Monday, August 31, 2009

Marge McNaughton

The early-retirement dinner for my colleague and friend, Dean Marge McNaughton was held back in the Spring, on May 26th. I was privileged to be one of the speakers. With the new academic year now ramping up, many of us are sure missing Marge's presence and feeling the pain of things undone that she used to take care of. A big item on our faculty agenda this week is discussion of advising/pastoral-care in Marge's absence. (We have two afternoon-long faculty meetings this week, tomorrow and Thursday.)

Here are two images from the slide-show that I put together for Marge's retirement dinner (with thanks to Alix Dorr, Susan Shillinglaw, and the VTS Library staff). Click either image to greatly enlarge:

The first picture shows Marge as a VTS seminarian, sharing a meal and discussion with then Hebrew Bible Professor, the unforgettable Dr. Jim Ross (click here).

The second shot shows Marge's three pets. The cat (left, with halo) is Baxter, the VTS mascot, now sadly passed on. Before Jane Morse's death, Baxter was her cat. Thus, he always showed a special interest in the Hebrew Bible.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Dog Reflects a Part of God?

A friend and former colleague used this video, with its simple message, artwork, and lyrics, as part of his sermon this morning. Once you get into the video a pit, you can't help but be warmed a little by the message of God's unconditional love. Far from the complete scope of the Gospel, but certainly a part of it...

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Online Textbook of Biblical Hebrew

A week or so ago, John A. Cook and Robert D. Holmstedt posted the revised 2009 version of their Biblical Hebrew Textbook online. This teaching grammar is free and available for classroom use for no charge: click here. A quick perusal suggests it takes an attractive approach, not burdened with excessive detail that beginning students can't use, and logically organized in a way similar to the Weingreen grammar, which the authors view as in many ways unsurpassed for classroom instruction. If anyone has experience with this textbook, please leave a comment...

Friday, August 28, 2009

"Pharaoh, Pharaoh, Oh Baby..."

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Two New Bible Briefs

We have just published two new Bible Briefs to our Seminary Website (click here). Both are excellent, and it was great fun to be the editor of each booklet. We have 1 & 2 Chronicles by Dr. Steven S. Tuell (click here for PDF download) and the book of Esther by Dr. Sidnie White Crawford (click here for PDF download). Brief author bios appear below. Enjoy!

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Dr. Steven S. Tuell is Associate Professor of Old Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church. The recipient of numerous awards for teaching excellence, he is also a prolific author, whose works include a study of Ezekiel in the Harvard Semitic Monographs Series, a commentary on the books of Chronicles in the Interpretation Series, and most recently, a commentary on Ezekiel published by Hendrickson in 2008.

Dr. Sidnie White Crawford is the Willa Cather Professor of Classics and Religious Studies and Department Chair at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she also serves as Priest Associate at Saint Mark’s on the Campus. She has published extensively in the areas of Second Temple Judaism, feminist criticism of the Hebrew Bible, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Update: Check out Dean Markham's commentary on this: click here and select Friday, August 28, 2009.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Visuwords WebSite

Valerie Hayes emailed me the link to this very interesting site, an online visual dictionary/thesaurus. Visuwords™ online graphical dictionary allows one to look up words to find their meanings and associations with other words and concepts. It produces diagrams reminiscent of a neural net. I tried it by entering the word "Tanakh," which is the Jewish term for the Holy Scriptures. To run the word for yourself, click here.

Here is the initial result, showing how Tanakh is the sacred text, and how its members include the Torah/Pentateuch, the Nebiim/Prophets, and the Ketubim/Writings (which are all also sacred text).

Next, I double-clicked on the Ketubim node, and it expanded into all the constituent books of the Writings.

Finally, I similarly expanded the Nebiim/Prophets:

Monday, August 24, 2009

Butterflies in the Seminary Grove

A few evenings ago we were taking an evening walk in the VTS Grove, and came upon a whole lot of butterflies. Here is the short video that we shot of one:

Saturday, August 22, 2009

"Divinity School Application for Liberals" (Humor)

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I recently learned about the "Divinity School Application for Liberals" through a Facebook note. Check it out; it is good for a few laughs. Click here.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Humor: Karen's Spiritual Journey

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Call For Papers: 2010 MAR-SBL Conference

The 2010 Meeting of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Society of Biblical Literature is now scheduled, and the CALL FOR PAPERS is online (to download the PDF file, click here).

The conference will be held March 11-12, 2010, at the Hyatt Regency, New Brunswick, NJ.

Highlights for our 2010 meeting include our plenary address by Dr. Benjamin D. Sommer, Professor in the Department of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and our presidential address by Dr. Kenton Sparks, Professor of Biblical Studies at Eastern University.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Psalm 40 Stole, Cont.: v. 7

Here is a final image from Melissa B.'s Psalm 40 stole. Behind the neck you can see that she has the Hebrew from v. 7 of the psalm, "Behold Me." In her class discussion of the project, Melissa explained that she took the Hebrew as an expression of connecting with God. For her, this is a symbol of reconnecting with God's call and resting in God's presence.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Psalm 40 Stole, Continued: Verses 7-8 and Verse 17

To illustrate vv. 7-8 ("your law is within my heart"), Melissa used an image of the torah as a tree of life rooted in the heart:

To illustrate the dual image in v 17 of frail humanity and a delivering God, Melissa used an image of Mount Sinai with God manifesting the divine presence in lightning and fire:

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Psalm 40:9, Deliverance

The stole illustrates v. 9 and its message of deliverance with an image of the parting of the Red Sea waters. Melissa even added sand to the fabric to bring help bring the sea crossing to life! Look closely to see some of the specks...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Isaiah 40 Stole, Continued

Here is a close-up of the stole introduced in the previous post, showing the image for vv. 2-3 on the left and the image for v. 12 on the right. On the left, Melissa is portraying the song of praise of v. 3, sung after the Lord set the psalmist's feet secure upon a rock (v. 2). On the right, Melissa is portraying the failure of the psalmist's heart, as evils without number appear all around (v. 12).

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Stole Based on Psalm 40

As part of her course-work for my Psalms seminar this past spring, my student Melissa B. created a stole based on Psalm 40. In the lower left of the photo you can see the black pit or bog of v. 2. Moving clockwise, we have images from v. 3 and v. 8b; moving down the right side, we have images from v. 9, v. 12, and v. 17. In my next post, I will share more close-ups and details.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Rebecca with Isaiah

We're just back from our vacation out West. While visiting one of the two rather impressive visitor centers within Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah, we shot this photo of Rebecca with a wax figure of Isaiah. Our daughter looks rather happy to be in the great prophet's presence!