What Harvard Class Should I Take?

July 26, 2008 at 6:54 pm (Education)

I know I haven’t posted in awhile; this summer has been hectic for me. But now I need advice!

I was planning on taking Hebrew Rapid Reading I at Harvard this fall through the BTI. Unfortunately, we just learned that Harvard has decided to close all courses except Divinity School courses to BTI students. Hebrew Rapid Reading is a School of Arts & Sciences course, not a Divinity School course. Now my entire schedule has been thrown into a tizzy (not to mention I’m really disappointed!). But, I really do need to take advantage of the BTI and take a Harvard class this semester; it’s good for me and good for my transcript. So here are my options:

Biblical Theology: Seminary (Paul D. Hanson)
History of the Exegesis and Reception of Genesis: Seminar (Kevin Madigan)
The Binding of Isaac (\Aqedah/): Seminar (Jon D. Levenson)

Pros and cons: the first two would work out nicely for Calvin and I’s schedule. He is going to be taking Textual Criticism with Saley. Alas, I don’t have Greek yet so I can’t take it. However, we would be able to ride in together and ride back out together if I did either of the top two. Against Madigan’s is that he is the History of Christianity guy, not an OT guy, so I’m wavering on whether or not the perspective is going to be what I want; nevertheless Genesis is one of my big interests. Hanson has some interests that are similar to mine, so for that alone I am interested in how he would teach Biblical Theology. The biggest con against the Binding of Isaac is the day and time. I would like to take a Levenson class, but I’m not sure about the scheduling. Additionally, while I will just have the three years of required Hebrew, I’m a little nervous about taking such a high level course at Harvard for my first Harvard course.

So, what do you think? Which class should I go for? I’m leaning towards either the Genesis class or the Biblical Theology class just because it’s more convenient fitting into our schedules.

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Word of the Day

June 6, 2008 at 10:27 pm (The Silly Zone)

Ladlezrim: the kitchen gadget that one places the ladle on when it is not in use.

So says Calvin, who brilliantly ended our Scrabble game with this gem.

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Fresh Start

May 23, 2008 at 6:55 pm (Sortofgeeky)

My computer has been acting up lately. It’s been doing funny things like crashing games at random (even games that don’t tax my system by any stretch of the imagination). And when it starts crashing games at random, I know that it’s time for a wipe. Of course, Calvin tells me that if I were running Linux, I wouldn’t have this problem. But alas, if I want to play the billions of games I have, I am chained to Windows.

I haven’t wiped this computer since we put it together back in 2005, so I’ve spent hours backing up all my files today. I’m very excited, as we bought 2GB of RAM as an upgrade for me. I have 1 GB right now (two 512 sticks), and three slots, so when all is said and done I’ll have 2.5GB. I’m hoping that this will give me a performance boost with some higher end games, like Oblivion (and solve the above average crashing with this game in particular; I’m thinking my computer may be having traffic jams when I play it…)

Anyways, really this is something to do while I wait for yet another backup to finish writing. Alas, it would be nice if I had an external USB hard drive to backup to, but we don’t…so it’s CD’s for now.

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Jesus and Men

April 26, 2008 at 9:26 pm (Church, Theology and the Bible)

By now, Calvin is used to my rants about Mark Driscoll, and closely related, the whole, “make the church and Jesus more manly” movement. I think the author of this Christianity Today article summed up my thoughts on the matter nicely, and without all the vitriolic comments I would like to contribute (which would be un-Christlike for a man or woman, might I add).

If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s when something is going in the wrong direction, so people swing to the opposite extreme and come up with ideas just as bad (or worse) that they claim are the “true” way. Yet, it seems to be human nature to make these gigantic pendulum swings. The biggest life lesson my parents taught me that has most blatantly stayed with me and even helped me in my chosen career, is that usually the best option is somewhere in the middle. (Of course “middle” is all in one’s point of view, but the principle still remains!)

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Thoughts on SBL Regional

April 26, 2008 at 6:15 pm (Books, Education, The Floppy Hat™)

This is a little delayed, but I’m finally motivating myself to post some random thoughts about the SBL Regional we attended recently.

First, my favorite paper by far was The Nature and Identity of ‘Satan’ in 1 Chronicles 21:1 by Ryan Stokes of Yale University. Calvin and I met Ryan at the Second Temple conference we attended a few weeks back, and I thought his paper was excellent. Of course, I’m partial to anything having to do with gods, mythology, or possible supernatural beings. But, his comparison of the 1 Chronicles passage with the Numbers passage that a “satan” appears in was very interesting to me. It’s not something I considered before, so I felt like I learned something. The other papers were generally decent, some more so than others.

Second, books!!! Of course, I found myself salivating over the (albeit small) supply of books on display at the conference. Several caught my eye, and we’ll be placing an order with the conference discount soon. I’ll mention one book in particular that stood out to me, because it caused somewhat of an epiphany for me by the very fact that when I saw it my reaction was interest. The Quest for the Historical Israel: Debating Archaeology and the History of Early Israel by Finkelstein, Mazar, and Schmidt: why on earth should I be drawn to this book? I am quite positive of the fact that I am not and do not desire to be an archaeologist. Nor does archaeology interest me over much. After some thought over why I wanted this book, I decided that it’s not as much the archaeology, as the “quest for the historical Israel” part that drew me. Ever since reading William Dever’s three-part series on this topic, I have become very interested in maintaining a sense of reality to the study of the Bible. I want to keep up on what archaeologists are saying about Israel, even if I don’t want to “study” archaeology. Dever had convinced me that biblical scholars need to be in dialog with archaeologists, and upon sighting this book, I realized that this idea has stayed with me.

Third, I feel relieved now that I’ve seen some papers given at an SBL meeting. I feel as though I have more of an idea of what to expect now should I want to submit a paper for next year’s regional. I also feel some pressure off, at least for a regional meeting, as there were many different types of presenters, some dry and deadpan, others who managed to make the fact that they were reading a paper to me interesting. I hope to be one of the more animated presenters when I get there one day…

So that’s not exactly a full-blown itinerary of the day, but there are the main thoughts I have coming away from the conference. All-in-all, it was a good day, and I am really looking forward to national this fall.

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Women, Justice, and Jeremiah (WIGU, Part 7)

April 14, 2008 at 6:23 pm (Education, Theology and the Bible)

There are three topics lately that have sparked some interest in me. The first stems partly from a conference Calvin and I (and Adam and Jen) attended the week before last, The Other in Second Temple Judaism. Calvin has already posted about it here and here. Susan Ackermann, who was on the panel of three ladies that gave some closing thoughts on the conference, stirred things up a little by noting how in all the papers that had been given at the conference, not one was about woman as the “other.” She commented that back when she was an up and coming scholar, it was almost assured someone would have talked about that. Further, she said that some might take this to signify that the idea of woman as “other” has died down, because women have finally found their place in biblical scholarship. Then she gave her opinion that she wasn’t so sure about that.

Now I’m not a self-proclaimed feminist like Ackermann, but some of her comments, as well as those of Adela Collins, interested me. When I look at biblical scholarship (say, when I’m browsing the faculty for an Old Testament department at a university), to be sure there are one or two women sprinkled in there. But by in large, the majority of biblical scholars are still men. One of the big things with “feminist theology” is, of course, that the religious history of Judaism and Christianity has been dominated primarily by the opinions and interpretations of men. And, while I take issue with some of the theology of Mark Driscoll (as Calvin recently posted on), I do believe that men and women are different, and certainly view the world differently. So this interested me. I can’t say exactly how yet, but it did.

The second topic that I’ve been thinking about for a more lengthy period of time is the Old Testament and justice. Mostly, this is because of the Global Biblical Justice class I am taking this semester with Dean Borgman. The prophets have become more interesting to me as the voice crying out against injustice, as well as the Exodus as a liberation theme. So, once again, I don’t know where I’m going with all that, but it’s been something on my mind as an interest.

As far as Jeremiah goes, I’m planning to do a Readings course in Jeremiah and Lamentations (with some historical background from 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles thrown in) this summer. (For those who don’t know, that basically means translating – in my case, Jer. 1-15, Lamentations, and the appropriate historical sections). I’m terribly excited about it, because Jeremiah has always fascinated me. I read through Jeremiah again recently, and the way that the prophet’s heart and soul seems to go into his message, even if it tears him to pieces to have to preach it, is captivating. Perhaps after this summer I’ll have a better idea in what direction I want to take that.

So, there are three topics that have been floating around in my head recently, so I’m just getting them out there, in this “journal” thing I’m doing. Egads, some people must take me for such a liberal, here I am talking about feminist and liberation theology. I really don’t know enough about either to jump on any bandwagons (and I’m not given to jumping on bandwagons anyways), so don’t be worried.

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SBL New England Regional Meeting

March 28, 2008 at 5:27 pm (Education, The Floppy Hat™)

Calvin and I have registered for the SBL New England Regional Meeting held this April at Andover-Newton. This will be our first official meeting of this sort as members. I’m excited!

I’m trying to decide among the following sessions (already a narrowed down list, of course):

Morning Session

  • “The Nature and Identity of ‘Satan’ in 1 Chronicles 21:1” or
  • “Oral Background of the Binding of Isaac” or
  • “What to Do When YHWH Attacks: Three Targumic Treatments of Exodus 4:24-26”

Afternoon Session

  • “The Literary Sophistication of the Deuteronomistic History” or
  • “Navigating ‘Deuteronomistic History’ as Cultural Memory” or
  • “Araunah’s Threshing Boards (2 Samuel 24:16-25)”

Also, John J. Collins from Yale will be giving the Presidential address. I’m looking forward to hearing him speak, because as I’ve mentioned before, Yale is one of the schools I’m considering.

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Reasons

March 24, 2008 at 1:32 pm (Education, Personal, The Floppy Hat™)

I think I figured out why I’m a little nervous about this scholarship thing. It’s because of my reasons for wanting to “be a scholar.” I want to be a scholar so that I can take what my field is doing and make it useful for laypeople. No, more than just useful – I want it to make a difference to the way they interpret the Bible, and thus to their beliefs, faith, and ultimately their lives.

Maybe that seems like a high and lofty goal, and I know I’m only one person, but I want to be one small bridge between the ivory towers and everyone else. I don’t have to be well known, or known at all, but if a well known scholar was to read something I wrote, or hear me speak, I’d want to know that I could be considered respectable, i.e. a “real scholar.” Right now, I see that the layperson has very few people to look to whom they can trust for good scholarship. The result is a lot of popular theological rubbish that most scholars scoff at – but the layperson never even knows there’s another way of looking at it, because the same scholars that scoff really aren’t interested in enlightening anyone – most certainly not Christians!

This all stems from my faith – I care about laypeople because I care about the Church. I guess I feel like that makes me a bit of a weirdo in the scholarly world. But, as Calvin reminded me, for every person who writes books and articles and yaks about this or that, there are who knows how many who are just out there teaching, maybe writing an article here or there, but they just care about the students. I go a little further than that – I care about the students, but I also care about the people they will affect with what they learn. (At a Bible college, I could be teaching future pastors, for instance.) So maybe I’m not as much of a weirdo as I think; there are most certainly others with similar passions out there. I guess I just feel a lot of pressure to “perform” correctly.

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When I Grow Up, Part 6

March 22, 2008 at 9:13 pm (Education, The Floppy Hat™)

Sometimes I wonder if I’m really cut out to do this whole Ph.D. thing. I know that I love Hebrew, I love the Old Testament, I love the Bible, and I wouldn’t want to do anything other with my career than teaching other people to love the Bible as well. Yet, sometimes I just don’t feel like a scholar.

For instance: I’d be lying if I called myself a “biblioblogger” – I hardly ever blog about the Bible anymore – I did more “biblioblogging” when I was in undergrad. To some extent that’s because I really don’t want to take the time it takes me to put together what I feel is a good post on the Bible – I have so much else to do, and when I have free time, I’ll be honest: I play video games or read a novel. I think of things to blog all the time, but I just don’t take the time. But shouldn’t I want to take that time? Another instance: there are many things that really excite me. I want to study dead languages, and the Old Testament. I have certain subjects that fascinate me and I could talk about indefinitely, but I don’t like having to read books written by scholars who are boring when they write, even on those subjects. I like engaging writing. Yet many of those books are “required reading.” Shouldn’t I want to read boring books? Isn’t that part of being a scholar? In fact, if I were a real scholar, would I really think they were boring? I feel like I’m not serious enough. I’m whimsical. Silly. Passionate. I don’t like the hoops I’m required to jump through. I don’t like the stifling mold I feel like I’m being forced into.

Maybe I just need to interact with more scholars on a personal level. Maybe my perceptions are just wrong. Maybe there’s someone kinda like me out there. Or maybe I’m just a square peg trying to fit myself into a triangle hole.

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Egg Colors

March 19, 2008 at 10:36 pm (Life Observations, The Silly Zone)

Recently we’ve started buying “Cage-Free” eggs at the grocery store. This had led me to notice that all the “organic” or “natural” or “cage-free” eggs are brown. There are also a good mix of brown eggs in with the standard eggs as well. This is new to me, as in both VA and NY, brown eggs were a bit of a rarity. The eggs for sale were almost exclusively white. In England, the eggs were almost exclusively brown – they only brought the white out around Easter. But, here in New England, apparently brown eggs are also popular.

So I said to myself today, “I wonder what the difference between brown and white eggs is?” It’s just not a question I’ve ever pursued before, so I really didn’t know. Me being me, I can’t let a matter such as this lay for long, and so I pulled up my handy-dandy web browser and did a little research.

The consensus? There is no difference other than the breed of chicken that lays the eggs. Apparently (especially with commercially produced eggs) there is no difference in taste or nutritional value. Generally speaking, brown eggs are laid by chickens with red feathers and earlobes (!), and white eggs by chickens with white feathers and earlobes. I even found one source that said there is a breed that lays blue eggs!

So, the next time you go to the grocery store, take a moment to appreciate our red-feathered chicken friends and their brown eggs, and the variety they bring to our refrigerator shelves.

Now if only we could get some of those blue eggs in the mix!

This message made possible by The American Egg Board, and brought to you in time for Easter by Mandy’s Random Brain and the Letter E.

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