Monday, December 16, 2013

Name change

For my readers, you might notice at the top that the title of this blog has changed. When I first started this blog over 4 years ago, it was just a means for me to be able to keep my friends updated on the happenings in my life as I continued to pursue the road to a NT PhD. Well, now I'm almost 75% done with coursework as a NT PhD student, so it seemed like a change was in order. I have simply titled this blog, "Reflections," as a way to indicate that that is what this site is really about, my reflections on various topics, not exclusive to biblical studies.

I'm thankful for all of you who have contributed by reading, commenting, telling me in person, etc. about my posts, and hopefully as we enter into the new year (can't believe it's going to be two thousand FOURTEEN), there will be more fruitful discussions to come.

For those of you who are traveling during this holiday season, safe travels.
For those of you applying to PhD programs, good luck! I do have a blog post that I wrote a while ago about my own experience to applying to PhD, and though it might be a little late in the game for you to read it, check it out here.
For those of you finishing up yet another semester, fight on.
For those of you just relaxing and enjoying this time of the year, lucky you!

Merry early Christmas to all of you and a very happy New Year.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Philo's Etymology

I'm entering into my final week of the semester and am in the process of finishing two more final papers. One of them is for my Jewish milieu seminar where my teacher has given us a variety of choices for our final exam, which is really a written exam that he gave us about 10 days ago. I've chosen to look at Barrett's The New Testament Background and critique it in a constructive/comprehensive way given all that we have discussed in the semester.

I'm currently on Barrett's section on Philo and I thought his excerpt from De Abrahamo 81-3 was quite interesting:

"What has been said is attested by the alteration and change in his name, for his original name was Abram, but afterwards he was addressed as Abraham [Greek, Abraam]. To the ear there was but the duplication of one letter, alpha, but in fact and in the truth conveyed this duplication showed a change of great importance. Abram is by interpretation 'uplifted father'; Abraham, 'elect father of sound'. The former signifies one called astrologer and meteorologist, one who takes care of the Chaldean tenets as a father would of his children. The latter signifies the Sage, for he uses 'sound' as a figure for spoken thought and 'father' for the ruling mind, since the inward thought is by its nature father of the uttered, being senior to it, the secret begetter of what it has to say. 'Elect' signifies the man of worth, for the worthless character is random and confused, while the good is elect, chosen out of all for his merits."

Fun stuff.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Carmichael-Walling Lectures

One of my teachers here, Carl Holladay, recently gave a set of lectures, the Carmichael-Walling lectures at Abilene Christian University. These lectures are quite distinguished, as they have invited other well respected scholars from the guild such as Margaret Mitchell, Luke Timothy Johnson (another Emory prof.), J.D.G. Dunn, Gail O'Day, James VanderKam, etc.

He gave two lectures a few weeks ago, "The Church of the Spirit" and "The Spirit of the Church."

Check them out below:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Scholarly Lingo

As I continue to read more and more journals, books, monographs, etc., that are more "technical" in nature, I can't help but notice the tiresome way that certain "academic lingo" insert themselves into the prose. That is, some words or phrases just get repeated over and over... I'm not so against using the words/phrases per se, but sometimes it seems rather unnecessary and even downright confuses/weakens the argument. I'm all for attempting to write eloquently, but sometimes there is value in brevity + clarity.

Here is my short list thus far (with variables inserted):
1. a is "part and parcel" of b
2. the "Scylla" of c and "Charybdis" of d
3. "indeed" e
4. f can "cut the Gordian knot"

I recall reading a blog post by Marc Cortez (here) with a graphic showing the average length of dissertations by discipline. I for one do not want to write a 500 page dissertation. This might mean that I'll have to cut the fat in terms of rhetorical flourish, but so be it (plus I doubt my doktorvater and committee members would want to read 500 pages anyway...)

Have you come across any other phrases I could add to this list?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Books Carousel

It's been a while since I've really updated anything substantial on my blog. I don't want to keep apologizing to my readers but the school semester is certainly very busy! My books carousel has been updated and some of the books should give you an idea of what's been taking up my time these days.

Lighter stuff:

(1) Parenting Without Borders: I don't have children right now but I do have a lot of friends who either have children already or will in the near future. This is a subject that has always fascinated me, particularly given my own background that was a mixture of both Asian and American style of parenting (though mostly the former?). Gross-Loh is a Harvard trained Asian historian and this book is a very accessible account of her experience overseas in various cultures (Asian, European, etc.) and how parenting is done elsewhere. I'm not a big fan of her writing style but some of the lessons she learned overseas is fascinating and it should be something that all American parents should be aware of.

(2) Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture: If I remember right, this was a collection of papers presented at the annual Wheaton Theology Conference a few years ago. As I have mentioned before, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life and thought is something of a side hobby for me so when I saw that these conference papers were available, I had to check it out.

(3) Forgery and Counterforgery: I just happened to see this recently published Oxford volume by Ehrman on the library shelves, so I picked it up. As always Ehrman has a flair for rhetoric and his writing style is cogent. This is a thoroughly researched monograph (comes in at 600 some pages!), but it doesn't bog down like some technical work. This isn't an area that I'm terribly interested in, but I think it's fascinating (whether you agree with Ehrman or not) and so far I'm enjoying the read. 

 (4) Thinking, Fast and Slow: Kahneman is a Nobel Prize winner in economics, so he definitely knows what he's talking about. This is a fascinating study into how the human mind works and though I haven't been able to get into this book lately due to my schedule, so far so good.

Heavier stuff:
(5) Theology of the New Testament (Bultmann + Strecker): Need I say more? Just read through the Paul section of Bultmann (I should get to his John stuff soon) and the Johannine material in Strecker is next.

(6) Translation and Survival: I just finished T. Michael Law's When God Spoke Greek and I figure I should just continue along in this study of the LXX. Coincidentally, one of my seminar session this week will be on that topic, so I'm looking forward to continuing the research.

(7) Architecture and Meaning on the Athenian Acropolis + Greek Architecture: I'm taking an art history seminar right now on the connections between gods and people in ancient Greece. These two books are a must read for anyone interested in this topic, and though I'm just getting my feet wet, the class has been thoroughly enjoyable and informative.

There's probably a few more books here and there that's always jumping in and out of my to-read list, but these were the main ones that I could think of right now. I just wish I had more time and ability to read/digest all these books faster than my current pace. Read anything very interesting lately? Let me know!

New Issue of Novum Testamentum

I'd like to point out that a new issue of NovT came out recently (Vol. 55.4). Great to see that my colleague here at Emory, Chris Holmes, has an article in this issue. Here's the line-up:

James R. Harrison, "Paul's 'Indebtedness' to the Barbarian (Rom 1:14) in Latin West Perspective," 311-348

Christopher T. Holmes, "Utterly Incapacitated: The Neglected Meaning of ΠΑΡΕΣΙΣ in Romans 3:25," 349-366

Jam Lambrecht, "1 Corinthians 2:14: A Response to Laura B. Dingeldein," 367-370

Jacqueline Assaël, "L'allègement du chagrin partagé: 2 Co 2:5," 371-372

John A.L. Lee, "Etymological Follies," 383-403

Check it out here.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Who Do People Say I Am?

This is the title of a forthcoming book from one of my teachers here at Emory, Vernon K. Robbins. It's his look into the Christology (or Christologies if you'd like) of early Christians at the time when things were being written about Jesus' origins and life outside of what we find in the NT canon. Over at EerdWord blog, you can check out his brief thoughts about the work (see part 1 and 2).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

JSNT - September issue out

It's not even August yet, but I just saw that JSNT has released their September issue. I'm also happy to see that I've had the chance to cross paths with a few of the authors in this issue.

One of the articles is written by a friend of mine, John A. Dunne, who's writing his dissertation at St. Andrews under N.T. Wright: "Suffering in Vain: A Study of the Interpretation of ΠΑΣΚΩ in Galatians 3.4." I continue to maintain a deep interest in Galatians, so I'll definitely read this article sometime in the next week or so.

Another article is written by one of my teachers here at Emory, Dr. Walter Wilson, titled: "The Uninvited Healer: Houses, Healing and Prophets in Matthew 8.1-22." We've had a chance to talk about this piece earlier last year, and it's one that brings into the text various insights from architecture and social norms to think deeper about what exactly is happening in Matthew 8.

A third article is one by a German professor, Thomas Schmeller, who was a visiting scholar here at Emory last semester. I had a chance to talk to him briefly, and though I missed the seminar in which he discussed some portions of this piece, I was quite fascinated to find that he was arguing for the unity of 2 Corinthians. I'll be sure to add this to the to-read list.

It's been quite a busy summer with a few unexpected events, but I've been reading as much as I can and doing a lot of research assistant work for one of my teachers here, so that has been keeping me busy. Another semester looms in a month or so, hopefully it will continue to open up new questions for me as I enter into my second year of coursework in my doctoral program.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

JSNT - June 2013 and Promotion

It looks like the new issue of the Journal for the Study of the New Testament is out and it seems like a pretty good issue. Here's the line-up:

Mark Goodacre, "How Reliable is the Story of the Nag Hammadi Discovery?"

Anna C. Miller, "Not with Eloquent Wisdom: Democratic Ekklēsia Discourse in 1 Corinthians 1-4"

Jonathan Knight, "The Political Issue of the Ascension of Isaiah: A Response to Enrico Norelli"

Robert A. Derrenbacker, Jr., "Texts, Tables and Tablets: A Response to John C. Poirier"

F. Gerald Downing, "Waxing Careless: Poirier, Derrenbacker and Downing"

Simon Gathercole, "Jerusalem and Caesarea Inscriptions and New Testament Study: A Review Article"

I'm glad to see Mark Goodacre frontlining this issue, as this article was something we discussed with Mark in his class. I took a history of interpretation course this semester and when we were discussing the Nag Hammadi documents, I was thinking about some of the things Mark told us about concerning the discovery of the Nag Hammadi library. It looks to be a very interesting study into how the story came to be told and retold, so go ahead and check it out.

Oh, and Mark Goodacre has just been promoted to full professor at my alma mater, Duke University, so that is great news indeed (it's about time!). You can check out his blog here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Prosperity Gospel?

This is somewhat out of my own arena of expertise, but I wanted to introduce all of you to a forthcoming book:

Beautiful cover, no? Oxford University Press seems to always do a good job creating some nice looking volumes and this one is no exception. It's a book titled, Blessed: A History of the American Prosperity Gospel, due out next month (May 2013) from Oxford University Press (check it out here). It's written by Kate Bowler from Duke Divinity School. During my time at Duke, I wanted to work as a research assistant and Kate was nice enough to take me on despite my zero-knowledge of American Christianity. 

This is the publication of her dissertation written at Duke under Grant Wacker and from my conversations with her as well as preliminary reviews of her book (e.g. from Mark Noll and Jonathan Walton), I think it's going to be a fantastic addition to the library of any Americanists. If you're mildly interested in the prosperity gospel, then I highly suggest you go ahead and pick up a copy of this book as soon as it's out.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

NA28 + LXX

Check this out:

I just saw that this nice volume from the Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft is putting together both the Septuagint and the NT together into one massive text.

According to Eisenbrauns, this book runs at over 3,100 pages!

It will include an apparatus criticus among other things, so seems like a great resource for those of you who want access to both the LXX and NT in one book. Though at 3,100+ pages, I wonder what kind of dimensions it will have. I tried to search to find what its thickness would be but could only find its length and width dimensions and no depth.

I already own their standard Septuaginta and the recently published NA28, so I probably won't buy this, but I thought some of you might be interested. Forthcoming Fall of this year.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Google Hangout + NT studies

In one of my classes, we've had some discussions recently on the Gospel of Thomas and to my surprise, I saw that the Marginalia was hosting a live session with both Mark Goodacre and Simon Gathercole discussing the Gospel of Thomas and their very recently published books about it (respectively, here and here). Admittedly, I was taught at Duke by Mark, so there is much to his arguments I find convincing or at the very least, compelling and good arguments that need to be taken seriously. I do not know much about Simon Gathercole, though I have read his published dissertation on Romans and I had a former classmate who went off to do his NT PhD with him at Cambridge. They are both very good scholars and so this online conversation of two people thousands of miles away is a perfect example of what the intersection of technology and academia can provide for 21st century scholarship.

Check it out:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

QOTD: Bonhoeffer

I have a mild interest in Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), a very fascinating person within modern Christian history. I can't say I know a whole lot right now as I've just begun to scratch the surface in terms of his life, thought, and writings (plus this is just a side hobby, I'm not sure if this contributes anything to my studies as a NT PhD student... still interesting though.) I have read a couple biographies about him (here and here) and that was very helpful in introducing me to Bonhoeffer beyond my initial exposure in college to his famous book, Nachfolge (Eng.: The Cost of Discipleship). I find him so interesting given his impeccable educational background (Bonhoeffer earned his doctorate at the University of Berlin, studying under the likes of people such as Adolf von Harnack) along with his familiarity with Karl Barth, that provided for him a kind of balance between liberal theology and the more "conservative" thought that lie within dogmatics. All this of course is all mixed up with his involvement in the plot to assassinate Hitler, which is yet another fascinating part of Bonhoeffer's legacy.

I recently picked up his Letters and Papers from Prison (DBWE, vol. 8) and today I came across his letter sent to his parents on Easter Sunday, about 70 years ago (marked Apr. 25, 1943). As Easter 2013 is approaching this Sunday, I thought it appropriate to quote just a few lines from this letter:

My dear Parents,
Today ten days have finally passed, and I am allowed to write to you once again. I would really like to let you know that I am celebrating a happy Easter here. What is so liberating about Good Friday and Easter is the fact that our thoughts are pulled far beyond our personal circumstances to the ultimate meaning of all life, suffering, and indeed everything that happens, and this gives us great hope. Since yesterday it has become wonderfully quiet throughout the building. One could hear many people call out "Happy Easter" to each other, and, without envy, one wishes that everyone who carries out their difficult duty in here be granted the fulfillment of that wish. In the silence I now also hear your Easter greetings as you are gathered together today with my brothers and sisters and are thinking of me...

I continue to be well, I am healthy, permitted to be outside for a half hour every day; and now that I am again allowed to smoke, I sometimes even forget briefly where I actually am! I am treated well and read a lot, besides the newspaper and novels especially the Bible. I don't yet have the concentration to work properly. However, during this Holy Week I was finally able to intensively study a section of the Passion Narrative, Jesus's high priestly prayer, in which I have had a long-standing strong interest as you know. I even managed to do an exegesis of several chapters of Paul's ethics for myself. This was very important for me. Thus I must still be very grateful...

Surprisingly, the days are passing by quickly in here. It seems incredible to me that I have already been here for three weeks. I enjoy going to bed at 8:00 p.m. -- supper is at 4:00 p.m.! -- and I look forward to my dreams. In the past I never knew what a delightful gift they are. I dream every night, and they are always pleasant. Until I fall asleep, I recite the verse I memorized during the day. Then at six in the morning, I enjoy reading psalms and hymns, thinking of you, and knowing that you are thinking of me too...

And now farewell. Please forgive all the worries I am causing you! Greet all my brothers and sisters and their children. Yours with all my heart, full of gratitude and love,


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rudolf Bultmann

One of my hobbies is reading biographies and it just so happened that I came across a recently translated biography1 of a NT scholar from the early 20th century, so in this particular case, I get to double-dip in terms of my interest in NT studies but also my hobby in reading biographies. The person I am talking about is none other than Rudolf Bultmann (1884-1976). He is arguably the most influential NT scholar of the 20th century; among others he has published books on the development of the synoptic tradition (rigorously applying form-criticism),2 theology of the NT,3 and a commentary on the Gospel of John,4 that still remain as important books for students of NT studies. I have worked through some of his commentary for a paper I wrote a while ago for a seminar on John, and while I sort of understood his well-known program of 'demythologizing' and his pioneering work in form-criticism, the biography does a good job filling out the portrait of a real human being who wrestled hard with questions posed by the text and the experiences of a person living in the world. Though keep in mind, much of what he has written and reacting against are issues that were at the foreground spurred on by the pains of modernity during the early-mid 20th century, but I think his writings are still interesting nonetheless. I will just quote one little snippet of something he wrote:

"The object of theology is God, and the reproach to liberal theology is that it has dealt not with God, but with human beings. God signifies the radical negation and cancellation of the human being; theology whose object is God, can on this account have only the λογος του σταυρου [message of the cross] as its content; but this is a σκανδαλον [stumbling-block] for the human being. Accordingly, the accusation against liberal theology is that it has sought to evade this σκανδαλον or to soften it."5

I'm only about 1/3 done (the biography is 536 pages!) but so far the book has done a great job opening up the mind and world of this fascinating figure of the early 20th century.

1 Konrad Hammann, Rudolf Bultmann: A Biography (trans. Philip E. Devenish; Salem, Or.: Polebridge Press, 2013).
2 Rudolf Bultmann, History of the Synoptic Tradition.
3 Rudolf Bultmann, Theology of the New Testament.
4 Rudolf Bultmann, The Gospel of John: A Commentary.
5 Rudolf Bultmann, "Die liberale Theologie," GuV, vol. 1, 2.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Say it ain't so!

Google Reader is coming to an end! It has been my go-to website to read all the blogs I subscribe to as an RSS-feed reader... What other programs are out there that are worth using??


Read and watch

I wanted to give a heads-up to all my readers to a book and a lecture published/released recently by one of my teachers, Luke Timothy Johnson. He's been a terrific mentor thus far and every time I get to learn from him has been a real treat in scholarship, laughter, and collegiality. For others who are interested in his work, there's a couple things I want to mention.

First, check out this book, fresh off the press:

This is a collection of 35 essays that Luke has published over the decades of his amazing career divided into five categories that show just how widely he has worked in NT studies: (1) Jesus and the Gospels; (2) Luke-Acts; (3) Paul; (4) Other NT Compositions; and (5)  Issues in Christian Origins.

Unfortunately, Brill volumes are wonderful but also extremely pricy (their website lists this volume at an amazingly low... $297). Though if you have access to a good library, I'm sure they will purchase this book in the very near future, as it just came out.

Second, one of the chapters in the book is titled, "Jesus among the Philosophers," which is a paper he presented at a conference at Yale on happiness. And recently, Luke also gave that talk here at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University:

The video-clip length is about 50-minutes and it is well worth watching.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Book Giveaway

Interested in a book giveaway? The winner gets Candida Moss' new book, The Myth of Persecution.

Go to Zwinglius Redivivus here to enter.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Get to know Thomas and the Synoptics.

If you're interested in that fascinating book called the Gospel of Thomas, there is one book fresh off the press (not even 6 months old) that might interest you from one of my teachers at Duke University, Mark Goodacre (see his blog here), titled, Thomas and the Gospels: The Case for Thomas's Familiarity with the Synoptics. I'm very happy to see this out in print as it was a book that was in its final stages when I took a course with Mark in my last year at Duke on the Greek Non-Canonical Gospels; he even let us read a chapter of the book that pertained to what we were discussing in class and it was great fun looking at the Greek fragments of Thomas that we currently have available. Check out the very chic cover:

I recently borrowed this book from Emory library and have been slowly reading it for leisure when I have some time to spare, and so far, I think it's vintage Goodacre. He is superb at doing careful analysis with various synopses which is a tool so often ignored in studies like this that compare two (or more) texts that are possibly related to each other literarily. I hope he's glad to know that I even recently used his method of using a colored synopsis when comparing Synoptic texts. I am TA-ing a class in the Candler School of Theology for their second semester NT interpretation class and as they are focusing right now on Luke 22:15-20, I hope it was helpful to the students to see a colored synopsis of Matt 26:26-29 // Mark 14:22-25 // Luke 22:15-20 to see what's happening in Luke at least from a redaction-critical standpoint. 

Eerdmans Publishing also released a video yesterday interviewing Mark about Thomas and his book. Check it out!

Now that you got that wonderful 8-minute introduction, what are you waiting for? Go purchase this book from Eerdmans (here) or even Amazon if that's your thing (here).

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

JSPL 2.2

The Fall 2012 issue of the Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters is out (though the website is not yet updated to reflect this latest issue), and I'm proud to say that my first peer-reviewed article has been published in this issue! It has been a long process of revising, editing, and waiting to get my first publication out there, and I hope that this is just the first of many more adventures in the world of academia. The article is a revised edition of a paper I wrote for a Galatians seminar I took with Susan Eastman. She was very encouraging about submitting the paper for publication, and given that I was unfamiliar with the whole process, her guidance was without doubt one of the reasons why I have been able to get this article published. The main textbook assigned for her course was J. Louis Martyn's Anchor Bible commentary on Galatians so it was a real treat to have him join us for our final session of our graduate seminar to talk about his thoughts on Paul. Having taken a course with both Susan Eastman and Douglas Campbell, I found myself quite amiable to the "apocalyptic reading" of Paul, and consequently, this journal article demonstrates their influence on my own reading of Paul.

The title of the article is "'It Has Been Brought to Completion': Leviticus 19:18 as Christological Witness in Galatians 5:14," JSPL 2.2 (2012): 115-132. In this article, I argue that the citation of Lev 19:18 in Gal 5:14 is not a one-to-one type correspondence in which the Galatians were supposed to obey the love-command found in Lev 19:18, but instead the quotation functions to resonate with the larger context of Lev 18-26 broadly, as a witness to the love demonstrated in the person of Jesus Christ.

I haven't been able to check whether my library has the hardcopy out yet, but if you get a chance to read it, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the article.