Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Summer Reading

Ah, the pleasures of summer reading...at present I am reading these novels: Gervase Phinn, Head Over Heels in the Dales (third volume in a series) suggested by my mother in light of my interest in teaching; Double Comfort Safari Club by Alexander McCall Smith (which author, btw, my mother heartily dislikes as she finds it unrealistic on the basis of her experience in Kenya); and Pat Barker, Double Vision: A Novel. I'm locating Tana French's Faithful Place through interlibrary loan.

For more serious reading, I'm reading a book on Galatians (see previous post) and Henry Plummer on the various uses of light in Shaker Architecture. Just reading the chapter headings is an education: Simplicity--Pristine Light; Order--Focused Light; Luminosity--Inner Light; Equality--Shared Light; Time--Cyclic Light. I've never thought of light in this way. The book's illustrations are illuminating.

On Friday I'm going to a booksigning of The Hidden Children of France edited by Danielle Bailly, translated by Betty Becker-Theye and just out From SUNY Press.

Is there anything more wonderful than a good book?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Excerpt from a recent sermon, "Martha's Table" preached at Ely Cathedral by the Bishop of Oxford, the Right Rev. John Pritchard.

When I was at Canterbury with your Dean I was once taking the early morning eucharist and standing by at the end of the service to say goodbye. An American visitor came up to me and said, 'I haven't been to that service for 30 years.' I wasn't sure what to say, so I just said, 'Welcome home.' 'That's exactly it,' he said, and his eyes filled with tears. Something special happened to that man at that table that day.

With Jesus the ordinary table becomes the holy table, and your life and mine – ordinary lives – become holy lives. When we come to Communion we aren't coming to eat a piece of bread and drink a little wine. We're coming to be transformed, to be made a little more like Christ.


The offer – you might say – is still on the table.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I'm reading Brigitte Kahl's new book on Paul: Galatians Re-Imagined--Reading Paul with the eyes of the Vanquished.  Vernon K. Robbins reviews the book by saying:

This book is breathtaking not only in depth and scope but also in its goal with the reader. Kahl builds a complex, richly supported case that Paul’s argument for justification by faith and freedom from the law in Galatians is not properly interpreted through any mode of Christianity versus Judaism. Rather, Paul presents a Jewish-messianic monotheism that subverts and reconfigures the claims of imperial monotheism, which enacts an ideology of universal law and order.

He concludes: In its overall import, Kahl’s Galatians Re-imagined has an importance for the twenty-first century that writings such as F. C. Baur’s “The Christ-Party in the Corinthian Church,” D. F. Strauss’s Life of Jesus Critically Examined, W. Wrede’s The Messianic Secret in Mark, or K. Barth’s The Epistle of Romans had for the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

Hard to imagine a better review than that.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations ejournal (latest issue)

The latest issue of the ejournal (Vol.5 #1, 2010) of Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations published by the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College is here.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Studying the New Testament (US Edition)

Studying the New Testament published with Bruce Chilton by Fortress Press is here! Thanks to the Fortress Press people particularly Ross Millar and Profs Davina Lopez, Sean Freyne and Richard Pervo for the endorsements. There are sample chapters here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

"Acts of God" courtesy of the New Yorker

Questions of agency, divine or otherwise, dog us these early-summer days, amid a pileup of ill tidings: an intractable war; hints, once again, of economic depression; the deep-sea oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. Who’s to blame? Who’s in charge?

Monday, July 12, 2010

Pliny the Elder is the subject of In Our Time (this week).  Pliny the Elder is the author of  Natural History: A Selection (Penguin Classics). The programme information says that:
The Natural History contains information on zoology, astronomy, geography, minerals and mining and - unusually for a work of this period - a detailed treatise on the history of classical art. It's a fascinating snapshot of the state of human knowledge almost two millennia ago.
Pliny's 37-volume magnum opus is one of the most extensive works of classical scholarship to survive in its entirety, and was being consulted by scholars as late as the Renaissance. It had a significant influence on intellectual history, and has provided the template for every subsequent encyclopaedia.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Willis Barnstone's The Restored New Testament reviewed by Frank Kermode

The July 15th issue of the NY Review of Books has a review by Frank Kermode of Willis Barnstone's The Restored New Testament: A New Translation with Commentary, Including the Gnostic Gospels Thomas, Mary, and Judas which was published in 2009. Only part of it is available online. My problem is that I haven't read the original so I can't comment save to say that I will do so. When I have done so I will return to this post and make further comments. For now, I can say that while Kermode has much to say about Barnstone's translation theory ("the New Testament as we have it is a corrupt version of a lost original"), he has little to say about the translations of Thomas, Mary and Judas and the implications of their inclusion in the book. To be continued...

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Professor R. McL. Wilson died on June 27th. His colleague at St Andrews, Jim Davila, notes his death. The Divinity Department of the University of Edinburgh notes that "the main part of his scholarly career was spent in teaching and supervising students in St. Andrews University. On Wednesday 7th July there will be a short Committal Service in Dundee Crematorium at 9.30am and a Service of Thanksgiving in St Leonard's Church, Hepburn Gardens, St Andrews at 11.00am."

He was a marvelous scholar and a kind teacher to those of us who were undergraduates at St Andrews. He introduced me to the study of "Gnosticism" and I remember with gratitude reading texts that were edited by him before they were published. And at academic gatherings he went out of his way to greet former students and catch up on their doings. I met him on one occasion when I came from Munich to Rome for an SNTS meeting. We went on a tour of the catacombs which he insisted on continuing even after he discovered his hearing aid batteries were dead. We last met in Aberdeen for the SNTS several years ago, as it wasn't far for him to come by train.

May the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.