A Damned Nation?

9 04 2010

John Hobbins has baited me with a meme, but I shan’t bite.

The meme requests me to divulge an item of halakhic or aggadic import that is presently considered outdated, but that I believe should be as relevant as ever. I can think of several examples of such items, currently considered relevant but which should be relegated to the bin, but am not at liberty to comment on the inverse. There are no items of halakhic or aggadic import, in my opinion, which possess any relevance at all outside of the liturgical space and, given my non-participation in all things ‘confessional’, I’m therefore not at liberty to comment. This would be a rather short post, then, were it not for the fact that I would like to comment on John’s choice, for I believe that he is somewhat misinformed.

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David and his Mum

18 01 2010

This is too funny for words. N.T. Wrong has recently uploaded some information on a very exciting new archaeological find! I was alerted to this in the Agade mailing list and I can barely contain my enthusiasm for it:

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On Refusing to Believe in “Atheism”

24 11 2009

In addition to having possibly rankled a few people (to whom I apologise, if my remarks were misconstrued), a recent post demonstrated what some mistakenly thought was an atheist perspective. As justifying myself in the comments thread was growing wearisome, I have decided instead to present my opinions on atheism in a separate post. While I do not believe in God, and am happy to publicise the fact, my being in agreement with some of the conclusions of this group does not make me a member. As my attitudes towards the biblical literature and my attitudes towards disbelief are so intimately connected, I would like to make a comment as regards my feelings for the former.

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Biblical Studies at Sheffield

16 10 2009

For a while now, there has been talk of Sheffield University closing the undergraduate component to their Biblical Studies department. Word has finally got out that this is not going to happen – in any case, not just yet. John Hobbins has the official report from a representative of the undergraduate student body, that you can read on his post. In this official report, the official reporter thanks all those who prayed on behalf of the department.

The following is the comment that I wrote on John’s blog. As it is only short, I reproduce it here:

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16 10 2009

This week is Shabbat Bereishit : the week on which the first parasha of the Torah is chanted in synagogues around the world. I would like to take a moment to comment upon the first clause of the Bible – more specifically, the first word.

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Not in Heaven

13 10 2009

My new post at Galus Australis deals with the difference between exegesis and eisegesis, with the example of a reappropriated Biblical quote. There are innumerable quotes that I might have chosen, but I picked this one for its non-tendentious nature. We’ll see how long that lasts.

Update: It has come out, in the last few comments, that I have been using the word “eisegesis” incorrectly. I was mistakenly under the impression that the word denoted the leading into a text, which is done by somebody who imports ideas derived elsewhere. It would seem, however, that the word has a narrower definition than that, that it specifically denotes importing ideas of one’s own construction, and that it has a mildly pejorative nuance.

If anybody is familiar with this word having been reappropriated in recent years with a more relativistic nuance (ie: that ideas might have been read into texts, but that they were derived from older oral traditions and were therefore equally valid), please do speak up – either here or on Galus Australis. It is entirely possible that I have been using the word incorrectly for years (I’ve done that often enough with others), but it would be lamentable if the only word I know to describe rabbinic hermeneutics was disparaging.

Praise the Lord (of the Rings)

26 09 2009

I recently acquired The Jerusalem Bible: an authorised Catholic translation of the Old Testament (including the deuterocanonical literature) and the New Testament. To the best of my knowledge, this book has been out of print since 1966. Having been criticised for its lack of attention (in some cases) to the original languages, the Bible then passed through the hands of an editorial committee and emerged as The New Jerusalem Bible in 1985. This new edition features egalitarian language and is also generally considered to be more faithful to the underlying Hebrew and Greek. Nonetheless, the 1966 edition was the one that I sought and, after struggling with Amazon’s refusal to ship it to Australia, I eventually found a copy on eBay.

At 2,000 pages, plus introductions and supplements, The Jerusalem Bible is a bit of a handful. The prose, from what I have read, is sharp and eloquent and the poetry natural to my ears. It reads less like a translation of the Bible and more like something that I am supposed to be reading in English. But I did not purchase it simply because I wanted a fresh take on an ancient book. On the contrary, observe the opening page:

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Mything the Point

5 09 2009

In relation to those Biblical scholars who seem to have an allergy to the “M-word” (at least, whenever they are describing the literature that they profess to analyse), Alan Lenzi has a word or two to say by way of a comment. It’s short and sweet, but you might as well see it at his blog, rather than mine. Hear hear!


2 09 2009

In lieu of a post that requires some degree of research, many people have been asking me about my latest literary acquisitions and so I have happily chosen to divulge that information here. As you can see from the following picture, my Primary Bookshelf (which is the name that I have given to the shelf on which I keep most of my primary literature) now has an Old and Rare Books section:

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(Dis)Belief in God

17 08 2009

For those of you who are inclined to weigh in on such issues, a small argument (of sorts) has developed around an article that I wrote for Galus Australis. It’s a frivolous article, but it seems to have struck a vein with a few people and, having felt obliged to defend it, I found that the ensuing argument struck a vein with me as well. All are welcome to leave opinions of their own on the thread, and I invite anybody with an interest in the issue to do so.