Friday, August 31, 2007
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
This Year's VTS Convocation
This year's VTS Alumni Convocation will be held Tuesday, October 2 through Wednesday, October 3. Come meet our new Dean and President and attend the Sprigg Lectures, which will focus on the theme, Religious Discourse in Our National Life as Perceived and Reported by the Media." Respected journalists, Juan Williams and Judy Woodruff, will discuss the role faith plays in today's American culture.
Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Our new seminary dean and president, Dr. Ian Markham, is publishing a daily commentary of about 200 words on the VTS website. He hopes to keep everyone connected and in-touch with what's going on in the president's office and at VTS in general. The commentary is quite public, so feel free to check it out by clicking here. Today's commentary (Aug. 28) caught my eye, since it has some nice words about me and my NT colleage John Yieh. Thank you, Ian!
Saturday, August 25, 2007
The SBL's Review of Biblical Literature has just published my review of Jon D. Levenson, Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life. To access the review, simply click here.
Friday, August 24, 2007
The MAR-SBL board has been working hard on this year's conference. I hope to post a call for papers sometime in the next week or so. Meanwhile, let me at least post the basic details:
This year's conference will be held March 27-28, 2008 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in New Brunswick, New Jersey. You can view a photo gallery of the hotel by clicking here. To visit the MAR-SBL site, click here.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Passing of Dr. Ted Mauch
Monday, August 20, 2007
To visit the official NIDB site, and see a quick video presentation by the editor, Katharine Doob Sakenfeld, Old Testament professor at Princeton Seminary, click here.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
Dr. Timothy Sedgwick Appointed New Academic Dean
Saturday, August 18, 2007
Results of the AABS Student Paper Competition
Sadly, again our VTS entry did not take the AABS prize. We have been informed that this year's winner was Kathryn Reinhard from Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, for a paper on Qoheleth, with an honorable mention awarded to Fred Rogers from General, for a paper on Romans. Warm congratulations to Kathryn and to Fred.
Friday, August 17, 2007
A Student's Perspective on Hebrew Class
The class picks up speed. We are getting through entire chapters -- although still, the occasional selection of wrong verb root results in a Mad Libs-type translation. We are giddy, enthusiastic, frustrated, amazed. One by one we dream Hebrew: dancing letters, difficult passages. We design a T-shirt with the legend in Hebrew.
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
On the Possible Origin of Vowel Writing
For a neat animation tracing the Semitic alphabet through the Greeks to us today, click here.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Summer Hebrew at VTS Launched Today
Today, August term 2007 classes got under way, and I started the Hebrew alphabet with a class of 25. By all accounts, we are off to a fine start.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Reading with the Damned!
Casey writes: [The author] chronicles his experience of reading the Bible with the inmates and undocumented migrant workers of central Washington state. It is an eye-opening book about an under-explored hermeneutical approach to reading Scripture. Particularly powerful and provocative were the parts where he reads Genesis 1 and 2 with inmates, and what revelations/insights they are able to hear, entirely unprompted. We had Bob Eckblad visit Christ Church Cathedral in Houston, where I work, and he was an amazing man. He lives an extraordinary life of patient, simple dedication to the marginalized of our society.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
ELCA Annual Assembly Votes to Allow Pastors in Gay Relationships
Reuters and MSNBC are reporting the following news from the Lutheran Church:
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America passed a resolution at its annual assembly urging bishops to refrain from disciplining pastors who are in “faithful committed same-gender relationships.”
Friday, August 10, 2007
Raccoons in the Chapel!
Baby raccoons fell from the ceiling into the seminary chapel this morning. Susan Shillinglaw captured several great photos of them, before the buildings and grounds crew escorted them all out. Fritz, one of the escorts, emailed that the whole episode reminded him of the song, "Ra-coon-a-ma-ta-da..."
Thursday, August 09, 2007
YDS Hires New Asst. Prof. of OT
Baden has presented papers on source criticism and other methods of reading the biblical text, as well as the nature of the priestly strand of the Torah. Current projects include a study of the combination of the J and E strands in the Pentateuch and a series of articles on the syntax of volitive sequences in Biblical Hebrew. Future projects include a number of articles on detailed source-critical treatments of various passages in the Pentateuch, a handbook on the methodology of source criticism, and a study of the differing redactional techniques in the Pentateuch and the Deuteronomistic History.
Baden, the only Jewish member of the regular faculty, holds a B.A. from Yale University, and M.A. from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. from Harvard.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
A Visit from Kevin Wilson
Fellow biblical scholar Kevin Wilson stayed overnight with us in late July. I'm only getting to post this group shot of him with the Cook-family now. It was a fun visit, and we enjoyed catching up with Kevin. As you probably know, his Bible blog can be found at http://www.bluecord.org/biblioblog/
Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Ellen and Peter Safe Home from Sudan
Monday, August 06, 2007
Yesterday's Update from Sudan
I have just talked to Peter and Ellen. They are together in Khartoum making a record of expenses, and preparing for an early morning take off from the airport. Ellen will be off to a service at the Cathedral when she is off the phone. All are still feeling wonderful. Their health has been great throughout. The trip from Renk to Khartoum was good - no flooding. Although Peter said it rained in Renk after they left, and he wasn't sure what the return trip would be like for those who are going back (and for Lauren who was to arrive about midnight tonight). Peter remarked at how quickly NGOs moved in to deal with the consequences of the rains -- building tent cities and clinics, dredging out mud, and changing water filters. Peter has learned much and is looking forward to a time when he can return to build on what he has learned this time. And of course, Peter and Ellen are looking forward to being back (later Monday night in Alexandria, mid-day in the Raleigh Durham area). And I am impressed with our informal network here in the US has worked and grateful that so many of us where able to be in touch with the Sudanese travelers and with each other. ---Dwayne Huebner
Sunday, August 05, 2007
Updates from The Team in Sudan
Peter commented that they’re returning with a new inspiration of how to love God with heart and soul, as well as the mind. And yet, he said, how hard these Sudanis work; how keen they are to learn.
Andrew is a hit with the students, following Deborah, in drilling them in their Greek, and helping newcomers try to catch up.
We have also had a few meetings about how to continue the program: the new unity government is offering higher salaries and people leave, there is still little infrastructure, and they would really like to offer a BA – but that means two indigenous PhDs on faculty. We are wondering if two DMin's would work.
I think I have been found out, as the clinics become busier and busier, with more and more children brought in. I think we are seeing at least 10 children an hour (which means, barely seeing, with malaria, diarrhea, and pneumonia the most common diagnoses – I have used my inexpensive otoscope to look at ears and have found a few ear infections. Dr Paul and I work together better and better, each trusting one another to do exams. We actually do practice similarly – even tho he is a medical assistant, he has as many years experience as I do seeing patients. We now consult each other on medications and agree most of the time. Of course, every medicine here has a different trade name, so I am often lost.
Tonight, I saw 10 patients in the compound, most from the church, who "followed" me home, shall we say. Though I enjoy it, I must admit I prefer the 5 hours a day in clinic, with the rest of the time thinking about public health approaches. I gave two lectures –well, interactive conversations with an interpreter, one to women, one to men, on the largest public health problems this country faces. Interesting – between my numbers of cases and these focus groups I am getting an impression of the needs and the acknowledgement of needs and the potential opportunity to meet some of those needs – it will be a process as long as one that starts a theological college.
Please continue to pray for the success of the church in Sudan.
The Recent Discovery of the Nebo-Sarsekim Tablet
Friday, August 03, 2007
Christopher Seitz Moving from Scottland to University of Toronto
Bishop Lee Defrocks Twenty Priests in Virginia
In a document signed Aug. 1, the bishop defrocked 18 men and two women, saying they had "abandoned the communion of the Episcopal Church." For the full online article, click here.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Today's News from Renk
We went to the souk just two days ago, to the garment district where – with the help of Mary (married to the young Fr Sapana), and MaDouf, our driver, who proves himself to have quite the fashion sense – we had wrinkled noses when we chose fabrics that were not approved, and a nod if we were more tasteful. I was, apparently, saved from myself by Mary who not only wrinkled her nose, but said no to a pattern that had large antelopes charging.
It can't be a secret that we also bought dresses for Ellen, Sherri, and Sara – with Ellen being our model (she stands 5'4", and is slighter of frame than Sara and Sheri, but was a great stand in).
We await these custom made garments. I might say that the garment district in Renk is somewhat different from NY, with goats and sheep and cows aimlessly walking the streets and donkey carts moving cargo from one spot to the other (maybe not so different from NY after all).
It is now more a "regular" rainy season, with lighter rains each night, but very deep mud that clings to everything everywhere.
Still, we have had the privilege of Bishop Daniel and Bishop Hilary both staying in the compound and joining us for meals and conversation. Bp. Daniel cut quite a figure with a bright shirt and short combination (men do not where shorts here – of course, his could serve in the NBA, except for the colors).
We continue to be well, we have students join us for meals, and conversation, to hear their stories. Our hosts couldn't be better to us.
Blessings to all. I hope giving a little color, shall we say, makes the trip just a bit more accessible. Though we pray morning, noon, and night, we aren't above a trip to the market.
New Commentary by Dr. Tony Lewis
Our dean, Ian Markham, writes: "This is research which contributes to all three of our research constituencies: it is the first African American commentary on the New Testament and therefore important to the guild on New Testament scholars. It serves the entire Church of Christ by providing this perspective. And it serves the Episcopal Church in providing a resource that calls us to create a just world. Virginia Theological Seminary needs to continue to work to create an environment where African American students can study and grow. This volume is a resource that can help us do that."
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Update from Renk
All are well, and spirits are high.
Yesterday was shopping day, with a trip to the market for fabrics, clothing, and who knows what else. Everyone had fun, including their driver.
The weather continues to provide some rain at night. The Sudanese claim that the hard rains, which they had earlier in the week, are very unusual – usually coming in August. (Global warming?) Ellen said the Sunday rain was torrential - harder than anything she has every seen, (flooding the latrines) but the rain Monday night was more gentle. The school has not yet managed to collect rain for drinking and other uses, although in the compound where they stay the collection of rain water is working. Peter’s push to collect rain water for the school has been reinforced by Bishop Daniel, who said he has done it elsewhere in Sudan. Because water for general use comes from the Nile, which has been stirred up by the heavy rains, potable water is not available for many. The team members have bottled water, but must limit their bathing.
Bishop Hilary and Bishop Daniel are both in Renk, each having set aside time to plan with the team. Ellen has spent a couple of hours each of these past two days planning with them.. Bishop Hillary would like a similar project in Malakai. The two bishops, and Father Joseph, have suggested that it would be great if teaching teams could come three times a year rather than twice a year. Ellen had to nix both suggestions – energy and money reasons. She pointed out that the financing for this project has two sources - Jackie Kraus and her church in Chicago, and the efforts from the Duke team. Neither is funded by grants, or the institution, but by the efforts of the many volunteers. In addition, planning and organizing the teaching teams originates from Ellen’s desk and taking on more such administrative work would detract her from other professional obligations and interests.
Peter has been in the clinic in the morning – which sees 60 people in 2 1/2 hours. He is thinking about how the clinic can be more effective, and how new midwifes could be trained. He has called attention to the fact that a two week trip by another doctor from US could pay the salary of a local midwife for two years. Peter is eager to provide help for the long haul, but recognizes that frequent return trips is not the most constructive contribution.
Andrew clearly has identified that Africa is to be part of his vocation. Besides teaching, he has helped Fr. Joseph with business stuff.
Ellen said that the three of them make a perfect team - much more than the sum of the parts.
Ellen has been teaching about sacrifice in Leviticus for two days. She acknowledged that the Sudanese students are familiar with sacrifice in their daily lives as well as in their tribal tradition. So she began the class by asking students to tell of their own experiences. Once the hesitation was overcome, many spoke of their experiences, and the connection with Leviticus was natural for them.
Renk has changed significantly since Ellen was there three years ago. Fewer signs of the “iron age” culture. More cars, bikes, electricity – cell phone towers and cell phones. Even access to the inter-net for those who came prepared (and I gather Andrew did.)
Peter and Ellen depart for Khartoum on Saturday. Andrew has scheduled two more weeks in Renk.