Testing. . . One, Two, Three

With generous help from Chris Whipple, I managed to get this blog back online, permalinked and commentable. I uploaded the posts from the last few weeks late last night — I’d only intended to upload one or two, but once I got started it was hard to stop — and now I’m trying MarsEdit’s remote posting feature.

A certain amount of hand-coding is fun and refreshing; it reminds me of how completely I’d come to rely on MarsEdit for entering material in my blog. Now I just have to resuscitate my CSS chops (meager as they ever were) to spruce up the templates to a more Disseminary-looking format again, and we’re off to the races.

Matthean Response

As I warned readers, my response to Stan Hauerwas’s prospective commentary on Matthew addresses not a full-fledged Matthew commantary, but on a passage from his forthcoming books of reflections on the Seven Last Words of Christ, to be entitled The Christ-Shattered Cross. It was a weird exercise, but I gather that it turned out well. Here’s what I said:
Continue reading “Matthean Response”

Looking Backward

It’s hard to believe that we could spend a busy theological-conference weekend without wrapping it up with a visit from Jenna, but I guess that’s one way San Antonio differs from Atlanta. This year, of course, Jeneane wouldn’t have needed to step outside for a breath of, ahem, cigarette smoke. We did think of Jenna when we went up and down in the elevator, though.

We also thought of her, and of Jeneane and George, when we heard that Diva had died. Nothing affects us in quite the same way as an animal friend’s death; I remember that one of the first crises my new neighborhood talked through online was the death of Tom Shugart’s cat. We’ll remember Diva here (though we never met her), and we’ll be thinking of the Sessums. Take care, and bless you, and Diva.

SBL Day Four

I don’t anticipate catching many wifi waves today, so I’ll just say that we’re looking forward to a lovely breakfast with two of our great friends (we’ll send an electronic call-out, Amy), wander around the conference center, perhaps pick up some last-minute books, get together with Jennnifer, and return home to the loving embrace of our wonderful family and friends. And sleep.

SBL Day Three

Because Margaret and I had both paid our debts to academia, we took today relatively easy. We slept late (for a conference day), ate a leisurely breakfast, spent the morning book-shopping (mostly for Margaret, whose need for print resources is greater than mine), and socializing. I had a lunch meeting with the representatives of Baylor University Press, who have committed themselves to the commentary series of which my James commentary will now form a part. The roster of potential contributors impressed me greatly — some old cronies and some highly-regarded colleagues — and Baylor reports that the commentaries they’ve printed so far have been extremely popular. Moreover, most of the participants caught a glimpse of what a tremendous effect our work can have for a coming generation of Greek students; it occurred to me that one way I could enhance the second edition of my Greek grammar would be to align its use of terminology and examples with the commentary series.

After lunch, I sat in on a small consultation on Ph.D. studies and how programs could and should change. The consultation paid special attention to the problem (at serious risk of growing worse) of the under-representation of scholars from non-dominant cultural groups among tenured faculy and especially on the faculties of advanced-degree-granting institutions. From there, I connected with Margaret again, and we heard some papers on theological interpretations of the Song of Songs. Thence we went to dinner, and from here we’re going to see The Incredibles together. . . .

SBL Day Two

When I arried at the book display, yesterday, Margaret tipped me off that one of my articles has been published in a collection of essays on theological education and rhetoric. My original title was, “What Has Vincennes To Do With Jerusalem?” but the editor required me to demote that to a subtitle, in favor of the more explicit “Rhetoric, Postmodernism and Theological Education.” No mind; I still like the article, and it’s satisfying that it’s out and circulating now.

Later on, I ran into Mark Goodacre, and we conversed about life, work, and the world online. Then, before my response to Stanley Hauerwas, I saw one of my academic exemplars, Robert Morgan (now retired from Oxford). He has generously encouraged me when we’ve met in the past, and today again he offered some very kind positive words about my work and his regard for it.

SBL Day One

The annual meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (and the American Association of Religion) has gotten off without a hitch, at least for Margaret and me. I got to the 7:30 breakfast meeting on time, but only by the sheerest chance did I arrive at the correct hotel (there are two Marriotts side by side, and the one to which I thought I was going, was not in fact the one toward which I should have been headed. Providentially, I went unawares to the hotel I did not intend to go to — thereby ending up at the hotel to which I should have been headed.

SBL Panel

Now Margaret is giving her paper, the lead-off paper in the Bible and Christian Theology group, and she is cooking. Go, Margaret! She makes a case that Hans Frei’s “plain-sense” legacy to the theological interpretation of Scripture tends to occlude both human accountability for interpretations and the Holy Spirit’s role of guiding and extending the interpretive imagination — an eclipse that Henri de Lubac’s sympathetic account of medieval “spiritual” exegesis can remedy. Lewis Ayres follows Margaret’s paper with a lively argument that de Lubac’s assessment of spiritual exegesis depends on his account of the soul and its purification. Ann Astell is third, discussing de Lubac’s affinity for the work of Teilhard de Chardin. Steve Chapman of Duke gave the final presentation of the panel, observing de Lubac’s opprobrious remarks on Judaism and the theological status of the New Testament. Trent Poplun gave a response to all the papers; I thought he rather missed the point of Margaret’s paper, but he recouped some favor by quoting her appreciatively in his wrap-up remarks.

Friday Take-Off

Waking up early this morning, I finished packing and set out to the airport where I successfully found my beloved Margaret (I thought I knew how much I missed her before I saw her — how foolish of me!), and we made our way to the departure gate. There we re-enacted the annual ritual; of meeting a sizable proportion of the theologians in the area. When we were in Princeton, we’d see all the Greater Philadelphia area; when in Florida, a much smaller gathering of Tampa/St. Pete scholars. Located in Chicago, in one of the highest concetrations of theological academics outside Rome, I’d guess, one sees the familiar faces of faculty colleagues from other institutions, year after year. This time, about a quarter of the Seabury faculty (John Dreibelbis, Paula Barker, and me) is on our flight, along with various other North Side, Hyde Park, and Western Suburbs scholars.

My response is coming along fine; I mostly have to balance the background information that give the response intelligibility with the actual criticism. Margaret’s paper will, of course, rock.