Askew Views

It’s a good thing Mark Goodacre and I are such long-time friends, because whenever certain topics come up, we end up adopting positions at variance with one another. Not finally at variance, not even essentially at variance, but if we were married we would probably be squabbling continuously.
 
Mark hails the FOSOTT/OAOTT project, except he really wants to remind us that the web is overflowing with lots of pre-existing pedagogical goodness — to which I say, Bravo, and many of us already know about those resources (some indeed even make those resources). Nonetheless, what Brooke and I have in mind (don’t know if I’m speaking fairly for Brooke, here, but we appear to be on the same wavelength) is not contrary to “using all these wonderful resources,” but “developing a more-or-less coherent, coordinated pool of resources on the familiar, pedagogically-conveninet model of a textbook.” Mark thinks textbooks are just too “texty,” and I’m with him on that as well — hence my long-standing interest in comics models for instruction, especially at the introductory “textbook” level. (I haven’t gotten overwhelming support for that one, either.) Mark cites the very impressive Bibledex videos and suggests that someone just sit down and “record your own audio or video” response to a pre-existing resource. Perhaps, but a large part of the point of a textbook is (again) its coherence with itself (thematically, discursively, graphically, physically, and so on); the presentation of materials that are consistent one with the next is part of the teaching and learning, especially at the introductory stage.
 
So anyway, Mark and I will probably go on squabbling collegially as long as we’re both at work. He convinced me about the Synoptic Problem, and maybe someday he’ll allow me to convince him about hermeneutics (it would befit his vigorous interest in non-verbal instructional media). Cheers, Mark — give my regards to the USA, and if I ever descend to England, I’ll raise a pint for you there.
 
[Later: Gah! John Ahn points to the promo for Rick Pearlstein’s Nixonland as another take on the future of books.]

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3 Responses to Askew Views

  1. AKMA says:

    As a case in point, I thought I’d use Mark’s Gateway site to frame the Interpretive Methods (medium-introductory) course I’m planning this summer. Mark’s web-based model should be terrific for this course; I don’t want to comply with the overemphasis on chronology or methodology that characterise most works in the area, so turning students loose on the web would be a very theme-appropriate pedagogical move.
     
    So I went to the Gateway to find material on comparing different Bible translations (probably the most basic issue for introductory study of interpretation, since most students read neither Hebrew nor Greek) (alas). There’s a “Bible Translations” heading, but that points almost exclusively to sites that make the text of the Bible available, not to essays/pages about the topic of translation. So I looked back at the rest of the Gateway site and found. . . well, “Hermeneutics” is listed in a “miscellaneous other things” category, but that header doesn’t have anything on evaluating translations.
     
    Went back to the “Bible Translations” header because there had been one site that might help, Wayne Leman’s page with many links to possibly-helpful material including a section devoted to comparing English versions. At the bottom of Wayne’s comparisons one can find a list of further links, many of which are broken/offline; so far I haven’t found an essay I’m comfortable using, and I hesitate to direct students to a site with so many broken links to frustrate their further inquiry.
     
    I say none of this to criticise Mark’s Gateway site or Wayne’s Translations site. The Gateway reflects Mark’s own interests a great deal more than mine (a whole section on the Synoptic Problem, Hermeneutics in a grab-bag subcategory, relatively light treatment of the Catholic Epistles) and that’s fine, but it’s not an optimal reference site for someone who teaches with my emphases. Wayne’s TRanslations page is fine, and it’s not his obligation to keep pruning and adding links in perpetuity (that’s one of my objections to Gateway/links sites in the first place). I offer both Mark and Wayne heartfelt thanks for the work they’ve done — but much as Mark’s site provides a helpful approach to his way of introducing his (Duke) students to his view of the field, it’s not a practicable approach for me teaching my (Glasgow) students about my view of the field.
     
    Of course, if there were an “A K M Adam-inflected” Gateway site, I’d surely like it a lot more. One point of my critique of Gateways, though, is that they are helpful just to the extent that they match the interests of the user (which in Mark’s case is nearly 100%, and in mine is somewhat lower). Teaching from the Gateway is quite reasonable and useful for Mark, but not so much for me.
     

  2. Thanks for the helpful post, AKMA. “Mark cites the very impressive Bibledex videos and suggests that someone just sit down and “record your own audio or video” response to a pre-existing resource.” I wouldn’t exclude the latter — recording a response — but my point is actually the opposite — that instead of focusing solely on creating new resources, we instead utilize existing great resources. So with Bibledex, for example, why record a 10 minute video intro. to Matthew’s Gospel, when they’ve already done it so well?

    On the comment above, Holger and I talked a good deal about the hermeneutics section on the NT Gateway and thought about pulling in his pages to the NT Gateway and absorbing them, as it were. We decided, however, that they were working well as they were and so Holger kept them at http://biblicalhermeneutics.wordpress.com/hermeneutics-links/ and we linked from the NT Gateway hermeneutics page to there.

    To an extent, your point about the potential weakness of the NT Gateway is something I have been saying myself in conference papers and posts over the last five years: that it *must* transcend its origins as my own site if it is to survive. One of the reasons for getting Holger on board is that his interests are so very different from mine. The more of that the better. I’d be delighted to have you on board too, AKMA, should you be interested, but I realize that it does represent a huge commitment of time.

  3. AKMA says:

    Two quick responses before I have to go dress for a morning of interviews.
     
    With regard to the question, “Why record a 10 minute video intro. to Matthew’s Gospel, when they’ve already done it so well?” Because they represent Matthew (or The Synoptic Problem, or 1 Timothy) in a way I wouldn’t. Imagine for a moment that there were only one textbook in a pre-Web world; would you say, “Why write a twelve-page intro. to Matthew’s Gospel, when they’ve already done it so well?”
     
    With regard to hermeneutics, thanks, but you correctly suspect that I don’t have the time. I’ll admit to a certain degree of disappointment, too, that nowhere in Holger’s site could I detect any trace of anything I’ve done, said, or written. We may put that down to Holger’s critical discernment, or the limitations of trying to keep up with the deluge of online resources, or whatever, but it’s in part a signal to me of what I find unconvincing about Gateway links-sites. (With a weighted-search option, my hermeneutics stuff would pop up quickly via my association with you and via my link-connections to other, non-academic, web writers).
     
    Plus, the Bibledex videos are made by a professional, not by the academics they feature. That has many ramifications that I don’t have time to spell out now, but we ought to keep it in consideration. Any time someone wants to put a professional videographer at my disposal (or a comics artist, more likely) and fly us to scenic locations of historic importance, you know where to find me.
     

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