Saturday, June 30, 2007

Last Call for Nominations; Carnival XIX Goes Up Tomorrow

Barring any last minute technical glitches I shall post Biblical Studies Carnival 19 sometime tomorrow (Sunday, July 1st). June was a good month for biblioblogging, and I am optimistic this carnival will be an exciting one for everyone. Here is one last call for submissions!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Five-Minute Bible

Check out Tim Bulkeley's new audio-cast, the "Five-Minute Bible" (click here). Tim already has several posts up, including ones on Isaiah 40, Genesis 11, and Jeremiah 12. The presentation of Isaiah 40 tries to hear the passage as it was first heard by the exiles in Babylon. Neat!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Jim Ross Obituary Posted

The New SBL Forum has been on-line for a few days now, and it includes the obituary for Prof. Jim Ross that I submitted. It was written with much substantive help from Jim's son, Prof. Steven Ross. To access the article, click here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Advisory: Landmark court decision upholds diocese's claim

Breaking News, which does not look good for those churches breaking away from the Episcopal Church and still wanting to hold on to their property. (The churches that have lost this case maintain that they are now part of the Anglican Church of Uganda!):

LOS ANGELES -- The California Court of Appeal, in a 77-page landmark decision issued yesterday, unanimously upheld claims by the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles and the national office of The Episcopal Church to the property of three parishes whose leaders and members had left the Episcopal Church in 2004.

Presiding Justice David G. Sills, writing for the Court, concluded "the right of the general church in this case to enforce a trust on the local parish property is clear." ...

Three years ago, three parishes of the Diocese--St. James' in Newport Beach, St. David's in North Hollywood, and All Saints' in Long Beach--severed their relationship with the Episcopal Church and Diocese and placed themselves under the jurisdiction of a conservative Anglican bishop in Uganda. Each parish claimed it was entitled to take parish property away from the Episcopal Church and Diocese.

The Diocese, citing church canons which place all parish property in trust for the Episcopal Church and Diocese, asserted it was entitled to retain the property. Litigation followed.

The Court's ruling yesterday confirms Bishop Bruno's conviction that parish property cannot be taken away from the larger church by departing members.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More than One Way to Nominate

Besides emailing me directly (SCook at vts dot edu), you can also suggest a post for the upcoming Carnival of Blogs using the easy submission form available here. Please, please, make a nomination!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Please Nominate Postings: Biblical Studies Carnival 19

Blog Carnival
The upcoming Carnival of Bible Blogs will be hosted on this very blog in one week's time. Please send me any and all nominations. You can email me at SCook at vts dot edu.

Any posts on the study of the Bible caught your eye in the blogosphere this month? Let me know what looks good, so I can include it in the carnival. Please spread the word! Thanks! ---SLC

More Details on Childs's Passing

Several web-sites and blogs are beginning to post tributes, memoirs, and overviews of Bard's exemplary contributions and character. For a good place to start with these, click here and here and here. These Web-pages are by Daniel Driver, PhD Candidate in Old Testament at St Mary's College, University of St Andrews, who is finishing a doctoral dissertation on Childs.

I received a summary account of the sad course of events from Robert Wilson at Yale Religious Studies today:

We received word yesterday that Brevard Childs died peacefully at Yale-New Haven Hospital at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 23, 2007. A couple of weeks ago he had been diagnosed with some sort of blood condition, and he was being treated with drugs. This treatment may have caused a fall that he suffered a little over a week ago. He suffered some internal bleeding from the fall, and surgery was planned... The doctors discovered that he also had pneumonia. They were treating the pneumonia as of last week but were not successful. Funeral arrangements have not been announced. There will be a memorial service at Yale in the fall.

Cards and letters may be sent to his wife Ann. Please email me (SLC) for her address.
Update: Yale Divinity School has posted the following announcement today:
Brevard S. Childs, one of the most influential Old Testament scholars of the 20 th century, died Saturday afternoon in New Haven at the age of 83 from complications from injuries sustained in a fall in his home.
"I can think of no person who made a greater contribution to the work of unifying the Bible, theology and church life together in a very serious way, not in a flimsy or a pious way," said Christopher Seitz, a Biblical scholar at the University of Toronto who was Childs' student, colleague and friend. "I think of him as a sort of Isaiah figure who was given a very hard job to preach and teach but never complained. He just went about his business in a hopeful way."

As Sterling Professor of Divinity at Yale Divinity School from 1958 to 1999, Childs shaped several generations of students and helped define new approaches to post-war biblical scholarship. With at least eight of his books in print in three languages and a manuscript for a new book completed shortly before his death, Childs was a prolific author who did not shrink from fully engaging the academic debates of his day.
"His major contribution to the field was his insistence on the importance of the canonical shape and location of all the biblical books," said Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge. "Taking this perspective enabled him to recover the ways in which scripture has been read as a larger whole, with an integral witness to the God of Israel and of Jesus Christ."

Childs began teaching at Yale Divinity School in 1958 after completing a B.A. and an M.A. at the University of Michigan, along with a Th.D. from the University of Basel. There, in Basel, Childs had met his wife, Ann, while in a seminar conducted by Swiss theologian Karl Barth. Throughout his career, Barth remained one of Childs' defining influences and one of his few equals.

As Walter Brueggemann, a retired Old Testament professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, noted in a 1993 review of Childs' work, "With almost no conversation partners in the twentieth century whom he regards as consistently reliable or worthy of consideration (with the decisive exception of Barth), Childs has staked out a position and vocation for biblical theology that is sure to reshape our common work and that will require intense engagement by any who dare take up the task."

Childs' abilities as a teacher and sheer longevity at YDS – 41 years – helped his ideas and approaches resonate deeply through the guild of Biblical scholars and gain a faithful audience outside the English-speaking world, particularly Germany. One measure of his talents in the classroom was Yale's decision in 1992 to name him a Sterling professor, the highest academic honor given by the University to its professors. Another measure is the high praise of his former students, who twice – in 1988 and 1998 - took part in festschrifts for Childs.

Ellen Davis, now a professor of Bible and practical theology at Duke Divinity School, recalled Childs' generosity and flexibility as she worked on a Ph.D. on Ezekiel at Yale from 1983 to 1987. I said to him, 'I'm not really interested in comparative semitics. I don't really know that I need to spend two or three years on Akkadian.' And he said, 'That makes sense to me.'" she said. His scholarship was very fully integrated into his character, it would be very difficult to separate those two. He was a Christian. His work was a form of discipleship."
Davis continued, "Bard was the kind of teacher and colleague he was because he was a person of genuine humililty - not a common thing in the academic life altogether. I remember Bard saying that in order to teach OT, "you just need to get out of the way," because the text itself is so compelling and interesting. Many academics don't know how to get out of the way - of the text, of their own students - and let something interesting happen around them. Bard did. That is what made him so approachable, and so enjoyable to think with."

One result of this humility is that the Internet is largely silent on Childs. Daniel Driver, a Ph.D. student in divinity at Scotland's University of St. Andrew's who maintains the most extensive repository of Childs-related information, said, " Childs had never been an online person. He never sent e-mail. No one ever put up a web page."

Driver's blog may be found [here]
, where, according to Driver, he has witnessed hundreds of additional hits daily since Childs' Saturday death.

Childs retired in 1999 but continued publishing, most recently in 2004 with The Struggle To Understand Isaiah As Christian Scripture. Shortly before his death, Childs completed a manuscript analyzing Paul's letters, according to Seitz, who said the book is set for publication before year's end. Childs' other noted works include Myth and Reality, Memory and Tradition, Isaiah and the Assyrian Crisis, Biblical Theology in Crisis, Old Testament Theology in Canonical Context, and Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments.

A longtime resident of Bethany, Childs is survived by his wife, Ann, and their children, Kathy and John.

"As a colleague dedicated to the highest ideals of rigorous scholarship and engaged theological reflection on Scripture, he will be long remembered and revered at Yale Divinity School," noted Attridge.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Loss of True Giant


Apparently Prof. Childs never recovered consciousness after the second surgery. His family decided to take him off life supports and he died within 10 minutes.

A public memorial is planned for the Fall. I will post all details as I receive them.

Dr. Kent Richards, executive director of the SBL, emailed me the following wonderful comment: We have really lost a formative figure in OT studies. People often said that we have not had any “giants” in recent times but I would certainly put him in that category given all of contributions, not just to the scholarly community.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Sad Announcement: Death of Brevard S. Childs

Prof. Childs died at 2 p.m. today, 10 minutes after the life support was disconnected, with his family in attendance. May angels surround him and saints welcome him in peace.

Prayers Requested for Prof. Brevard S. Childs

For about a week I've known that one of my beloved mentors from Yale Grad School, Brevard Childs has been critically ill in hospital in Connecticut, but he is a great and private man and I've been very reluctant to post on it. At this point Bard's condition is ever more life threatening, and so I, and his other students and friends I'm sure, earnestly request your prayers. He collapsed about a week ago, the night before he and his wife Ann were were planning to leave for their summer place in Chautauqua. He has undergone at least two difficult surgeries and is now not conscious and in danger of renal failure. His family is with him, as I am in my prayers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Remembering Michael Patrick O'Connor

dinner with Michael

I was able to find another photo, this one of a lovely dinner with Michael in the mid 1990s. From left to right, it's Michael, my wife Catherine, and me.

My friend Prof. Steve Ryan, who teaches across the street from Michael at the Dominican House of Studies has posted some audio of one of Michael's guest lectures to his students. You can access the file either on (click here) or on iTunes (click here).

Jim Eisenbraun has written a moving one-page memoir of Michael (click here) with a great of photo of Michael, Bruce Waltke, and Jim himself. Here is a brief snipit: I will always remember his razor-sharp mind; his dry wit; his ability to cut to the heart of the matter in short order; a loud guffaw when something struck him as funny; his astounding grasp of a wide range of subjects (there seemed to be little that he had not read); and the personal interest he took in all who took the time to get to know him. He was a remarkable gentleman-scholar-friend.

Today, today I received the following biographical notes on Michael. I believe that Joseph Jensen at CUA forwarded them to all CBA members, so I don't think anyone will mind if I post them in full here. Michael's death, of course, is a huge loss to the CBA, besides of course the huge personal loss to all of us:

Professor Michael Patrick O’Connor was Ordinary Professor of Semitic Languages and Chairman of the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures at The Catholic University of America. He joined the faculty in the Fall of 1997, and was appointed Ordinary Professor in 2002.

Professor O’Connor was a member of numerous learned societies, including the American Oriental Society, the Catholic Biblical Association, and the Society of Biblical Literature. He was elected to membership in the prestigious Biblical Colloquium in October 1994. He was a member of the Steering Committee, Society of Biblical Literature Linguistics and Biblical Hebrew Group since 1994.

Professor O’Connor was the author of many scholarly studies and books including his Hebrew Verse Structure (1980), Backgrounds for the Bible, with David Noel Freedman (1987), and An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax, with Bruce K. Waltke (1990). He also leaves behind an almost complete commentary on the book of Esther. He had a special interest in the linguistics of Biblical Hebrew and in Hebrew poetry. He had considerable experience as an editor for important publishers and publications in Biblical studies, among them Eisenbrauns, the University of Michigan Press, and the Anchor Bible.

Prior to coming to CUA, Michael O’Connor was Associate Professor of Hebrew and Hebrew Bible at Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York (1995-1997), and Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible, Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota (1992-1995).

Michael O’Connor earned a Ph.D. in ancient Near Eastern languages from the University of Michigan in 1978. He received an A.M. degree in ancient Near Eastern studies from the University of Michigan (1974), an M.A. degree in writing from the University of British Columbia (1972), and an A.B. degree in English from the University of Notre Dame (1970). Michael O’Connor also attended the Calasanctius Preparatory School, a school for gifted boys in Buffalo, New York.

Michael O’Connor was the son of Anna Maria Crosta O’Connor and the late John David O’Connor, Sr. He has a brother and a sister, John David O’Connor, Jr. and Kathy O’Connor Mullen, and a brother-in-law Mark Mullen, all of Orchard Park, near Buffalo, New York.

Michael O’Connor made great contributions to the Semitics department and to the School of Arts and Sciences more generally, and he played an important role in other university programs, especially Biblical Studies and Early Christian Studies. He was devoted to his students and to teaching. He had a constant care for all his colleagues. Michael O’Connor was a poet, with a deep interest in literature and books of all kinds. He very much enjoyed the cultural scene in Washington, D.C. He loved movies, plays, and concerts. His inimitable sense of humor and his hearty laugh, among other endearing personal traits, are especially memorable.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Funeral Arrangements for Prof. Michael Patrick O'Connor

I have just received this word from Catholic University, which I copy verbatim from the email:

Professor Michael Patrick O'Connor, Ordinary Professor of Semitic Languages and Chairman of the Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures here at The Catholic University of America, died on Saturday, 16 June 2007.

His funeral is scheduled for 9:30 AM on Friday, 22 June at: The Church of the Nativity of Our Lord, 26 Thorn Ave., Orchard Park, NY 14127 (7 16) 662-9339

Orchard Park is south of Buffalo, New York.

Condolences may be sent to Prof. O'Conner's mother: Mrs John David O'Connor, 86 Elmhurst Dr., Orchard Park, NY 14127. They may also be sent to: The Department of Semitic and Egyptian Languages and Literatures, 035 Mullen Library, The Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C. 20064

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sad, Shocking News: Death of Dr. Michael Patrick O'Connor

Prof. Michael Patrick O'Connor, renown semitist and personal friend of mine, most recently of the Semitics Dept. of Catholic University, died of liver cancer this morning. This came as a huge shock. Apparently, this became known and serious in just a matter of weeks. Michael was always a great friend and supporter of folks and a model scholar for all of us. Also, please keep the Semitics Department students in your prayers, because it is such a small department and this is a huge personal loss.

Here is a photo of the two of us ca. 1996 when the two of us were teaching at Union Seminary in New York City:

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Rev. Dr. James F. Ross, December 15, 1927 - May 28, 2007

Jim's memorial service and committal in the VTS cemetery was today. The service was a fine tribute to Jim, with many people speaking words of remembrance and with a fine sermon that incorporated some of Jim's own thoughts from a sermon he himself gave not too many months ago. The president of Doane College, Jonathan Brand, travelled all the way to say a few words in honor of their distinguished alum, to whom they had granted an honorary doctorate awhile back. Robert J. Bull from Drew University spoke of all the archaeology that he and Jim had done together, including digs at Shechem and Cessaria Maritime. He had Jim's son Steven hold up his hand to show the results of an accident long ago at one of the digs. Steven himself spoke, mentioning many of the things that his dad had taught him. I can't begin to do justice to all that was said. It sure was clear that Jim loved the Hebrew Bible and Archaeology, and was a veritable encyclopedia of information. He loved to research things, and search truth out, taking real joy in the pursuit of new knowledge. He loved trying all sorts of new things, throwing himself into them with gusto, at least for limited intense periods. Alongside his academic robe hung a leather flight jacket, which symbolized his award winning service as a test pilot for IBM flight-simulation computer programs. Jim did a lot of work and exegesis on behalf of gay and lesbian persons from early on, especially supporting folks in his own denomination, the UCC. Jim was thoroughly committed to the UCC, but equally loved teaching in VTS's Episcopal milieu. I think above all it was clear from the memorials that Jim loved his large family and many friends. He thought it was terrific how people could "clump" together, and he got himself involved in a lot of "clumpings" from which he derived much joy and strength and which he used to bring joy to others. Well, so much more was said, but perhaps these few bits may suggest the overall tenor of the service. It was a privilege and inspiration to be included. ---SLC

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Dr. Stephen Edmondson Leaving VTS to Become a Rector

Prof. Edmondson
I am shocked and saddened to have just learned that my good colleague in church history, Rev. Prof. Stephen Edmondson, is giving up his tenure here.

Here is the announcement just emailed by Dean Horne:

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

It is with very mixed emotions that I write to let you know that the Reverend Dr. Stephen Edmondson has accepted a call to be the next rector of St. Thomas Church in McLean, Virginia, effective July 16. Stephen came to VTS in 1999 after completing his Ph.D. in theology at Yale. During his eight year tenure here, he has taught courses in Church History and Theology. Stephen has been a splendid teacher and mentor for our students and a wonderful colleague and friend to members of the faculty.

I thought that you might like to hear directly from Stephen about the process of discernment in which he has been engaged, so I am forwarding the following portion of his letter to the faculty, explaining his decision to accept this call:

“I have struggled since my arrival here to balance my vocation as a priest whose heart longed for work in a parish with my vocation as a scholar. For the past eight years, my time has largely been devoted to latter pursuit, along with my teaching and my service to this institution. This has all been a blessing. I now wish to pursue a ministry of preaching, pastoral care, prayer, and teaching (in a very different context). I have prayed about this move for the past several years, striving to hear God’s call. In my conversations with the people of St. Thomas’, I believe that this call has become clear.

I have a passion for preaching. No ministry that I carry out in the world brings me closer to my soul than my time in the pulpit. I find my deepest grounding when I am permitted to share in the lives, the joys and the struggles, of my brothers and sisters. I have been drawn in the last few years to think and to write about the spiritual life. The search committee at St. Thomas told me that I was the only candidate to talk with them consistently about the power of prayer to change lives. Ironically, perhaps, my work in the introductory Church History class has drawn from me a desire to be more involved in the active life of the ministry of the Church. I enjoy lecturing on Francis more than Thomas, though no one will confuse my ministry with that of either saint. I feel a deep commitment to exploring and clarifying the place of intellectual and theological ministry in the life of the Church outside of academic institutions. All of this has led me to make this move and to make it with excitement.”

Stephen has agreed to teach Church History 1 and II, as previously scheduled for the fall semester of the 2007-2008 academic year. Since Stephen and his wife Cyndi are expecting the birth of their second child in late August, they have asked to continue living in their current VTS housing through the fall semester. I have consulted with Ian Markham and Amy Dyer, both of whom agree to this arrangement, as has the parish leadership of St. Thomas Church. That will also enable the Seminary community to thank Stephen next fall for his many commitments to our common life, and to bid farewell to the Edmondson family as they move from VTS at the end of this calendar year.

The departure of Stephen Edmondson from our faculty will be a loss for our Seminary in many ways, but VTS is not losing him altogether. Stephen hopes to continue his association with the seminary by serving as a field education supervisor and by teaching as an adjunct professor, as the need arises here and as his time permits. I know that he will be an excellent model of the learned priest who integrates his ongoing reading and study with the daily practice of parish ministry! Please join me in thanking Stephen Edmondson for his wonderful service to VTS and in wishing him much happiness in his new work as a parish priest. Martha Horne

Monday, June 11, 2007

John Hobbins is Thinking About Canon

John, in his Ancient Hebrew Poetry blog, has begun a series of posts on the meaning and problem of canon. So far, I have read his first one (click here). The first thing that surprises me is that he wants to speak of canonical religious writings far beyond the sphere of Scripture (such as the Mishnah and the Talmud). That's fine of course. I once heard a lecture in college on the canonical corpus of Botticelli within the world of art history. However, my own personal interests are mostly in the canonical process that produced the Hebrew Bible itself. I'll be reading more of John's posts to see if addresses that topic.

I really like the following quote from John's post:

The truth [that canon] contains, more often than not, is simply ignored, but it is also understood that said truth cannot be evaded forever. An example may illustrate. The Wirkungsgeschichte (history of effects) of the message of Isaiah as the eponymous book understands it is described by Martin Buber in the following terms: “The message will be misunderstood, misinterpreted, misused, it will even confirm and harden the people in their faithlessness. But its sting will rankle within them for all time.”

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Adam and Eve in 16th Century Germany

Just received an email about an interesting upcoming lecture to be given nearby at the Library of Congress:

Lecture: “ Creating Adam and Eve: Body, Soul and Gender in Sixteenth-century Germany,” Kathleen Crowther-Heyck, June 13, 12:00 Noon (LJ-119, Thomas Jefferson Building, Library of Congress).

This talk explores the meanings and uses of the story of Adam and Eve in 16th-century Germany. It focuses on two sets of stories about what happened to Adam and Eve after the fall: "Adam legends" from the MiddleAges and "catechism legends" from the 16th-century.

Friday, June 08, 2007

TV Tonight: Presiding Bishop to appear on Bill Moyers Journal

Katharine Jefferts Schori

This just in from Susan Shillinglaw:

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori will talk with Bill Moyers on Bill Moyers Journal on Friday, June 8 at 9:00 p.m.

Here's the promo from PBS: Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori - spiritual leader to 7,500 congregations and more than 2 million members - talks about science, the environment, and the rift in her church over the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy.

To see the Schori profile on Moyers' blog, click here.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Sexual Violence in Ezekiel

Detail from the Balawat Gates

Recently I read a fascinating paper by one of my Ezekiel students, Peter G., on sexual violence in Ezekiel (chps. 16 & 23) and how one might contextualize the horrific imagery in order to understand its place. Peter's paper draws particularly on the work of Daniel Smith-Christopher and that of Gale Yee. Stripping as sexual humiliation of war-prisoners was an experience that Ezekiel and his audience would have been well familiar with (see the sample image above). In part, Ezekiel's imagery reflects the realia of the times. This realia was essentially what God had to work with when it came time for judgment to fall. (This is my own formulation of the matter.) Peter also gets into how oppression and violence often lead to a re-directing of the humiliation so that members within the oppressed inflict it upon themselves (i.e., upon their own comrades). Ezekiel may be unconsciously "re-directing" his own humiliation as a war prisoner in siding so strongly and unsympathetically against the female figures in Ezekiel 16 & 23.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

2007 Howard Clark Kee Award

As I mentioned in the immediately preceeding post, our 2007 Howard Clark Kee award goes to J. Blake Couey of Princeton Theological Seminary. His winning MAR-SBL conference paper was entitled, "Outstretched Hands, Repeated Refrains, Lost Endings: Poetic Closure and the Problem of Isaiah 9:7–20 + 5:25–30."

Report on the 2007 MAR-SBL Meeting

Sorry to have been off-line for so many days! Part of my excuse is that I was typing up our annual MAR-SBL report. I've just posted a summary of the document on our MAR-SBL website (click here), the text of which reads as follows:

The MAR-SBL’s annual meeting took place this year at the Radisson Hotel at Cross Keys, Baltimore, March 1–2, 2007. The conference included 39 papers related to biblical studies, not including 74 presentations on the AAR side of the program. These numbers are almost exactly the same as last year’s. The SBL plenary address was given by Prof. Mark Goodacre, Duke University: “The Devil is in the Detail: Dispelling Doubts about Dispensing with Q.” The talk was fabulous. Another highlight of the program was the SBL Presidential talk, given by Prof. A. Katherine Grieb of Virginia Theological Seminary: “The Bard and the Bible: Shakespeare and the Interpretation of Scripture.” The address was wonderful indeed, and sparked good conversation. We would like to continue this relatively new tradition. Prof. David Carr organized a semiformal panel on “Analyzing Masculinity in the Hebrew Bible” that also strongly contributed to our program. Prof. Michael Willett Newheart organized a special panel of his seminarians, entitled: “Howard Divinity Students Speak Out on the Historical Jesus.” This year, the Howard Clark Kee Award for the best student paper in the region went to Jackson (“Blake”) Couey. The Conference Hotel provided great rooms and friendly service, and the food at the reception was fabulous. As for finances, the meeting produced an overage of $850, of which the MAR-SBL will receive a 40% share, or $340. To download last year's program (a PDF file), please click here.