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Mid-Atlantic Regional 2012 Call for Papers

September 27, 2011

It’s that time again! The call for paper is out for the Society of Biblical Literature’s Mid-Atlantic Regional Meeting. This year’s meeting will again be held in New Brunswick. Paper proposals are due Monday, December 5th. Full information below:

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Biblical Reboot

September 19, 2011

Of course, this isn’t the earliest reboot. For that you’d need to look at some of the distinctive in different editions of the Gilgamesh epic. Still, this is a lovely way of illustrating some of the “continuity errors” in the larger biblical corpus. I also recommend  James McGrath‘s post relating the latest debacle from Lucas to epic storytelling in the ancient world.

Why Oracles are so Opaque

September 18, 2011

(Courtesy of SMBC)

Thought for the Day

September 11, 2011

Now it is a strange thing, but things that are good to have and days that are good to spend are soon told about, and not much to listen to; while things that are uncomfortable palpitating, and even gruesome, ay make a good tale, and take a deal of telling anyway.

(J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, 61)

Biblical Studies Carnival: Revenge of the Sith

September 1, 2011

James McGrath has posted the latest Biblical Studies Carnival entitled: Biblical Studies Carnival Episode III: The Final Frontier as the Carnival Strikes Back. As can be inferred by the title, the roundup of the month has a decidedly sci-fi theme.

I wonder if this trend will continue as we head towards the Society of Biblical Literature meeting at Starfleet Academy in San Francisco this fall. Will the end result be cosplay at the national conference?

Or perhaps that’s already the case, and we all just dress like the eleventh Doctor.

Costly Snark in Reviews

August 7, 2011

Francis Wheen has a piece in the Financial Times entitled “The Hunting of the Snark,” which comments on the recent UK court decision awarding writer Sarah Thornton £65,000 damages over a particularly nasty review by Lynn Barber.

“Sarah Thornton”, Barber wrote in the offending article, “is a decorative Canadian with a BA in art history and a PhD in sociology and a seemingly limitless capacity to write pompous nonsense.” So far so good: this is what libel lawyers call “mere vulgar abuse”, which is a fine old literary tradition. …

Then Barber made her costly mistake: “Thornton claims her book is based on hour-long interviews with more than 250 people. I would have taken this on trust, except that my eye flicked down the list of her 250 interviewees and practically fell out of its socket when it hit the name Lynn Barber. I gave her an interview? Surely I would have noticed?”

[Judge] Tugendhat found that in fact Thornton had interviewed Barber for her book. There were only two possibilities: either Barber was lying in her review, or she was forgetful. Barber pleaded the latter, pointing out that she had sometimes written about her terrible memory. This had the ring of truth: as a friend and former colleague, I can confirm that Barber is what you might kindly call “scatty”. But the judge ruled that it made no difference. Even if she didn’t know that her remark about the interview was wrong, she was at the very least reckless, “that is, indifferent as to whether it was true or false”.

What most interested me in this situation, and something seemingly overlooked by Wheen’s subsequent analysis, is that this was not simply one literati critiquing another over the use of Oxford commas. This was an attack on the research principles of an academic. As such, it isn’t merely an acerbic statement on a manuscript; it brings the author’s methodology and merit for tenure into question.

Wheen seems to reminisce about the “good old days” when reviewers were able to rip each other to shreds with an impunity fostered by personal isolation. Examples from Twain, Orwell and others prove this point in regards to literary circles. However, in the academy (especially in biblical studies and related fields in which I move) more decorum is often shown/needed in reviews because personal interactions are almost unavoidable.

How a Book is Made (at Eerdmans)

August 6, 2011

EerdWorld has a cute post on How an Eerdmans Book is Born (in Sixteen Easy Steps). The most telling hurtle is step 2, Project Development:

An editor works with an author or editor to turn a good idea into a good book. This can take a while, but it’s almost always worth the investment of time and effort that goes into it.

Another reminder that all writing is in some sense rewriting.