Saturday, October 04, 2014

On Shadows & Realities in Education: Plato's Republic Book 7


    Socrates] And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: Behold! human beings living in an underground den, which has a mouth open toward the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette-players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.
    [Glaucon] I see.
    And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.
    You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.
    Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?
    True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?
    And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?
    Yes, he said.
    And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?
    Very true.
    And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?
    No question, he replied.
    To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.

Alexander the Great ISAW October 8 2014-January 4th 2015

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

UCL: Centre for Editing Lives and Letters: Archaeology of Reading

News from the UCL Centre for Editing Lives and Letters is that they have received a grant from the Mellen Foundation to explore the archaeology of reading through the marginalia or annotations of early printed materials. Through this uncatalogued data we get access to a history of reading.

In partnership with the Johns Hopkins University’s Sheridan Libraries and the Princeton University Library, the project builds upon several decades of humanistic research that has focused upon the printing revolution of the sixteenth century, and the widespread practice by active readers of leaving often dense, interpretive manuscript annotations in the margins, and between the lines, of the books they read. This diverse evidence of annotation provides a considerable range of unique and largely untapped research materials, which reveal that readers—much as users of the internet today—adapted quickly to the technology of print: interacting intimately, dynamically, socially, and even virtually with texts.
The history of reading remains a rich area for research, as scholars seek to better understand these reading habits and strategies, though it has remained a particularly daunting task when conducted in a purely analogue context, particularly with books that literally contain thousands of notes.

Alison Flood in the Guardian notes that the project will start with the works of Gabriel Harvey.

In his copy of Livy's history of Rome, the Elizabethan scholar Gabriel Harvey paused to write a note in the margin about how he read the text in the company of Philip Sidney, and how the two had "scrutinis[ed it] so far as we could from all points of view, applying a political analysis, just before his embassy to the emperor Rudolf II".



Tuesday, June 24, 2014

On translating IOUDAIOS

Adele Reinhartz writes a piece on "The Vanishing Jews of Antiquity" in Marginalia for the LA Times Book Review (6/24).


She raises questions about the way in which many scholars now render IOUDAIOI as "Judeans." Where formerly scholars including those who translated the Bible once rendered ioudaios/ioudaioi as “Jew/Jews,” since 2007, now these terms are rendered “Judaean/Judaeans.” The argument of scholars like Steve Mason is that the category “Judaean” is a more precise and ethical because in the first place it corresponds to the complex meaning of ioudaios in ancient sources and second, that is counteracts the anti-Semitism historically associated with some of these Greek texts, particularly the New Testament.  

The latter is forcefully argued by Danker in the entry for Ioudaios in A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (BDAG) third edition (478a-b):

“Incalculable harm has been caused by simply glossing ioudaios with “Jew,”  for many readers or auditors of Bible translations do not practice the historical judgement necessary to distinguish between circumstances and events of ancient time and contemporary ethnic religious social realities, with the result that anti-Judaism in the modern sense of the term is needlessly fostered through biblical texts.”

Prof Reinhardt’s then focuses on the rendering of the term in the gospel of John.  She says, “despite some neutral or even positive occurrences, the Ioudaioi figure most prominently as the opponents of Jesus, who’s lying and murderous conspiracy to have crucified demonstrates that they are children of the devil (John 8:44).”  And she notes that “the potent association between these figures and the devil remains deeply embedded in anti-Semitic discourse to this day.”

Rendering Ioudaioi by “Judeans” is a way of making adherents to the laws of Moses in the Hellenistic world e.g. Jews in the gospel of John invisible. And it exonerates the author of the gospel of John from any role in the history of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism.

She argues that “the term Jew is more precise because it signals the complex type of identity that the ancient sources associate with the Greek term and also because it allows Judaean to retain its primary meaning as a geographical designation useful when discussing the inhabitants or topography of Judaea.”   That term is more ethical “because it acknowledges the Jewish connection to this period of history and these ancient texts and because it opens up the necessity of confronting the role of the New Testament in the history of anti-Semiticism.” 

Let the debate continue!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Mellon Lectures 2014

2014 Mellon Lectures recorded here
Anthony Grafton, Princeton University. In this six-part lecture series entitled Past Belief: Visions of Early Christianity in Renaissance and Reformation Europe, Anthony Grafton focuses on the efforts of artists and scholars to recreate the early history of Christianity in a period of crisis in the church from the 15th to the 17th century. In this sixth lecture, entitled “Constantine and Conversion: The Roles of the First Christian Emperor,” originally delivered at the National Gallery of Art on May 11, 2014, Professor Grafton argues that in their retelling of the dramatic and exemplary life of Constantine, scholars and artists forged new forensic, historical, and multidisciplinary approaches. They used philological and antiquarian evidence to unpack a layered and incoherent body of evidence that exposed the apocryphal legends of what has been called an “inherited conglomerate.” Protestant and Catholic writers concurred in their assessment that Constantine’s reign marked a radical transformation of art and religion and was thus a historical moment of great consequence—yet one or two began to see Constantine in less dramatic terms, as the human, political figure that he was. The erudition and imagination of these scholars and artists in the early modern period produced sophisticated and acute views of the early church, from which we can still profit today.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

"Mary & Jesus in the Garden" my talk at St Bartholomew's Church, March 21, 2014

Deirdre Good, Academic Dean and Professor of New Testament at General Seminary presented a multimedia examination at St Bartholomew's Church on March 21st 2014 in mid-town Manhattan on the theme of “Mary Magdalene and Jesus in the Garden” in text, art, and music. I am so glad to be able to hear the interaction amongst all of those who were present!  

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Making the case for Biblical Languages in seminary curricula

There's a wonderful blog post (in an excellent blog Seminarium) making the case for required biblical languages in seminary curricula.

I particularly like this paragraph:


But seminaries prepare ministers, not scholars…

Excellent point. In fact, I believe neglecting this point is the primary issue in our approach to teaching biblical languages. Often, a Hebrew or Greek class is oriented towards the would-be scholar—even if most of the students are preparing for ministry. The language geeks do well but most walk away with a mere passing grade and the unintended lesson that the Bible “isn’t really their thing.” In the worst-case scenario, capable, called, and conscientious would-be pastors are held back because they can’t memorize the aorist passive participle plural paradigm.
What if biblical language courses were realigned towards the knowledge and skills that ministers need? Lesson plans that integrate exegetical practices, homiletical cues, and theological interpretations are not only more effective pedagogically but also more useful in the long run. Effective ministers need not be able to cold translate a random passage but they should be able to help their hearers make interpretive leaps between our culture and the ancient world. Do we test our students on the intricacies of recognizing a jussive versus an imperfect, or on how this distinction has played a key role in the interpretation of Old Testament prophecy? What I’m describing are language classes that help seminarians discern their orientation towards Bible.
At General Seminary we offer two years of elective biblical language instruction in Greek and Hebrew and occasionally we offer Syriac and Coptic. We include material from the early patristic period and continue to the creeds. Of special interest is the LXX, the Bible of the early Christian communities. Focus on the LXX can be integrated into classroom discussion through the topic When God Spoke Greek (see the review of Timothy Michael Law's excellent 2013 book with that title in the LA Review of Books here). Everyone of course has the New English Translation of the Septuagint (NETS) online.  The great benefit of this kind of focus is that we can broaden our knowledge of the early Christian tradition. And continued use of the LXX in Orthodox Christian traditions opens up a fruitful dialogue with Eastern Christian traditions today. 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

"What if Arianism Had Won?" Diarmaid McCullough 4th lecture in Princeton in Europe series

Gospel of Thomas critical edition by Uwe-Karsten Plisch on sale



We have acquired more copies of this critical edition of the Gospel of Thomas and are offering it at over 70% off. See details below for more information on this helpful resource.
All of our Markdowns can be viewed Here
We also also many new arrivals of used books in the area of New Testament. View them Here

Plisch, Uwe-Karsten
Gospel of Thomas: Original Text with Commentary
(Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2008)
Hardcover List: $69.95 Your Price: $19.99
Add to Cart

The Gospel of Thomas, a collection of words of Jesus, is one of the most significant extrabiblical texts of the early Christian era. This edition presents the texts in the classical languages and provides an English translation and a readily readable commentary.

It includes:

- an introduction to the Gospel of Thomas - the complete Coptic text
- the text of the Greek fragments and a Greek retranslation of all logia with parallel texts from the canonic gospels
- an English translation - an extensive commentary
- illustrations of the Coptic manuscript
- an appendix with an index and bibliography The introduction and commentary do not assume knowledge of the classical languages, making The Gospel of Thomas accessible to a broad audience.