A new book on the Sibylline Oracles

My review of J. L. Lightfoot's The Sibylline Oracles: with Introduction, Translation, and Commentary on the First and Second Books (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007) is set to appear in The Classical Review (2009) 59.1: 101-3. At xxiv + 613 pages, Lightfoot's is the biggest book on the subject since Alexandre's 1856 Excursus ad Sibyllina (which weighed in at 624 pages of 19th-century scholarly Latin!) and, in addition to bringing the discussion up-to-date (and in English!), will prove (I predict) to be every bit as indispensible as Alexandre's (out-dated and un-Englished though it be) still is.


And I quote . . .

The least of learning is done in the classrooms.

Thomas Merton


To my Latin students . . .

. . . in particular, and to learners of ancient languages in general, I would like to offer these words of encouragement uttered by Tom Hanks' character, Jimmy Dugan, in Penny Marshall's delightful film, A League of Their Own:

It's baseball. It's supposed to be hard. If it weren't hard, then everyone would do it.

Have a happy (and be) Thanksgiving!


If you haven't read this little book yet . . .

. . . I'm referring to Walter Bruegemann, William Placher, and Brian Blount, Struggling with Scripture (Westminster John Knox 2002) . . . well, Greg Carey makes a terrific case for why you should.

If you want to improve your skills in reading biblical Hebrew . . .

. . . you should heed the bibliographical advice offered by Stephen Cook at Biblische Ausbildung.

Eminently sensible career advice . . .

. . . that both undergraduate and gradutate students interested in biblical studies would do well to heed is available at April DeConick's "Forbidden Gospels" blog. (ī, puella!)

On plagiarism

I learned about this from Stephen Cook's blog Bliblische Ausbildung, and since he posted such a delightful cartoon in connection with it, I hope you'll start from there to link to James McGrath's post on Butler University's Very Clear And Straightforward tutorial about plagiarism. Everyone who teaches undergraduates . . . and anyone who is an undergraduate . . . should pay close attention to it.


I was going to buy this book eventually anyway

But now I have even more reason to, given what it is apparently costing its author, Peter Enns, Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Hermeneutics at Westminster Theological Seminary, for having written it. Visit the stuff of earth and Faith and Theology and MetaCatholic to learn more about this developing academic outrage. And be sure to visit Prof. Enns' own weblog at a time to tear down / A Time to Build Up. A book with consequences like these has got to be worth reading, whether you end up agreeing with it or not.

Enns Insp and Inc

Available at Amazon. Updated links to reviews of Enns' Inspiration and Incarnation and related information are being collected by Brandon Withrow.


Honoring Dr Jim West

Somebody ought to be keeping track of the outpouring of support for Jim West since his hugely popular blog's untimely demise. Might as well be me. Here's what I've seen so far . . .


A religious studies course for public schools

Dr. Jim West thinks that "Bible courses in public schools simply are improper" and that "the same would be true" for public schools "to offer Qur'an courses or the like". I'll have to beg to differ with him on this issue, since I am in fact teaching a course in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam for high school students here in the grandly conservative state of Nebraska. The focus of the course is on comparing how Jews, Christians, and Muslims read their own and each others' scriptures, by engaging students in discussion of close readings of selected passages from the Tanakh, the New Testament, and the Qur'an in English translation. Of course, I do happen to be employed as a lecturer in Classics and Religious Studies at UN-L, and I am trained in historical studies in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity at the University of Virginia, and the course is part of UN-L's "Advanced Scholars" program, which means it's for college credit, so maybe it doesn't really fit Dr. Jim's criteria for a public school Bible/Qur'an/the like course. But they are high school students, and we're not in church (or synagogue) (or mosque).

There . . . now I'm not sure whether I've challenged Dr. Jim West, or buddied up to him, but either way, this should make my blog more popular, right? (I learned this from Nick Norelli.)

And then, of course, there's that old saying,"Those who can, do; those who can't, teach", to which Woody Allen famously added, "And those who can't teach, teach gym" . . . or is that "Jim"?

Now I've done it . . .


What I'm teaching this semester

I'm excited (!) about what I'm teaching this semester! In addition to the perennial Classical Mythology course (I still do so love teaching on the other [= pagan] side of the aisle), I'm teaching

  • an "Advanced Scholars" distance learning course for (hopefully college-bound) high school students, on Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, in which we will work through selected passages on similar subjects (e.g., Adam and Eve; Abraham, Isaac, and Ishmael; Mary and Jesus; law and grace; sin and salvation; prayer; gender; war and non-violence; etc.) in the Tanakh, the New Testament, and the Qur'an -- sort of a scripture-study triathlon; and

  • an upperclass Honors seminar that I've provocatively titled "Rewriting Moses: Jewish biblical interpretation in the time of Jesus", which is mainly an introduction to the study of methods of biblical exegesis in the works of Philo and Josephus, with special reference to their treatments of Genesis and Exodus, and with one eye on the NT and other more or less contemporary Jewish and Christian texts.

Did I mention that I'm also trying to put my dissertation on Sibylline Oracles 1-2 to bed this semester? AND stay married? Wish me luck!