What Study Leave Will Do

Having a break coming up, once I finally settle my debt to James and shoot the manuscript of the commentary off to the editor, my imagination is beginning once again to realise its value for my scholarship. I look in any given direction, and instead of thinking about a stack of essays to mark or a committee meeting I have to attend, I think of research projects I’d like to undertake.
Unless something intervenes, I’ll go ahead to write out a series of essays about the consequences of the approach I advocate, which I’ll just call ‘differential hermeneutics’ since that’s the phrase that seems to catch people’s attention more readily than my wordier explanations of what I’m doing. Those topics will be familiar to people who know me well — ‘code model’, ‘literal/metaphorical’, ‘on doing without meaning’, ‘prooftexting’, ‘no such thing as eisegesis’, ‘meaning as practice’ — and they’ll probably be book-able once they’re set.
If someone wants to bring me aboard for a lecture series, each of these will make more sense in conjunction with the others, and it would be fun to talk through more than just a portion of the Grand Project. But once I think about this as a lecture series, I have a couple others that would be fun to put together and present. One that I’ve wanted to work on for a long time would be ‘Subdominant Christologies of the New Testament’ — christological tropes that were not rejected by the early church, but which never became integrated into the systematic understanding of Jesus (and which thus tended to drift to obscurity). How would our thinking about Jesus be different now if the early church had invested its theological energy into a He Who Is To Come christology rather than so much into a Son of God christology? (Not saying that Jesus isn’t Son of God, or shouldn’t be thought of in that way — but that once ‘Son’ takes centre stage and defines the discourses thereafter, other (quite orthodox) possibilities are neglected.
The other one (right now) would be a series on The Informatic Bible, on the ways that the tidal change of digital media both effects a transformation of what the referent of ‘the Bible’ might be and changes the ways in which we are liable to interact with the Bible. It would have some elements of ‘just what is a “Bible” anyway?’, some of ‘how is a digital Bible different from a printed or handwritten Bible?’, some of ‘how do we [and who is “we”?] imagine, learn from, represent, receive a Bible?’ — stuff like that.
So anyway, right now job 1 is actually closing out the James commentary, which the SBL proposals and the miscellaneous paper-shuffling yesterday interfered with. Maybe will have to wait till Monday; but at least it’s mostly custodial work at this point.

Ahead and Behind

With the deadline for paper proposals for the Society of Biblical Literature hanging over me, I took a day out of burnishing the raw draft of the James commentary to gin up a proposals for a couple of sessions at the annual meeting in November. Each is the kernel of an essay I’ve been planning for a while, and both are related to the alt-hermeneutics I’ve been banging on about here for ages, so the proposals came moderately easily. Moreover, once I send off the James ms, they’re projects to which I had already planned to turn my attention — so writing them up should they be accepted) won’t take me away from other planned activities. I would post them here, except that sets in motion a risk that if the papers aren’t accepted, I’ll have waved my unsuccessful laundry out to public view; I’ll work out the arguments here beginning shortly, anyway.
Then, at the end of the day (over here), news came that the deadline had been extended by a week. I could have spent the day on James, after all, which I really should have. I need to go over the divisions of the letter, make sure they align with the format of the series, and check my initial translation against the analysis I give in the individual sections. On the other hand, I have my proposals done.