest introductory survey course. An exciting and challenging thought, that.

Thanks, and thanks again, and peace.

[Blogiversary (No Fooling) was written by G. Brooke Lester for and was originally posted on 2010/04/01. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Needles in Haystacks

Posted on by Brooke

A friend likes to joke about the beginnings of her research on the biblical Book of Job. She was delighted to find that her initial searches produced great big lists of results: phrases like “good Job”; “Job approval”; even, “How to be happy in your Job.”

My latest research project, on which some of you have already been wonderfully helpful, is bread production in ancient Israel and among its ancient Near Eastern neighbors. Right now, I have the ATLAS database open in front of me (the serials database of the American Theological Libraries Association).

Did you know that, in the Christian religious scholarly literature that dominates such a database, there’s this whole big interest in “bread” that has nothing to do with bread molds, clay ovens, fermentation, or varieties of grains?

[Needles in Haystacks was written by G. Brooke Lester for and was originally posted on 2010/03/17. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Why We Love the Top 50 Bibliobloggers

Posted on by Brooke

What do I love about the Top 50 Bibliobloggers?

5. They know who they are.

4. They support academic blogging on the Bible by nominating posts to the Biblical Studies Carnival.

3. They honor the spirit of Blogroll Amnesty Day by linking “down,” where possible, to blogs that are smaller than theirs.

2. They support academic blogging on the Bible by nominating posts to the Biblical Studies Carnival.

1. They know who they are.

The upcoming, February-edition Biblical Studies Carnival will be hosted here in the first few days of March. See the previous BSC over at Duane’s. Nominate posts for the next so it can be as good as the last!

[Why We Love the Top 50 Bibliobloggers was written by G. Brooke Lester for and was originally posted on 2020/02/16. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

Reminder to Biblioblogging Top 50 and the Lower 50s Alike

Posted on by Brooke

Remember that the 51st Biblical Studies Carnival will be hosted here. During this month February, while you are reading blog posts anywhere on biblical studies, nominate your favorites to the Carnival so I can include them (on linked page, scroll down to “Submitting Entries”).

February 3rd was Blogroll Amnesty Day, in which bloggers “link down” to smaller blogs instead of “up” to the A-list blogs. In the spirit of Blogroll Amnesty Day:

  1. You Big Dogs in biblioblogging—you know who you are—could keep an eye toward reading and linking to the Littler Dogs where you may.

  2. You Little Dogs in biblioblogging: remember that when anybody nominates posts during February, I will find opportunity to link to the nominator’s own content before the Carnival. It’s not like car keys under your seat, but you don’t pay taxes and insurance on my humble linky love, either.

Eighteen nominating days left: vote early, and vote often.

[Reminder to Biblioblogging Top 50 and the Lower 50s Alike was written by G. Brooke Lester for and was originally posted on 2010/02/10. Except as noted, it is © 2010 G. Brooke Lester and licensed for re-use only under CC BY-NC-ND 3.0.]

RIP J.D. Salinger

Posted on by Brooke

I have gone back and forth on drafts for this post, mainly to justify its inclusion in a blog about “Hebrew Bible and Higher Education.” Let’s keep it simple, starting with the simple and plaintive fact that some of the most joyful reading hours of my life I continue to owe to Salinger. Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters and Franny and Zooey have ever been part of my essential, more or less annual, reading.

On Bible: his characters, especially the nearly omnipresent Glass family, seek God as incessantly, as devotedly, as intelligently, and with as much pleasure and sacrifice, as any of the holiest creatures I have had the pleasure to know.

On education: what could I add to the words of Buddy Glass, on the twenty-four young ladies (not one of whom, he is led to discover, “is not as much my sister as Boo Boo or Franny”) awaiting him, essays in hand, in room 307:
They may shine with the misinformation of the ages, but they shine.

Until raised in glory, let him rest clothed in the gratitude of all who are transformed by his art.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day: Jan 27

Posted on by Brooke

This Wednesday is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. At this page, you will find over 160, fully up-to-date links, in nine languages, to educational resources about the Shoah, or Holocaust.

You may find information about this international day of remembrance at the website of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the page for the United Nations Outreach Programme.

History belongs to those who advocate for it, and education is the best defense against the history that the deniers would condemn us to repeat.

Visual Babel (Re-acquiring Scripts)

Posted on by Brooke

(Strong language alert for this video: mosey on down to under the vid if'n you'd rather keep the F-bombs at bay.)

I have two re-acquisition projects going right now. One of getting back my Egyptian: I had two excellent years of instruction while in school, eventually reading handily through Shipwrecked Sailor and Sinuhe and such. Since I didn’t use it during the dissertation years, and since teaching keeps me some busy, it’s not exactly ready-to-hand anymore. So, I have been making fresh flash cards and zipping through Gardiner again. I mean to have worked through the grammar and be into readings by spring’s end.

My other project is my OB and standard Akkadian cuneiform signs. My Akkadian grammar has stayed pretty good, because I have used it off and on, but mostly with texts already transliterated (and often already normalized). So, out have come the cuneiform flash cards, with a goal of getting back up to a literacy of 200 or more signs, knowing their usual OB and SA forms.

My routine has been to hump through Egyptian for several days until glassy-eyed, then turn to wherever I last left off with the cuneiform. Lather, rinse, repeat. In between, I “rest” for a day or two on rapid Hebrew or Koine or on snippets of Attic.

This is all to say, the inside of my head is a bowl of warmed-ever mnemonic soup: an exhilarating but faintly nauseating visual babel where ÉRIN is bumping heads with ṯ3ty, and and SIPAD has ḥnḳt sticking out of its pockets.

Couple of Recent Finds

Posted on by Brooke

Two new sites for the blogroll and feeder page.

One is Mike Aubrey’s ΕΝ ΕΦΕΣΩ, which I stumbled into after reading a comment by Mike somewhere or other. Linguistically informed conversations about Greek syntax are a wonderful thing, especially where they resist the vein of “see how my grammar-validated theology beats up your grammar-condemned heresy.” Go and have a look.

The other is The Immanent Frame, which is:

a collective blog publishing interdisciplinary perspectives on secularism, religion, and the public sphere. The blog serves as a forum for ongoing exchanges among leading scholars across the social sciences and humanities, featuring original essays that have not previously been published in print or online.

The Immanent Frame is an academic site, and from what I see, its conversations avoid the polarized, “he said she said” sensationalism that mars most of our public discourse on religion and secularism. Their page, In the Classroom, offers suggestions and invitations to educators. Take a moment and browse around over there. My own readers might want to see their series, “Religion and the Historical Profession,” which responds to an article claiming that religion is now the “most popular theme of historical study in America.”

(Hat tip for discovering The Immanent Frame goes to my old classmate, Lance Gharavi.)

Whoa: Welcome!

Posted on by Brooke

As soon as I find the incoming link that has spiked my numbers today, I’ll offer a proper welcome. Things are a little slow around here while I work through some overdue fall grading. Hit some Tag links in the sidebar, mill around, and have fun. You can expect more or less daily postings after this week.

Here are a few popular posts from the last year:

A favorite Tag link of my own is Bible Woo.

Enjoy yourselves, and come back soon.

We're All #1 Meme

Posted on by Brooke

James McGrath, at Exploring our Matrix, has proposed a new meme: We're All #1.

See the background at the original post, but the idea is: What Google search term produces your blog as its first/highest hit? The search term cannot be your name or the name of your blog, and the search term cannot use quotation marks.

What am I #1 in?

  • phlebotinum Bible

  • Bible woo

What are you #1 in?

Okay, But Tell Me Why: Neil Gaiman

Posted on by Brooke

I’m being stalked. By Neil Gaiman readers. They make a point of sidling up at times carefully chosen to appear random, then raise their voices ever so slightly: “Yada yada Neil Gaiman etc.,” they say to one another, carefully avoiding my eyes and pretending not to see me there, minding my own biblical-studies, higher-ed busyness.

I harbor no skepticism about Gaiman: I know absolutely nothing about him, and am wholly willing to be persuaded. But help me:

In you opinion, why must this barely-post-boomer sci-fi/fantasy-reading professor of higher education in Old Testament studies drop what he’s doing (after grading) and pick up Neil Gaiman? Also, where should I begin, and why?

(No spoilers, please!)

SBLogging: Sunday Morning RBoC

Posted on by Brooke

  • At some point, I am going to have to eat a dinner that I can afford. Not here in NOLA, of course, but at some point.

  • Had the great pleasure of meeting Julia O’Brian yesterday.

  • The sessions “Warfare in Ancient Israel” and “Disability Studies and Healthcare in the Bible and Near East” sections held a joint session yesterday: very cool. Nice paper by Bryan Bibb about (in part) how, just as prophetic texts will seek to demean their male audience by casting them as women, they will demean their able-bodied audience by casting them as disabled (sometimes by describing their enemies as preternaturally able-bodied).

  • Giving my own paper today, in the Distance Learning session.

  • Finding great value in the Twittering on SBL: keep it up, everyone.

SBLogging: Friday

Posted on by Brooke

This is what else it takes to find time to blog: getting out of town and going to NOLA.

Any conference weekend that begins with seeing no fewer than six of your favorite people can’t be all bad. Also, if you’re going to overspend on dinner, 1) it’s okay if it’s the first night, and 2) it may as well be somewhere with amazing etouffé.

It's a Sign of the Times

Posted on by Brooke

So this is what it takes for me to have a moment to blog: my students taking a one-hour exam. What do I want to say in this golden moment?

This: When I think of the spring term, in which my teaching load will be greatly reduced from the lunatic schedule I’m on now, I most look forward to writing on the Bible. Right now, I'm teaching all the time, so in my brain it’s all-pedagogy-all-the-time. Great, but by now there’s an imbalance in the Force: after a summer and fall of thinking and writing about teaching, I have a yen for wide-open Bible spaces. (And maybe brush off my Egyptian. Wide open Bible and Egyptian spaces.)

Will next term be different for you in some way? And how will it?

RBoC: "Endless October" Edition

Posted on by Brooke

The calendar has turned, and the weather gone from  “all rain all the time” to “all chilly rain all the time,” but plus ça change, plus c'est toujours l'October.

On my plate:

  • apply for work (’tis the season)

  • prepare SBL presentation

  • write overdue report for distance-learning committee

  • hey, I preach next week

  • grade midterms for Intro to OT

  • grade midterms for Hebrew

  • write midterm feedback for Intro to OT blogging

  • get caught up podcasting lectures for Intro to OT

  • oversee peer review of midterm papers in Intro to OT

Plus the usual stuff in the personal sphere, including but not limited to:

  • keep the Boy involved in Cub Scout achievements

  • help the Boy prepare for his next Taekwon-do promotion test

The next time I look up, I’ll be on a plane for New Orleans. Then I’ll blink, and be grading final exams. Should I just start humming Advent tunes now?

Be My Bible-Blogging Filter

Posted on by Brooke

I know I am not alone in this, but: October is crunch time for teachers in higher ed, and my RSS feeds on my NetVibes page are getting out of hand: 165 blog posts to read, and rising steadily.

Be my filter: what current or recent blog posts in biblical studies must I simply not miss?

Remember too that these might be likely candidates for nomination to the next Biblical Studies Carnival. But tell me first!

Blackboard Rant

Posted on by Brooke

I’ve taken hours of training in Blackboard. According to the level of instruction I’ve had, I am an “expert.” I like software, and am accustomed to learning new interfaces.

Yet: I cannot understand Blackboard-ese, I cannot make it do two-thirds of what its documentation promises me it can do, and when I can, I hate how it’s done.