Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Emily Dickinson's Trinity

Helen Vendler analyses a little poem by Emily Dickinson:
In the name of the Bee -
And of the Butterfly -
And of the Breeze - Amen!

She says: First, the poem invents the idea of a parody of a Christian form of words, while retaining a trace of its source in its closing “Amen.” And second: the poet decides on the three nouns to be substituted for the three Persons of the Trinity. And third: the poet has to make her trinity of nouns “mean something” in relation to one another (as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are related).

Monday, October 25, 2010

"Book of the Dead" at the British Library

A new exhibit at the British Library on the Egyptian "Book of the Dead" opens on November 4th. Is it just me or is there something incongruous about "Book of the Dead Family Day" ?

The press release says:

 The British Museum’s major Autumn exhibition, supported by BP, will present and explore ancient Egyptian beliefs about life after death. Journey through the afterlife: ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead will showcase the rich textual and visual material from the British Museum’s unparalleled collection of Book of the Dead papyri.  The ‘Book’, used for over 1500 years between c. 1600 BC and 100 AD, is not a single text, but a compilation of spells thought to equip the dead with knowledge and power which would guide them safely through the dangers of the hereafter and ultimately ensure eternal life.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Please join us in celebrating the publication of From Logos to Christos

Essays on Christology in Honour of Joanne McWilliam

Ellen M. Leonard and Kate Merriman, editors

Thursday, November 4 • 4–6 p.m.

Seeley Hall, Trinity College
6 Hoskin Avenue
Toronto, ON M5S 1H8

RSVP 416-978-2133 or divinity@trinity.utoronto.ca

Wilfrid Laurier University Press

Canadian Corporation for Studies in Religion

Co-published by


From Logos to Christos is a collection of essays in Christology written by friends and colleagues in memory of Joanne McWilliam. McWilliam was a pioneer woman in the academic study of theology, specializing in Patristic studies and internationally recognized for her work on Augustine. For countless students she was a teacher, a mentor, an inspiration. These fourteen essays are a fitting tribute to her memory.
Written by recognized North American scholars, the essays explore various aspects of Christology,
inviting the reader to probe the meaning and significance of Jesus Christ for today. They address a broad range of issues, including the Christology of the Acts of Thomas, Hooker on divinization, and Christ figures in contemporary Canadian culture.

Wilfrid Laurier University Press

toll-free 1-866-836-5551 | www.wlupress.wlu.ca | facebook.com/wlupress | twitter.com/wlupress

Sunday, October 17, 2010

It's that time of year when catalogs of allsorts arrive in the mail--the ones from religious publishing houses. (I know you were thinking of L.L.Bean and other too-early seasonal offerings). Religious publishing houses want to tell us of their latest publications so that we can look for them at upcoming fall conferences or adopt them for our courses. It's one of the quaint features of religious publishing that it still puts out catalogs for us to peruse. Our colleagues in other (dare I say it, more modern) fields have long since given up the catalog as the source of information about books in our field. But we, apparently, have not.

So I picked up the new Zondervan catalog to browse. Caveat emptor.  Not one book in biblical studies or biblical languages is written by a woman scholar. There are plenty of women biblical scholars and linguists but none of them seem to be publishing with Zondervan. The only woman they published recently (remember this is a catalog of new books) is in the Theology section: Carolyn Curtis James' Half the Church: Recapturing God's Global Vision for Women. Ms James is described as a 'popular speaker for women's conferences, churches, colleges, seminaries and other Christian organizations.'

This just isn't good enough. Free exam copies for professors notwithstanding, I won't be ordering from Zondervan anytime soon.
Daisy Hay's review of Gordon Campbell's Bible: The Story of the King James' Version 1611-2011 (OUP) from today's Observer rightly points out political aspects of the translation:

..the story of the King James Version is also a political story, about a monarch determined to assert his authority by setting his seal on every Bible in the land. There had been English translations of the Bible before the King James Version, produced by the likes of William Tyndale, who was condemned by Thomas More for "discharging a filthy foam of blasphemies out of his beastly brutish mouth", and who eventually burned at the stake for his efforts. The King James Version, however, was a state project, which celebrated the King as its God-like "principal mover and author". Rules were drawn up for massed teams of experts to follow, and factions formed and rivalries festered as scholars in Oxford, Cambridge and London raced to outdo each other. When the King James Version was eventually published, those academics who had been denied a slice of the action rushed to condemn it in print. One particularly bitter reviewer thought the translation so hopeless it should be burnt, and another loftily dismissed it as a botched rehash of older versions.

But in the end, she notes that It enabled 17th-century men and women to read the Bible in their own language, it remains at the heart of the English-speaking Christian tradition, and today it continues to be celebrated as one of the great works of English literature.

Printer's errors are noted in Jonathan Yardley's review of the same book in the Washington Post:

"In the first edition of the KJV designed for private study (1612), as opposed to reading aloud in church, Psalm 119:161 read 'Printers have persecuted me without cause'; 'printers' was a misprint for 'princes.' The 1631 edition now known as the Wicked Bible made adultery compulsory by omitting 'not' in Exodus 20:14, which read 'Thou shalt commit adultery.' The printers were heavily fined, but in 1641 the same press printed an edition in which they omitted 'no' in Revelation 21:1, which read 'And there was more sea.' The problem with negatives cropped up again in 1653, when another printer omitted the second negative in 1 Corinthians 6:9, which read 'Know ye not that the unrighteous shall inherit the kingdom of God?' From negatives we move uneasily to murderers. A Bible of 1795 rendered Mark 7:27 as 'Let the children first be killed,' when Jesus had in fact asked that they be filled (that is, fed). Similarly, in a Bible of 1801 the murmurers of Jude 16 became murderers, and so the Bible became known as the Murderers' Bible."

In 2011, we celebrate the 400th anniversary of the translation. This book is designed to mark the occasion. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism

The Jewish Museum is currently exhibiting: "Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism" which I was able to see recently. Here's the description:

Over the past fifty years, feminists have defied an art world dominated by men, deploying direct action and theory while making fundamental changes in their everyday lives. Shifting the Gaze: Painting and Feminism explores the widespread influence of feminist practice on the styles and methods of painting from the 1960s to the present. The provocative paintings on view here embody the tension between individual expression and collective politics, between a traditional medium and radical action.

While not a survey of Jewish feminist art, Shifting the Gaze is drawn primarily from the collection of The Jewish Museum, and features seven new acquisitions from the past three years. Some art historians have argued that Jewish
feminists are particularly attuned to sexuality, radical politics, and injustice because of Jewish involvement in modernism and leftist politics. Indeed, Jewish painters have played decisive roles in founding and sustaining major feminist theories and art collectives. This exhibition explores how social revolutions take place not only in the realm of ideas and politics, but in style and form.

And a preview from the Jewish Daily Foreward:

The last image is the striking "Sky Flesh" from Judy Chicago!
An accompanying lecture series by Dr Nanette Salomon is currently taking place. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Lincoln Center White Light Festival (October 28- November 18) is a new annual fall festival focused on music’s transcendent capacity to illuminate our larger interior universe. In this inaugural season, the festival explores the spiritual dimension of music as manifested in different cultural and musical traditions, from masterpieces of the Western classical canon to Muslim and Hindu musical linkages in northern India and the mystical minimalism of the Baltic region.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

How many times do we say that we have so few ordinary everyday objects from the lives of ordinary everyday women?
Here's an exhibit of such material from the Foundling Hospital in London. In the cases of more than 4,000 babies left between 1741 and 1760, a small object or token, usually a piece of fabric, was kept as an identifying record. The fabric was either provided by the mother or cut from the child’s clothing by the hospital's nurses.  Attached to registration forms and bound up into ledgers, these pieces of fabric form the largest collection of everyday textiles surviving in Britain from the 18th Century. And here's a review of the exhibit from today's Guardian. I'll see the exhibit in December.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

A Roman helmet discovered in Cumbria, UK, complete with face mask has been sold at auction for over two million pounds.

The bronze cavalry parade helmet is described as an exceptional artefact and dates from the late 1st or 2nd Century AD. It is one of only three that have been discovered in Britain complete with face-masks. The others were found in 1796 and 1905. It would have been used for show in a sporting event, rather than as protection in combat. The face has been described as "haunting" and "extraordinary."

Unfortunately the winning bid was anonymous so no one knows if the helmet will leave Cumbria.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Oracle at Delphi

This week's fascinating programme In Our Time discusses the Delphic Oracle with Paul Cartledge, A G Leventis Professor of Greek Culture at Cambridge University; Edith Hall, Professor of Classics and Drama at Royal Holloway, University of London and Nick Lowe, Reader in Classical Literature at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Visiting and consulting the oracle at Delphi is one of the practices identified by Herodotus functioning to unite the Greeks.

It seems that the experience of visiting the Oracle involved a great deal of expense, travel, bathing in preparation, ascent to the sanctuary and within the sanctuary, descent to an area where the priestess of Apollo (the Pythia) sat on a tripod (itself over a chasm from which gases arose) for consultation. A local citizen of Delphi acted as your sponsor for the visit. Questions might be: How shall I get good children? Shall I be victorious? Shall I marry? Should I attack Troy (Agamemnon)? Questions were often framed so as to achieve the answer the questioner wanted. Answers to questions of supplicants are given in hexameters.  Commentators noted how unusual it was for a female to give voice to a male god (Apollo).

Monday, October 04, 2010

Humans as social primates are cooperative and have a great capacity for solidarity

There's a wonderful interview with Frans de Waal on Radio 3's "Nightwaves" available for a week. Apprehending empathy amongst animals is an argument of his latest book. Its message is that a competitive view of nature is too narrow. In the animal kingdom we have instead empathy and cooperation. Humans alongside animals are more naturally collective and socially orientated. 

Friday, October 01, 2010

Smith College: Neilson-Kahn seminar: Through a Glass Darkly: Reading the New Testament in a Postmodern World: Sept 27th, October 18, 25, Nov 8, Dec 6th

Given by Prof Wayne Meeks, the next seminar at Smith College is:

Monday, October 18:
Naming Jesus: History, Midrash, and Myth
The earliest followers of Jesus struggled to find appropriate images to say who Jesus was—to themselves and to others. This was a self-involving process, for it was at the same time a struggle for the identity of a new movement. It was at heart an interpretive process, both in the broad sense that the work of forming an identity always interprets the world and simultaneously interprets one's own being in it, and in the specific sense that sacred texts and traditions about their meaning were centrally involved. In this second lecture in the Neilson Professor series, Wayne Meeks will discuss this process and explore how comparing it with other movements of the time, both within Judaism and in the wider culture of the Mediterranean basin, helps us to understand it better.
Monday, October 18, 2010 :: 4:30 pm :: Neilson Browsing Room, Neilson Library, Smith College :: Free and open to the public.

The Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel

The Met Museum in New York City is currently showing a  3rd C CE Roman Mosaic from Lod, Israel. Lod is the ancient Lydda which was destroyed by Rome in 66 CE and refounded by the Emperor Hadrian.

This coming Sunday, there's a special program accompanying the exhibit:
October 3, 2010
Jacques Neguer, Director of Art Conservation, Israel Antiquities Authority

The Lod Mosaic: From Excavation to Exhibition 3:00 p.m.

3:45pm: Miriam Avissar, Senior Archaeologist, Israel Antiquities Authority

The Lod Mosaic Floor and Its Menagerie: Roman Influence on Local Mosaic Art

Both events are at The Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium
Free with Museum admission 

Here's a link to the Lod Mosaic website.

Podcast Conversations with contributors to Borderlands of Theological Education

 Just thrilled that our podcast conversations with contributors to Borderlands of Theological Education are available here: https://podcast...