Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sunday's Update from Renk, Sudan

This in from Sara:

More torrential storms and flooding today; Peter was damp and cold as we talked; he "danced between the raindrops" to collect fresh bathing water, in ankle deep puddles. A blessing for the team, but more hardship for the people, already suffering from recent rains.

Today's church service was well attended and rich with drumming (tintabulation), singing and Ellen's wonderful sermon. Peter gave a very brief message derived from Luke 10 (Love thy neighbor as thyself) which was a good lead-in to his invitation for the church women to gather for a talk about public health. Talk is better than lecture; what he hopes to do is to "bear witness" to their concerns about the safety and well-being of their children and families. Obviously they are worried about decent housing, food, clothing, and access to health care. Peter wants to engage them in conversation about what they can do to promote health and disease prevention. They are the "true public health experts."

Ellen and Peter met with Bishop Hillary, up from Malakal (south of the upper Nile region of Sudan) today. They were expecting his plea for divinity bible scholars and a doctor every three months. Caveats understood with student school year schedules. Also, they lost their midwife due to excessive expense, but the cost for a visiting MD every three months could pay a midwife's salary for 2 years! Food for thought. Bishop Daniel arrives tomorrow.

Ellen, Andrew and Peter are healthy. They are thankful, exhausted, challenged, (frustrated) and completely fascinated by all they are experiencing.

Thanks to all of you for your support,


Monday, July 30, 2007

Saturday's Update from Renk, Sudan

This update came in over the weekend from Peter's wife, Sara Smith:

Spoke with Peter earlier today via my new Call Sudan Calling Card (yeah!) He, Ellen and Andrew thank all of you for your prayers and continued support.

I love how coincidence (?) is God's way of being anonymous: Seconds before my call came through, Ellen handed him (Peter) the teacher's phone.

They are all happy, tired, but invigorated by their luxury cruise down the Nile today. They drove down to the water; jumped into souped-up canoes (think Camp Granada with extra-wide accommodations and an out-board motor!;) and traveled south, against current some 2 kilometers; roughly 2 1/2 hours. Everyone shot pictures along the way. The Nile was angry and muddy; churned up by recent heavy rains, so they ventured to the central part of the river and collected water for boiling and bathing. Then on to the Souk (market) to drink tea and coffee (not quite industrial Turkish strength, but much thicker than Starbuck's espresso!) By all accounts, it was delicious.

The White Nile

Peter was able to go to the local pharmacy today with Dr. Paul. The gold standard Malaria medication sells for 9 Sudanese pounds, which is approximately equivalent to $5 US dollars. Sounds cheap, but the average Sudanese monthly income is only 30 pounds, and when you figure in $1 for clinic and lab visits plus 4 pounds for every 10 tablets of Cipro; oh, just do the math. Peter brought bottles of 100 count Ciprofloxacin tablets for $5 bucks a pop. There must be a way to provide these folks with cheaper medications.

Re: bathing and drinking H2O: Peter has become the king of the 1.very little liter shower. All have become accustomed to being (pardon me) "Rank In Renk" Every one swelters and sweats in their tiny Tukuls: the huts average 90-95 degrees during the day and probably low to mid 80s over night. Thus, precious bodily fluids are lost and they wake to sodden bed sheets and damp pajamas. Safe drinking water is plentiful.

Andrew has experienced some diarrhea, but thankfully no fever, Ellen and Peter are healthy. Sahra, the beautiful cook and house-keeper has done her utmost to accommodate everyone's GI distress, as well as their preferences.

Tomorrow, Ellen will preach and Peter will give a short "word of encouragement." Next week, Peter plans a mini public health talk for local Sudanese women re: the health of their children. Men are not as concerned about polluted Nile water because: "It is not a problem for us, only for you who visit." Women bear and raise children and will be much more receptive to information. On Tuesday, Peter will shadow Dr. Paul to observe a "day in the life". By explanation, Peter has only been allowed to see clinic patients from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. over concern he would tire himself. Typically, Dr. Paul starts his day early; rounding on hospital patients, then to the clinic until mid-afternoon; then on to his private clinic in the Souk until 9:00 p.m.; and on to the hospital again in the late evening. (Nothing compared to US medical residents hours, but exhausting given the dearth of medical resources and the "chronic acuity" of need). On the way home, Peter will meet with a health minister in Khartoum about public health issues.

Thanks for all you do every day and for your love of the Sudanese people. Christ's peace.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Update from Peter in Renk, Sudan

Boy, I've been so busy I've gotten way behind in posting the updates from Renk, Sudan that have been coming through. Got to start catching up. Here's the next in the sequence, from Peter:

We have had all sorts of weather since arriving here – out and out deluge (captured on a digital camera, but didn't send well), heat into the 100s, overcast days, and one cool night. It is very hot in our little tukuls, or mud huts with thatched roof, but also feels very safe in the rain and wind.

Our work proceeds, with the students exhausted by lessons in Greek and Hebrew – the lessons attached to "lessons" is you will from the Letter to the Hebrews and from Exodus, Leviticus, and Deut to speak to what it means to prepare to speak with or be in the presence of God, and how a community prepares to do so.

clinic work in Renk

The clinic is crowded, chaotic, and I continue to learn how Dr Paul practices. Exams show little, so labs (blood smears for malaria, urine micros for UTI, Hgb for anemia, and just empiric treatment if the symptoms are right but the tests don't help. The clinic charges one Sudanese pound ($0.50) per visit, lab included, though not scripts. I hope to go to market to price some of these meds. A day in the hospital is 27 pounds before you get charged for meds, and you bring meals from home (I think the annual income is 360 pounds). Several of the students have had severe damage at home from the floods; one lost a child to illness. We are surrounded by dried mud tracks, occasional puddles, and a large soccer field – there are Islamic, government, and church – and to my eye, the Islamic schools might be doing a better job of having equal numbers of girls and boys.

The students are getting worn out by Greek review, so Andrew is slowing down, and Ellen has found a great pace for discussion, lecture, and interaction on how the law forms a people and a church (well, she would say it better, but these are lectures and readings in Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy).

I find the clinic crowded and chaotic – about 30-40 patients in a long morning 8:30 to 1:30 or so, tho they insist I leave at 1:00 so as not to get tired. I think others on these trips have gotten ill, so they are most protective. I feel fine. The parents dress the children up for their visits, and the adults themselves are colorfully layered in dresses, blouses, and layers (I know since I have to probe through to feel abdomens, etc). Lots of illness, and perhaps a separation between sick care and health care, at least so I am told. I am to see, as soon as another gov't doctor comes back from Juba. I've been invited (and we hope) I will give a lecture to all comers on public health. If I can, I want to draw people into the conversation of what is health and what it takes for health to see if clean air, water, septage, and food make the list – along with immunizations, close following of children and pregnant women, etc. It would be fun to be interactive, but we'll see what translation is like.

I hope all of you are well and a little cooler than we are, though after a while, it just becomes the norm (tho we were grateful that when I suggested we catch some rainwater to avoid the floodwater for cleaning up, several containers were set out).

Miss you all. Please take care of each other and keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

July 26th Update from Renk, Sudan

Huts Along the Nile

I spoke with both Peter and Ellen in Renk during their dinner hour today (Thursday, July 26th). All continues to go swimmingly! At the moment, they were enjoying dinner---Sarra (sp.?), their cook, does a terrific job, and does the work on top of being a mother to seven children! They were also enjoying their student guests, who have been telling them their background stories. The stories today were of fleeing to Ethiopia during the civil war in Sudan, and of having to be ordained without much theological education. Our team is so pleased to now be a large part of supplying that missing education!

Peter has been working in the clinic, watching and learning how the local practitioner operates (he does a great job under the circumstances). They have been helping drop-in patients with malaria, diarrhea, and some chronic health problems such as arthritis (which seem to in younger persons there than in the US). They have also helped some pregnant women with their complaints. Peter is developing a list of suggestions, which he may have an opportunity later to communicate. He perhaps will suggest adding a stronger component of prevention to the clinic and perhaps modifying the use of antibiotics there.

Peter plans to move around the area a bit in the near future and learn more about the public health infrastructure in Renk. He hopes to present a talk on this coming Tuesday on public health. It will include an element of theology, perhaps drawing on some of the biblical stories of Elijah and Elisha! He is hopeful that women will attend and speak up at the talk. He has experienced the woman of Sudan to be much more willing to identify problems and needs of a health and medical nature than the men are.

Ellen and Andrew have been continuing their teaching with great success. As Dwayne mentioned yesterday, they were going to try to cut back on the daily teaching hours. Ellen tried that today, but her students objected! They wanted to come back after the late breakfast break, and hear another lecture in her series on worship. I imagine that tinkering and adjustments in scheduling and approach will continue to go on. Assigning homework just does not seem to work in Renk. Last night after dinner the night got dark quickly, and there was no electricity for light to study by. Andrew has scaled back his teaching of Greek to about 50 minutes a day. By anyone's standards, that's plenty of Greek to absorb in any 24-hour period.

Ellen is getting toward the end of the book of Exodus in her series on worship. She had encouraging words today about the participation of women in her course, whom she has intentionally been trying to draw out into the discussions. Five or six women have been attending the course, and they spoke up today when she invited their participation. She has also been encouraged that Martha, the dean of the Renk Cathedral, has been willing to speak up and be involved in public discussions. One interesting fact is that apparently the women have appointed one of the weekdays (I think Ellen said either Tuesday or Thursday) as a "women's sabbath," when the Christian women set aside time to meet together, study, and pray.

Andrew's Greek teaching seems to be going really well. He is continuing on with the initial start at Greek made by the immediately preceding teaching team, which did their work earlier this month (July). The students have been learning the "case" structure of the language, and picking the idea up pretty readily. This is something of a breakthrough, since their studies of Hebrew (or English for that matter) would not have given them much of a feel for "case." It would be interesting to know if any of their local languages have something like "case"...

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Latest News from the Teachers in Renk

Teaching in Renk
Several emails in the past two days have updated us on the great work being done in Renk. Here is an excerpt from Andrew's second email update of a day or two ago:

There's still open latrines everywhere you go, many folks losttheir homes this week due to flooding, and water security is currently zero(we've been told that we will not be showering – at all – over these nexttwo weeks unless we use bottled water – and that goes as well for washingdishes and clothes – with the floods, the Nile water has become completelyunusable. I stink . . . and it will only be getting worse. Those of youwho miss me – you really wouldn't want to be too close to me, and it's justday one!). For us, of course, bottled water is an option – but onlybecause we brought it from Khartoum . . . for everyone else in Renk, they'reessentially drinking pretty contaminated water. There is electricitystrung throughout the city, but it's spotty (i.e. doesn't work during theday, comes on sometimes at night, etc.). And because it's the rainy season,the whole village becomes a mud pit every few days, meaning that every yearmalaria becomes a big problem (though not for me, mom, don't worry – we've got good drugs and DEET spray!) I must add though that I never thought I'dlong for Khartoum – but that hot shower two weeks from now when I travelback up to see Ellen and Peter off is already sounding nice – sigh – such apampered westerner.All in all – it's as basic as you can imagine - I'll try to send some photosalong . . . but it's going to be a long, quiet month for mr. rowell. I'msure it will be a blessing, one not without its hard, lonely moments.There's a substantial army presence here – again, as a border city, it's aplace that the North likes to garrison troops, just to remind the Southwho's really in charge. There's apparently a lot of posturing across thissomewhat-artificial border between North and South. We've seen UN truckseverywhere – though I must admit that I don't know what they're doing herebesides general humanitarian work. Remember, we are hundreds of miles fromDarfur, with a completely different set of political problems/realities. Tobe sure, Renk's problems are great to have compared to Darfur's(!), but it'sstill the most basic, underdeveloped place I've ever been outside of theKabera (sp?) slum in Nairobi. There are, however, cell phone towersEVERYWHERE – and I just called home with a cell phone from my mud hut for$.50 a minute and had an unbelievably clear signal - technology surechanges things, or at least shrinks the world.We toured Renk Theological College and the cathedral this afternoon, andthen hammered out our teaching schedule – for the first two weeks (july 23to august 3) it looks like this, with Ellen doing the lion's share ofteaching and me supplementing from time to time on the Commandments and on how the book of Hebrews re-sees the sacrificial system of the Leviticalcode:*8:00-8:15* am – Devotion*8:15 am* – Tea*8:30-10:30 am* – First Lecture/Discussion on Exodus, Leviticus andDeuteronomy*10:30-11:30* am - Breakfast (Ellen and Andrew return to Guest House torest)*11:30 – 12:45* pm – Second Lecture/Discussion*1:00 – 2:00* – Lunch*2:00 – 3:30* – Greek Instruction by Andrew*7:00* – Dinner at Guest HouseEllen will preach at the cathedral on July 29. Peter (who is amazing, bythe way – he's the chief public health director for Wake County, NC – whichmeans that all he does all day long is think about water and food securityand limiting the spread of communicable diseases – I think I'm going to takehim with me wherever I go from now on) will be working with a local clinicevery day.Ellen and Peter leave from Khartoum on August 6. I will then begin to teachintensively on the Book of Hebrews from August 8 to August 15

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Book Review Just Out

now in print
Just received in the mail, hot off the press, a book review I wrote. Here is the publication information:

Review of Utopia and Dystopia in Prophetic Literature, edited by Ehud Ben Zvi, Catholic Bibical Quarterly 69 (2007): pp. 608–610. Take a look and enjoy...

Monday, July 23, 2007

Arrival of the New Teaching Team in Renk, Sudan

I’m just off the phone with all three of our team, Ellen, Peter, and Andrew. All is very well. Their flight was fine, and once in Sudan they received a very warm welcome. Everyone has been just wonderful to them, and they are now in the process of adjusting their sleep patterns and adapting to the local conditions.


It has been raining all day today (Monday), quite heavily at times, and steam is now rising and filling the air in Renk. The heavy rain has delayed some of the students’ arrival, so Fr. Joseph asked if the “real” teaching could be delayed until tomorrow (Tuesday). Meanwhile, about a dozen students are already in place, and they seem very eager to begin classes. Ellen says that she will probably have about 15 students all together in her course.

Ellen Davis

Ellen worked with two of the local priests today who have been doing Hebrew, and she found that beyond review, they were able to move ahead to learn how participles are formed and work in Hebrew. They read the beginning of Ruth together, did very well, encountered participles (with which they were unfamiliar), and so they got that part of the grammar covered. Clean water for bathing, etc., is not easy to come by, so Peter used the opportunity of the heavy rains today to work up a system for catching rain water off of the zinc roofs of some of the buildings. Fr. Joseph got right on the plan, and they already now have two barrels of usable water. This may well prove to be a system of long-range advantage to everyone there. Nevertheless, Ellen says that she has given up on the idea of actually looking really clean during her time there! J Peter reports that mosquitoes are not currently launching any onslaught, but the team has nets and Deet ready, should they decide to swarm!

They team’s plans for teaching are as follows: Andrew will be reviewing and teaching biblical Greek. Ellen will be teaching a course on the Torah’s Vision of Worship (studying Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy, with a focus on worship). She will also continue working on improving the Hebrew skills of some of the advanced students, perhaps meeting with them for three one-hour sessions per week. Peter Morris will start the clinic work and will also give some lectures on Public Health. The church is a big part of the local infrastructure in Renk, so these lectures are very important and potentially life-changing for the local society.

The Success of the Renk Team

I am about to post on the arrival in Renk of our new teaching team, but before I do, here is a final word from Jackie Kraus on the success of the team that has just left:

After talking with Bishop Daniel only moments ago, ...a highlight he shared is the delight of the students on learning to "sing" the Greek alphabet. This has clearly been another very successful session. Thank you all so much for the various roles you've played in a most important development for the whole of the ECS.

Also, please pray for Bishop Daniel who reports that his nephew, Garang Malual Bul, son of his late brother, 27 years old, was attacked and killed in Kenya yesterday. Daniel has been supporting his education. He has asked for prayers to calm the anger felt by friends and family.
The attackers have been caught and jailed. He asks for our prayers.

Peace to all,

Saturday, July 21, 2007

July 9th Update from Renk, Sudan

Deborah, Phoebe's counterpart from Duke, sent this message from Sudan on July 9th:

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So much has happened in the past couple of days that I hardly know were to begin. Phoebe Roaf (the other visiting teacher) and I have begun to entertain students at Father Joseph's home. Often one or two students will come and join us for lunch or dinner. The students come full of questions about American culture. In every meeting, marriage is a topic which inevitably arises. The students can not understand why Phoebe, who is in her early forties, is not married. Unlike in America, marriage is not a choice. Everyone, especially every female, gets married. Marriage and children are completely intertwined with Sudanese Culture. Most of the people here are economically impoverished. They have very little in the way of monetary assets. Consequently, children serve as Sudan's Social Security system. When a couple is young, they care for and feed their children. When the couple becomes old, it becomes the responsibility of the children to take care of their parents.

Our conversations often quickly turn to the experiences of the students. Almost all of my younger students have lived in refugee camps and have served as soldiers in the war. Many of the students left the Sudan when they were fairly young for the country of Ethiopia. While they were there, a military coup in Ethiopia caused a shift in governmental powers. The new government forcibly made the Sudanese children leave Ethiopia and return to the Sudan. The civil war was still raging upon their return, so many then made another long journey to a refugee camp in Kenya. Some of my students who were older by then did not go to Kenya. Instead, they had to stay in the Sudan and fight. Some of my students spent up to ten of their most formative years fighting in the bush (as they call it) of Sudan. While there, times were difficult. Food was scare, disease ran rampant, and further education was unimaginable. Although all of my students are very bright and eager to learn, some of their lack of formal education can make things difficult for them now in the classroom. They have been through so much, and yet they remain enthusiastic and attentive. This is very encouraging to me. Despite difficulties, they have already learned so much. I already have a great place in my heart for my students and for the people of the Sudan more broadly. My time here is passing so quickly. I wish I did not have to leave. I see so much potential in my students. Two weeks has only been enough to open a window in their minds. We have only scratched the surface of the Greek language and so many other things. I have only begun to develop relationships with the students. They long to learn. They long to know Greek, and Hebrew, and so much more. They long to have adequate training for their work in future parishes. They long to provide education to those who have none. I can hardly imagine where some of these young men would be today if they hadn't had so many setbacks.

The setbacks have been great in the Sudan, and yet ironically the church continues to grow. Yesterday I had the great privilege to preach at a nearby parish in Renk called St. Luke's. The church building is very modest. The walls were made of bamboo tied together, and it has a thatched roof on top. The congregation was also fairly small. Perhaps 70 persons crowded together into the building, many of which were youth or children. The service included many introductions, many small speeches of thanksgiving to the congregation, and several songs. The services were conducted in two tribal languages, and my sermon was translated into Arabic. Persons of many different tribes live in Renk, but Arabic functions as a universal language which everyone can understand. Many people are illiterate. Often the priest or pastor in charge
of a congregation is the only person who can read and write. All of my students studying at the Bible College are fluent in at least two different languages, but in many of the rural parishes even the pastors can be illiterate.

I have many more things that I wish I could tell you about, including my boat trip on the Nile River! But my time is running short so I will have to end this e-mail more abruptly than I would like. Thank you for your continued prayers for the people of the Sudan.

In the Love of Christ,

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Message From Deborah Re: Sunday, July 8th

The following phone message from Deborah, Phoebe's counterpart from Duke, was shared with us via email:

Deborah also preached this morning on the same text at a different location. She said that there were about 50 in attendance where she was preaching. I gather that more children were present for her service because afterward she told how all of the children were gathering around her and wanting to get their pictures taken with her. She felt like she was treated like royalty or a celebrity. Lots of people have also made comments about Deborah's whiteness - and she of course can not deny it! One thing that she hasn't received any comments on since she has been there however, is her height. In the US being a 6 foot tall woman often receives comments, but this is not true in Renk where people are much taller.

She also talked about their trip to the Nile - which she said was absolutely amazing. They were taken out on a small boat (motorized) and it seemed to be a huge highlight for her. [NB: photo of Nile above is courtesy Elizabeth F.]

Monday, July 16, 2007

Phoebe's Sermon in Renk Cathedral, Sunday, July 8th


Phoebe R. sent the following report from Sudan on Sunday, July 8th:

I preached at Renk Cathedral this morning before a congregation of about 200 Dinka members. The service was in Dinka except for my sermon which was translated by a priest. Three priests were on the altar and the dean of the Cathedral is a woman. Men and women self-segregate in public places, with men seated on the left and women seated on the right. Very few children were present in the service. They have their own program in an adjoining building. The priests meet in the sacristy prior to the service to plan things and write out the program by hand. There are no printed bulletins for the congregation, obviously. Lots of singing and praying takes place. Prayers started at 8:30 am and we came into the church shortly before 9 am. The service lasted until 10:30 without communion. They celebrate communion every other Sunday. My sermon was 15 minutes including the translation so about 8 minutes in length. The church in Sudan does not consistently use the lectionary but the gospel reading for this morning was very appropriate. It was Jesus commissioning the 70 two by two. Since I am here with Deborah, I used the example of the two of us being from very different backgrounds but coming together in Jesus Christ to serve the church. I think the sermon was well received. Several people have said I was white since I have been here. I wanted to emphasize the fact that I am black and when I said I'm black like you in the sermon everyone clapped in the congregation. I think they liked that! Everything continues to go well. The time is going very quickly but the people are so hospitable and make sure that we have everything we need within their constraints. This trip has been such a blessing for me thus far.
Peace, Phoebe

Thursday, July 12, 2007

July 6th in Renk

Here is the report received July 6th from our teachers in Sudan:

Both Phoebe and Deborah are doing fine, but they have had less downtime and are a little tired.

They have started having lunch each day with two students, and dinner each evening with one of the older priests, in order to hear their stories, so the days are very full. Phoebe says they can not believe that a week has already passed. They both feel very well and are having a very satisfying experience with the teaching. Both report the students to be very intelligent and very eager. Isn't this every
teacher's dream?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

July 4th Update From Renk, Sudan

I am still catching up on the updates from Sudan. Here is the one from Phoebe for July 4th:

Finished my third day of classes. Students are very eager to learn and know Hebrew very well, although we have just been reviewing concepts they already know thus far. Hospitality is incredible. The people are really beautiful inside and out.

No problems eating or sleeping. Most of my diet is carbs - tonight we had meat with diced potatoes which we eat with bread, rice and pasta which is similar to rice a roni. That is a typical Sudanese meal for us, along with a meat soup or pudding. Nothing has upset my stomach thus far.

We hope to travel to the Nile River this weekend. It apparently is not too far from where the Cathedral and college are located.


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Renk, Sudan: July 2007

Renk Theological College, Sudan
My student Phoebe along with Duke student Deborah are safe in Renk teaching in our Biblical Language program. Phoebe has emailed to report that she is teaching the advanced Hebrew class and that her students are very smart. Most of what they have done thus far is review, but she hopes to begin covering new concepts later this week. The hospitality has been incredible - the Sudanese are very beautiful people.

Deborah reports that the rainy season has begun in Renk, so they have had very mild weather. Indeed, the weather is so cool that she recommends that the next group coming in a few weeks bring at least one long sleeve item.

Sitting in a grass hut with a cat, flies, mosquitoes, and a salamander as company, Phoebe and Deborah watched the News on Father Joseph's television. The experience was rather surreal, but made them realize that conditions are beginning to improve in Sudan. Father Joseph has a generator so the teachers currently have a couple of hours of electricity every evening which can be used to power the television, Father Joseph's laptop (which was given to him by Lauren) and charge cellular phones.

So far both Phoebe and Deborah are in very good health. With the exception of a mild headache, neither of them has experienced any illness at all. The cool temperatures are helping in this regard.

The teachers report that the faith of the Sudanese is remarkable. They have been through so much. Their stories often leave one speechless, but their trust in God is astonishing. I shall report futher updates in my next post. Meanwhile, please keep Phoebe and Deborah in your prayers.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Biblical Studies Carnival XIX

Welcome, one and all, Step Right Up to Biblical Studies Blog Carnival 19. Thank you for the honor of hosting this month's carnival here at Biblische Ausbildung. There are plenty of attractions here, so let's hurry in...

Blog Carnival!

Let's start with something fun: Is it a coincidence that the name "Shakespeare" seams to appear in Psalm 46 in the 1611 Authorized Version? Click here for a consideration!

A major contribution of biblical blogging came this month in the form of John Hobbins's series of posts on "Thinking about Canon." The series got a lot of bloggers thinking about canonical issues, which in my opinion is far from a bad thing! Here is a list of John's posts on the topic; in his "update" posts, he acknowledges and links to all those who responded to his posts and kept the conversation going: Part 1; First Update; Second Update; Part 2; Third Update; Part 3; Fourth Update; Part 4; Fifth Update; Part 5; Appendix A; Sixth Update; Appendix B; Appendix C; Seventh Update. Among the several bloggers who interacted with John was Duane Smith. On a related note, Chris Weimer has posted the seventh installment of his series on ancient canonical lists (NT canon) (click here).

Speaking of "canon," June proved to be the saddest of months in that it saw the death at age 83 of biblical-studies giant Brevard S. Childs, 1923-2007. The news broke here on Biblische Ausbildung (click here; here; here; and here), but soon spread throughout the Blogosphere. My friend Christopher Seitz has written the SBL obituary (click here). Daniel Driver's WebSpace is the best place to start reflecting on Childs' significance (click here and here and here). My friend Kevin Wilson has a nice remembrance here. Among many other web-tributes to Childs, here a few to try: click here, and here, and here, and here. Also of interest is Jim West's lament of the lack of public attention to such a huge loss as this: here.

Another deeply felt death this month was that of Michael Patrick O'Connor, 1950-2007 (click here). Michael's death at only 57 leaves many of us heartsick. Jo Ann Hackett and John Huehnergard of Harvard University have written an obituary for the SBL site (click here). For other tributes and remembrances, click here; and here, and here, and here.

In June we also learned of the deaths of Jim Ross (click here and here) and Robert North (click here and here).

Let's move to Hebrew Bible and cognate studies:

We've just mentioned Michael O'Connor, and there were some interesting posts on historical and epigraphical Hebrew study this month. For example, check out Charles Halton's post on Steven Kaufman's thoughts on the Paragogic Nun (click here). The post prompted Duane Smith to make a detailed post of his own on Kaufman's view, in which he raises several serious questions about it (click here).

The following Hebrew Bible/OT posts don't really "clump" together well, they are so varied, but each has its own unique interest: A new biblioblogger, Iyov, has a neat post on Ezekiel 8:17 and tikkun soferim (click here). For a lively discussion of what "Selah" might possible mean and do in psalms, check out this post and comments. Chris Weimer has a cool post on "Old Church Slavonic and Biblical Studies" (click here). And Alli Diller offers an appreciative look at "The Wife of Noble Character" of Proverbs 31.

Let's move on to the context of the ancient Near East. This month, Chris Heard had an interesting post entitled, "Is the Old Testament an ancient Near Eastern text?" (click here). It appears that this one was somewhat overlooked, and deserves more comments and discussion, so click on over and put in your two cents! The more die-hard epigraphers among us will not want to miss Duane Smith's post on the Taanach letters from the 15th century B.C.E. (click here).

Chris Heard in his blog, Higgaion, posted in June a serial review of Terje Oestigaard's Political Archaeology and Holy Nationalism. The review ran for nine posts: Chapter 1; Chapter 2a; Chapter 2b; Chapter 2c; Chapter 3a; Chapter 3b; Chapter 3c; Chapter 4a; Chapter 4b. Interestingly in this connection, there was a concurrent colloquium with Terje on Jim West's Biblical Studies Yahoo! Group in June. Jim, can you post a digest for us? [Update: Jim has done it!: click here]

Speaking of matters archaeological, the fierce debate over Israel Finkelstein's proposed "Low Chronology" rages on... (click here and here).

Also of "archaeological" interest is a post by Jim West with a few images of unpublished Dead Sea Scroll fragments available nowhere else (click here). The fragments are tiny but intriguing. Controversially to say the least, such fragments are available for sale on the antiquities market. Speaking of the scrolls, James Davila offers some defenses of the much maligned original team of Dead Sea Scroll editors in: this post. Also of note: apparently the Qumran Visualization Project will be up and running in San Diego when the SBL is there this fall (HT: Airton José da Silva).

Now, on to New Testament and early Christianity:

In June, Michael Barber posted on the Davidic imagery used in the Passion Narrative: click here. Brant Pitre followed up on that post with a treatment of "The Footsteps of the Messiah and the Messianic Tribulation" (click here). He argues that Jesus saw himself undergoing a messianic tribulation that he saw portrayed in Psalm 89.

Brant also had a post on the way Jesus sets out to fulfill Jewish hopes for the "The Lost Tribes of Israel, the Promised Land and the New Creation": click here. Michael also discussed the Feeding of the Five Thousand: click here.

Gary Greenberg has posted on-line the first chapter of his just released book, The Judas Brief: Who Really Killed Jesus?, which can be read here (a PDF download). Richard Anderson has some fulsome discussion of views on circumcision in earliest Christianity here. Interested in locating "Satan's Throne" (Rev 2:13)? Check out this post (with images).

Michael Bird had a brief, but thought-provoking post on Petrine and Pauline perspectives in Mark. At last count, there were 15 comments: click here.

Chris Tilling conducted a three part interview with Chris VanLandingham, the author of the controversial new book on Paul, Judgment and Justification in Early Judaism and the Apostle Paul (Hendrickson Publishers, 2006): Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

Moving more toward the realm of biblical theology, Michael Pahl has a series on "What is the Gospel?" (click here).

If your interests tend more towards history and the wider NT milieu, Jim West calls our attention to ongoing interest in apparent anomalies in the Masada story in: this post. On Masada and the new controversy over the skeletal remains found there, see James Davila's post.

On a more philosophical level, there was some interesting blogging in June on the topic of the "inerrancy" of Scripture. Jeremy Pierce has a post comparing and contrasting the concepts of "inerrancy" and "infallibility" in characterizing the Scriptures (click here). And from a different perspective, Chris Tilling has two posts on inerrancy, the first with a cartoon, the second with an actual proposed new statement on inerrancy for our consideration (the latter is very thoughtful, in my view): click here and here.

There were some interesting posts this month on extra-canonical gospels:

There was fascinating interchange this month between Mark Goodacre and Nicholas Perrin over Perrin's book, Thomas, the Other Gospel. A good place to start is here. For P. J. Williams' response to Perrin, click here. For his part, Gary Greenberg in a post entitled "The Gospel of Judas as an enhancement to the Gospel of Mark" examined evidence that the author of the Gospel of Judas utilized the Gospel of Mark as a framework for his own version of the betrayal: click here.

This month, there was also continuing interest in reconstructing earliest Christian history. Announcement came that 81-year-old Martin Hengel and Anna M. Schwemer have started to publish a new 4-volume history of earliest Christianity (click here and here). G. Greenberg's post "What Son of Jesus?" this month looked at what Eusebius has to say about the family of Jesus: click here. From this look, he discerns "an overwhelming circumstantial case that Jesus had no son." (This is certainly a timely post in the wake of "The da Vinci Code" novel and movie and more recent controversy about a "Jesus family tomb" including a reference to the son of Jesus.) Speaking of James Tabor's "Jesus Dynasty" controversy, check out the searing critique this month by Michael Bird, with a few responses (click here), and this post linking to the Jonathan Reed review of The Jesus Family Tomb.

Now, for some computing and technology posts: Let's start with a poll: which software do you use for working with the original biblical languages---Logos, Bibleworks, Accordance, something else? Cast your vote here. On another topic, Tim Bulkeley at SansBlogue has two really useful posts on using Unicode. A lot of us are still playing catch-up here (BibleWorks, included), but it is getting easier to type in Hebrew, Greek, and Transliteration in WindowsXP in such a way that most others can actually read your fonts---The key is Unicode. For Tim's tutorials on getting started typing in it, click here and here.

Now that you've got the proper fonts, how about actually doing some writing. Need some support and feedback? Check out Angela R. Erisman's post about forming a "Writing Group" with some colleagues (click here).

We're almost at the end. I should note upcoming hosts of the Biblical Studies Carnival: Carnival XX will be hosted by Claude Mariottini, Dr. Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament - August 2007); Carnival XXI will be hosted by Duane Smith, Abnormal Interests - September 2007; and Carnival XXII will be hosted by Tim Bulkeley, Sansblogue - October 2007. Interested in hosting a future Biblical Studies Carnival on your own blog? Just click here to learn more!

Well, that is all I have time to list for Carnival 19, covering June 2007. Deep apologies to folks whose interesting posts got inadvertently omitted. Also, hearty thanks to everyone who made a nomination. Your help is most appreciated! Cheers! ---SLC