Monday, November 29, 2010

Review of SBL GNT in the Gospels by Wieland Willker

Wieland Willker (WW), who is active on the BibleWorks forum, has published an 8-page PDF "Analysis of the SBL GNT in the Gospels." (I, along with many others, reported on the recently announced and released SBL GNT edited by Michael Holmes here.) 

You will want to read Willker's full analysis, but here are some highlights:

  • "It is good to see this new critical text by Mike Holmes. There are too few today. My opinion is that creating a critical text is the crowning achievement of a textual critic's career."
  • He applauds the lack of single bracketed readings. Decisions are made!
  • With regard to the apparatus, WW states that it "is a stopgap, to produce something better than nothing. It is noting many minutiae, but is omitting many important variants. So the student is not informed on all important textual variants, but only on those that are covered by the base texts."
  • WW notes that Holmes has "some fondness" for the Western text, but there are numerous non-Western readings chosen.
  • Noting that most people are interested in comparing this SBL GNT with the NA27, WW claims that (after disregarding some insignificant variations) "there are 232 differences between SBL and NA in the Gospels. Of these, SBL follows WH about 48% of the time and the Byzantine text about 44%."
  • "What one immediately recognizes is that Holmes is a lectio brevior man... This is the shortest GNT ever!"
  • In my opinion, WW has carefully studied and analyzed the Greek NT, so I respect his evaluation when he says, "Overall I agree more often than not with Holmes' textual choices."
  • "For the future I hope for another version to come out with a "real" apparatus, showing the manuscripts... I also hope that Mike Holmes is writing a commentary on his text."
  • WW includes an Appendix indicating "Agreements between Holmes and Willker against NA."
Thanks to Wieland Willker for posting this analysis and sharing it online.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Reporting from SBL - SBL's Bible Odyssey

The SBL announced in their September newsletter:

This August SBL submitted to the National Endowment for the Humanities a grant to build a website for the general public, called Bible Odyssey (the previous working title was World of the Bible). In the past year SBL and an advisory team used an NEH planning grant to develop the site concept and a prototype design. (Stop by our table at the Annual meeting for a preview.)

The site will be a useful undergraduate classroom tool and will offer SBL members a chance to hone their public communication skills. We will hear from NEH about funding in April 2011. 

I got to see and have attached pics of a few pages of this still-very-much-a-prototype project. (It is not yet close to ready to go online, so these are pictures of the screens.)  If you look closely, you can see that it is organized by People, Places, Passages, Themes, Traditions, and Maps.

I am hoping the NEH funding comes through. The resource will be positioned as a high-quality site generated by reputable scholars that will be accessible to a popular audience. You can see that it is highly visual, but it does also maintain a text navigation system. I did encourage them to consider how it might function on mobile platforms where it seems more and more people are working online. I see it as a good resource to refer students and laypersons for quick reference.

Reporting from SBL - OliveTree

Visited with the folks at OliveTree whose BibleReader program resides on my Dell Axim and is the program I use to have the Greek and Hebrew texts in my hand. One thing I've appreciated is that, as I've migrated from an old Palm III back in the day to the Dell Axim running WinMobile 5, I have been able to transfer over the books I have purchased. Check out their support for the various mobile platforms including iPhone, iPad Touch, Blackberry, Android, WindowsMobile, Palm OS, and Symbian. They anticipate providing support for Windows Phone 7. BTW, they do also have the SBL Greek New Testament with apparatus available as a free download.

Reporting from SBL - Blogger and Online Publication Section

Rough notes from the SBL Blogger and Online Publication Section - 2010.11.22
Robert R. Cargill from UCLA presiding
James Davila, University of St. Andrews (Scotland): PaleoJudaica
What Just Happened: The rise of "biblioblogging" in the first decade of the 21st century"
His presentation is available online with links at his blog, PaleoJudaica. This is a really helpful summary and overview of "the rise and development of 'biblioblogging' or blogging devoted to the area of academic biblical studies." His conclusion:
Blogging has found a solid niche in academic biblical studies in the first decade of the twenty-first century. It has enriched the field in numerous ways and its expansion over the decade has been exponential, at least until recently... And all indicators are that biblioblogging will be with biblical studies for a long time to come.
Christian Brady at Penn State, well-known online as the blog author of Targuman and also the online editor for the Newsletter for Targumic and Cognate Studies
Online Biblical Studies: Past, Present, Promise, and Peril
Brady has also posted his presentation online at his blog. His main proposal: "I would like to propose the formation of an SBL sanctioned review committee." Why?
(1) It is a viable business model...
(2) Such an assessment would provide the necessary recognition required of P and T committees and department heads...
(3) Knowing that such a review and subsequent recognition is possibility we would all step up our game...

My institution has been supportive of my explorations in the online world, but I would support this kind of review committee. Some questions were raised:
  • regarding the financial viability
  • would the prospect of knowing online work would be reviewed take the fun out of blogging? I suspect that we would still maintain different types of online writing. A site like Online Critical Pseudepigrapha is in a whole other class whose contribution needs to be properly recognized.
Michael Barber, John Paul the Great Catholic University: The Sacred Page
Weblogs and the Academy: The Benefits and Challenges of Biblioblogging
(He promises to post his presentation later on his blog.) Is it even appropriate (given some of the blog site names) to be considering biblioblogging at SBL? Yes... It does not serve as a replacement of traditional formats, but it is helpful and worthwhile. Reported on a survey of academic librarians and their suspicion of blog writing, especially because of lack of peer review. People who blog are more likely to regard blog writing as having academic value as compared to those who don't blog. (duh!) There appears to be a generational gap, with younger scholars viewing blogs as scholarly publications as compared to older ones (even ones who blog). "Bloggership" as a useful neologism... 3 types of publishing: traditional, blogging w/ scholarly aspirations, other types of blogs. Facilitation of learning through 'edublogs' does seem to be appreciated....
Turning specifically to biblioblogging: note that traditional publishers are now regularly pointing to an author's blog on their book promotions.
Barber related his own positive experience of blogging in the research and development of his recently completed PhD dissertation at Fuller. ("Scot McKnight has claimed that historical Jesus research is dead, but apparently no one has alerted the publishers yet!") Unable to keep up with all publications, the blogosphere did provide keys to important directions and developments. (Especially Bird and Willitts at Euangellion
Even non-academic posts are useful in humanizing us as scholars... Really, must a serious scholar always remain serious and objective? Isn't it truer to display the subjective reality of who we are as scholars? This will not undermine our scholarship but increase honesty and sharing between scholars.
Discussion: What about 'vitriolic blogging'? ~ We would want to treat each other with charity and respect, but online exchanges may able to be more open and honest in a 'rough and tumble' way.
James McGrath, Butler University: Exploring Our Matrix
The Blogging Revolution: New Technologies and their Impact on How We Do Scholarship
Started with question: What is a blog? -- (NOT: Lost + LOLcats + YouTube mashups) but a format for making content available
Blogging = reading + writing + linking + commenting | better: commenting with posts organized by date
Graphic of the circle of "knowledge creation":
Analysis Interpretation ~ Authoring/Presenting/ ~Sharing/Networking ~ Publishing/Dissemination ~ Archiving/Preservation ~ Research/Data Collection 
What does this mean for the future of actually meeting together?
"If everyone is blogging... then no one is blogging." True?Is blogging the future? Need to define future of what? It is here to stay. It won't supplant traditional publishing, but does provide new venue.One of the best things about blogging is that it is encouraging new ways of thinking about and presenting content.
McGrath provided a lively (and often humorous) analysis and defense of the value of scholarly blogging. 
Robert R. Cargill, UCLA: XKV8R
Instruction, Research, and the Future of Online Educational Technologies
Referred to a NYT article on "Digital Keys for Unlocking the Humanities' Riches."
How do the new technologies fundamentally change our instruction? (Ie, not just adapting a traditional class to an online setting.) 
Noted his work with the UCLA Qumran Visualization Project which really could be accomplished only through the use of new technologies. Further, there was no real way to share findings through traditional channels. (Cf. Cargill's Qumran through (Real) Time)
Part of problem is convincing academy to adopt new forms of publication
Motivation for publishing is not based on financial hopes but on considerations for promotion and tenure. 
Academic Prestige still resides in the printed format of books and traditional journals. 
dot coms thrived and established businesses panicked and responded by buying and rebranding dot coms. Traditional newspapers and magazines have lost ground to the online sites.
This year, for first time, Amazon has sold more ebooks than traditional books. The academy is being left behind. Result: "The academy must embrace online publication." Online publication should not just be recognized as acceptable but as preferable.
In the past, institutions valued for their hoarding of 'sacred knowledge.' With the new paradigm shift, value resides in the sharing of knowledge. How can an academic institution increase their value and 'preserve their brand' by being known for their sharing of knowledge rather than the hoarding of it?
The future of online course management systems is the textbook. (Digital textbooks, that is!) 
We need to embrace the digital humanities and overcome the challenges of simply commercial and less reputable alternatives.
For institutions, technological support needs to be understood as an utility like electricity rather than a luxury.

Reporting from SBL - Academic Teaching and Biblical Studies

Rough notes from SBL “Workshop on Interactive Technologies for Teaching and Learning” 2010.11.22

Kelley Coblentz Bautch from St. Edward’s University
“The Hype about Skype: Using Videoconferencing to Enhance Our Teaching”
  • Goal is to bring more voices, including global ones, into the classroom
  • KCB has been experimenting w/ the use of Skype in the classroom, including inviting the author of the required textbook
  • Both session-long and also short Skype sessions (e.g., have an expert provide a top 5 list…)
  • Students appreciate opportunity to interact w/ experts in the field and to hear contrasting views; also personalizes the scholarship behind the texts and technicalities
  • Helps students become aware of how the Bible is received in contexts other than one’s own
  • Skype is free and relatively easy to use (other options include Illuminate or iChat or panopto)
  • There are potential challenges of technology and Internet connection
  • The SBL International Voices … identifies scholars around the world who are willing to participate
  • Students largely found it helpful, especially when used in moderation
Brooke Lester from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
“‘To Those Far and Near’: The Case for ‘Community’ at a Distance”
  • In the academic context, the divide he identifies is not so much a technological one as it a distinction between those who have / not experienced ‘community’ online
  • One frequently encounter skepticism re: the reality of online ‘community,’ but this really is reflecting a very limited perspective
  • Provided links for his web tour HERE
  • Note the fine introduction provided at A Community of Scholarship, Emory’s Candler School of Theology, but note the caricaturization of typical online
  • Pharyngula as an example of community
  • Twitter as another example (eg, follow along at #slb10)
  • ‘Getting over the hump’ in an online class eventually ends up with a mutually supportive group
  • Community, Infed (Informal Education) as an example from the field of sociology; community and communion (profound meeting with an/other); openness, reciprocity, trust
  • What are good ways to assess whether students are or not experiencing community in online classes? I.e., what specific questions can we ask in evaluations which can provide some quantitative data for determing this?
  • Some experiments Lester is inviting other scholars to participate in:
  • 60 day invitation to community by interacting w/ other blogs HERE
  • A wetpaint wiki experiment to discuss the ‘Hendel’ matter HERE
David Howell of Ferrum College
“Using Technology Not to Manage but to Connect Course Teaching and Learning”
Examples of programs he has used in teaching
  • TimeGlider: students completed chronology assignments online here w/ some guided questions (Who is the person? Why is s/he important? Why should I care?)
  • Wordle: E.g., used Wordle to visualize apocalyptic literature texts; also cf. Tagxedo or Word It Out (Another alternative I would recommend is ImageChef)
  • Flickr for creating visual collections (eg., the Four Horsemen) and allow for comments and direct annotation of visuals
  • Google Maps and Google Earth: Create one’s own annotated maps
  • Diigo as a tool for social networking; bookmarking, sharing, tagging, and annotating online resources
Adam L. Porter of Illinois College
“The Power of Zotero for Student Learning”
I’ve been a longtime fan of Zotero, and Porter gave a fine introduction of its use and benefits. Do note that Zotero is in the process of creating Zotero Everywhere which will work in browsers other than Firefox as well as function as a standalone. Again, Zotero is a great bibliographic tool that allows you to accumulate, tag, and annotate resources from both online and local locations. With its integration with Microsoft Word, it provides an excellent way of footnoting papers and generating bibliographies. One thing I'm still hoping we can do is work on developing shared group bibliographies such as this one I've started for the Parables of Jesus. Also note that the SBL style needs to be installed separately and is available on this page.

Nicolai Winther-Nielsen
“Bereshit Basic Biblical Hebrew (3BH): Interactive Technology for Language Learning”
To get an idea of how the 3BH program works, login as a guest HERE. It is an interesting program that makes use of Moodle in the learning process. Winther-Nielsen uses the program in conjunction with Logos software. He also demonstrated Ezer Emdros-based Exercise Tool (3ET) as a self-tutored Bible reading program. Useful approach also involving linguistic analysis in conjunction with SESB in Logos. He also showed possibilities for Persuasive Learning Objects Tools (PLOTs). Consider also how we share and engage globally.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Reporting from SBL - E-Publish or Perish

Here are some rough notes from the E-Publish or Perish seminar at the 2010 SBL meeting.

The session was introduced by Charles Jones of the Institute for the Study of the Ancient World who described the 30 or so years of work he has done as a librarian. He’s both encouraged and discouraged by online developments. Check out some of the work Jones has done at Abzu ("Abzu is a guide to networked open access data relevant to the study and public presentation of the Ancient Near East and the Ancient Mediterranean world") and AWOL (Ancient World Online).

Christian Brady at Penn State, well-known online as the blog author of Targuman and also the online editor for the Newsletter for Targumic and Cognate Studies, talked about his experiences as an academic who has been active on the Internet. (He encouraged scholars to participate in as a kind of Facebook for academics.)
He used the example of the iPad app Elements as a ki
nd of engaging instructional resource that we should be imagining for biblically related materials. He recognized the amount of time required for producing online resources. From his experience, publishing with online journals is generally recognized as a valid and tenure-worthy form of publication. Other types of online sharing still face some scrutiny.

Ehud Ben Zvi of the University of Alberta and author of more books and online material than can be summarized spoke next. E-publication of journal articles has become an acceptable commonplace. More problematic is the e-publication of monographs. He sees that it will likely become an acceptable standard, but there are challenges and opportunities. One aspect he emphasized is that knowledge is part of the common good, but what does this mean in terms of open access? He is especially concerned about a global openness that makes the common knowledge available to the 80% of the world that does not have access to it now. To this end, check out the open access project, International Voices in Biblical Studies that specifically addresses this need. This project does not want to assume that the model is simply one of the privileged providing sharing with the needy. Hcnce, there is also an incentive to get scholars from the 80% world to publish as well.

Caroline Vander Stichele of the Universiteit van Amsterdam who has worked with the online journal lectio difficilior (European Electronic Journal for Feminist Exegesis) spoke next and described how she got started in online publishing in 1998. With others, she quickly realized the atractiveness of publishing an online journal: lower costs, global access, and fast and effective publication. Those are all good reasons for why one would start an ejournal, and it also allows us to think of experimental directions we might take in terms of topics, interactions, multilinguality, media, etc. So how does one start an ejournal? Her first step was to obtain institutional support for both financial and technological assistance. Institutional cooperation provides some security for a journal’s longevity and legitimacy while also giving publicity to the institution. The issue of control is a challenge—observing copyrights, protecting from plagiarism—but has been addressed in part by preserving physical copies of the online publications.

Ian Scott of Tyndale University College and Seminary (Ontario) and co-editor with Ken Penner of the Online Critical Pseudepigrapha (OCP) was next. His frustration finding texts prompted him to begin the creation of the site. He wanted, however, not simply to provide the most conveniently available out of copyright texts (oftentimes inferior ones) but to make the best primary texts available. Why would we not publish the best critical editions online with open access? We do want to be aware of the rapid technological changes that even allow us to ask this question. With the advent of the printing press arose all sorts of issues regarding intellectual property, paying for publications, etc. The Internet poses even more significant issues. The primary costs for physical printing are in the actual production of the artifact, not in the writing, editing, and peer review. The OCP shows the kind of possibilities for a dynamic and ‘dense’ document. Still, there are costs. The biggest costs for OCP involve platform and software development. Scott would like for academics to adopt a common platform, and to that end they will soon (next week?) be releasing the Grammateus Reader which will be freely available. The Grammateus Reader is flexible and extensible and once installed (Drupal setup), scholars will be able to upload documents and have them available. They are also planning to develop an online editor that scholars will be able to use without technical training. One major challenge is obtaining permission to print texts held in copyright by publishing houses. The SBL is an example of a positive interaction in that they both identified OCP as a SBL endorsed ‘publisher’ and have provided permissions for copyrighted texts that are therefore being released in both print and online versions.

It was an interesting seminar, and we all are benefiting from the work these participants have done. I am especially excited about Scott's announcement of the forthcoming Grammateus Reader. I have often made good use of the OCP site, and this looks to enhance it even further. Thanks!

Reporting from SBL - CARG

The CARG (Computer Assisted Research Group) session was disappointingly poorly attended today. John Schwandt from talked about his frustrations with inputting polytonic Unicode Greek. Some issues we face:
  • What basic keyboard layout to use: Some of us have the NotaBene or Bible Windows or other system we've long used and don't want to change. Main issues are where to map chi, psi, xi, and upsilon. Schwandt would like to encourage use of the Greek national keyboard. (Personally, I've become pretty accustomed to the layout I learned when using NotaBene and Bible Windows.)
  • A bigger problem is with the application of diacritical marks. The Tyndale kit is nice because it rather easily installs the Cardo font and a Greek polytonic keyboard, but I share Schwant's frustration with that and similar keyboards that require one to type the diacritical marks before typing the character.
  • I find the Logos keyboard to be intuitive, but it does not do a good job of rendering all the correct precombined forms. 
  • Schwandt encouraged the use of his own EZAccent solution. I have not checked it, but another good solution is to use Tavultesoft Keyman. If you just need to type a short section, TypeGreek is the way to go.

Reporting from SBL - BibleWorks

Greetings from the Society of Biblical Literature in Atlanta! The weather is great here, and it's even better to catch up with friends. Here's a pic of me with Glenn Weaver of BibleWorks. I got a chance to see some of the things that BW has indicated that they've been working on. Nothing definite to report for now, but BW has some exciting projects in the works. 
There are a number of things to report, but I will do them in short snippets. It's been a long day (starting at 4:30am...), so I'll get to them when I can. Another way to keep up with what's been happening here is to follow the twitter feeds.